How to effectively manage time in the PGDBA written exam?

Monday, January 27th, 2020

How to effectively manage time in the PGDBA written exam

Doing well in the PGDBA written exam is what I consider as the most important milestone in getting admission in the course. This is because in the interview you have to show the best version of yourself on why you did things the way you did, why you want to join the course, how do you think the course can help you in achieving your goals. The interview is about YOU. It is a discussion and if your thoughts are clear, you would have a good chance in the interview. While the written exam is not the same. Here, you are competing with the people from all over the country and you don't have an iota of idea on how smart the candidates could be. Some could be geniuses in Mathematics, some could be aficionados in English. You don't know. This is what makes the written exam important and exciting.

In this blog post, I am going to talk about how to attempt the written exam in the most efficient way. Again, this blogpost would cover my thoughts and what I believe is the correct strategy to attempt the exam.

Let's lay down the exam structure first. The PGDBA exam is a 3-hour-long pen-paper exam consisting of 50 questions. Each question carries 3 marks, so the maximum marks one can get is 150. Each right answer awards you with 3 marks while a wrong answer gives you a negative 1. You get a 0 if you do not attempt a question. The exam is divided into 3 sections:

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  • Section Sub-section/Topics Number of Questions Weightage
    Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC) Grammar, Sentence Correction, Para jumbles, etc.                         5 10%
    Reading Comprehensions 10 20%
    Logical Reasoning and Data Interpretation (LRDI) Logical Reasoning (LR) 5 10%
    Data Interpretation (DI) 5 10%
    Quantitative Ability (QA) Sets, Algebra, Coordinate Geometry, Trigonometry, Calculus, Probability, etc. 25 50%
        50 100%

    Since the exam is a pen-paper exam, you can divide the 3-hour time according to however you want. This is quite useful if you think about it. Now, you can plan the whole written exam basis your strengths and weaknesses. I strongly believe that strategizing correctly could act as the make or break for you.

    I divided the time of the written exam according to the weightage they carry in totality. So, I devoted 90 minutes to the QA section, 50 minutes to the VARC and 40 minutes to the LRDI section. I always believe in starting the exam with the area of your strength. This boosts your confidence and allows you to solve the questions in a fairly lesser time. And since in competitive exams like these, time is the key – you always have to be on your toes. Now, every exam has some easy questions, some with the moderate difficulty level, and some are hard to crack. The mantra is to identify easy questions. Always remember, EACH QUESTION CARRIES 3 MARKS. Don't run after a hard question, because it again carries 3 marks. Keep your ego outside the exam hall, just selfishly run after the easy questions and gather as many marks as you can. In the following table, I have tried to formulate the strategy that I followed. I have been following a similar strategy for all my exams and this seems to work effectively for me:

    Order Section Action Estimated no. of Questions Time Allotted
    1 QA Skim through the QA section and mark easy, mid-difficulty and hard to crack questions 5 minutes
    2 Solve the questions you have marked as easy questions 8-10 20 minutes
    3 Solve the questions you have marked as moderate difficulty level questions 8-10 30 minutes
    4 LRDI Go through the DI section first since your mind would already be in a calculative state 5 20 minutes
    5 Go through the LR section now 5 20 minutes
    6 VARC Try solving both the RCs. Good reading skills along with the ability to connect the dots should help. An RC should not take more than 12-15 minutes to read and understand 10 40 minutes
    7 Attempt the VA questions which include Para jumbles, sentence correction, etc. 5 15 minutes
    8 QA Attempt the questions you have marked as hard in the QA section 5-7 15 minutes
    9 Attempt the easy/moderate questions which you were unable to do in the first round 15 minutes
    Download PGDBA Previous Year Examination Papers 2018-2019

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    Out of the 25 questions in the QA section, at least 8-10 should be easily doable. Since these questions are as easy as pie, you should be done with these questions in the next 20 minutes. DO NOT SPEND MORE THAN 2 MINUTES ON ANY QUESTION – at least in this round when you are solving the easy questions. Now, after 25 minutes into the exam (14% of the total time of the exam), you would have cracked 20% of the paper– this is definitely a good start. Then, you start solving the mid-difficulty level questions. Again, their number should be around 8-10. Since these questions would require a little movement of your neurons, you should be done with these questions in the next 30 minutes. DO NOT SPEND MORE THAN 3 MINUTES ON ANY QUESTION. So, 55 minutes into the exam, you would have around 16-20 CORRECT questions in your cart. I would not attempt the hard questions for now and this is where I would switch sections.

    I would attempt the LRDI section now because my brain is already in a mode of performing calculations. The DI questions are always easy to crack but are calculations intensive. So, attempting these would take up your time but at the same time are rewarding since these assure you that you have moved 5 more steps in cracking this exam. The LR section is a little tricky because if you can crack the underlying logic, you can correctly solve the 5 questions in less than 10 minutes but if you are not able to crack the underlying logic, even 30 minutes would not suffice. The key to this section is to practice different types of LR questions that are generally asked in the competitive exams. I devoted 20 minutes each to the LR as well the DI section, give or take 5 minutes in totality.

    I would attempt the VARC section in the end. Now I have around 80-85 minutes left in the exam out of which around 50 minutes I would be devoting to this section. Since RC dominates this section with 10 questions out of a total of 15 questions, good reading speed along with the ability to connect dots from different parts of the comprehension can help acing this section. The best part here is that you can highlight the important parts with your pencil/pen. For me, a reading comprehension usually requires 12-15 minutes of reading and then around 5 minutes in answering the questions. If we have 2 RCs, in around 35-40 minutes, we should be done with both the RCs. For the remaining 10 minutes, I would devote myself to solving other questions of Verbal Ability. 10 minutes are sufficed because if you know the answer, you know it, and if you don't, you just don't. You cannot think at that time and you would be able to remember something which in turn would help you answer the question.

    You still are left with around 30 minutes in the exam. Though you were able to go through each of three sections once, I would go through the sections one more time. I will start with the QA section because we still have some questions here which we haven't gone through yet – the ones marked as hard. I would again skim through these questions, and check if some of these are. I won't spend more than 3 minutes on any question. After I am done with the hard questions, I would conclude by trying to solve the easy and mid-difficulty questions that I was previously unable to solve.

    Following the above strategy might help you in making the best use of your time. In my opinion, if you can attempt 45 out of the 50 questions with 90% accuracy rate, you should get an interview call. Though again, it would depend on the difficulty level of the exam as well as on relatively how other students perform.

    What strategy did I follow to prepare for the PGDBA exam?
    What is PGDBA and how it is different from CAT?

    About the author:

    Arjun Gupta is an alumnus of PGDBA batch of 2017-19. He is currently working with a Singapore based fashion start-up as a senior PMO in their Business Intelligence and Analytics division. You can find him on LinkedIn: Arjun Gupta

    5 Mock Tests for PGDBA

    a) The mock tests are in the latest pattern
    b) They include questions in the same ratio as the actual paper
    c) They include questions on advance math topics
    d) All questions come with answers and detailed explanations

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