Wednesday, 11 May 2011


Rather arbitrarily I've decided to post this month only on the 1st, 11th, 21st and 31rd.

Although it's guaranteed that these three posts will be quite different.

I had an assessment centre on the 4th at a medium-sized London-based firm. My 3-minute presentaiton was considered 'too essaylike'. Which it was, but it was never clear what they wanted. Can't complain about the result though - complaining never gets anywhere. It just emphasises the fact that a lot of firms are looking for something quite specific in their future employees and that, given how many applications there are for each place, they can often afford to eliminate candidates at a fast pace and for reasons which, in any other sphere, might seem minor.

However, I now have four important events coming up.

On the 17th I have a Big Four first-stage interview (at Crawley)
On the 20th I have my Principles of Taxation Module
On the 25th I have my Final Interview (at another Big Four firm)
On the 13th June I have an assessment centre for another mid-tier London firm

The only date which is flexible is the 20th. I have to consider this very carefully. It's one of those exams where a fail actually counts against you in the long run as there are limited retake opportunities and failures have to be declared, so I'd have to be pretty certain of passing to make it worth taking. I did some self-testing today on one of the early chapters and while my 14/22 is in pass territory (55% is the pass mark), it's a little close for my liking. Time hasn't been an issue, but accuracy has. From this I can infer that I can afford to (and indeed need to) spend more time on my workings. The trouble with Tax is that there are lots of different rules and structures, and while many of these may only change the answer by 1% either way, the answer demands 0% either way.

I'll make my decision on this over the next few days. I don't doubt that it's possible to pass this exam on the 20th. But getting to 'test standard' may take extra, previously underestimated numbers of hours, and the interview preperation is more important. Indeed the main motivation behind sitting this exam on this date was so that I could 'boast a pass' come by big interview on the 25th. But if this comes at the cost of other elements of preperation then I may as well not have taken the paper at all.

I'm still frightfully optimistic about my eventual chances of getting a training contract though. Indeed my focus has long since gone from 'whether' to 'when'. Ideally I pass the 25th May interview, get an offer and fierecely enjoy the summer. This would be the dream situation but I have to keep planing as if I don't get to dream... I have to stay awake... for a month longer... maybe two. Note, though I am speaking in these analogies I have not used the term 'nightmare'. The only conceivable nightmare applicationswise is that I essentially voluntarily fail the 20th May exam!

Did feel rather tired today though and didn't manage to start working till 9. Early starts definitely favour me - yesterday I was at the books at 6.30am.

I have been at other books though. I strarted reading Charles DIckens' American Notes. On the one hand I fear it might be a little like Alistair Cooke's American Journey one century later i.e. lots of descriptions of things and institutions but not a lot about charecters and mentalities.

However I did come across one of the most interesting passages I think I have ever read:

[The context is this - Dickens is recalling a report published by Dr Howe regarding the mental development of Laura Bridgman, a blind deaf-mute child who had recently been taught to communicate using a finger language.]

"It is very remarkable, that as we dream in words, and carry on imaginary conversations, in which we speak both for ourselves and for the shadows who appear to us in those visions of the night, so she, having no words, uses her finger alphabet in her sleep. And it has been ascertained that when her slumber is broken, and is much disturbed by dreams, she expresses her thoughts in an irregular and confused manner on her fingers: just as we should murmur and mutter them indistinctly, in the like circumstances."

I've just realised that if I am to reschedule this exam I should probably still take it in May, as I believe on my Recruitment Register application I have said 'taking first exam in May'. Well, there's a big gap between the 20th and 31st.

And there's almost as big a gap between the 11th and the 21st, but that's how long you shall have to wait for my next post.

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