July 6, 2015

Blog 12: Final Exam Week and the end of my exchange abroad!

STRESS! The only emotion I had during the finals . The First exam I had was in the early morning at 9 A,M. Sleep and having plenty of rest is essential for my brain to function properly during a test. Therefore, I always want at least 8 hours of sleep on the day before the test. However, one of my Singaporean classmate, Jun Xiang, told me he slept on the couch in the library because he was so afraid that he would be late for this exam. He ended up studying all night with only four hours of sleep, because he wanted to score high! 

The first exam was for Global Market Strategy. The exam was open book and students were required to bring any material needed to the exam. Beforehand, we were told to research the Singaporean Cosmetic Industry. As such, I gathered as much information as possible and wanted to share it with my classmates. However, I have noticed that my classmates did not want to share their information with me! When I asked why, they answered that they rather research themselves. Later I found out that it also because of the competitive nature of the students. Giving other students your work and research would give an advantage and they did not want that. 

Oh well...., I  went to the exam hall with a pile of around 150 pages of research. You could see  from the faces of all the students present that they are worried and afraid of failing. I sat down and was ready to ACE this exam!

We received a 5 page long case about Douglas Singapore, and were asked to write a expansion strategy based on the information given and gathered by yourself. In the four years at the HVA, I have never gotten an exam like this before! I ended up writing 8 pages full of text for my strategy!

The exams at the NTU are so much different from the HVA. For one, It is at least twice as much. We had a 4 hours time limit. The open questions were formed in a way that there is no clear right answer. This means that multiple answers/solutions would be sufficient to get all points. This actually means that the grading is based on your knowledge of the theory, creativity, logic, and application abilities.

I remember mentioning this in one my previous blogs. Exams at the NTU test the students' intelligence, creativity, understanding of the theory, application abilities, and more. Where as the exam at the HVA only test the students memory and understanding of the theory. The NTU is far more superior in my opinion, and the HVA should change this! No student will benefit from only understanding the "Porter 5 Forces Theory" unless they would use the theory  in a practical case and are required to strategically develop a plan based on it. Especially at the HES and is entrepreneurial studies. UNDERSTANDING THE THEORY IS NOT ENOUGH HVA, APPLICATION IS KEY! CHANGE THIS, OTHERWISE STUDENTS ARE UNPREPARED FOR REAL BUSINESS LIFE!

Well, now I got that of my mind. I had four exams similar in the same style. My grades were surprisingly very high! I guess it was because of my creativity on developing a proper strategy. 

This would finalize my exchange semester. It was the best experience of my life. I got to experience the amazing cultures of Asia, saw the most beautiful and extraordinary locations, and made very valuable friends which I still am in touch with today. For those who are thinking of doing an exchange semester abroad, I definitely recommend Singapore! The only thing you will regret is leaving so early!

Arvi Martono


  1. Arvi, This is an interesting blog, and as a teacher at HvA, I will certainly show this to some of my colleagues. I think you are right about these exam methods. I thought we just checked 'memory'of theories in year one - at least that is how it was supposed to be! :)

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  3. Most exams are formed the same way and it did not change during the second and third year.

    Usually, there are about 30 multiple choice questions and 5 short open questions. The 5 open questions are usually very objective and only have one correct answer.

    In my opinion, business and entrepreneurship is very dynamic, and there is never just one correct solution to a business case. Students are supposed to learn the scope of business and apply a logical solution to each problem.

    Students should not only learn one side of business.otherwise, a 12 year of CHILD could pass an exam at the HVA by memorizing the theory alone.

  4. Dear Arvi,

    thank you for your clear feedback. This is critical for our evolution as IBS and was already communicated to the lecturers (and other stakeholders) who will be redesigning third and fourth year courses: a more focus on the higher levels of Bloom's taxonomy, a more applied teaching methodology, including exams: please vide "Constructive Alignment" by Biggs, J. (1999).
    I can only assume that the number of page visits to this blog will increase!

    I would also like to add that at least for some first and second year courses what you suggested is already being applied (simply memorising is not enough).

    Glad you enjoyed and learned from your experience in Singapore.

    Best Regards,
    Joao Faustino
    Lecturer, Mentor and Coordinator at IBS