For most B-Schools, there are 2 Stages to this admission process. The first one being an Objective Test (Multiple Choice Question based) and next stage being Personal Evaluation.
Level 1: Objective test
The Objective Test is to test the basic mental faculties. It is a multiple choice based exam and the subjects are Basic Math, English and General Awareness only, with the syllabus more or less being the concepts introduced till class X. This justifies what we discussed last time – a graduate in any field can do MBA simply because it is testing the basic skills which are inevitable today.
The Best part of these exams are that nobody fails in these exams, everybody who appears for the test gets score and a national rank, often represented as ‘PERCENTILE’. Normally this ranking/percentile is used for short listing for the second stage of the selection process. The top institutes also look at the percentiles in each section along with the overall percentile.
There are a number of Such Tests which are being conducted by various institutes and councils. CAT (Common Admission Test) is being conducted by IIMs, CMAT being conducted by AICTE, and many other exams being conducted by individual B Schools or group of Institutes for their selection process.
All these exams have different patterns different sections and different names given to these sections, but the subjects tested remain Math, English and GK; all the questions being Multiple Choice types. Some exams take a test of your written communication skills as well by asking you to write an Essay on a given topic.
But there is a catching the game - 90% of the exams have something called Negative Marking - every wrong answer fetches you one-fourth negative marks. The game has to won by smart work and not guess-work!
Level 2: Personal Evaluation
The second stage is that of Personal Evaluation; which as the name suggests deals more with your individual personality. Most institutes conduct a Group Discussion and a Personal Interview at this stage, and thus the second stage is often nicked as the GD-PI round. Although the trend is changing and a lot of top B Schools are doing away with GD and adding a WAT (Written Ability Test) in its place. Some institutes have other stages in their selection procedure like an extempore or a psychological test or group task.
Now why are you afraid of the GD?? A Group Discussion is like any discussion you have in a group, say for instance, Which movie should we go this Friday? Which Dish connection to purchase in the house? Which restaurant to have Saturday night dinner at? Surely you participate in such discussions regularly. The only difference in this GD is that you will not be in your group of friends and will be discussing on more formal topics such as "Is Television spoiling the youth of India?", "Is T20 killing Test Cricket?"
Other variant of a group discussion is a Case Discussion where a situation is described and you as a group have to discuss and come out with a solution. Mostly the case let given deals with ethical dilemmas where there is no single right or wrong solution. In WAT a topic is given and you have to pen down your views about the same, more or less like essay writing. The topics can be related to current happenings around the world or generic ones relating to an individual like "The way I see it, 20 years down the line…"
All three - group discussion, case discussion and written ability test are centered on testing you on the ability to "express your opinion effectively".
Here comes the last Lap of the game: The Personal Interview. Barring a few B-Schools, GD is not an elimination process, and everybody proceeds for a personal interview. A personal interview is basically an interaction with a panel of professors from the institute and/or industry professionals and/or alumni in which you are quizzed on topics ranging from academics, current affairs to interests/hobbies.
The key to a successful interview is having clarity of goal in life, self-awareness, knowledge of academics and current awareness. A well-rounded personality and interview etiquettes can help you come out with flying colors.
It is essential to understand that having crossed the Level 1 on written test, this personal evaluation is more of a selection round and not a rejection round. When you are short listed for this round, you have already been chosen from amongst the thousands of applicants, the college further needs one good reason to select you, one good final move to win the game!