How to prepare for PI-WAT rounds of top B-schools - With the shortlist announcement at IIMs and other B-schools, MBA aspirants have shifted focus from practising aptitude based problems to honing their soft skills and communication abilities. Writing Ability Test (WAT) and Personal Interview (PI) are the major components of the selection procedure. Majority of the top B-schools in India will conduct the selection rounds from March to April. Hence, it is high time for the candidates to be prepared for these rounds. This article of Careers360 brings expert and topper tips and pointers on how to prepare for PI-WAT rounds of top B-schools.
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How to prepare for PI-WAT rounds of top B-schools

What does WAT look for?

B-Schools aim to test a candidate’s ability to think critically, communicate ideas, formulate a constructive critique and write the responses in a given time on paper. It is important for aspirants to know how to structure the essay. Other factors which are tested are current affairs and how aspirants are able to blend an abstract topic with an event of current relevance.

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Sharing her preparation strategy for WAT, Anusha JVD, a student of IIM Calcutta, says, “WAT is something which demands thinking on toes along with proper arranging of thoughts to a coherent whole. I recommend practising to write short essays about random topics revolving around your views on current affairs and also some generic topics.”

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How to structure WAT?

The word limit of WAT or essay writing ranges from 200 to 400 words. Within this word and time limit (20 to 30 minutes), candidates have to collect the idea behind the topic, jot down the points and give it a proper structure of introduction, body and conclusion.

Ramnath Kanakadandi, Course Director, T.I.M.E, suggests CODER approach. CODER stands for C - Collect ideas O – Organise them D – Develop them E – Express them and R – Review.

Content: Identify the key words in the topic, think of the information you have, and what ideas or views you could develop on the basis of this information.

Organise ideas: Organise ideas and group them coherently. You must think of the following questions, what would be the theme of the essay? What would be the appropriate ideas to start with? What are the further ideas that one could continue with? What ideas would be the right ones to end with?

Develop: Think of questions like what sort of information would hold the readers’ attention and examples they could relate to? What pieces of information, explanation and examples would support the theme, and the purpose? How long should the essay be?

Express: An essay should start with an introduction, using statements and information of general nature that provide some background to the topic. Each idea or a set of ideas would form a paragraph. The sequence of paragraphs should lead to the conclusion.

Review: You must devote the last few minutes to reading through the essay to ensure that there is a logical flow and coherence and the language is error-free to ensure that the flow remains or is improved.

Time Management

Most B-schools give a specific duration to write the essay. Hence, you have to ensure that you follow the entire process within the stipulated duration. Ashish Shrivastava of IIM Lucknow says, “Candidates should time themselves during practice and make sure that they can write the whole essay under 10 minutes. Candidates should finalise the framework and content after they have heard the time limit.”

Always form your opinion and stick to that

While writing the essay, you have to write either in favour or against the topic. The conclusion must carry the essence of your opinion. Your opinion will help the panellists understand your viewpoints and personality. “Usually the WAT topic will have positive and negative aspects. Use the time given to think by noting these points along with any example and anecdote that you can think of. While writing, give preference to more relevant points. Conclude well, give a decision/take a side as pertinent to the topic,” says Jayesh Patil, another student of IIM Lucknow.

How to prepare for WAT

The best way to start preparing for WAT is by being updated with the current affairs. Read at least two national dailies and magazines such as Frontline, Outlook and The Week and keep notes to develop a critical analysis. Gautam Puri, Vice Chairman, Career Launcher, says, “Students must read newspapers daily and magazines, in order to cover a wide variety of topics ranging across the domestic and the international circuit."

Talking about WAT preparation, Sahithi Vinjamuri, an IIM Shillong student, says, “I focused on enhancing my knowledge for the content aspect as I was comfortable with grammar and sentence formulation. In a way my PI and WAT preparation took place simultaneously as all three required general awareness. I kept up with current affairs by reading newspapers.”

Dealing with abstract topics

The advantage of abstract topic is that you can direct it to any topic of relevance about which you are aware of. V K Narasimhan of IIM Lucknow says, “My topic was ‘Loose lips sink ships’. I went about elaborating what the metaphor meant and then I gave examples from corporate India such as the Tata-Mistry spat and the Ambani brothers’ tussle for Dirubhai’s property.”

Topics of WAT over the past year

Here bring to you the topics of previous years asked in IIMs and other top B-schools. While some topics are direct and easy, some are abstract, where you need to relate it with a recent event or current affair to make it relevant.

  • All decisions in a democracy should be taken through referendums – IIM Lucknow

  • Suggest ways to reduce the problem of teacher absenteeism in primary and middle schools – IIM Bangalore

  • Is Immigration a boon or a bane – SJMSoM, IIT Bombay

  • It takes less time to do something right than that to explain why it went wrong – IIM Kozikhode

  • Cultural diversity impedes democratic governance – IIM Lucknow

  • Demonetisation – IIM Bangalore

  • Name should be more important than money – IIM Kozhikode

  • Farmer suicides are on a rise. What measures do you suggest to improve this situation? – IIM Calcutta

  • Ads don't just sell products but also notions of success. To what extent do you agree? Give Reasons – IIM Indore

  • Is it right to allot investor money and profits to CSR activities? – IIM Kozhikode

  • The Government of India has announced monetary benefits for improving sanitation in rural areas. Will this be useful and what other measures do you suggest for the same. – IIM Bangalore

  • Centralization of Indian Public Sector Oil companies will be a boon – IIM Lucknow

  • Net Neutrality – IIM Lucknow

  • Food delivery start-ups are becoming very common in India. What, according to you, is the impact of such start-ups? Can they provide a revenue stream for housewives? What are your views on it? - IIM Calcutta

  • Ethical dilemma in business

  • Should women change their last name post marriage

  • Sustainable modernisation of Indian villages

  • India’s bid for permanent seat at UN

  • How can Indian Sports be promoted to reach the level of cricket?

  • Can there be peace between India and Pakistan?

Abstract Topics

  • Loose lips sink ships

  • Elephant is the best animal

  • Honesty is the best policy

  • Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn

  • One plus one is not equal to two

  • Order or chaos? Which leads to more welfare?

How to Prepare for PI (Personal Interview)

PI is one of the most crucial rounds of a B-School selection process. In general, B-Schools assign around 40 per cent weightage to PI rounds. The purpose of the interview round is to get an overview of the candidate’s personality. Experts suggest that before appearing for a PI, candidates must know how to tackle witty and twisted questions of the interview panel. The key is to remain calm while answering such questions.

Advising on how to prepare for interview rounds, Vinayak Kudva, Head of PG India & Mumbai Region, IMS, says, “PI is the last step to get to know the candidate. Traits that cannot be uncovered through entrance tests, GD or WAT are evaluated here. Selectors try to understand the candidate’s personality, interests, motivation and aspirations.”

Factors to check while preparing for Personal Interview

  • Reflect confidence

  • Be honest with your answers

  • Answer politely, even if you don’t know the correct answer

  • Drive the interviewers towards your strength

  • Know your CV and SOP well

Common questions to prepare

During your PI you can be asked to tell the panel about yourself or the meaning of your name, hobbies and interests. You might also be asked about your reasons to do an MBA and your plans after you have completed your MBA or how the course will support your goal. You can also be asked about your strengths and weaknesses as well.

The basic and most common questions to prepare for the PI rounds include the following:

  • Tell us about yourself

  • What is the meaning of your name? (Typically used as an ice breaker and if you have an uncommon name)

  • Why do you wish to do an MBA?

  • What are your plans after an MBA?

  • How will your MBA support your goal?

  • How does your academic background relate to your goal?

  • What are your strengths, give examples?

  • What are your weaknesses, give examples?

  • What are your short-term long term goals?

  • Elaborate on your work experience.

  • How relevant is your experience?

  • Why do you want to join a particular institute?

  • Which specialisation do you want to opt for?

  • What are your hobbies/interests? (Technical questions on the same)

The other topics which are common in PI include the following:

  • Current affairs – Politics, Economics, Business, Social events, demographics, Sports, Literature, Entertainment, Awards and Recognition

  • Educational background

  • Social background

  • Work experience

  • Hobbies and interests

  • Your performance or points presented in Group Discussion/Written Ability Test

  • Your CV or SOP

How to deal with situations – uncomfortable question/answer you don’t know

In case of questions which leave of tongue tied, it is best to either confess about your ignorance on the topic/question, or give a witty reply. Anusha Ramachandran, an IIM Shillong student, while sharing her PI experience at IIM Indore says, “I was grilled on auto mobile engineering, and I did not know the answers. I politely told them that I did not have an answer. They were quite hard on me and kept asking me more questions from the same subject. Finally, they moved on to the next topic.”

There can be unexpected questions as well where you may not sure how to articulate the answer. The key is to frame your answer based on related themes and direct the conversation accordingly. Meghna Duvvuri, an IIM Calcutta students used to work with Samsung, in the camera team. While she had expected questions about cameras and technology related to that and her work experience, one of the panellists asked her “Why millennials are in love with taking photos?”

Sharing her answer, Meghna says, “This wasn’t a question that I had expected, but since I had recently read an article about millennials I could successfully navigate the discussion in the way I wanted to. It’s impossible to prepare for every question that can be asked in the interview, but making sure the basics are covered and keeping calm is of utmost importance. This way, the interview can be turned into a discussion and a level of comfort is established between the interviewers and interviewee.”

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Questions related to CAT

Showing 8327 out of 8327 Questions

10th -70% 12th -56% (Science) bcom - 80% (SC candidate), if I get 100 percentile in CAT, would have I got call from IIM A or C ??

ADIL KHAN Student Expert 7th Apr, 2020

Hii Biton,

Yes, there is a possibility for you as you belong to the SC category. But still there are  alot of factors taken into consideration while accessing your profile for giving a call for interviews bu top Business schools of India. You have a good chance provided you work on your communication skills and other skills. Also try doing internships and building your profile as these things will affect and may decide if you will be getting a call or not.

Hope it helps,



How to start preparing for CAT 2020 from basics? Which are the books to refer from? Will self study be enough? I need an answer that can clear all my doubts and motivate me to start my preparation. Each answer will be appreciated, thanks.

Priyaanka Sarkar Student Expert 7th Apr, 2020
Almost all books available in the market are very similar in the nature of their content of study material but the important thing is what you make of it.

Here I can give you the list of books for each section that can help you accelerate your preparation to ace the tests.

CAT Books For Quantitative Ability:
1.NCERT mathematics books (from 6th to 10th class) ::
These books are a good way to start if one needs to clear their basics and concepts. NCERT books are best to start your CAT Preparation with only if you have a lot of time before your exam date and need to brush up on concepts before solving advanced problems.

2.How to Prepare for Quantitative Aptitude for the CAT (by Arun Sharma)
(publisher: Tata McGraw Hill)
This is a very popular book among CAT aspirants and really easy and simple to understand. This book also focuses on the basics first and has different levels of difficulties step by step.

3.Quantitative Aptitude for Competitive Examinations (by Abhijit Guha)
This book is quite comprehensive for various competitive exams, for both MBA aspirants and for those seeking jobs who need to prepare for the aptitude tests.
4.Quantitative Aptitude Quantum CAT by Sarvesh Verma
It is an extensive book for students aspiring to go to IIMs. It has a very simple, lucid and tailor made content revolving around CAT.

5.Quantitative Aptitude for CAT (by Nishit Sinha)
This book by Pearson focuses on in depth understanding of core topics for basic and advanced applications.

Verbal Ability Books For CAT:

1.How to Prepare for Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension for the CAT( by Arun Sharma and Meenakshi Upadhyay)
This book is good to brush up your verbal and reading comprehension skills. It covers three important topics: reading comprehension, verbal ability and verbal reasoning. It provides sufficient practice and mock papers for self-assessment.

2.Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension For The CAT( by Nishit Sinha)
This book by Pearson provides not only an exhaustive resource for verbal ability. It also includes numerous tests as well as integral problem solving techniques and approaches.

3.Word Power Made Easy (by Norman Lewis)
This is the go-to book to improve your vocabulary. It is not a book to be read but a book to work with daily to enrich your vocabulary.

4.High School Grammar and Composition( by Wren and Martin)
It is a very good book for people who want to improve their grammar skills. It helps to understand and conceptualise different aspects of grammar and it is a must have book for anyone with poor grasp on verbal ability or who wants to make up with the basics of english.

Read books from different genres
The ultimate key to improve your verbal ability is to read extensively and to read books from different genres. This ensures that when the time for reading comprehension comes you are well acquainted with different writing styles and topics. Reading extensively also improves your reading speeding over a period of time. There are no shortcuts here.

Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning Books For CAT:

1.A Modern Approach to Logical Reasoning( by R.S. Agarwal)
This CAT book by R.S. Agarwal is to start with the most basic reasoning problem as it is quite simple to understand. It is segregated into different sections such as logic, statements, inferences and arguments, assumptions, conclusions, course of actions, logical puzzles, etc.

2.How to Prepare for Logical Reasoning for CAT book (by Arun Sharma)
This book by Tata McGraw Hill contains all topics to be considered under Logical Reasoning for CAT as well as other entrance exams. Each topic is explained with solved examples followed by a series of problems with varied difficulty levels to solve which gives an individual enough practice for this section.

3.How to Prepare for Data Interpretation for CAT book (by Arun Sharma)
This book focuses on all areas of Data Interpretation and Data Sufficiency. It provides and emphasizes on developing our calculations to get an edge with DI. This book also provides you with previous years questions, Model and Sample test papers.

4.Logical Reasoning and Data Interpretation for the CAT (by Nishit Sinha)
This book covers fundamental and advanced topics under the aforementioned section which are explained with the help of solved examples, case lets and exercises to do. It is useful for various other exams as well.

5.Data Interpretation (by Nishit Sinha)
Practice Book for CAT and Other MBA Entrance Examinations( by Nishit Sinha):
This book provides adequate practice and to sharpen the skills for Data Interpretation. It is also quite useful for other competitive exams like NMAT, GMAT, SNAP, XAT, CMAT, etc.

Another CAT Preparation material or book to be considered is Previous Years Solved CAT Paper:
This ensures that you are familiar with the kind of questions that are asked in CAT providing you an edge. They can be taken as mocks and the analysis of the same can provide you with great insights for your preparation.

It is always better to read newspaper for CURRENT G.K. than trying to grasp all info at once. Some of the newspaper sources which you can use to prepare this section are The Hindu, Financial Express, and The Economist.

In case, you dont like reading newspaper daily, you can go with Manorama Yearbook or Current Affairs Yearly by Arihant for General Knowledge which is published every year.

In order to prepare for STATIC G.K. section, you need to broaden your overall scope in following sections: Sports, Politics, Entertainment, Biographies, etc. So, for this, you can use Static General Knowledge by A.P. Bhardwaj and S. Chands Advanced Objective General Knowledge. These books are okay to start with if you are not someone with a newspaper reading habit from the past.

There are plenty of other books for these topics in the market, but these are by far the most popular as well as helpful books for anyone preparing for entrance exams.

if i obtain 80 marks in quantitative aptitude 80 marks in data interpection and 80 marks in verbal reasoning what is my total percentile of cat because my 10th and 12 marks is low ?

Ankit Dahiya Student Expert 6th Apr, 2020
Your CAT percentile has nothing to do with class X and XII marks.
The percentile indicates your performance relative to the other candidates. For example if you get 80 percentile it means your score is more than 80% of the appearing students.
The percentipe is calculated as:
P=(R/N) 100
where R=Rank of student and N=Number of students who appeared.

Follow this link for more information

Good luck

I have 96% in 10th 94 %in 12th and 7 3 cgpa in btech and around 18 months of work much do I need to score in CAT 2020 to get a call from IIMA/B /C or FMS ?

Prakarsh Kaushik 5th Apr, 2020


For getting in top B-schools of India like IIM-A, IIM-B, IIM-C, FMS Delhi etc. you need good marks not only in in CAT but also in Class 10th, 12th and your graduation. If you have some work experience then it gives you more advantages.

There is no specific cutoff of percentile on which you can get into top IIMs. Since your marks in 10th, 12th is above 90% and in graduation above 7 CGPA with work experience, you can expect a call from IIM-A, IIM-B, IIM-C if you have at least 99 percentile in CAT .

For FMS also you should aim for 99+ percentile in CAT and also keep in mind that if you score 95+ percentile in VARC Section it will increase your chances of getting in.

Click at this link to know more about CAT -

Hope this was helpful


which is the best book for cat self study to crack cat examination

KUNAL LANJEWAR 5th Apr, 2020


Given below are the best books to refer for preparing for CAT examination:

1. For Quantitative Aptitude:

  • How to prepare for Quantitative Aptitude for the CAT by Arun Sharma
  • Quantitative Aptitude for the CAT by Nishit K Sinha
  • Quantitative Aptitude Quantum CAT 2019 by Sarvesh K Sharma

2. For Logical Reasoning and Data Interpretation :

  • How to Prepare for Data Interpretation for CAT by Arun Sharma
  • Logical Reasoning and Data Interpretation for CAT by Nishit K Sinha

3. For Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension :

  • Word Power made easy by Norman Lewis
  • Mastering the Verbal Ability for CAT by Ajay Singh
  • How to Prepare for Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension for the CAT by Arun Sharma and Meenakshi Upadhyay

Best Wishes.

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