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The week before TISS: What to do and what not to do

The entrance test to Tata Institute of Social Science (TISS), Mumbai's HRM programs will be held on December 12, 2010. So we got a group of students from TISS to write about their experience in cracking the TISS and what this year's applicants must do in order to ace the paper.






The Tata Institute of Social Sciences in Mumbai, better known as TISS, runs one of the most sought after post graduate courses in Human Resources Management (HRM). The entrance test for the school is on December 12, 2010.


With less than 10 days left for the exam, we will advise you on the things you can do to end your preparation on a high(er) note so that you do well in the test. Also we will explain all the sections that have commonly appeared in the last few years' TISS test.


The basics


The first noteworthy feature of the TISS exam is that it hasn't had negative marking, sectional time limits or sectional cutoffs, at least for the last 2-3 years. This means that you should focus on the sections you are good at without worrying about the ones which generally trouble you. It also means that you should leave sufficient time at the end to try your luck and take blind guesses for the questions which you were not able to solve.


The second thing is that applicants to the HRM program have to take two tests. The first one is common across all the 16 post graduate courses of TISS and it seeks to test your basic cognitive ability. The second test is different for each course and the one for the HRM program is more or less like any other management entrance test.


Both the tests happen differently and one has to do well in both the test in order to get to the next stage.


The First Paper


This paper accounts for 25% of the weightage in the final written score of an applicant. Last year, it had a paper of 50 questions (all worth the same marks) meant to be solved in 45 minutes. The distribution of questions within the sections of this paper changes marginally from year to year.


Analytical and Numerical Ability


One can expect a small number of very basic visual reasoning and inferential questions in this section. Also there may be a set or two consisting of basic DI questions which you need to answer on the basis of a graph or a pie chart. The remaining questions are quantitative ability questions not very different to those in the CAT. The subjects covered in the last years exam include time and work, quadrilaterals, numbers, averages, profit and loss, mathematical series, etc. You should be able to solve this section fairly quickly as all you need is a grasp on the fundamentals. This section had 15 questions last year.


Language ability


This section requires you to solve RC passages with most questions being direct. Besides RC, logical arrangement of paragraphs, vocabulary based fill-in-the-blanks, analogies, sentence correction, essence/summary of a paragraph are the kind of questions that have traditionally appeared in this section and one can expect them this year too. The general level of questions are easy. This section had 20 questions last year.


Awareness of General and Social Issues


In the past two years, this section has had general knowledge questions about,



  1. United Nations Organization


  2. Indian rivers


  3. Basic historical facts about India


  4. Important Indian monuments


  5. Basic facts and latest numbers about the Indian economy


  6. Recent government initiatives like MNREGA, Mid-day meal scheme etc.


  7. Indians who have won prominent international awards


  8. Olympic Games facts



As is apparent, there is a strong emphasis on India in this section. Everyone should keep this in mind and not waste their time on learning random facts about the world for this exam. Prepare for this section just as you would for the IRMA entrance test. If you have a regular newspaper and magazine reading habit, it will be a huge advantage. Do go through the GK books that coaching classes provide. This section had 15 questions last year.


The Second Paper


This paper is the real clincher because it is worth 75% in the written score. Last year, it had 75 questions (all carrying equal marks) to be done in 60 minutes. The difficulty level is higher in this paper than the first test but it is still manageable.


Data Interpretation


This section had 10 questions last year, equally divided into two sets both of which were based on tabular data. You can expect similar questions this year too. Build skills to do quick and accurate calculations for this section. The level of questions is medium to low.


Data Sufficiency


With 20 questions, this section mattered a lot in the last year's test. Good speed and practice with data sufficiency problems can really help you get closer to that interview call. Neeta Dubey, a first year student of TISS and one of the highest scorers in the entrance test last year says that she started the Second Paper with this section as she had practiced data sufficiency well and knew this could be very scoring. So that may be a strategy you can try out at home first and then implement in the exam.


Reading Comprehension


This section generally features two long passages on management subjects with direct questions at the end. So speed reading would come handy. Kripanidhi Sahu, another first year TISS student says that he read the questions before reading the passage as he was expecting direct questions and that helped him to complete this section quickly. But do remember that this strategy might not work if the paper features inference-based questions. Last year, this section had 16 questions.


Business Knowledge


The areas to focus on based on previous years papers are,



  1. Recent Mergers & Acquisitions


  2. Brand taglines


  3. Famous books and authors


  4. Indian banking


  5. Indian economy


  6. CSR initiatives by corporate houses



Those who have already prepared for this section for exams like IIFT should just revise the same material. Last year, this section had 15 questions.


Foundations of Management


This section troubles people the most because they do not have concrete sources to prepare from and also because they do not relate to the subjects asked in this section.


Here is what Rhucha Kulkarni, a first year TISS student, has to say about this section, For the section on Foundations of management, pick up any BMS or BBA level HRM textbook and skim through the personalities, theorists and management thinkers in the book such as Adam Smith, Charles Babbage, Robert Owen, Frederick Taylor (scientific management), Henry Ford, Max Weber, Henri Fayol (14 principles of management), Mary Follet , Chester Bernard, Maslow, McGregor (Theory X and Theory Y), Hawthorne experiments by Elton Mayo, Dale Carnegie, McClelland, Fiedler, Herzberg and Hackman & Oldham. You can search for more theories and thinkers on Google and Wikipedia.


Neeta Dubey says that she had observed a pattern in the last two years papers of 50-60 % of questions falling under the ambit of 'social psychology'. So according to her, one should read its Wikipedia page and the related links thoroughly.


Remember that this section is intended to just check the basics of management and not in-depth psychology or something of that sort. Do not get disheartened if you cannot make out the head or tail of this section, as many people currently studying here do not do so too. If there is no negative marking, just go with any option by gut feeling. Last year, 14 questions were asked in this section.


Overall Remarks


Says Rhucha Kulkarni, "In the 10 days leading to the exam, review what preparation you have already done for sections like QA, DI, DS, LR, VA and RC. These sections can easily be yours if you have strong basics. Make sure you memorize formulae for topics like time, speed & distance, ratio & proportion, etc. It will help you save time, especially in Paper 2. Speed is crucial to succeed in TISS. For the Business GK section, brush up the past 6 to 7 issues of Competition Success Review or Pratiyogita Darpan. Concentrate on India-related GK. On the exam day, read the instructions carefully for any change in the traditional scoring pattern."


Sharad Majumdar says, For the written exam, brush up Maths and English and also study the sample question paper very carefully. The maths asked is usually in the form of charts and graphs. Make sure that you learn all the concepts and formulae needed. Not only are 90% of the questions going to be based on the very same concepts, but a few questions may actually be exactly the same as in the sample paper with some numbers changed! Also, do not be nervous and arrive at the test centre on time and take a leisurely stroll to your exam room instead of the mad dash I made."


So in short, TISS is a speed-based test designed to give those from all background a chance to excel. We wish you all the best for this one!


This article was authored by a group of current TISS students led by Abhishek Chopra.

  • 108 Likes   29 Comments
  • well well ...its really gr8 to read this article ...kudos.... 07 Jul '11.
  • part 2 of the paper is conducted on the same day or after.... 04 Nov '12.
navneet11
@navneet11 9

well well ...its really gr8 to read this article ...kudos !! bt why not anyone talk about other than HRM&LR; ? Can smone throw sm light on other courses also like how to prep, what to do and most important 'why this course?' 10x

Ananya_confused
Ananya Chatterji @Ananya_confused 16

part 2 of the paper is conducted on the same day or after shortlisting on the basis of paper 1 results?