CAT Written Ability Test (WAT) Topics

    Urvashi Singhal Urvashi Singhal
    Exams Prep Master

    Written Ability Test (WAT) is an important component of the final selection round at all the IIMs and other MBA colleges. The weightage to WAT in IIMs has increased in the past years. The section carries 10 percent onwards in almost all the highly ranked MBA colleges in India. Be it the Academic Writing Test (AWT) of IIM Ahmedabad, or Written Ability Test (WAT) of IIM Bangalore, IIM Calcutta, IIM Lucknow, FMS Delhi, or the new IIMs who have joined hands and are going through the Common Admission Process (CAP) by conducting single point WAT and PI round have increased the WAT and PI weightage to 35%.

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    WAT is a pen-paper based writing test of 15 to 30 minutes duration conducted to test writing skills of the candidates after they are shortlisted for the final admission round. Many of the IIMs have replaced Group Discussion round by WAT in the final selection round.

    Any topic can be given in the WAT test in relation with the present situation or past trends. 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? Have a high probability of appearing in the test. Read the article to know more about what can be asked in WAT and what points can be mentioned.

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    Written Ability Test - Evaluation Criteria

    Written Ability Test - 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 remains the same for all B-Schools, the change in evaluation comes with the direct proportionately of the allotted time with the content given. Greater the time, 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 above standards. Thus what all test takers advice 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.

    WAT Preparation Tips

    WAT 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 panelists, 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.

    Step 2: Introductory paragraph shouldn’t be general but reflect your ideas clearly as to what all will you be discussing in the essay.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    WAT Personal Experiences

    WAT Personal Experiences

    To understand how the entire process of Written Ability Test is conducted, it is necessary to have a look at the experiences of candidates who have earlier appeared for the round. Below given are excerpts from such experiences. Candidates can take a clue from the below mentioned topics about what can be asked in CAT WAT 2020.

    1. Ramraj Nagar - IIM Kozhikode; CAT Percentile: 98.44

    WAT Topic: History has taught us enough. Now we must learn our own modern day lessons.

    15 Mins for writing and can write on only one side of the A4 page.

    Wrote about the vehicular pollution and electrical vehicle adoption timeline and plan. Mentioned the Emission Standard movement time period and wrote about the crop residue burning problem and solution for it. Mentioned the recent frauds and solution for the frauds.

    1. Ruchika Bhartiya - IIM Kozhikode

    WAT Topic: Strength does not come from physical capacity. It is derived from an indomitable will.

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    CAT 2020 - WAT Topics to Expect This Year

    CAT 2020 - WAT Topics to Expect This Year

    Stressed Assets and Banking in India

    Stressed assets have been rapidly rising in India, mainly in public sector banks. As per experts, a number of factors can be identified that have led to this situation. Factors like:

    • Global slow down

    • Governance related issues

    • Political factors

    • Mal-intentions and misconduct

    Significant losses are incurred by the public as well as the Union Government which basically owns these public sector banks. The chances of misconduct are substantially large in case of infrastructure projects especially under public private partnership. 

    RBI in its report on Trend and Progress of Banking in India mentioned that loans that are overdue between 30 to 90 days, known as special mention accounts (SMAs), have risen in the first half of the current financial year.

    For public sector banks, loans overdue by 30-60 days, known as SMA-1 accounts, rose to 1.6 percent of total loans as of September 2019 compared to 1.3 percent six months ago. Accounts overdue by 60-90 days, categorised as SMA-2, rose to 2.2 percent at the end of September from 0.7 percent in March.

    In the case of private banks, SMA-1 accounts were largely steady at 1.9 percent as on Sept. 30, 2019. However, SMA-2 accounts accounted for 1.2 percent of total loans compared to 0.5 percent in March 2019.

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    Is Net Neutrality essential to Digital India

    Net neutrality means that Internet Service providers should treat all content over internet without discriminating or favoring any app or website over the others on the basis of website, content or user as this kind of discrimination will result in the domination of bigger companies (Ex – Facebook, Google etc.) over startups and small companies.

    The Net Neutrality issue rose in December 2014 when Airtel decided to start charging extra for VoIP (Voice over Internet protocol) calling apps such as Skype, Viber etc. TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) invited comments from Indian citizens on this.

    ‘Free Basics’ was launched by Mark Zuckerberg in partnership with Reliance communications in February 2015 in India. Free Basics gave mobile users access to over 30 different websites without any data charges. The aim was to bring more people online and to ensure digital equality. In April 2015, Airtel launched ‘Airtel Zero’, which allowed its customers to access some apps at Zero data charges. App providers will pay the data charges. This resulted in Differential Pricing – giving access to some websites and apps for free and charging the remaining. ISPs can also make some websites load faster and can slow down other websites who cannot pay extra fee to them in future. However, in December 2015, TRAI ordered Reliance to suspend ‘Free Basics’ temporarily by stating that it violates principles of Net neutrality.

    The two core issues which are at clash here are – ‘Ease of access to internet’ and ‘Net neutrality’.

    In February 2016, TRAI backed Net neutrality and barred Telecom companies from charging different prices for data services except emergency services, thereby banning Airtel Zero and Free Basics.

    The debate around Net Neutrality remains to be a hot topic even today and may be asked in GD or WAT rounds as no proper law on it has come into force, and people remain to be on either side highlighting the advantages and disadvantages of Net Neutrality.

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    EWS Reservation - A new national reservation criteria

    On 9th Jan, 2019, the Rajya Sabha passed the Constitution (124th amendment) Bill with 165 members voting in favour and 7 against the bill that provides 10% reservation to the Economically Weaker Section (EWS) in the general category in government jobs and education.

    The 10% quota bill was introduced with the aim to help the economically backward people who belong to the upper castes sections. In layman terms, if a person belonging from the “general” category, falls into the given definition of ‘economically backward’, s/he can draw benefits from the bill. However, the government has set few conditions as a benchmark to prove the claim:

    • Agricultural land ownership should be less than 5 acres or

    • Family income is 8 lakh or less, per annum

    • Residential house of about 100 square yards in a municipality or

    • A house of about 200 yards in a non-notified colony.

    #MeToo Campaign - Did it create a hype over women security?

    The security of women in relation to the entire concept of empowerment has become a highly debated social issue in India and all around the globe. The social media platform movement which began in 2006 as a phrase, saw it turn over into a hashtag in 2017 with many American celebrities posting it on their social media accounts to bring out the magnitude of the number of women who suffer abuse.

    The movement was based upon breaking silence and coming forward to tell how women are treated by sharing personal experiences. The movement saw a great surge in India too with many women filing cases against reputed politicians, filmmakers, producers, and other celebrities. The campaign also highlighted the issue of sexual harassment of women at workplaces.

    Even though there is a stringent act in India on Sexual Harassment of Women based upon Vishakha Guidelines, such cases have been continously reported. Though some saw this campaign as another weapon of feminism, for some it was breaking out of their cocoons and facing the world, bringing confidence in them to live their life to the fullest. Many men too shared their stories with #MeToo.

    When describing this topic in WAT, the main focus should be laid on the campaign but not entirely. Other related issues of women and steps that have been taken by the government and other agencies should also be highlighted.

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    Kashmir Controversy - Article 370

    Article 370 allowed Jammu & Kashmir certain amount of autonomy - its own constitution, a separate flag, and freedom to make laws. All Indian laws did not apply to the state except foreign affairs, defence and communications that remained the preserve of the central government. The state got this privilege because of it being a region that both India and Pakistan say is fully theirs.

    With the help of Article 370, Jammu and Kashmir could make its own rules relating to permanent residency, ownership of property and fundamental rights. It could also bar Indians from outside the state from purchasing property or settling there.

    The Article came into limelight, when on 5 August 2019 the BJP ruled government aborted Articles 370 and 35A that gave special privileges to Jammu and Kashmir. This abrogation made Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh into two Union Territories. The decision is under huge debate as some say this will lead to development of the two territories which was not possible till date, while some see this as an attack on a community-specific state that does not satisfy the ruling party ideological agenda.

    Some more topics for CAT Written Ability Test (WAT)

    • Why Dollar is Getting Expensive Compared to Rupees
    • Future of sports in India
    • How does social media impact human behavior 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.

    Above mentioned are few of the topics which are currently in discussion. Many of the topics have a direct connection with business and economy, and some with politics. All are however interrelated, and students while appearing for WAT should keep in mind to address all sectors and relate a topic to all aspects. The candidates have to prepare numerous more topics mainly pertaining to the Indian and global economy to be able to write efficiently in WAT in 2020 MBA admissions.

    *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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