Updated: Jun 29, 2020
Never liked reading a newspaper and now you have to prepare business GK for MBA interviews? Don't worry. This post will reveal 7 points in regards to GK and current affairs preparation for MBA that will help you tackle the GK questions asked in the MBA interviews.
First things first, have you ever looked at your parents and wondered how they are able to read the newspaper every single day so effortlessly, whereas it is a task for you to read it even for an hour? They have a strong general knowledge and can easily tell you what is happening around the world.
This observation used to hit me and I often wondered why it was so easy for them. I decided to talk to them about it and that's when I found out the following -
That was the only medium of entertainment and news during their times, so that's a habit.
They both read different kinds of news articles and weren't aware of the whole content.
The purpose of sharing this background is for you to know that:
It's a habit and it can be developed - This means that if you're planning to use social media to become aware of your surroundings (e.g. following some Instagram News channels, etc.), it is not going to work. You have to dedicate a certain amount of time (I'd recommend 1 hour per day in the beginning) and read quality sources (shared ahead) to build your business GK for MBA .
You don't have to know everything - One of our professors at IIM-A asked in the beginning of the class, how many people are a part of today's class discussion? One of the students said 63. The professor said, "You forgot to count me". Our professors readily accept that there's always a scope to learn more, be it from students. So, don't expect that they'll know everything. And hence, you are not obligated to know every single piece of current affairs around you for MBA interviews. You just need to know which battles you're going to fight (explained ahead).
With this background, let's start discussing about 7 tips to prepare GK for MBA interview:
Preparing GK for MBA: 7 Tips
As far as the most common entrance exam for MBA is concerned i.e. Common Admission Test (CAT), there are three sections (click on the links to read their preparation tips) that constitute it:
So, those sections are not going to test your GK. It becomes important during the IIM interviews. If you look at the weightage given to different sections of an interview by different IIMs, you'll notice that GK and current affairs in IIM interviews, especially IIM Ahmedabad and IIM Bangalore are a norm. But, here's the catch:
Point 1 - GK is not the same as Current Affairs
Most people don't know that GK is mostly related to historic events, whereas Current Awareness or Current Affairs deal with the routine happenings around the world. Now, your priority should be to focus on current affairs than GK for IIM Interviews. This is because you cannot know everything that has happened in the past, but you can try to be aware about the recent news. And, that's what is expected of you.
This also brings us to the second point that I briefly shared above:
Point 2 - Know your Battles!
So, now that we've established that you should be thorough with the current affairs for MBA, you might wonder to what extent are you supposed to go back to the past and build your GK for interviews. Here comes point no. 2 - you should choose your own battles i.e. the areas of your interest.
In one of the posts that I had written on expectations of IIM interviewers, I mentioned how they wish that the candidate drives the interview. So, you'll be given a chance to talk about the topic of your interest. That's when you take over. One of my friends loved politics, she knew the inside-out of politics but her GK was average, she only knew the historic events around politics. That's what her entire interview revolved around!
There are many topics to choose from. When you read a news article, see what interests you the most and then delve deeper to read more about it. This way, you'll find your niche (or your battle, whatever you wish to call it).
Point 3 - Your source of retention may differ from others and that's okay.
A lot of aspirants fret over the fact that they are unable to utilize newspapers or blogs which provide the summary of editorials. My suggestion to them is to not be too hard on themselves. Each person grasps information differently. For example, I realized very early that I find it easier to retain GK and current affairs when I watch videos. So, I started using newspapers as only my starting point - I'd note down the topics and then, watch videos on them.
You'll be surprised to know that visual retention is far better than text retention. I'd share some data points with you that are backed by research to prove the same:
So, find what suits you the most. If you feel you're comfortable with newspapers, that's great. Else, you may use them just for scavenging the topics and gain more information using other mediums.
Point 4 - But, your source cannot be social media.
Don't try to fool yourself by thinking that if you are spending one hour on Instagram, Facebook or Quora to list down topics, then it's equivalent of one hour of reading newspaper. This is because you need to cover all grounds for GK and current affairs and newspaper will ensure you don't miss out on topics.
You also need to spend a dedicated amount of time to build this habit. So, set one hour or 30 mins, as per your availability and take notes of the topics or the content of news articles.
Point 5 - Use newspapers efficiently!
I've written a detailed post on how to read a newspaper keeping CAT in mind. My recommendations in regards to the newspapers will be one general newspaper: I read The Hindu Editorials and one business newspaper: I read Mint for building business GK for MBA . If you read the post, one of the points is to prefer the online medium, if possible. This is because CAT exam is going to be online, so it provides dual benefits.
Some other sources that I would love to recommend are YouTube channels (e.g. Bloomberg Quint provides excellent insights) and Netflix documentaries (e.g. Rotten, Jiro). My recommendations might be a bit biased because I liked video content more. You may find yours as per your comfort.
Point 6 - Be open to a web of topics.
Sometimes, when you are trying to go in-depth of a particular topic, you might find a cue to another topic (e.g. a Wikipedia link or another suggested video by YouTube). Don't be shy of following that pathway because it will only help you expand your web of topics and cover more ground of the master topic which umbrellas it.
Additionally, I'd recommend you to create a log of all the insights and opinions you form while reading newspapers or watching videos for GK preparation. I used to keep track in a diary, but when I switched to the online medium, I had an excel file for the same purpose. It will not only help you in shaping opinions on business GK topics, but also act as a quick repository to look at just before your MBA interviews.
Point 7 - Think bigger!
The final point is based on the fact that you're going to appear for an MBA interview. You need to think from a larger perspective and read news articles or watch videos keeping business & macroeconomic impact in mind.
This will help you because the interviewers often ask for your take or suggestions on the topic. They might ask for your opinion on a current affairs topic relevant to the MBA program. That's when you need to show them your ability to visualize things on a larger scale.
I bet that it was too much reading for you. But, hope it gives you some idea and helps you think about GK and current affairs preparation for MBA from a different light.
Feel free to ping me in case of any query and if you want to read more about IIM Interviews Preparation, then I'd suggest you to read this section - All about IIM Interview Preparation.
Some other readings: