Friday, November 25, 2011

How to ace Group Discussions || B-School Admissions

The second and perhaps most important step of getting into a dream B-School starts after getting those coveted calls, all of us know people who have aced written exams only to be unable to clear the final hurdle consisting of essay, GD, Case-Study, Interview etc. In this series of posts, I will try to impart some gyan that I've collected from various sources as well as my own experience, starting with one of the most important aspects: Group Discussion.

Various B-Schools have different types of Group Discussions, but usually it's a 15-30 minutes discussion(often more similar to a fish-market than an actual discussion) by a group of 8-12 aspirants. The topic may range from a highly specific topic like 'future course of action for Kingfisher Airlines' to a very abstract topic like 'black' or a seeming nonsense topic like 'pink pajaamas flying on the red fort'. Even though the specifics of handling a GD does depend a lot on the particular topic, the B-School that's holding it and the group itself, there are a few pointers that may help you in acing any GD.

* Realize your strengths and play on them: Okay, I know that this is a cliche and I use it very often, but it's as true in a GD as anywhere else. If you are someone who is good with facts and figures, try to substantiate your point (or that of others) with appropriate facts, just do remember that trick is not to throw numbers but to use them to illustrate or back-up your points. If you have good communication skills but don't have much knowledge about the topic, listen to others, take a point which has been raised but not discussed in detail and build upon it. If you have good knowledge of economics, give the discussion a new direction from an economic's perspective.

* First impression is what matters most: It's good if you are in the first two or three speakers but it's almost crucial that you make your first entry with-in starting 5-6 minutes and that your first point is your best point. Your first point determines how much attention your group members will give to your subsequent points.

* Provide a structure Try to provide a structure(like a broad outline) to the discussion in the early part of the discussion, if someone has already done that try to adhere to it unless you have an exceptionally good point to discuss.

* Build upon other's ideas Remember that it's supposed to be a 'Group' Discussion. Giving a new point is good but it's even better if you can relate your point with what someone before you have just said, that ways you have not only gained an ally in the discussion but even the moderator will appreciate that you aren't an individualist but someone who values other's thoughts and opinions.

* Listen attentively Three reasons: (1) If you listen to people they will listen to you. (2) You get points on which you can build upon when you speak (3) To show that you are acting as a group-member and not as an individual.

* Provide perspectives Use frame-works like SWOT (Strengths, Weakness, Opportunity, Threats) or aspects like 'Economics, Culture, Timeline, Business, Religion, Politics, Social' to figure out new perspectives from which a topic can be discussed. Always remember, the three most important aspects of any group discussion are 1.) Being (or at-least showing) a team player e.g. taking someone else's point and building upon it 2.)Leadership e.g. Coming up with a point which is further discussed by the team and 3.) Coming up with a new perspective.

* Use examples Nothing is better in a GD than to make a point and then substantiate it using a real-life example e.g. if you are talking about the importance of location in selecting a college, talk about how the location of your school helped/hindered your progress.

* Be careful with jargon While using relevant business jargon like hedging, GDP shows that you are well-read, make sure that you are not just throwing words and that the people in your group understand clearly. Remember that it's supposed to be a group discussion and no-one is going to TRY to understand you, you have to make yourself clear.

* Be concise Those of us who are good speakers often have a habit of beating around the bush, using more words than necessary. Please avoid flowery language, long-complex sentences or anything else that undermines brevity. Its a timed discussion, so if you are going for long you are either going to get cut in between or worse it's going to be a fish-market.

* Stay calm and smile You have always initiated the discussion but today you couldn't, you don't know a bit about the topic, it's a complete chaos(often called fish-market) in there, worry not.

If you haven't started the GD, no worries, make an entry as soon as you can and make that entry count.
If you don't know about the topic, listen to others, build upon others' points or better give the discussion a new perspective, perhaps from an angle you are familiar with.
If it's a fish-market, calm down, every GD has it's storm moments and its lull moments, try to barge in when the group is comparatively peaceful, try to bring the group back to discussion instead of an argument, try to avoid being a part of a Fish-market.

Some other tips:

* Reach early, talk to the other group members beforehand, it always helps if the group members know each other and are comfortable around each other.
* Make proper eye contact, that means looking at everyone (except the moderator) while you speak and looking at the speaker when you are listening.
* If you are starting the discussion, start with one of the following
by defining the key terms, perhaps by breaking the topic into parts
providing a probable outline for the discussion
mentioning the various aspects of the topic that may be discussed
Always remember that it's beginning of the discussion so don't try to end it by jumping to conclusions or shutting door on some idea, make open statements which can be discussed by the group.

So, that's it for now, feel free to ask any questions/doubts in the comments section below and I will try to answer them to the best of my ability.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Last two days and in the examination hall.

In these last two days, the best you can do is take a chill pill, go through simple mathematical formulas, if u have done vocab then revise it and see a few LR sets (just to maintain familiarity).

Some last minute tips:

* Get a watch (yes again).

* Unless RC is your forte, solve 2 RCs and move on, u can always come back if time permits.

* Don't I repeat DON'T leave all the circles to be filled at the end. preferably solve questions in a bunch of say 20-40 and then fill OMR and so on ... nothing can be worse than solving 160 questions and marking only 120.

* Give extra precaution to marking OMR, a lot of people lose a lot of marks just because they marked the questions wrongly.

* Don't waste time in counting how many questions u did or thinking on is it enough to clear cut-off etc etc. In FMS its best if u leave theses worries for after the exam, at the time of exam concentrate on the questions on hand.

* Don't assume that u had seen this question somewhere and the answer was option c(or for that matter a) !!!

* Don't attempt questions for the heck of it(blind guesses) but if u are able to reject even one(or more) option then u can go for a blind guess...

* Don't bother too much about sectional and overall cut-offs, physics and higher mathematics, just go with a cool head and all other things will take care of themselves, FMS is comparatively an easier exam, if u keep ur head cool u can surely tame it ...

One personal suggestion.

Don't rush into the paper as soon as u get it. take 2 minutes, see the paper zero-in on how u want to a attempt the paper and then start. Last year, many a people got frustrated in the beginning itself as they saw the 5 page RC.

Ranjeet Pratap Singh

FMS,Batch of 2012.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Some Tips for FMS Aspirants ...

* you might read a little about vadic mathematics etc.

* No number of words you know is enough, bole to vocab gives u an edge here (doesn't mean u can't make it to FMS if u are weak at vocab, I did )

* Realize your strengths and play on them e.g RC are either a scoring haven or a bottleneck, if you have good reading speed make sure you attempt as many questions in RC as possible, perhaps attempting the section at the beginning.

* Take approximations, particularly in DI.

* If you have lesser time at your hand, try solving LR by checking the options to see if one of them fits all the criteria mentioned in the question instead of solving the whole set.

* Always wear a watch but make sure that you don't spend too much time looking at it and getting tensed, don't waste time in counting how many you have attempted etc.

* Either don't leave marking the OMR for the last, or leave sufficient (atleast 15 minutes) for it. You can do it in this way, solve 10-40 questions and then mark them ....

* Don't mark the answer for a question on memory thinking that u had solved this question just a few days back, there is a good possibility that the question is a bit twisted and hence the answer has changed.

* Don't go into the paper with too many assumptions about the difficulty level etc. It might vary by a huge deal, just trust yourself, if the paper is difficult its difficult for everyone (e.g. FMS, 2008) if its easy don't be over-confident (like FMS 2009).

* Sectional cut-offs are 50 percentile (and not percentage) which means two things.
You can play on your strengths, that is giving more time to the section you are strong at and hence getting a higher overall score.
There is still a 50 percentile barrier to be crossed and you can't completely ignore a section.

Now go rock the paper, and hopefully join us here this summer :)

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Some awesome posts: Courtsey:

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Road to FMS: post 2

Okay so after all the gyan here comes some tangible stuff :)

How to prepare for FMS.

General Gyan: FMS is an exam where you can play on your pure strengths, so its important to recognize your strengths early on and work more on them.

QA: QA in FMS is usually a mixed bag, with some questions pretty straight forward and some others requiring some application and thought process.

Now the key to note here is that some of the QA questions are very easy to solve but they are 3-5 sentences long and hence need a lot of time to just read them, while some others are very small but need more time to solve. So you need to be good with question selection, you need to make sure that once you pick a question you are able to solve it and that in optimal time.

Recommendation for people not comfortable with Quants: Learn number system, chose any 2-3 other topics you are comfortable with and solve as many questions on them as possible. Don't solve questions which take more than 2 minutes to be solved. Try to solve as many questions as possible without using a pen, by option elimination etc. Appear in at-least 2 mock FMS exams and analyze them properly.

Recommendation for people who feel comfortable with Quants: Try speed methods (like vadic methods) may or may not work for you(I was never impressed by them) but no harm in trying, try attempting max qestions from a mock FMS or previous paper in 35 minutes or so while maintaining accuracy, if a qestion isn't solved it one go bookmark it and move ahead, later on if time permits can always come back.

People not comfortable with LR: Solve some good puzzle books like George smmers. Chose some sets which seem to be familiar and try solving them completely, a set of 3 qestions not to be given more than 6 mintes. Have a look at all the sets, some sets have one-two sitter questions which can be easily solved.

People comfortable with LR: Solve aimcat LR sets, total types of LR sets seems to be limited so many a times you will get a set on a concept u have seen. Use bookmark extensively, many sets have one-two tougher questions leave them. Solve maximum questions, not necessarily maximum sets.

People not comfortable with RC: Search for passages which are more fact based(and have fact based question) e.g. when did the XYZ event happen. Now solve RCs depending on your own strength, you might go for reading questions then reading the passage or reading the passage then reading questions or anything else.

People comfortable with RC: Try to do as many RCs as possible, this is one section which gives very good ROI if you are real good in it.

For everyone: Don't stop at a word if you don't know its meaning, don't stop at a line if doesn't seem to make sense just go and read ahead it will be clear as you read along. Going back to a word or a line wastes a lot of time and for FMS time is very precious.

People comfortable with VA: Work hard on VA, mug Vocab if u can, learn grammer rules if u can do whatever u can since this section gives max marks in minimum time.

People not so comfortable with VA (like me): decide on some areas you are good and work hard on them. If you can, mug up vocab( I couldn't). If you can't practice everything else.

Abhi ke liye itna hi.....

For any particular doubt/suggestion/requirement post a comment :)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Road To FMS: Post 1.

Its quite ironic that a guy in FMS writes at a blog titled "iimiswhereibelongto" :P anyways, as mentioned in the introduction of this blog, the purpose of this blog was to help readers to get into their dream institutes and I'm getting a lot many queries from people who say that FMS is where they want to be.

So this post and a few more to follow will help those people who want to be in FMS this year.

First of all, some general info:

FMS is one of the most highly regarded Indian B-School with tution fee less than 21 K for two years.

Location of FMS in the capital of the country and that too in Delhi University, gives it a unique advantage.

FMS provides a unique advantage as it doesn't restrict one's choice to chose a major/minor but it gives you freedom to actually customize your course by chosing your favorite elective subjects in second year (for more details visit the official website)

FMS is primarily a student driven college, where most of the activities are organized by the students.

FMS Enjoys a well established brand name and has a very broad and helping alumni base.

FMS Entrance Procedure:

Admission is facilitated through an written entrance exam followed by a GD-PI-Extempore process. The exact format of written entrance exam is told in advance. Going by last year it had 200 questions, divided into 4 sections to be attempted in 120 minutes.

4 sections are: QA, LR, VA, RC. to qualify one has to get a sectional percentile of 50 in each section, so effectively FMS is one exam wherein once can play purely on his strength.

Its very difficult to predict the cut-off before-hand so one should try to do his best, instead of worrying that whether he has cleared the cut-off.

GD-PI-Extempore is organized in college campus at Delhi University.


* Is FMS so cheap that we can do MBA in 20k only

FMS isn't cheap, its highly economical :) honestly speaking you won't be able to do an MBA in 20 K at fms, one needs anywhere between 1.5 L to 3 L to live here ...

* Is FMS the right college for me.

The answer is "it depends". FMS is a part of the Delhi University, it provides probably the best Return of Invetement among its peers, has decent placements, wonderful (and some not so wonderful :P) faculty and its almost entirely student driven, giving you more exposure than probably any other institute. On the other hand there are some reasons why it might not be the right college for you, being a part of a university means that change progresses a little slowly here. Smaller batch sizes mean total alumni strength is low, not everyone gets a hostel here... etc so one needs to make an informed choice ....

* How to prepare for FMS

this point will be covered in the forthcoming posts :)

Friday, April 16, 2010

Welcome To The New Season .....

Now that I've some experience to talk from, and a little credential to show let me use this post to welcome those of you who are aspiring for the forthcoming season of MBA Entrance exams.

A year back, at almost the same time, I had some opinions about MBA, various MBA entrance exams and various MBA colleges; and now, with some experience (of my own and of some friends) I think I've gained some more insights into it. With time and experience I realize that not all I knew and thought was true(though a big chunk was).

Some of the things worth mentioning here (particularly for the first timers) will be :

1.) When you prepare for one exam (say CAT) you are infact preparing for all of them, but then to do your best in them, a little specific prep can help you big time. (More on exam specific prep in subsequent posts)

2.) Mock-Cats are a good place to check where you stand, to check new strategies, to check how you cope under pressure and to check how you take the results; but do realize that in the real exams there are a lot of factors at play including the all so famous luck (or as they say Muprhy's factor) so keep your fingers crossed untill the results are out.

3.) Don't believe too much on the various key's in the market, they do give you and idea but that's it about them; the actual key may have significant variations particularly in VA and RC.

4.) Have fun with your preps, and don't take too much stress on you....

and example in case being my friend shashank prabhu (doc mod at PG) who scored a never-before-seen score in MHCET, an exam for which he was little bothered and didn't really prepare and though he scored good in all the exams he appeared in MHCET stands tall.

5.) Play on your strengths, don't run too much after what other's are saying or doing. If you can mug-up the word-lists and formulas pretty good, but even if you can't all is not lost; you can cover it up being strong in say reading speed and/or LR -it doesn't mean that you shouldn't try to work on your weaknesses, but just that don't do it on the cost of loosing out on your strengths.

6.) Believe in yourself. One / a few bad scores in some section or some mocks (or some actual exams) don't define how good / bad you are in that particular field; try to analyze your strengths and weaknesses and work according to them; have faith on yourself and your capabilities.

7.) Last -and a cliche- but not the least ask yourself the all so important question "why MBA". Is it worth to invest 2 years and some 10-18 Lacks of money (except for some colleges like FMS / IIT D / TISS).

*************** XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX *************

Let the season begin.....

best of luck to you all ......

Ranjeet Pratap Singh
(FMS 2012 batch)