- The exam has six questions to be answered and submitted separately, dealing with Strategy, Marketing, Operations Management, Managerial Economics and Quantitative Analysis, Finance, and Human Resource Management.
- Read the case, all of the questions, and any specific instructions that accompany them. The requirements of the question will usually determine the general structure of your essay.
- Sort question requirements into major and minor points.
- Determine if there are clues to the type of analysis or presentation to be used and whether you are required to give a recommendation or conclusion.
- One case is used for the exam, and all questions are based on this case.
- Organize the case information. First read the case and immediately start answering questions. This is inadvisable. Organize the information according to the functional areas – Strategy, Human Resource, Marketing, Finance, Operations and Managerial Economics.
- Rely on data that is in the case even if you know what happened later or elsewhere. Unless otherwise noted, assume you are writing at about the same time as the events in the case occur.
- Finding more information about the organization in the case usually is not productive unless specifically requested in an exam question. Outside references may be used to make reasonable assumptions about the general business environment.
Find a focus or filter for analyzing the relevant material from the case. For instance, are chains of causality evident? Can points of view be contrasted and compared? Are there trends, gaps, or blind spots?
Course Methods and Frameworks
- Identify what concepts and theories from your textbook(s), courseware, and discussions can be brought to bear on the particular question.
- Select methods or frameworks with which to organize your case data.
- Limit yourself to material from the specific course the question is based upon.
Organization and Presentation
- Review the information below:
- – Remember that exceeding the 1,000-word limit by more than 5% will result in a penalty. The marker/evaluator will delete the excess words from the end of the document and will then evaluate the assignment. For example, if the “Recommendations” section is deleted, no marks will be given for “Recommendations.”
- – A cover sheet, executive summary, table of contents, and bibliography are not required, but a list of references is required
- – Presentations in tables or any other format placed in the main part of the paper are included in the word count.
- – Appendices are not included in the word count, but it is important that they are used appropriately and in a limited way. The markers will not peruse the appendices to find important answers. For instance, having a table detailing calculations in an appendix is fine as long as the important points are distilled and included in the main body of the response. If there is an error, these details help the coach to see whether the error was a conceptual error or a simple calculation or typing error.
- – Likewise, endnotes and footnotes are not included in the word count. Like appendices, they should not provide critical content information, but only non-essential information that may be referenced by the reader.
- – While the percentages for each part and sub-question are a guide, how you want to divide the work limit among the various parts of a question is up to you, unless otherwise specified in the exam question.
- – Where point form or bulleted lists are used, make sure that these adequately communicate your thoughts.
- – Save your answers for each question of the exam in separate MS Word documents using the following file name format: Q#.docx (where Q# refers to the question number). For example, your answer to Question 1—Strategy would be saved as Q1.docx.
- It is helpful to prepare an outline of your answer, using the parts and sub-questions to create headings and sub-headings in the outline. List the major points of your answer to each part or sub-question along with notes on the sources you wish to cite from your course materials and relevant parts of the case. This outline can keep you on track when you begin writing your answer so that key points are not missed and minor points do not derail your thought process. Noting your sources helps you check that you have the correct facts and figures from the case, that you are drawing on the relevant concepts and theories from your course materials, and that you have referenced your sources properly.
- Use the précis style when writing your answers:
- – Keep introductions and conclusions short.
- – Clearly state any assumptions.
- – Make each paragraph one complete unit of thought. The first sentence of each paragraph should state what it is about. Break up long paragraphs.
- – Avoid copying long passages into your essay. Incorporate them by reference.
- – Use the active voice (good resources are Strunk’s The Elements of Style[4th ed.] referred to in your MBAO Study Guide or your Prentice Hall Reference Guide for Canadian Writers).
- – Use grammar and spell checkers as necessary. Review and edit your work as needed.
- Check your citations for correct APA format and prepare a Reference list (for only those sources you actually cited, a bibliography is not needed).
Ways to Increase Your Mark
- Each question must be awarded a 70% grade to be considered a pass. Students are allowed only one sub-70% mark to successfully pass the exam. It is acceptable to submit only five answers. Any answer not submitted will be treated as a fail.
- Based on marker feedback, papers receiving lower marks typically have the following problems:
- – Do not display a logical thought process that proceeds from statement of the issue to presentation and analysis of relevant data and then to a firm conclusion.
- – Fail to differentiate between highly important and less important issues. As a result, too many objectives are addressed. Read the question carefully to understand what is being asked.
- – Indicate that students have difficulty reading or following instructions – for example, adhering to word limits or using appropriate font and font size.