GD-PI-WAT Preparation: Tips from Toppers and Experts

 Career 360 - Jan 19, 2016

B-School admission or selection process is basically a two step process after the entrance test, a Group Discussion or Written Ability Test and Personal Interview. The IIMs and other B-schools admit not just candidates with a high percentile, but those who are great presenter, have sharp communication techniques, and smarter among other candidates. After the announcement of the entrance test results, like CAT, XAT, it’s time to focus on the preparations for the next big steps for admission into top IIMs and B-schools.

A candidate is judged and analyzed on the basis of his performance at GD-PI and WAT rounds. It is at this stage that makes or breaks your admission chance into a particular B-School. With a tough competition for the Management seats across B-schools, it is best to prepare yourself with Tips and Guidance from the toppers of top IIM and B-school’s and experts of various coaching institutes. Careers360 shares Topper strategies, challenges, and insights, which are to be tackled with efficiency to earn a management seat in your dream B-school. Experts of various coaching institutes share their tips and guidance on How to crack the GD-PI-WAT for a successful admission.

Group Discussion- GD

Group Discussion, commonly known as GD is a method of assessing students personality in terms of both, technique and art. It is a discussion in a group of persons who express their views in a free manner upon a topic. The GD, by various B-schools for admission to management programmes, access students on the basis of confidence, communication, and managerial skills.CAT 2013 Topper Sombit Roy secured a high percentile of 98.6 and cracked GD-PI to secure admission in Department of Management Studies, IIT Delhi. Currently pursuing his Masters in Business Administration, Sombit, with Careers360 shares his key mantra to crack the GD section of the admission process.

Careers360: How was your overall GD experience?

Sombit Roy: It’s difficult to tackle GD as it is obvious that it would turn out to be a fish market at no time. But it's important to be a part of it, without getting involved in the chaos and making your point. In my GD, I could just make my point once, but my thoughts and communication was precise and clear.

Careers360: What was your approach towards the topic?

Sombit Roy: I first wrote down my points and when the GD began I started to make note of relevant and useful points what others were. I tried to get into the GD but it was difficult as it was a complete fish market. But I waited and finally made my point when I got a chance to speak just after the chaos was over and there was a bit of gap. I took the opportunity to make my point at that moment.

Careers360: How did you prepare for your GD? When and how an aspirant should seriously start preparing for GD?

Sombit Roy: I started to prepare for GD as soon as the results were declared. I did enroll myself in a coaching institute and attended all the GD sessions. I always took notes of what others were speaking. It does help a lot. After every GD session the individual feedback which I got from the faculty I took them very seriously and tried to follow them from the next GD onwards. I think being part of mock GDs is a must as it helps a lot. You learn a lot not only about the topic but also about how to conduct yourself in the GD which includes your body posture and the way you speak. Knowledge is the key in GD and hence one need to read anything and everything around starting from magazines, newspaper, blogs etc. Being aware of the current affairs is a must. It is also very important to have the ability to listen to others and not to interrupt. Try not to be a part of the fish market and do make your point. It is very important to have a strategy as to when you should make the point so that you are heard.

Expert Tip:

Vinayak Kudva, Head, PG India & Mumbai Region, IMS says, “Immediately after the CAT exam gets over, MBA aspirants should start preparing for the second stage of selection: the GD stage. It is very important not to waste time and energy on thinking about your performance in the CAT and how you might have approached particular problems differently. That is a thing of the past and you cannot change it.” Stating the objective of GD, Kudva mentions, “The objective of a group discussion is to appraise a candidate’s ability to critically analyze a given piece of information and collectively work in a group to arrive at a solution or develop a perspective. B-schools conduct GDs to find out whether candidates possess the qualities that are critical to become an effective manager. The rationale behind this exercise is that when a group of students is given a task to accomplish within an unstructured situation, they will try to accomplish it by establishing some order or structure. In this process, they will reveal some of their personality characteristics.

Personal Interview- PI

A Personal Interview-PI is a conversation in which someone is asked about their background, lifestyle, experience. The personal interview with a candidate let the panel evaluate whether or not s/he have the capability and skills required to successfully pursue and develop a career in management. CAT 2013 Topper Jobin Jacob secured 98.6 percentile and cracked GD-PI-WAT to secure admission in MDI Gurgaon. An electrical engineer from the University of Mumbai, Jobin is currently pursuing his Post Graduate Programme in Human Resource Management (PGP-HRM). Jobin in his interview with Careers360 shares the challenges he faced during the PI, and the approach he followed to successfully crack this level of the admission procedure.

Careers360: How many members were there in your interview board, and how was your interview structured?

Jobin: There were two members in my interview panel. My interview began with an exchange of pleasantries during which the panel members glanced through my profile sheet. I was told that I was the first candidate that day for the PGP-HRM programme as a first preference and was asked about my reasons for doing so. The interview then revolved around HR topics, current affairs, and my work experience. Lastly, they asked me why I wanted to leave my job and the order of preference of Institutes from where I had PI calls. The interview lasted around 20 minutes

Careers360: How did you prepare for your PI?

Jobin: My preparation for the interview rounds comprised of preparation of responses for standard questions and a detailed round-up of news and current affairs. Apart from this, I read up on a few subjects covered in the course and related them with real-time instances from my work. I enrolled for a few mock sessions as well, wherein I got a chance to interact with fellow candidates and test my responses. This is very important as mock PI’s enable the candidate to identify flaws or possible pitfalls in his/her responses and modify them in time before the actual PI.

Careers360: What is your advice to aspirants for Personal Interview?

Jobin: Personal Interviews are a highly subjective assessment and so there is no concrete way to ace them. Invest time in identifying strengths, weaknesses, achievements from your education and career thus far, know your CV/profile form well and anticipate in-depth questions on those topics. Adequate preparation can save you the blushes on most questions, but a presence of mind, good body language and confidence go a long way in setting you apart.

Expert Tip:

“The most important thing is to be confident when you answer questions during your PI. Prepare well for current affairs. Even if the first few PIs you appear for do not go as well as planned, do not get disheartened, and do not let that affect your performance anywhere else. It is important to be thorough, confident and honest for a positive selection.”, suggests Sandeep Manudhane, Chairman, PT Education.

Written Ability Test- WAT

A Written Ability Test-WAT is conducted by the B-schools to test the candidates ability to think critically, communicate the ideas, formulate a constructive critique and write the responses in a given time on paper. It is important for every Management aspirant to know how to structure the essay with three basic components - introduction, body, and conclusion, before starting to write. Sneha Mittal secured 97.91 in CAT 2013 and is currently pursuing her PGP from IIM Udaipur. She cracked GD-PI-WAT rounds of IIM Udaipur and secured a management seat. In an interview with Careers360, Sneha share’s her strategy to crack WAT and how to structure the essay whilst maintaining the time constraint.

Careers360: What was your topic for WAT and the approach you followed during your WAT?

Sneha Mittal: My topic for WAT was on “Whistleblowing: Good or Bad for the society?”. The time limit for the topic was 20 minutes and the word limit was around 500-600 words. The more you practice writing, the more command you have over your thoughts and language. This was the simple approach I followed. My teachers had advised me to practice my writing skills at the time I started preparing for CAT. I used to blog frequently, and this helped me improve on my writing skills. The approach is to maintain calm, jot down points first and then elaborate.

Careers360: How did you prepare for WAT, your Time Management strategy?

Sneha Mittal: I took regular sessions and lectures, where we were given tips on writing. We were made to write on the variety of topics. The topics varied from abstract to current affairs. This helped us prepare well and gave us good practice. On an average, I wrote over 4-5 articles each week from the time of CAT results to my WAT process. For practice sessions, I used to write a small article on a general topic. While reading several online forums, I came across interesting topics for WAT. I selected a few of those topics, read about them online and practiced writing an article on the same. This helped me get a better grasp on writing and helped me get a better grasp on my thoughts. While writing WAT, managing time is very important. One needs to write regularly to get a good hold on the thought process and put down the thoughts into words into the given time schedule.

Careers360: How did you structure your essay writing along with the time constraint?

Sneha Mittal: While writing my WAT, I diverted 2-3 minutes of the given time to make a note of my points on the topic. I then organized the flow for the article by numbering my points. While writing the article, I sequentially explained my points. I had 2 minutes remaining in the end, which I devoted towards proof-reading my article. (Remember, proof-reading is very important. Practice writing your article in the stipulated time, and make sure you devote min 2 minutes to proof-read your article in the end).

Careers360: Is there any advice for the aspirants who’d be appearing in the WAT?

Sneha Mittal: Please practice writing daily. Devote enough time every day to read newspapers so that you stay updated on current affairs. This will help you in both WAT and PI. While you practice writing, keep the following points in mind:

  • Time Yourself
  • Practice writing on different types of topics (and not only the kind you liked)
  • Try to present a balanced view on the topic
  • Structure your thoughts first, and don’t start writing the moment you get the sheet
  • Keep the language simple and don’t overuse jargons you don’t understand
  • Be Concise
  • Make sure you get your tenses right in the whole article
  • Write regularly!!

Expert Tip:

Arks Srinivas, CEO- Vista Mind, Director- Vanguard Business School, explains the Evaluation parameters on which WAT is analyzed. He explains, “the parameters of evaluation for WAT are,

  • Quality of content Facts
  • Interpretation or Analysis
  • Conclusion/Opinion/Solution
  • Quality of Logical arguments
  • Support your Conclusion
  • Coherence
  • Clarity of Language
  • Basic Spelling and Grammar

While the mentioned parameters are exhaustive, each B-Schools decides which of these parameters they should give more weight-age to. A candidate must have the right Attitude towards work and studies, which gives him that extra edge which led you to have a successful admission into your dream B-school or IIM”.Gautam Puri, Vice Chairman, Career Launcher says, “WAT tests the candidates' knowledge on the given topic along with the writing style. To build on these two, the student must read newspapers and magazines, and cover a wide variety of topics ranging across the domestic and the international circuit.”

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