This is the name of the exam that I failed

This morning I woke up a little before 5:30 and remembered that yesterday was the first Tuesday of the month. I failed at getting my post in on time. This wasn’t on purpose, but it completely fits into what I was going to write about.

A week ago (well, a week and a day ago now), I sat down for a four hour actuary test. Through the Society of Actuaries, it is the third exam and it is called Exam MLC, which stands for Models for Life Contingencies. I did my best. That, however, was not good enough. I failed.

There were three steps I went through that were not too different than the steps my friend Jonathan suggests in his blog post: Failure is Good. So are You Failing Enough?  These three steps were as follows:

  1. Feel the pain. Failing the exam gave me a depressing feeling. I felt very psychologically drained. I knew it would pass eventually, but I did not force it to go away. I let myself feel what I was feeling. After all, we’re human.
  2. Begin focusing on whatever positives that come from this. I couldn’t see these right away, but they surfaced soon enough.  I was able to share the experience with my students, show some vulnerability, and let them know that I knew what it was like to be in their shoes. I noticed Sharing Your Failures came in quite handy. 
  3. Think about what I have to do for next time. There was a simple fact: I wasn’t ready.  I didn’t realize that until about a week before. I now know what to expect, and the strategies I need to use in order to pass it. 
The next MLC Exam will be in October. Since this is too much time, I will need to do some fortnightly drills to stay with the material over the summer before I begin to go into full study mode when the Fall semester begins at the end of August.  My Fall semester will be light this year with old and familiar preps, so those two months will be sufficient enough time to master the material. 
Yesterday was full of failures. It was quite the unusual day. 
I failed to get to a candidate breakfast on time. 
At dinner with my wife, Erin, we found out that our calendars were a week apart with regard to a two and a half week period of time that involves the Bike Across Kansas and our trip to the Pacific Northeast. I failed at communicating with her for the past several weeks – specifically, noticing that the dates she was mentioning were not the dates I had in my calendar.  We have some work to do to rectify this failure in communication. 
Although I’m getting better at using a calendar for my day to day activities, yesterday was a clear indication that I have some work to do. 

2 thoughts on “Failure

  1. Failure, man. It seems to permeate every area of our lives sometimes, like campfire smoke.

    Your point about letting yourself feel what you were feeling is so important. I'm working hard at this because I'm not very good at it. It's okay to feel sad when sad things happen, and it's okay to feel happy when good things happen. We don't have to attenuate every strong feeling we experience.

    You'll be more prepared for the MLC exam in October, given the time you have to prepare (clever idea on those fortnightly drills) and your experience of having taken it once. And the fact that you shared your experience with your students is huge. Many of them will surely fail actuarial exams, and having heard your story may very well make the difference between giving up and trying again for some of them.


  2. It has been a long while since I have felt deep sadness. I knew the feeling would pass eventually, so I let myself feel it. The coping mechanism I would sometimes use was to concentrate on the feeling itself and divert my attention from why I was feeling it.

    I'm confident you're right about the MLC, as those are some of my sentiments.


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