Von Moltke the Elder is frequently misquoted but what follows is correct: “No plan of operations extends with certainty beyond the first encounter with the enemy’s main strength.” I had planned out HBX CORe well ahead of time and seem to be doing quite well up to this point especially as far as the quizzes are concerned.
Some members of the cohort have mentioned their concerns regarding the quizzes. I hope this post will help. In addition I have been dying to up load a copy of Kramskoy’s “Portrait of an Unknown Lady.” This is just the excuse I needed.
Let me start off by stating that these quiz questions are extremely well written. They are structured in such a fashion as to minimize the odds of an educated guess being correct. One actually has to know the material. The good news is that one does not have to be fast at doing these questions especially so early in the course.
It bears stressing that skill improvement leads to speed. Speed for it’s own sake leads to poor performance. This early in the course, one should be taking these quizzes as a leisurely pace. One will surely see these questions again on the 3 hour closed book test at the end of course. One should look at how the questions are structured. One should not simply attempt to answer correctly, one should take multiple approaches to answer these questions correctly. Learn to choose the most effective and efficient method. Dissect these questions for for content and structure.
Beyond an optimal level of arousal performance will suffer. These quizzes count for one third of your final grade. They are untimed and open book. There is no reason not to do well on them. If one is pressed for time, fly through the module as quickly as possible, then take your time on the quiz. Practice questions don’t count, but they are analogous to the quiz questions.
Technique is important. I have been clipping into Evernote along the way for each module. If you have not been taking notes in any significant systematized fashion then I would suggest you open up three windows while taking these quizzes. Simply right flick on the HBX logo and open another browser window. Keep one window open to the quiz. Keep the other open to the rest of the content within the module. Use that window to navigate to the correct answer. Pay particular attention to analogous practice questions. Finally, keep a third browser window open to Google. You will often be able to good content for clarification: Wikipedia, Investopedia, Accounting Coach, HBR, etc. The correct answer does not have to be found in HBX CORe content. Having said that, I would defer to HBX CORe content if there is any ambiguity.
Fatigue is a real issue that is often not recognized. I would strongly suggest against taking these quizzes when you are tired. Taking a quiz in the middle of the night while you are falling asleep at the keyboard is not helpful. Take these quizzes in the morning or when you are most awake.
Not only is the time of day important for optimal quiz testing, so is the duration at which you work on questions before taking a break. Unless you are an outlier on the distribution or have developed the skill, most human beings have difficulty maintaining concentration beyond 20 to 30 minutes. Set your alarm on your cell phone or your computer for 20 to 30 minutes. When the alarm goes off, simply walk away from the keyboard. Take a stretch or a walk. Grab a cup of water or coffee. Do not try to power through duration fatigue unless it is absolutely necessary, and it should never be so.
These questions lend themselves to structured problem solving. I have posted several frameworks to address the types of questions on these quizzes. Feel free to use them. By far, the best site on the net to learn structured problem solving is Firmsconsulting. Videos can be found here.
Finally, train and you fight. Fight as you train. If you listen to music while studying then listen to music while you take the quiz. I study in quiet for all sorts of reasons that don’t need to be explained here. If you study in silence, then take the quiz in silence. Get some shooting muffs off the internet or some silicone based ear plugs from the drug store. I would caution against the foam ear plugs, they tend to expand, causing a temporary malocclusion. Lock your door, put a sign outside, do whatever you need to do to create an environment that is optimal for these quizzes.
© Robert Benjamin Johnston January 2016