Ask any MBA aspirant
why he wants to do MBA and the answers follow predictable
lines. Everyone wants to work in a multinational company and
earn a fat salary, or is preparing for it since friends are
into it. Few actually know what to expect from the
profession. Almost everybody talks of a cousin or friend who
has made it big in some company or the other.
It is no wonder that the average student and even people in
other professions and jobs have caught the MBA bug. When
making money has become the central objective of life, who
wants to be stuck in a career that offers less?
Lack of information and counseling results in young people
applying in hordes whether they have the aptitude or not, and
the mushrooming of sub-standard institutes catering to the
demand, which provide MBA degrees that can only be described
as worthless. Very often, a person finds that the MBA degree
does not get the promised job in the multinational and
frustrations arise. Moreover, if every MBA were to be taken
by the multinationals, who would work for the Indian
companies, some of which are as good as, or even better, than
The Management Education Scenario
Management education in the country can roughly be divided
into four groups. At the top are the reputed institutes and
some university departments which have maintained the high
quality of their education. The second rung institutes are
those started by industrial houses, which offer some surety
of a job after the course. The third rung are university
departments which have not been able to impart quality
education but can provide jobs in regional industrial groups.
The fourth rung are those institutes which have neither the
advantage of low fees of a university nor the backing of an
industrial house. In recent times, a number of academics,
retired people, politicians and others have started such
institutes which remain essentially money making devices.
Which institutes should one, apply for? Obviously, the
competition for the top institutes is great, since everybody wants to do the MBA from one. There is no surety of getting
in. It is, therefore better to spread risks and apply for
institutes which are lower down also. One should not apply to
many of them, since each application costs about Rs 1000 and
applying to all would mean spending a small fortune.
Depending on one's ability and confidence, one should select
one or two institutes from each group and apply accordingly.
Of course, the prospects and jobs decrease as one goes down
to the lower rung institutes.
Students also have a problem in assessing an institute. There
are several yardsticks available and one should not go by the
beautifully printed prospectus that they have. Some important
considerations are: whether the institute has a permanent
faculty and whether the faculty is professionally qualified.
Many institutes depend on contractual, part time faculty
members. The commitment of the part-time teacher is never
total. Others depend on researcher-type teachers who have no
idea how real businesses operate. What is required, instead,
are people who have a practical orientation and experience.
One should also check which jobs the institute is able to get
for its graduates. Usually, some students get good jobs
using their own contacts, which the institute then prints in
its prospectus. It is important to see how industry rates the
Unfortunately, the student has no way of getting this
information. There is no rating agency and each institute
makes tall claims about its degree. The All India Council of
Technical Education (AICTE) has given its approval to many
institutes without going into their merits. This has caused
great problems for students who have no yardstick to go by
except the AICTE approval, which does not mean a thing. The
situation is further complicated by the fact that some are
worthless institutes; recently some of them have been sent
notices by the MRTP? Such institutes not only have very high
fee, but use the 'NRI Quota' to circumvent the law on
donations and only take in students who can pay more. The
degrees awarded by them are quite useless.
Training for the corporate world.
But these are not questions that bother the MBA aspirant.
Clearing the entrance test and joining the course are the
immediate hurdles and it is commonly believed that once a
person gets in he will most certainly become an MBA.
Contrasted with courses for Chartered Accountant or Company
Secretary, where some people get caught in the trap of
repeating groups of papers, the MBA is a safe option.
Not surprisingly, the sense of achievement in the MBA student
is very high. The course becomes one huge ego trip. Many
students do not spend as much time on their training as they
should, thinking that the MBA stamp will take them through
jobs. This is only partially true. No company takes a person
for his label alone, but for what he can contribute. The MBA
is chosen for his professionalism and his training, his
skills and his ability to manage. The two years of training
are therefore best spent in acquiring these skills.
How are these skills acquired? First, it requires gathering
knowledge and insight. Many students are used to their
undergraduate classes where notes are made and some questions
are mugged up near the exams, which is enough to see them
through. The management course is unlike any of those
courses. Application of knowledge and not mere bookish
knowledge is required. That is why the good institutes by
emphasis on case discussions and group assignments.
The student must learn everything that may be required in
business situations. A good personality should be developed.
Unfortunately, many lower-rung institutes and university
departments do not have facilities for personality
development or teachers trained in group methods. The result
is a stunted MBA which no good company would like to touch. It
is thus important to do the course from a reputed institute.
The bad institutes do not insist on hard work simply because
they are not committed. There is emphasis on partying and
having a good time. Many institutes in Delhi and elsewhere
are known for such activities. To hide their shortcomings,
they have collaborations with fancy sounding foreign
universities and introduce exotic courses like yoga,
spiritualism and "Eastern Management". One institute
advertises a golf course and swimming pool on its campus. The
corporate sector is usually not impressed by such gimmicks.
Many students come to grief when they find that their
expensive diplomas are not good enough to get them jobs. In
many institutes, the toppers get the good jobs but the
average students have to accept lower offers. Youngsters who
believe that merely the MBA label is a ticket to the good
life face serious adjustment problems and frequent change of
jobs. The MBA, in fact, should be treated only as a time to
prepare for the corporate world.
Qualities to be acquired
A good institute, on the other hand, puts pressure on the
students to be on their toes and updated in their subjects at
all times. Graduates report that in certain semesters they
get very little sleep, so hard is the pressure to perform.
Tests are announced at the last moment when the students are
preparing to sleep, so that a person must be updated in all
subjects at all times. Case studies enhance the applicability
of concepts and theory to real life situations. This results
in a person acquiring professional competence. Ultimately,
the MBA must be seen as preparation for entry into the
A competitive spirit must also be developed. A corporate
career is not one for comfortable jobs and the sooner a
person acquires the competitive spirit, the better off he
Since any job in a company will require a person to make
presentations and to convince others, a person must learn
presentation skills and be a natural leader. Ability to take
good decisions under pressure is also required. Many skills,
such as quantitative analysis, are learnt from books but
analysis of business situations is also required. This is
done through case studies.
The summer training is another method of using the knowledge
in real life situations. The training should be used as an
opportunity to prove oneself and some meaningful work should
be done. Professional competence is rewarded when the summer
training results in an offer of a permanent job on completion
of the degree. In this way, many students find jobs during
their summer training, much before the actual completion of
A student must keep a level head even though everybody he
meets says that clearing the entrance test was a big
achievement. The real achievement is to come after two years
when jobs are required. The years in the institute should be
utilised to learn the skills in the best possible way. If the
student is not busy enough, the MBA degree will be worthless
even though it may have a fancy name.
One of the myths that students have is that they will become
senior managers the moment they complete the MBA. Certain
companies have found that expectations and ambitions of MBAs
are difficult to meet and they have taken policy decisions
not to hire fresh MBAs. Though the MBA is a coveted degree,
it becomes important to keep a level head and keep one's
expectations low. According to the hype, an MBA is a senior
manager, but fresh MBAs are usually taken at the level of
management trainees. Initially, some low and tedious work may
have to be done.
If a student is not reconciled to this, frustrations are
bound to arise. Job hopping is common, which ultimately hurts
the career of the youngster. Further, the company too has its
expectations from the management graduate to whom it is
paying a high salary. The second part of the article will
describe what is expected of the MBA in a company. Somewhere,
the expectations have to be reconciled for the high growth
career of management to be a success.
Opportunities in Management
Rapid expansion of Industries in India has opened new vistas
for excellent opportunities of careers in management. New
Economic Policy of liberalisation and decontrols has
increased the demand for managerial personnel in the
corporate sector. Advent of multinational companies, which
has just begun, may further increase the quest of the
industrial sector in all fields of management like Finance,
Production, Marketing, Personnel and Administration.
The careers in management offer one of the best remuneration
package in the country, particularly in the private sector.
Recent decision of the Government to raise the upper limit of
monthly salary to the managers to Rs 50,000 has made careers
in management even more attractive. In addition to best of
the salaries offered by this career, it also offers
outstanding developmental opportunities to enable the
competent and dynamic managers to rise to the level of
Chief-executive. Several Indian professionals today are
working as Managing Directors in many multi-nationals.
Management professionals from India are also in good demand
in international market. Private sector today offers rapid
advancement to result-oriented professionals. Excellent perks
are offered which may include free accommodation free
conveyance/attractive conveyance allowance, CPF, leave travel
concession, medical allowance/reimbursement etc.
Those who prefer Public Sector Undertakings (PSU), may join
these undertakings at several levels. The managerial
hierarchy and pay-structure in most of the PSU's is
pre-determined and also includes some perks, though not as
attractive as offered by the private sector.
Areas in Management Services
Marketing, Finance, Production and Personnel are the four
major areas in management with each having several
sub-branches. Marketing Management includes sales, purchase,
international marketing (exports-imports), advertising,
marketing strategy, materials management, consumers'
behaviour, market development and research. Financial
Management includes all the aspects relating to finances,
investments, financing decisions, portfolio management,
project management, working capital management, international
financial management, etc. Production Management takes care
of Production methodology, costing, operations research and
quality control etc. Personnel Management deals with the most
complicated aspect i.e. management. It looks after the areas
of Human Resource Development (HRD), recruitment, training,
management-union relations, labour and personnel policies,
organisation behaviour, management of change and general
A degree of Master in Business Administration (MBA) is
considered to be the gateway to careers in management. While
choosing the area of specialisation in management, the
candidates must gauge their aptitude for a particular aspect
of management. Candidates with commerce background usually go
in for Financial Management and the technical graduates with
science or engineering degrees usually choose Production
Management. Rest of the candidates choose Marketing
Management or Personnel Management, depending upon their
aptitudes and flairs.
Master of Business Administration is normally considered to
be the basic and ideal post-graduate qualification for taking
up a good and rewarding career in management. As per one
estimate, every year about 10,000 MBAs are churned out by
Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) and a host of other
universities and recognised institutes/deemed universities. A
candidate with a good MBA degree finds no problem in getting
a good job and freshers are usually inducted as Management
Trainees for one to two years, before getting absorbed in
regular scales. After a few years of experience, MBAs may
choose the job of their own liking at very attractive terms.
Several institutes/universities also offer post-graduate
diplomas of one to two-year duration on Business Management,
Marketing Management, HRD, Personnel Management and Labour
Welfare, Basic Finance, Financial Management, Materials
Management, Operations Management, etc. But as a matter of
rule, MBA degree is considered to be ideal by the job-seekers
as well as the employers. Diplomas also assist in finding
good openings, provided these are supplemented with some
(a) Admission: One of the toughest steps in this direction is
to get admission for MBA degree. All graduates with minimum
50 per cent marks are eligible for admission. The admission
is through an entrance test, which offers very tough
competition. Some universities keep some seats reserved for
"internal" students who graduate from the same university,
apart from the prescribed reservations for scheduled
caste/scheduled tribe candidates.
The most prestigious degree of MBA is the one awarded by four
Institutes of Management (IIMs) located at Ahmedabad,
Calcutta, Bangalore and Lucknow. In addition, some
universities of repute also carry out MBA programme. Some of
these are Delhi University, Bombay University, Madras
University, Calcutta University, Punjab University, Aligarh
Muslim University, Banaras Hindu University, Allahabad
University, Baroda University, Mysore University, Cochin
University, Patna University, Ranchi University, Magadh
University, Jodhpur University, Jammu University, Bhopal
University etc. In addition to the above, there are several
other universities and institutes like Indian Institute of
Foreign Trade, Tata Institue of Social Sciences, Indian
Institute of Rural Management and Institute of Management
which also conduct MBA programmes.
(b) CAT By IIMs: For admission to MBA programme, IIMs hold a
Common Admission Test (CAT) every year, generally in the
month of December. The test is conducted on all-India basis
at several centres, covering almost the entire country. A
notification regarding CAT usually appears in the month of
September in several national newspapers as well as in the
"Employment News". The dates of commencement of academic
session are different for all the four Institutes. CAT is of
2-hour duration. It is objective type (multiple choice) and
includes questions on English language, analytical ability,
reading comprehension, data interpretation and reasoning
ability. This year CAT is to be held on December 12.
In addition to the written test, the candidates may also be
tested in the following:
(i) group discussion; (ii) leadership tests; (iii) case
study; and (iv) personal interview.
The thrust of the CAT is to choose the candidates with high
intelligence quotient, leadership qualities, clear
understanding and good expression. The number of seats vary
from 100 to 180 and the IIMs have reservation for SC/ST
candidates @ 15 per cent and 7.5 per cent respectively.
(c) Entrance test by Universities: The selection of
candidates for MBA programme is made through entrance test by
the universities, depending upon the number of seats and
quantum of competition. The entrance test is for two to three
hour duration. Some of the universities have more than one
papers. The paper usually is objective type (multiple choice)
in nature and covers areas like reasoning, reading
comprehension, quantitative aptitude, data interpretation,
general awareness, business communication skills etc. The
exact layout of the question paper varies in different
Several universities like University of Delhi, Madras,
Calcutta, Bombay, Gujarat, Osmania and Punjab hold part-time
course for MBA. Part-time programmes are designed to last for
5 to 7 semesters and the classes are held in the evening.
Apart from requirement of a good bachelor's degree, part-time
programmes also require some experience at supervisory level.
While part-time courses are available only to the candidates
belonging to a particular city/town where such university is
located, MBA courses offered through
correspondence/self-instructional method are designed to
assist the candidates located at far flung areas. Some
universities like Punjabi University, Patiala and Indira
Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) offer such courses.
IGNOU is one of the premier institutions which offers MBA
programme through a nation-wide network of its 170 study
centres. Internationally recognized as a centre of excellence
for studies, IGNOU offers a 5-semester MBA programme and also
proovides the facility of counselling. This course is
particularly useful for the officers of Armed Forces who
retire at relatively younger age, and also to those
Government servants who wish to seek careers in managerial
cadres by seeking premature retirement.
An advantage to do MBA from IGNOU is that the Candidates who,
for any reasons, cannot complete the entire programme and are
able to pass only a few subjects/papers, are awarded diplomas
like Diploma in Management, Post Graduate (PG) Deiploma in
Business Management, PG Diploma in Marketing Management , PG
Diploma in HRD, PG Diploma in Financial Management, etc,
depending on the number of papers passed by the candidates.
Another advantage is that the number of seats for MBA
programme is determined study-centre-wise which offers a
large number of seats at all India level.
The candidates seeking admission in this programme offered by
IGNOU must have completed 25 years of age and must have at
least three years' experience in the supervisory capacity.
There is, however, no upper age limit. The admission is made
entirely on the basis of marks obtained in the entrance test
which is for two-hour duration and has about 100 objective
type questions on comprehension, reasoning, English language,
general awareness, data interpretation, quantitative aptitude
How to Prepare?
Preparations for MBA entrance examination need in-depth
knowledge, analytical mind, sharp memory and above all,
systematic planning and preparations. Needless to say that
the candidates cannot and should not attempt the preparations
overnight. Since the competition is taken by the best
available talent from all disciplines, meticulous and
long-run preparations are required to get admitted to the
programme. Although the syllabi and contents/papers in the
admission/entrance test differ from university to university
(and between the Institutes as well), there are certain
common aspects that appear in most of the entrance tests/CATs
in one form or the other. These aspects include tests on
quantitative aptitude, reasoning, intelligence,
comprehension, case analysis, relationships, word power,
synonyms, antonyms, general knowledge/awareness, etc. It is
therefore, essential that the candidates start preparing well
in advance on all the above aspects. If one can get hold of
previous year's papers or at least the pattern, this would go
a long way in guiding the candidates to prepare properly for
Some tips to prepare on some important aspects which are
common to most of the entrance examinations, are given below:
(a) Quantitative Aptitude: A candidate seeking admission to
MBA programme is expected to have aptitude for basic and
elementary accounting as well as the knack of solving the
simple arithmetic problems. This is one of the areas in the
admission test which, if properly prepared and practised, is
likely to put the candidate ahead of others, as one can hope
to score even 100% marks in this part. There may be several
types of questions that may form part of quantitative
aptitude test. The first category could be simple arithmetic
problems including profit and loss, percentages, ratio,
averages, partnership, etc. Such problems involve simple
calculations and with a little practice and basic aptitude,
can be solved correctly. The second category of questions
could involve multiplication or divisions in 5 to 6 figures
or decimals. It may be quite time-consuming if the candidates
start actually attempting the entire calculations. Since the
candidates are required to work against time it is not
advisable to waste time on such calculations. With a little
practice, the candidates can easily eliminate most of the
choices straightaway to arrive at the correct answer even
without any calculations. This can be achieved if the
candidates look at all the choices carefully before actually
attempting the calculations. Another category of questions
may be directed at testing only the intelligence of the
candidate and not his/her ability to calculate. There may be
some other questions aimed at testing the common sense of the
candidates. The entire area of quantitative aptitude,
therefore, needs constant practice to calculate quickly with
accuracy. More practice is also essential for the candidates
to gain confidence in this part of the test. Even if a
candidate does not have the basic aptitude for figure-work,
he/she can make up for this deficiency by regular practice
and a lot of hard work. It is strongly recommended that the
candidates practise and attempt all the questions on
quantitatives in the Intelligence Tests appearing in all the
issues of "The Competition Master". In addition to providing
adequate practice to the candidates, these tests also give
methods to solve some typical problem, which without hints to
solve, may appear to be difficult for the candidates lacking
flair for figure work.
(b) Logical Reasoning: Questions on logical reasoning may be
of several types and in several forms. These could include a
statement on which the candidates are asked to draw correct
interference out of the given choices. There could be
questions on series of words and figures, arrangement of
alphabets, brain trasers or even such questions as only call
for drawing logical inferences. Just like quantitative
aptitude test, this portion of admission test also needs
special and detailed preparations and practice. Most of the
questions under this category infact test the common sense
and sense of proportion and reasoning among the candidates
and therefore, must be attempted with a cool head. In case of
statements, the given statement as well as choices given must
be read at least twice before choosing the right answer. In
case there are more than three questions on arrangements of
alphabets, it is advisable to write down all the alphabets on
the rough work sheet. This will facilitate easy and quick
attempt of questions on alphabets. Similarly, there could be
certain questions on distances travelled in different
directions. In such questions it is proper to draw a rough
diagram giving distances travelled in various directions to
get the correct answer. Constant practice in the questions on
reasoning would make the candidates confident to tackle this
particular aspect of the test. "The Competition Master"
provides rich material every month on the tests of reasoning.
This can further be supplemented by a standard book like
"Test of Reasoning" by Khanna Brothers (Publishers),
Chandigarh. To do well in this part of the test, the
candidates must therefore, practise hard.
(c) Comprehension Test: Comprehension test is aimed at
gauging the understanding of English language by the
candidates. Usually, a paragraph is given which the
candidates are required to go through carefully and then
answer the question by choosing the correct answer. To
attempt this part speedily and correctly, the candidates must
practise reading with a quick speed and understanding the
entire passage. Answer to most of the questions are easily
located within the passage itself. But there are certain
questions, answers to which are not directly available in the
given passage. Such questions can only be answered by those
candidates who can understand the passage fully. Although
effective handling of this part depends on the basic
understanding of English language by the candidates. Regular
practice would help the candidates to attempt the
comprehension test in more effective and appropriate manner.
Tests of English language given in every issue of this
magazine invariably contain small comprehension passages.
Practice of such passages may be of great help to the
candidates for preparing this test.
(d) General Awareness: As the name suggests, the test of
general awareness aims to judge the general knowledge of the
candidates. Basic facts about all aspects of general
knowledge like Science, Geography, History, Economics,
Polity, etc are essentially required to be known. A good
knowledge of all branches of general knowledge is essential
which can only be achieved by reading good books. "The
Competition Master", duly supplemented by a standard book
like "General Knowledge Refresher" by O.P. Khanna provides
adequate material on general awareness. This part can also be
strengthened by regular reading of good newspapers.
In addition to the above four aspects, which usually form
part of all admission tests/entrance tests, there are other
aspects like word-power, word relationships, case analysis,
etc which also need careful preparations and practice. A
serious candidate has to devote a lot of time on all the
aspects of the admission test and it is advisable that the
preparations are started at least an year in advance. As
stated earlier, this magazine takes care of most of the
aspects of admission/entrance test.
Group Discussion and Interview
Some of the universities/institutes have group discussions
and interview also as parts of admission test to MBA
programme. These tests are held to judge the suitability of a
candidate for the esteemed programme. The group discussions
are held under the supervision of the experts, who look for
the qualities like ability to express, reasoning, power to
argue, initiative and leadership qualities among the
candidates. Interview, on the other hand, is held to evaluate
other traits of personality of the candidates like knowledge,
suitability, judgement, sense of proportion, manners,
expression, intelligence, etc. It also looks for the variety
of interests and accomplishments of the candidates in
extra-curricular activities including sports. Final selection
of the candidates is made after taking into account their
performance in all the tests.
MBA and Afterwards
Successful candidates join the MBA programme and are then
required to qualify all the prescribed papers. MBA-degree
syllabus usually has one project work and some on-the-job
training. Successful completion of all these leads a
candidate to acquire the MBA degree.
First few years of managerial service are quite hard. At the
beginning of their career, the managerial professionals have
to establish themselves. This not only provides them with
required skills and knowledge, but also gives them
much-needed self-confidence and self-satisfaction. All the
candidates, aspiring to take on management services as their
career, must remember that this field is full of competition
and those who are willing to put in a lot of hard work,
capable of working for longer hours and dedicated to work,
are likely to rise up in the managerial hierarchy. Easy going
persons, who are incapable of giving desired results, are
likely to get lost in the middle echelons of management. A
truly challenging and competitive career, management must be
chosen after detailed self-analysis and introspection by the
candidates. Of course, for the right candidates with rich
appetite for success, sky is the limit.
How to Choose Management Institutes
Students desirous of doing their MBA are faced with a dilemma
about which institutes they should apply to. There are so
many institutes (more than 500, according to latest
estimates) that one is really at a loss to know which ones
are good and which ones are not. Each claims to be better
than all the others. In the absence of transparency and
information, the student really has no idea about the quality
of the education that one may receive and subsequently, jobs.
This feature answers the common questions that students have
about institutes and what should be the best strategy to
select and apply to them.
Around this time of the year, newspapers are full of
advertisments of management institutes inviting students to
apply to them and seek admission. Each claims to be better
than the other. Names of foreign affiliations are thrown
about as well as all those wonderful jobs that graduates of
the institute were able to get. If one is "foremost in
management education", another is a "centre for excellence"
and still another is a "pioneer of management education in
the country". Exotic teaching methods, such as yoga and
meditation, have been introduced to give the courses a local
touch. There is, however, no way of knowing whether the
claims are true or not.
Unlike the West, there is no rating of institutes or a
criteria against which a student may assess himself before
applying. Nor is information easy to get from these
institutes. Though the concept of the MBA degree is borrowed
from Western universities, our institutes do not share
For a student, this poses a daunting task. Applying to all
the institutes is not feasible because each requires you to
buy a prospectus at a hefty price. The only way out is to
depend on market reputation and hearsay and make an
assessment whether an application should be made or not. A
broad indicator is whether the institute has government
approval or not, but since a number of questionable
institutes boast of approval by the All India Council of
Technical Education (AICTE), the tag has become quite
The scene has been made more confusing by unscrupulous
activities by some institutes. Many demand donations from
students and it is easy to get in if you can pay for your
seat. Others have a system of "non-resident quota" in which
one must pay double the fees and secure a seat. An institute
in Ghaziabad is notorious for leaking its entrance test year
after year, putting many students at a disadvantage.
In the absence of a rating system, a rough way to assess the
institutes is to classify them in a broad category. One
method could be as follows: a) the top 10 institutes which
have a very good reputation, b) universities offering MBA
programmes, c) institutes set up by industry or having
industrial backing, d) institutes without any industrial
backing and set up by academics or unknown people, and e)
foreign degrees offered through correspondence.
One should, of course, try for the best institutes and
prepare well for admission. If one is not able to match the
high scores required, it would be better to look for
institutes lower down in the list. On no account should one
pay capitation fee, because one would be stuck with a
worthless degree even after paying heavily for it.
The situation of admissions in management education is quite
dismal, indeed. The system is exploitative and there are many
operators who have opened institutes to cash in on the demand
for a management degree. Lacking facilities and staff, they
operate like small shops. Unfortunately, even reputed
universities and institutes are not able to provide good
management education. For example, the good teachers are
perpetually on leave as they manage to get assignments from
abroad. Only those with parochial outlooks and limited
teaching skills are left. Visiting faculty often fills in the
gaps. It is difficult to find teachers who are trained in the
case discussion method, so essential in management classes.
That is why there are only a few institutes which have a good
name. Industry too does not recognise many institutes and
this is the reason that there is a glut of MBAs. The smaller
institutes prefer to take only those candidates who can get
jobs through their parents' contacts, which is later used to
sell the institute. But if one is to make a career, the ideal
thing is to get into a reputed institute.
Of late, many foreign universities have started advertising
their management programmes in India. It is possible to get a
foreign degree without leaving the country. The value of such
degrees is doubtful and it is unlikely that they will have
the same acceptability as a full-fledged degree.
Ultimately, it may be said admission to MBA courses is like a
roulette wheel. There is a long way to go before some order
can be restored and the activities of money-making institutes
can curtailed. For that, the government would have to play an
active part and not sit back after granting approval. In
fact, it may be advisable to review the approval after some
time and cancel it for those institutes which are not able to
maintain standards. An authentic rating of the institutes
would also help the students.
The system has to move from being exploitative and become
more professional. It is an irony that those who are to teach
management to others actually need a watchdog to ensure that
they are managing themselves properly.
The right way to make a choice is to assess oneself first. If
one is targetting the best institutes, does one have the
calibre? One should appear in a number of practice tests and
get an honest score. The tests should have 180- 0 questions
and must be done in two hours. In calculating scores, the
average of three or five tests should be taken. Once you have
your score, you can use the following table as a guide:
Category If your score is You can apply to
1. Above 100 The top institutes/CAT and allied institutes
2. Between 70-100 Universities/industry backed institutes
3. Between 50-70 Most MAT institutes/Institutes without
4. Below 50 Foreign university for correspondence degree
This is a rough method and there could be exceptions, but it
gives an indication as to which institute one has the chance
of getting to.
Attempting Management Tests
Attempt all sections within the given time. Work by an alarm
clock or ask someone to remind you to switch sections.
Develop skill in all sections. Do not concentrate in one
section at the expense of the other. A certain minimum marks
have to be obtained in all sections.
Attempt different forms of testing so that you are not taken
unawares by any surprise element in the paper.
Remember that speed is not hurry. Speed means spotting
shorter methods as opposed to the 'correct' way of solving
problems. Rushing through the paper is unlikely to do you any
Keep your cool. If you panic, close your eyes and meditate.
Return to the paper after blanking your mind of negative
Compare your scores with others and you will have a good idea
where you are heading.
Make a note of the mistakes you are likely to make. Keep
these points in front of you while attempting mock tests so
that you learn to avoid them.
Keep a small diary in which you write all the formulae,
tables and the things you forget often. Carry it around and
check it whenever you are in doubt. Constant reference will
help you memorise what you find difficult.
Identify weak areas and seek professional help to get over
If you are consistently lagging behind, perhaps you need to
consider whether you have aptitude. Maybe your talent lies in
some other field and you should look at alternate careers.
What to expect at the GD
The GD is an indicator of the confidence of a person as well
as his ability to work in a group. Students are seated in a
semicircle. A topic is given and after about a minute or so,
the group is asked to proceed. Most discussions last for
10-12 minutes and the group size maybe anything up to 15
people. Some institutes are known to have about students in a
group, which makes the task of contributing meanigfully all
the more difficult. Almost all students will be anxious to
make a mark and sometimes there may be pandemonium. Often,
aggressive and loud-mouthed individuals may corner the
discussion. One should have a strategy for dealing with such
There are no fixed rules for a GD. There is usually a
scramble to be the first one to speak. The first speaker
should mention the topic and make a preface by stating the
issues. He should not commit himself but only speak the
introduction. Later, one may make some interjections and make
one's stand clear. The group should move towards a consensus
but so great is the tension to make one's point that this may
not happen at all. The idea is to exhibit some leadership
qualities in steering the group while making one's
If the group is too noisy, the facilitator may allot one
minute to each candidate to sum up the discussion. This is an
opportunity to put on one's best effort. Without criticising
the group, one can sum up and give one's own views.
How is one rated in a GD?
Firstly, a candidate is evaluated
on how he speaks. Fluency plays a role here. But this is not
enough: what matters is also whether any meaningful
contribution was made by the person. Thirdly, a candidate
will score if he shows leadership qualities, that is, of
guiding the group towards a consensus. It is clear that one
should have read a lot if he is to exhibit any depth of
knowledge. If you have kept up with the newspapers and
magazines, it will certainly be of help. Look at the last 12
issues of the Competition Master and you will find all the
likely current topics discussed. Read carefully the debates
and argumentative questions and chances are that you will get
one of these topics for discussion. Read also items of
economic importance and learn the figures of growth rates,
GDP, deficits and so on.
How to contribute in a GD
There are always two ways to look at any topic: for or
against. Take the example of economic liberalisation. It can
be argued that it was a very good thing since a number of
foreign companies came into the country, bringing technology
and efficiency. Employment and growth rate improved. The
people could buy all the world class products which earlier
had to be smuggled.
On the other hand, it can also be argued that all kinds of
non-essential goods came into the country, like hamburgers,
fried chicken and sodawater. The infrastructure remained
poor. There was no fresh growth as the MNCs simply bought the
Indian companies. The technology they imported was outdated
and most of the goods were so expensive that most people
could not buy them. Liberalisation was trumpeted to be a good
thing since polticians were using it to rake in personal
Whatever personal views one may have, it is important to know
both sides of the argument. If the discussion is heading
towards a particular direction, a candidate can take a
totally opposite view and consequently will become the centre
of the discussion. Of course one must be able to defend one's
viewpoints and therefore the need to have read widely. In the
case of liberalisation, many people will defend it, since
that is the viewpoint most often published in newspapers. If
a student can bring in an opposing viewpoint and mention some
convincing reasons, there is no reason why he will not be
The trouble is that most students have not faced anything
like the GD before. How is one to speak in a group of 15
strangers in a language we do not usually speak? One way is
to read about a topic and then debate with parents, uncles or
elder cousins. Tell them to ask you questions and try to trap
you. The more you do this, the more clear will your own
thoughts become. Of course practice in a larger group can be
obtained only by joining a professional institute.
Another way to practice is to tape your speech. Try to speak
about a topic for one full minute into the tape recorder.
When you listen to the tape, you will be able to spot your
mistakes, the points on which you falter and the words which
you cannot easily speak. You will also be able to know
whether you make any sense or not. Ask your friends to listen
to the tape critically. Often, people can discover their
weaknesses and speech impairments by this method.
You can also use mirror therapy. Stand before a mirror and
speak extempore on any topic. Practice sounding assertive and
firm. If you think your voice is soft or shrill, especially
for girls, speak loudly in front of the mirror as if you are
speaking to a stranger. Have a conversation with yourself.
The mirror will tell you whether you have a habit of looking
away while speaking. It will tell you about your body
language also. These will be invaluable insights for
participating in groups. You must look at all the members
when addressing them. Looking away will cause you to lose
your chance and the other person will carry on without
letting you complete.
The mirror will also stop you from fidgeting, as many people
are prone to do when they are speaking or are nervous. The
therapy will be greatly enhanced if you can get your family
members or friedns to practice with you.
Take care also that you do not stray from the topic. One way
to avoid this is to write it down and keep it in front of
you. By periodically looking at it, you can arrange your
thoughts mentally. Remember that the interjections should
always be in the form of a paragraph, not a question. Do not
get into cross talk with any person in the group. Do not
start quarrelling if someone is against your stand. Instead,
address the group.
In any GD, a common situation is that everybody wants to
speak all at once and some individuals will dominate on
account of their loudness. After all, everybody wants to make
a mark in the limited time and it is survival of the fittest.
Making an interjection at this stage is rather difficult.
Start off with meta-language: "I agree with you, but..." or
"We have heard many viewpoints and I would like to say...."
Do not lose your cool if nobody listens. It might pay to
raise your voice for the opening sentence and then go ahead
to make your point. Never criticise. If you do not agree with
a particular viewpoint, start with: "You may be right, but I
feel...." or even "I agree with you on certain points but
there is a contrary opinion that...." Be polite but firm.
A common situation is that whatever points you have thought
of have already been said by someone else. Do not become
nervous should this happen. Instead, quickly assess the
situation and the direction of the discussion. Take a few
deep breaths and think whether anything has been missed out
or whether you can turn the discussion around. Usually, there
is always some uncovered ground and a person can steer the
discussion in a new direction. "We have been discussing the
positive side of the matter", you can say. But there is a
more serious dimension that we have ignored...." Chances are
that you will become the centre of discussion after this.
Even if you have not spoken during the first half of the
session, you will have turned it around to your advantage.
Assume a leadership role if you do not have much to say. Give
a chance to others who have not spoken. Guide the discussion
by restoring order. Keep an eye on the time and after 10
minutes or so, begin summing up. This will show your
leadership qualities. However, if you do not contribute in
any other way, this strategy will not be sufficient to see
Interjections should be made without being rude. Do not cut
into mid-sentence. On the other hand, if someone cuts into
your speech, politely ask to be heard: "I would like to
complete what I was saying...." rather than rudely asking a
person to shut up. Sometimes all these rules do not work,
especially if the group is a rowdy one. Since it is survival
of the fittest, do not be cowed down and make a bold effort
to make yourself heard.
If you are an MBA aspirant, look at the following 15 options.
There could be other options as well, but beware of smaller
institutes claiming AICTE approval as also those offering
foreign degrees in India.
Indian Institutes of Management, Ahmedabad, Bangalore,
Calcutta, Lucknow, Indore and Calicut.
Xavier Labour Relations Institute, Jamshedpur.
Faculty of Management Studies, Delhi.
Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies, Mumbai.
Management Development Institute, Gurgaon.
S.P. Jain Institute of Management & Research, Mumbai
Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies, Mumbai
Institute of Management Technology, Ghaziabad
University of Punjab, UBS, Chandigarh
Xavier Institute of Management, Bhubaneshwar
Bharatidasan Institute of Management, Tiruchirapalli.
Pai Management Institute, Manipal.
Symbiosis Institute of Business Management, Pune.
Sydenham Institute of Management & Research, Mumbai.
International Management Institute, New Delhi
Mock Group Discussion
The group discussion tests two things: a) the confidence to
speak in a group, and b) the ability to make a meaningful
contribution. The first is built up over time and the second
comes about if you have read something about the topic. Most
topics are taken from the current political or economic scene
so if one has just kept abreast of current affairs, one will
be able to make a mark.
We give below a group discussion on a common topic and give
some typical responses of students. We then analyse the
discussion so that readers can develop their own strategy for
Good morning. You can choose any topic you like
or take a slip from that box. You are given one minute to
think after which please start the discussion. The observers
will not interfere in your discussion. If no conclusion is
reached, we may ask each of you to speak for a minute on the
topic at the end of the discussion.
Mr A: This is a very good opportunity. We can take an easy
topic and discuss it. What about the nuclear blasts at
Pokharan? Or we can discuss the bus diplomacy. We can speak
on these topics.
Mr B: What is there to speak on them? Let us not waste time
but take up an interesting topic.
C: No, no. We should take a slip from the box and take up
that topic. Otherwise we will discuss only which topic to
Mr D: What if the topic we get is a difficult one? I think we
should choose a topic among ourselves and take up an easy
thing, about which we know something. Then all can speak.
Mr E: Friends, let me put the whole thing in perspective. We
are given two options. The danger with the first one is that
we can never arrive at a topic which will be acceptable to
all. The second option is to take a slip out of the box. We
may get an easy or difficult topic, but it will be applicable
to all. We should choose an option that does not waste time.
Mr F: Yes, yes. I agree.
Mr E: If everyone is in agreement, let us take a slip out of
the box. The topic on the slip is "Multinationals: Bane or
Boon". I suggest we think about it and start the discussion.
Mr A: This is a good topic. I am against multinationals. We
have Coke and Pepsi. Do we need them? We can manufacture our
own soft drinks. Multinationals destroy the local industry
and sell non-essential products.
Mr B: I agree with you. What is the fun of having Coke and
Pepsi? We have our own Campa Cola.
Mr C: I think water is good enough.
Mr D: We are not here to discuss soft drinks. The topic given
to us is a much larger one. First, let us define
multinational companies. They are merely large companies
which operate in a number of countries. There could be some
Indian multinationals also. So there is nothing wrong with
them. The point is whether they have a good or bad impact on
the host countries. We have to discuss their business
practices and find out whether they are desirable or not.
Mr E: That is a very good introduction to the topic.
Multinational companies do serve an important function that
they bring new products and technologies in countries which
do not have them. And it is not just Coke and Pepsi. They set
up power plants and build roads and bridges, which really
helps in the development of host countries.
Mr F: But are they all that good? We have seen that they
destroy local industry. In India they just took over existing
companies. They came in areas of low technology. Moreover, we
have to see why they come at all. They come for earning
profits and often remit more money abroad than they bring in.
Mr A: I agree with you. I am against multinationals. We can
produce everything ourselves. We should be swadeshi in our
approach. Why do we need multinational companies?
Mr E: We may not need multinational companies but then it
also means that our companies should not do business abroad.
Can we live in an isolated world? The fact is that we are
moving towards becoming a global village. The world is
interconnected. Then we have also seen that foreign companies
bring in business practices that we are impressed with. Look
at foreign banks. They are so efficient and friendly that the
nationalised banks look pathetic in comparison. I think we
can learn a lot from multinationals if we keep our eyes and
Mr B: Take a look at McDonald's. They are providing quality
meals at affordable prices. One does not have to wait at
C: How do you account for the fact that they take out more
than they put in and thus lead to impoverishing the country?
Mr D: The fact is that every poor country needs foreign
investment. Poor countries often lack resources of their own.
That is why they have to invite foreign companies in. There
is nothing wrong in this, because then products like cars,
air conditioners and so on, can be made in poor countries.
Often multinationals source products from different countries
which helps boost their export earnings.
Mr E: We have been talking about Coke and Pepsi. It is well
known that Pepsi is in the foods business also and has helped
farmers in Punjab by setting up modern farms to grow potatoes
and tomatoes. Modern practices have helped the people in that
Mr A: I still feel that multinationals are harmful for the
Mr D: Well, there could be negative things associated with
such companies. They may not be very good in their practices.
But can we do without them? I think the best way is to invite
them but also impose some controls so that they follow the
laws of the country and do not indulge in unfair practices.
Mr E: I think laws are applicable to everyone. Very often
officials in poor countries take bribes. The fault lies not
with the company which gives a bribe but the person who
actually demands one. Why blame the companies for our own
Mr A: What about the money they take out?
Mr D: We have had a good discussion and I think it is time to
sum up. Multinationals may have good points and some bad ones
too, but competition is never harmful for anyone. We cannot
live in a protected economy any longer. We have been
protected for many years and the results are there for
everyone to see. Rather than be close about multinationals,
let us invite them in selected areas so that we get foreign
investment in areas which we are lacking. Laws can be
strictly enforced that companies operate within limits and do
not start meddling in political affairs.
This short discussion gives some typical responses of
students. The topic is a general one, but responses vary from
the commonplace to the more informed. Usually, the discussion
gets stuck on Coke and Pepsi but the idea is to go beyond
Though Mr A started the discussion, he could not make any
good points. Later, he could not give any points about why
multinationals are bad. It is also a bad strategry to say at
the outset whether you are for or against the topic.
Remember, it is not a debate but a discussion. The first step
should always be to introduce the topic without taking sides.
See the way in which the discussion is proceeding and give
arguments for or against. The observer is not interested in
your beliefs but in what you are saying.
The participation of Mr B and C is below average. A candidate
must make 3-4 interventions. Their arguments are also not
well thought out and add nothing to the argument. It is
important to say relevant things which make an impact rather
than speak for the sake of speaking.
The arguments of Mr D and E are better. They seem to be aware
of the role of multinational companies. Mr E's approach is
better as he intervenes a number of times. He has also taken
initiative in the beginning and brought order to the group.
If selection has to be made from the above six candidates,
the obvious choice would be Mr E and thereafter, Mr D.
Why group discussions?
Most jobs and management schools do not want bookworms, but
people who are outgoing and smart as well. Group discussions
help check whether a person can articulate his thoughts and
hold his ground.
What is observed?
*Leadership skills * Confidence * Consideration for others *
Manners * Aggressive behaviour * Substantial viewpoints vs
Some common topics for Group Discussions
Reservation for women is desirable
The impact of India's nuclear tests
Advancement in science would lead to destruction
Who is responsible for ills of our country: politicians or
Should there be a Presidential form of government?
Management is an art or science?
Are small States preferable to large States?
Is our culture under threat from cable television?
Environment vs development: which is preferable?
The role of multinationals in the economy
How to prepare?
*Form an informal group and discuss serious issues * Discuss
current affairs with parents or elders * Watch news and
current affairs programmes * Read some good magazines. Read
all the discussions featured in The Competition Master in the
past months * Always think of points in favour and against
Some important tips
*Always be polite * Never criticise * Give others a chance to
speak * Make sure you intervene 4-5 times in the discussion *
Be coherent, make your point and let others discuss * Do not
be aggressive or loud * Play the leader
How to Discuss a Case Study?
Quite often, for group discussions, a caselet is given on
which the candidates have to form their opinions and discuss
it out. Different people may have different solutions and
viewpoints. This requires a different approach, since a group
discussion is on a particular topic while a case is
situational. Based on this, a student can learn the
methodology to tackle case studies.
CASE: You are the manager of a nationalised bank in a busy
area. The branch has done very good business in the past but
is now facing competition from private banks. One day, an
influential customer comes to get a demand draft made but
finds that the cashier is not on his seat. He waits for 10
minutes after which he approaches you. You find the cashier
and direct him to attend to the customer. The cashier tells
the customer that he would have to wait another 10 minutes as
he is doing an important piece of work. At this, the customer
loses his patience and there is an altercation between the
customer and the cashier. Angry, the customer walks into your
office and threatens to take his business elsewhere. You
Considering the fact that bank unions are very strong and
would immediately call for strike if you took any action
against the cashier, what would you do in the given
Candidate I: This is a common situation faced by bank
customers. Nationalised banks have traditionally given poor
service and employees have behaved irresponsibly towards
their customers. That is the reason that they are losing
customers after private banks have come in. I feel that the
cashier should not go unpunished. As bank manager, I would
like to be strong and suspend the cashier, since he has led
to an important customer withdrawing his business. It is true
that I would have to face the wrath of the unions but in the
long term interest of the bank, it is better to face the
unions once than to live in fear of them. My action would
also send a message to other employees and set an example.
This is the only way that our branch can face up to the
competition. We have to provide good service. By going on
strike, we may lose business for a few days but in the long
run, the bank would work more efficiently. It is time we
faced inefficient employees once and for all, rather than
live in dread of them. After all, the prime objective of the
bank is customer service and increasing business. If we
cannot do that, do we have a reason to exist?
Candidate II: I would like to motivate the cashier and
explain to him how his action has affected the bank and one
of our best customers. If he really withdraws business from
the bank, would it be beneficial to us? I think the problem
lies in motivation. If bank employees feel responsible for
their job and realise the importance of the work they are
doing, they will want to contribute to the branch. The
solution thus lies in motivation and guidance. I would try to
find out what work the cashier was doing at the time the
customer came. Maybe he was doing something which was not
part of his duties, or maybe he needs some assistance, which
I will provide to him. I am sure he will appreciate my
concern and improve in the future.
Candidate III: Before knowing the facts of the case, how can
I take action? I would constitute an enquiry committee to
find out the facts. If the cashier was found to be doing
something which he shouldn't have been doing,. I would
recommend his immediate transfer or sacking. I would not take
an arbitrary decision like throwing him out or even try to
motivate him, since bank employees do not respond to such
things. When I have the enquiry committee report with me, I
can decide about suitable action to be taken. Maybe the
cashier needs assistance or maybe he was at fault. In this
way, I would avoid a strike but send a message to other
employees too that I was serious about my job. An arbitrary
decision would hurt my credibility and also expose me to risk
of union activity. Under the circumstances, an enquiry would
buy me time as also serve the purpose. It would also be safe,
as my subsequent action would not be criticised, since I was
going by the committee recommendations.
Candidate IV: I find that there is nothing much I can do in
this situation. Bank managers have few powers over their
employees and can neither motivate them nor throw them out.
We also have to realise that managers are not responsible for
the business of their banks. They have only temporary tenure
and promotions are based on length of service. I would thus
try to ensure that everything is peaceful during my tenure
and no major disruptions take place. My transfer may be due
in a few years anyway, so why should I rock the boat? By
appointing committees or taking action, I would be
unnecessarily spoiling my relations with colleagues and it
would also spoil my reputation in the bank. So I would do
nothing. I would try to pacify the customer, but if he wants
to take the business elsewhere, let him. I would also pacify
the cashier but would not take action against him. Wisdom
lies in maintaining the status quo, not in rocking the boat.
The case says that the bank is nationalised, so that is
important. We are not in the private sector where we are
responsible. We have to fulfil social responsibility.
Employees are important. Moreover, you cannot change the
system. So my advice is: do nothing. Just sit tight and wait
for your transfer. Maybe it will be to a better place.
We now have different viewpoints, each quite different from
the others. The first is to take drastic action, the second
to motivate the errant employee, the third to appoint a
committee and the fourth, to do nothing. Each has its
advantages, as explained. Clearly, there is no one answer or
the best solution. But when one makes any recommendation, one
must see what impact it will make on the selection panel.
The first response would show that the manager is tough and
ruthless, brave and daring. However, it would also show that
he does not care about human relations. The second shows that
the manager is too concerned with human qualities. He wants
to motivate the employee, but that is a long process. The
message he would send that he is too soft and does not care
about the efficiency in the bank. The third response is to
buy time by appointing an enquiry committee. This would make
practical sense, though it would show that the manager is
indecisive. The last response is perhaps the most practical:
given such situations a real bank manager will probably
ignore the whole episode. Each response, thus, has its
positive points but would send a negative signal too. What
would be the best response in this case?
It must be understood that any case is a situation and a
candidate is not required to show his business acumen or
insight. What is required is that the candidate shows some
leadership skills and is able to articulate his ideas. We
give below a method which would be the best response in doing
any case discussion.
The idea is that the candidate must keep the initiative and
is able to interject at several points in the discussion. Do
not give your viewpoint, no matter how wise you think it is.
When you advise a particular piece of action, you immediately
paint yourself in a corner from where you have to defend your
thoughts without the possibility of shifting your stand later
on. There is no point getting into an argument. The best way
would be to assume a leadership position and, without
committing any course of action, to guide the group. Help it
arrive at a consensus. Agree or disagree to others'
viewpoints. After sufficient arguments have been made, take
your stand and agree with the group. Your role should be of a
Here are the steps you can follow to achieve the above:
Describe the problem.
Ask for different viewpoints.
Identify possible solutions.
Discuss pros and cons of each alternative.
Select the best alternative and agree with it.
By following this strategy, you can make a contribution to
any case, even if you do not know anything about it. Start by
paraphrasing the case and put in your words, explaining it to
others. Stick to the facts mentioned in the case. Having made
your introduction, ask for the opinion of others. Do not
criticise anybody but help analyse the alternatives. Bring in
advantages and disadvantages of each alternative. Having
thrashed out all suggestions, help the group select the best
one. Agree with the group consensus and conclude, bringing in
all the points that were brought up in the case.
You can show your leadership abilities through this strategy.
The selection committee would no doubt be impressed by your
contribution as also the fact that you are able to guide the
group. This would thus be the winning strategy to succeed in
any case discussion.