Author: Sara Da, Director of Commerce Mentorship Program; BCom 2017 – Finance & Accounting Co-op
Year course was taken: 2014 W
Final Grade: A+


Introduction to Management Information Systems is a combination of understanding the basics of using different programs along with the theoretical knowledge of information systems. This blog will focus on the technical aspects of the course.


1. Colors are helpful
Sometimes when you see long equations and have no idea how to approach it, try writing it out in different colors. Pair each opening bracket and ending bracket with colors to have a better visual of the formula. It allows you to understand which function is embedded within which function so you can work your way outwards. Start from the inside, and slowly work your way out.


2. Be detail oriented
Looking at two formulas, it may seem identical at first glance. However, there are tiny variations that can make huge differences. For example, the difference between having a comma and not be the difference between Excel accepting or rejecting the formula. Check your quotations, commas, and brackets, to make sure you are not making careless mistakes along the way.


3. Study the structure
Study the structure of the formulas in Excel. Ask yourself, given the number of commas, what formula would fit in here? Could it be an IF, SUMIFS, COUNTIFS, VLOOKUP? Each formula has its unique elements so match them up to decide which formula to use.


4. Test it out!
If you are not sure about a formula, you can always test it out on Excel or Stata. Excel is easy to test out as you can easily create some data and use the formula you solved ot test it out. As for Stata, you can also easily create a smaller set of data on Excel and import it in to test out your formulas. After all, with a smaller and more manageable data set, you can check visually to see if the formula did what you asked it to do.


5. Create different scenarios
One of the best ways to prepare for exams is to think about different cases. So you know that using an IF function you can test if RABBIT = MOUSE. However, can you use it to test RABBIT = rabbit? Think about capitalization, how different formulas treat numbers and words, how errors would show up or would they? Test out as many possibilities as you can think of to get a better understanding of the formula itself.

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