Just before Ski Trip, the fall term ended with final exams in all of our first quarter classes. In just about all of our classes, exams are open book and last for a three-hour period. In most classes professors told us that if you’ve been coming to class and put the hours in during exam period, that everything would be just fine. But the question on everyone’s mind was, is that really true?
In some cases, students took the professors up on their “offer” and did very little preparation for some of their classes, though in other cases students spent an innumerable number of hours in the QSR (i.e. the Kellogg library) preparing for upcoming exams. For some that’s because they felt more urgency to do well, given firm they’re planning to interview at firms that will ask for grades. For others, it’s because they’ve done well their whole lives so don’t want to start performing below that standard now.
For me, the biggest hurdle felt like Finance. Ironically, I enjoyed the content of the class and I also thought pretty highly of the professor. But the content itself was challenging, especially since I come from an anthropology academic background and from a generalist professional background that had less pure finance material. On the other hand, many of my classmates came from more traditional finance backgrounds. And others were looking to go into banking, so they had a bit of a head start on me in the class. So more than the other classes, I made sure to put time in studying, putting together templates ahead of time, doing practice exams, and going to review sessions. The exam was difficult, and I didn’t actually finish all the questions, but for those I left unfinished, I did put some notes down about what I would have done had I had a bit more time to work through the problems.
After the exam was over I didn’t talk to too many people, but the ones I did talk to confirmed that the exam was difficult not just for us but also for everyone. This was pretty different to my experience in law school, where hordes of people gathered after each exam during the first quarter to discuss how they answered the problem. Fortunately, my finance exam came at the end of the week, so once that was over I knew I was finished.
Logistically, most of us took our exams with our section mates and classmates. Usually, we’d split up into two rooms to accododate the size of the classes, while also giving us more room in the exam to put our notes, jackets and other things. Before exams, most people preferred to chat rather than cram through material, a stark contrast with the way law school exams worked. Similarly, most students didn’t spend too many hours putting together nearly perfect outlines like my law school classmates did. Instead, they put together short, succinct note pages with the most relevant material and relied on exam performance during the three-hour period. The process proved to be the same for most of our classes – strategy, accounting, DECS (i.e. stats), and MORS (i.e. leadership class).
In the end, doing well on class and exams doesn’t have much bearing on how you will be as a business leader. However, only time will tell how much bearing it has on job offers and professional opportunities that will be available. While many of us hear it doesn’t, I suspect it still may factor in to some jobs on the margin, again, a stark contrast to law school, where grades are king and where things like fit, professional background, management style, and leadership experience are all secondary.
But more important than how grades turned out, at least for now, was that exams were over, which meant that we could finally get ready for Ski Trip at Kellogg. And so nearly 800 Kellogg students would be jetting away to Aspen Colorado not only to ski but to celebrate the end of their first quarter with their new classmates.
Stay tuned to hear how Ski Trip turned out.