We are in the middle of finals. A very stressful time indeed. As I wrote in a previous post, our grades are comprised of 50% class participation and 50% final exam. Ergo – even if we performed well in the class discussions, our overall grades won’t be stellar should we blow the final.
At HBS, even the finals are case studies. In four short hours, we have to read a case and write an essay. Some exams are location-free, meaning we can take the exam anywhere we want: at home, café, hotel, or airport.
Case based exams are not a big deal to us since we do cases each and every day. However, reflecting on the fact that the four hours determines half of our performance, we cannot help but feel stressed and anxious. On top of this – there is little we can do to prepare for the exam. It doesn’t ask our knowledge, “only” requiring us to read the case (15-20 pages) as usual and think on our feet to make critical decisions as the protagonist. For example, the only question we were asked on the LEAD exam last Friday was:
“What actions should Jim Reit (the case protagonist) do?”
That’s all. To answer the question, we had to analyze the situation, develop specific action plans, and articulate said plan in the 1,000-1,500 word essay. It’s not much about knowledge cramming, but about decision making as a leader.
Fortunately or unfortunately, it started snowing in Boston yesterday and we are getting into the real winter season. Having nothing to do outside, I’m just staying in my apartment reviewing past cases. The amazingly intensive first semester is now nearing an end.