PG Business School exam preparation


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The Masters of Business and Technology Program offer a range of study skills webinars for students. This is the exam prep webinar. For any copyright issues or to request a takedown please contact Note this work is not at present under a CCSA licence.

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  • Welcome Note about not wanting to close off mics but must due to numbers….
  • Do not test your memory…
  • 2 parts content knowledge – What you must know and understand AND Skills what you should be able to do… Learning outcomes reflect what knowledge and skills you must be able to show after completion of each weeks study and the course as a whole…
  • Reread everything… What are main themes and topics, what are main activities and what skills and knowledge are they developing. DON’T ignore the activities at the end of each weeks unit of materials! Use this sheet, 1 per unit.
  • Mind map by topic or concept, not unit… Very useful for whole of course visual overview… Also put together a 1-4 page written version of whole course. For readings use post it notes or tabs for important points…
  • Revisit the discussion forums or your notes from face to face classes. Look for skills developed as well as knowledge… Prepare your materials to take in ensure you can find the relevant materials quickly so you can aid the interpreation of question phase…
  • Usually you will be tested on your ability to analyse, evaluate and argue. Often focuses around a simple case study. But could be comparisons of theories or approaches to business problems. They are also often looking for your ability to draw on knowledge from several units. Review feedback on assignments. What was the facilitator looking for? Always ask: What will you be looking for?
  • Practice activities in the unit materials. How many have you already done? Look again at case studies – may be used as basis for similar short answer questions in exam. Practice writing answers to discussion questions. Write definitions of complex terms and concepts in your own words.
  • Make sure for both short answer and essays you argue and don’t just present information… Don’t copy chunks into answers.
  • Task words PDF contains 29 examples of task words and definitions.
  • (use this also if no format specified)
  • Use your own words when answering. Integrate theory. Make sure you make a recommendation or justify your argument. Do not use your own general knowledge or experience.
  • Put both parts together for maximum benefit and fullest marks.
  • Further ideas – how do you respond to this response? Why do you think the mark is so low?
  • PG Business School exam preparation

    1. 1. Australian School of Business MBT Program Semester 2 2011Preparing for and Performing in Exams Andrew Chambers Educational Development Manager MBT Program
    2. 2. Webinar Overview1. Purpose of exams in MBT program2. Preparing for an exam3. Performing in an exam4. What is valued by examiners5. Question types6. Model topics, questions and responses – analysis of them7. Discussion and questions
    3. 3. 1 Purpose of exams Exams require you to consider theories, concepts and approaches, to analyse and critique them and to apply them to practical contexts and problems and to do this while under time pressure. Exams are considered good indicators of what you have learned and can do
    4. 4. Open book exams mainly test:o Understanding of course materialo Ability to use and apply course material to: – Anal yse si t uat i on or i ssue – Eval uat e si t uat i on, t heor y or debat e – Devel op sol ut i ons t o pr obl em and/ or s m ake r ecom endat i ons m – Const r uct a per suasi ve ar gum ent , whi ch synt hesi ses cour se m er i al and answer s at t he quest i on
    5. 5. 2 Preparing for exams involves Revising and understanding important content and skills, as for a closed book exam Preparing and organising your notes so that information, formulas can be referred to quickly and effectively during exam This can mean MORE work for an open exam!
    6. 6. The ‘big picture’ in a courseo Learning outcomes for the course/ weekly unitso Develop an appreciation and understanding ofthe main theories, themes, topics, issueso Types of practice/ assessment activities and the knowledge and skills they developo What has been emphasised in course by your facilitator, course coordinatoro The relationships between units, topics, theories
    7. 7. Revising: Write up an overview orsummaryM n t opi c s / ai Sub- t opi c s M n poi nt s ai R erenc es , efl earni ng pg nosout c omes
    8. 8. Visual Revising: Mind map
    9. 9. Strategies for preparingReview feedback/ marking criteria – How have you per f or m ed so f ar ? – Suggest i ons f or i m ovem pr ent f r om f aci l i t at or • Pr edi ct quest i ons and t ypes of quest i ons – Exam es pr ovi ded on assessm pl ent docum ent • Pr act i ce answer i ng quest i ons – Under exam condi t i ons
    10. 10. 3 Performing in Exams• Use reading time to read exam paper carefully – Anal yse quest i ons: com pul sor y? M ks; ar t ype of answer – Br ai nst or m i deas; pl an answer s • Pl an t i m and st r at egy e • Al l ocat e t i m f or each quest i on – be e st r i ct wi t h t hi s • Deci de whi ch quest i ons t o begi n wi t h. St ar t wi t h easi est • Read quest i ons car ef ul l y • Good r esponses ar e r el evant t o quest i on • I nt er pr et i nst r uct i ons and f ol l ow t hem
    11. 11. 4 What examiners are looking foro Demonstrated knowledge and understanding of the course materialo Skills in analysis, critical reflection, written communication [Graduate Attributes, ASB, UNSW]o Relevant answers to questionso What they wanted in assignments…
    12. 12. Question typeso Multiple choice questionse.g., The type of processing which occurs when data is entered directly into a computer and processed immediately is called: (A) batch processing (B) on-line processing (C) immediate transaction processing (D) online ready time transaction processingo Calculationse.g., Financial / Statistical calculations based on formulaso Short answer questionsE.g., What are business rules? Why are they important to a database designer?o Essay questions, simple reportsCase Studies, Business problems (example to follow)
    13. 13. Some tips about answering questionsMCQuestions:Survey layout and check where/how answers are recordedRead all questions carefully. For each qn, form an answer before looking at options.Read each option before answering.Note how meaning is shaped by modifiers, such as always, never; comparatives e.g., more, same as, least; negatives, e.g., do not include; and double negatives, e.g., not unlikely (the latter has a positive meaning, i.e., it is likely)
    14. 14. Short answer questions and calculationso Short answer questionsAnalyse question and what it requiresAnswer concisely, i.e., directly to the pointClearly – setting out is an aspect of thisCompletely – provide all relevant detailso CalculationsSelecting the right formulaSet out working clearlyCheck work
    15. 15. Essay questions are designed to test:o your knowledge of theory and concepts from a courseo your application of knowledge to analysing and discussing specific real world business issues and practiceso Your ability to organise ideas and create a logical argument in a relevant response to a particular problem/question
    16. 16. Essay Requirements Analyse the question e.g, Discuss the selection, training and other policies likely to be relevant to the successful management of executives on international assignments.o Task word – discuss is different to describe. Need to say why these policies are relevant, how they can best be implemented, advantages and disadvantages, compare different policies and evaluate them Content words – provide the topic. Essay must cover/ be relevant to these topicso Limiting words – executives, on international assignments – provide focus or circumstantial aspects of topics in the question
    17. 17. Essay StructureIntroduction (short: state topic, thesis and outline), body (main statement), conclusion (short)Full sentences and paragraphs, avoiding bullet pointsSome courses will allow bullet points and less formal essay structure – check with your lecturer for specific requirements
    18. 18. Model Topics and Responses1. Sample question and critical response - written by Janis Wardrop, Course coordinator.2. Sample students texts assessed highly - with analysis
    19. 19. Example essay questionCritically evaluate these two different views of organisational culture using the concepts and materials you have encountered in the course to answer the question:Can an existing organisation ever successfully create a ‘new’ organisational culture?
    20. 20. Writing the answero Decide on the argument – ‘can an existing organisation ever successfully create a ‘new’ organisational culture? – yes, no, or maybe?o Need to support your argument with evidenceo A credit level answer may simply provide support for argumento A distinction level response is likely to consider evidence from both sides of argument
    21. 21. Point: Organisational Cultures Can’t beChanged:An organisations culture is made up of relatively stable[1]characteristics. It develops over many years and is rooted indeeply held values to which employees are stronglycommitted. In addition there are a number of forces continuallyoperating to maintain a given culture (such as missionstatements, design of physical spaces [2], myths and storiesabout the founders).Selection and promotion polices [3] are particularly importantdevices that work against cultural change. Employees choosean organisation because [4] they perceive their values to be a‘good fit’ with the organisation.Attempts to change a culture by going outside the organisationto hire a new chief executive are unlikely to be effective[5]. Theevidence indicates that the culture is more likely to change theexecutive than the other way around.Anything less than a crisis [6] unlikely to be effective in
    22. 22. A critical response to the first point1. This would only be the case if the culture was unitarist/imposed/non-organic. But org’ culture is organic, constantly evolving and changing as a result of contextual factors and people (unit 2)2. Schein’s pyramid ... Artifacts of culture3. Unit 9, maybe 104. Employees chooses where to apply but employers decide who works there5. This fits into the ‘organic’ type of model for culture6. External environment7. This covers unit 7, unit 5 and unit 3
    23. 23. Counterpoint: Cultures can be changedwith effort!Changing an organisations culture is extremely difficult, but culture can be changed. The evidence suggests that cultural change is most likely to take place when most or all of the following conditions exist: a dramatic crisis; turnover in leadership; young and small organisation; weak dominant culture [1].The following actions may lead to change: new stories and rituals need to be set in place by top management[2]; employees should be selected and promoted [3]who espouse the new values; the reward system needs to be changed to sup[ort the new values [4]; and current subcultures need to be undermined through transfers, job rotation and terminations [5]. Under the best of conditions, these actions won’t result in an immediate or dramatic shift in the culture. This is because in the final analysis, cultural change is a lengthy process – measured in years rather than in months. But cultures can be changed! Adapted from Robbins, et al 2001
    24. 24. A critical response to the counterpoint1. This covers unit 7, unit 5, unit 3 and online discussions2. Artefacts3. Unit 94. Unit 115. Unit 8
    25. 25. Samples of successful student textsThe question (paraphrased from Supply Chain Management GBAT9127): Discuss the causes of the bullwhip effect in supply chain management and to explain how particular strategies such as ‘safe harbour’,’ panic’ and rational decision making relate to the bullwhip effect in supply chain management. Both student texts (next slides) were assessed as good responses, scoring above 80%.
    26. 26. Extract from Response 1Safe harbor & panic human strategies.- order more than actually necessary to increase their safety stock.- raise higher capital & stock levels- forces suppliers to increase their orders or pay for stock out situations.- with only one level implementing the safe harbor strategy the whole supply chain is negatively impacted.- panic is the other extreme human behavior- empty the stock before the customers’ demand increases.Causes of the bullwhip effect are largely caused by human behavior. The more humans are presented in the beer distribution game, the higher the total supply chain costs are.Other causes of the bullwhip effect are: lack of information exchange (uncertainty with customer order and rate of stock being replenish).This decentralized the demand for information. The lead time of information and material are also key reasons for the bullwhip effect. MBT Summer Program 2011 Moderator: Louise FitzgeraldUnderestimating the value of information for customers & suppliers rises the lead time of information and exaggerates the effect of the bullwhip effect.Therefore humans act as obstacles for information flow in supply chains in practice and increase the lead time of information as a consequence of the bullwhip effect
    27. 27. Comments on Response 1Demonstrates knowledge and understanding by:Comprehensive use of theory, technical/ specialist terms, e.g. Safe harbor, panic strategies, demand forecast updating, order batching, price fluctuations, rationing and shortage gamingdefining, explaining theory, terms; elaborating on how theory works, applies to questionAnswers question in relevant way by:Relating aspects of theory logically, e.g. Layout, numberingRelating text to question, e.g, ‘causes of bullwhip effect are...’; ‘rational decision making causing bullwhip effect...’Writes succinctly, note-form/ bullet points, incomplete sentences – and seems to be acceptable
    28. 28. Extract from Response 2The bullwhip effect is caused by the change in the upstream supply generated by a small change in demand downstream in the supply chain. In other words, a small response to demand variables downstream, has the effect of creating a much magnified change upstream resulting usually, in significant overproduction.Forecasting is very often inaccurate. One of the 4 laws of forecasting is that it will be just that, and further, that the longer term the forecasting is developed for, the less accurate it will be.The bullwhip effect seems to happen in response to demand signaling going upstream & the natural, ‘rational’ reaction to this, being to adjust demand to meet this. However, the number of times that this adjustment is made further amplifies its effect.The lead times involved in the various stages of the supply chain also contribute to the effect of the bullwhip. The longer the lead times, the more significant the fluctuations are. Order cycles may even overlap & this creates an even greater surge in demand.Sales patterns contribute to this effect also. Sales quotas need to be met & may be achieved with price incentives and other inducements & this demand push is then signaled upstream.It appears rational for people to want to create some ‘safety stock’ when demand is experienced upstream this way. They do not want to let their customers down & they may decide in this case to produce extra just in case! Better more than less (obviously not the financial manager!) MBT Summer Program 2011 Moderator: Louise FitzgeraldOther reasons for demand surge can be rationing of a very popular product which is in short supply. Customers may over order in hope to receive a reasonable proportion of the order. This demand is inaccurate but it is none the less the best information the manufacturer has & if responded to, continues to exacerbate the problem. ..
    29. 29. Comments on Response 2o Writing is more fluent – essay style, complete sentences; Text structure is more clearly developed – introduction answers questiono Answers question in a relevant way – information is introduced and developed as causes of the bullwhip effect – satisfying and reassuring for examinero Demonstrates knowledge and understanding, e.g. ‘demand downstream, upstream supply, forecasting, sales patterns, safe harbor, panic responses, rational, irrational human behaviour. All terms defined clearly; Not as extensive in use of theory as previous response
    30. 30. Example of less effective responseThe cause of the Bullwhip effect is the change in position from the supplier which is led by the information or order placement of the downstream supply chain. This is why businesses carry safety stock to smooth out this fluctuating area. The problem for suppliers is that it causes either excessive inventory or inefficient production and poor customer service levels. Despite having safety stock, stock outs can and do occur due to poor planning and forecasting, employed by partners in the supply channel. The problems associated with the Bullwhip are greatly enhanced the further up the supply chain you go. The effects are not only to the supply of the product but significantly effect the resources of the business. Result: 10/25
    31. 31. Why is this less effective?o Too short – does not provide sufficient information to answer questiono Answer is not supported by theory, conceptso Writer demonstrates understanding but response is too generalo Further ideas – how do you respond to this response? Why do you think the mark is so low?
    32. 32. Further Suggestions and Resources Ebook: How to pass exams every time. Mike Evans, 2004 ASB EDU - F2F and Skype consultations/resources: ages/default.aspx UNSW Learning Centre Exam Skills Resources: Consultations are also available (in person) through the UNSW Learning Centre: Feedback/concerns on exam process contact MBT Student services
    33. 33. ReferencesMBT and EDU, Preparing for Postgraduate Exams.MBT and School of Organisation and Management, Advice for preparing for examinations – tips for preparing for examinations,Previous MBT examination papers and student responsesASB Graduate Attributes, at: eaching/graduateattributes/Pages/default.aspx