Dear Readers,

Group Discussion
is a crucial part of the later stage selection procedures for leading business
schools across the country. In many institutes, it has been replaced by Written
Ability Test (WAT) but in several others it is still used as an effective tool
to assess a student’s candidature.

What happens in a GD?

A GD is fundamentally an
unmoderated discussion involving a group of individuals.

It is also one of the best processes
for judging a candidate’s abilities. The content that one speaks shows one’s approach
towards a certain topic and the way one responds to other candidate(s) depicts
one’s interpersonal skills.

In a typical GD, a group of
8-12 students is given a topic for discussion for 10-20 minutes. Usually, there
is no fixed time per student and therefore, you cannot predict how much time
you will get to speak. There are some exceptions to this pattern – like Indian
Institute of Foreign Trade (IIFT), where each student gets a set period of time
to speak as well.

Topics in typical GDs can be
wide ranging – they may be related to current affairs, business, sports, social
issues or anything generic. Generally, topics relate to the common issues of
the day and do not require any in-depth knowledge of particular subjects,

Sometimes the group is given a
case study and each candidate is asked to analyse it. On some occasions, each
student is given a particular role to play and all the students in the group
have to work together as a team to achieve a certain given objective.

In general, a candidate would
not get more than one and a half minutes to two minutes for speaking in a GD.
This means that if a candidate is able to present just 3 to 5 good points in a GD
then that would be considered an excellent performance.

Why is GD important?

The comparative method of
selection is at work in a GD because the selector(s) can see how candidates
compare to each other and who excels in which aspects. Additionally, candidates’
listening skills and ability to work in a team are also examined/assessed.

A GD is an effective way to
assess certain skills that cannot be checked in a PI. These include reasoning
ability, social skills, listening and articulation skills, situational handling
ability and team building skills.

It is thus a great way to pick
the top candidates from the lot. The panel can analyse the candidature of 8-10
students in ten minutes (thereby, shortlisting them for PI, next round, etc.).

How to Prepare

Staying up to date with current
affairs and general knowledge is key to your performance in a GD because your
arguments would reflect how knowledgeable you are in common/general areas.

One must strike the perfect
balance between one’s content and one’s style of speaking. If your content is
strong but you are unable to present it with confidence, you may not make the
cut. Similarly, if your style is impressive but arguments are bland, you may
miss your chance.

· Reading: The best way to make yourself better
prepared for a GD is to gather more knowledge. You should cultivate the habit
of reading. While reading the different dailies, make sure that you don’t
restrict yourself to the front page stories. Delve deeper and thoroughly read
the editorials as well. Editorials play a very important role because they help
you comprehend the technical details of a certain story and also provide a
multi-dimensional understanding of the same. Often, the editorial stories
feature renowned journalists and dignitaries as guest writers, so you should
pick relevant points from them and jot them down. When faced with a similar
topic in the GD, you can quote some of these and support your arguments with
them. By following this routine, you will develop a subjective as well
as objective viewpoint about different stories.

· Writing: Regularly practising in the
written form is also very crucial. While reading different articles, make it a habit
to take down important points wherever possible. From the various sources that
you are using, pick up major arguments and write them in an organised manner. When
you revise a couple of days before the actual GD, this notebook will come in
handy as you will have all the primary points and events arranged neatly. If
you think the content you have collected is too vast, make sure to do necessary
eliminations and/or modifications.

The next step would be to
ensure that this content is not monotonous or repetitive. It should be
to-the-point and make a good impression. Keep on revising the various topics to
form a specific structure in your mind.

To make sure that your
presentation skills are good and captivating, try using a mirror for speaking
practice. Think of a topic, stand in front of a mirror and speak on the topic
for about 2 to 3 minutes. You can significantly improve your style of speaking by
using this technique regularly.

If you have anxiety or
nervousness regarding speaking in front of people, the most effective way is to
participate in mock GDs. You can ask your friends and family members to help
you. Make them acquainted with the premise and the core objective of the activity
so that they can counter-argue and you can be better prepared. This way, your listening
skills will also get polished. 

Usually, candidates have to make
way for their arguments by interrupting others and if you are nervous about
this aspect, you should make the utmost use of mock GDs. Practise countering
others’ points and seek feedback from your peers. Similarly, when your arguments
are being cut, observe carefully and devise ways to build up your arguments again.

The key to
giving an impressive GD is to not be nervous and have confidence in yourself.
If you keep these points in mind, you can make a better impression in this stage.

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