What should you do if you fail a Professional Exam?

4th May 2017
Geoff Collings

If you have your heart set on a career in finance, there will come a time probably sooner rather than later when you will be required to sit a professional exam. From the ACCA for accounting roles through to the CISI if you wish to work in securities and investments, professional exams are unavoidable in the world of finance.

If you’ve already sat these exams and have passed with flying colours, that’s great; you’ll be well on your way towards a career in finance. But what should you do if the exam doesn’t quite go to plan?

It may feel like the end of the world, but don’t worry just yet. Here’s what you can do should you fail a professional exam:

  1. Find out if you can resit

First things first, don’t panic; find out from your line manager or course tutor whether you can resit your exam. Most exam bodies will allow a certain number of resits. However, if you have a study contract with a company which allows you to work as a trainee within the firm, you will need to check what the company’s policy is when you’re unsuccessful in an exam.

Many small to medium sized firms may well let you resit without any problems, although you may have to pay the fee to resit yourself. Some firms, however, including many large organisations, may have it written into your study contract that your employment can be terminated if you fail a professional exam.

If this is the case, it’s still not time to panic just yet; there are some further options available to you.

  1. Ask for feedback

If you are able to, ask for feedback regarding the exam. Look upon this as constructive advice for moving forward, and concentrate on improving the areas where you showed some weakness. Be positive going into your resit or next career move. Remember that there’s no such thing as failure, only ways to improve.

  1. Speak to a specialist recruiter

If your study contract is terminated, and you’re not sure of the best way forward, speak to a specialist recruiter. You won’t be the first person that they’ve seen having failed an exam, and they can help to secure your next position for you.

Think about what you want to achieve from your next position. Consider the following:

  • Type of role: do you want to continue to train in the field you’re currently in, or try something different?
  • Size of firm: would you rather work for a smaller or larger company than the one you’re in now?
  • The company’s training scheme and support: is there a firm out there that would support you better in your training and exam preparation?

Once you’ve decided on these points, a specialist financial recruiter will be able to help you find the perfect next step for you.

If you’ve found yourself in the unfortunate position of having failed a professional exam, don’t panic just yet. Speak to MacKenzie King, as we specialise in financial and accounts recruitment. Kent, Essex, and Suffolk wide, we have a variety of roles available and have the experience of dealing with candidates who have unfortunately failed a professional exam. Let us take some positives from the situation and we’ll happily help you to find a role which is right for you.