The PhD entrance exams for Sun Yat-sen University have eventually been accomplished, no matter how the result would be. The questions appeared on the subject of corporate are a bit easier, but due to a long trip from Guangzhou to Suzhou, I have mostly forgotten them. But there is one lesson that you should take if you are to be a player of such exams in 2011 or later. That is, paying adequate attention on econometrics, not only its usage, but also its fundamental knowledge.
The questions that I came across at the exams of accounting theory may indicate its potential failure. The questions this year are focusing much on auditing and financial accounting. Unlike the questions that you can find in previous years, the questions this year are focusing more on policies, accounting standard settings, and, most of them are following the framework of narrative research, rather than the positive ones which are of great popularity recently.
Anyway, quite a number of questions are focusing on academic thoughts, which are highly regarded by both professors and graduate students nowadays, especially those working in top universities of China. Take an analytical question in finance for example. A paragraph is presented, which is introducing a new policy published in 2008, that mostly listed firms in China are required to announce the details of their dividend plans. The question is that you are invited to make a brief analysis on why it comes out, its influence of capital markets, as well as the potential research opportunity it may involve. Such questions would, undoubtedly, a disaster to those who are not accustomed to develop their independent thinking.
However, there is one thing that would be beneficial for most takers of the exams, no matter whether they are admitted eventually or not. The lesson is that the questions showed us the correct way that a researcher should probably work like. Focusing and take a good think on the important events on the capital markets should be a good way to find research opportunities, as is shown on the exam paper. Trying to use the existing theory and research to explain, or predict what is happening and is to happen, though not that correct and accurate, would be beneficial for you to know the way of academic considerations. Once the resource of research is ensured, and the academic thoughts are formed, doing some top-level researches would not be far except for some professional training on methodology and tools.
There has been a debate in the academic world, especially in the field of economics and something related that intuition or methodology, which is more important? In my opinion, neither should be abandoned. So also pay sufficient attention on econometrics. What you want to know is not only how to read the result appeared on the computer screen, but the concept of them, like the way how the estimate produced, the steps that somewhat test aligned, and what their potential assumptions are likely to be. If you are still feeling frightened of reading a textbook with mathematics, try to get used to that from today!
I don’t know how my exams would be. In fact, a summary of the exams has been required for my potential supervisor, and I am concerning how to make it with sufficient objectivity and unbiased. Anyway, I do learn a lot from this process.
PS: It is unlikely to make a revision before you take the PhD entrance exams at SYSU, especially in the field of accounting. What you have learned and mastered during the daily research would work!