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GARP FRM® Examination Course Guide
Thank you for visiting our How to Pass the FRM Exam Guide page. Please take your time and go through each section carefully as there are many nuggets of useful information here to aid you in the ultimate goal of being allowed to bear the mark and become a Financial Risk Manager.
For the very latest updates, please visit the following official GARP links:
Please visit the following link to see the latest updates on fees and registration:
All relevant payments must be received by GARP before Midnight, New York Time.
GARP accepts the following types of payment routes:
Credit card: MasterCard, Visa, or American Express.
Check: Drawn on a U.S. bank or an overseas check having a U.S. Intermediate Bank Wire.
Wire: These instructions are printed at the bottom of your invoice.
Special Note 1: A US$50 processing fee is applied for payments done through wire or check.
Special Note 2: Please have your signature applied to all relevant documents and include your GARP ID and a copy of your invoice.
GARP is now transitioning to Computer Based Testing (CBT)
Candidates will take their examinations at testing sites through the use of a computer instead of paper and pencil.
Part 1 is moving to CBT starting in May 2021.
Part 2 is moving to CBT starting in December 2021.
Please note: The breadth, structure, and length of the examinations are not being changed.
Part 1 is 100 equally weighted questions.
Part 2 is 80 equally weighted questions.
General Examination Period
In addition to the introduction of Computer Based Testing, examinations will now be delivered over a range of dates, instead of on a specific date.
Part 1 exam dates in 2021 are May 8 – 21, July 10 – 23, and November 13 – 26.
All Part 1 exams will be administered through CBT.
Part 2 exam dates in 2021 are May 15 (paper and pencil) and December 4-10 (CBT).
Registration for the 2021 FRM May and July Exams will begin on December 1, 2020.
The Course Format
Exam Part I: Learn fundamental tools and techniques used in risk management and the theories that underlie their use. Your time to complete this is 4 hours or less.
The focus of the books include:
- Key concepts around risk management
- A Formulas and mathematically focused quantitative analysis
- General knowledge of the financial markets
- Risk modelling and their valuation
Exam Part II: Apply the tools and techniques covered in Part I and dive deeper in investment management and current market issues. Your available time to cover this section is 4 hours or less.
The focus includes the management and measurement of various areas such as:
- Credit and Market Risk
- Issues being faced in today’s financial world
- Operational Risk
- Investment Risk
The pass rate for the FRM exam is normally between 40% and 50%.
A standard table is presented to you with the values for the cumulative distribution function. This is your standard ‘z-table’
As such, you are not expected to memorize CDF values.
You will also be given a list of common abbreviations used throughout the examination.
Becoming a Financial Risk Manager isn’t an easy task and many do dream of having that FRM designation to propel them further in their industry.
As a result of the relatively low pass rates, you are expected to study for at least 250 hours.
However, we must tell you that some candidates have logged over 400 hours in preparing for each exam!
The Exam is offered in approximately 90 sites over the world.
You may check the area nearest to you at www.garp.com
Registration rules actually allow you to sit for the two exams within the same day.
Please note that part 1 level must be passed before part 2 is to be graded.
The Financial Risk Manager exam can be taken by anyone who desires to take it and the official books may be purchased by anyone who wishes to read them.
There are no educational pre-requisites as the exam may be taken by anyone who desires to take it.
The course is offered in English.
Additional Fees and Payments
Please visit GARP to see updated fee schedules and all general information with respect to becoming a Financial Risk Manager.
GARP does not provide refunds for either the Exam Enrollment or Registration Fees.
Exam Transfer to another Candidate
Candidates for the Financial Risk Manager exam cannot transfer their registration to another candidate.
You can defer your registration once to the next Exam date.
Second deferrals will not be considered.
A deferral to the next Exam date must be submitted by the last day of registration.
Note: There is a fee to defer.
The truth is, this guide will be of no use if you do the wrong things on exam day!
The pass rate is already low enough so be sure to know the rules and regulations.
In addition to our study guide, below is a list of violations that have resulted in a candidate’s Financial Risk Manager Exam not being graded.
- Arriving after the doors were closed.
- Opening the examination booklet early.
- Starting the exam before “time to begin” was announced.
- Using a non-approved calculator during the Exam.
- Using a writing instrument that was not GARP issued on the Exam booklet and/or answer sheet (pen, pencil, or mechanical pencil).
- Having erasers, white-out, or correction fluid/tape, highlighters, or rulers.
- Being found with wearable technology devices such as Google glasses, smart-watches, a watch, a fit-bit, clocks, or portable clocks.
- Writing on the admission ticket or presented an admission ticket with writing on the back.
- Having a mobile cell phone in your possession.
- Being caught cheating or used books during the exam.
- Leaving with exam material(s) and/or admission ticket.
- Writing after the proctor announced “stop writing.”
- Communicating with another candidate during the Exam.
Paper Admission Ticket
You should not expect to gain admission to the Exam via a smartphone that contains an electronic copy of their Admission Ticket.
A paper Admission Ticket is required for you to enter the Financial Risk Manager Exam.
There are no exceptions to this!
Typical Exam Day Schedule
Once the Exam doors have closed, you will not be allowed to enter and sit for the examination .
There are no exceptions to this rule!
Sections and Weightings Covered by GARP
The Financial Risk Manager Program is designed to demonstrate your skills and knowledge in financial risk management:
Part I: Learn fundamental tools and techniques used in risk management and the theories that underlie their use.
Part II: Apply the tools and techniques covered in Part I and dive deeper in investment management and current market issues.
Exam I: Books 1 – 4
1. Foundations of Risk Management (20%)
2. Quantitative Analysis (20%)
3. Financial Markets and Products (30%)
4. Valuation and Risk Models (30%)
Exam II: Books 1 – 6
1. Market Risk Measurement and Management (20%)
2. Credit Risk Measurement and Management (20%)
3. Operational Risk and Resiliency (20%)
4. Liquidity and Treasury Risk Measurement (15%)
5. Risk Management and Investment management (15%)
6. Current Issues in Financial markets (10%)
To continue our guide, we now turn our attention to a very important section dedicated to tips for candidates.
Recommendations Before Taking the Exam
Set Aside Time
It is absolutely critical to maintain a good study guide.
Realizing that you don’t have enough time to cover all the study material necessary is one feeling that you cannot afford to have.
Setting out a time chart showing the exam dates, your work deadlines, personal and family commitments is a good way to make an assessment of the position that you’re in.
Target Weak Areas
Committing more time to your known weak areas and less time to your strong areas is always a good thing to do.
We encourage you to strive for balance.
Make a Calendar
Make markings on a large calendar and clearly write your study goals. Show to-do’s, accomplishments and weak areas that require special focus.
Having markings for your work, personal & family commitments are also important. And don’t forget to show the Financial Risk Manager exam date, time and where it is being held!
Set the Environment
Having a dedicated space that is conducive to concentrated study is also a good thing to have when preparing for such a challenging exam.
Try to get into an area that has as few distractions as possible (be it visual or audio distractions).
Some persons need their space to be extremely tidy, some need a certain type of music, and others need to have dead silence.
Knowing what works best for you is key.
There can be several advantages to being part of a study group. You will be able to explain topics that you are strong in as well as hear from those that are strong in your weak areas.
If you ever find yourself in a group that is always going off-course to discuss unrelated matters or simply wasting precious time, then politely excuse yourself from such persons.
You should also consider talking to those persons who already received their FRM designation to find out a bit more on how they achieved it.
Eat Well & Hydrate
Be very weary of having high-sugar snacks before the exam, as you may feel energized for an hour-or-so but will have to deal with the energy crash that follows!
Have nutritious items such as yogurt, bananas etc. that will not cause a sudden spike your energy levels in a short time span but slowly releases it with time.
Having plenty of water throughout your study period will also be of benefit to your concentration abilities.
Yes, exercise. Many students fall into the trap of saying time is short so they will have to cut things out such as daily exercise. This is a terrible mistake!
Regular exercise will improve the blood-flow to your brain and through the body, lower stress levels and help you tremendously in concentrating throughout the FRM course.
Whether it’s going to the gym, walking, jogging or swimming – just do it!
Take Time Off
Everyone is different, but many persons simply cannot study for extremely long periods of time and still do their regular day-to-day activities adequately.
Take time away and do something that will truly relax your body and mind.
Don’t feel guilty about spending a bit of time at the beach in the sun or sleeping a bit longer than usual over the weekend.
Having such breaks will almost-certainly rejuvenate your energy levels.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Going through all the study materials, your study guide, all potential exam questions available in your text and those available elsewhere is extremely important.
Exposing yourself to the various forms of exam questions will not only inspire confidence internally, but will ensure that you are a bit more settled under real-word exam conditions.
Yes, having a good night’s sleep is one of the critical components of functioning at your peak.
So, set the alarm clock and sleep well.
Be sure to carry what is necessary for the day. Your calculator, identification card, extra cash, stationary, a fully charged phone etc.
Recommendations During the Sitting of the Exam
Scan the Paper
It is generally beneficial to have a look-through of the entire paper, making markings of areas that are completely familiar and simple formulas that you can jot down quickly.
Read The Question Again
A simple request that many will not do. The course can be very deceptive.
This is such an important task that we cannot over-emphasize it enough.
Secure the Easy Ones
Going through the paper with a view to answer those questions that you are extremely strong/confident about is normally a good strategy.
As, in the event of time running out, this ensures a securing of points that may make all the difference in the final outcome.
This approach will also build your confidence!
Review Your Paper
Assuming that this is possible, please carefully review all of your paper, even those that you may be very confident about.
We urge you to devote your full attention to your paper.
You must not worry about that lady who is asking for a ton of paper to write things on.
Do not concern yourself with what is happening on the outside.
Focus only on your desk and what’s in front of you.
Having unsettled nerves will not help you one bit. Have a good breakfast.
Plan the travel route beforehand and try to arrive at the examination center with plenty of time to spare.
Go to the bathroom one more time. If possible, sit in a quiet area, close your eyes and clear your mind, not thinking about any specific topic or question.
Avoid persons who are constantly complaining or stressing about the examination.
What To Do After Completing the Paper?
You have gone through all the study materials. You dedicated yourself to passing both levels.
We can say you gave it your best and you still have your sights set squarely on achieving your goal of becoming a Financial Risk Manager.
Regardless of how you feel afterwards, take some time and care for yourself.
It may be a movie, a good book, spending time with a certain person or even playing a video game!
Just take some time away and be happy with your efforts.
What To Do After Gaining Qualification?
Put it on your CV now
If you are a recent graduate then color your CV. Human Resource experts often look for self-driven individuals to fill their positions. They hunt for passionate individuals that never tire when it comes to knowledge-seeking.
The fact that you have taken the step to distinguish yourself in the job pool by pursuing this certification makes you noticeable.
But how do you position the program in your resume? It’s easy! Place it first as the honored mark it is.
Make it clear how the skills you acquired are in touch with the challenges faced by the company.
Show how passionate you are
Businesses having a high employee turnover rate will lose financially in the long-run.
That’s simply something they don’t want. Recruiting managers will therefore be waiting for you to prove how dedicated and committed you are.
This profession is not for the faint-hearted. You must know how to handle pressure and deal with people.
You must be comfortable with numbers and be the one to always think about the bigger picture.
You must be on time with reports and successfully oversee teams or deal with clients.
How would you handle that pressure? Will, you quit the next day? You must be able to explain how committed you are and how you will derive satisfaction from your work.
You faced challenges of the same nature while studying but you still made it, didn’t you?
You succeeded because you had a vision and stuck with it to the end. Reference that in your discussions.
Practice talking about your qualification
It doesn’t have to be in an interview. It could be at a restaurant, at a bar, at a family gathering or even church.
Whoever you meet, if you are going to talk for more than ten minutes then you can always expect the question “what do you do?”
Your answer doesn’t have to be about where you work, it can be about what qualifications you have and where you are looking to work.
The more you talk about yourself, the more confident you become. It builds people skills and trains you to keep your audience engaged.
And hey, your next employer could very well be at that bar or church event so keep talking.
Show your knowledge and skills
Before you get that job, you must show that you have real knowledge and practical skills in financial risk management.
The potential employer may be looking for proficiency with data, regulatory knowledge and the presence of a future leader.
Remember to relate your knowledge to the practical world especially since the program was designed to be relevant to current events.
You now have the ability to add value to any organization through measuring and evaluating. Referencing this knowledge can help showcase that you understand risk and how to manage it.
But don’t just talk about what you know, talk about what you can do.
Don’t miss networking opportunities
Both online and in-person forums are a good place to talk about your qualifications. Thankfully after certification, each person gets a chance to join a vast global network of professionals.
This network puts you in touch with 150,000 plus professionals- What a good opportunity to sell your skills!
Ensure therefore to attend all industry events, including the ones hosted by GARP. Meet up with everybody including practitioners, regulators, and even educators.
Take their contact information and nurture the relationships to a point when it would be okay to ask for favors.
But how do you ask for job favors?
- Identify the powerful connectors in your network
- Get specific with your request
- Ask for an informal coffee interview
- Show that you know your stuff
- Keep the connection active
Unpack your experience
Talking about your skills is not enough. The recruiting manager will be waiting to hear how you have used them.
Fresh graduates can talk about their internships and volunteer positions. Experienced certificate holders can discuss the various roles they have held and how they added value to their organizations.
But what do you do when you are lacking work experience? Focus on the program, discussing your newly skills acquired and how relevant they will be in the position you are interviewing for.
Know yourself. Show yourself
What kind of a person are you? Do you communicate well? Are you friendly? Can you think on your feet or show leadership where there is a gap. Prepare to showcase everything.
Talk about your people skills and how your educational background is helping you with that. Highlight your time management skills and how you juggled the program with your other social, academic &/or work responsibilities.
Soft skills are in demand for all companies big and small. This certification equips you with some of the highly sought-after qualities including:
- Critical thinking
- Emotional intelligence
- Problem solving skills
Audit yourself and learn from your mistakes
Life gives you learning opportunities. After a formal interview, informal coffee interview or encounters with new people, you can reflect on your interactions and look for ways to enhance your communication skills for the next time.
For effective learning, list your greatest personal attributes and memorize them so you never forget to mention one when the question comes up.
Do the same for your practical skills, important industry knowledge or even news.
Outline real-life examples of how you saved the day. What was the situation? What did you do? What was the result? Do you have the numbers? If no, find that evidence now before you face another interview.
Strengthen your social media profiles
One of the top trends in global talent acquisition is recruiting through social media. Unlike the standard resume, your social profile gives you extra space to talk about yourself and your accomplishments.
Use the social space to outline your qualifications and how it makes you stand out in the job market. For those still in the program, this is the time to do some passive job seeking.
Put up that information, stay active and be open for interviews. If your profile is unique and interesting, employers will come knocking on your door.
But how do you make your profile stand out?
- Create a catchy title to describe who you are
- Ensure to use keywords relating to your qualification and skills
- Focus on what you can do well and how your training can help you bring more value to employers
- Shine the spotlight on your experience – Be sure to make it interesting and relevant
- Link the profile to your website if you have one
- Make connections with professionals in your field and ask for referrals and recommendations
Remember – This qualification gives you a lot to go by in order to standout in the job market. Use the above ideas to leverage your skills and experience for a new job or higher position.
Need more information?
Get up to date and spend time on the official GARP website before your examinations!