Hi, this post kind of delineates from this blog’s primary geek culture posts, but it’s been stewing in my head for the past month. I attended WGU to complete my Bachelor of Science in Marketing Management (just passed my capstone, wahoo!). The biggest conflict on earning my degree, even over completing my capstone, was the dreaded C708: Principles of Finance class. I mean, I was a decent student. I accelerated three years of courses into one year to get my degree. I did most classes in 2-3 weeks (some in 2-3 days!).
C708 took me 9 dang weeks. :/ I don’t want this to happen to anyone else.
Many, many students have trudged through this class. You can do it. You absolutely can do it. There is simply a ton of material that you might not be familiar with. I definitely wasn’t! I survived! If I can survive it, you can do it. You can gather the right tools, and excel. 🙂
Note: If you find a tool that helps you out, and it’s not listed, please let me know so I can add it to help other students!
Take a Few Days to Really Learn Your Calculator
This is the calculator I purchased for the class: Texas Instruments BA Plus II Financial Calculator. I know there’s another option, but I bought this one off another student and it worked just fine for me. You can even shop around different vendors because it’s a little pricey (if you’re lucky you can find a decent used one for $22-25).
I actually recommend studying your calculator and how it operates BEFORE you crack open the book. Why? Some of the material in the book isn’t very intuitive when it introduces the calculator. And knowing your financial calculator like the back of your hand is KEY in passing this class. I honestly cannot stress this enough. I wish I had focused more time on this in the beginning and not the middle. I could have saved 3 weeks, easily, instead of having to trudge along and re-learn stuff as I went.
I’d say, after you get the general set up and some of the initial formulas down, you can start studying and just refer to TVMcalcs or YouTube to get instruction on working through the problems.
Calculator Study Source 1: TVMCalcs.com
TVMCalcs.com is a fantastic resource that walks you through using your calculator, especially WHY some formulas work they way they do (and when you want to switch certain functions). It will feel like a different language. Don’t panic. It will start clicking soon when you work through problems in chapters.
Just hit the calculator you’re using (in my case, BA Plus II), and slowly go through the instructions.
Calculator Study Source 2: YouTube
- Michael Holder Study Playlist – Use as needed.
- Edspira Study Playlist – Use as needed.
- MBA Bullsh*t Videos – Again, use as needed.
A Redditor shared the following and I really liked them (short and week vids!):
Key Study Points
Know the Formulas
Here are some flash cards! Understanding the formulas and terminology in this class is key. There are some problems you will freeze on, but then you’ll remember the formula and everything will click. With some problems, being familiar with the formula helps you fill in the blanks.
To note: they do supply formulas but don’t describe them. If there are any formulas you have an issue with, jot them down for memory before you start the OA.
Areas To Focus On + Practice Problems
The key parts of the test that I remember are: Time Value of Money (TVM), Ratios, DuPont Analysis, ROA/ROE, Stocks and Bonds, Statement Analysis. Generally, it’s really good to master an area to the point where you start to enjoy solving the problems. It’s a lot of material, so break it down into edible chunks.
The study sheets below are directly from this Reddit post. If they disappear, let me know! I’ll take this part down.
- Valuation Study Problems
- TVM Problems
- Capital Budgeting Problems
- Statement Analysis Study Problems
- Ratios Study Problems
- Sample Quiz
Don’t Kill Yourself on WACC
If you learn it, and can do it without an issue: GOOD! I didn’t do so well in this area, but there were only a few questions in the final exam. (2-3 if I remember correctly). Instead, I used my extra study time on another weak area of mine, Stocks/Bonds, which proved to be more valuable to me because the exam had more questions in those areas.
Get the Study Material from Your Class Mentor
Email the Principles of Finance general inbox and ask them for their class engagement study guide. Work through it as you do textbook problems.
Do the Textbook Problems
The class mentor will make you do them anyway if you fail your first attempt. (Which I did.) So, go ahead and work through the book problems. Try to get an 80% at least for each section and each end-of-chapter quiz. If you feel stuck, use the supplemental information in this blog post to help you study!
Attend the WGU Weekly Study Halls
This helped me a lot. Some of the material just did not stick when I started studying off the pre-assessment. You can actually copy/paste those questions into the weekly study hall (linked in the class resources). They will walk you through it!
Join a Study Group!
We started a Facebook group here in case you’d like some in-person support!
Practice, Practice, PRACTICE
Practice on your calculator AND on the whiteboard you will be using for the exam. It helps with your muscle memory.
PA vs OA
I do feel that the OA is slightly different from the PA. YMMV. Don’t just memorize/practice off the PA. The OA did switch up the focus of some areas. But if you know the formulas, calculator, and book questions, you have a pretty safe bet of surviving the final.
They give you a 15 minute break on the final. USE IT. 🙂 In the middle, at a good stopping point. Get us, shake your body, get some water. The final exam, for those struggling in the class, is definitely an endurance exercise. Take care of yourself and you will make it!
If there is anything I can add in here to help you out beyond this start, let me know! I’ll keep an eye out for additional resources to put in this list.
If, for some reason, you found this blog post through a general search about WGU… If you’d like to apply or learn more about WGU, you can use my referral code here. (They give me a store credit if you talk to them :)). Its competency-based learning structure helped me cram three years of study into one, saving me a lot of time and energy. I am super happy to refer folks to it (and using my link waives your application fee).