WAT Preparation and WAT Topics

WAT Preparation is the immediate thing to be done after CAT. WAT (Written Ability Test) is the first shortlisting round for MBA conducted by twenty running IIMw of the country and other top tier colleges. It is a 15-20-minute-long written examination which evaluates your essay writing skills. Students need to focus on their WAT preparation to learn the correct way of tackling WAT questions. The question can be sometimes divided into various levels I.e Question 1(a), 1(b), 1(c) etc which can be based on critical reasoning or situation analysis. The weightage offered to your performance in WAT clubbed with other red hats like the GD-PI is approximately 10-20% by the IIMs. In the past year, WAT round replaced the group discussion round because of the new coronavirus pandemic and the immense need of social distancing. However, this practice didn’t alter the strictness of the WAT round. If you cleared CAT with the requisite percentile, you should not swim in a sea of overconfidence. Chances of your selection are still based on your performance in the institute’s shortlisting rounds. Hence, it is crucial that you outperform your written ability round to clear your roadblock for IIM. In order to frame a groundbreaking WAT preparation plan, you need to first gain familiarity with the format of WAT round.

WAT Preparation: Format of the Written Ability Test Round

WAT preparation typically, will be an easy task if the candidate focuses on their written English. This includes,

  1. Proper Introduction: Your introduction needs to be engaging and suspense creating. The initial 1-2 sentences in the beginning are termed as the “opening doors” to your answer. These lines function as a hook to build engagement with the reader and catch their attention. This practice can single handedly help you score well. A perfect introduction is the one which makes the candidate understand the moot point of the entire essay and puts forth some sort of interrogation that intrigues them to read further.
  2. Proper sentence building: After the introduction, we have to be careful not to decrease the excitement level of the reader. Hence, we need to ensure our arguments follow the rule of “proper sentence building”. A correct sentence follows subject-verb agreement, with timely modifiers. As a writer, ensure that your sentence comprises a subject and a predicate. They are the fundamental building blocks which can shoot up your performance. A correct sentence gives out the impression of being a professional in English and having impeccable written skills. Try to include independent clauses in your sentence. From here you can continue adding words, phrases and auxiliaries you require to give substance to your sentence. Achieving a properly built is a matter of constant writing and reading practice. To attest a strong grasp on sentence building, learn pattern recognition. Your mind is a database of “right” form of English sentences that you think in. What you can do is vocalize the sentences in your head and then pen it down in the answer sheet in the “place-manner-time" format.
  3. Content first, grammar second: Grammar should be second in your priority list for wat preparation. Sadly, the internet has made incorrect grammar a normal phenomenon. Some people take decades to learn grammar, yet they lack it somehow. Beware of using slangs, incomplete phrases, long proverbs etc in your answer to avoid deduction of marks. Double check a sentence after writing it. Correct grammar is a weapon that can help you better your essay and surpass elite English speakers and writers. Keep your tenses in place, do not overdo the auxiliary/helping verbs, use active voice more than passive voice and most importantly, practice grammatical topics through writing. A good book like High School English Grammar and Composition by Wren and Martin and the blue book of grammar and punctuation by Jane Straus can help you achieve the implication of conquered difficulties in English grammar.
  4. Ensure Readability in your answer: Get a feel of the question before framing your answer. Use certain typography tricks to increase readability in your answer. Take care of the length of lines you write while putting the answer together. Short sentences increase the relevance and readability of the entire paragraph. The sentences you write would be your version of the argument’s analysis. So, make sure that each and every sentence is hierarchical linked to the proposed argument as closely as possible. Ensure you explain your analysis in a simple and an approachable manner. Also, don’t beat about the bush much. Get straight to the point and give your readers as much context as possible. To practice readability, you can pen down a synopsis of a simple English novel in your own words in colloquial language.
  5. Organizing ideology with respect to the content of the question: Create separate paragraphs which consist of individual ideologies and align them all to support your main argument. You need to transcend your ideology from your mind to the paper by using pointing words like “this” or “that” or phrases like “in context of”, “the reason why”, “in the light of”, “hammering my last nail” etc. These phrases are also connectors which help you alert the reader of the upcoming situation which is based on your ideology.
  6. Cite Evidence to support your ideology: Evidence or facts are the key components of your essay. You need a strong reason to support your opinion which persuades the evaluator to understand your perception and decision making. As your arguments progress throughout the paper, it is inevitable that the information/opinion you have provided will be deemed irrelevant/cloudy by the evaluator. After you are done mentioning the evidence or fact to support your opinion, it is advisable to proof read all what you have written to identify loopholes or misleading information. Always remember to link your evidence to your argument and explain how it supports the argument. Do not make up your own facts or evidence for the sake of adding depth to your argument.
  7. A Brief conclusion: The ending paragraph should streamline the crux of the entire argument and information in general. It should be decisive in nature and provide closure to the entire argument. One should keep in mind that you need to keep your personal opinions, suggestions and observations at bay and go strictly with what the evidence provided by you supports. For a WAT question, you shouldn’t dispose of the answer without any conclusion. The key is to write a clear introductory paragraph, followed by 2-3 body paragraphs and ending the answer with reiterating your proposed argument you stated in the very beginning.

Important points regarding WAT Preparation

The WAT test is pretty simple - to write an essay within the prescribed word limit, expressing one's opinion and knowledge on the topic given. However, the essay writing assessment, as simple as it may sound, is actually tough to crack considering the ratio of candidates and seats. One has to ensure that the writing is grammatically correct, rich in vocabulary, driven by facts and figures, and portrays oneself as an eligible manager of the future. Some of the most common tips to write a strong essay are mentioned below :

  • Consider yourself in the shoes of a manager at a top influential position, and think of your views being presented to the general public. Assess the impact of your statements you write, and thus be diplomatically correct. Unless you have a solid reason to state, try to present views that are 'Pro-Poor', 'Pro-Reservation' and 'Pro-Liberalization'.
  • Always try to back your subjective claims with some data. For instance, instead of stating'India is headed towards becoming a superpower of the future', write it as 'India, now the fifth largest economy of the world at a GDP of approximately 3 Trillion USD, is headed towards becoming a superpower of the future. Do not present biased opinions, especially in the context of a certain specific political party or religion.
  • Structure your essay in one of the following formats:
    • Opinion > Reason > Significance In an opinion type essay, where a view is presented in the question and your perspective is asked around that opinion, state your stand for the opinion at the very start. Give relevant reasons for your stand, followed by the impact at a macro level using the PESTEL framework (Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Environmental, and Legal impact).
    • Problem > Effect > Causes > Solution In a problem type essay, where a general problem is given for you to provide a solution to the problem, state the problem at the start and then glorify that problem in the mind of the readers. State the effects and causes of that problem and then finally present your solution that can be feasible to eradicate the problem. If possible, present multiple feasible solutions and choose the optimal solution out of the available options.
  • Use punctuations marks wherever needed. Be grammatically correct and try to avoid using abbreviations.
  • Make a solid start and a conclusive end. Do not leave your essay as open ended.

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WAT Preparation: How to frame a WAT answer

Every candidate needs to follow a common regime while framing their WAT answer. While your answer cannot exceed more than 300-400 words, it also should not be missing out on any fragment of a generic essay. The key is to pen down important points which would be the most important and provide high level insights to the reader. The time stretch for WAT is upto half an hour, as attested by the greatest number of b-schools. Amongst all the popular approaches to combat this round, the below mentioned chart depicts the lucid way of frame a WAT answer: 


Different Sorts of WAT Topics

There are three major types of WAT topics asked during the IIM shortlisting. Given below is the tabulated information explaining different types of WAT topics for your knowledge and understanding:

Types of WAT Topics

General Affairs  Persuasive Philosophical
These topics evaluate the general knowledge of a candidate. They are one of the most popular type of questions that are asked during IIM interviews. These topics mainly test the ability of a candidate to form an opinion or viewpoint. You may or may not know about the topic, but will be required to present your opinion in an elaborate manner. These topics basically check the creativity and decision-making skills of candidates. They are mostly based on quotes or sayings of famous people. These types of topics need to be supported with some sort of background story or information.

E.g., 1. Old Age Homes: Is it good for the new generation?

2. Is CAA NRC controversial?

E.g., 1. History school curriculum is irrelevant for present times.

2. Advantages of monarchy in an Indian Society

A thing of beauty is a joy forever: Agree or Disagree?

There is no wrong time to do the right thing.

There is another category of WAT topic that is pretty unique, yet cannot be defenestrated. These topics are known as abstract topics, which include lateral thinking and creative visualization. To know how to structure all the above topic categories along with abstract topic category, click here

Other Common WAT Topics

Other common WAT topics include:

  • Caste-based reservation is an impediment to a casteless society.
  • US China Trade Talks: A political drama or renegotiation of rules of the game?
  • Strong leaders emerge when institutions are weak.
  • Economic growth is more important than Ecological Protection.
  • IPR for life saving drugs should be granted or not?
  • Is smart cities initiative in India a failure?
  • Demographic dividend in India: Myth or Reality?
  • Challenges to higher education in India.
  • How National Education Policy is going to give a complete overhaul to the Indian education system?
  • Will the reduced GST (Goods and Services Tax) aid in faster growth of Indian Economy?
  • Should we be concerned about Global warming?
  • Is banning of Pakistani actors justified?
  • RTE (Right to education) - A boon or a curse?
  • Is linking Aadhaar with bank accounts a good idea?
  • Why should digital marketers care about net neutrality?
  • Is the stock market similar to online gambling?
  • Cashless Economy- Is India ready for it?
  • Indian economic slowdown reasons
  • How has technology changed the world of jobs?
  • Reliance Jio is a sustainable business model in the country like India- agree or disagree?
  • Ethics and Business- Is it an ideal combination?
  • Impact of coronavirus on the tourism industry.
  • How urgent is the requirement of bullet train services in India?
  • Is indefinite stay orders rotting the essence of Indian Judiciary?
  • Does the Federal Reserve need to stop printing money because it's creating an unsustainable bubble?
  • What can be done to reduce income inequality?
  • Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the retail sector good for India- agree or disagree?

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