The prestigious XAT (Xavier's Admission Test) for admission to colleges like XLRI, XIM B, GIM, etc. apart from other areas also tests you on essay writing. Twenty minutes is stipulated at the end of the 2 hour test period to write a page- long essay. The essay topic for XAT 2008 was "The consequence of gender imbalance- The Third World War".

To get an understanding of how to best tackle this section, let us first understand why it is a part of the test in the first place. A good manager needs to have good writing skills. He needs to be able to present his ideas in a crisp, logical and coherent manner. An essay written by an applicant reveals this facet of his aptitude. They are not on the lookout for a Shakespeare but somebody who can express his thoughts well in a written form and who is well read and hence well informed about the prevailing socio-political and economic scenario and how it affects businesses and hence business managers. Also how free the applicant is from prejudice and biases and how well he understands the point and is able to negotiate issues with integrity and sensitivity.

Topics over the years have ranged from imaginative (XAT 2000: Ships are safer in the harbour but they are not meant for the same) to factual (XAT 2002: Indian Economy in the Post WTO Era). When I wrote XAT in 2004, the topic was: Asked at the age of 83, as to which of his projects would he choose as his masterpiece, Frank Lloyd Wright, the famous architect answered, "The next one".

Immediately the mind started working as to how the hallmark of a truly brilliant mind is the ever moving target that is perfection. A mind that swiftly corrects itself and is always in the pursuit of excellence. Geniuses are rarely satisfied by their attempts and after each effort try to better the previous one. I brought in Ayn Rand's 'The Fountainhead' as well since the backdrop was architecture. After spending around 5- 7 minutes organizing my ideas and jotting down the flow, I carefully started to write keeping in mind paragraphs and a logical thought flow. I avoided cancellations and at the end of around 18 minutes went through what had been written. Time runs out very quickly in these kinds of tests.

So, to tackle this section well, first and foremost prepare well. Read magazines like Outlook, India Today, Editorials of newspapers, books, etc. Then try to have opinions based on certain perspectives which you can back up through logic or facts. The moment you read the 'topic' start thinking about the main 'point' and all that you know linked to that. Try to build a point of view and back it with perspectives. Jot down the flow. Once you are satisfied, write the essay down quickly. After finishing, do not forget to go through what you have written and make the necessary corrections. I wish you good luck for XAT 2009.

Pravin S. Vedamuthu
IMS Learning Resources Pvt. Ltd.