A Business Skills Test for College Grads

Posted by: Louis Lavelle on August 10, 2011

It may be the last thing in the world they want to do, but just-graduated students looking to break into the business world might consider doing the unthinkable: taking another test.

The Certified Business Laureate Exam is a standardize business skills test intended for people who want to apply for entry-level corporate jobs (undergraduate business majors, this means you). Guy Friedman, a 2010 Wharton Business School grad, created the test and enlisted faculty at schools such as Wharton, University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, Loyola University Chicago and others to write test questions indicative of skill and understanding.

As a practical matter, the test could strengthen an application from a top student at a so-so school, or an undergraduate student with a non-business degree—individuals who might fly under most recruiters’ radar.

“Business is a popular and inconsistent major,” said Friedman. “It’s important for employers to get a good criteria of what [business students] know.”

Friedman argued GPA and transcripts are sometimes poor indicators of a student’s business acumen. In contrast, the CBL exam tests accounting, finance and marketing principles, proficiency in Microsoft Office programs, and writing ability.

Students should take the test before applying to a firm so that the score can be added to the applicant’s resume. The test’s introductory fee is $250 and students are provided with free study materials. The test itself takes anywhere from 2.5 hours to 3 hours and is administered at a testing facility. There is a raw performance score and a distribution score. As an incentive to take the test, students who score 70 percent or more and are in the top 30 percent of test-takers are connected with corporate mentors for networking and career advisory sessions, and their resumes are distributed to 80,000 company recruiters. If a top scorer doesn’t find employment within six months, Friedman’s company, GF Education Group, will refund the cost of the exam.

The test is currently in its first round of testing. Students can register at http://thebusinesstest.com/candidates/candidate-registration/. Friedman provided Bloomberg Businessweek with some sample questions.

1. All of the following items would be included in the Income Statement except:
A. Interest Income
B. Loss on sale of used property
C. Sales Revenue
D. Unearned Revenue

2. Which of the following is an accurate description of a transfer price?
A. It is the price used to transfer goods from a producer to major customers
B. It is the price allocated to raw materials transferred to finished goods
C. It is the price used when goods are transferred across subgroups within the same company
D. It is the price of freight and other product-related shipping costs

3. Which of the following financial statements contains information as of a specific point in time?
A. Income Statement
B. Statement of Retained Earnings
C. Statement of Cash Flows
D. Balance Sheet

4. What is the future value of a $1,000 investment now at an annual rate of 8% for 12 years?
A. $2,475.96
B. $2,518.17
C. $2,632.45
D. $2,918.33

5. Suppose that a publicly traded telephone company announces it has invented a mobile technology that has guaranteed coverage and good reception countrywide. What is the efficient market response?
A. The price over adjusts to the new information, so there is a tendency for subsequent price decreases.
B. The price adjusts slowly to the new information, so several days elapse before the price completely reflects the new information.
C. The price adjusts immediately to the new information with no further changes.
D. The price adjusts immediately to the new information and continues to increase for several days.


Answers: 1. D; 2. C; 3. D; 4. B; 5. C

--Kiah Lau Haslett

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