Sitting the examinations for the four core courses of the MFE program (Economics, Financial Econometrics, Asset Pricing and Corporate Finance) is one of the toughest challenges I have ever had to face. Precisely for this reason, I know this will be something I will be proud of for the rest of my life.
I came back from running in Paris two weeks before our first exam. As most of my classmates, I spent most of my day in the libraries, I started my days at the Oriel library and after lunch I headed to the Oxford Saïd library, which even extended its opening hours until 2 am. These two weeks were incredibly intense, I came to a point in which I didn’t even know which day I was living in, one time I even showed up for at Church on a Saturday expecting Sunday’s mass. However, these two weeks made me realize how much I have learned this year. One year ago I was an IT professional, who didn’t know any finance besides DCF analysis, now I was applying complex Corporate Finance models, advanced economic theories, multi variate auto regressions and cross sectional asset pricing on a daily basis.
Sitting an exam at the University of Oxford is a very interesting experience. First of all, you have to go to Examination Schools, a really nice building located in Oxford’s High Street. It was completed in 1882, so it is relatively “new” for Oxford standards. It is such a shame that we had to go to this marvellous building for this occasion, as I really feel that the nervousness/excitement for the exams didn’t allow me to fully admire the building’s architecture.
Secondly, you have to wear your sub fusc (From the Latin sub fuscus, meaning dark brown), which is the full academic dress, consisting on either black suit, dark trousers or dark skirt; dark coat, black shoes, plain white shirt or blouse, white/black bow tie or ribbon, gown and mortar board. It is also a tradition to wear a carnation on your lapel, a white one for the first exam, a red one for the last and a pink one for every exam in between. I have to admit that dressing up for the exam is an essential part of the experience, it really made me remember where I was and what was about to happen, I was at a top university, about to be examined in the same way in which people that have changed our world were examined before.
I won’t lie to you, the exams were really tough, no matter how much I revised for them, I still found them incredibly challenging. It made me remind me what studying at Oxford meant; I was taught and now I was examined by some of the best professors in the field of Financial Economics. Just to mention two examples, for Economics I had to answer an exam question about auctions, which was proposed (and probably examined) by Professor Paul Klemperer, arguably the best auction theorist in the world. On the other hand, for the Financial Econometrics paper, I had to answer questions regarding ARCH models that will be examined by Professor Kevin Sheppard, who has published papers alongside Robert F. Engle, who won a Nobel Prize in Economics for his pioneering work with ARCH models. These kind of questions represented a really difficult challenge, however, no matter the result of the exams, I am genuinely happy and satisfied with my performance and with all the effort I devoted to them.
The best part of the whole exam experience came at the end of our last exam on Friday, when we were leaving the building after handing in our last paper, we were asked to leave by a different door than the one we had used on the previous days; to our surprise, as we were exiting the building through Merton Street, there were people in the sidewalk waiting and cheering for everyone who had just finished their last exam, we were greeted with confetti and hoorays. It meant the world to me to be received in this way. After weeks of lots of work and stress, days with way too much caffeine, nights without proper sleep and nightmares about the Corporate Finance problem sets; having this reception as we came out of our last exam is a memory I will cherish forever.
That moment, being cheered as we came out of Examination Schools, celebrating with my mates and getting ready to grab a celebratory pint with them, all the work I had done in the past weeks and months of the course seem totally worth it. As I mentioned at the start of this entry, sitting the Oxford MFE Exams is one of the toughest challenges I have ever had to face, but for that same reason it is also a challenge that I will be proud to have faced, for many years to come. I think my smile really summarizes how I felt after my last exam.Back to top of article