Failing and Passing

Written by Anonymous:

When I came across this profession in college I felt that it may be the Holy Grail I had been looking for all along. I started studying over the summer while working a part-time job at 7-Eleven and thought this was the ideal profession for me and that I was well on my way to my career. Then I failed Exam P three times in a row before passing. This was not a good start.

After reading the forums on Actuarial Outpost for hours on end, I felt that I began to understand the profession a lot better. One interesting piece of advice on there was to take as many exams as possible while in college. I started studying in July and failed my first exam in October. I was a little shocked that I did not pass, especially after spending so much time on the ACTEX study manual. I retook the exam in November, and you can imagine what happened.

Since it was during the fall semester, I did poorly in some classes because of the time spent studying for Exam P. I started getting worried and feeling bad. After consoling in some people, I received an important piece of advice which was don’t give up just because you failed an actuarial exam, and that failing an exam was really common – even for top students. I persevered but unfortunately my January exam got cancelled because of the weather and I rescheduled to take it in March.

I failed again. This time it hurt and I was furious. I was ending my junior year at my university and I had no exams passed and with little hope of acquiring an internship. I was a great student in high school and here I was failing these dreadful exams not to mention the hit to my GPA. How could anyone pass the harder exams while in college?

I felt that it was important to get as many exams out of the way in college – not just to get an entry level job, but to also save myself the hard labor of studying while working a full time actuarial job. That’s the advice I heard over and over again on the Actuarial Outpost forums. Since there are a dozen exams and you have a lot of free time in college, why not bite the bullet and pass as many exams as possible in college? It was a completely logical argument but it wasn’t working out for me.

Exam P and Exam FM are typically considered the easiest of all the actuarial exams. I’ve heard them described as litmus tests in determining whether or not someone should be an actuary. Since I had failed Exam P three times in a row before passing, I thought this litmus test was coming up negative for me.

I was so lucky that my parents were paying for my exams and materials. It’s a blessing. I felt that my goal of passing three or more exams in college was slipping away fast, and I realized that this profession is about studying hard. You have to work for what you have. Although I do not know if I will ever qualify for an ASA or FSA, I will not give up on becoming an actuary because it is my dream.