A little less than two months are left until the big day of the ERP exam… I hope all of you are getting through the required reading materials as expected. If you are like me, then you probably underestimated the commitment a great deal. When I took the exam in 2010 I should have started about two months earlier to prepare at a comfortable pace. I was able to make up for lost time with a speed reading technique that I think you could benefit from as well. Let’s get started!
For scientific material I use a reading technique called SQ3R. It is a five-step reading strategy, and the letters are an abbreviation of the five steps of the strategy: Survey (or Skim), Question, Read, Recite (or Recall) and Review. It helps you transform the reading material into questions that your brain is trying to answer while reading. A similar approach is the foundation of the ViveraRISK ERP Concept Checkers, which are in Q&A format, but you can do this yourself with this technique.
Let’s go through these steps in a little more detail and see how you can use the technique in the Energy Risk Professional preparation:
- Survey (2 minutes): Before beginning reading look through the whole chapter or paper of the syllabus. See what the headings are – the major ones and the subheadings; hierarchical structures seem to be particularly easy for our brains to latch onto – check for introductory and summary paragraphs, references, etc. Resist reading at this point, but see if you can identify three to six major ideas in the chapter.
- Question (usually less than 30 seconds): Ask yourself what this chapter or paper is about: What is the question that this chapter is trying to answer? What question do I have that this chapter might help answer? Repeat this with each subsection of the chapter, turning each heading into a question. (As a variation of this technique, you can write the important question down; this is called SQW3R)
- Read (at your own pace): Read one section at a time looking for the answer to the question proposed by the heading. This is active reading and requires concentration, so it is important that you find yourself a place and time where you can concentrate. Reading in a train or bus may not work. Best is at home at your desk.
- Recite/write (about a minute): Say to yourself out loud or write down a key phrase that sums up the major point of the section and answers the question. You have to use your own words, not just copy a phrase or paragraph from the book.
- Review (less than 5 minutes): After repeating steps 2–4 for each section you have a list of key phrases that provides a sort of outline for the chapter. Test yourself by covering up the key phrases and seeing if you can recall them. Do this right after you finish reading the chapter. If you can’t recall one of your major points, that’s a section you need to reread.
You should treat the review part as an ongoing process with flash cards or notes made during reading the materials. You should use these cards every few days until the exam to really drill the concepts into your memory.
I hope this helps you speed up the reading process a bit, and I wish you all the best for your ERP preparations!