International College of Economics and Finance

Kosmas Marinakis, ICEF Assistant Professor, about HSE Olympiad in Financial Economics

On March 23-25, 2018 the HSE Olympiad for Students and Graduates will take place in Moscow and other cities in Russia and abroad. University students and recent graduates are invited to take part in the Olympiad Competitions. The registration deadline is March 12, 2018 15:00 (UTC+3). Participation in the Olympiad is free. Olympiad winners and prize awardees of the Olympiad in Financial Economics will be at an advantage when applying for HSE ICEF’s Master’s programme in Financial Economics.

Kosmas Marinakis, Assistant Professor at HSE ICEF and the Faculty of Economic Sciences and Academic Director of the HSE Olympiad in Financial Economics gives instructions to participants about the Olympiad:

How should candidates view this Olympiad? Think of this Olympiad as an ordinary exam on the material you already learned at your first degree in Economics. The purpose of this exam is for ICEF to admit quality candidates to the Master’s degree. As every year, we will have 5 tasks each from a different part of economics: micro, macro, econometrics, finance etc. There can also be specialized questions on some topics of economics such as trade, game theory, or some task that examines quantitative ability. Our target is to examine general knowledge of economics as we need candidates who already have some solid economics and finance background and can be successful as master’s students.

How to prepare? First, we must make clear that it will be hard to learn this material now for the first time because we are talking about material that takes a university 2-3 years to teach. So, the candidates are supposed to know this material and just review it to refresh their memory. I would recommend that candidates review their basic courses of their economics studies such as intermediate micro and macro, econometric theory, the basic models of finance and refresh their mathematical skills. In other words all those things that an economist with an undergraduate degree is supposed to know. All of the Olympiad tasks can be solved with basic knowledge of economics that good universities include in the standard curriculum.

Does it help to solve the tasks of previous years? Yes, it will help a lot in terms of practicing, form some expectations about the difficulty level of the tasks and come up with a time management strategy for the test. My recommendation is that, after you have done some satisfactory review, use the past year’s Olympiads as a mock test to realize your level and what needs improvement or to fine-tune your strategy. 

What should the applicants focus on? It will be unrealistic to expect that a candidate can collect 100% of the points in an Olympiad. No one ever came close to that. The usual strategy of our winners is to focus on the two problems from areas that they know well and collect 90-100% of the maximum points from those tasks. Then they deal with the next 2 problems that they have some knowledge on and collect 50-75% of the points on them. Finally they use the rest of the time to fight the toughest for them problem and collect a few points there, too. If time is not allocated evenly across tasks but you focus on the tasks that you have more chances to collect points, you maximize your score. It’s the economics approach!

Could you recommend some literature? There are several good text books for economics. The best textbook is YOUR textbook, the one you already did at your first degree. The one you know, you are familiar with and you can just review in much less time than you need to read something new.

How are the tasks for the Olympiad prepared? Each task is individually prepared from scratch by an international academic expert in the field. Then questions are checked by myself who I serve as editor and sent to an anonymous referee – another academic specialist in the field - for peer review of the question and the solution to make sure that everything is correct, easy to understand and check if there are alternative solutions or approaches. When the question’s text and solution is finalized and agreed upon by the author, the editor and the referee, it is ready to be included in the Olympiad.

Do you recommend the students to take part in the Olympiad? Of course! Winning an Olympiad is a special honor, something that you will have in your CV forever. It will also be a very good experience because it is a challenge; it is a good practice even if you don’t win. If you win you will be admitted to the ICEF Master’s programme without exams and free of charge, so it is worth to try. Usually we have 3 prize winners and several other winners who can be also admitted to the programme.

Who makes the decisions about the winners? The results are graded by professional graders who are experts on the field of economics. Then, they are double-checked by the academic director of the Olympiad. We announce the results in 2-4 weeks after the Olympiad.

Anything to say to the candidates? Prepare well, manage your time in a smart way, concentrate on the tasks, have a good night sleep the night before and of course… Good luck!

Learn more about the Olympiad (in Russian)