As students, we may have different learning styles to absorb new information and apply it to real-world situations. Have you ever considered the best environment for the most efficient studying session? Throughout this blog post, I will use the example of FIN300 & 401 courses and introduce you to some tips to ace these classes.
But first, why FIN 300 & 401? Are you a Ted Rogers School student and happen to see these course codes on your program webpage? Managerial Finance I (FIN 300) & II (FIN 401) are required prerequisites in business management, business technology management, retail management, professionally related or elective courses for many non-business programs. These also are the foundational courses for the Ted Rogers MBA program. Being a student, our goal is to build a solid understanding of finance (or any course we take). The next step is to highlight solutions that incorporate your learning styles and accomplish your goals within a semester or two.
Learn by Reading
If you prefer readings and detailed explanations when learning, your textbook is possibly your best study buddy. Each chapter presents reasons, examples, and stories to elucidate concepts in depth. It also analyzes real-world cases such as the Capital Structures Choices of Air Canada and WestJet Airlines in Chapter 16 of Fundamentals of Corporate Finance. While reading the textbook, you can paraphrase, take notes and relate personal experiences for each chapter.
A tip for effective readings is first to determine what you are looking to learn from the topic and setting your expectations. For instance, before reading about the determinants of interest rates in Chapter 5, I checked my memory from macro and microeconomic classes and recalled the news about rising inflation in mid-2021. The paragraphs start defining real interest, inflation and their impacts on purchasing power. Seeing these familiar concepts again enhanced my memories. After practicing questions on finding real interest rates, I researched the news on current interest rates and saw the connection with inflation. The process of recalling previous knowledge, reading and solving new questions, and recapping with real-life news sharpens my memory, application and thinking.
In contrast, if you prefer learning from examples or trial-and-error methods, you may want to skim over chapter slides and note down important formulas instead of reading the whole chapter. Alongside, you can practice solving all questions at the end of each chapter or using Pearson MyLab Finance online platform, which is offered to purchase at the beginning of the course. You may attempt to solve problems by yourself and use solutions as guidance. Then, you can redo the questions without looking at the examples of solutions. It is important to take time to understand where and why you make mistakes, and how to correct them. You may want to change the numbers, make up new questions and apply given formulas to derive solutions. These improve skills in assessing information, approaching problems, using available resources and planning detailed resolution (“Benefits of Problem Solving”, n.d).
These two classes will introduce several equations for the time value of money, stock and bond and investment valuation. If you like math, you may want to apply given formulas and solve questions step-by-step manually. For example, the number of years (n) in time value questions is an exponent. Practicing solving for variables will help to advance your math application of logarithm and exponentiation. To further challenge your mental calculations, you may practice cross-multiplication, percent proportion or any equations without using calculators. As the numbers increase with more complex formulas, you may want to switch to the financial calculator. This multi-functional calculating device (CASIO fx-9750GII) will support you in solving functions. On the Academic Success Centre Tip Sheets webpage, you can find instructions for using the Casio fx-9750GII for time value of money. Another written document, “Casio FX-9750GII User Manual, 402 pages,” covers detailed instructions for financial calculation in Chapter 7.
If you prefer less math, Excel functions play an essential role in organizing, documenting, and deriving final solutions from chapter questions. The Office 365 Education package is available for free for all students, staff and faculty. You can learn more and download the software on the Computing and Communications Services (CCS) website. The benefit of Excel is that you can vary inputs, keep track of changes and automatically update your outputs. Similar to the financial calculator, Excel also shows functions such as PV, FV, RATE, NPER, IRR, etc. The instructions are included along with examples in your textbook. The online resource – Microsoft Support “Keyboard Shortcuts in Excel” – documents several shortcuts to save time on repetitive tasks and upgrade the experience.
Visual and Verbal Learning Preferences
If you prefer visual learning, you may want to incorporate colours, graphs and diagrams to highlight your notebooks. Reading the PowerPoint versions of textbook chapters assists you to perceive important information and progress to decorate your notes.
If you are a verbal learner, you may want to take notes from lectures or textbooks and present them to others. You can choose any object to be your study buddy and explain to it as if you are teaching another student. A recommendation is to present a problem with multiple word choices and body language. Moving your hands and facial expressions can create a livelier experience while improving your public speaking skills. You can also draw or write down contents on paper whilst teaching the concepts. This allows you to record the flows of ideas and look back if you feel lost in the middle.
It is possible to obtain high marks and build solid foundations in Managerial Finance I & II. You can determine your learning preferences, which can be more than one. Second, set your goals and timeframes on how to manage your weekly workload. Lastly, give these tips a try! Depending on the length and complexity level of each chapter, you may want to vary your learning preferences and resources to reach your expectations.
Benefits of Problem Solving. (n.d.). NZ Maths. Retrieved from https://nzmaths.co.nz/benefits-problem-solving.
Berk, J., DeMarzo, P., Harford, J., Stangeland, D., & Marosi, A. (May 15, 2020). Fundamentals of Corporate Finance. Pearson Canada Inc.