How to Prepare for WAT?

WAT/GDPI Preparation from 2IIM

What is WAT?

Written Assessment/Ability Test (WAT) is the first phase of the post-CAT selection process. As the name suggests, it is a round where the candidate will be required to write an essay on a given topic within the word limit prescribed.

The broad range of topics for Written Ability Test (WAT):
The topics given to a candidate would fall in one of the following broad categories:
1. A brief case study
2. A situation with a decision-making scenario
3. An abstract/concrete one-line

The candidate should ideally be ready to write an essay, given any of the three themes mentioned above.

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Written Ability Test (WAT) – Myth vs reality:
There are several misconceptions about what and what not the Written Ability Test is, and what the test requires and entails.

1. This is not a test of your English language skills
WAT is not a test that tests your mastery in the English language. There is absolutely no need to use fancy words or be verbose. If you are someone whose language skills are not great, you are absolutely at NO disadvantage at all.

2. WAT is about structure and articulation
By now, this must be obvious. If WAT is not a test of language proficiency, it must have something else as the criteria. And that criteria is how well you can structure your ideas and articulate them coherently.

Steps to practice well for Written Ability Test (WAT)

Just like the preparation regime for CAT, the Written Ability Test (WAT) requires practice and a fair amount of knowledge as well. There are some very basic fundamental steps to ace the WAT round.

1. Go through a list of topics
This is the foremost necessity before even starting to write WAT essays. It is mandatory that you go through a range of topics, like the one that has been carefully curated, here.

2. Practice by writing
While reading through a range of topics and getting to know about them is very important, WAT practice is incomplete if you do not practice writing enough and more essays.

Do not be too short; do not run out of words as well
The word limit for your actual WAT could be 200, 400 or 600 words. So, practice not just to write essays on diverse topics, but also on adapting the same essay to different word limits.

Go the conventional way
Practice with pen and paper. Do not use your computer to practice writing WAT essays. With typing, you get the advantage of using backspace; you will be able to erase mistyped words/thoughts. This is not possible in your actual WAT. With pen and paper, there is no backspace. You will not be able to erase the penned words. Hence, it is crucial to practice with pen and paper to know where you stand, what kinds of mistakes you make while writing, and more.

A basic structure for Written Ability Test (WAT)

There are obviously a lot of methods to structure your essay. But a structure that is the most robust and works most effectively consists of the following parts.
1. Introduction
2. Body
3. Conclusion

This is plain and simple. You must write a sentence or two restating the topic and organizing how your essay would flow. Essentially, this should set the tone for the rest of your essay.

This is where the actual content is. The facts, your opinions, arguments, counter-arguments, citations and everything else should form the bulk of the body of your essay.

The conclusion can either be a summary of the points that have been laid out and detailed in the body of the essay. If the essay is argumentative, and you have taken a stance on the given topic, the conclusion should necessarily sum up your stance in a nutshell.

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What should you do when you get a WAT topic?

Oftentimes, the candidates have phenomenal ideas and their command over the language is also good. But they tend to miss out on writing a great WAT essay.

There are certain ground rules to be kept in mind before you jump the gun and start writing your WAT essay.

1. Wrap your head around the topic. CLEARLY.
While the urge to pen down your thoughts and finish off the essay is obvious, it is crucial to know and understand what exactly the topic is about. This is especially true when there is an abstract one-line.

Before you write your first letter/word, you should have absolute clarity and conviction about what you intend to write. Conversely, if there is even an iota of doubt about the topic, ensure that you take that extra time to wind your head around the topic clearly.

2. Planning vs. Writing – the time factor
It is another myth that you will not find enough time to complete your WAT essay. An essay that has been planned well in your mind takes no time to finish.

Take up to 40% of the total time given for your WAT round, just to plan and organize your essay in your mind. Jot down brief notes or points that form the skeleton of your WAT essay.

3. Prioritize well
The mind has transferred a brief outline of sorts to the paper now. You have a set of points. Now, prioritize. Arrange them on the order of importance.

Do not miss out on what you think are the top three points that should definitely be covered in the WAT essay in any case.

4. The problem of plenty
Sometimes, it so happens that you tend to get so many ideas and points to cover in the essay. The aspect of prioritization takes a higher precedence in that case. You simply cannot try to shoot everything under the sun. You cannot afford to lose time on the points that are not the most crucial for your WAT essay.

5. Cite when needed
If you know a research paper, journal article or the comments of a reputed person on the given WAT topic, try to include those in your essay. These lift up the quality of your essay.

Caution: It is fine if you are not aware of any reputed sources with a say on the given WAT topic. This is an added advantage, and not a mandatory aspect of your WAT essay.