How to Pass the FRM® Exam
FRM® Exam Study Materials: Self-Prep vs. Guided Instruction
The FRM® exam requires a significant commitment of your valuable time and your financial resources. So the first decision you have to make (after you decide to sign up for the FRM exam and use the services of an exam prep provider like Kaplan Schweser) is how you are going to make it through 240+ hours of study over a period of 6 to 9 months and give yourself the best chance of success. That means deciding whether you are going to utilize expert instruction, or go it alone, so to speak. So, let’s explore the main differences between self-study and guided instruction.
FRM® Exam Preparation: Self-Study
Going at it alone, or self-study, means you will prepare, practice, and perform without the help of an experienced instructor to guide you. You will:
Create your own 240-hour (or longer) study plan for the next 6 to 9 months
Read the curriculum, study notes, or both
Utilize practice questions in a question bank or other source
Take mock exams
Identify and remediate your weak areas
Develop a test-taking strategy that will give you the best chance of success …all on your own.
Considering the FRM certification? Download this free eBook Before You Decide to Sit for the FRM Exam for advice and tips from past exam takers.
Self-study takes a lot of motivation, persistence, patience, confidence, self-awareness, and some expertise in learning to do it on your own. Some people have what it takes to do it this way. They tend to be highly motivated self-starters who have the mettle to put in the hard work day after day and be successful on exam day.
So the first thing you have to do is take an honest, unflinching look at yourself and your own history of learning. Ask yourself the tough question, “Do I have what it takes to do this on my own?” Think back to your time in college or university. Could you have made it through and graduated without the help of teachers and mentors? Were you ever successful in a class where the professor walked into the classroom the first day, dropped a big stack of books on your desk, said “the final is in 15 weeks…good luck,” and walked out of the room? For most people, this approach is likely not the answer. Instead, most FRM candidates who want to pass the first time will need help from the experts.
FRM Exam Preparation: Guided Instruction
For those who need guidance, Kaplan Schweser has a very long track record of helping candidates succeed on the FRM exams. So what exactly does the additional investment (it is more expensive) do for you?
You get an FRM expert to guide you through the curriculum and help you learn the material so you are fully prepared for exam day.
It will motivate you by giving you a structure to your studies, as well as a mentor who can pat you on the back when things are going great or keep you accountable when you need it.
You will get regular, expert feedback on your weak areas, suggestions for how to improve, and guidance on where to get more practice.
You’ll have a guide and mentor to ask for help with challenging material.
The class will provide focus to your study efforts and enable you to use your 240+ hours of study time in the most efficient and effective manner.
You’ll receive guidance on test-taking strategies to make the task of tackling 100 questions in 4 hours a bit less daunting.
So here is the decision you have to make: Do you save some money and rely on your inherent personal strengths of motivation, persistence, and learning expertise; or do you make the extra monetary investment in guided instruction? It’s up to you.
Ready to Start Prepping for the FRM Exam?FRM study materials can help you prep if you decide to self-study or use guided instruction for the FRM Exam.
Tie It All Together: Effective FRM® Exam Review Strategies
If you are a candidate enrolled in the FRM® exam, time can get away from you. An effective review strategy can help. Ideally, the preparation phase of the journey should be finished about three months before your exam day, and the last three weeks before your day, at least, should be set aside for mock exams. Kaplan Schweser, for example, provides two full four-hour FRM mock exams to help candidates practice taking the computer-based test.
In the period after preparation is finished and before mock exams, your study strategy should be: practicing questions and debriefing. For too many candidates, this means taking a quiz of 10 questions for 15 minutes, marking it, and moving on. Don’t make this mistake. When practicing questions, you should spend an average of 90 seconds answering the question. But you should spend significantly more time thoroughly debriefing it.
Debriefing is a Critical FRM Exam Study Strategy
Start your debrief by making sure the questions you got right were correct for the right reasons. Guessing right on exam day is a bonus. Up until then, it’s just another question that you need to review. For all wrong answers and guesses that resulted in a correct answer, it is crucial to find the area of the curriculum that let you down. If it’s a missed calculation, find at least five examples of that type of calculation.
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If it’s a narrative point, find the explanation in the curriculum and see if it’s an isolated fact, part of a list, or a piece of analysis on a calculation. Isolated facts need learning. Little and often is the best way. Five minutes a day, squeezed in while lining up for your lunchtime burrito, can make a huge difference.
A Better Understanding of How Answers Are Derived Leads to More Correct Answers
Taking this approach to question practice will result in a better understanding of how the answers were derived and put you in a better position to answer similar questions going forward. If you’re using something like the SchweserPro™ QBank, then you’ve got thousands of questions to attempt to cover the whole syllabus. It’s a big ask to do that, but an effective use of the questions should ensure you cover the majority of every FRM exam topic.
When deciding how much time to allocate to the different topics, each candidate will have strong and weak areas. Dedicate time to each area accordingly, but don’t lose sight of the syllabus weightings. Two topics, Financial Markets and Products, and Valuation and Risk Models, are worth more marks on the day of the exam than Quantitative Analysis, for example.
To conclude, set your aim on enhancing your understanding of all the topics through question practice and debrief. You will put yourself in a strong position to hit the mock exams.
Ready to enroll in a Mock Exam? Choose from Kaplan Schweser’s FRM Online Mock Exam options now.
What Is FRM® Exam Computer-Based Testing Like?
The FRM® Exam is now computer-based. So, what is the FRM exam computer-based training like? And what should you expect from the computer-based training (CBT) FRM exam? This article answers these questions.
Scheduling Your CBT FRM® Exam
To schedule an exam, you can log into or create a GARP account, go to “My Programs,” and click on the Exam Setup button to schedule. Candidates must have a paid registration in order to schedule and may only reschedule their appointment once.
If you need to defer an exam to the next available exam month, log in to your account, go to “My Programs,” and click on the Exam Setup button. Candidates must have a paid registration in order to change exam months and may only do so once for a fee of USD $200.
Before Exam Day: Study Materials
Start studying as soon as possible. Begin preparing for the FRM exam as far out from the exam date as you can. Allow for 200–240 hours over a few months, making sure to structure your study plan and preparation. Candidates are more likely to succeed with a carefully constructed study program. If you’re not sure how or where to start, a good FRM prep package will include a scheduling component that helps you plan what to study and when, as well as plenty of practice to keep your skills sharp.
Make sure time management is part of your FRM study program. You have an average of about 2.5 to 3 minutes per question on the FRM exam. So, as you progress through your study plan and become more confident in your knowledge, work on timing yourself when you’re answering questions and look for calculation shortcuts.
Learn your calculator, and practice with it. Familiarize yourself with the calculator you’ll use for the exam, configure it properly, and make sure you know all the shortcuts. Make sure to become familiar with how the exam tests your ability to use analytical techniques by answering practice questions and taking mock exams. Save at least one FRM practice exam for the final weeks and treat it as if it were the real thing.
Have a solid plan for staying calm on exam day. You can prevent exam day panic if you have a good plan that includes answering easy questions first, rereading questions that are giving you trouble, and putting your pencil down to take some deep breaths if you are struggling.
Make Sure You Are Allowed In
Be sure to show up about 30 minutes early for your exam time. It is a good idea to map out where the testing center is and figure out how long it will take you to get there. If you arrive late, you will not be allowed to take the test. If this happens, then you will not get any kind of exam fee refund, nor will you be able to transfer the fee to a different appointment.
GARP strongly encourages you to bring as few items as possible on exam day. You’ll be asked to leave whatever you have brought with you in a locker, storage bag, or area at the testing center and you’ll be able to collect it after the exam. You may bring one cellular phone into the exam room, but if it makes any type of noise, you won’t be able to complete the exam. You are allowed to have a printed confirmation on your desk during, along with an approved ID and calculator. GARP has a list of what you should not bring with you here. Proctors and security personnel may ask to inspect your belongings at check-in to ensure that prohibited items are not carried into the testing room.
Taking the CBT FRM Exam
Here are some tips for taking the CBT FRM Exam.
Keep difficult questions for the end. Many exam takers have observed that the last 10 or so questions were low-hanging fruits, which could be solved quickly. This can be unfortunate for those who, because of lack of time, cannot manage to get that far and are forced to guess the answers. So it is always better to come back to the difficult questions later on and keep answering the ones you know quickly.
Be quick and alert. Although you might feel you have enough time for each question, keep one thing in mind: the questions are challenging, so you need to be alert and save time to solve the difficult ones.
Look for easy pickers. These are the questions that have quick solutions. Solving them first will help you save time for other questions and also increase your chances of clearing the sections.
Watch out for lengthy questions. These questions are filled with words, and they require you to take multiple steps to come to a solution. Decide whether you want it to take these at the beginning of the end.
Have Other Questions about CBT and the FRM Exam?
Check out GARP’s FAQ page to learn more about what you should expect going into the exam. You can also ensure you are prepared for the computer-based exam with Kaplan’s FRM Part I prep packages. We have study options to suit all learning styles, so get started today.
The Best Way to Study for the FRM® Exam
While everyone hears about the difficulty of the FRM® exam, very few believe it until they experience it for themselves. For the past decade, the pass rates have averaged between 40 to 60 percent. People who are studying for the FRM exam are smart, driven, and want to pass just as much as you do. That means it is crucial that you have a study plan and adhere to it.
We asked over 100 of our former FRM Program students, who now hold FRM certifications, what advice they have for candidates just getting started in their studies. We compiled some of their advice for this article to help you figure out the best way to study for the exam.
Get into a Study Routine Early
Many successful FRM certification holders credit their study routine for their success in taking the FRM exams. Not only do you need to study the material, but you also need to be able to apply what you learned to scenarios on the exam. This level of understanding and practical application takes time to develop. Therefore, it is crucial that you get into a study routine early and stick to it.
We recommend following the Prepare > Practice > Perform® method of studying. In the prepare stage, you absorb information through reading and listening to lectures. In the practice stage, you start working through practice problems. In the perform stage, you simulate exam conditions to assess your level of readiness. As you develop your study plan, we typically advise spending:
30–40% of your time preparing
Are you thinking about taking the FRM Exam? Download the free eBook, Before You Sit for the FRM® Exam, for invaluable advice from successful FRM professionals.
Focus on the Exam Weights and Learning Objectives
You should have a solid understanding of the FRM Program curriculum and how each topic is weighted for the Part I exam. The curriculum is updated every exam cycle, with Part I focusing on four core topics, while Part II focuses on six. Exam weights vary by level and can change slightly from year to year, so it is good to be clear on what the weights are for the exam you are taking.
FRM Part I Exam Topics and Weights
Foundations of risk management (20%)
Quantitative analysis (20%)
Financial markets and products (30%)
Valuation and risk models (30%)
FRM Part II Exam Topics and Weights
Market risk measurement and management (20%)
Credit risk measurement and management (20%)
Operational risk and resiliency (20%)
Liquidity and treasury risk measurement and management (15%)
Risk management and investment management (15%)
Current issues in financial markets (10%)
Apply Concepts to Real Situations
Just knowing the material isn’t enough to pass the FRM exam. You must be able to take the knowledge and apply it to real situations. Most questions are not asking you to regurgitate memorized material. They are asking you to use problem-solving skills.
It's important for FRM professionals to look at a customer's situation and use what they know to help them. Therefore, the FRM exam wants you to demonstrate that you have that skill. Risk management professionals must be able to use all the knowledge they have and focus not only on those risk factors that were relevant in the latest crisis but be able to set up scenarios on each and every risk factor based on current portfolios, even if those scenarios seem unlikely.
Learn How to Take the Exam
There’s a difference between learning the material and learning how to take the exam. Be sure you practice taking the exam in realistic simulated exam conditions in the last four weeks of studying. Because it mimics the pressure of exam day, the mock exam helps you develop familiarity with the testing conditions and gives you the confidence to go into exam day fully prepared.
Mock exams take you through each question and help you understand where the answer comes from, the calculations required, and what terms they are testing you on. This will help to fill in your knowledge gaps and give you an idea of how you should pace yourself during the actual exam. Mock exams are not a substitute for practice questions or tests, and practice questions and tests are not a substitute for mock exams. Each has its own purpose and uniquely prescribed usage. To further confuse the issue, some exam prep providers market practice tests as mock exams. Do your research to ensure you’re getting the product you’re expecting when you purchase a mock exam.
The appropriate timing for a mock exam is typically a few weeks before you sit for the actual exam. Taking a mock exam too early will not give you an appropriate understanding of how much information you’ll actually retain on exam day. If you take a mock exam too late, you won’t have ample time to improve your performance in identified areas of weakness.
Looking for more guidance on how to prepare for the FRM® exam?
Give yourself the best chance to prepare, practice, and perform on the exam with our FRM study materials.
How to Pass the Financial Risk Manager (FRM®) Exam
So, you’re considering pursuing the FRM designation. That’s great! Offered by the Global Association of Risk Professionals™ (GARP®), this designation sets you apart in the global marketplace and prepares you for a career as a credit risk manager, market risk manager, regulatory risk manager, operational risk manager, or a related position. This article explains the exam and provides 5 tips that can help you earn your FRM certification.
About the FRM® Exam
FRM Part I Exam Windows
- May 7-20, 2022
- November 5-18, 2022
FRM Part II Exam Windows
May 21-27, 2022
November 19-25, 2022
The cost ranges from $550 to $750 for each part, based on when you register. You will also pay a one-time fee of $400 when you register for Part I.
Of those who took Part I and Part II between 2010–2017, the average pass rate was 46% for Part I and 57% for Part II. Here are 5 tips to help you join the ranks of Certified FRMs.
Tip #1: Become Familiar with the FRM® Exam Topics
Part 1 of the FRM exam consists of 100 questions that focus on four topics, weighted as follows:
- Foundations of risk management (20%)
- Quantitative analysis (20%)
- Financial markets and products (30%)
- Valuation and risk models (30%)
Part 2 of the FRM exam is 80 questions, and its topics and weights are:
- Market risk measurement and management (20%)
- Credit risk measurement and management (20%)
- Operational risk and resiliency (20%)
- Liquidity and treasury risk measurement and management (15%)
- Risk management and investment management (15%)
- Current issues in financial markets (10%)
You should try to know a little bit about every concept included in these topics. For example, you might encounter a question that could be answered with a formula and a calculation.
However, you may also be able to identify the correct answer without having memorized a formula if you truly understand the concept or relationship being tested. By remembering basic information on exam day, you will be able to narrow your answer choices and better distinguish between relevant and irrelevant information.
Are you thinking about becoming a certified financial risk manager? Download this Before You Sit for the FRM® Exam eBook for practical advice from past candidates.
Tip #2: Start Studying Early
For both parts, you need to study a minimum of 200–240 hours. Don’t put those hours off. The FRM exams are nearly impossible to pass if all you do is last-minute cramming. Instead, you should start studying as soon as you’ve registered. You’re going to be tested on your ability to read a question, analyze it, and apply concepts to it.
Although most exam takers occasionally run into questions that at first don’t appear to relate to anything they’ve studied, if you cram, you can be overwhelmed by them. The topics you’re being tested on require a type of knowledge that can only be gained over a structured, careful course of study—not last-minute, frantic reviews of core materials.
Tip #3: Structure Your Study and Preparation
As Tip #1 noted, to pass the exams, you need a good grasp of the concepts and how to apply them. In addition, you need to practice answering FRM questions because the exams expect you to apply analytical techniques to arrive at your answers. Although there are motivated candidates who can construct their study plans with ease, it’s more likely that you’re not sure how or where to start.
FRM prep packages are a great way to increase confidence. They offer online and classroom courses, calendar tools that organize the curriculum and materials for you, access to banks of practice questions, and realistic mock exams. All the organizational work is done for you, so you can concentrate on learning the curriculum and how to answer questions.
Tip #4: Focus on Practicing in the Final Weeks Before Each FRM® Exam
If at all possible, try to take some time off from your job in the final weeks before the exam and save at least one FRM practice exam for that time. Treat this practice exam as if it were the real thing. Don’t look at it or study questions from it beforehand. Time yourself, so you can get a feel for the time constraints and pressure of exam day. You have an average of about 2.5 to 3 minutes per question.
When you finish, grade your answers, and use the results to identify where you should focus over the last few days. Although working on the areas where you performed poorly is crucial, don’t neglect your stronger topics. They need to stay fresh in your mind. Finally, at some point during the last week, visit the actual exam center. Figure out how long it will take to get there and where you can park. The fewer surprises and distractions you have on exam day, the better.
Tip #5: Have a Game Plan for Staying Calm on Exam Day
The secret to staying calm while taking the exam is to have an FRM time management plan before you walk into the exam center. For example, consider answering short or easy questions first to get going and build confidence. For the questions that give you trouble, first reread them to make sure you understand. Then, if you still can’t find the best answer, try to eliminate at least one and take an educated guess. Even if you really don’t have a clue, you should still mark an answer. That’s better than leaving it blank because even a guess gives you a 33% chance of being right.
Whatever you do, don’t panic if you’re struggling with several difficult questions in a row. It only makes things worse. You won’t think clearly, you’ll miss easy questions, and you’ll start second-guessing yourself to the point that you change answers that are likely correct.
Instead, put your pencil down, take a short break, and take a few deep breaths. Remind yourself that the estimated passing score for the exam is 70%, which means you can miss 30% of the questions and still pass. The 30 seconds or so this takes may very well help you think clearly enough to answer several additional questions correctly.
Increase the Likelihood You’ll Pass the FRM® Exam
Although passing the exam is ultimately up to you, you don’t have to prepare or study alone. Participating in classes (online or in-person), practice exams, and study groups will increase the likelihood that you’ll pass the exam. Investing in FRM Exam prep is one of the best things you can do to ensure that you go on to the next step—certification.
Four Essential FRM® Exam Preparation Strategies
Basic strategies you should follow while learning the FRM® curriculum include being aware of the big picture and knowing the main concepts. With these broad strategies, you will be able to apply more specific strategies related to helping you recall information on FRM exam day, such as how to handle formulas and lists.
Strategy #1: The Big Picture
Being aware of the big picture means you should know at least a little about every concept. For example, even if you don’t know the formula for effective duration, at least know that effective duration is a measure of interest rate risk. By remembering basic information on exam day, you will be able to narrow your answer choices.
You probably won’t answer many questions correctly with only a basic grasp of the concepts, but you can improve your odds on a multiple-choice question from 25% to 33% by eliminating one wrong answer choice.
With this technique, you will also be able to better distinguish between relevant and irrelevant information in a question. Continuing with the duration theme, you would know that bond rating information provided in a duration question is not relevant, because bond ratings reflect credit risk, not interest rate risk.
Strategy #2: Know the Main Concepts
It is important to identify those concepts that will most likely be covered on the exam. In any given year, some concepts might be omitted, but if you can answer most of the questions concerning these main/core concepts, you will dramatically increase your chance of passing. Generally, the idea is to be correct on most of the questions dealing with the important concepts, and then rely on your “big picture” knowledge to get points on the remaining material.
Considering taking the FRM exam? Download the free Before You Sit for the FRM® Exam eBook for invaluable advice from successful FRM professionals.
Strategy #3: Formulas
In some cases, you will be given a question where the answer can be obtained by using a formula and a fairly lengthy calculation. However, you may also be able to identify the correct answer without a calculation, if you truly understand the concept or relationship being tested. With any formula you encounter in the assigned readings, you should try to gain a clear understanding of what it is telling you (when it is appropriate to use it) and the relationship among the various input variables.
Think of a formula as just a shorthand way of expressing a relation or concept you need to understand. For example, the population variance is the average squared deviation from the mean. Approaching formulas in this way will reduce your chances of missing a problem if your memory fails you under the stress of exam day.
Strategy #4: “Characteristic” Lists
A common source of specific questions is identifying the characteristics of various securities, models, and valuation methods. A common question format would be, “Which of the following most accurately describes…?” Here, a big-picture approach can help you weed out wrong answers. Also, some candidates use mnemonics to help them remember lists of characteristics or lists of pros and cons.
In addition to these four strategies, be aware of your problem areas regarding certain topics. For example, if you have always struggled with the quantitative methods, look for ways to improve your grasp of the quantitative material by spending more time with it or attending an instructor-led training session.
Do not expect that you can ignore an entire topic area and make up for the lost points by excelling in another area. Similarly, do not skip an area just because you think you already know it. You need to be reasonably comfortable with all assigned material in the FRM curriculum in order to pass the FRM Exam.
Ready to enroll in FRM Exam prep? Choose from Kaplan Schweser's FRM Part I study materials options now.
Eight Tips for Answering FRM® Exam Questions
Here are 8 tips to keep in mind as you practice working through multiple-choice questions for passing the FRM® Exam.
1. Before answering FRM® questions, read them carefully!
Watch for double negatives like, “Which of the following is least likely a disadvantage…” It is very important to not miss words, or parts of words, by reading too quickly (e.g., reading “most likely” instead of “least likely,” or “advantages” instead of “disadvantages”).
2. For non-numerical questions, read all the answer choices.
Don’t just stop when you get to one that sounds right. There may be a better choice.
3. For long questions, dissect the bits of information that are provided.
What information is relevant? What is most specifically related to the question? Often, a wrong answer looks good because it is consistent with information in the question that is actually irrelevant.
Are you thinking about taking the financial risk manager exam? Download the free Before You Sit for the FRM® Exam eBook for invaluable advice from successful FRM professionals about answering FRM Exam questions.
4. After you read the question, determine what you think the question is asking.
This can help you filter out extraneous information and focus quickly on appropriate answer choices. Similarly, after you read the question, it is a good idea to formulate your own answer before reading the answer choices. Develop an expectation of what the answer should be. This may make the correct answer sound better to you when you read it.
5. On calculation problems, after you have selected an answer, pause for a moment.
Think about whether the answer makes sense, is the sign of the result correct, or does the direction of change make sense?
6. Do not look for patterns in answers.
Just because the last three questions all had “C” for an answer, do not expect the next answer not to be “C.” There is no reason to expect that GARP has a preference for how many questions are answered with the same letter.
7. Be very sure that you are marking your answer in the right place on the answer sheet.
If you skip questions, be especially careful to check your answers. Obviously, mismarking can be devastating if you do not catch it right away. Trust your first impressions. You will find that you are often correct.
8. Do not lose confidence while you are answering FRM® questions.
To our knowledge, no one has ever received a perfect score on the FRM Exam. 70% has always been a good approximation of the passing score needed. This means you can miss 30% of the questions and still pass. Even if you have struggled on a few questions, maybe even five or six in a row, do not lose confidence. The worst thing you can do is second-guess yourself. Once you start second-guessing, you will may take longer on every question and start changing correct answers.
Review key concepts, and go into the FRM Exam confidently with Kaplan Schweser’s FRM Part I Final Review materials. Finish your studying strong now.
6 Common FRM® Exam Study Mistakes and How to Avoid Them
The FRM® curriculum takes a lot of time to master, and the exams are not to be taken lightly. An effective, structured study program is key to your success on the FRM exam. And that includes learning the mistakes commonly made by candidates so you can start on the right foot and stay on track throughout the exam season. In this article, we’ll cover the six most common FRM study mistakes we’ve seen over many years of experience and share some advice on how to avoid them.
Let’s start with the mistakes.
1. Waiting Too Long to Start Studying
On average, you will need 240 hours of study to master the entire curriculum for each part of the FRM exam. Some candidates delay their study program and overestimate their ability to catch up when they deviate from their study plan. Other candidates think they can cram in the final weeks. But the fact is that last-minute, frantic reviews of core materials rarely ends well for the candidate on exam day.
2. Not Having a Structured FRM® Study Plan
The topics on the FRM exam require a type of knowledge that can only be gained over a structured, careful course of study. With a structured study plan, candidates can concentrate on learning the curriculum and how to answer questions. Yet there are candidates who think that shifting from one task to another as time allows or as they remember to do things is sufficient. In reality, these candidates are fighting an uphill battle to complete the study program and pass the exam.
3. Not Focusing on Time Management
The FRM exam is very quantitative, and time management is an important concern. Even candidates who start early and have structured study plans can make a vital mistake: they fail to build time management into their study program. For example, they are not timing themselves when taking practice questions, and they are not working on finding shortcuts in lengthy calculations. This will hurt them on the day of the exam because they only have four hours to answer questions about complex material and calculate their answers.
Are you thinking about taking the financial risk manager exam? Download the free Before You Sit for the FRM® Exam ebook for invaluable advice from successful FRM professionals about answering FRM exam questions.
4. Not Fully Understanding Calculator Functions
The business calculators permitted by GARP for the FRM exam are both versions of Texas Instruments BA II Plus, including the BA II Plus Professional, and Hewlett Packard 10B II, 10B II+, 20B, 12C, including the HP 12C Platinum and the Anniversary Edition. Yet, candidates often don’t spend enough time practicing with their calculator, learning the optimal formats, configuring it for the exam, or finding the shortcuts for the time value of money worksheet. This can hurt them when they are trying to perform calculations during the exam, and it affects time management as well.
5. Not Including Practice in the FRM® Exam Study Program
Some candidates think they can pass the exam by reading the curriculum and study products multiple times, neglecting practice questions and mock exams. Although this kind of focus helps them understand concepts, focusing only on theory and information can trip candidates up on exam day. The FRM exam tests a candidate’s ability to apply analytical techniques to arrive at answers. Without practicing and understanding how questions appear in the exam, or how to use the proper analysis, candidates can be stumped even if they’ve learned the concept.
6. Not Having a Game Plan to Prevent Panic
Panic is a top reason why even the most prepared candidates fail the FRM exam. While in a panic, candidates can read questions wrong, second guess themselves and mark the wrong answer by accident. Yet many candidates fail to take this into account when preparing for the exam. They don’t slow down, take deep breaths, or take the time to reread questions to make sure they fully understand. As a result, they can fail an exam they should have been able to pass.
How to Avoid Common FRM® Study Mistakes
Adhere to the following advice, and you can avoid making the most common FRM study mistakes:
- Start studying as soon as possible. Begin preparing for the FRM exam as far out from the exam date as you can. Allow for 200–240 hours over a few months.
- Structure your study and preparation. Candidates are more likely to succeed with a carefully constructed study program. If you’re not sure how or where to start, a good FRM prep package will include a scheduling component that helps you plan what to study when, as well as plenty of practice to keep your skills sharp.
- Make sure time management is part of your FRM study program. You have an average of about 2.5 to 3 minutes per question on the FRM exam. So, as you progress through your study plan and become more confident in your knowledge, work on timing yourself when you’re answering questions and look for calculation shortcuts.
- Learn your calculator. Familiarize yourself with the calculator you’ll use for the exam, configure it properly, and make sure you know all the shortcuts.
- Practice. Become familiar with how the exam tests your ability to use analytical techniques by answering practice questions and taking mock exams. Save at least one FRM practice exam for the final weeks and treat it as if it were the real thing.
- Have a solid plan for staying calm on exam day. You can prevent exam day panic if you have a good plan that includes answering easy questions first, rereading questions that are giving you trouble, and putting your pencil down to take some deep breaths if you are struggling.
Increase the Likelihood You’ll Pass the FRM® Exam
The odds of passing the FRM exam increase when you participate in online classes, take practice exams and join study groups. Investing in good FRM study materials is one of the best things you can do to ensure you move to the next step—certification.
Begin your journey to becoming a Certified FRM®! Download Your Free Copy of the FRM® Foundations eBook.
Time Management During the FRM® Exam
Candidates who fail the FRM® Exam often cite time management as their biggest downfall. The following tips will help you manage your time more wisely on exam day.
1. Before the exam, take at least one practice FRM® Exam and time yourself.
This will give you some indication of whether you will have problems on exam day. However, do not let your positive results on practice exams lull you into overconfidence. The stress of exam day, plus possible distractions like noise or a cold exam room, can make a big difference on how fast you work.
2. Have a game plan before you walk into the exam center.
I like the idea of doing short or easy questions first to get going, but I do not recommend skipping around too much as you work through the exam. Skipping back and forth may break your concentration and consume valuable time as you try to figure out what you have and have not answered.
3. Monitor your progress.
During the exam, keep an eye on the time as you work through it. You may deviate some from the average time per question as you work through easier or more difficult questions, but be careful not to let yourself fall too far behind. Note that some test centers may not have clocks, but your exam proctors will notify you of how much time is remaining.
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4. Do easy questions first.
One way to alleviate time pressure is to bank a few minutes by doing easy questions first. Select a question you feel comfortable with, and start there. This strategy will help you gain confidence as you progress through the exam and will also allow you to get ahead with your time allocation. Be very careful if you jump around to make sure you are marking the correct blanks on the answer sheet.
5. Never panic.
Even if you fall behind, panicking will only make things worse. You won’t think clearly, and you’ll miss easy questions. If you need a short break, put your pencil down, and take a few deep breaths. The 30 seconds or so that this takes may very well help you think clearly enough to answer several additional questions correctly.
What to Do with Difficult FRM® Exam Questions
No matter how good your FRM exam preparation strategy is, there will undoubtedly be questions on the FRM® Exam that give you trouble. It is very difficult to generalize FRM Exam questions. Some are straightforward, some look straightforward but have a trick to them, and some may be worded in a confusing way. As a result, you might be getting anxious. This article looks at the most common questions related to difficult FRM Exam questions and answers them for you.
What should I do if I don’t understand the FRM® Exam question?
If the question does not make sense, or if none of the answers look remotely correct, reread the question to see if you missed something. If you are still unsure, mark an answer choice, and move on. Don’t agonize over it and waste precious time that can be allocated to easier questions.
If I don’t know the answer, should I leave it blank?
Never leave an answer blank. A blank answer has a maximum point value of zero. A randomly marked answer has an expected value of 0.25 points, and if you can eliminate one bad answer, this value increases to 0.33 points. You will not be penalized for wrong answers.
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What if I can’t decide which answer is the best?
If you are unable to determine the “best” answer, you still should be able to help your odds. Try to eliminate one answer choice and then take an educated guess.
What do I do if it seems like a lot of the questions are hard or confusing?
Do not lose your confidence over tough questions. Keep in mind that GARP’s objective is to evaluate your grasp of the FRM material, not to confuse or frustrate you with difficult questions. So, don’t panic. Instead, remind yourself of the concepts and techniques you reviewed and practiced. Pick the one you think might best apply to each hard question, and see if it works, pick an answer, and move on.
You can also take some comfort in the fact that the FRM exams are likely graded on a curve. If a question gave you trouble, it is quite possible that it was troublesome for many other candidates as well.
Final Preparation for the FRM® Exam
As part of your overall study strategy for the FRM® Exam, you’ll need to have a well-defined plan for the last weeks before the FRM Exam, which includes taking leave from your job if at all possible. Here are some other helpful tips for your final preparation:
Save at least one FRM® practice exam for the last week.
To simulate the real exam, you should avoid looking at this exam or studying questions from it until you are ready to sit down and take it for the first time. Take this FRM Part I Mock Exam early in the final weeks. Time yourself, so you can get a feel for the time constraints and pressure of exam day.
Remember, you have an average of about 2.5 to 3 minutes per question. When you have completed the entire exam, grade your answers, and use these results to identify areas where you need to focus your study efforts over the last few days. You should devote most of your time to areas where you performed poorly, but you should also spend enough time keeping your stronger topics fresh in your mind.
Check out the exam center.
At some point during the week of the exam, it is a good idea to visit the actual exam center. Figure out how long it will take to get to your test center and where you can park. The fewer surprises and distractions you have on exam day, the better.
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Keep calm the night before.
During the evening before the FRM Exam, it is best to avoid cramming. Try to relax, and make a concerted effort to get a good night’s sleep. Tired candidates tend to make silly mistakes on the exam. If you are not rested, you will more than likely miss easy points.
This seems like an obvious and trite point, but it is difficult to overemphasize the importance of going into the exam well-rested. If for some unfortunate reason, you do not sleep well the night before, do not panic! It happens to the best of us. Sometimes your brain cannot stop thinking about the pressures of the upcoming day. Keep in mind that you can still function and give a solid effort on exam day with just a little sleep (even though it is not recommended).
Plan for minor inconveniences.
Expect problems on exam day—not major ones, but be prepared for things like cold or hot exam rooms, excessive noise, long lines, and so on. Some of these problems you cannot control, but if you are prepared for them, they are less likely to affect your exam performance.
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