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!

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!

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!

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!