Estimated reading time: 10 minutes
Final preparations for the Financial Risk Manager examination can be a stressful deal and key FRM study plan techniques may be the difference between a pass or a fail.
It could be the defining factor between success and failure in the globally acclaimed Financial Risk Manager certification program by GARP. Greener pastures wait for those passing both level 1 and level 2 exams of the course.
But, even after spending 300+ hours in studying for the test, the last final minutes shouldn’t be ignored. With the right techniques, you can cement your knowledge or turn the tides in your favor.
Here are some of the proven techniques that will guarantee your success in GARP’s grueling FRM examination.
Keep your brain hot
Yes, lack of focus and determination is a real thing for many. It is common for some candidates to slow their pace leading up the exam. But with the FRM course, this might lead to failure.
Keep your momentum going! Sticking to the plan that you have been using and that we have been discussing is essential. Evaluate yourself as many times as you can through practice questions.
Seek to find out your areas of weakness through mock exams, and revise rigorously to fill all knowledge gaps before the test.
Nevertheless, as much as it is essential to keep your brain running hot before the exam, rest is also necessary. In light of that, ensure that your study schedule includes adequate rest time. And yes, ‘adequate’ varies from person to person.
Rest brings clarity and peace of mind, which are indispensable weapons in the exam.
You have excellently managed to balance work, study, family, and social responsibilities up until now. Big ups, it’s not an easy thing. Now that the exams are at the door, you might want to cut off all the other stuff.
Start by getting an early leave from work a week before the exam. If that’s not possible, try to minimize and delegate your workload as much as you can.
For your family and friends, let them know that that you have come to a critical juncture and that you might be locking yourself away for most of the time.
In the last days towards the exam, every minute counts! You should, therefore, spend most of your time studying, reviewing and analyzing.
You can also optimize your studies so that you get the most value for every study session.
Consult with your study group members
In the final week before your examination, study groups can help to consolidate your knowledge. Your fellow candidates can help to shade some clarity on harder topics or concepts.
This time can also be used to help someone else in what they are struggling with, and in doing so, you gain more confidence in that particular subject matter.
A study group is beneficial for that last minute jab of confidence, but if all the members are busy with self-studies at this point, you will have to improvise.
You can leverage online forums, online study groups or trainers. If you have friends or family that have gone through the course before, now would be the best time to pick their brain on troublesome issues.
You made summaries, right?
During your final preparations, give the textbooks a rest. If you have been following the proper study techniques, by now you have made summaries on all the topics. Now is the time to go through those short valuable notes.
Short notes are useful last minute study tools because they save time and jog your memory without wearing your intellectual strength. Pour over those mind maps you made and review the bullet points and other quick notes.
This process should come in later after you have done as many practice questions as possible.
This process should be after you have squared off all knowledge gaps either by research or consulting with friends, trainers, or past candidates.
Remove technological distractions
Last minute preparations should be uninterrupted. The idea is to get the most out of it, to load your brain with all the content in the syllabus in a way that you can easily retrieve for use in a few days.
So, it is only wise that you minimize distractions. Switch off that TV, your phones, or any other gadget while you study.
If you have notes on your phone or computer, it would be best to print them. Technological gadgets are not only distracting, but they are also ‘anxiety tools’ if you allow them to be.
Your message apps will probably be blowing up with friends and family wishing you success or wanting to know how well you are ready for the exam.
It’s not a bad thing, but these messages will spike your nerve levels, take up valuable time and make it harder to concentrate.
Try to stay stress-free
Peace of mind is critical as a last minute technique. Yes, it is easier said than done, but try to remain stress-free. Don’t obsessively agonize about how little you know.
Instead, be confident about what you do know and trust that you have covered most of the topics in your revision. Staying stress-free might also involve avoiding some people.
Particularly if fellow candidates or friends and family regularly press your anxiety buttons, you will have to find smart ways to avoid them.
Remember that stress can be contagious too, and so try to steer clear of those stressed people around your exam period.
Use your time wisely
Successful candidates usually create a separate study schedule one week to the exam. Unlike the study schedule you were using before, this one allows you to revise many things in a short period of time.
The idea is to get a bigger picture of the concepts and refresh your memory on the crucial topics.
Ensure that your schedule takes into account the short days remaining, covering all the topics you have to contend with in your examination. Aim to review all the chapters in that 7-day period leading up to the exam day.
Embrace selective reading
You are on schedule. Your study plan is immaculate. Even though you have to read everything before you face the exam, don’t turn this last week into a stressful season.
At this particular point, your study needs to be light. And this is where summaries will save your day. If not, try to embrace selective reading.
Selective reading involves sieving out the ‘fluff’ and going for areas that carry the most weight. Focus on the topics, the subtopics, the bold highlights, and the bullet points.
Be mindful of those tricky areas that tripped you in the practice exam questions. Finish by reviewing and memorizing all the necessary formulas.
Take note of crucial topics
This challenge is unpredictable, and every year, its direction keeps changing. However, from past trends, some concepts are consistently tested in the exam.
If you are feeling a little anxious and don’t have enough time to go through all the topics, try out our e-books and free practice papers for some of the most difficult questions you will see in your studies.
Create a to-do list
If, in the week leading to the big day, you find that there is so much you haven’t covered, it would help to start by creating a to-do list as your primary study focus.
This one goes hand in hand with the study schedule, ensuring that you cover all the bases. A to-do list helps to organize your mind, so you can minimize nasty surprises by reviewing everything before the exam.
You must admit, it also feels great when you tick off a job done on your list. And by the last day, if you have managed to tick off on everything in your inventory, your confidence will be unstoppable.
Be that as it may, your list shouldn’t have too many priorities. In a nutshell, it should aim to give you a detailed summary of the whole syllabus before the exam date arrives.
This list should include what is essential in all the topical areas.
Embrace positive thinking
Positive energy is compelling and can turn the tables even when your chances of success seem slim. Your confidence relies on this energy. See those letters behind your name.
There is plenty of evidence in psychology that shows memory, mental processing speed, and thinking relies on a positive mood. If you are constantly thinking that you are probably going to fail, chances are high you will fail.
You need to think positively and expect good outcomes. Good thoughts stimulate the production of serotonin, a feel-good hormone that creates the right internal environment for thinking.
It’s needless to emphasize again how clear judgment is essential for success in the examination.
Therefore, to activate your ‘warrior spirit’ before the exam day, it would help to research on and recite some positive exam affirmations.
Don’t forget your flashcards and sticky notes
During your revision, you probably made flashcards and stuck them on the freezer, on your desk or any other place at home.
That’s an excellent study technique. Now would be the best time to refresh your memory by reviewing them. Usually, flashcards are used for complex formulas or concepts that are hard to memorize.
You should, therefore, focus on them in during your last minute preparations. Don’t even think about removing these visual reminders from your walls or fridges.
Mind your health
Don’t let your health slip away in the last days leading to the exam. You do not want to fall sick or overwhelmed by stress and fatigue on your big day.
Illness, anxiety, and fatigue are a recipe for exam failure. They impede your brain’s ability to recall and process information. And remember, even though you have to keep studying on the final days, ensure that you get enough rest.
Avoid energy drinks, caffeine, and high sugar content foods. These initially will give you some stimulation and an energy boost, but it will be short-lived. The crash always follows.
You can do a little research on best brain fuel foods and healthy snacks to keep you going in the run-up to the exam. Also, ensure you get at least 30 minutes of exercise every day.
One day to the exam
Your planning has come to its end. By now you should have leveled off all kinds of knowledge deficit, and boosted your self-assurance. It is vital, therefore, to take time off and re-energize for the test.
Plan to do relaxing and enjoyable things on this off day.
You might schedule a long walk or having an exercise session with friends or family. Whatever you do, ensure that it completely distracts you from any anxious thoughts about the next day.
Also, ensure to get enough rest in the evening. You can have a short nap in the afternoon. But, sleep some more during the night so that you are fresh when you wake on the exam day.
The reason for this last minute rest is that it allows your brain some processing time before you face the test.
It is easy for your mind to get hooked on the last things you were reading. Failure to mentally organize everything you have studied can be detrimental. You may have trouble recalling previous concepts.
Don’t let this happen to you. Rest.
‘twas the night before…
On the eve of your examination day, you should organize everything you will need for the test. It’s stressful to start running around in the morning looking for stationery, watches, or a bottle of water.
Before you retire to bed on this night, check GARP’s website on the things allowed in the exam and have them ready. And know what you should not carry as well.
It would also help to select your clothes and put them out. This decision can easily eat a lot of time in the morning, so better choose what you will be wearing the next day before you sleep.
Also, ensure the fridge has enough groceries for breakfast tomorrow.
On the morning
On the exam day, ensure to:
- Wake up early
- Have a quick look at your flashcards and post-it notes
- Have your ID or passport and the printed exam card with you
- Pack your allowed essentials
- Get a healthy breakfast
- Arrive early
- Do not discuss new topics with fellow candidates
Rigorous preparation is what distinguishes those who pass the exam in their first attempt, and those that are forced to retake it. Prepare adequately and leave no stone un-turned in your FRM study plan.
Above all, remember to take care of your physical and mental health: Eat well, get enough sleep, exercise regularly, and think positive. That title is within your reach.
Prove them wrong,
The QuestionBank Family