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Failing is a part of life

Shubhanjali Gupta, fellow actuary, talks about what she learnt from her fails and how they have made her a better actuary.  

Nothing holds more truth than the statement above if you are studying actuarial science. The journey from a student actuary to a qualified actuary is dotted with passes and fails. Results day is often filled with dread. Sometimes you get through with a pass and there are other times where you don’t. And it’s these fails that make it all the harder to get up and do it all over again. But you do; you have to.

Actuarial science is complex. There’s a lot to know before someone is ready to be an actuary. A fail is definitely lack of enough marks but more importantly it means there’s a lot more to learn before you take one more step towards qualification. Rather than thinking ‘Why did I not pass’, you should be thinking ‘What could I have done more’. You should see a fail as a learning curve, and as a way to understand the gaps in your knowledge that you need to work on before you qualify. I know this is easy to say and very hard to put into practice.

I don’t have a 100% pass rate for my exams. I have failed a few exams and have even failed by one mark too. I have been there. I have cried, I have questioned. But you have to allow yourself one day to wallow in sadness, and then the following day get up, brush it off and go to work again.

I once had counselling after failing an exam and my examiner told me something that I have always carried with me.

‘Make mistakes now. Fail as much you need to now. Learn through this now. Because once you qualify, the room for mistakes diminishes quite a lot.’

This has stuck with me and I am thankful for those fails. Every exam fail has strengthened my conceptual base. Every fail has made me review my course notes with a stricter eye. And yes, every fail then has made me much more confident in my advice now.

Failing does make you better and it isn’t the end of the world. Before you judge yourself, know that almost every actuary has been there. We are a warm community and we all support each other. We know the hard work, the pain and the strength it takes to stand up again.

My chief actuary once told me after a particularly heartbreaking fail, ‘You are not worse off than yesterday. You still have everything you had yesterday. There is only one way to go: Forward.’