Managing your thoughts
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Managing your thoughts

While writing an essay for XAT, you should be able to display clarity of thought

education Updated: Dec 29, 2010 09:18 IST
Hindustan Times

The essay writing component differentiates XAT conducted by XLRI Jamshedpur from other institutes. The 120-minute XAT paper requires that the candidates write an essay in 20 minutes. This is excluding the time given to a candidate to finish other sections such as data interpretation and quantitative ability, analytical reasoning and decision making and verbal ability and logical ability. Essay writing therefore needs special preparation.

In this article, we list the topics that appeared in XAT essay writing question papers in the last five years. These include: More than one billion Indians: A gigantic problem or a sea of opportunities (XAT 2005)

— Asked at the age of 83, as to which of his project would he choose as his master piece, Frank Lloyd Wright, the architect answered, “The next one” (XAT 2004)

—To give real service, one needs to add something that cannot be bought or measured, like sincerity and integrity (XAT 2003)

Topics of XAT essays are not directly related to current affairs but a thorough knowledge of current affairs, general knowledge and understanding of how the Indian economy functions will help. Apart from that, you need to have an idea about Indian society and demography. Basic idea and understanding of ethics and humanity will also help.

What does the examiner look for in your essay?

While writing an essay for XAT, you should be able to display sound knowledge of the subject and have clarity of thought. If you are discussing a point, finish the discussion and then move on to the next point. Always give examples and facts. Make sure your grammar and spellings are correct and your handwriting is legible.

Essay structure

You should divide your essay in paragraphs. Different paragraphs should express different ideas that contribute to the main idea. The first sentence of the paragraph should talk about what you intend describing, supporting sentences should expand the main idea introduced in the first sentence and the concluding sentence should logically conclude the idea.

Time management

Remember that you will get just 20 minutes for the essay. It is, therefore, important for you to manage your time well. Spend the first few seconds in thinking about what to write and structuring your thoughts. Make sure you leave a couple of minutes at least at the end to review what you have written. The last few minutes can be used to check the flow of the essay – whether the points you have made are integrated and to correct grammatical errors, small mistakes, errors in syntax etc. Try not to make too many changes.


Last-minute tips

Improve your writing speed

How much time does one get for the essay writing section?
It can vary from a 10-minute writing assignment to a 15-minute (like in IIM Lucknow) or a 30-minute (like in IIM Bangalore) one. So ensure that you have a perspective on current affairs and are able to express thoughts coherently.

What will be the word limit for the essay writing section in the personal assessment round?
There is no word limit as such but the IIMs have prescribed a time limit. If on D-day there is indeed a word limit, you should ensure that you abide by it.

Most of the essay writing in the B-Schools is time bound. How should one ensure that one is able to think, write and complete a well-structured essay in the given time?
The first thing you should keep in mind is the time allotted to you for the essay writing section. Make rough jottings of the things you want to cover in the essay.

After you are certain that the basic headings are done, quickly make a mental note of the time while you’re in the process of preparing the headings. Also, prioritise issues that you think are important and include them first. Do practice some essay writing and try out the strategies. This will also help you identify and improve your writing speed.

In the IIFT essay writing, there was a topic — ‘Animals are man’s best friends’. What points should one mention in this essay? Isn’t this too simple for essay writing at such an esteemed MBA institute?
This could have been a very creative essay and you could have created new interpretations for this if you wanted to.

Which reading material would you recommend for essay writing?
You must read articles from magazines and newspapers. Do concentrate on giving logical structure to your essay. It should consist of three parts — analysis, opinion and conclusion.

First Published: Dec 28, 2010 12:28 IST