FRM Course Duration Myths

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes



Nothing in the risk management profession relies on myth and rumor. Where money and risk are involved, everything should be factual, evidenced-based, and statistically incontestable.

Why then, should you believe fables about the FRM course duration? Let’s bust them.


Just so you know

This GARP course is a globally accepted certification in the field of financial risk. The program involves two levels and you are allowed to take both exams on the same day, if you desire.

You can be done with the program in less than six months, or you can take a few years. The length of the program depends on your input and general habits. Here are a couple of misconceptions…


Myth #1: It takes years to clear both exams

The examinations are administered twice a year in May and November. As an example, if you only sit for level 1 in May, you will wait for approximately six weeks to know your results.

Once successful, you can go on to register for the level 2 exams in November of the same year.

Alternatively, if you pass both levels in the first attempt, your total course length will be much shorter, as GARP allows for sitting both levels on the same day.

Nevertheless, we note the requirement that candidates must pass the first level before the second level is graded. 

Therefore, if you are confident in your skills and knowledge in the field, you can actually accomplish the program in less than a year of (intense) study.

And although this can be pressuring, a fast clearance will enable you to get back to real life quickly.


Myth #2: There is no time limit for completing the course

There is certainly a time limit to accomplishing the program and getting certified.

Say you sit for the level 1 exam in May of this year; regardless of the outcome of your results, you would have a timer of 4 years to sit for and pass level 2.

After passing level 1, your hiatus from the program (due to work or personal reasons) should not be longer than three years.

Should the stipulated four years elapse before you sit for level 2, you will have to register anew and start from scratch to obtain the certification.


Myth #3: It takes over 300 hours to study for each exam

Every candidate has a different retention level. And every candidate has a different level of experience. The time it takes to review all the official study materials, plus third party questions will vary from individual to individual.

Registering early for the exam in May (January registration) and November (June registration) gives you four solid months to pore over your materials in detail.

However, late registrants are not doomed. Even those who register in April and sit for the exam in May have a chance of passing!

What’s needed is the right study approach, an ideal mix of study materials, and knowledge of study techniques.

So yes, studying for the tests can take some 300 hours but this is not set in stone. The amount of preparation required is based on an individual’s level of knowledge in risk management and exposure to the right materials.


Myth #4: Only young people without responsibilities can manage the demands of the program

Indeed, sparing time for studies after a busy day at work can be challenging. You also have family and social business to take care of.

Things may get even tighter towards the final days…when a new project is rolled off at work, requiring you to put in extra hours.

Nonetheless, many candidates are employed professionals in various fields and industries. It is possible to strike a balance between work, family, social life, and studying.

The most important thing to do is to talk to your boss, speak to your family and let friends know about your schedule and availability. Once you get their support and understanding, everything should be manageable.

This program is not a full-time one and does not involve in-class training. It is, therefore, possible to build a schedule and successfully juggle work, family, and social life.


Myth #5: The program is meant for employed and experienced professionals

GARP’s Financial Risk Manager course is a professional program, and will not come between you and your job seeking endeavors. 

There are no class schedules that will collide with your appointments and college graduates aren’t required to hit pause on their job-seeking activities when they enroll.

If handled the right way, the program can expedite job hunt success. It’s an eye-catching item to include in your resume, even long before you get the accreditation.

However, you’ll need to know how to leverage the course’s popularity.

Be prepared to talk extensively about how relevant the knowledge you’ve gained will be in solving the complex challenges in the position you are interviewing for.

The truth is the program’s duration shouldn’t come between you and your job-seeking plans.


Myth #6: There will be no time to ‘have a life’

You need both professional and social friends in life. Having one without the other can lead to imbalance in your career and social life.

When going through your program, you will have greater opportunities to join professional networks and meet like-minded people in the field of financial risk.

By the time you accomplish this passage, you would be deeply rooted in a global web of experts. 

Interactions from networking will help drive your career higher through exposure to new opportunities, knowledge, and ways of doing things.

This, however, shouldn’t mean the death of your old friendships.

Go about creating a study schedule that gives you the right balance so you can find time to strengthen old and build new social bonds.

Achieving balance could be as simple as a reschedule of your gym sessions, so they coincide with your buddy’s.

Other ways to meet with your friends when you are busy with work and exam preparation:

  • Create lunch dates that don’t interfere with your schedule
  • Invite them to join you in your daily tasks, such as a family movie night
  • Introduce them to your work or study buddies to interlink your networks

The truth is that there is always time to make new friends during your program. Just be sure to prioritize what matters most.


Myth #7: There’s no interaction with other students during the course

That’s an old fallacy. Peer-to-peer learning is critically essential for success. Candidates can even form study groups online.

There are myriads of discussion forums and conferencing tools that you can use to stay in touch with others.

Dedicated providers of study materials similarly offer and facilitate these interactions. Contenders that have the time and resources can also sign up for in-class coaching sessions that put them in touch with other students.

So, there are lots of interaction-possibilities that happen in the program…both online and in real life.


Myth #8: The duration is too short to make me a global expert

It may only take you six months to accomplish the task, but it will nonetheless be extremely impactful. The FRM course is laser-focused on the challenges faced with respect to financial risk management in the real world.

The syllabus seeks to provide precise and practical based solutions to these challenges. Each topic in the program sharpens your critical and analytical thinking abilities.

The program readies you for the unpredictable nature of risk in the industry. Additionally, the exams are tough, testing not only a theoretical understanding of risk concepts but also their practical application.

This is one of the most-challenging certification programs in the industry, as it signifies unquestionable expertise in the field!


In Summary

The FRM course duration is shorter than most people like to think. The preparation time can similarly be short…given the right study techniques and materials.

In the spell of your studies, you can have the flexibility to work, nurture your family, and grow your friendships — proper time management skills combined with the right materials are all you need.


One step at a time,

The QuestionBank Family