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!

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 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!

The Risk of Knowing About the GARP’s ERP Program

Note from Alex: This is a guest post from Richard Jide Adisah. Richard is an ERP candidate in Ghana and writes about his experiences and preparations for the ERP exam. Enjoy!

If you are on this blog and reading this post, you probable know all the technical stuff you need to know about the Energy Risk Professional Program. So I won’t bore you with details and technicalities. Let me tell you about what knowing about the ERP has done to my life.

I discovered ERP in a local newspaper in Ghana. A unique institution set up by the Central Bank in Ghana (“Bank of Ghana”) was offering an energy finance training programme designed based on the ERP curriculum. Immediately I was hooked. I wanted to know more, and when I enrolled in the program, my appetite grew more. Soon enough though, I discovered that the available study materials are few and far between, and so are practice questions, fellow candidates, and even financial risk training for the energy industry as a whole.

Energy risk management knowledge is quite challenging to master and very few books cover enough background for a candidate to develop a comprehensive understanding. And so the more you learn, the more you want to know.  The techniques are relative new and not well-tested  and very few authors express deep enough confidence in their own models to encourage widespread adoption.

Though I am yet to take the exam, I have had considerable discussions with many industry professionals some of whom have successfully been ERP certified (including Alex Janis) and my conviction is yet to change. ERP is designed by GARP to mimic the energy industry. Studying it involves continuous exploration for new ideas, new techniques and cutting edge understanding of a continuously evolving field.

It’s challenging yet exciting. It’s broad yet highly specialized. I have enjoyed every bit of the ERP journey and I  tell you this for sure, I am only beginning. The only thing I keep hearing from everyone is that you need more time to study, be strategic, identify the key link between concepts and AIM statements and always ask yourself: “Where is the risk?”

I guess everyone agrees with me, knowing about the ERP creates in you an insatiable appetite to know more. It’s relatively new, it’s exciting but passing the exam requires a strategic and smart approach to mastering the skills and concepts.  Soon enough though, I might have the chance to find out, how right I am.

Cheers.

Richard Jide Adisah

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