The Cons of using an FRM Test Bank

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes


Downsides to be mindful of

A Financial Risk Manager certification is one of the most respected credentials in the field of finance. It can be the key to a high flying career.

But, standing between that and where you are now are two difficult examinations.

Regularly, many candidates are using FRM test banks and practice questions as a preparation technique.

While this path has many compelling perks, it also comes with risks that students should watch out for.


Sub-standard questions

High standards are what set certified experts apart from others in the field.

The FRM curriculum teaches thorough concepts in financial risk management and it also touches on the current problems in the business world.

Not many test banks out there can live up to these standards (fortunately, some do).

As a result, candidates might end up relying on questions that don’t extensively cover the curriculum and GARP’s learning objectives.

This is the biggest fear; that the mock exams and practice questions in some test banks can steer you away from the main goals of the program.

Worthwhile papers must have objectives that include:

  • To equip you with practical knowledge that meets international standards
  • To enhance your ability to foresee, respond and adapt to critical issues
  • To improve your ability to add value to your organization
  • To sharpen your critical thinking skills
  • To enhance your analytical abilities


No benchmark standards

In a higher-learning institution setting with proper training, students can compare test results among themselves to gauge where they stand. 

In a self-learning environment, mock tests offer no way of comparing scores among peers.

Test banks, therefore, fail to meet the critical objective of peer-to-peer bench-marking.

In trying to determine whether you are doing well or not, it can important to judge yourself against others. 

The self-isolating nature of test banks won’t address this issue, and it might thus be inaccurate to rely on your self-evaluation score as a prediction of how well you will do on the actual day.


The risk of overconfidence

Working with a question bank can give you a false sense of confidence when you consistently get high scores in your tests.

That’s dangerous because most times, the real tests never turn out as expected.

The examiners will not just test what you know, but you will also be required to prove that you can apply what you know in various puzzling practical scenarios.

Unfortunately, too many students slack into complacency once they perform well in simulated tests. They start to study less, believing they have mastered everything there is to know.

These are the same candidates that step out of the room full of regrets.


Frustration and discouragement

Flip the coin, and on the other side you find candidates who perform poorly in the tests offered by various agents. 

After getting a consistently poor score, some of these candidates think they have come to the end of the road.

They get too discouraged to continue studying and give in, waiting for a poor score in the actual exam.

In a scenario like this, the question banks do more harm than good. They encourage negative thinking that breaks down one’s emotional stamina.

That happens because there are no guidelines for interpreting scores. There are no personalized recommendations on what to do next, either.


Connectivity and privacy challenges

Some practice banks are fully digital in nature, to be accessed only when you have an internet connection.

Even if you have a subscription to this platform, you can still lose connection if you have internet issues.

The limited accessibility makes some banks an unreliable study tool.

The internet landscape is also fraught with security risks. Candidates would have to be extremely cautious and work with a trusted provider that assures the security of their data and private information.

And even if the providers are keen on data privacy, there is still the danger of attacks, including malicious programs (which candidates can download without knowing), denial of service and brute-force attacks.


Hard-to-replicate scenarios

As a GARP student, you have probably been studying hard (right?). You have a study schedule that you strictly adhere to (right?).

But how come you always get poor scores when you take the practice tests?

There could be many reasons for that. But one primary concern here is the setting under which you take these tests.

You cannot get genuinely accurate evaluations if you take a mock while attending to a crying child, worrying about a deadline at work or in the company of friends.

In these settings, it’s hard to focus. You might be too anxious or too uncomfortable to think. All these lead to poor performance.

On the other hand, an overly relaxed setting may lead to unreliably high scores.


Studying to pass exams

This should never be your ultimate objective. Merely attaining a passing score does not indicate that you have mastered your environment. 

Tests are not the end-goal but a consequence of your attained knowledge.

Repeating questions can reverse priorities whereby students focus on passing exams instead of understanding and gaining useful experience.

Where do candidates miss the point?

  • Cramming the answers
  • Trying to predict questions and topics that ‘get tested the most.’
  • Using practice tests without an actual study (textbook/notes) routines
  • Trying to predict patterns and how examiners think

When candidates are too focused on simply getting a passing score, there is no long-term educational benefit. This can transform into a wasted program.

They quickly forget what they have learned after walking out that room.

Meanwhile, when students prioritize knowledge over scores, the skills they learn remain with them for life.



Some students actually cheat through their own test bank questions. There is no supervisor around to police your activities, so there is always the temptation. 

Yes, you will be tempted to look at the answer before finishing. You might similarly fall into the temptation to extend the time for yourself.

However, you will not benefit at all when you cheat for yourself, even on a practice run. 

That final score you get will ultimately be inaccurate and unreliable as a measure of your preparedness! So please don’t do it- it’s just not worth it.



You certainly know that practice makes perfect, but even in practical scenarios, you have to gain theoretical knowledge first. Pilots sit in class for many hours before setting foot in the cockpit.

Doctors study volumes of books before even operating on a dummy. Risk manager candidates are no different- hitting those books should come first before practice tests.

The main objective of practice questions is not to teach new information, but to test what you (should) know.

Using test banks work better after an in-depth immersion in the course material. Sadly, most candidates start right away with questions and forget that they must do actual learning from notes and texts.


Undue stress and anxiety

It’s hard to replicate an exam-like atmosphere at home, but when you do, it may be associated with unnecessary stress and anxiety if not mentally approached correctly.

All tests generally come with some worry and fear, and that may not be good for your health as you prepare for the real thing.

You might find it difficult to concentrate when you sit for a mock test. You sink into a panic mode that significantly interferes with your learning abilities, memory, and reasoning power.

Some test banks make the practice questions much harder than the actual exam could ever be.

That’s even more pressure for some candidates, which eventually plays with their mental and physical well-being in the run-up to the actual sitting.


Accurately capturing the curriculum

Financial Risk Managers need an incredibly broad field of knowledge. GARP offers a laser-focused approach to learning this knowledge.

Unfortunately, one danger of using test banks is that their questions may take you off track and force-feed you knowledge that is outside the scope of the official syllabus.

This will ultimately lead to a waste of your time and mental efforts.


Hastily compiled questions and answers

The men and women that set the actual exams are from various fields in risk management.

The Global Association of Risk Professionals brings together regulators, educators, practitioners, and top industry personas in the preparation of the test questions.

On the contrary, it’s hard to verify the quality of the tests offered by all banks.

  • Some are so low quality that they do more harm than good for candidates.
  • Some providers hastily compile questions and answers, copying from other sources, and providing no additional value.
  • Some others fail to update their information in line with the yearly changes that GARP makes to the curriculum.

Reliance on such resources will thus be detrimental to a one’s success.


The bottom line

Essential as testing and practice is for your success in that examination room, you have to patiently do it strategically, and using an FRM test bank may be a great way to achieve your objectives.

However, you must keep watch of all the negatives associated with such a methodology- otherwise, your efforts could prove counterproductive.

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Focus and get it done,

The QuestionBank Family