Clearing MBA entrance tests such as the CAT is considered a prestigious feat, with about 2.32 lakh people vying for a few thousands seats available in the top B-schools of the country.
Once you’ve cleared the first stage of the selection process, focus on preparing for the group discussion (GD), written ability test (WAT) and personal interview (PI). While the written examination tests a candidate’s knowledge and analytical skills, WAT, GD and PI are to understand the applicant’s personality.
PI helps the interviewer appraise the candidate’s behaviour, attitude, and knowledge and information. WAT tests the language ability, beside general awareness. GDs bring out the various aspects of group dynamics, where the applicant’s social behaviour, leadership, communication skills, and decision-making skills are closely examined.
Most IIMs have replaced GDs with WAT, which is being used as a tool to gauge an aspirant’s ability to display their communication, clarity of thought and expression — something that GD might not be able to provide insights into.
Written ability test
WAT assess candidates on several parameters like clarity of thought, logical bent of mind and effective expression along with social and ethical values. Understand the subject closely and fully before proceeding to express your thoughts on the same. Often, an unclear understanding of the topic leads to convoluted writing, which must be avoided.
Most of you might have lost touch with your ability to write in a clear and concise manner after schooling. Therefore, practice writing essays as frequently as possible. While writing, emphasise on brevity, logic and grammar. Write in active voice as far as possible, and ensure that the essay has a distinct beginning, middle and end.
Points to remember while writing an essay:
~ Collect ideas with concise yet vivid details
~ Organise the ideas
~ Develop them
~ Express and then review them
The time allotted for essays varies from institute to institute, and year to year. Practice accordingly.
Although a majority of IIMs have shifted to WAT, a number of top B-schools still use GD as a process for selection.
While participating in a GD, keep in mind that it is a discussion, and not a debate . The ability to put forth one’s views effectively is, no doubt, an essential requirement, but a disposition to carry other participants along is an equally important skill that is expected of a participant. Success in a GD is measured both by performance of the individual and the group.
In general, the topic is given about five to ten minutes before the discussion starts. Candidates would do well to note down around eight points which they consider relevant. It is better to write them down as bullet points rather than as full sentences so as to avoid wasting time.
While attending an interview, candidates must always bear in mind that the answers alone are not important in a PI. What is more important is how the questions are answered.
Read newspapers for current affairs, revise academic concepts, and rehearse questions on personal aspects. Questions asked in a PI can be broadly classified into three categories.
3. Current affairs
The candidate is expected to be dressed appropriately (read: formally), that’s befitting for the occasion.
Enter the PI room with a gentle knock on the door and politely take permission to come in and sit on a chair. Though the question may emanate from a particular member of the panel, address all of them. The answers must be clear, cogent and expressed gently. Avoid crouching on the table or sitting in a laid back posture. Don’t place your hands on the table.
If you don’t know the answer to a question, it is perfectly fine to accept the same, rather than shoot in the dark. Throughout the duration of the interview, show sincerity, an eagerness to learn and a positive attitude.
Points to remember
It is always better to have prepared answers for basic questions than think about them at the time of the interview. Once the interview is concluded, take leave politely.
Ensure that you set aside enough time to prepare for WAT-GD-PI. After putting in excessive efforts for cracking the entrance tests, it would be a shame if you didn’t get into your dream B-school because of these aspects.
All the best!