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Failed Exam P Twice… Should you give up?

I work with a lot of people that have failed Exam P.  Lots of them have failed Exam P twice.  Some even three or 4 times.

Actually, I don’t really like to admit it, but I failed Exam P twice myself when I was just getting started.  No one likes to admit they failed. But with actuarial exams it’s bound to happen (for most of us anyway).

The good news is, if you’ve failed Exam P twice, there’s still hope! Don’t give up yet.  Keep reading or watch the video above to find out what you should do next time.

If you’ve already proven to be pretty good at math in the past (in your high school courses or in university), then I’m sure that you can pass actuarial exams too.

I hate when people say “Quit now, they only get harder” when someone is brave enough to admit that they’ve failed and don’t know what to do.  Actually, I command those people for reaching out, not giving up, and being willing to figure out what the problem is and fix it. They don’t just run away when things get tough. That’s important when you’re in the actuarial career for the long haul.

So, I’m assuming that since you’re reading this, you’ve probably failed Exam P at least once, maybe more.  You’ve probably always been good at math and enjoyed it. So I’m not concerned with that.

The problem is probably in your approach to studying for Exam P. I call that your study strategy.

I know you’ve probably spent hours studying for Exam P already. You’ve probably gone through your study manual, (hopefully) did lots of practice problems, and maybe even some practice exams.

So why isn’t that working?

Well, let me explain to you exactly how I set up and organize study strategies for my Study Strategy Program members, and you can see which things you’re doing right and get some insight into where you might be going wrong.

But, there’s one caveat, and that is that you have to do all these things to ensure the highest chance of passing Exam P.  You can’t just do a couple of them and hope that’s enough. That doesn’t work.

This has worked for people that have failed Exam P once.  It has worked for people that have failed Exam P twice.  It has also worked for people that were just writing Exam P for the first time. It’s the approach to studying makes all the difference.

The people that are really serious about passing (the people in the Study Strategy Program) are willing to take the actions that need to be taken in order to pass. That’s why they’re so often successful.

DAILY GOALS

One thing that most people don’t do is create a study schedule for themselves. I have a study schedule for Exam P here if you’re interested.

A study schedule is important because you need to be sure that you’ll have enough time to get everything done before exam day. What a lot of people do (myself included when I wrote Exam P for the first time) was to just study whenever I ‘had time’ and I kept studying with no real goal or end in sight. I would just keep studying until I was too tired, or until I didn’t feel like it anymore, or until I was distracted by something else.

There were many days where I didn’t even get any studying in because I just didn’t make the time for it.

When you’re studying for an actuarial exam, it has to be one of your top 4 priorities during that time. You need to dedicate time to it almost every single day. Consistency is super important.

That’s why I recommend creating a calendar of daily goals that you’ll accomplish for each day. Here’s a sample of the Daily Goals calendar that I provide in my Study Strategy Program members. I get members to mark each day “COMPLETE” as that achieve each day’s goal. It feels really good to be able to “cross off” the day’s task once it’s complete, and you really get to see how far you’ve come along the way.

Motivating, right?

ACCOUNTABILITY

Like many others studying for Exam P, you’re probably busy. Maybe you have classes, mid-terms, and/or a full-time job, or other things that are important to you and take a lot of your time.

That’s why it’s so hard to stay on schedule.. Because so many things are trying to take up your limited time. A lot of the time, studying for Exam P feels like it can ‘wait’ because it’s not as urgent as other things on your ‘to do’ list. So studying keeps getting delayed more and more.

The best way that I’ve found to keep that from happening is to hold yourself accountable to studying.

That’s impossible to do by yourself so it’s something that is really important and motivating for people in my Study Strategy Program.

Actually, I had one person join specifically because ‘she needed the kick in the butt’. Another said that they joined for ‘accountability and guidance’.  These people know how motivating it can be to have someone else ‘keeping tabs on them’ and holding them to their study schedule.

It can be scary to commit 100% by finding someone to hold you accountable but I promise you, it’ll really push you to accomplish the goal that you’ve set for yourself (which is to pass, I think!).

In the sample Daily Goals Calendar (same on I linked to above), you’ll see that there are 2 days each week that are colored orange.  Those are accountability check-in days.  On those days I review the progress made and ensure that the member hasn’t fallen more than 2 days behind schedule.  If they have, I help them come up with a plan to get caught up.

If you can’t join the Study Strategy Program for accountability, then see if you can find a coworker, or someone else writing Exam P to be an accountability partner for you. Someone that’s really close to you usually isn’t the best choice for an accountability partner because you’re too familiar with them and probably aren’t too concerned with ‘not sticking to your word’.

ADJUSTING YOUR APPROACH AS YOU GO

One thing that I didn’t mention up above when I was talking about the Daily Goal calendar, is that I actually don’t usually create the whole calendar from the very beginning.

I always have an idea of how the studying will go (it’ll follow the general structure of this Exam P study schedule – the same one I linked to above) but I often don’t fill in tasks towards the end of the study schedule. That’s because I need to assess the progress that each member is making as they go and their schedule needs to be accommodated specifically to their strengths and weaknesses that we discover along the way.

You need to be doing the same thing when you study. Are you making sure that you’re dedicating time specifically to your weaker areas? Are you even paying attention to what your weaker areas are?

If not, this is something that can make or break you on exam day. It’s easy to spend lots of time doing what you’re already good at, because it feels good to understand things and to know what you’re doing. It’s also easy. But you have to force yourself to make your weaker topics stronger.

ASKING QUESTIONS WHEN YOU DON’T KNOW THE ANSWER

When you were going through your study guide for the first time, did you make sure you actually understood everything?

Or instead did you just skip over things that were too difficult? Or maybe you tried memorizing rather than understanding.

I always encourage members of my Study Strategy Program to ask questions when they aren’t understanding something. It’s really easy for them to just send me an email with their question and get an straight-forward answer back. It saves a lot of time and frustration.

You should always ask questions when you can’t make sense of things you’ve read or listened to, or if you can’t figure out where you’re going wrong on a difficult practice problem.

One thing I find with some Exam P candidates is that they don’t fully understand the background knowledge that is assumed to be known, like how life insurance works and how deductibles work. These are super important things to be very familiar with before you even start studying for Exam P because a lot of the math relies on your knowledge of those concepts.

Here’s an post about where you can get Exam P help when you have questions.

HUNDREDS OF PRACTICE PROBLEMS

Many people underestimate the number of practice problems that they need to do. Or some people just fail to stick to a good study schedule and then end up not having enough time to do hundreds of practice problems.

In my program, members that qualify for the pass guarantee (Ultimate or UltimatePlus members) do 900+ practice problems throughout their study period. And they understand the solution to each one too, because they ASK if they don’t get it.

Are you making sure you understand the solution to each problem you do? Or do you just move on if the solution doesn’t make sense?

If you answered yes to that, then understanding practice problem solutions is something that you need to spend way more time on during your next study period.

TIME MANAGEMENT

After reading all those different pieces, I imagine that it may feel a bit overwhelming.  Maybe you feel like there’s no way you’d have time for all that!

That’s OK. You can either join the Study Strategy Program so that I can help guide you through each step and make things way quicker and convenient for you OR you can start studying EARLY (2 months should be good if this is your second or third attempt) and create a study strategy including all these parts yourself.

My Study Strategy Program members pass their exams (I’ve even shown a few emails below where members have shared their success!). I design their entire study strategy and help them implement it successfully, from beginning to end and I make sure that each of the above pieces is covered for them.

They know exactly which practice questions or practice exam to do each day (they’re all free too!). They know how important it is to understand the topics so they ask questions whenever they have them. AND they stick to their schedule because of the regular accountability check-ins.

Of course, like I said, there’s the option of trying this alone, but I’d love to help you pass Exam P on your next sitting. I know it’s possible. My study strategies have already worked for lots of others and I’m confident I can help you too.

Here’s all the Study Strategy Program info and you can sign up directly on that page.

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Get an actuarial job even in today's competitive market!

Get all my best tips on how to become a TOP actuarial candidate so that you can get your actuarial dream job.

Just add your email below.