Third Time’s the Charm

Written by Angela Bolton: 1394779_675393035812620_1275165895_n

I took my first attempt at exam P about two weeks after I graduated from college.  I had gotten an A in probability, so I thought it would be no big deal.

Taking the exam, I tried about 4 questions, realized I was completely out of my league and walked out. For someone who was used to getting high grades in college, and knowing what to study and how to study for it, I felt humiliated and defeated by the whole process. I figured I’d give up, try to find some 8-5 office job I could stomach, and leave it at that.

Unfortunately (fortunately?) for me, the only jobs out there in the summer of 2009 were for turn-and-burn debt collector jobs. It didn’t take long before I realized that there were worse feelings than failure. I simply couldn’t handle a job like that (and to those of you who have thick enough skin to suffer such jobs, I salute you!). I swore I would stop at nothing to pass that actuary exam.

I studied for months on the material I could find for free. I must have gone over the SOA practice problems ten times. I had them memorized. I thought for sure I would pass it this next time.

On March 23rd, 2010, I failed exam P a second time. Also, Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law, which is mildly amusing since (spoiler to the ending of this story) I now work in health insurance. But I digress…

Now this time I was really crushed. I had worked so hard to study for this exam, and I still failed. Right afterwards, I ended up moving back to my extremely small hometown, and all hopes of becoming an actuary seemed to really go up in smoke.

I bummed around for a while, not sure what I was going to do with myself. About a year later, I couldn’t take it anymore. I wasn’t a failure. I wasn’t used to failing! I couldn’t live my life knowing I gave up on my best shot at a great career. I decided I would try one more time. I bought some real study materials (you know, the expensive ones!), and for the next few months, I would spend hours and hours per day in front of my study manual.

Finally, in July of 2011, I sat for exam P for my third try. It was a hard exam, even with all that studying, not to mention my nerves. When I pressed that submit button (and went through that accursed “study experience survey” they give you before you see your results!!), my heart was pounding. I clicked through as fast as I could. Click, click, click, and then…


I almost started crying. Finally!! Two years after my very first attempt, I finally passed!

Since then, I’ve taken FM and C (the latter with the help of Adapt, which is an amazing tool!), and passed both on the first try. I’m now an actuarial analyst with a fantastic health insurance company, and the future seems bright and promising; all because I didn’t give up. I got up after getting knocked down twice, and it was so worth it.

And I’ll never be stingy with study materials again either!