Our Accounting professor led us to believe for the past several weeks that today’s Accounting exam would not require us to put together balance sheets or profit & loss statements for corporations with numerous, complex transactions, which we had to do in the Mod I Accounting exam. Consequently, no one studied balance sheets or profit & loss statements for this exam.
You can imagine our shock and dismay when we opened up today’s Accounting exam booklet to find a problem that A. required us to produce a balance sheet and profit & loss statement B. featured some of the most complex transactions we have seen all year, and C. was worth 25% of the total exam grade! Oh Stewart, you codger; just as we thought you were softening up, it turns out that you were just lulling us into a false sense of security. Even his assistant was in on the gag; a few weeks ago she held a review session, dressed in provocative attire (trying to distract us from the danger that lay ahead!), and told us that the only document we would need to assemble on the exam was a cashflow statement. No wonder so many students failed the exam last year!
When I first saw the problem, I was mortified. I hadn’t studied that material and the problem setup was daunting. My MP3 player had just switched to Mozart’s Requiem in D–how fitting. I decided to skip it and come back to it at the end, lest it bog me down and affect the rest of my exam. The other problems were challenging but I felt confident in my answers. As the clock continued to tick, all I had left standing in the way of being done with Accounting forever was this one Devil problem.
I couldn’t remember exactly the methodology I was supposed to use to work through it so I just reasoned my way along. And, after some time . . . it was my most successful solution for such a problem all year. My balance sheet balanced on the first go-round and the P&L fit right in. That helped quell the anger I was initially feeling toward Stewart. Plus, I suppose you can’t blame an Accounting professor for putting something so fundamental to Accounting on his final exam. Perhaps it was an intentional lesson on planning for the unexpected.
The victory over the unexpected challenge was a good note on which to end my Accounting “career.” Next up: Finance. Arturo claims that the exam is exclusively about options but, now that we’ve been stung by Stewart, we’re all refreshing ourselves on capital structure, discounted cashflow forecasts, and CAPM. We’ll just see if our other professors are in on it too!