After clearing the Common Admission Test (CAT), now is the time for MBA aspirants to prepare for the Written Ability Test (WAT) and Personal Interview (PI) rounds at some Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) and other B-schools starting around the second week of February to continue till March.
While CAT was a computer-based objective type test, WAT and PI that has more or less replaced the group discussion (GD) as a screening method tests the written and spoken communication abilities of the candidates.
WAT essentially checks clarity of thought, quality of expression and basic general awareness of current affairs. Candidates are usually given a topic and asked to write an essay of 300-400 words. The time limit varies from institute to institute. While IIM-Bangalore gives them 30 minutes, IIM-Ahmedabad provides only 10 minutes.
Candidates, who may have applied to several institutes, should be prepared to face one or more of group discussions, WAT or group tasks, as in the case of Symbiosis. Yet others like MICA use an aptitude test and SP Jain Institute of Management and Research has a personal as well as group interview.
During the shortlisting of candidates for admission, the institutes consider several aspects to assess each candidate’s suitability for the program by was of personality, past academic record, clarity of thought, general knowledge and work profile in case of those who has work experience.
While there is no magic bullet to shoot off a perfect essay, in general it should be in the proper format, with an introduction, main argument and a conclusion. Here again, clarity of thought, writing flow, ability to illustrate points with examples and reasoning are much valued. Time factor also comes into play with the candidate expected to complete the task in 20-30 minutes.
IIM Ahmedabad, IIM Calcutta and IIM Lucknow give 10% weightage to the essay, IIM Bangalore, IIM Indore and IIM Trichy give it a weightage of 15%. IIM Kozhikode is the only IIM that still conducts the GD.
Personal interview or PI, basically test the candidates’ maturity level, the ability to think and express yourselves. Most of the questions relate to personal background, aims and aspirations. The questions may also relate to academic topics and for candidates who have work experience, queries related to the field. Since the PI come towards the last of the admission process and may be the decider, applicants should be well prepared for it.
Filling up the form after getting shortlisted is also a task to be carried out carefully. Poorly drafted statements of purpose may lose you a seat. Thus, it is advisable to get the form checked for errors and inconsistencies by a faculty before sending it to the institute.
Candidates may do well to shore up on their general knowledge by reading a newspaper and especially a business newspaper. They should also try to develop a balanced view on various issues by frequent interactions with friends, family, and teachers.