Most actuaries at some point will have experienced the low of failing an exam. Jessica Elkin offers some words of encouragement
Blinking rapidly, you cast your eyes down the list of names. Your hands feel a bit clammy. What's alphabetical order again? You can't immediately see your name. Wait, is that it? no. You're not there. It could be a mistake? But you know already that this is unlikely. Scan again - nothing. You've definitely failed.
Most students have been there, or will be at some point before qualifying. Checking for results is pretty crummy at the best of times, but when you've had a disastrous sitting, it's even worse. This is why I often ask generous friends to check for me, and why Ctrl+F is your friend - if anyone has found an efficient way to check on a smartphone, please let me know.
Admittedly, this is a bit of a dark topic when we've all only just put our calculators back down again and are looking to forget the collective trauma of an exam sitting, but it's good to be prepared. If things go awry and you have to acknowledge to yourself that the months of slogging have been virtually fruitless, that you're no closer to qualifying and that you're going to have to go through it all again it's a tough gig.
Put simply, failing an exam is not the most fun you can have with your clothes on. So what can one do to alleviate the disappointment (at best) and gut-wrenching despair (at worst)?
Having fallen into the abyss of desolation, you then have to go into work and face your colleagues - or perhaps you were still at work since the results surface at 6pm these days. Often everyone avoids the subject because they feel too uncomfortable.
On one results day I was in New York without the internet, but I knew I'd failed both exams because I had no well-wishing texts. My American friend thought I was crazy to think like that, but I was right.
Understandably, people feel too awkward about it to get in touch - what should they say? Would you rather be left alone? What an absolute minefield. However, it's possibly better than having people send you congratulatory texts because someone with a very similar name to you has passed, as happened to a friend of mine.
I'm sure we all know one or two people who have never failed an exam. They breeze through the CTs, CAs, STs and SA without breaking a sweat. Unfortunately, or fortunately, these people are a minority. A colleague of mine says that you need to fail at least once to reassure everyone that you're normal. It happens to the best of us (and yes, I mean me).
I once read that if you're really upset by something you should ask yourself if it will still matter in a year. If not, perhaps it isn't as important as you're making it. Not to suggest that you should be able to shrug it off and go to the pub, necessarily, but it's thankfully the case that you still get another go, or as many as you need, and failing one or two is not - in isolation - going to stunt your career. Most of your actuarial colleagues will have been there.
Once more unto the breach
When it comes to the re-sit, you may well be dreading it. Going again through the material that was really difficult/snooze-inducing is not the most appealing thing. Should you brave it ASAP, or have a break from the material? Only you can decide what is best for you.
There is, however, a bright side to all this. You can generally skip through all the reading material and get straight onto question practice, the holy grail of passing exams. If you are taking something new alongside, then you can mix up the reading of new material with the revising of old.
Naturally, writing about failure leads one to read inspirational quotes about it. They tend to extol the virtues of picking yourself up and carrying on. I'm sure you've read plenty yourself - probably by Steve Jobs or J K Rowling or Mahatma Ghandi (that guy was a talker). Whatever helps you, you probably need some time to grieve your loss. And once you're done, hit those books.
In the meantime, you should probably enjoy a bit of post-exam celebration. I'm sure you got an A for effort.