5 Tips for CRCM Test Prep

The CRCM certification (Certified Regulatory Compliance Manager) is arguably the most well respected and highest certification a compliance profession can achieve.  And for good reason. In order for you to just qualify to take the CRCM, you must be a banking professional with at least six years as a compliance professional within the last ten years (three of which need to be within the last five years).  Alternatively, you can qualify with only three years of experience if you also have met two of several different requirement options. Furthermore, you must be a compliance professionals with “management” experience overseeing the “full range of compliance risk functions.”  

While the minimum requirements established by the American Bankers Association for qualifying to take the CRCM test are fairly rigorous themselves, this isn’t even the hardest part of earning the CRCM.

The hardest part of earning the CRCM is making sure you are appropriately prepared.

Even if you qualify to take the CRCM test, their preparation for the test is going to be the real determining factor in whether or not you are actually able to pass the test and earn the CRCM designation.  Therefore, it is imperative that you make preparation your highest priority while on the road towards earning your CRCM.

As preparation is the most imperative element for earning the CRCM certification, we have contacted several recent CRCM designees and gathered the most essential CRCM test preparation tips to ensure that you can pass it on your first try.

Consider the following CRCM test preparation tips:

Tip 1:  Stick to the ABA CRCM Exam Outline (Scope)

When preparing for the CRCM, the most important thing to do is to know what is going to be on the test.  The truth is that you won’t be able to pass any test if you aren’t prepared for the material that will be covered in the test.

Each year, the ABA releases their outline (scope) of what is going to be on the test.  In the ABA CRCM examination outline, they even provide percentages of how many tests from a certain subject are going to be on the test.   For example, the most recent version of the CRCM examination outline (8/9/17) explains the following percentages of topics on the CRCM exam:

  • Credit: 35%

  • Deposits: 15%

  • Bank Operations: 15%

  • Financial Crimes: 20%

  • CRA: 5%

  • Privacy: 10%

Of course, each of these “knowledge areas” cover a number of laws and/or regulations.  For example, the credit knowledge area is comprised of seventeen (17) regulations while the privacy portion of the exam is comprised of ten (10) different laws and regulations.  In fact, the full ABA CRCM outline covers over 50 different laws and regulations.

The challenge with the scope of material covered in the CRCM examination is that it can be overwhelming. Therefore, you preparation strategy should carefully account for those areas that you are already competent in and those areas where you need additional preparation.  This means that while it is good to double check to ensure you know everything you need to know in a certain area (as you will rarely know everything in an area as not everything applies to your organization), you will want to make sure you don’t spend too much time in our comfort areas.

The reality of learning is that we only expand our knowledge base when we stretch ourselves.  Therefore, it is important to avoid the temptation to stay comfortable in your study efforts.

The bottom line is to make sure you know what is on the ABA CRCM examination outline, and then to study accordingly.  The ABA CRCM Outline can be found here.

Tip 2: Use Different Learning Methods to Study for the CRCM Examination

One of the biggest challenges in preparing for the CRCM test is being able to digest all of the material you study.  If you have ever been to a compliance seminar or training session, you probably understand the concept of “information overload” - though live seminars are much easier to fully comprehend and understand the material learned than other learning methods like reading the actual regulations or even listening to webinars.

Therefore it is important to try to use a variety of different learning methods when studying for the CRCM examination.  Here are a few resources that may be beneficial:

  • Regulations can be read from your primary regulator.

  • Free training videos are available on our website here.

  • A number of vendors offer webinars where a speaker talks over slides.

  • The ABA online preparation course is a fantastic resource found here. https://www.aba.com/Training/Online/Courses/Pages/FO-CRCM.aspx  

  • Easy to understand articles (like this one) are available on our website here.

  • Live seminars are available many places, such as through your state banking association.

  • Check out the forums at www.bankersonline.com.

Free membership to our site can be obtained here.

The ABA CRCM online preparation course can be found here.  

The full list of qualifications for taking the CRCM can be found here.  

Tip 3: Practice Your Test Taking Skills

The reality for most compliance professionals is that it has been years (if not decades) since they have been in school.  While age doesn’t mean a thing when it comes to taking the CRCM, the reality is that taking a “test” on a computer may not be something you have done for years, if ever.  This means that even though you may know the material on the CRCM, if you aren’t a good “test taker,” you may have a difficult time getting an accurate assessment of your skills and knowledge.

In surveying recent CRCM graduates, one intriguing tip for taking the CRCM exam came up: work on your test taking skills.

It is our understanding that the ABA currently uses Castle Test Sites which are often found in universities and other learning environments.  These sites will administer the test electronically through their system.

In order to be fully prepared to take the CRCM test, it would be a good idea to be comfortable with electronic test taking platforms - including the actual platform used to take the CRCM.  Preparation for taking on electronic test could include a number of things, such as contacting the testing center for suggestions on how to become comfortable with their platform, utilizing any online testing platforms available through your organization, and utilizing ABA’s CRCM practice quizzes (which are included with their CRCM online preparation course).  

We have been told that Castle Testing can send you a link to a portal where you can get comfortable with the testing platform and learn how to use their system.  For example, you should learn how to “flag” a question for follow-up so that you save the hardest questions (and the ones you aren’t sure of) until the end of your four hour time limit.  This allows you to answer the easiest questions while you are still sharp, ensuring that you don’t make an unnecessary mistake if you are trying to rush through questions at the end when your time is expiring.

Tip 4: Don’t Wait to Study for the CRCM Test

As the amount of material covered on the CRCM test can be overwhelming, it is imperative that you don’t wait until the last minute to prepare for the exam.  The truth is, it is never too early to create your study strategy and start learning the material on the test - even if you can’t qualify to take the test for a couple more years.

Tip 5: Talk to Others Who Have Done Their Own CRCM Exam Prep

There are many different approaches for CRCM test prep, so you are going to have to find what works best for you.  That said, it is always easier to learn from someone else's successes (or mistakes) than to learn the hard way on your own.  For example, others may have tips to help you know what to do if you need to use the restroom during the test (or to avoid the need altogether).  You might find tips on how to be fully rested or properly nourished prior to taking the test - both which help your cognitive function which is essential for any electronic testing environment.  Here are some ways to find other professionals who have recently taken the CRCM examination:

  • Ask the ABA for a list of people who recently received the CRCM designation.

  • Check out the forums at www.bankersonline.com.

  • Watch LinkedIn for those announcing their new designations.

  • Network through organizations like your state Bankers association.

For even more tips on studying for the CRCM examination, check out our article on 8 CRCM Exam Study Tips.

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