How to Bounce Back from a Non Pass in a CPCU Test

You followed all of our tips for the CPCU test, and yet when you got to the end of the test, sweating profusely, you clicked on the button to submit for grading and *gasp*, you see a big glaring heart-breaking “Non Pass”. The screen reads “Non Pass” but in your head it screams “FAIL” with a great big red capital F. You hold back tears until you get back to the car,  and now, you’re home feeling like a complete failure. Maybe you’re trying to rush to the program to make it to Hawaii. Maybe you just didn’t sleep well last night and that threw you off. We promise it’ll be okay. We’ll get you through this!

Here’s what you do now:

1. Take the rest of the day to clear your head:

You’re beat up right now and can’t think straight. This is no time to be making decisions. Go home and get some sleep. Cry it out if you need to. Pick up some Ben & Jerry’s or whatever you need to feel better.


2. Realize you’re in good company:

According to The Institutes more than half of all CPCU finishers non passed at least one of their tests. So do your best to remember that. Most people go through this same thing, it’s just part of the process. This is not supposed to be an easy thing to accomplish. CPCU is like getting a tattoo, if it didn’t hurt, everybody would have one 😛


3. Look for the silver lining:

There is at least one advantage to having non passed a test. You are now experienced in taking that particular test. Yesterday, you had no idea what you were getting into, and you might have been overconfident, or overly worried. Now, you know VERY well the topics that got you and have a chance to retake it. It’s about re-framing your mental picture from “darn it, I failed” to “now I know what this test is like and have all the tools to pass it next time.”



4. Remember the bigger picture:

Only around 10% of all property casualty insurance professionals ever take a single test, and only 4% finish their CPCU. What you are working on accomplishing here is no easy feat. The great majority of our colleagues never even attempt it! If you’ve already passed a test or two, you are already a part of the elite of our profession when it comes to education. Remind yourself why you started CPCU, and realize that you’re opening the door to a great journey. This is truly just a minor setback.


5. Review the grade report:

It comes out about 48 hours after the test. Find whether you were really close or whether there were chapters you truly did awful on. The grade report will help you target where you spend your time from here until you retest. If you were very close, then reschedule for next week, and focus mostly on the chapters that help you down. If you got less than a 40% then it’s probably a good idea to give yourself more time and consider using alternative study aids from Burnham (no relation to Carly) or Big Daddy.


6. If you’ve truly hit rock bottom, it’s time to regroup:

Once you followed all of the first steps, and you’ve calmed down. If you absolutely feel defeated and sure that you simply cannot retake this particular test, that’s fine, you can skip it for now. There is no mandated order to the CPCU tests, and they are each self-contained so you can move on to the next one or even take a much easier elective. Come back to this test once you’ve gained your confidence back.



7. Schedule the retake:

Unless you’ve decided to pursue with step #6 above, it’s now time to schedule the retake. You should have the reschedule booked less than 48 hours after the non-pass. It doesn’t matter too much whether you’re giving yourself a week or a month, reschedule right away. If you wait any longer, you’re going to start hesitating, and that’s only going to delay you. You have to get right back on the horse!

If Play A Didn't Work There's 25 More Letters


8. Remind yourself why you’re putting yourself through this:

Remind yourself of whatever motivated you to pursue CPCU to begin with. Whether it’s a trip, a promotion, a job change or anything else that got you going on CPCU, that’s what you should focus on. Not this temporary speed bump.


9. Never give up!


About Antonio Canas

Tony started in insurance in 2009 and immediately became a designation addict and shortly thereafter a proud insurance nerd. He has worked in claims, underwriting, finance and sales management, at 4 carriers, 6 cities and 5 states. Tony is passionate about insurance, technology and especially helping the insurance industry figure out how to retain and engage the younger generation of insurance professionals. Tony is a co-founder of and a passionate speaker.

4 thoughts on “How to Bounce Back from a Non Pass in a CPCU Test”

  1. Good advice. I liked #3 and #4…gives the CPCU student a good vision to keep going!
    A key word: PERSEVERANCE

  2. An agent friend and I were progressing thru self-study at different paces and we both failed the Law exam at different times; I was a seasoned commercial field underwriter at Travelers and she was a lawyer. Moral: read the book, practice the questions–and re-read Tony’s #9.


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.