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WAT in IIMs: Check IIM CAT Written Ability Test Important Topics, & Preparation Tips

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Nikkil Visha

Exams Prep Master | Updated On - Nov 24, 2021

WAT in IIMs is the part of selection process but IIMs like Ahmedabad, Trichy, Calcutta, etc had scrapped the process due to COVID-19. On the other hand IIMs like Bodh Gaya, Bangalore might conduct WAT depending on the situation during the time of admissions. Check IIM Shortlist and Admission

  • The weightage of WAT is decided by IIMs separately based on the other criteria or parameters of admission adopted by them. Generally, it is between 10-20 marks. Check CAT 2021 Cut off
  • WAT is a pen-paper test for which candidates get around 20-30 minutes but only those candidates who will qualify for CAT Cut off decided by the respective institutes will be eligible to appear for WAT round. 
  • The topics for WAT can range from any Current Affairs to previous years' trends, case studies, or abstract ideas. 

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WAT Weightage in IIM

WAT in IIMs: Weightage of WAT in Selection Process

Different IIMs allocate different weightage to the Written Ability Test factor. While appearing for CAP counselling process, a candidate has to attempt only one WAT and the scores of the same will be accepted by all the CAP participating IIMs. 

Institute Weightage 
IIM Bangalore 10 (WAT might get conducted)
IIM Calcutta Scrapped
IIM Lucknow 10 (WAT might get conducted)
IIM Ahmedabad Scrapped
IIM Trichy Scrapped
IIM Indore 20 (WAT might get conducted)
IIM Sirmaur Scrapped
IIM Jammu Scrapped
IIM Rohtak Scrapped
IIM Ranchi Scrapped
IIM Amritsar Scrapped
IIM Visakhapatnam Scrapped
IIM Raipur Scrapped
IIM Udaipur Scrapped
IIM Kashipur Scrapped
IIM Kozhikode Scrapped
IIM Bodh Gaya 10 (WAT might get conducted)

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WAT- Evaluation Criteria

WAT in IIMs: Evaluation Criteria

Topics for WAT can range from any Current Affairs issues to static topics, case studies, or for that matter even abstract ideas. While the basic evaluation criteria for WAT assignment remain the same for all B-Schools, the change in evaluation comes with the direct proportion of the allotted time with the content given. Greater the time, the greater the expectations for a good write-up. While evaluating the assignment, the panel primarily focuses on four parameters:

  1. Clarity of Thought in the Written Ability Test
  2. Simplicity of Expression
  3. Comprehensiveness of Perspective
  4. Robustness of Reasoning

It is true that not all can write an essay satisfying all the above standards. Thus what all test takers advise is Proper Background Preparation. A candidate who writes on a continuous basis with a clarity of thought and is well aware of all that’s happening in the surroundings will surely ace through the test.

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IIM WAT Preparation Tips

WAT in IIMs: Preparation Tips

While writing for WAT assignment, one does not know who will be reading it further. Of course it will be a panel of learned beings, and for sure every candidate wishes to impress them with their thoughts expressed via writing. As numerous essays are presented in front of the panellists, writers should make sure that the very first paragraph is able to catch the attention of the reader. Following are the tips on how one can prepare to write a good essay in WAT:

  • Step 1: WAT topic can range from any subject. While practising make sure of drawing an outline of the given topic as it will help in writing the essay in a coherent manner including all aspects. Maintain knowledge of quotes/pieces of information that can be utilized for various topics. Backing up your arguments/ pointers with data will increase the strength of your statements 
  • Step 2: Introductory paragraph shouldn’t be general but reflect your ideas clearly as to what all will you be discussing in the essay. Follow through on your perspective, do not provide contradictory statements. Try to avoid generalized or ambiguous statements
  • Step 3: There is a possibility that a topic may contain different standpoints. It is upon the writer how clearly you portray the different points of view. Do not incorporate separate/contradictory ideas in one paragraph. A paragraph should reflect a single standpoint.
  • Step 4: Avoid quoting or paraphrasing points that you are ambiguous about.
  • Step 5: Some may suggest using heavy vocabulary in WAT to generate a good impression. However, since there is time constraint it is advised to use lucid language and focus on presenting ideas clearly rather than decorative writing. Make sure that the piece is grammatically correct and proofread it at least once before submission. If you decide to use complicated jargon, make sure it is placed correctly and in the right sense. Instead of using connecters such as ‘and, but’ etc, try using better transition words such as “Nevertheless/ Hence/ Therefore/ However”
  • Step 6: Correct use of grammar and punctuation is a vital part of WAT, as a wrong usage can change the entire meaning of the sentence or paragraph. Keep the reader in mind while preparing your written task. Make sure that you are not nervous during the writing assignment since it will affect your handwriting. Your handwriting should be legible and coherent. Keep your ideas and pointers structured and consistent 
  • Step 7: The concluding paragraph should summarize the entire essay and present your concluding remarks. Use of quotes from leading personalities can be used to support your viewpoint.​ Make a mental structure of your entire essay so that you have a semi-structured outline to reduce ambiguity. It is better to have a simple structure that can be elaborated well rather than a complicated topic that has very little substance

Sample Question in WAT Round: MBA is necessary to succeed in life?

Candidates can get an idea from the table below to know about the right approach while writing the answer to such questions in WAT rounds. 

Argument in Favour

According to a survey conducted by Harvard Business Review, on analysis and ranking of the performance of 2,000 CEOs around the globe, 40% of the CEOs in India have an MBA, 60% don’t. That’s a lot to back one degree and maybe these numbers are the reason why Indian youth is seduced by the scope of the MBA degree.

  1. MBA, being a master's degree gives you an edge over others in not only the field that you are in, but also in the managerial as well as in leadership skills.
  2. Most of the organizations prefer a postgraduate degree for the employees working in their organization or while hiring a new employee. 
  3. An MBA degree helps in attracting more remuneration as compared to a graduate employee, especially with a number of multinational companies coming into the picture.
  4. An MBA or any postgraduate candidate has more chances of growth and promotion at his workplace.
  5. If an individual is running his or her own small business then the MBA degree will sharpen his or her managerial as well as leadership skills which will help in managing the business more effectively.

Arguments against the notion

On a personal note, I won’t agree with the statement to the fullest. There are many successful people around the world, who succeeded without any MBA degree. No doubt, an MBA degree boosts your professional skills and give you a holistic perspective to lead life. Moreover, success is a subjective idea that depends upon a person’s own efficiency and skills.  

  1. Though the MBA curriculum provides closer to reality assessment of the business world nothing teaches better than real-life experience. 
  2. Business schools now find themselves criticized in several directions. For example, for paying too much attention to the return on their students' investment. 
  3. The students are often too young and inexperienced to learn skills that, in any case, are often easier to acquire in the workplace than sitting in a classroom.
  4. Many prominent global business leaders namely Warren Buffett, Herb Kelleher, Michael Dell, Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey and many more, who are considered to be the paragons of leadership do not possess an MBA degree.  
  5. In the classroom, students often spend a lot of time working out projects to the tiniest detail. But in the real world, the situation is different as it calls for a quick decision to stay ahead in the face of fierce competition.
  6. With an increase in the number of B-schools, the MBA is becoming a fad among the masses. The quality of education provided is on a constant decline. 


But that doesn’t mean that an MBA graduate is destined to succeed. That actually depends on your career plans. If a person is opting for an MBA just to get a 6 digit salary, then it's worthless. And if someone really has a keen interest in the MBA, then he/she must go for it. So the famous saying "Investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.'' There's nothing wrong with an MBA because it will surely help you get a successful career in life.

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Reading List for WAT

WAT in IIMs: Suggested Reading List

The more you read more information you will have on multiple topics. From news and latest updates, newspapers are a useful medium. Reading more will eventually also complement your verbal comprehension skills. Written Ability Test tends to check the reading ability and information processing and presentation of the candidate. Some of the recommended newspapers are mentioned below:

  1. Economic Times
  2. Business Standard
  3. The Mint
  4. The Hindu
  5. Wall Street Journal

Books to read while preparing for WAT:

Books are responsible for the overall personal development of a person. For an MBA aspirant, books will help you improve speed, vocabulary, and context. One can start with classics:

  1. The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
  2. The Kite Runner by Khalid Hosseini
  3. The Namesake, Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri

Apart from these classics, the following books can help you to have a general context about different circumstances and situations:

  1. The monk who sold his Ferrari
  2. The Freedom at Midnight
  3. The Argumentative Indian
  4. Rich Dad, Poor Dad
  5. Steve Jobs
  6. The Social Network

A few more books are listed below, which have been recommended multiple times by IIM alumni:

Book Name Author Genre
The Alchemist Paulo Coelho Adventure, fantasy
The Zahir Paulo Coelho Novel
The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari Robin Sharma Fiction, inspirational
Nineteen Eighty-Four George Orwell Political satire, social science fiction
The Compassionate Samurai Brian Klemmer Motivational
The Great Gatsby F. Scott Fitzgerald Fiction novel
The Catcher in the Rye J. D. Salinger Realistic fiction
The Fountainhead Ayn Rand Philosophical novel
Narcissus and Goldmund Hermann Hesse Historical fiction, philosophical fiction
Atlas Shrugged Ayn Rand Philosophical, Mystery and Romance

Recommended Books for CAT 2021 Preparation - Click Here 

WAT Topics to Expect

WAT in IIMs: Important Topics

Based on the topics asked in previous years we have created the lust for you. CAT aspirants can practice these topics for their WAT round

  • Why Dollar is Getting Expensive Compared to Rupees
  • Future of sports in India
  • How does social media impact human behaviour and society
  • Cashless Economy - A Boon or Bane
  • India needs a uniform civil code- for or against?
  • The success of Swachh Bharat Mission
  • Should the Indian economy be privatized?
  • Intellectual Property Rights Issues in India
  • Is making Aadhaar mandatory a good idea?
  • Privatisation of Government Sectors - A Critical Analysis and many more.
  • Values Challenged
  • Media Influence
  • President Rule vs Parliamentary Rule
  • Corruption in India
  • How do you measure success?
  • India has a large pool of manpower but still very few patents.
  • Allowing foreign universities in India will have a negative impact on the Indian education system.
  • Patriotism vs Nationalism
  • Demonetization in India: Decision is more appreciated than criticized
  • GST: Aim to take the economy on a faster growth path
  • "Make in India" Ground realities; India leaps to surpass China
  • Rising Population of India could be turned into an asset
  • Corruption is the root cause of current economic and social woes in India
  • FDI in multi-brand retail is a boon or bane
  • Ethics and morals cannot be taught in classrooms only
  • Net Neutrality: Very Essential to Make India Digital
  • Union Budget: Merging the General & Railway Budget will save exchequer from unnecessary spending
  • E-commerce: Unrealistic Discounts are Dangerous
  • Aadhar -Utility is more than perceived
  • Smart City Project: India’s new urban vision
  • Bank Recapitalization: Will it restore faith in Banking Industry?
  • Beti Bachao Beti Padhao will change the orthodox mindset?
  • Law should be an instrument of Social Change
  • Browsing at Workplace affects productivity
  • Social Activism is necessary for the survival of democratic society       
  • RERA should win the trust of home buyers
  • Moody’s Rating Upgrade to boost the economy of India

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Points to Remember

WAT in IIMs: Points to Remember 

While attempting the written test, a candidate should focus on time management. For this test, you have to put a pen over paper, thus an article with a lot of cutting will send a wrong message to the panelists from IIM. Candidates have to visualize the entire article in their minds before they start writing. The following tips will help you to understand the dos and don’ts of WAT for CAT 2021:

Element Instructions
Time Management Take the first 2-3 minutes (not more than that) to gather your thoughts
Structure The structure should be Concise, engaging, informative paragraph
Introductory Paragraph The idea of the article should be clear in the first paragraph
One Idea Explain one idea in one paragraph. Avoid ambiguity.
Vocabulary Avoid using heavy vocabulary. Use the simplest language to express your views.
Cutting Avoid Cutting. It tends to send a negative message.
Explanation Avoid explaining in detail.
Positives Emphasize more on positives than negative
Concluding Paragraph Your concluding paragraph should summarise your views effectively. Use a quote if you can.

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WAT in IIMs 2021 FAQ

Ques: Will IIMs be conducting WAT in 2021 admission process?

Ans. There are chances that IIMs like Bangalore, Lucknow, Indore, Bodh Gaya might conduct WAT rounds during the time of admission process to shortlist the candidates for the final selection process. 

Ques: What will be the weightage of WAT round in IIMs?

Ans. The weightage of WAT in IIMs is different for each institute. The weightage of WAT is decided by IIMs separately based on the other criteria or parameters of admission adopted by them. Generally, it is between 10-20 marks.

Ques. What are some topics asked for WAT? 

Ans. Topics like – 

  • How India is fighting against COVID-19 crisis?
  • Does Arogya Setu App set for COVID-19 breach privacy issues?
  • Why has there been no price cut in petrol/diesel despite US Crude Oil falling to negative?
  • Should India ban trade with China? 

Candidates can also keep checking the newspapers daily to get an idea about the current affairs or other important news articles based on which WAT topic might be asked in the selection process.

Ques: Are the score of class 10th and 12th also important for admission in IIMs?

Ans: Yes, class 10th and 12th scores are equally important for getting admission in the MBA program in one of the IIMs as the scores are evaluated while selecting a candidate into the program. As per the admission policy of IIMs, candidates are assigned ratings depending upon their percentage score in class 10th and 12th. 

Ques: What is the minimum score that IIMs accept for their admission in PGPM?

Ans: IIMs sets a very high benchmark score to get into the program offered by the institute. One cannot define a particular score as every year IIMs release their own cutoff score. Candidates taking the CAT exam must aim to score a minimum 95 percentile score in order to get into IIMs.

Ques: Will the 99+ percentile fetch me an interview call from all top IIMs?

Ans: Getting a 99+ percentile does not guarantee a call from top IIMs since a lot of other factors like past academics, gender, and academic diversity, etc also play an important role.

Ques: Which are the top three colleges for MBA in India accepting CAT?

Ans: Top three colleges in India are IIM Ahmedabad, IIM Bangalore, and IIM Calcutta. All these colleges accept CAT scores.

*The article might have information for the previous academic years, which will be updated soon subject to the notification issued by the University/College.


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