Why it’s okay to fail


After passing P, my first exam, I had an indescribable rush. It was the most amazing feeling, and I couldn’t wait to take, and pass, another exam. Fast-forward seven months and it was time to take FM. My classes during fall semester prepared me for almost everything on the exam. I loved the material and really understood it, significantly more than the material covered by P. I studied all day every day for a week and a half before FM, primarily using Adapt. For P, I had worked through 10-question custom quizzes on every single topic. Since this worked so well, I did the same for FM. I was really confident in my knowledge but completely underestimated the more difficult questions that I couldn’t wrap my mind around. I barely got above an earned level of 5 and stopped. I had run out of time and didn’t want to shake my confidence the night before the test. I might as well have walked out in the middle of the exam it was so bad. As disappointing as it was to not pass, it was a great opportunity for growth. Here’s what I learned for the next time I take FM, future exams, and the rest of my life:

You’re destined for something great and this just wasn’t the time.

Like I said earlier, I love the material on FM. With a second chance, instead of simply scraping by with a 6, I’m determined to go into the next sitting and knock it out of the park.

“Every strike brings me closer to the next home run.” – Babe Ruth

Studying is an art, not a science.

From class to class and exam to exam, you might need to change up your study habits. It’s good to know what works for you and what doesn’t, but what worked for P might not work for FM. I broke the cardinal rule for P, but still passed: I crammed all of my studying into the week before the exam. My classes over the course of the semester prepared me for FM so I thought I could cram the same way I did for P. Wrong. I now recognize that I needed more time and many, many more practice problems to pass FM. Practice makes perfect, after all!

“For every failure, there’s an alternative course of action. You just have to find it. When you come to a road block, take a detour.”  – Mary Kay Ash, Founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics

Actuarial exams aren’t just about knowing your “stuff.”

Employers judge the number of exams you’ve passed as a benchmark not just for how much you know but also for your dedication to the profession. The exams are meant to be hard. Many people don’t pass, but those of us who get right back up, brush ourselves off, and start studying all over again are the ones who will excel.

“I believe you have to fail fast and be proud of your failures. If you don’t fail often, you are not trying hard enough.” – Jessica Herrin, Founder and CEO of Stella & Dot

Stay positive.

It’s all about attitude. I am so committed to the actuarial path and can’t wait for the day that I pass FM. While what I did to prepare the first time wasn’t enough, I have no regrets. I did every thing I could. It didn’t get me a passing score, but I learned my lesson and am ready to move on with even more passion than I had to begin with.

“Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” – Sir Winston Churchill

Sometimes you just need to be knocked down a peg.

Failing every now and then keeps me humble. Plus, when I do pass FM, it will be that much sweeter.

“It’s failure that gives you the proper perspective on success.” – Ellen DeGeneres