April is coming. The entrance examination is taking place very soon. The pressure is growing. Air is becoming hotter…
If it happens with you right now, please calm down and read the article. I will try to give several effective advices that may help you to prepare for the exam more efficiently and stop worrying about your admission 😉
I would like to start with sharing my story about taking the exam outside Finland (as some of you may have the possibility to stay at a home country and pass it there). I am not to give you tips in this part, but just make you think thoroughly about choosing an exam location.
As I am from Russia, I passed the exam in a beautiful city of Saint Petersburg. To tell you the truth, I had been preparing for it meticulously since the end of January 2016, I literally learnt phrases and wrote the sample essays twice a week. Therefore, I was almost confident on the day I came to a building full of potential students of Finnish Universities. Of course, I was nervous as believed my competitors were smarter and more experienced. Nonetheless, I did not lose any hope for easy exam tasks where I could show all that I had learnt. So, can you guess what happened on the exam?
A wrong topic for essay. When I say “wrong” I mean unexpected. All the essays I wrote before were directed to a company we had to analyze, but on the exam we were to write about a Harvard article “Experience Economy” using the examples from the text, but not even mention the main company. I was shocked. I knew the article, but I did not repeat it before the exam, as all my thoughts were concentrated on reports of the firm.
I remember my friend sitting next to me with rolled eyes, like “What is wrong with the world?”. I shared his emotions, but time was running and I needed to write anything in order to get points. Fortunately, I remembered the article structure, so I just rewrote it in my words and finished. Oh, if you only knew how hard was the waiting period, because I was sure that I had understood the topic incorrectly and made a mistake just retelling it. Anyway, I am glad that these emotions are in the past…
Morale of the story is the following situation. Right after we passed all parts of the exam, social platforms became full of discussions on the essay topic, mathematical equations, oral part and test questions. People who took exam next day in Finland, already were aware of the essay and other applicants’ difficulties. Surely, there was no guarantee that the topic would repeat, but… it did. The topic was not completely the same, it had own features, but the fact is that those people had more chances to be enrolled in AMKs they wanted as they were “kind of” informed.
It does not matter where you take the entrance examination, if you are well-prepared. However, you know the story now and it is your turn to decide.
Tip 1. Work as hard as you can
I know that the advice is as old as the world, but do not think that it is pointless. Try to go out of the box while analyzing a company you got: find additional materials, understand the whole picture, look through the product lines, learn megatrends in order to make some predictions and memorize numbers. Do not give up on the firm’s financial reports, as with them you can see the firm’s weaknesses and strengths, opportunities, potential and present markets, profit and other beneficial information that can be used in essay. Do not forget about any part, try to remember even CEOs names, as you could get the question in the test. If you can, I highly recommend you to make (or just Google it) a SWOT analysis, it will help you to understand the company more deeply. Pay attention to details while reading, and try to write weekly essays on different topics (e.g. “The megatrends influence”, “Opportunities and Threats of the company”, “How the firm may affect a positive development of future cities”, “How the organization is different from its competitors and what is the edge of the firm?”, etc.).
Tip 2. Prepare for discussion
As you may know, the oral discussion is a mandatory part of the exam that gives you the biggest amount of points. Therefore, do not think that all you need to do is just talking. First of all, you must show yourself as a good team member who can interact with others kindly, deliver clear thoughts and help silent people talk. Secondly, do not interrupt others; if you are interrupted – tell politely that you want to finish your speech. Thirdly, do not be afraid to ask your team members, if you did not get the topic or could not understand what they said. Try, also, not to care about pronunciation mistakes but focus on your thoughts, because you must speak on a business topic that could be complex.
Some tips for discussion:
- No off-topic conversation; if you feel that your team members started to talk in incorrect way – do not be afraid to stop them and move on to the next topic
- Do not interrupt and do not be interrupted
- Help silent people feel comfortable (e.g. you may direct questions to them)
- Use examples as arguments (e.g. the topic is “Environmental Responsibility” and you may say that in some countries government decreases taxes for those companies that care about environment)
- Show your ability to work in teams, speak confidently and present your opinions
- Do not discuss unethical issues, politics
- Avoid “hot” discussions
I also want to give you some examples of topics that were discussed previously: team-building, problem-solving skills, CSR and environmental responsibility, megatrends, globalization, business ethics, start-ups, technological progress and so forth. That seems hard, but everyone is able to say several words about the concepts as far as s/he knows the very basic business fundamentals and is ready to have a conversation: nobody waits from you a five-minutes speech on Globalization, but they want to see your active participation in discussion, opinion sharing and ability to contribute.
Tip 3. Think about destiny
Really, guys. Sometimes it is needed to just believe. The main thing that helped me to be calm and do not panic during the preparations and right before the exam is faith in my destiny: if it is my fortune to pass it successfully and be enrolled in one of the chosen AMKs, it will happen – the tasks will be easy for me and everything will go as planned. If it is not my fortune, it is not the end of the world! I would find something else that suits me better. Whatever happens – happens for the best, remember this 🙂
In my opinion, I covered the most important points of IB entrance examination, but if you still have some questions, please, do not hesitate to comment the post. You, also, can find me on Facebook: promise, I will answer you. Wish you the best of luck!
Enjoy your life,