MBA Exam Revision Strategies

Professions Learning Unit
MBA Exam Revision Strategies
MBA: Exam Strategies…Before – During – After!
Where would you draw the line? The purpose of exams is to…
1. Terrify you?
2. Test your ability to memorise information?
3. Test how much you can write in a given time?
4. Test how well you can cope with exam stress?
5. Test whether or not you understand the requirements of the question?
6. Test your understanding of key concepts and theories?
7. Test your ability to apply knowledge?
8. Test your ability to think critically?
9. Test your ability to present a logical, well structured, complete answer which
uses the appropriate academic language of your discipline?
(Hopefully, your line was between 4 and 5! Exams are not set to ‘trick’ you or catch you off
guard. There is nothing in the exam that was not covered in lectures, tutorials and
recommended readings. If you have attended lectures and tutorials, read the set readings
and completed the semester’s assignments you are already well on your way to being
successful in your exam.)
Before the Exam – Revision Strategies
We remember:
20% of what we read
30% of what we hear
40% of what we see
50% of what we say
60% of what we do
90% of what we read, hear, see, say and do.
Implications for Revision?
Firstly, find out as much about the exam from your lecturer well beforehand:
 What topics will be examined?
 How will you be assessed? (Essay, short answers, multiple choice,
 When will the exams be held?
 How long will the exam take?
 What is the exam worth as a percentage of your final grade?
Approach to Revision:
 Set up a conducive work station – private, comfortable, well equipped
 Plot dates – be sure of time and place of exams
 Draw up a revision table – from more general to more specific as exam dates
 Organise weekly notes – Choose a system(s) that works for you e.g.
o Themes…main ideas, concepts, topics
o Use colour…e.g. for similar topics
o Mind maps…linking ideas
o Cue cards…paragraphs to phrases…phrases to key words…notes to cue
 Prioritise main concepts and theories
 Identify any gaps in your knowledge by turning headings/sub headings into
questions…can you answer them?
Rote learning of material is rarely a good strategy. Devise a more efficient strategy –
such as mind maps, cue cards, notes organised in a particular e.g. themes – to assist
you with your ongoing revision.
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Theory 1
Theory 2
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Cue Card AAEBI
Addresses broad health determinants
Aims to reduce social inequities
Empowers individuals/communities
Broadens access to health care
Involves intersectional collaboration
Leading into the Exams:
During the weeks leading up to the exams you will need to prepare in a more intensive
way. In the final 2-3 weeks leading up to the exams, some useful strategies may be:
 Develop an exam revision timetable where you break the course into
manageable ‘chunks’. Usually 1-2 hour periods are optimum, as after this your
concentration can lag.
 Summarise in a way that allows you to link ideas and concepts (e.g. Mind Maps.)
 If your text books have review questions at the end of the chapter try to answer
these in conjunction with your lecture notes.
 When reviewing the material, try to devise your own questions i.e. keeping in
mind the lecture and tutorial content as well as the assignment tasks, what topic
areas do you feel could possibly be asked about in the exam?
 Revise actively i.e. avoid simply reading through notes or skimming the text
books. Mentally ask questions, make connections, highlight main themes and
 In the day(s) just prior to the exams, condense your notes as much as possible
(Cue Cards, for example) so that the night before the exam you are not
cramming large chunks of information but, instead, reviewing main concepts.
 Ensure you take care of yourself in the weeks leading up to the exams…eat well
and find time for relaxation…becoming run down will not help you perform at
your best.
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During the Exam:
General tips –
 Use the allocated reading time to read the instructions carefully and look through
the questions.
 Work out which questions have the highest marks attached.
 Work out how much time you have to answer each question (considering the
mark) e.g. if you have 60 multiple choice or 3 short answer questions in one
hour, allocate about one minute per multiple choice question or 15-20 minutes
per short answer…if one is taking too long, move on and come back if time
allows. If you have 4 essay questions to do in three hours allocate around 30-45
minutes per essay. Questions that have a greater percentage of marks should
have a greater time allocated.
 Answer the question(s) you feel confident about first.
 Write something - even if only in note form - for all questions. Sometimes you will
be able to gain a few extra marks for your notes.
Multiple Choice Questions:
 When in doubt – choose C? Not necessarily!
 Ensure you understand key terms, theories and concepts in your subject area
 Read the stem carefully –
o Eliminate any answers you know are wrong so you can concentrate on
realistic options
o Take note of particular words such as ‘not’, ‘never’, ‘always’
o Does the stem plus your chosen answer scan grammatically e.g. if there is
a plural in the stem, is your chosen answer plural?…if the stem is in a
particular tense, does your answer match that tense?...when you put the
stem and your chosen answer together does the resulting sentence ring
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Short Answer Questions:
Be aware of what the question requires from you – what you are being asked to do.
CONTENT words tell you WHAT area to write about
DIRECTIVES tell you HOW to answer the question
SCOPE tells you WHICH aspects to include
Define the term ‘asset’
Explain the relationship between the price of a debenture and its rate of return
Compare and contrast a contractual and non-contractual promise
Outline the purpose of an organisational chart
Define the term ‘asset’
Explain the relationship between the price of a debenture and its rate of return
Compare and contrast a contractual and non-contractual promise
Outline the purpose of an organisational chart
NB A list of Directives or Instructional words with their definitions is available in your
MBA Communications Skills Guide
Deconstructing a question:
Discuss the conditions under which cash accounting provides useful financial information
Discuss the conditions under which cash accounting provides useful financial information
Underlying questions –
 What is cash accounting?
 What is it used for?
 In what conditions is it limited in its usefulness?
 In what conditions does it give valuable information?
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Establishing sentence
including point of view
Cash accounting provides useful financial
information only under restrictive conditions
ARGUMENT (What definition)
Pure cash accounting maintains records of an entities
cash flow. It ignores all liabilities and recognises only
one asset – cash. Modified cash accounting methods
keep the daily records on a cash basis, but augment
the end-of-period results for a few significant noncash items such as inventories or equipment.
The main aim of accounting is to provide financial
information for use in making economic decisions.
The accountant normally presents this information in
terms of an entity’s financial position and changes
therein as represented by assets, liabilities and
owner’s equity.
When non-cash assets and liabilities are a significant
part of an entity’s operation, then the cash
accounting method will not provide the information
needed for economic decisions.
It follows that the cash accounting method will
provide useful financial information when an entity’s
operations are conducted mainly in cash terms, with
relatively small or constant carry-overs of inventory
and equipment from one period to the next.
Thus, under such conditions, cash accounting is an
effective means of input information in economic
Regardless of your subject area, when answering a short answer question – state your
position at the beginning so the marker can reward you for a correct answer. The rest of
the answer will then explain why you have taken that position. Explain the ‘what’ and
‘why’ of your answer and restate your position in the conclusion.
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Exam Essays – longer answers
Read the question carefully – ensure you cover all aspects
“Explain and discuss the role and importance of marketing in the macro and micro
environments including the competitive environment, the customers, the industry and
social landscape.” 40marks
 Explain and Discuss
 Role and Importance of marketing
 Micro and Micro environments
 Competitive environment
 The customers
 The industry
 The social landscape
Use a mind map, bullet points – whatever is most useful for you, to outline the answer
before you begin writing. A concise, clear and complete answer is preferable to a “write
down everything I know about this” answer.
Role …&…Importance
Social landscape
Social Landscape
Decide how best to present your answer:
 e.g. a new paragraph for each main point.
 Support your answers with theory and/or examples.
 Make it easy for the marker to find your answers with the use of signal
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“The role of marketing in the macro environment, particularly with reference to
“Marketing is important in the micro environment when dealing with industry because…”
Remember, if you run out of time, at least write down your main ideas e.g. in bullet form.
End of Exam:
If you do happen to finish early, use this time to review your work…
 Ensure you have answered all parts of all questions
 Add any additional explanations or support that come to mind
 Ensure you have included all required details – name, student ID, page numbers,
question numbers
After the Exam:
A day or so after the exam review your performance and feelings –
What went well?
Did anything go wrong?
How well prepared were you -really?
What could you have improved on or done differently?
What adjustments to your revision plan might you make for the next set of exams?
Ideas for this resource were adapted from:
Cottrell, S 2003, The Study Skills Handbook, Palgrave Macmillan Ltd, New York
Macquarie University Learning Skills
The University of Adelaide Writing Centre
The writer’s own ideas and resources
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