Estimated reading time: 7 minutes
Pointers to get you prepared
The world is in demand for professionals with advanced expertise in financial risk management. You have to pass the globally recognized exam by GARP to get on the sure path to career success.
Between you and the immense potential for career growth stands the two examinations. What strategy should candidates use to pass? Read on to explore our FRM exam preparation tips that could improve your odds of passing this notoriously hard challenge.
1. Get enough time to study
Don’t wait for the final countdown to increase your study momentum. This task, unlike college tests, cannot be hacked by one day of study. From the moment you finalize your registration, it would help to adhere to a consistent study routine until D-Day.
Some experts say that it takes about 300 hours to (adequately) prepare for each test. That time could be more or slightly less for you depending on your retention levels and aptness on matters of risk management.
The point is; getting enough time to study ensures that the concepts stick in your long term memory. If you ask around, you will find that these questions are never direct.
They are about the application of theoretical concepts to practical problems in the financial world.
It will be hard to connect the dots that you have crammed in your short term memory to practical cases. On the other hand, the information that you have known for long becomes innate. It is easier to elaborate or extrapolate based on the questions asked.
2. Structure your studies
You need a holistic grasp of the concepts and their applicability in real-life to pass both levels. As a result, planning and adhering to a well-organized schedule will help to ensure that you cover all topics before time runs out.
If you find it hard to construct a study schedule, you can find comprehensive guides online that you can base your preparation on. Preparation packages by third providers also come with calendar tools and study plans organized topic-wise.
Whether you plan for yourself or follow a pre-made schedule, ensure that your agenda takes stock of both the official materials and third-party practice questions.
3. Adopt a strategy that works for you
Some people are visual learners, while others do well with notes or even audio. When studying, you can implement flashcards and charts if you are a visual learner.
These will help to condense lots of information in a small space and serve as visual cues. You can also use post-it notes, placing them everywhere from your fridge at home to your desk at work. Audio learners can leverage the right apps and audio books.
There are also course providers for (multiple paths) that offer both video and audio lectures for that purpose.
4. Remember practice questions
Your preparations will not be complete without practice questions. These help to unearth your areas of weakness so you can find and fix those gaps before you finally face the real thing.
These similarly improve your confidence and answering skills. Practice questions go hand-in-hand with mock exams. While you can take questions after each topic to test your understanding of the material, mock exams will work better towards the final weeks before the exam.
For mock exams, you must take them in an ‘exam-like’ setting. Find a quiet place with no distractions, time yourself, and do not cheat by looking at the questions or answers beforehand. You can then grade yourself after you finish.
Just like practice questions, mock tests serve as a compass, pointing you to the areas that you need to pay more attention to, as you finalize your training.
When you walk into that room, you will have peace-of-mind knowing that you have not left any stone un-turned.
5. Study wherever you are
We all know the unpredictability nature of work, family, and travel. Even when you are vacationing, or on a business trip, you should find (some) time to study.
Being away from home shouldn’t mean a holiday from your study routine. A few days off your goals could spiral into failure. Watch out. You can avoid the temptation of intellectual laziness when you travel by adopting digital study materials.
As opposed to printed materials, get PDF versions so you can take your content with you on the train, or on a flight. Find online sources that give you easy access to valuable notes from any corner of the world.
6. Create a study group
Chances are, no single person will be an expert on all theories. You need, therefore, to have study friends around so you can get the assistance you need when you need it.
Similarly, by assisting a friend on a topic they find difficult, you cement your knowledge on it. Using groups can be a critical component in the preparation process.
7. Ask for help
You can have a study group, but with a ‘know-it-all’ attitude, you may never benefit from it. Don’t go solo, ask for help. There might be a more natural way of mastering what you are trying to understand.
There might be one concept that you have gotten wrong and has affected a large part of your understanding. Consulting, conferring, and comparing notes with others helps to reveal such ticking bombs that could blow your chances of passing.
8. Have a support group
Have friends, family, and even colleagues invested in your success. If your boss understands the value of your certification to the company, they may let you off early in the evenings so you can study.
If your family understands your motivation, they will allow you the time to focus on your books. They can be there, offering courage and support when you are feeling overwhelmed.
That simple ‘you can do it’ from friends and family can go a long way to helping you pass this course.
9. You need rest
No candidate should use all-nighters as a regular study technique. Studying all night long can be a waste. There are no new memories that the brain creates when you are exhausted and sleepy.
That session, when you are struggling with red eyes, is null and void. Try to study when you are well-rested and your mind is fresh. For those juggling work and exam preparation, the best time to study may be early in the morning before you head off for work. Why is that? With all the number-crunching or deadlines that you do at work, your brain may be too tired by the end of your day. Morning hours may be your best bet.
10. Minimize distractions
Distractions such as music and social media will reduce your ability to concentrate. Candidates that study with such distractions remember the least amount of information by the end of their session.
Put that phone or tablet away and find a private space to get the most from your time. Don’t believe the multi-tasking fallacy that many have fallen for.
When you are studying and watching TV, you will naturally pay more attention to one more than the other (and it’s the one that you find more interesting).
Time for exam preparation should therefore be exclusive—no friends, social media or news. These things should have their own time in your schedule.
11. Manage your time well
Time management skills are needed not only during the preparation phase but also during the actual test. Prioritize your time while creating a balance with your work and family life.
These aspects of life should not suffer on account of you pursuing the FRM certification.
Time management is especially critical for late registrants. When you only have one or two months to study, time becomes the defining factor.
The best candidates will prioritize not only the critical concepts but also study materials. They will decide what activities are important in an effort to create more time for reading.
12. Switch up your spaces
Studying in one place every day may not be suitable for you. Studying in different areas may boost memory because your brain makes associations between what you feed it and the surrounding environment.
Changing up the scene may enrich the information you are trying to master and makes it more exciting for your brain.
13. Make it less boring
Don’t bury yourself in one material from start to the end. You can learn more when you switch things up—use multiple sources of information, from the official GARP materials to online content from external providers.
Getting information from multiple sources expands your perspective. You may, therefore, be better able to apply them in different practical scenarios simulated in the test questions.
Depending on your preparation methodologies, it is very possible to pass this hurdle. You just have to know how to study, when to study, and how to optimize your retention abilities.
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You can do it,
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