As we move through the last set of our exams for Semester 2, I sit back and wonder. These will complete the exams we have to take for our MBA, so … is this the end of my exam life forever?
Having left college in 2003 I always figured that I would end up doing further education at some point. So I never thought of those as my last exams. However, having gotten up from my child-like seat in the cavernous exam hall on Saturday, after squeezing all my knowledge on financing new ventures in to a booklet for the previous 2 hours, I think I might have actually sat the last exam of my life.
Now this isn’t a lament on the differences between rote learning and whatever the other type is. I have been pretty successful in the Irish exam system which I feel sets a high benchmark for success and gave me great technical knowledge that I leveraged in my professional career internationally. This is more the realisation that after an MBA I don’t think there is much more additional education one can pursue to advance your career. True, there are other exams such as the CFA or Series 7 if you want to be an analyst (and there are probably more that I haven’t even thought of). But they are all career specific and not of the lecture/exam format that we love so much.
This is just one more thing to realise whilst doing an MBA; that it is the culmination of a lifelong learning journey. The first exam I can remember sitting was over 30 years ago, as a 6 year old, and I sat exams every year for the next 20 years. I liked exams so much I decided to take the scenic route through my undergrad and stay for an additional year so that I could enjoy the exam experience a few more times!
When I look at the paragraph above I only now realise the sheer volume of exams I must have sat so far in my life. So it is probably high time I do say goodbye to exam life. The path that we take through life and on the road to an MBA takes many forms, but we all have endured the unenjoyable (or enjoyable, if you’re masochistic) experience of exams. This is a global common bond for all students and I guess, like everything, it has to come to an end at some point.
So it is there in an exam hall in the RDS Simmonscourt, on Saturday 13th May 2017, that I close a large chapter in my personal journey – and that of EXAM LIFE.
Traolach O’Connor, Full Time MBA 2016-2017
I still can’t believe it’s already been three months since I’ve started doing my MBA in Smurfit Business School! It seems like just yesterday I was back home in India thinking about which colleges to apply to, sending out applications, sorting out my Visa issues and deciding on a travel date. The whole anxiety of going to a new foreign country, making new friends, starting college once again and literally starting a whole new chapter in my life kept me awake at nights thinking whether I am making the right choice or not. But here I am three months down the line and I couldn’t have made a better decision!
From the moment I stepped out of the airport to date, it has been a roller-coaster ride. Each day in college has been unpredictable- making new friends, quarrelling over assignments etc. Though we have a timetable, we can still not be certain of when we are going to come back home each day. Every week is different from the previous week with new tasks and experiences. However, the best week for me so far was the GNAM Global Network Week in which we had an opportunity to meet students from different colleges across the globe. That week, we got an opportunity to extend our network beyond college as well as a chance to experience the Irish culture with events like a trip to “The Happy Pear” and trip to Guinness Storehouse.
Circa two weeks after GNW, we had our first end of term exam in the Financial Reporting module. It’s only been three months since the start of MBA and we have already completed two modules- GNW and Financial Reporting- so you can imagine the pressure of being an MBA student! The stress at times is immense but then it’s something we had already prepared for. This month is going to be the most hectic so far. We already have all our assignments lined up for submission and then end of term exams before we can finally get a Christmas break!
The best part about the whole experience is the feeling that I am a student once again and that thought makes me feel young. After obtaining my undergraduate degree and starting work, I never thought I’d have the patience to study once again and particularly a hectic programme like the MBA! Though it’s hectic, you’re not in it alone. Though the stress may be intense, you’ll always see an MBA student with a smile on their face. All the best to everyone for the upcoming exams! We’ve come through so far so we will survive this as well!
Aparna Godara ~ Full-Time MBA
After a hectic term of lectures and projects in the six modules of the Full Time Smurfit MBA Programme, my first feeling about end of terms exams was abject fear. With my background in Psychology, English and Foreign Language, I’ve made it through an undergraduate degree and a master’s degree without ever having to take an exam with right or wrong answers. The prospect of finding success in MBA exams, with their numbers and complex theoretical models, hid behind an impenetrable wall. I didn’t know what to do.
In the past, any time I have tried to cram objective information, I have had a lot of trouble. I’ve found that it doesn’t suit the way my mind works. In order to learn even basic concepts, I have to indulge my curiosity and find understanding. I realised quickly that I would have to adjust my studying technique to something that would work for me.
My resolution through the process was to learn as much as I could during my weeks of study and exam review. The MBA is a choice I made for myself and my career and I realised early on that focusing on rote memorisation would do little to serve me in the future. To get the most out of my exam preparation, I decided to learn through applications of concepts, thinking through ways that they could be applied in the real world. For some courses, I went through case study notes. For others, I was able to find more information through research on how MBA concepts work in the real world.
When I shifted my exam study goal from learning to understanding, I got a lot more out of my hours of preparation. It remains to be seen whether this paid off with my grades (they aren’t posted yet!), but I definitely felt confident and calm walking into each exam. More importantly, I know that I learned a lot more than I would have if I had crammed information in my brain that didn’t mean anything to me.
I couldn’t go as far as to say that I enjoyed studying for exams, but I did get a lot out of the process and I now have a solid understanding of my first six modules in the Smurfit MBA programme. Although I would be delighted to get good grades, the real hope is that I will be able to use this information and understanding later in my career. In the meantime, I am really enjoying a few weeks off.
Elsa Heffernan ~ Full-Time MBA
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With the exams now well and truly behind us at this stage, it feels like the WEMBAs (Weekend Executive MBAs) can breathe a sigh of relief. Chatting to the class last Saturday following our final Competitive Strategy exam, our (largely exhausted) conversations were along the lines of what we’ve learned so far this year, whether it was what we expected and how far we feel we’ve come (with some renditions of Teresa Mannion’s ‘don’t make unnecessary journeys’ thrown in!). In a sense, it feels like it’s been ages since Foundation Week, and on the other hand, it feels like time has flown. Either way, it’s been hugely enjoyable. A quarter down already!
We’ve learned to juggle work and personal lives, to prioritise, to engage with team-members, to speed-read, to manage deadlines – the latter being skills that we all had coming into Smurfit, but which have been honed for sure, during the past four months. The benefit of group work has allowed us all to lean on eachother when it got particularly busy, and is an amazing support when it feels a little overwhelming (which it definitely does at times!). Thanks Team ECHO :)
I didn’t think this time last year, that by now I’d have learned about Honda or Stephen King’s strategies, cashflow statements and principles-based accounting, boiling frog analogies (don’t think I’ll ever forget that one) or ‘job-shops’ in supply chain! Over Christmas, when I have time to take stock, it’ll be nice to consider everything we’ve all achieved. Perhaps I’ll catch up on some of the articles I didn’t get a chance to read…or perhaps not!
Here’s to more great, busy times next year.
Grace Milton ~ Executive MBA, Year 1
It’s exam time again. Our 2nd Semester classes are just over and we are marching straight into our final exams this week (after a short break termed as ‘Revision Week’). Though, the exam times are always filled with hectic activity, I am feeling less stressed this time. This seems to be the impact of continuous ongoing assessments which have helped to build a strong foundation in all of the modules. The types of assessment techniques used at Smurfit seems to be as varied as the term ‘Variation’ itself ; ranging from class participation, individual assignments and journals, group case studies and projects, class presentations, and even a “Class Quiz on Ethics in Business”.
The support system provided by Faculty, the MBA office staff, as well as my classmates is immense. I always have an assurance that whenever I may face any difficulty while preparing a topic, the help is within arm’s reach. This provides that extra confidence which makes studying for exams a smooth and enriching experience. Sometimes, an e-mail response from my classmates is even swifter than a ‘Google search’.
Ashutosh Singla ~ Full-Time MBA