By Aindrani Sarker
Summer. It’s the time of the year again when a fresh batch of students graduate from school and are faced with the almost monstrous task of applying to colleges.
Some colleges have their own entrance exams, some refer to board marks for admission, some colleges do both while another different set of colleges conduct a separate round of Personal Interviews or Group Discussions to select their students. This makes it important to not only ace the entrance exams, but also to make a mark when it comes to these interviews or group discussions.
Symbiosis Law School, Pune, Noida and Hyderabad select their students through a two-fold process.
The first being the SET entrance exam which is followed by the PI-WAT (Personal Interview- Writing Ability Test). Once you have met the cut-off for the entrance test, you are eligible to proceed to the second round of admission, which is the PI-WAT.
While the term PI-WAT might sound like a very complex procedure, in reality it is not. Take it from someone who’s already been in your shoes.
There’s no reason to be daunted by or feel nervous about it. Now, the PI-WAT, as the name suggests, is again a two-step procedure which includes a Writing Ability Test and a Personal Interview.
This part is nothing but a short essay writing exercise. You will be given about four or five topics out of which you have to select any one of your own choice and write an essay on it. It needn’t be too long, about 800 words should suffice, unless stated otherwise.
You will roughly be given an hour or so to complete this task. The topics which will be presented to you aren’t very complex.
They’re usually very generic, but thought provoking ones. Some examples would be – “Is the internet a boon or a bane?”, “What impact has social media had on our lives?”, “Should capital punishment be abolished?”- something on those lines.
I would, however, recommend that you be updated with the latest pressing issues around the world as you might be given a topic pertaining to such an issue/event (this will help you during your Personal Interview as well, should your panelists choose to ask you about your opinion about such an issue).
While writing your essay, ensure that your logic remains sound. Also avoid any and all sorts of grammatical and spelling errors.
It is needless to mention that such blunders would not reflect very well on your mark sheet while your essay is being evaluated. This is pretty much all you need to keep in mind while attempting the WAT and you should be able to happily waltz out of the room.
The Personal Interview usually follows the WAT. Roughly speaking, each interview can last for anywhere between 4-7 minutes.
When called, walk into the room confidently, wish the interviewers and hand your file over to them. Seek their permission before you take your seat and then proceed to introduce yourself to them.
This is the part where the interviewers will take a look at your Curriculum Vitae and your certificates of merit from school. They’ll ask about your extra-curricular activities in school, your interests, hobbies, and basically about yourself in general.
They might also ask you a few technical questions related to law, which shouldn’t be too difficult to attempt considering how you must already have prepared for all the law entrance exams.
In case you’re faced with a question you do not know the answer to, politely tell them that you do not know the answer and would be more than willing to learn or read up about it.
Do not try to make up things and feed them to your interviewers because they’re a lot more experienced in this field than you are. It is always a better idea to accept your flaw or mistake than to wrongfully assert your opinion. This however, does not mean that you come forth as submissive. It is important that you remain confident and maintain your composure at all times.
Even if the interviewers cross question you and try to throw you off, do not get nervous; your self-confidence is what will reflect well on your personality. In case you did not understand a question you were asked, smile and ask the interviewer to kindly repeat it for you.
Apart from all of the above, it is also important that you remain calm, do not come across as rude or arrogant, do not interrupt the interviewers while they are speaking, listen to them carefully and let them finish.
It’s a good idea to be prepared with the answers to generic questions like “Why did you choose law?” or “Where do you see yourself in 10 years?” or “What inspired you to build a career in the legal field?” or “What do you think sets you apart from the other candidates?” or “Why do you want to join Symbiosis?”, amongst others.
In case you come from a family where no one is affiliated with field of law, or from a family where most people are running a business, interviewers often ask why you decided to deviate and choose such a different field of education. When you’re asked a question, answer it to the point and in a precise manner. There’s no need to beat around the bush. Short and simple answers will suffice. The above pointers should help you breeze through your interview with ease.
A very frequently asked question pertains to the weightage given to the SET scores and the PI-WAT scores. They are both given equal importance.
50% of your SET score combined with 50% of your PI-WAT score will give you your final score. Essentially this means that for example, a student who has scored 111/150 in SET will be given preference over a student who has scored 102/150 in SET, assuming that they have scored the same marks in their PI-WAT.
In addition to everything that I have already mentioned, I would like to take a moment here to point out how important it is to have all your documents in place.
Before you go to the venue on the allotted date, make sure you check (and double check) that you have all the required documents. Keep a photocopy (or two) of all these documents handy in case they ask for it at the time of registration. This will save you a lot of running around, anxiety, and energy should you be faced with a situation such as this.
Remain calm and believe in yourself. That’s all it’ll take for you to get through this.
I hope you found this article helpful. I look forward to seeing a lot of you around in the corridors in a few months’ time! All the best!
Aindrani is currently in her second year in Symbiosis Law School, Pune.