Estimated reading time: 9 minutes
Planning your studies well can help to improve your understanding of any topic. It also helps to make the most out of each session. Here is what to do to get highly organized when going through your FRM study materials.
1. Use a calendar to track everything
Use your calendar to mark the number of days that you studied for, the number of hours used and what was accomplished.
Place a schedule by your desk or on the wall in your room. You can also use a digital calendar that gives you beeping alerts. Mark these calendars, outlining the dates and times you plan to accomplish each goal.
Mark your calendar with upcoming events, exams, and your own personal projects.
Block off days that you plan to dedicate to reviewing. Maintaining a diary helps you to be organized and accountable for your time. It boosts your self-discipline and determination to go through all the material efficiently.
2. Create primary and secondary focus areas
The best way to go through your books is to prioritize. Every week, endeavor to outline the primary areas of focus in your study time. Go through all the sections and plan which ones to tackle first.
You also need to tailor your study plan and adjusting according to your daily and weekly goals.
And by taking practice questions, you will get to know your areas of strength and weakness. Alter your plan accordingly, setting aside more time to your problematic topics.
This will help you get confident in these areas before exams.
3. Create a schedule and stick to it
After marking your calendar and prioritizing areas of the course, come up with a schedule that you will follow religiously. Make a schedule using highlights and notes that outline the details of the goals in each session.
You will be more successful when you write down each area you plan to study. This helps you to allocate enough time to each of the topics.
For instance, Mondays can be set aside for studying Quantitative Analysis while Tuesdays can be devoted to Valuation and Risk Models and so on until you tackle all topics and start again.
Such a strategy will also help to reduce boredom in reviewing the information.
4. Make a habit of things
Read regularly, at the same time, at the same place and for the same amount of hours. Endeavor to go through your texts consistently like clockwork.
Whenever you read at the same time every day and every week, habit-formation takes root and becomes part of your life.
This is a good thing because your mind will learn to be receptive at that hour, and your attitude will take positive angling towards the subject and the session.
It is okay to change your schedule to accommodate events or emergencies but get back to the routine as soon as you can.
5. Create color-coded flashcards
Flash cards can be extremely helpful if you are trying to remember many concepts. Many successful students admit to using color-coded flashcards for hard concepts.
When dealing with new topics, flashcards can help you understand them easily. Go through them frequently to internalize those difficult risk management concepts.
Alternatively, you can use index cards for every single topic, complex formulas or practice questions. Additionally, if you don’t want to create hard-copy flashcards, you can do it online as well.
6. Use note binders instead of notebooks
Another key to staying organized is to make sure that your course materials are always easy to access. A great way to ensure this involves investing in binders.
These simple tools are particularly advantageous over notebooks because you can update, swap-out and retrieve information anytime easily.
Also, you will always have enough space to update your content and personal notes over time.
7. Take scheduled breaks
Studies reveal that taking timely breaks during your routine can enhance your attention and improve your ability to retain difficult concepts. However, schedule these breaks so that they are neither random nor distracting.
Find the right break activity that will allow you to come back refreshed and focused. After the break, you should find it easy to transition back to your task.
You can also use a timer so that you don’t break for longer than necessary.
8. Use colored post-it cards and highlighters
Studying by highlighting is another strategy you can use to stay organized. It works with text or those that you have personally taken. Highlighting critical areas conditions your mind to attach high importance to them.
In doing this, you are likely to recall those facts. Connecting is an essential part of learning. And highlighting helps make idea connections in your work.
These connections are like pathways your mind will take to remember the essentials. This, as by highlighting makes the connections visually recognizable.
Furthermore, if you want to internalize a lot of new information, post-it cards are a great option. To make a post-it card, write the summary of the information you want to remember on a Sticky Note.
Stick the card on your desk or the wall in your room.
9. Make it personal
Another effective way to internalize your data is to write your own info for revision. This helps your mind to retain information and increase your chances of remembering them.
It is also advisable to review your previous notes on a particular subject before beginning a new session on the same. It will make you more efficient.
Furthermore, you will find that note-taking keeps you alert during sessions. By writing down things, your body stays active and becomes involved in the whole learning process. This will keep drowsiness at bay!
The other advantageous fact of writing is that it engages your mind. As you debate what to and what not to include, you become part of the information exchange.
You get to organize the information in a way that makes the most sense to you.
10. Create a support system
Passing the GARP Financial Risk Manager course takes motivation and inspiration. Knowing this, the support from friends and family can go a long way in helping you achieve success.
Having parents, friends or mentors, is essential to build a support system around you during the course of your program.
It is human nature; relationships and social influences motivate us the most. The desire to work each morning for someone, for instance, is to support his or her loved ones.
It is the same case for a person who adopts a healthier lifestyle because of the support of a friend. A close friend or family member can help to hold you accountable for your success.
They will offer guidance and support, and encourage you on days when you feel like quitting.
11. Maintain a clean and clutter-free environment
Clutter leads to confusion. Accumulated items in your environment will interfere with the voluminous materials. Excess items may become sources of distractions.
It could be papers, books or other things like clothing that will eat into your focus. Unnecessary items will interfere with your comfort when you sit down to read.
Whenever your environment is cluttered with many visual stimuli, you will have a harder time concentrating.
That means that old notes, books or other things that are competing for your attention must go. De-cluttering can help give you back a better focus in your studies.
When studying, a minimalistic area is much more effective than a cluttered one.
12. Minimize all distractions
Scientists from UCLA recently found that it takes about 20 minutes to regain focus after a small interruption. Replying to that short text message can significantly interfere with your learning.
You will achieve very little from the session at the end of it.
Think of electronic and human distractions as speed bumps in your highway of learning; they decrease the processing speed of your brain when you pause to attend to them.
The more you encounter these distractions, the slower your learning process will be.
13. Dividing into topics and subtopics
Create topics in your notes to help you break down massive chunks of information. Introducing topics and subtopics helps you to form a logical flow to your summaries.
Sometimes outlining also helps to create a connection between different but related topics. It becomes easy to review the materials later on. It especially comes in handy for quick readings before an exam.
14. Engage in activities that will boost your mental processes
To complement your routine, you need to have a health routine. That includes eating a balanced diet and exercising. Physical exercise improves your memory and critical thinking skills.
A workout stimulates changes such as reducing insulin resistance and facilitating the growth of blood vessels in the brain. Physical activity promotes restful sleep and helps to reduce stress.
Exercise, therefore, will help in your overall physical health.
Exercise has also been found to impact thinking and memory. Studies show that engaging in a regular workout for approximately six months increases the volume of brain regions responsible for thinking and processing.
Just think of what a sharper mind and body could do for you when going over your info.
15. Use an efficient note-taking method
Find a note-taking method that helps you to structure information in an easily understandable way. This might include using a fresh page for each class or session.
It is also important to date your info or use page numbers to help with sequencing.
Successful students also tend to leave blank spaces when taking notes. It gives you space to add comments later when reviewing the materials. Try to summarize as much as you can.
Additionally, you can use symbols and abbreviations to help you remember the various concepts along the way.
16. Do one thing at a time
Some persons firmly believe that no one has ever successfully ‘multi-tasked’. It is an illusion. The phrase sounds like a good idea, indicating a person who has a higher mental capacity to do different things at a time.
In truth, it often leads to less than desirable results.
When starting out, plan to tackle one topic at a time. Working according to your own schedule can help you move systematically. Also, set specific times for everything so that you don’t eat or listen to music as you work.
17. Take five minutes to review your plan each day
Before you start your session, look at your planner or schedule. Take note of the goals you have to accomplish by the end of the day. It will help to center your thoughts so that you don’t lose focus.
Reviewing your planner will also help you to avoid confusion. Your mind will be clear of the goals set for each day. As a result, your sessions will become more efficient.
18. Know when to say no
Even after creating a schedule, you will face temptations to cancel your study engagements. Temptations come in the form of friends or family urging you to go out with them.
To stay organized, you will simply have to say no sometimes. Set boundaries and let your friends and family know what they are. Include in your schedule how many times you can hang out with friends in a week.
Let them know in advance which days you are available and which days you are not.
To stay organized when reviewing your FRM study materials, stick to a schedule. Your plan will only be successful if you are disciplined and consistent. Create smart habits and stay on track till the end!
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