A Bump in the Road

Written by Monica Deluca: blog

For all those struggling with an exam, here is some motivation for you! Whenever you see the words “you did not pass” pop up on the screen, your heart sinks, I know mine did. I have always succeeded in my goals and I was looking forward to a “you passed” on my first Actuarial exam. I put my time in, studying over 200 hours plus giving up time with my friends and family only to fail the test. I was devastated. After not achieving a life goal as humans, we begin to question our ability. “Am I really smart enough to be an actuary or should I quit before I begin?” These thoughts are understandable, but don’t dwell on them. You failed. Now it’s time to take it in stride and try harder for the next sitting. The past is the past; pick yourself back up and keep your head high.

First things first, put things into perspective. You are not alone. The SOA exams are meant to test a person’s ability; it is not just about being smart enough to pass the test. You need more than intelligence to succeed as an actuary. Not everyone passes on his or her first try or even on the second try. The tests are used to weed out the mighty from the weaklings. It’s how you handle failing that matters. Remember practice makes perfect. Pick up that pencil and keep working problems.

After failing a test, take a step back and see what worked and what didn’t work. I have studied in all conditions: during the summer, during a full time job, and during a full course load. Every situation had it challenges. I found study groups to be helpful. It was nice having others to bounce problems off of and, most importantly, a support group. Having others believing in me definitely helped me to pick myself back up and continue to try and eventually succeed.

Another tip is to write down your goals because then they are harder to avoid. I made sticky notes for my weekly study schedule. Each day I would give myself a sticker as a reward for completing that day’s goal. It motivated me to stay on track. Both the sticky notes and the study group held me accountable to keep studying even when I could have easily just pushed it off to later.

Always remember it’s not the end of the world if you failed. It may be in the moment, but in the grand scheme of your life it really isn’t. You have many more chances if you choose to take them. You have to keep working hard, and eventually you will succeed.

Never get down on yourself for failing. Never let one event stop you from achieving your goals. Hold your head high and think of all you have accomplished in life. Just taking an SOA exam is an accomplishment within itself. You were dedicated enough to study endless hours and prepare for months before. You should take pride in the growth you have achieved over those months and not just the result on that fateful test day. Smile and believe in yourself because you can do it!