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B-school exams: Prep tips for GK
Sidharth Balakrishna
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December 15, 2008

Now that CAT is over, the time for the entrance tests other management school has arrived. Some of these entrance exams test students on their General Knowledge/ knowledge of Current Affairs. It has been found that many students really struggle with this section, ending up with fairly low marks. The important point to be considered here is that if you are good in this section, it is actually highly scoring as it does not take any time to 'solve' a question -- you either know an answer or you don't. This means that if you practice properly, it should be possible to do at least four questions per minute in this section, saving you time for other sections of the paper. 

Preparation Strategy

Read the newspaper daily: This is perhaps the most important thing as far as your preparation is concerned. If you are planning to do an MBA, you simply MUST read the newspaper daily, particularly the business pages of any daily newspaper. A prospective MBA is expected to be familiar with developments taking place in the corporate world, all of which are reported in any newspaper. The more you read and follow a story as it unfolds, the more details you will remember about it. Thus make sure you read the newspaper everyday, and not only on the days you have time or on weekends etc

Focus your preparation: If you look at past question papers, you will probably notice that some kinds of questions often appear in the GK/ General Awareness section. For example, there are often questions pertaining to mergers and acquisitions (M&A) that have taken place in the recent past. You should follow such developments closely and make notes for the same.

You can also expected questions related to M&A activity. For example, one of the recent big-ticket acquisitions undertaken by the Tatas was the purchase of Land Rover and Jaguar by Tata Motors [Get Quote]. You could therefore be asked that to which company these brands originally belonged (Ford [Images]) or who is the CEO of Tata Motors (the answer is Ravi Kant).

Another type of question that appears is that you are asked to mark the Chairman of a Committee that the Government established for a particular purpose. For example, the Godhra riots were probed by the Nanavati Committee.

Watch the news frequently: One of the few benefits that a TV does offer is that it helps to keep you abreast of developments across the world. Watch the news regularly. You must make sure you are aware of global developments and news from the corporate world for the General/ Current Awareness section. For example, you could be asked as to who won the last Booker Prize or who the Chief Guest for the Republic Day function was. Be sure you are up-to-date with this kind of information!

Make notes and revise the information you have gathered: Make sure that, on the day of your exam, you do not forget the information you have painstakingly gathered! If you have made notes, do glance through them and revise them. Also, a good way to make sure that things remain in your mind is by discussing these developments with friends or colleagues ie sharing and debating information. In addition, you could look at a year-end publication that summarises the various important occurrences that took place during a year.

Finally, if you need practice in the form of a question-answer type of format, look at some magazine that provides you a question bank for GK/ General Awareness. There are several such magazines available in the market today. But make sure that this is only a supplement to your efforts, and not a substitute for it!

The author is an MBA from IIM Calcutta and is employed with a management consultancy. He has also been a visiting faculty with MBA coaching centres in New Delhi [Images], and is a freelance writer on travel and management related issues.

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