Estimated reading time: 14 minutes
Are you having difficulty remembering vital information that you recently studied? Do you experience anxiety once that question paper has been put in front of you?
Well, take comfort in the fact that you are not alone in this regard; there are many students around the world having similar or even much worse experiences when they enter that examination room.
And you may also take comfort in the fact that many persons have overcome these issues by diligently practicing the following techniques which we are about to share with you.
1. Familiarize yourself with the contents
A great way to retain specific information is to initially seek an overall perspective of what is being required.
Instead of thrusting yourself into reading each line on the first go, step back and browse through the entire GARP books. Do this to have a better understanding of where the text direction is heading. And highlight the general concepts that are being taught.
Having an idea of the overall structure at hand will help in understanding the more minute details later on.
We are careful to point out though, that the point is NOT to skip out on reading the entire literature. You must do this for your own benefit and understanding.
Simply put, your initial goal is to get the overall picture being presented by skimming through the materials then to go into details by reading every line.
2. Make Flashcards
Creating and organizing flashcards are a simple and powerful way for anyone to retain information. Using them to make summaries after each study session will also go a long way in improving your memory of the various subject matters at hand.
After writing up a flashcard, turn it over, close your eyes and try to recall what was written on it. Better yet, read it aloud with your eyes closed.
A well-known and proven technique that we can all use to remember for our test is to practice reading your material multiple times until it “sticks” in your memory.
Reading and re-reading will create a more robust memory pattern. This will undoubtedly be one of the more powerful techniques that you can employ in studying to become a financial risk manager.
4. Break the silence
Many often read their texts in silence…to their own detriment. As a result of being in a library, being beside someone who is also studying or as a result of habit, studying for your exam in silence may be one of the hampering factors that you have not realized as yet.
Psychologists tend to agree that the words you say out aloud have a tendency to stay with your short and long term memory. You are more likely to recall what you have said and even where you have said in once you start practicing outward communication.
5. Link those concepts
Another handy method in recalling your notes is to link what is being discussed to another area that you may already know. There is a lot of interplay between finance, business, economics and mathematics.
You may find it very beneficial to link those new and unknown areas to concepts that you may have already encountered in your work and study life.
6. Ask for Help
Another simple yet overlooked methodology for learning. Numerous times in life, I have had the experience of learning something a lot quicker when a fellow student or co-worker has explained it to me and I am will to be that you have had such an experience as well.
Do you know someone who has already passed their exams or perhaps it is an individual who is a natural whiz at finance? Well, why not approach them for help?
Many others have crossed this road before you and have experienced many of the pitfalls out there, so there is absolutely no need to reinvent the wheel and do it alone.
Having an experienced person help you is a bit like having a mentor in life; this person may help you navigate through the rough and stormy waters created by those geniuses at GARP.
7. Sight or sounds?
In today’s world, you can find so much useful information on the web and there are several persons who offer free guides on YouTube. Try these out and you may just find that this is a great way to study or to get over some particularly difficult topic that you are struggling with.
Even though many associate YouTube with entertainment, it is actually a great learning tool as it stands right now (and we bet it will be an even greater one in the future).
Another dead simple method is to just use Google or Microsoft’s Bing! There are a ton of websites offering valuable content out there so why ignore them?
Many persons are offering both paid and free content that carry a high level of quality and these can be used as supplementary content to help you along the study path.
8. Music or silence?
Here is another topical matter that varies from person to person. It is well documented that music has the effect of altering moods, so, assuming that you are the type of person that benefits from listening to a good tune while studying, be sure to select the right tone and get to work.
However, if you are the person who demands silence, then be sure to create an environment that will be conducive to your needs. For some, this may be in the dead of night when the little ones are asleep. Or this may be early in the daytime after you have rested for the night.
9. Ask others to quiz you
In trying to retain your data, why not simply ask someone to take your text in hand, stand right in front of you and ask questions about it? This is a simple and great way to test your knowledge as well as a great hack to remember what you have read.
The sheer pressure of having a (serious) person questioning you directly will actually force you to make a greater effort in remembering.
Unfortunately, we understand that many will not want to try this method as it may reveal their deficiencies to others, but remember, now is not the time to be afraid or too proud- swallow that pride and assess your knowledge.
10. Consider group participation
As a follow up to asking a single individual to quiz you on the test material, it is highly suggested that you consider becoming part of a focused study group. The sheer pressure of knowing that you will be in front of several like-minded individuals who are all going after the same goal will force you into putting out a greater effort.
Group discussions will also create avenues for learning that you may have missed by yourself. Active engagement with your peers will aid with long term information retention and create better learning opportunities in time.
Nevertheless, we will like to point out that one of the most critical issues in this point is to be part of a genuinely focused and serious set of individuals who are keen to complete their financial risk manager examinations.
If you are in a group environment with members always straying off topic or are spending more time to discuss the latest movie in theaters than what is in the text, then please look elsewhere for better inspiration. There will be plenty of time to discuss other things once the exam is over.
11. Be more active
When engaged in a reading session, try not to just read in silence. Instead, ask yourself questions (and answer them) try some of the following to start;
What is the main concept being taught here?
How can I apply this to my own work?
Are there any examples of this in the current financial markets right now?
How could this concept show up as a question?
Is this linked to any other sections that I have read before?
12. Have examples as reference
What better way is there to retain your material than to do an actual practice question? We know the great importance of practicing examination questions before going into that exam room. You may genuinely believe that you are prepared to take your exam and then…boom! Just like that, your expectations have been shattered.
We urge you not to take the risk of walking into that exam unprepared, as it is much more sensible to be over-prepared than to be under-prepared. Using another six months to revisit content that you have already gone through is no fun, nor is it a good use of your time.
Even if, you are unwilling to purchase examples, at least test yourself by going through our free questions, after which, download all the free content we have prepared here for you.
As a follow on to this point, in going through sample questions for your exams, you will have a particular experience. What experience am I talking about?
The one that you will fully understand when you have selected the wrong answers! Yes my friends, you will make mistakes…and you will learn so much more from making these errors than you will from repeatedly telling yourself you are prepared (when you are not).
Making errors is just a natural part of the learning process for many great minds. And your views on making errors should be no different. Test your knowledge today and see where you truly stand.
13. Always write notes when studying
One of the most effective ways to remember what you have studied is to create your own study notes.
To be a successful candidate, make use of markers to highlight important or difficult concepts that you have encountered in your readings. Underline key information that you wish to revisit and create drawings that will aid in explaining tough ideas.
14. Minimize distractions
We live in a world of modern convenience; tablets, cellphones, gaming devices and a host of electronic equipment will clutter many homes and offices. And, as a result of having these conveniences, our attention span is no better than an orange.
Many of those who are committed to succeed in their FRM examinations have found that removing most forms of electronic devices improved their ability to both focus on the study task at hand as well as retain their focus for longer periods.
Some may have real difficulty going cold-turkey right off the bat so we will help you with this by offering a way to achieve this objective. And that way is to create time blocks and stick to them. Do you want to check your twitter feed, or those Instagram posts or even your Facebook page? Fine. You may do this. But not every 5 minutes!
Set aside specific blocks of time at specific times during the day and commit to only studying during these time-slots.
15. Create a routine
For those serious about retaining their studied information, we offer these points…establish a routine as early as you can and stick to it.
My mother has a saying- Habits can make and habits can break. Get your mind into a military type of mode and do things on a consistent basis.
Having an ad-hoc approach to studying will not help your chances of retention. Set some particular time away each day that you know you will be more-than-likely to keep and hit those books.
16. Have a hard format
In studying to become a financial risk manager, research is suggesting that the methodology of actually holding your own notes on paper will sometimes help you in remembering the details.
Something about the tactile physical feedback causes greater mental stimulation than having the data stored on a phone or tablet.
In preparing, we urge you to purchase a simple and inexpensive note binder to conveniently store all your written jottings and thoughts. This will become an invaluable revision tool nearer to the exam date. When the pressure to perform is much higher, be more organized!
17. Help others!
As crazy as it sounds, trying to explain your notes to others is an absolutely great way to remember what has been studied.
The “back and forth” process of sharing and discussing information will reinforce your own knowledge. And it may help you in discovering new and important details that you may have missed along the way.
18. Visualize the concepts
Research shows that engaging a greater number of your senses tends to lead in better information retention in the long run. Putting concepts learned into a picture, table, pie chart or drawing will significantly better your chances of recalling your study notes.
Additionally, having a visual aid will also decrease the amount of time required to revisit, understand and internalize information previously studied.
19. Organize, organize, organize
Are papers wildly thrown all over your study surroundings? Is everything jumbled but not hint of order?
Well, its time you put things in place. Having your notes for each section and each topic, fully separated and organized into folders will help you in the long run to retain information.
This will also help you to find relevant data much more quickly.
Keep your surroundings neat and tidy and you will be surprised how well this will help in recalling information. An untidy environment will lead to an untidy brain.
20. One topic at a time
In going through the content, you will undoubtedly realize that some topics require far more effort and attention to understand that others. This is typically the case for many programs and not just the course.
Whenever you find yourself on one such difficult topic, it is normally advisable to just slow down a bit. You must take time in order to better understand what is being explained.
Moving around too quickly in the name of speed may promote not just confusion but poor information retention as well.
21. Improve your diet
This is another important area that is often overlooked. Over the long term, your diet will either help or hinder your information retention abilities.
Try to minimize greasy foods as well as those that are high in complex sugars. Think candies, sweets, cookies etc. And try to increase those foods that will help your cognitive abilities. Think papaya, blueberries, greens etc.
22. Schedule your breaks!
Yes, we all know the importance of setting time apart towards studying for your exams. But do you know that it is equally important to schedule your breaks?
For this particular point, I can tell you that the time necessary varies widely from person to person.
We are all different, possessing varies skills and having varied experiences. As a direct result, some persons may need to break a lot sooner than others. You simply have to challenge yourself.
I know successful individuals who can go for several hours until they need to get up, walk around or have a snack…and I also know successful individuals who just can’t seem to sit in one place for longer than 45 minutes.
The point is simply to your know your comfort zone and what you are capable of. It makes no sense to forcibly sit down in front of your book and not absorb anything.
Scientists have documented the many benefits that come to each of us with a regular exercise routine. And you better believe it that an improved memory is one of those benefits.
“Cognitive Processing” may not be words used very often in our day to day conversations, however this term has longed been studied by scientists all around the world. And the results have been quite fascinating!
Regular physical activity has a direct and positive impact on memory function, in the long term and short term.
Do you need to have muscles like the Hulk? Nope. Simply having moderate levels of activity each day can do the trick. And we are simply talking about 10 to 15 minutes of movement.
The great news is that you can pick any one of several options to suit your style; brisk walking, light jogging, swimming, biking, push-ups or even jumping jacks.
24. Using Meditation Techniques
As meditation techniques become more prevalent in our society, more research efforts have been directed towards these forms of exercise. In fact it is becoming more accepted to have such techniques within our homes, schools and offices. You will reap several benefits of practicing meditation due to its potential positive impact on the mind.
Studies show that persons performing meditation techniques before studying typically have higher levels of retention than those who did not use such efforts.
25. Before the Big Day
We cannot overemphasize this point enough; there is just no use in walking into the examination room extremely tired. For the night before the exam, set a reasonable cut-off time and then hit the bed.
In having a good night’s sleep, your brain and body will be able to operate at higher levels. If you are physically and mentally tired…you will struggle.
Believe it or not, having regular proper rest will actually help you in recalling and retaining your studied information!
Check out the following links if you don’t believe us:
Studying and preparing for the FRM exams will require a great deal of time and energy (and money). Nevertheless, you must remember that many others before you have faced this challenged and successfully overcame the odds. You can too!
We ask for you not just to read this article. But to apply the suggested actions that we have written about.
In order to better your chances of remembering what you have studied; take action. Not just for the sake of the financial risk manager examinations but for your career as well.
The QuestionBank Family