How to Answer Challenging FRM® Exam Questions

How to Answer Challenging FRM® Exam Questions

The FRM exam is challenging, and even the most prepared candidate will encounter some challenging questions. Additionally, the FRM is comprehensive and tests all aspects of the curriculum. You may encounter tricky questions, lengthy questions that may be confusing or straightforward. Let us look at how you should tackle challenging questions that you come across in your exam.

Reread the question if you did not understand it the first time

Some questions are tricky, and sometimes the question might not make sense the first time around, or none of the answers seems correct. Read the question and highlight the terms used in the questions to understand how to answer them effectively.

Reading the question ensures that you do not miss keywords or instructions. Watch out for wordy and lengthy questions and double negative statements.

Do not leave an answer blank

If you do not know the correct answer to a challenging question, eliminate the wrong answers and choose a random response from the remaining options. A marked answer has a higher likelihood of gaining points than a blank answer whose value is zero. Additionally, wrong answers do not attract a penalty.

Remain calm

It is easy to lose confidence when all the questions seem challenging. Try to remain calm and focus on the concepts you learned and practiced. You can use a few seconds to take deep breaths to calm down.

An effective way of building confidence and managing time during the exam is to answer the easy questions first. In addition, this will leave more time to tackle the challenging questions.

You can avoid last-minute stress by beginning your studies early and practicing with sample questions and mock exams. Adequate preparation will help you remain confident and calm during the exam.

How hard is it to pass the FRM exam?      

The FRM exam is challenging and highly quantitative, and its level of mathematical difficulty is the same as an advanced undergraduate or introductory graduate-level finance course. You will need to study for a significant number of hours to master the concepts. You need to put in at least 240 hours in each part and practice using sample questions.

In the last FRM exam sitting of 2019, the pass rate was:

  • Level I: May sitting -42% and November sitting -46%
  • Level II: May sitting -61% and November sitting -59%

If you have enrolled and registered for the FRM exam, we have a practical step-by-step guide to help you pass your exams.

1. Get acquainted with the FRM curriculum and identify different topic weights

Part I of the FRM curriculum tests the tools used to evaluate financial risk. The topics are;

  1. Quantitative analysis (20%)
  2. Foundations of risk management concepts (20%)
  3. Financial markets and products (30%)
  4. Valuation and risk models (30%)

Part II of the FRM curriculum focuses on applying the risk evaluation tools learned in part I. They are;

  • Market risk measurement and management (20%)
  • Credit risk measurement and management (20%)
  • Operational and integrated risk management (20%)
  • Liquidity and treasury risk measurement and management (15%)
  • Risk management and investment management (15%)
  • Current issues in financial markets (10%)

The weights are subject to change, but you can identify the most weight topics and focus on them. Ensure that you have an in-depth understanding of these topics to increase your chances of passing the exam.

2. Prepare and adhere to a study plan

The FRM curriculum is challenging and requires you to put in enough time and effort to succeed. When planning a study strategy, dedicate at least 200 to 240 hours towards studying for each level of the examination.

Make the most of this time by focusing on the topics which carry the most weight and achieving the planned learning outcomes. You should customize your study plan to suit your pace and circumstances. Enroll in the FRM study package at and get an experienced expert to guide and mentor you through the challenging coursework.

Enhance your memory by making use of flashcards to remind yourself of key concepts and formulas. Ensure that each flashcard has only one concept or formula on it. However, you should only take the time to write flashcards if it does not take time aside to take revision questions.

Consider looking for additional study resources like exam prep packages from to increase your chances of success.

3. Understand the question format used in FRM exams

The FRM exam is highly quantitative, and the mathematical difficulty is the same as that of an advanced undergraduate or introductory graduate-level finance course. It is conceptual, and you are required to know formulas as GARP will not provide formula sheets in the exam and apply them correctly.

Understanding these question formats will help you understand the topics you study and apply this knowledge to answer exam questions effectively. Instructions that include calculate, compute or derive require you to use a formula.

4. Practice for the test using sample questions and mock exams

It would be best to allocate some of your study time to practice answering questions using sample questions and mock exams, especially as the exam date approaches. Mock exams simulate actual test conditions to help you understand how the exam is. has an extensive library with sample questions, personalized quizzes, and mock exams. Our online and video tutorials will help you internalize hard-to-understand concepts. We also demonstrate the required calculations to get the correct answer.

Practicing using sample questions and mock exams will assist you in identifying any knowledge gaps and prepare you to pace yourself during the test. You should review your performance and learn from your mistakes to avoid repeating them in the future.

You can use an exam prep package from to gain access to additional study and exam materials to help you prepare for your exam. At, we link you with a mentor who will guide you through your preparation.