How to Prepare Better if You Have to Retake the ERP Exam

It can happen to the best of ERP candidates: You received your results and the passing score for the ERP was missed by a hair. This is of course annoying, but please don’t despair. Luckily, you have a second chance to pass and brush up on the study material again to remember it even better for the future. After venting your initial frustration, make sure to get up on your feet again as quickly as possible and get into gear to prepare for retaking the exam. How should you approach this endeavour in the best way? This article highlights the three most important ideas and tips that I email to ERP candidates when they ask me this question.

  1. Focus more on your weak topics, but don’t forget about the topics that you passed. Look at your test scores and find the weaknesses in your exam preparation. Did you start too late? Did you underestimate certain topics? Did you approach certain topics in the wrong way (for example, focusing on qualitative problems, when the exam asked mainly quantitative problems)? But don’t get lost in this, you should know your way around the entire syllabus. I think it’s still much better to know the most salient pooints about each topic on the surface than being completely ignorant about some of the topics. it’s a question of finding the right balance, and making sure this matches with the time you have available for exam preparation.
  2. Focus only on the original ERP syllabus and prepare your own summaries. If you have not already done so, invest in the original ERP syllabus from GARP. There is really no way around this. It used to be possible to get the individual readings individual, but that time has gone. GARP has done a wonderful job at compiling a comprehensive body of knowledge that will cover broad areas of energy risk management. When you work through the syllabus, make it a habit to take notes and thereby make your own summaries of the learning material. It’s not a good idea to rely on third-party summaries alone or on those of previous exam candidates. This can be a helpful complement, but it should not be a substitute for making your own summaries.
  3. Solve as many practice questions and test exams as possible. Even though there are relatively few practice exams for the ERP available, you should make it a goal to get as much real-life exam experience as possible. The GARP sample questions are not good examples of the questions you will encounter in the real exam, so don’t rely on those alone. There are some practice exams from third-party providers available now, one of them being my own. I compiled these questions with the real exam in mind, and while they can’t be a prediction of what will be asked in the exam, they certainly paint a realistic picture of the timing necessary to get through all the questions and the level of complexity of the questions. Feel free to check it out if you have not already done so: ERP Practice Exam.

These are the main points that will prepare you optimally for the ERP exam in case you take it the first time or the second time around. If you take this advice seriously I am absolutely certain that you will improve your exam score dramatically, and with that your chance of passing the ERP exam. Please let me know how it goes with your ERP exam preparation, I always look forward to hearing from you. I wish you all the best in your exam preparation.

The 3 Things I Wish I Had Done Differently When Preparing for the Energy Risk Professional Exam

Energy-Risk-Professional-lessons-learned

Energy-Risk-Professional-lessons-learned

When I took the ERP exam, I was overwhelmed with the preparation like almost all candidates. The sheer amount of reading material (and the lack of preparation material) next to a demanding work schedule seemed almost too much at times, to the point where I was wondering whether enrolling for the ERP had really been such a brilliant idea.

I was lucky enough to pass the exam at the first try, but getting there was stressful, to say the least. In my preparation period, all of my free time was spent reading and learning, with little left for my family and friends. A few times I was tempted to postpone the exam to the next year, but I somehow managed to stay motivated and pushed through. I am very happy I did, but there are a few lessons from my experience that I learned during this time that could probably help future Energy Risk Professionals to design their exam preparation successfully. Even though I think I approached the ERP quite well, there are a few things that I would change to increase my learning effectiveness. Here they are:

    1. Start earlier. I reserved about six months practice time for the ERP. As it turned out this is really the minimum, and I should have allocated at least eight (or even ten) months, including solving practice questions. So if you decide to attempt the ERP, start immediately with your preparation, no matter how early that seems. You can do it in six months (perhaps even less if you have a lot of free time), but for working professionals, ten months would be somewhat comfortable.
    2. Read faster. When I started reading the GARP material, I took much too long to read the original material. In later levels I figured out speed reading and SQ3R, so this helped me tremendously to get through the reading material faster. While I read the ERP study material, I simultaneously took notes in question-answer format (which I turned into my ERP study notes), so this slowed down my process even more but was really a lifesaver in the review phase. Faster reading techniques will help you to have more time available for solving practice problems and to review the syllabus, so I think familiarizing yourself with cursory reading techniques can help you quite a bit in your ERP exam preparation, but also in all your other reading tasks.
    3. Solve as many questions and practice exams as possible. When I took the exam, there were only about 60 practice questions or so out there, which is really not enough to seriously practice for any exam. I also used my ViveraRISK study notes to review, but had I not had those, the exam would have been much more difficult. I know there is still a real scarcity of practice material for the ERP, but make sure you get at least all the available free practice exams from GARP. I also created a realistic ERP Practice Exam, which I think gives you a good impression of what to expect at the exam. Solving practice questions is excellent practice and repetition at the same time. It will also give you an honest assessment of your preparedness for the exam. Make use of all the resources you have to prepared in the best way possible!

These are the main lessons that I learned, and the things I would do differently if I took the ERP all over again. At the moment, I am studying for another finance designation, and I am using these techniques to speed up the process and learn faster. You can do the same to get through your ERP exam preparation faster and more effectively!

Don’t Go For Perfection, Go For Efficiency in the Energy Risk Professional Exam

Whether you’re studying for the energy risk professional exam or any other exam, one old saying always holds true: Take a shortcut if you know it. In other words: Forget perfection, go for efficiency.

Now what exactly does that mean regarding the ERP? I am of course not advocating that you neglect your studying and hope for the best at the exam, not by any means. What I am trying to drive home is that it really makes no sense whatsoever to obsess over the learning material to the point of getting burnt out and losing interest altogether, but that it’s more important of knowing the most important concepts, and having them at your disposal in the exam.

Just think of learning a new language: Does it matter whether your grammar is perfect, or is it more important that you can order in a restaurant, buy a train ticket or ask directions to the bathroom? You get the point. It’s the same with studying for the ERP. Yes, you must know about all of the concept covered in the original GARP readings. You also have to understand how to apply mathematical formulas to solve for energy related problems. But at the end of the day, you must not be an absolute expert in all of them. You must know enough to pass in the time you have available to prepare for the exam. Remember: You don’t need a 100% score to pass, 70% will do. Out of 140 questions that is still 42 mistakes that you’re allowed to make.

To study more efficiently, I really encourage you to take advantage of the study help and practice material for the energy risk professional exam. If you can, enroll for a class or coaching, or make at least use of the study material that is available online. The classes are a little more expensive, but very good ERP study material (such as the ViveraRISK Concept Checkers for the ERP exam) is available online for the cost of a restaurant dinner for two. This little sacrifice will put you light years ahead in your ERP preparation. Also make sure you master exam strategy, as this is half the rent with the ERP. Solve practice exams and the ERP sample exams available from GARP. A good study plan will round out your toolkit for the ERP and you will be ready to go.

With multiple choice exams such as the ERP, the CFA, or the CAIA, you can be brilliantly prepared or an accomplished expert in the field and still fail the exam if you don’t know how to approach it to get answers fast and eliminated mistakes. Don’t let this happen to you and be smart about your preparation. I wish you all the best on your way to become an ERP!

Writing the ERP Exam in May? Start Preparing Now!

With the November Energy Risk Professional exam just behind us, many ERP candidates will now register to take the exam in May. I often get emails from candidates asking how to best tackle the ERP challenge: Which study material to use, how to study, and (most importantly) when to start with exam preparations, and I will address these concerns below.

I wrote an article about ERP  preparations entitled “How To Master The ERP Exam in 10 Steps” where I outline the study strategy that I used to prepare for the exam in 2010. I believe it is essential to factor in enough time for your preparations, as this part is often overlooked. The original readings of the GARP study material are much deeper than one would expect looking at the ERP registration website. It will take you quite a lot of time to just organize the material, let alone read through it once. The next task is memorizing the most important concepts, and finally, solving practice questions.

If you’re registered to take the ERP exam, you should start preparing at least six months in advance to work through the curriculum comfortably. Sure, you can also do it faster (as outlined in Energy Risk Professional Exam Preparations In A Hurry), but if you work full-time and have other commitments, you should really make enough time available for proper preparations.

I would advise you to use the original GARP readings to get an overview of the material and make notes on your own. For review and to practice the most important concepts, you can use third-party study material such as the ViveraRISK Concept Checkers for the ERP Exam, which will complement your own notes. After reviewing the study material, you should solve as many practice questions as possible to see where your knowledge still lacks. You can then go back and review those subjects again.

Before you start, map out a reading plan for yourself, and make sure you admit at least two months for review and one moth for practice exams and final review. Roughly speaking, such a study plan would be based on the following parameters:

  • 3 months for reading the original readings.
  • 2 months for review of your notes and Concept Checkers
  • 1 month for practice exam and final review

If you can structure your study plan in this way, I believe you will be able to get through the material in time. Of course, using more time, perhaps up to one year, for preparation is only better, but for most of us, this is not possible. I had six months for preparation while working full-time, and passed, so I believe you can do that too.

I wish you all the best for your ERP Preparations! Please do not hesitate to contact me on Facebook or on Energyriskprofessional.com if you have any questions.

 

Energy Risk Professional Exam Strategy: Speed

I hope you are well on the way in your preparations to take the Energy Risk Professional exam! If you have already solved the GARP sample exams or the full-length Practice Exam, you know that timing is essential to score well. It’s too easy to waste time reading through exam questions again and again, and before you know it, five minutes have passed. This happened to me when I prepared, and I will share with you a strategy to increase your speed when you write the examination.

Note: The ERP exam used to contain 180 questions, but as of 2014, GARP has changed to format to 140 questions spread over 8 hours total. The Practice Exam and this article have been accordingly updated to the new format.

In order to keep track of time, make sure you don’t spend more than 3 minutes and 30 seconds on each question. The morning and afternoon session are four hours each, but you will want to have at least one hour for review in each session, this will leave you with 180 minutes / 70 questions = 2:40 minutes / question in the ideal case. On some you will be faster, on others slower, so a good rule of thumb is to move on after 3:30 minutes. A good way to ensure you don’t spend more is to allocate about one minute to reading the question, and the rest of the time to solving it. I usually put my wrist watch in front of me next to the exam sheet, so I always see where I stand in terms of timing. For example: If you’re at question ten, you should not be more than 25-30 minutes into the session.

The questions are sometimes worded in a lengthy way. Make sure you quickly get the point of the question. A helper may be to quickly glance at the multiple choice answers, so you see whether you have to calculate something or if the question is qualitative. If you have to calculate VAR, make sure you quickly isolate the core components needed for the calculation and perform it as fast as possible. The mark off the answer you found to be correct and move on.

Some questions will be short, so make sure you blaze through them and thank GARP for the present. Quickly browser the answers before you start reading the question, and mark off the right answer, then move on.

There will always be the case where you simply cannot find an answer. Either the calculation does not match any of the answers, it does not make sense, or you simply have no clue. This happens to everyone, so don’t despair. Just select the most likely answer, or guess if you must.

Your speed will greatly increase if you go into the exam well rested. I therefore suggest you take off at least one day prior to the exam and relax a bit. Maybe repeat some of the key concepts in the morning before the exam, then rest in the afternoon. Also make sure you have some water with you in the exam room. IF you’re dehydrated, you will lose speed. All athletes know this, so think of yourself as a high performance athlete when you go into the ERP!

IMPORTANT: Do not leave any questions unanswered when you go through the test. Even if you don’t know the answer, just mark the most likely correct answer, then move on. Mark the questions you’re not sure about to visit later if you have time. In the afternoon session I barely finished in time, and had I left answers unchecked, I could have ended up giving away valuable points.

You will need every single point you can get in the ERP exam to pass, it’s really not an easy exam. Prepare well with the Practice Exam and the ViveraRISK Concept Checkers, keep your calm and a positive attitude during the exam, and you will be sure to perform at your best.

I wish you all the best, and I am keeping fingers crossed for you!

Energy Risk Professional Exam Preparations In A Hurry

I frequently get questions about the appropriate timing to prepare for the Energy Risk Professional exam. In a perfect scenario, six month would be ideal, as it gives you plenty of time to adequately read the original syllabus, check everything with the ViveraRISK Concept Checkers, and then practice and prepare for the exam with the GARP sample exams and the full-length ERP Practice Exam. But what it you only have a month to prepare until the exam? That’s a tough question…

If you’re under such severe time constraints and want to give it a go, there is still a way do approach preparations. I would of course not recommend to start that late, but if it is your only option, this is what I would advise:

  1. First skim the original readings from GARP, but make sure you don’t lose too much time doing that.
  2. Then, I would very soon start working with the ViveraRISK Concept Checkers and the sample/practice exams. Take the GARP sample exam from 2009 first when you start with the Concept Checkers. After you’re about half-way through, I would take the GARP sample exam from 2010 and last but not least the full-length practice exam.
  3. Try to be done with the Concept Checkers about 10 days before the exam, then take the practice exam again three days before the exam, just to repeat the quant problems and drill them a bit more.

It will be a tour de force for sure, but if you clear the exam under these conditions, kudos to you!!

Please let me know if you have any comments, suggestions, or questions. I wish you all the best for your exam preparations, and I am keeping my fingers crossed for you!

How To Make The Most Of The ERP Practice Exam

Note: The ERP exam used to contain 180 questions, but as of 2014, GARP has changed to format to 140 questions spread over 8 hours total. The Practice Exam and this article have been accordingly updated to the new format.

Solving as many practice questions as possible is the best way to prepare for the Energy Risk Professional exam in the last stage of preparation. This will point out areas of weakness and will simulate the exam experience. Next to knowing about the important topics covered in the readings, you must also make sure you can manage your time effectively, and you should know what to do in case a question comes up you did not expect.

When I prepared for the ERP in November 2010, I often spent too much time on the math questions, solving them until the end, just to go through the entire exercise. In some cases it is possible to find the right solution by just excluding the answers that do not work. You can also deduct the right answer from the question, for example by determining the approximate value and then comparing that with the answers provided.

Here is a small check list that you could use when you solve practice exams:

  • Solve the practice exam about two weeks before the actual exam. This will give you enough time to look up the topics you would like to look up again.
  • Make sure you stick to the right time window: Each session lasts 4 hours, you want 1 hour of review time in each session . This leaves you with 3 hours for 70 questions in each session. This will allow you to spend about 2:40 minutes per question on average. In order to have enough time, you should be faster than that though because you want to go through the questions again and find errors that you made. As a rule of thumb, never spend more than 3:30 minutes per question.
  • Do not use the practice material to look up answers to the questions when you solve the exam. This defeats the entire purpose. If you are pressed for time, you should still solve the exam without the answers visible to you. When you are finished and check the answers, work through all the answers very diligently to refresh the concepts.
  • Use only the allowed calculators during the practice exam.
  • Mark an answer for each question on the first go. Even if  you are not sure if it’s right, still mark the one you think may be correct and then move on. This is very important: In case you do run out of time, you would not want to have left any answers blank.
  • Take a break between the two exam sessions. Each session lasts for 4 hours, so it is unrealistic to work through the entire 140 questions and still be highly concentrated. Take a break of at least 60 minutes in between.
  • GARP is well-known for confusing exam questions. If you encounter a question you did not expect or that you never heard about, be not surprised. Just apply common wisdom and logic, and exclude the answers you think are wrong.

I hope this helps you preparing for the exam. If you would like to check out the practice exam on energyriskprofessional.com, please click here or on the picture below.

As always, let me know if you have any questions. I wish you all the best for your ERP exam!

How To Read The Required ERP Material Faster

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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)
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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!

Work Smarter Not Harder For The ERP Exam

The Brain

The Brain

The Energy Risk Professional exam is a daunting task without a doubt: Looking at the required reading list alone can make your head spin. When I studied for the ERP I repeatedly wondered what I had gotten myself into. But still, I was happy to pass and in retrospect I believe this is doable for anyone with the right study approach and attitude.

That begs the question: Does preparing for the ERP exam really have to be so difficult?

History has shown that great accomplishments do not have to be extremely hard per se. In medicine for example, simply washing one’s hands have saved nearly as many lives as the introduction of penicillin.

I am not saying the ERP exam is EASY, I am proposing to optimize the exam preparation approach. The old adage of working smarter, not harder, holds true for the ERP as well. In my opinion, the most important ingredients for exam success are:

  1. A real interest in the subject matter. For those passionate about energy, learning the ins and outs about it will be fascinating.
  2. Enough time. If you plan for at least six months to get in shape for the exam, this should suffice.
  3. A good study plan. You need to intelligently structure both the study material as well as your personal time to get consistent results. This also includes a well thought-of exam strategy, which may be the most important part.

I hope you don’t make studying for the ERP too hard for yourself. Yes, it is tough, but you can have fun on the way and it is by no means impossible to pass. Once you have jumped the initial hurdle of the mountain of study material you have  to work through, studying will be enjoyable as soon as you have gotten the hang of it.

I encourage you all to participate in the discussion about this topic in the ERP Group on Facebook, and look forward to hearing your opinions!

72 Free Practice Questions For The ERP Exam

Studying for the ERP exam demands a lot of organization and self-discipline. Once you have read all the required study material the three most important things for exam success are:

  1. Practice
  2. Practice
  3. Practice

In the pdf file below I summarized the questions I found hardest from the ERP practice exam that was available from GARP in 2010 and  added some of my own questions that came up when I studied. Please feel free to download it from here:

ERP Exam questions summary

I hope this helps you in your exam preparation. I wish you all the best!

Alex