New Delhi: The six new Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) are set to make a radical break from tradition by doing away with the group discussion (GD) that forms a crucial part of the selection process at the elite business schools.
Also See | Testing Times (PDF)
The change in the admission process, with a written test replacing the discussion round, will take place at the IIMs in Raipur, Rohtak, Ranchi, Udaipur, Tiruchirappalli and Kashipur in the coming year.
“Instead of going for individual GDs in every single institute, we are going to hold a common written analysis test for all the six new IIMs,” IIM Raipur director B.S. Sahay said.
The seven older IIMs won’t be changing the way in which they currently pick students. Candidates selected after the Common Admission Test (CAT) are called for the GD round in which they are broken up into groups of 8-10 that analyse a particular topic. They may at times be given a case study and asked to come up with a solution. A panel observes the groups and evaluates students based on their contribution to the discussion. A final selection is made after interviews with chosen candidates.
The GD round discriminates against those candidates who are low-key in demeanour.
“Generally in a GD, some members are dominant and a dominating candidate is not necessarily the best. In the process to get noticed, it becomes chaotic,” Sahay said. “We want to give everybody a chance and here written analysis seems to be a suitable option.”
Tanmya Kumar Pradhan, an aspirant from Orissa, agrees. “Students from small cities are often sidelined during GDs as they are not very aggressive while presenting their views,” he said. “Sometimes, a dominant candidate hijacks the show.”
The “reformative step” is aimed at being a better gauge of analytical ability, comprehension and communication skills, Sahay said.
“They can be asked to write anything—a case study, an essay, few paragraphs on a socio- economic situation,” he added.
IIM Rohtak director P. Rameshan said the business schools are complementing each other rather than competing with each other.
“The ability to understand and express properly is an asset. Business communication is all about expressing it in the right way,” Rameshan said, adding that his institute was giving this aspect more value.
The focus in the proposed test will be on the practical and will offer an insight into how an individual takes up a challenge, analyses it and communicates it effectively to take control of the situation, said Sahay. A common written analysis for all the new IIMs will reduce the burden on students as they won’t need to travel from one city to another to attend individual GDs, he said.
Students may be given 15-20 minutes for the exercise, and the result will be applicable to all the participating IIMs, said Rameshan.
Communication skills, especially writing capabilities, are very important for practising managers, said Ajay Arora, head of the TIME chain of coaching centres in Karnataka.
“With the services sector growing in India, its value has gone up,” he said. “You need to be a good communicator.”
The move will also simplify the selection process, Sahay said.
The proposed test will take place before the personal interview and after the CAT results are published.
CAT 2011 will be conducted between 22 October and 18 November to allow candidates the flexibility of choosing a test date. The total number of test dates will, however, be 20, the same as last year.
Currently, there are 13 IIMs, including the six new ones. The seven older IIMs are located in Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Kolkata, Indore, Kozhikode, Lucknow and Shillong. This year, the test will be conducted across 36 cities and experts expect the number of applicants will be higher than last year, when 204,000 candidates registered compared with 242,000 in 2009.
As reported by Mint on 26 July, IIMs have announced a new format for CAT 2011, with two sections instead of three and more time for answers. The sections will have to be attempted sequentially—once an aspirant completes the first segment, the candidate won’t be allowed to return to it. The exam duration will be 140 minutes instead of 135 minutes. CAT went online in 2009.