Now that the CAT scorecard is out, the time to start preparing for WAT-GD-PI has come. But how does one go about it? It all seems like a vast sea with no beginning and no end. A single post covering all the three — WAT, GD & PI — will be unwieldy to say the least, so I will do a series of posts that will help you kick-start your prep for the second-stage.
What is the common thread tying WAT, GD & PI?
On the face of it it might seem like WAT, GD & PI are different beasts altogether and besting each one of them requires different skill-sets. Well at some level they can be equated to the different formats in cricket — Test Cricket, ODIs & T20s (not in any order) — while the format is different and there are specialists in each format, the core skill tested are cricketing skills.
Over the years the core skill tested in each of GD, WAT and PI is your awareness of Current Affairs.
That GDs and WATs test GK and Current Affairs is something that need not be stated. But even in PIs interviewers want to test how aware you are of the world around you. For example, they might ask you to
- name all the districts in your home state as you travel from North to South
- the names of CEOs of leading companies in your sector
- your view on recent political events in you state or sector
- your view on events of national importance or policy
Your knowledge of people and important trivia about what you call your hobbies (it is trivia because it is just a statistic but it is important because you have mentioned something as your hobby)
So what you need to first understand is that at some level the second stage is closer to preparing for the Civil Services, albeit a very watered down version.
In this post, we will deal with how to go about preparing for the WAT.
What kind of topics crop up in GDs & WATs?
The topics for GDs and WATs broadly fall into four categories:
Policy-based WAT-GD topics
These are the kind of GD-WAT topics you do not want to encounter in the second-stage since their focus is on important policies, supreme court verdicts or legislation that has been in the news in the year past. For example, what were the big policy-based debates in the last year?
- The Sabarimala Verdict
- Uniform Civil Code
- Privacy and Aadhar
All the three topics above revolve around policies/legislation/agreements that have been passed/inked or are in the process of the same.
The challenge as it will be obvious is that they don’t lend themselves to easy opinion-making. A lot of the discussion or the essay has to revolve around the facts and only from there can a position be argued.
For example, with regards to the climate change bill you need to know what was the bone of contention India had.
Some institutes such as IIFT, tend to favour policy-based or economy-based topics over general issue-based topics.
Thankfully every year there are only one or two heavy-weight policies such as these. So this year, the key policy-related topics will be the one listed above.
Issue-based or Topical WAT-GD Topics
Every year there are a few issues/events that capture both public and media imagination, generate a lot of debate and hence become topics worthy to be discussed in a WAT or a GD. The IIMs and other premier b-schools would like to see how prospective students view this issue, what sort of a perspective they have and how well they are able to put forth their arguments.
What have been the big issues over the past year? To name a few
- #MeToo Movement in India
- Intolerance in India — Rising or Magnified?
- RBI versus GoI — who holds the reins to manage the economy?
- Kerala Floods — India’s natural disasters made by man or wrought by nature?
It is important to note that the topics might not always be presented in such a straight-forward manner.
While these are specific issue-based topics. There are other topics that are based on wider debates of a more topical nature. For example,
- Can India overtake China in terms of GDP?
- Economy versus Ecology
- Should capital punishment be abolished?
- Entrepreneurship and India
Lateral-Abstract WAT-GD Topics
And then there are topics that do not test your knowledge of current affairs or policies. For example,
- It is better to trust a woman’s instinct than a man’s reason.
- If there was one invention/discovery from the past(recent or distant) that you would have liked to have made which one would it be and why?
- A true traveller is never bothered about the destination and is not intent on arriving.
How and where does one start preparation for WAT-GD-PI?
Well, if there was a pill or an injection or a book that would deliver all the information you would need neatly packaged, I would give that to you.
But from this point on, the point after you have cleared the written test, your success in life will not rely on your ability to reproduce things from books or the ability to solve problems that have nothing to do with the real world.
The road to success is not paved with MCQs and past papers, it will be more hard to win.
So I would want you to start your WAT-GD-PI Prep by putting in the effort to gather information/opinion/analyses from various sources.
And if there is one place to really get in-depth information around the Indian economy, industry reports, policies, future roadmaps, it is this
You might have to create an account to download PDFs but do it.
Please understand that you will be facing similar GDs three months into your study at a b-school when faced with Summer Placements.
You need to stop being a student or a techie and start thinking like someone who wants to enter the world of business management and build a great career. And that will not happen if you are not curious enough to read all the McKinsey articles.
If you start reading from these sources straightaway then by the time you get our GD-PI Handbook with previous year’s topics and questions arranged college-wise you will be in a position to tackle them.
So start your WAT-GD-PI preparation by
- Reading the newspaper every day, including the Business, World News & Editorials sections
- Researching the policy-based topics listed above
- Reading articles from the sources mentioned
Will follow this up with a post on how to approach your PI Prep.