MBA colleges, particularly most Indian Institute of Managements (IIMs) are all set to commence the Written Ability tests (WAT) and personal interview(PI) rounds. WAT (WAT) evaluates one’s ability to think precariously, how efficaciously one can put forth one’s ideas, and develop an appropriate response within a short span of time. The topic selected for WAT is usually from current political, economic and business affairs.

GDPI expert Sidarth Balakrishna opines that the topics of a Written Ability Test are usually similar to that of a Group Discussion. But, while the topics of the two rounds are similar to one another, students usually prefer the former over latter. In a poll conducted by PaGaLGuY a few weeks ago, students stated that they prefer WAT over GD as a selection and elimination process for gaining admissions into India’s top B-Schools. In the survey conducted, not more than 159 CAT 2016 aspirants participated, out of which 112 candidates preferred WAT whereas just 47 students were in favour of GD.

Why WAT?

IIM-Ahmedabad, in 2008, discontinued its GD rounds and replaced it with short essays. IIM-Bangalore replaced GD with essay-writing in 2010. In the following year, IIMs like Rohtak, Raipur, Tiruchirapalli, Ranchi, Kashipur and Udaipur, also substituted it with a written test. IIM Shillong on the other hand, is conducting a GD round this year after keeping WAT the previous year.

Speaking about the trend of incorporating WAT as a decisive round in the admission procedure of most IIMs, former director of IIM Ranchi, Prof P Rameshan said, “IIMs never entirely dropped GD. Most IIMs conduct both WAT and GD. The Written test was essentially introduced beause ,as faculty members, we realised that students admitted into IIMs were not very good in written communication. Although, it’s a different thing that by the end of the two years, a student’s ability to write improves naturally, it was decided that WAT should be included.”

Prof. Himanshu Rai, faculty member at IIM Lucknow is also of the similar view. “Besides, with time, faculty members began to realise that it is much easier to evaluate a student through WAT than it is through GD. We realised that differentiating between candidates became difficult with GD, as most students ended up repeating the same points and turning the whole discussion into a fish market,” he said.

How is a student evaluated through WAT?

A student is judged on his / her clarity of ideas, presentation skills, good knowledge, systematic presentation of ideas and whether or no the ramifications of the issue are properly deduced, through WAT, say faculty members. “Basically, by the end of the day, the evaluator is looking for a balanced representation of ideas. If you are able to comprehend, and analyse the subject topic, form your own perspective and eventually put it across, you will be able to crack this round” said Prof Rai. He further added that while students must give emphasis to vocabulary, that is not the be all and end all of the WAT process.

Tips to keep in mind for WAT

1. Think of an apt introduction, body and conclusion before you start writing. Create a mind map.

2. Use simple yet effective words.

3. Be concise. Don’t be too verbose.

4. Be well aware of current affairs.

5. Read a lot, and that too, good and relevant matter as your writing ability depends on what and how much you read.

6. There is no such thing as, ‘I wasn’t aware of this topic.’ Management is the art of knowing many things, so be aware of what’s happening.

7. Practice writing everyday. Take up a topic and write daily.

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