Failing the First Time and Moving On

Written by Omorose Aifuwa: coaching actuary photo

When I went in to take Exam P for the first time, I thought I was ready. I had worked very hard the last few weeks prior to the exam by taking as many Adapt practice exams as possible and cramming as much information into my brain as I could. I reached around a level 6 in my practice exams and I told myself that if I just worked a little harder on the actual exam, I would be fine. I sat in front of my computer confident and ready, as well as a little nervous. Once the exam started though my confidence seemed to waiver slightly, but I powered through. The time seemed to go much faster than it had on any of my practice exams and before I knew it – I had run out of time and my answers were being submitted. To my sadness and surprise I was soon informed that I did not pass the exam. I failed the test, which was an outcome I had never would have foreseen for myself. I went through the motions and returned home defeated and discouraged, wondering if I would ever manage to pass an exam.

Many days of depression and sadness followed.  I was unsure whether I should try again or think about pursing another field. I felt very discouraged that even reopening my study manual brought back all the feelings of inadequacy I was struggling with and avoiding. After deeply reassessing what I want in a career, I realized that being an actuary is the perfect field for me and that no matter what it took, I would settle for no less. I began to push through my negative feelings and study for the exam again. This time, I made sure to go over the S.O.A. study guide and make sure I knew every single problem in detail. Then I made sure I had ample time with Adapt. In my second attempt using Adapt, I managed to almost reach a level 7. Though it wasn’t a high level, I worked to make my successes more consistent and I even finished at faster speeds – all issues I had previously struggled with.

The time had finally come for me to retake my exam. I had the same feelings as I had the first time around, but this time I felt a lot more secure. I knew I had all the tools to pass this exam, and I knew I was ready. Every little detail was stuffed into my brain securely with zero changes of forgetting the material. This time – I finished the exam with ample time to spare, and managed to go through every question a second time to reassure I the hadn’t made any small mistakes. I felt prepared and ready, but despite that – I felt the same nerves reappear once I submitted my answers. Holding my breath I watched the page load and was so happy and relieved to see that I had passed this time.  I was one step closer to doing what I always wanted.

Despite the roller coaster of emotions that failing took me through,  I learned a lot of valuable lessons that will stay with me in my preparation of Exam FM. I will make sure that I know everything on the S.O.A. syllabus, because it’s important and a great resource. It provides you with all of the information they expect you to know with applied questions. Furthermore, when I go through and use Adapt I will not purely focus on my score, because I realized that I need to be consistent. I can’t pass some of the high level exams and then fail some of the lower ones and expect to still pass. Finally, I realized that the exams in Adapt aren’t the only resources, but that the quizzes are a wonderful way to focus in on one difficult topic at a time. I will take all of this new information with me as I study for Exam FM and hopefully pass that one on the first try.