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We cover this a lot in Orientation, but as exemptions for the first semester are only offered during orientation, its worth covering now in a little detail ...

The top line as PA's is that, on balance, we are positive about taking exemption exams, but here's a quick 'pros' and 'cons'

Pros
If you have relevant academic or work experience the class may truly be beneath your knowledge level
You get an opportunity to take electives in advance – broadens horizons, can be good for job search
Exemptions provide the opportunity to build a more customized schedule
“Greater return on investment” from your tuition dollars
Frees up an “H” (top grade) for a classmate

Cons
You do not know “The Columbia Way” or may need a general refresher (so exempt only if you don’t need to study a lot for the test)
Limited alternatives in first semester
We'd probably recommend not exempt more than two classes or you will miss too much of the cluster and learning team experience.

[For info, if you do exempt, most people usually take Capital Markets, which is a prerequisite course to many other higher level finance electives]

More tips on exemptions

Finally, a reality check: anyone who exempts will have to work with Academic Affairs to get into classes as a first year as 'bidding' is over. Therefore selection may be limited.

The top and bottom line again is that we are really positive about taking exemption exams. If you think you might possibly want to exempt, take the test just to be safe. If you qualify for exemption, you can always choose to take the course anyways, but if you miss the exemption exam, you’re out of luck.

For more details see http://www4.gsb.columbia.edu/students/mba/guide/entries?&top.title=Entries:%20Core%20Course%20Exemptions&layout=cbs_column_2_right&main.id=617459&main.ctrl=contentmgr.detail&main.view=kb.detail