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FRM Level 2 feedback

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Hello everyone,

With exam now behind us, I thought I'd share my experience, some of it can hopefully be of benefit to Suzanne and David at BT, and some of it to other Candidates. I know there's a more details review post, one I chose not to read (I don't know about you, but I really don't want to know what questions I did badly...; also, correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't we supposed to keep the questions to ourselves as per the Candidate Pledge?), my feedback is from a slightly different angle.

I don't know how others found it, I know I found the exam (level 2) really, really difficult. And I learned, I definitely put in the hours and combed through Kaplan’s textbooks. I had 2 sources of materials for Level 2: Kaplan and BT: Kaplan seemed a little more structured, and closely reflecting the underlying GARP books, so I went with it as my primary source. For Level 1 I bought GARP’s materials, and I considered them somewhat haphazardly aggregated from underlying textbooks, I hoped that Kaplan would stick to the curriculum while providing a layer of explanation and “unification” to the underlying materials. The reason I didn’t choose BT as my primary materials is embarrassingly simple: they are way, way more difficult; I simply assumed that Kaplan gauged the level of difficulty more-less accurately. Another reason is that Kaplan has hundreds of on-line questions, and BT does not. Anyhoo… I did a lot of test quizzes on Kaplan Online prior to the exam, and always scored around 70%, so I thought I was quite well prepared, I did the 20 questions from the most recent exam published by GARP (doing any earlier papers didn't seem to make much sense to me, given turnaround of material), I scored 85% on that, that made me feel real good... then I did Kaplan's 2 mock exams. Now this was interesting - the mocks were noticeably more difficult than on-line questions, still I did in mid-to-upper sixties, which should generally be enough I think. Then came the exam... and it was really difficult nonetheless. I don't know to what extent stress played a role (having failed CFA level 2 in June was a big blow to my confidence), but I know the exam seemed much more difficult than any prep material (with the exception of Bionic Turtle - your materials are famously on the more difficult end of the scale, and so are the test questions, which is exactly why I skipped them, I thought that you’re exaggerating a little bit, and that may have been a mistake, I think BT's level of difficulty was quite close to the actual exam). I also know it wasn't an entirely subjective impression - normally I would do a full mock in around 2.5hrs, but with the actual exam the 4hrs I had wasn't a minute too many. One thing I noticed and had mixed feelings about was the over- (in my opinion) representation of regulation-related questions. I think that "what is the best practice regarding...?" type of question is quite open, and much more difficult to constrain in a), b), c) or d) choice than "what is the 99% VaR?". I appreciate that not all the questions can (nor should) be “plug and chug”, but I think regulation questions come with a potential for ambiguity, which should be carefully managed.

So these are my impressions… what are Yours?


Kind regards,



Wojtek Buczynski
 

SoBeFla

New Member
Hello everyone,

With exam now behind us, I thought I'd share my experience, some of it can hopefully be of benefit to Suzanne and David at BT, and some of it to other Candidates. I know there's a more details review post, one I chose not to read (I don't know about you, but I really don't want to know what questions I did badly...; also, correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't we supposed to keep the questions to ourselves as per the Candidate Pledge?), my feedback is from a slightly different angle.

I don't know how others found it, I know I found the exam (level 2) really, really difficult. And I learned, I definitely put in the hours and combed through Kaplan’s textbooks. I had 2 sources of materials for Level 2: Kaplan and BT: Kaplan seemed a little more structured, and closely reflecting the underlying GARP books, so I went with it as my primary source. For Level 1 I bought GARP’s materials, and I considered them somewhat haphazardly aggregated from underlying textbooks, I hoped that Kaplan would stick to the curriculum while providing a layer of explanation and “unification” to the underlying materials. The reason I didn’t choose BT as my primary materials is embarrassingly simple: they are way, way more difficult; I simply assumed that Kaplan gauged the level of difficulty more-less accurately. Another reason is that Kaplan has hundreds of on-line questions, and BT does not. Anyhoo… I did a lot of test quizzes on Kaplan Online prior to the exam, and always scored around 70%, so I thought I was quite well prepared, I did the 20 questions from the most recent exam published by GARP (doing any earlier papers didn't seem to make much sense to me, given turnaround of material), I scored 85% on that, that made me feel real good... then I did Kaplan's 2 mock exams. Now this was interesting - the mocks were noticeably more difficult than on-line questions, still I did in mid-to-upper sixties, which should generally be enough I think. Then came the exam... and it was really difficult nonetheless. I don't know to what extent stress played a role (having failed CFA level 2 in June was a big blow to my confidence), but I know the exam seemed much more difficult than any prep material (with the exception of Bionic Turtle - your materials are famously on the more difficult end of the scale, and so are the test questions, which is exactly why I skipped them, I thought that you’re exaggerating a little bit, and that may have been a mistake, I think BT's level of difficulty was quite close to the actual exam). I also know it wasn't an entirely subjective impression - normally I would do a full mock in around 2.5hrs, but with the actual exam the 4hrs I had wasn't a minute too many. One thing I noticed and had mixed feelings about was the over- (in my opinion) representation of regulation-related questions. I think that "what is the best practice regarding...?" type of question is quite open, and much more difficult to constrain in a), b), c) or d) choice than "what is the 99% VaR?". I appreciate that not all the questions can (nor should) be “plug and chug”, but I think regulation questions come with a potential for ambiguity, which should be carefully managed.

So these are my impressions… what are Yours?


Kind regards,



Wojtek Buczynski
 

SoBeFla

New Member
Wojtek,

Greetings. I share your impressions of FRM Part II. I've been a CPA for years, I did well on FRM Part I last Nov, and I was successful on CFA Level II this Jun. So, I've had some practice in taking these sorts of tests. I suffered in my preparation for FRM II. So much of the material was brand new to me, that I had very little to leverage off of, and I hit a wall about two weeks before exam day and lost energy.

As for preparation, my strategy was similar to yours - Schweser (because I like the online Qbank) and BT. (I learned from FRM I that using Schweser alone was a risky strategy - I got lucky, I guess.) So, there you have a testimonial for the rigor of David's BT questions, I guess! I can tell you that the mock exams, Schweser online questions and David's are ALL at very different levels of difficulty.
My expectation (hope) is that this FRM Part II exam will come down to where GARP wishes the MPS to lie. An incremental hour of Schweser would not have helped me. Another 10 hours of BT could have helped, but I expect that like you and me, many of the Part II candidates left the exam not feeling very optimistic. It seems to me that GARP enjoys making each test very unique in terms of detail, qunat vs. theory, and overall difficulty. Would certainly welcome other comments on this assertion... If, I'm right, then the unadjusted scores on the Nov 2013 FRM II exam will be low, and GARP will face a decision - either lower the MPS to maintain a passing rate in line with history, or many of us will face bad news to start the new year!!!

David and Suzanne, am I off the mark here? Perhaps you have different views based on your long term experience.

Many thanks, happy Chanuka, and happy holidays to all!
SoBeFla
 

abh2013

New Member
Wojtek,

Greetings. I share your impressions of FRM Part II. I've been a CPA for years, I did well on FRM Part I last Nov, and I was successful on CFA Level II this Jun. So, I've had some practice in taking these sorts of tests. I suffered in my preparation for FRM II. So much of the material was brand new to me, that I had very little to leverage off of, and I hit a wall about two weeks before exam day and lost energy.

As for preparation, my strategy was similar to yours - Schweser (because I like the online Qbank) and BT. (I learned from FRM I that using Schweser alone was a risky strategy - I got lucky, I guess.) So, there you have a testimonial for the rigor of David's BT questions, I guess! I can tell you that the mock exams, Schweser online questions and David's are ALL at very different levels of difficulty.
My expectation (hope) is that this FRM Part II exam will come down to where GARP wishes the MPS to lie. An incremental hour of Schweser would not have helped me. Another 10 hours of BT could have helped, but I expect that like you and me, many of the Part II candidates left the exam not feeling very optimistic. It seems to me that GARP enjoys making each test very unique in terms of detail, qunat vs. theory, and overall difficulty. Would certainly welcome other comments on this assertion... If, I'm right, then the unadjusted scores on the Nov 2013 FRM II exam will be low, and GARP will face a decision - either lower the MPS to maintain a passing rate in line with history, or many of us will face bad news to start the new year!!!

David and Suzanne, am I off the mark here? Perhaps you have different views based on your long term experience.

Many thanks, happy Chanuka, and happy holidays to all!
SoBeFla

Yeah...same here. when I entered examination hall, I was pretty much confidant that I would nail this exam. But when I was coming out.....I was not sure whether I have done the exam right or wrong! Fingers crossed.
 
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