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To many in the association industry, earning your Certified Association Executive (CAE) credential is the end-all-be-all marker of a successful and committed businessman or woman. 

In fact, The American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) says so themselves.

“The Certified Association Executive (CAE) credential is the marker of a committed association professional who has demonstrated the wide range of knowledge essential to manage an association in today’s challenging environment.”

After working hard to meet all of the eligibility requirements, pledging to uphold ASAE’s Standards of Conduct, applying for the examination, and finally getting to put your knowledge and experience to use when sitting for the exam….what if you fail?

Don’t Panic

With all of the hard work put into preparing for the CAE examination, it can be discouraging and nerve-racking to feel like it was for nothing. But don’t worry, failing is not the end of the world.

According to ASAE, “generally speaking, about two-thirds to three-quarters of candidates pass the CAE exam.”

So, you’re not alone. You’re not the first and you definitely won’t be the last to fail your CAE exam. Take a breather, feel your feelings and get ready to continue with your professional development plans. 

Reevaluate What You Know

You should receive your test results six to eight weeks after sitting for the exam, so the best time to debrief and reevaluate your strengths and weaknesses is directly after you complete it. 

What answers did you know immediately? Which topics drew a blank in your mind? How could you be better prepared next time?

Jot some notes down after you complete the exam, and if you happen to fail that attempt you know which areas you struggled with and should focus on while studying for the next one. 

Related: 6 Best Professional Development Resources for Association Pros Learn More >

Prepare to Retake the Exam

When your CAE examination application is accepted, you have 12 months (or two test administrations) to sit for the exam. In the case of a failure (or if you want to retake the exam for another reason), an additional $250 is needed. Outside of that, a new application will need to be completed and submitted in order to retake the exam.

While you wait for your new application to be approved or until the next testing date, join a study group of other association professionals preparing for the exam. Learning with others could help you absorb new material, learn new study habits or open your eyes to different experiences and decisions your peers have dealt with. 

A Setback for a Comeback

In the end, it’s going to take just a bit more dedication and perseverance to earn your CAE credential, but the extra time and effort will help to distinguish yourself from others and prove that you, too, are a successful and committed association professional. 

Ashley Neal
Post by Ashley Neal
November 1, 2022
Ashley is a marketing and communications professional with expertise in sales conversion, copywriting, and social media.