Learning from Failure


Immediately after failing to be successful in the most recent sitting of FM, my heart almost broke into pieces. I remember clearly driving to the testing center. It was a very warm, sunny, and awesomely beautiful Thursday afternoon. Finally I was a few minutes away from rewarding myself with the most exciting Christmas gift – Christmas was a week away from that particular day, and I just wanted to pass. After all I had just completed two semesters that focused entirely on the first section (Theory of Interest) of the SOA/CAS FM exam syllabus. I had also went over the second section of the syllabus (Derivatives markets) through self-study using one of the manuals recommended by my school’s Actuarial Science department.

I had breezed through all the SOA practice problems that are posted on their website and I was doing pretty well competing with fellow classmates who were taking the exam in the same sitting. Up to until that day I was feeling very confident with the material and I was ready to get that exam out of the way so that come the New Year, I was going to start preparations for exam P.

I arrived at the testing center 20 minutes before my scheduled start time. In the waiting room I saw a couple of familiar faces from my program at school waiting to be checked into the examination room. Seeing them, and actually talking to a few minutes before the test lifted my spirit a notch higher. I knew I was not alone and as a fierce competitor I was going to make sure I that I was among the winning team that day. My turn to check in came and that went pretty smoothly.

Next thing I know I was clicking the “Do you wish to continue…” button on the screen to begin start the exam. Having always excelled in all my classes from elementary school, I didn’t experience test anxiety but that particular day my hand did shake for a few moments until the first question populated. The question was so familiar that I solved it in less than two minutes hence regaining my confidence. Going through the exam I encountered three types of problems; those that I knew how to do right away, others that made me think, and some that I didn’t know how to start.

Even though I had taken practice exams prior to that day, none of them were timed. When that 15-minute warning popped up on the screen I had seven problems to go, and I had skipped around three. On average I could only have solved 3 problems within that time frame and since I felt like I had solved quite a good number I convinced myself that I was going to pass anyway so I went on and solved two to three more questions with blind guesses on the remaining ones with less than 2 minutes left. I was 80% sure that I was passing until I hit that submit button and found out that I didn’t.

I felt so frustrated, out of energy, and couldn’t speak. I remember avoiding looking at my study area at home for a few days. After a few days of self-evaluation, I sat down and wrote down all what I did wrong prior to my exam. I double checked every source I had used to prepare and compared that with the material that others recommended in various blogs. I knew timing myself is what I needed the most besides also working on the areas that I struggled with during the exam, and focusing more on the areas that I felt like the exam focused on.

I bought an Adapt subscription since that’s one of the resources that majority of the previous exam-takers recommended. I couldn’t have been any happier. Finally I found this amazing product that’s allowing me take customized quizzes and exams. Exactly what I needed. Adapt is really raising my confidence. My plan is to keep maximizing on their customizable quiz feature to help me gain speed and deep understanding of the material. For those that are planning on taking actuarial exams for the first time in the future, I would highly recommend Adapt. No doubt, Adapt is going to be my best friend through my journey.