Again, this article is coming a bit late. But, I hope it will serve its purpose of getting you all through my WAT experience, and insights on how to tackle the writing session. After all, a month and a half of action is still left for you all!
So, the Writing Ability Test, as you are all familiar with, is the part of the second stage for some of the IIMs. Some institutions combine it with the PI, and some may use it, with further GD-PI rounds. I have heard from a lot of aspirants that WAT holds relatively a lesser weight and hence is not so important (in terms of evaluation as well). For me, this ideology is equivalent to rubbish (apologies!). Have you heard about cinnamon? A category of spices, which when added to the food, uplifts the aroma and taste of your delicacies. WAT is that cinnamon. It indeed carries a lesser weight. But, rendering it that precise touch, and presenting in a subtly correct way will award your whole process a distinction and give you an advantage.
Coming back to my WAT experience. I had to go through the session in two processes. The first being of IIM Kozhikode, and the second of IIM Lucknow. Kozhikode’s WAT topic was focused on social media taking over the print media. Whereas, Lucknow’s topic was more on the abstract terms, titled, ‘With greater risk comes chances of greater success or failure’, (something like that). Both sessions were somewhere around ten minutes. My take on the Kozhikode’s topic was straightforward, as to how pivotal the role of print media still is. The GD that came, later on, was on the same topic. So, here you make sure that you do not digress from what you have written in the essay. The panellists actually READ IT! For Lucknow, I inclined the article mostly towards the subprime crises of 2008 (I had watched the movie ‘The Big Short’ the same week, so more ideas), and on my future MBA goals.
Now, the learning from those two sessions was that the STRUCTURE of the essay essentially matters a lot. I had been into writing (essays, technical write-ups, articles, etc.) in my undergrad. Plus, the topics that I faced were easier. So, for me, ten minutes was enough to wrap a 300-word essay. But, the road is not straight every single time. And one has to be informed entirely if the topic is based on current affairs. Or to make it worse, some abstract topics can be ‘Black is the new White’, or ‘Roses are red, crows are black!’. WAT is basically a GD where you convey through your writing rather than discussing with other candidates. So, give it a different perspective and present your thoughts in a crystal-clear way. For the candidates who have not been into writing much, please pick up the habit of penning down at least two essays every day. Find a buddy and scrutinize your strengths and weaknesses.
I will enlist a few steps that you can follow to work on the WAT process. But remember, these steps are just guidelines, and you come up with more if your preferences serve you better –
- Read, read and read – Make the newspaper your friend to stay updated on the latest news that keeps coming along. Online journals, magazines and blogs will also help. Being updated on the current affairs will significantly help you in all the three processes. For notably WAT, you can also look at the structure of the articles, and how briefly they are written.
- 1-2-1 structure – This technique works in most of the articles, where the first paragraph is an introduction, the second and third correspond to the main body and the rest to a proper conclusion. It’s like cooking. Ignite, sauté, and garnish. Just make sure you do not overdo with heavy words and insignificant and irrelevant information.
- Examples and experiences – One thing that I always made sure was to include real-life examples. Additionally, the more these examples resonated with your life, the better effect they had. Try inclining your essay towards your life goals and ideas if you can, and wherever you can. They choose you for who you are and then comes the level to which you are informed. So, strip down your life near your eyes and collect experiences that you can share.
- Vocabulary – A good vocabulary is always helpful. It is like an arsenal. The more, the better! Try using words that will make your essay smoother to read, and not difficult. You are not there to brag, but share. For topics where you have lesser ideas, increase your font size, use connectors and do not mess up. If you are totally unaware of the topic, pray!
- PESTEL – I was not aware of this analysis when I had to write my WAT. Plus, it will mostly come in handy for the current affair topics. PESTEL stands for Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Environmental, and Legal analysis. So, you have ten minutes and if you can incorporate even a single point from each category, you will be doing a great job.
So, countering the thought that WAT is not essential, I will suggest that candidates should take it seriously. It will not require too much effort to prepare for it. But it will come back to bite you if you mess it up. Do you remember the feeling when the question in an exam comes up from the only topic you had not prepared for? I firmly disagree that you will want to have that feeling, yet again. You have come a long way from the days of CAT exam preparations to the final stages of selection. Do not let yourself down, aspirants! Good luck!