I have always been a realist. It is very hard for me to grasp a textbook concept if I can’t relate to anything in real life. That’s why I loved courses, like marketing and human resources, that had a lot of case studies and hated courses, like finance and economics, that had a lot of theories with little or no practical application at University of Toronto Scarborough (UTSC). I remember that there was one of my finance professors that disliked me as I was trying to make sense of each and every theories in real world.
I would often ask questions and he would give me an answer. I would ask him a follow-up again and he would back off which drove me crazy! This would take place almost every week and I was becoming the ‘bad boy’ in his lecture. Finally, he told me to take an aptitude test as I am so much into ‘real world’. It was Bloomberg Aptitude Test (BAT), an assessment employers use to check their candidates applying for jobs. I accepted his challenge in a heart beat thinking that this is my opportunity to prove the professor that I am not a fool after all. Then my heart sunk thinking what type of questions they will ask.
To be honest, I really loved finance. Although I was never big on textbooks, I would read a lot of non-fiction business books, autobiographies of investors like Warren Buffett and Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal and watched Bloomberg TV like crazy. Once I registered for the BAT exam, I completely immersed myself in the world of finance especially the week before the date.
Finally, it that big day! The timing was such that I had to rush to my lecture immediately after the BAT exam. The got me a little worried; not sure if I will be able to answer all the questions on time. It was a 2 hour exam; from 5-7pm. I went the computer lab 5 minutes before the start time. There were 3 moderators for the test. I was excited and scared at the same time.
So, it began. I quickly glanced through all the questions and tackled the easy ones first. Then, moved on to the harder ones that required a lot of critical reasoning and market analysis. I found the test to be fairly straight-forward and tonnes of ‘real world’ stuffs. I struggled a bit with the economy section. Other than that, I was pretty confident about the test. At the end, I had 5 questions remaining and was left with 2 minutes remaining. I was so worried about finding seat for the lecture that I randomly selected some options and rushed out from the lab to my lecture.
The results came out after 2 weeks. To my surprise, I was one of the top 200 scorers and received an invitation to visit New York at Bloomberg’s HQ to meet other high achievers and learn more from the industry leaders. Unfortunately, I didn’t have my Canadian passport then so missed the opportunity to attend this event. I showed the email to my beloved finance professor as soon as I entered the lecture room. He was surprised beyond comprehension. Besides, there was another girl from the same lecture who was one of BAT Top scorers.
He finally understood my way of relating to all the financial concepts and started becoming more receptive. He started using a lot of ‘real world’ examples in lectures as well as on exam questions. So, I encourage all the students to stand up for what they believe in and find a creative way to challenge professors’ assumptions. A lot of professors seem to very cocky just because they have fancy degrees from prestigious institutions. Now, I have great respect for this professor that he was able to relate to my way of thinking and learning.