Studying business strategy by the park

Studying for exams is an unavoidable part of MBA life!

The end of this week marks the end of Assessment week of Core 2. The Imperial MBA is structured around four Core courses, taught in blocks of about 4 weeks each. During the first Autumn term, we had Core 1 that covered the Strategic Direction of the business, while Core 2 covered Resourcing the Business. There is a lot of material to go through, and getting the most out of classes requires a healthy dose of pre-meditated thought, independent study and careful analysis.

The program assesses us through a variety of coursework, individual work, essays, quizzes, surprise tests and … exams. In a way, the exams have been a welcome chance to integrate some of the learning over the past Autumn term. The exams have been a rigorous addition to complement the other experiential learning on the course.

And really, the best way to tackle these things are – as in most things MBA – to come up with a strategy and follow through on it! Absorbing a body of knowledge by end-loading exam cramming sessions … may not be the best strategy to follow. Each person’s learning styles are quite different but I found that one thing that works well is learning through doing.

So my strategy with the exams was to pick business topics and practice their application through applying them to real world and theoretical textbook examples. Working individually and in small revision groups – I blogged short essays on Economics and Finance, I practised financial theory and discussed Strategy and Marketing up on whiteboards with small groups.

Building an revision plan is therefore key to success. Prepare for a deep dive in to the subject matter! But tabling out a revision plan, working with classmates to share knowledge and focusing on topics one at a time can break down the big picture and make the challenge feel more manageable.

White boarding a Resources and Capabilities framework for a car manufacturer

Then all that remains is to clear the decks, focus the mind and tune in. Which means tuning out stray negative thoughts and tapping some of that latent motivation! To me – a big drive that motivates me to power through the volume of materials is something that Jack Welch alludes to in the quote below.

To me – doing the MBA has been a way to get clarity in vision, to help arm me with the tools to articulate it. But those tools alone won’t do any good if not paired with the passion … the drive to achieve results.

So! Good luck to all you prospective MBA students! If you can dig deep within yourself for the motivation to work up your GMAT and apply to a world-class business school, then for sure the challenge of writing MBA exams will be cakewalk!


Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision and relentlessly drive it to completion – Jack Welch