The second stage of the admission criteria- Written Ability Test or WAT is not just a 100-150 words write up, rather it is a test that measures your critical thinking ability and how well you can communicate your ideas on paper. No need to panic if you are appearing for WAT soon, Careers360 presents tips from experts and the strategy to approach WAT at the B-School admission process.
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WAT or Essay Writing is a comparatively new phenomenon for the MBA admission process. Over a past couple of years, it has been observed that most of the B-schools have scrapped group discussion (GD) from their admissions process and emphasized on WAT. The six new IIMs namely IIM Rohtak, IIM Raipur, IIM Ranchi, IIM Trichy, IIM Udaipur and IIM Kashipur introduced WAT in the Common Admission Process which was introduced in 2011. The recent IIMs like IIM Amritsar, IIM Bodh Gaya and IIM Sambalpur are also part of the CAP.
Ramnath Kanakadandi, CAT course Director for T.I.M.E. explains a few possible reasons why WAT is being preferred over GD. “First objective of WAT may be to give every participant a fair chance to voice out their opinions, which is not always possible in GDs with participants cutting out/interrupting others, and second, to see how one builds up an argument”, he says.
As WAT measures your analytical and structural skills it also evaluates your thought process introspecting the reasons behind the given critique and argument in a write-up. It is a must that before writing you first understand the topic, collect information, analyse the issue and communicate the same in the best possible structured way.
Detailing the role of WAT in the admission process at various B-schools, Mr. Ravi Shankar, Programs Officer, IFMR Chennai says, “Writing Ability Test (WAT) helps us check the ability of the applicant to articulate basic ideas in writing. If a candidate does not have the required level of this ability, he/she will find it very difficult participate in case presentations, quizzes and exams. That is why we have been using WAT for the last three years”.
What to focus on
Arks Srinivas, CEO- Vista Mind, Director- Vanguard Business School, explains the Evaluation parameters on which WAT is analyzed. He points out the following parameters that WAT is evaluated on:
Quality of content Facts
Interpretation or Analysis
Quality of Logical arguments
Support your Conclusion
Clarity of Language
Basic Spelling and Grammar
While the mentioned parameters are exhaustive, each B-School decides which of these parameters they should give more weight-age to.
Careers360 here brings you Tips and Guidance from the toppers from IIM and B-Schools; and experts of various coaching institutes.
Udit Dhiman from SPJIMR explains the basic of preparing for WAT. “The idea is not to make the topic colloquial and to not drag the same points and bring out some insights. It is important to note that evaluations essentially look for some nuanced points and thus the 10-20 per cent thinking time is required,” he says. Use of examples, from personal experiences or otherwise, relevant to the topic that can substantiate the WAT point, are a simple way of preparing yourselves for the WAT, he adds.
Strategy for approaching WAT
While you may be very much well prepared and well read, but your performance on the D-Day will depend on the factors like topic of the WAT and duration assigned. Here are a few tips and tricks to crack WAT.
1. Understand Analyse and Approach: After you are assigned with a topic, you need to first understand what the topic is about and analyse different angles around the topic. This helps you build your thought process and bring quality to your WAT write-up. Once you are done with this, approach the topic in a very structured way. Jay Mehta from JBIMS says, “I was very structured and focused in my approach towards WAT. I put in a lot of facts and figures and included my opinions on the different topics as well”.
Akshat Modi from IIM Rohtak also explains how his clear understanding of the topic helped him analyse the same during his WAT paper. His WAT topic was: ‘Since there have been talks on formation of Telangana, analyse on the socio-economic impact on the newly formed states in India.’
“I broadly classified the three newly formed states of Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, and Uttarakhand on their relative sizes and respective parent states. Since I hailed from Ranchi, Jharkhand, I focused only on Jharkhand and its transformation vis-à-vis socio-economic condition before and after its inception as a separate state. I then explained the social and economic changes that I had witnessed in the area since last 15 years and how it has changed the lifestyle and behavior of people, and what is the hope it has given,” he says, adding, “I supported my arguments with specific examples and finally concluded my viewpoint.”
2. Take your stand: Based on your understanding and analysis of the WAT topic, you should develop an opinion on whether you are for the topic or against it. In either condition, you need to substantiate your opinion with logical arguments and facts. Experts say your arguments in the WAT reflect clarity of your thoughts. Toppers also advise that your write-up should carry facts to support your claims. Shray Khurana from SP Jain explains the importance of strategically dividing the topic and then to follow an approach. “I broke down the topic in four questions I’d ask from the author, and then I tried to answer them with an equal importance. It helped with planning time as well as I allocated an equal share to each question”, he says.
3. Follow a structure: Experts say that a candidate must structure the WAT content before writing it on the piece of paper. They suggest that drawing a structure based on your understanding of the topic is important as it reflects how you process information into your communication. “Students need to learn how to analyze the topic, identify or build relevant arguments and finalize their position on the issue,” says Vinayak Kudva, Chief Mentor, IMS Learning. He also adds, “The next step should be deciding on the sequence in which it should be presented on paper. The candidates need to decide what will be the introduction, body, and conclusion and finally, write the essay neatly and coherently.”
Jyotsna Chadda from IIM Rohtak explains her strategy which made her crack WAT and secures admission in one of the IIMs. “My idea was to display my knowledge about the topic in an effective manner and support it with relevant examples. I presented some radical views too, but backed them with strong arguments. I tried to assure that the essay displays a logical thought process and is well organised and coherent. I would rate my essay as 7.5 out of a scale of 10, as I exceeded the word limit”, she explains.
4. Watch your time: You should do a balancing act while dividing your time between building your thoughts and putting the same on the paper during your WAT. Given that the allotted time for WAT may vary at different B-Schools, you should also be ready with a strategy to complete both the component within given timeframe. According to the toppers they divide 10-15 minutes on understanding and analysing the topic and spend remaining time on writing the same.
Jayesh Ruchandani from IIM Kashipur says, “Allotted time for WAT was 25 minutes. I spent around 13 minutes towards thinking and structuring the points and utilised remaining time in writing the essay. I was able to complete my writing on the topic in around 20 minutes. I spent the remaining time in proofreading and corrections.”
Nitish Bagai from MDI Gurgaon explains his WAT Time management strategy, “As the topic for WAT was to summarise the GD, no preparation in terms of content was needed beforehand. I was prepared with my strategy to keep jotting down all good points during the GD itself, and then compile them during WAT”.
5. Keep it Short and Simple: Your write-up should be short and easy to understand. You should also avoid using difficult words when it can be replaced with a short and easy word.
Sandeep Manudhane says, “As in life, so in WAT, follow the K-I-S-S-S principle. KEEP IT SHORT SWEET STUPID. Don't use 11 words if 10 would do. You should not twist the sentence if straight would do. Be active not passive. Be direct and not indirect. You should not use 'procrastinate' if 'postpone' would do. Put examples, facts, and figures. Start well. End better. Be crisp.”
Experts believe that regular practice and evaluation is the key to crack WAT. Gautam Puri, Managing Director, Career Launcher, says, "Regular practice may get candidates into the habit of building opinions rather than merely collecting facts.”
“Practice is very important. The students must focus on their language skills- good grammar, appropriate vocabulary, and correct punctuation etc. during their practice sessions. Also, the students must practice putting pen to paper and work on their handwriting. It is important that one writes, at least, one or two essays on a daily basis and seek expert opinion on them,” he adds. He also suggests, “WAT tests the candidate’s 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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