How to prepare for Group Discussion

How to prepare for Group Discussion (GD) would be an obvious question popping in your mind whether you have just taken the MBA entrance exam or you are preparing for the upcoming admission process. GD is a very critical and crucial step in ensuring success in a candidate’s journey. Since GD is a test of your attitude and personality, it will be beneficial to start your preparation for GD at the earliest.
What is GD & its process?
Before beginning your GD preparation, it would be wise to understand what it is. GD is a discussion within a group of individuals to develop a better perspective on issues by bringing out diverse view points. Once the results of the written exam are out, candidates are shortlisted for the ‘Group Discussion and Personal Interview’ (GDPI) round. They are intimated of a particular date and time slot allotted to them. On the particular day, a group of candidates is arranged in a group of 7-12 persons in room around a table. The group is then given a topic to contemplate and discuss for a specific time. The discussion takes place under the observation of 1 or 2 panellists or moderators who judge each candidate on predetermined parameters such as personality traits, team skills and overall awareness. According to their performance, both individually as well as within a group, scores are allotted and candidates are shortlisted for further rounds of interview.
How to prepare for GD?
Over the years, majority of management b-schools have inculcated this tool in their selection process to assess overall personality traits of the aspirants. GD is test that not only judges the knowledge but more importantly the character of an individual. Since character traits cannot be shaped in a few days, it is never too early or too late to begin preparing for GD.  Follow the given steps to kick-start your preparation:
Step 1: Self-Assessment
The first step in preparing for GD is a true self-assessment to know your inner strengths and weaknesses. For instance, it is pertinent to be aware of your level of comfort in public speaking. If this is an area that gives you jitters, it will be more relevant to build confidence through mock group discussions and practise.
Step 2: Building your own repertoire of knowledge
You can be confident in speaking if you have well-prepared knowledge of relevant facts and opinions on diverse topics. The GD topic given on that day could be from any field – economics, management, environment, socio-cultural issues, etc. Therefore, it is advisable to prepare your key content beforehand. Go through common GK and keep track of major current events. Do a lot of reading around diverse topics to gather information and facts. It is also important to form your own opinion on major issues.
Step 3: Go through previous year GD Topics
This will help you understand the different kinds of GD topics that are given and be better prepared for them. The GD topics can be broadly divided into three categories: (1) Factual Topics that based on static or dynamic knowledge of specific concepts; (2) Abstract Topics that assess your creative thinking by judging the way you perceive something; and (3) Case-based Topics that seek a solution to a given problem in a realistic situation with constraints and conditions. You can also go through important topics expected in the upcoming GDPI session.
Step 4: Building necessary Personality Traits
While one cannot acquire virtues of character such as humility and patience, there are certain personality traits that can be inculcated through deliberate attempt. For instance, building communication skill is crucial for GD preparation. ‘Good communication skills’ require a person to be more tolerant of diverse opinions. Only those who make efforts to understand the entirety of any issue will be receptive of new and opposing ideas. Similarly, if you practise solving multiple case-studies using different methods, you can intentionally inherit ‘problem-solving skills’ and ‘creative thinking’.
Step 5: Clarity of thought and expression
Lastly, clear thinking and presentation of ideas is the key to success. There are several tools that can be learnt and adopted for creating ideas and content for GDs. However, the way to set forth your ideas is an art. “Practice, Practice and Practice” is the mantra to swear by if you wish to learn the art of structuring and presenting your ideas at the right time and right moment. You can rehearse through mock-GDs or with a group of friends/ colleagues, but practice if you want to prepare for GD!