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Exam Preparation for Part 1

Robert

Member
Subscriber
Hi David,


I signed up for Bionic Turtle back in 2008 but wasn’t able to study for the exam due to personal constraints. I’ve been thinking about working toward the FRM designation ever since then and have now decided to take the plunge (so while I’m technically not “new” to the site, I’m really being formally introduced to it for the first time). I’m signed up for the May 2012 Part 1 exam and plan on using the 2012 Bionic Turtle study material (in addition to using a friend’s 2011 Schweser materials) to diligently study for the exam.

I started studying Foundations on January 3rd using the Schweser Notes and have created index cards for the important concepts (using my own judgment, of course, to determine what’s important). I also watched the 2011 Bionic Turtle Foundations videos. When I felt like I was ready (i.e. yesterday), I started to look at the BT practice question pdf’s and was very surprised at the depth of the questions (I had difficulty answering many of them from memory). This now has me thinking about the best way to approach the exam…

What do you think is the best way to prepare for the exam given that I estimate I am able to devote 470 hours for exam preparation, inclusive of what I’ve already done (2 hours per day Mon – Fri and 7 hours per day on Sat and Sun)? I would like to finish the reviewing all of the material for the first time by mid-April (I’ve already finished Foundations and estimate I would need one month to review the material for the remaining three topics) so I can focus on practice questions and reviewing my personal index cards for the final month leading up to the exam.


Do you think I am taking the right approach in the final month? Should I be using that time focus on learning from the practice questions almost exclusively or should I go through all of the material again for a second time (although I’m doubtful there’s enough time for this) with only medium focus on learning from the BT practice questions?

Thank you in advance for taking the time to answer my question.

Robert
 

David Harper CFA FRM

David Harper CFA FRM
Staff member
Subscriber
Hi Robert,

Thanks for signing up with us!

I do like your approach. I tend to recommend (in the general) that a good plan anchor first on practice questions, such that a good plan might start "with the end in mind" and FIRST determine: how many weeks prior to the exam should I shift emphasis to mostly or exclusively practice questions? I think one month before the exam is a great "anchor" to shift into an "almost exclusive" focus on practice questions. With regard to "Do you think I am taking the right approach in the final month?" although learning styles vary, in my opinion, you are absolutely right to favor working questions over an additional review of the material, in the final four weeks. It seems to simply be the case that, for the vast majority of us, the details don't really stick until we engage with questions.

Re: "When I felt like I was ready (i.e. yesterday), I started to look at the BT practice question pdf’s and was very surprised at the depth of the questions (I had difficulty answering many of them from memory) ... "
Yes, I understand and this is a common reaction. And frankly, not everybody loves my approach, but the pushback is mostly on the front-end; on the back-end, the deep dive generally gets praise (e.g., http://www.bionicturtle.com/forum/threads/frm-2011-results.5216/page-2#post-14354).

One problem is we don't have mock exams (but we will by the time you start your PQ focus), so our intent with most of the PQ is to be one or two notches more difficult than the exam. In this way, they are more like tough training questions (I always intended them to be tough training questions) for the exam rather than proxies for actually sitting for the exam. Taking more time, or lookup up material for help, is part of the intent here. The goal is partly to make the actual exam questions easy or medium, by the time you get to them. It's a long way to say that, as my goal is to help us learn the AIM, I think that a "tiring grapple" with our PQs is mostly good for your exam health. Over the break, we looked at some competitors questions, I frankly, I found many of them shallow or generic or only partially addressing the AIM. So, I guess i figure that, by definition against both a heterogeneous population and (this is important) an exam that lacks high prospective clarity (predictability), the error of "too difficult" is 10x better than the error of "too easy".

Here is the real scoop on the difficulty of my questions:
  • As i write them daily, the MOTIVE is to further my own grasp of the concepts (that's why we are currently doing three per AIM/concept, and why i always wrote more than 1 per concept: to "surround" the idea until i am satisfied i've learned something.)
  • The RATIONALE (justification) is that the FRM exam is both difficult and somewhat unpredictable. This argues for more difficult question prep, which gives conceptual air cover.
I hope that helps, aside from, yes I totally support your approach, i think it's a good example of a good plan, thanks David
 

Robert

Member
Subscriber
Hi David,

Thank you for the quick response.

I signed-up for Bionic Turtle precisely because I came to the same conclusion that you did: your competitor's (i.e. Schweser) questions were simply not reflective of my perception of the difficulty of the questions I expect to see on exam day.

As painful as it may be, I fully support the approach of having practice questions that are very difficult (in so much as they make the actual exam relatively easier). It's simply not sufficient to practice with questions that do not act as a proxy for the exam.

Robert
 
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