Many young people who seek fame and fortune in the financial industry believe that the sure path to this destination consists of a stellar degree or two from a prestigious school, plus a glowing resume and list of accomplishments to show off to a prospective employer. But while these things are still usually necessary to obtain the highly sought-after positions in the financial industry, they do not always paint a truly accurate picture of the candidate to a prospective employer.
Bloomberg sought to redress this issue with the creation of a comprehensive assessment test that can more clearly demonstrate the strengths, weaknesses and skill sets of job seekers. The Bloomberg Assessment Test (BAT) was introduced in 2010, and it is quickly becoming known in the financial job market as a tool that can provide the HR departments of financial firms with a window into the minds of those seeking work.
The BAT test consists of 100 multiple-choice questions that test 11 specific areas of a student's financial and economic knowledge. These areas encompass accounting and financial statements, business and economic analysis, mathematics, the financial markets, venture capital, fundamental and technical analysis, investment banking, and securities trading and analysis. But the BAT does not focus on broad academic understanding of financial theory. A top team of industry professionals and academics have instead created questions and topics that analyze the student's ability to apply this knowledge in real-life scenarios on a deeper level.
The test is graded on a scale of 0 to 100, and the average score is about 55. No one has ever achieved a perfect score. Students can retake the test if they are not satisfied with their initial score, but only the first attempt is free, and the exam can only be taken once a month. Bloomberg charges $50 per test for all subsequent exams and also records each test score for students so that they can see whether or not they are improving. All scores are posted anonymously, however, and students are not required to show their scores to prospective employers if they so choose. If an employer sees a score that fits the profile of a position that he or she has available, then he or she can contact the student through the Bloomberg website. The student then has the option of revealing his or her name to the company if interested.
There is no specific class curriculum or study material available for the test, although Bloomberg has released a series of sample questions in Adobe format on its website. Those who sit for the exam should keep in mind that the test covers a multitude of disciplines and aptitudes that are used in many fields and they will not likely be proficient in all of them. The test is only administered in an approved academic setting and cannot be taken from home. Bloomberg offers reasonable accommodations for test takers with various types of disabilities, such as extended breaks or test time and the use of medical devices.
Benefits of the BAT
In finance, anything that can give you even a slight edge over the competition is extremely valuable, and the Bloomberg Assessment Test is no exception. It benefits both students and employers in several respects. Employers who are weighing two candidates with similar academic qualifications and transcripts for a given position can use the test score as a viable means of comparing their abilities to perform certain tasks or make specific types of evaluations that will come with the job. Students can also use this test to broadcast their abilities to many companies at once, and students from any academic discipline are allowed to sit for the exam. This permits candidates from outside the sphere of academic finance to show companies what they can do as well, which has led to many successful matches for employers and employees who would likely never have crossed paths otherwise.
The BAT ultimately permits test takers to differentiate themselves from their competition by proving that they can apply their theoretical knowledge on a practical level in a way that cannot usually be taught in most finance classes. The BAT test gives recruiters and managers a tangible, unbiased perspective that can reveal information about a candidate that often cannot be gleaned from transcripts, resumes, references or even personal interviews.
The Bottom Line
Although the BAT has only been offered since 2010, over 65,000 students at over 750 educational institutions around the world have taken the exam. Over half of the institutions that offer this test are outside the United States. Michael London, the CEO of Bloomberg Institute, stated that there are currently 34 companies in the U.S. that pay a monthly subscription fee to see the database of test scores. Although London was unable to reveal the names of these customers, they are believed to be major financial conglomerates such as Morgan Stanley. The number of institutions that offer the BAT test is growing rapidly, and its success has fomented talk of creating similar tests in other fields of expertise. For more information on this exam, visit the Bloomberg institution website at www.bloomberginstitute.com/bat.