Estimated reading time: 10 minutes
Candidates know too well that you have to become a book worm to pass the FRM examinations. It is even worse with last-minute registrants as you will likely have not more than a month to internalize all the concepts.
In such a short time, how do you read all your FRM books and still remember the topical issues? Read on to find out.
1. Pay special attention to headings
Previewing your books will give you a perspective on what to expect. This strategy prepares your psyche through quick and summarized knowledge of the entire document.
Scan your books in their entirety and focus on headings and subheadings.
The in-depth explanations of the concepts will come in later. Similarly, you need to take note of the texts that are in bold or and in bullet form.
These will give you a big picture of the overall concept without investing too much time into it.
2. Make a habit of scanning
After you’ve finished scanning, by now you will have a perspective of your material. When you finally, don’t read entire sentences or paragraphs but look for relevant bits of information.
Because you know the main subjects of the text, you will go faster without getting confused by surprising or new parts that you encounter. Fast scanning is an effective speed studying method to cover more ground.
3. Don’t read every word. Be selective
To go through your books faster and retain its concepts, you will need to practice selective reading. You can sift through textual junk by reading phrases and not words.
You can read between 3 to five words at the same time, moving on to the next set as you go along.
This methodology allows you to find the most crucial information and internalize it quickly, as opposed to the slower word-for-word learning.
4. Write down your goals
Ask yourself…What am I trying to achieve? What is the author trying to communicate?
This plan of attack is helpful when going through intimidatingly huge texts. You can our GARP’s study plan to create your learning objectives for each topic.
Knowing what you want to achieve at each study session will help you read faster and retain necessary information.
Also, as you progress, find out what the author’s goal is. Your intent might not be as broad in scope as the author’s. In that case, you will have to disregard plenty of non-relevant information and skip to the relevant sections.
5. Don’t repeat words in your mind
This is called “sub-vocalization” and you must avoid it to be an effective speed reader. Your brain and eyes can process information much (much) faster than the rate at which you speak.
Sub-vocalization is a habit that too many people fall into. It refers to speaking in your mind as you go along. It drastically slows down progress because your speaking speed is naturally slower than your reading speed.
Scientists have found that when you silence the quiet voice in your head as you read, you can go through a large volume of material in a short time and remember most of it. With this change, you can double your pace of reading.
Reading with zero sub-vocalization is not easy. You have probably been like that since kindergarten. To break this habit, start by being aware of this situation.
You can also avoid sub-vocalization by using a finger or pencil, tracking it through text as you read.
6. Don’t re-read every single sentence
Reading each and every sentence in all your books is inefficient. Get the gist and move on. For each subtopic, a nice trick is to read the introductory paragraphs and then the concluding paragraphs.
There are many sections of text that might be unimportant or relevant. Skipping these sections allows you to stay focused on your study objectives.
You will get to digest main points in large chunks of text, saving time and preserving your processing power.
7. Read more to increase your speed
Speed reading can be perfected with practice. Before the exam dates, you can manage to go through all the textbooks by setting strict study goals. That might involve you planning to complete an entire text within a week.
The more books and notes you read at high speed, the more you will get better at it.
Additionally, you can gain practice by speed reading through news or blog posts online. Without knowing it, you will start to learn faster and develop a photographic memory.
These skills will be transferable and incredibly essential to help you finish your textbooks in time.
8. Establish a Benchmark
Your study schedules entail a breakdown of topics and the dates/time you expect to accomplish them. That time factor is essential to help you do a thorough revision before the exam date.
In light of that, you can also use a timer to see how many words or sentences you can read per minute. As you go faster and faster, find out what your level of understanding is.
The right speed is one that allows you to gain knowledge and remember most of what you have learned. Time yourself and keep on practicing.
9. Minimize your distractions
When you settle down to start, ensure that the study environment has no distractions. In this case, that may mean human or electronic disturbances.
Studies show that a mere text message vibration on your phone can throw you back 15 minutes when you are studying. That is how long you will have to wait to gain your mojo back.
For speedy revision, switch off your phone or put it in silent mode. If you find that you have the urge to check your email whenever you start, consider turning off your devices.
Additionally, if the distraction is coming from people, then please find a quiet, distraction-free room or environment. There are also many psychological distractions that you will have to overcome when you settle down to read.
Clear your mind of all clutter before the study session. Meditation can help.
10. Summarize in your own words
Reviewing the material does not end when you reach the last word on the final page. Summarizing with personal notes is essential to help you remember what you’ve covered.
From this, you should be in a position to answer the questions you had before you started reading.
Find out if you learned what you had set out to learn. Write down a few sentences of summary in your own words. By writing such summaries, you solidify the new knowledge acquired and improve your chances of recalling it later.
For those that are more verbal or visual learners- mental maps are effective. You can also summarize your notes by telling a fellow candidate in your study group what you have learned.
11. Highlight the essential parts only
Last minute cramming will not work when studying for your examinations. As much as you want to study faster, you will need to ensure that you internalize the most important parts.
Using highlighters is one technique we encourage you to try. Highlighting critical sections will help your mind to accord high importance to these areas. It increases your chances of remembering those particular concepts.
When you highlight specific areas and not whole sections, your mind will start to make proper connections of essential facts. These connections are very crucial in the recalling process.
You can also make use of sticky notes and flashcards to remember important information.
12. Make Flashcards
Are you being bombarded with too much new information with every turn of the page? Well then, flashcards should be your best study buddy! They work well for difficult formulas and challenging concepts.
Unbeknownst to many people, flashcards should be used for questions and not summaries. Test your knowledge by writing a question on the front of the flashcard and the answer on the back.
When reviewing them, make an attempt first before turning over the card to read the answer.
Re-reading your summaries over and over is not the best use of your day. It wastes valuable revision time. Flashcards is a form of self-testing to see whether you remember much from your speed reading.
Flashcards with questions on pertinent topics can help sharpen your memory and readiness for the exam.
The best mind provoking flashcards are made of one question per card. Ensure that the answer is summarized. You can also make use of pictures and info-graphics on the cards.
This, as many will find pictures to be easier to remember than words.
13. Ask questions before you start
What should I be learning in this section? How can this be presented as an examination question?
Once you start, there are important questions that you need to ask. These questions help to structure your learning objectives, clarify concepts and will help you to be faster.
The next thing after constructing these questions would be to read quickly to find the answers. It helps you avoid unnecessary information and get down to the nitty-gritty.
Remember, you can make valid pre-reading questions after skimming through the headings.
14. Ask questions after you finished
Active learning involves asking yourself questions after every topic. It helps to know whether you were attentive from start to finish. In case you don’t have straight answers to the questions after reading the material, you can always go back to find the answers.
Post-reading fosters concept mastery. It is a great way to break down what you have learned mentally. The questions serve as an essential anchor-point for your memory or what you would like to discuss further in your study group.
15. The first and the last
Often times, the first few and last few paragraphs are the most insightful. The mid sections typically try to build on the ideas introduced in the introductory paragraphs.
The last sections conclude these thoughts. As a speed trick, you can cut down your reading time significantly by skipping the long explanations and going straight to the introductions and conclusion of topics.
16. Don’t try to multi-task
Turn of that radio, laptop, cell phone or television.
A bad habit when studying is reading while listening to distracting music, watching TV or chatting/texting on your phone. The mental distraction from these electronic gadgets will derail your learning progress.
As new research recently unearthed, there is no such thing as multi-tasking. It is a split focus that reduces efficiency. Remove all these distractions if you want to complete your notes in the shortest time possible.
17. Use your index finger or a pointer
Using your finger or pointer as a pacer is one of the basic concepts of speed reading. The human eye is controlled by motion, and therefore a faster movement of the finger/pointer you will have a better chance to learn more quickly.
Using your finger also enhances your concentration. It guides the eyes to the present information and the next line without rereading every word. The technique can also help to cure sub-vocalization, as discussed above.
18. Using an app or software to train
If you have to complete your textbooks faster, then you should consider speed-reading apps. These include Outreach, Reader and many others available on the Android and iOS stores.
The apps will train your eye movement and also help you learn how to highlight sections of any text.
19. Use your “soft eyes”
Have you ever tried focusing on complete sentences at a time instead of individual words? Did you know that it is possible to read up to nine words in a single go?
The eyes’ focus width on a piece of text is typically around 1.5 inches. By using your peripheral vision, it’s possible to complete full sentences as opposed to word after word. This method also helps to reduce sub-vocalizing.
As a result, this technique will help you amass extensive knowledge in a short time. It will be difficult at first, but you will get better with practice.
20. Make notes
Always use a pencil. Feel free to underline anything you find interesting or confusing on the text. Write short summaries on the margins or draw diagrams to make connections between ideas.
This study technique will help you retain most of what you covered without having to write full notes in a notebook.
Yes, this course can be overwhelming. Apart from the official FRM books, there are also other great materials including practice questions from third-party providers.
Success, in this case, would require you to unleash your speed prowess.
Employ the above techniques for fast reading and high retention.
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