An MBA curriculum is designed in such a way that you are kept continually busy. It tests your ability to multi-task, handle stress and above all, produce a quality output. Speaking from the perspective of a one-year MBA course, turning out quality work at the expected time requires some serious effort. An MBA is not just about studying and finishing courses and scoring a great grade; it is also about networking, group activities and, most importantly, finding the right job.
Coming from an engineering background, I had some experience of studying in a stressed environment. However, the MBA study method is very different. The first practice I had to leave behind was my habit of taking extensive notes, as in an MBA class the learning comes through the cases and interaction in the class – so keep your notes short and precise. A good study tip I can offer is to have a habit of reading fast, but while do so making sure you understand the content so that you do not have to read it again. An MBA at HKU (University of Hong Kong) is very much case study-driven, with most MBA programmes following a similar approach. Reading the case studies –on average 20 pages each – takes some time but then doing case assignments involving writing case reports, doing analysis and so on, depends on how much you grasped the first time you read the case. It will also help you in going through other reading materials quickly.
Class assignments range from case reports to case presentations and class discussions. Clearly, a lot of work has to be done in preparing to attend an MBA class. Making sure that your reading priorities are right is important too. Everyone has their own style of studying but prioritising is extremely important. There will always be little time and the best study tip is to manage it well. Libraries do help in my case since I need some quiet time when I am writing my case assignments, and HKU library was of great assistance. In the first module I spent time there studying for exams as well. However, I also had to change my exam study strategies later in the course.
It is important to understand the fact that an MBA is meant to push you to the limits. Assignments will always feel like you have a lot to do, there will be many readings and time is short. But it is mastering the art of juggling the many factors in an MBA that will see you through. Exams and grades are important but in my opinion not crucial, as it is the learning that you remember and carry through in your future endeavours. Above all, it is highly important not to lose your cool. Instead be calm and things will fall into place. It is difficult at the start of an MBA as lots of things are happening at once, but eventually you get used to it.
Keep calm and study smart!