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How to write a good essay in WAT

Many MBA aspirants do not prepare adequately for the WAT (Written Ability Test) , which is the 2nd hurdle to be crossed after clearing the written exam (such as CAT.) You need to take this selection tool quite seriously since almost all the IIMs do! WAT has replaced the group discussion (GD) in most IIMs and many other B-schools. IIM Ahmedabad gives 10% weightage to Academic Writing Test (AWT) in the final score of a candidate for its MBA 2015-17 admissions and so does IIM Calcutta.

Also read: What is WAT?

Our MBA expert, Sidharth Balakrishna gives really useful tips on writing a good essay (WAT):



Candidates must write at least 10-15 essays for practice before the day of the actual exam, so that they can perform well irrespective of the actual topic(s) that are given.

There are a few aspects to keep in mind while writing a good essay while taking the Written Ability Test (WAT) during MBA selection process. These include the following:

Structure your thoughts before you begin

It is absolutely vital that before you put pen to paper and commence writing, you spend a few minutes structuring your thoughts. What all would you cover in your essay? A good essay has a natural ‘flow’, while a poor one is just a hodge-podge of disconnected thoughts.

It is a good idea to first list out the points in rough, rather than trying to make them up after you have already commenced writing. Post this, I suggest you arrange the points/ thoughts in a logical order or according to priority to maintain the flow of the essay.

Essentials of a Good Essay
In general, your essay should have the following segments:

  • An Introduction to the Topic, in the context/ background to the topic is laid out
  • The main body of the essay, focusing on content and analysis: 3-4 paragraphs that contain the main points, along with supporting examples, reasons to explain your point of view, logic, facts etc. If there are multiple ideas/ different thoughts that are to be included, use a separate paragraph for each of these
  • A short conclusion, that sums up the views provided or recommendation

Remember that an impactful essay is one in which the candidate justifies his points of view with suitable analysis or facts. A balanced perspective may demonstrate a maturity of thought, as opposed to an extreme one.

In the conclusion, the candidate could summarize the main points that she/ he has made. Try and tie-up or link the conclusion to the Introduction. This ensures that your essay is ‘internally consistent’ and helps to improve the flow.

Time Management

It is as important to manage time well for this test as it is for other components of the evaluation process. I suggest you spend the first couple of minutes thinking about what to write and the points you wish to include as mentioned above. Then get down to the actual writing which will take the bulk of the time.

But do leave the last two minutes for proof-reading/ reviewing what you have written.

Using correct Grammar

While outstanding Vocabulary is not an essential, correct English and grammar is important. Proper grammar helps to improve the flow and readability of your essay and could influence the final marks that the candidate is awarded.

One final point-avoid using ‘high sounding’ words whose meaning or contextual usage you may not fully understand-keep it simple when in doubt!

Author: Sidharth Balakrishna

Sidharth Balakrishna is an alumnus of IIM Calcutta and has been employed with the world’s top Marketing, Management Consultancy and energy firms. Besides his regular corporate job, he has written a number of books and articles for various reputed publications and has taken several guest lectures and seminars across the country. He is a faculty in several Management Institutes, a member of the Interview Board to select MBA students at various MBA institutes and has been featured in the press on numerous occasions. He is renowned for his expert advice for MBA aspirants in India.

Sidharth Balakrishna’s books include the following, all published by Pearson Education:
‘An Introduction to CAT - Tips from an IIM Alumnus'
‘Reading Comprehension for the CAT- A Winning Approach by an IIM Alumnus'
‘Case Studies in Marketing’
‘Vocabulary for the CAT: A Winning Approach by an IIM Alumnus’



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