I have 10 layers or so loaded in a data frame in ArcMap 10.2. Some are complex such as NHD hydrology and Tiger roads.
Why does ArcMap redraw all layers when I change the symbology of just one? Is there a way to stop ArcMap from doing this behavior?
You can use basemap layers to solve this. Once you are happy with the symbology of your layers you can right click the data frame and select New Basemap Layer (see below) which is similar to a group layer.
You can then drop the layers into this group, it will redraw them once and then 'store' this view rather than redrawing every time you make a change. If you need to make any changes to layer you can pull it out of the basemap group edit it and drop it back in.
This will make it much quicker to navigate round your map.
Hope that helps.