Most of the reputed public universities of Bangladesh hold admission tests with a combination of MCQ and written questions. One exception to this is seen in the case of the pioneer of business schools in Bangladesh-- Institute of Business Administration (IBA), University of Dhaka. To pick the best young business minds, IBA takes a noteworthy viva test after its written aptitude test following international standards.
For years, IBA aspirants have held a significant amount of curiosity as well as intimidation towards the viva test. Since this year's long-awaited written admission test took place on Monday (October 11), preparation for viva has begun already.
For the undergraduate programme, DU IBA usually selects 160-180 students through the written aptitude test. These selected candidates then go through the viva screening on a given date and finally around 120-130 students are qualified. So, what exactly happens in the viva? Is it that tricky and scary as the rumours often suggest?
The standard procedure is that candidates are asked to come to the IBA campus in the morning at a specific time and write on a given topic which is usually descriptive and varies from person to person. Then, the scheduled viva takes place in divided slots with several viva boards consisting of faculty members of IBA. The aim of the viva is to test the communication skills and situational composure of the candidates. The students do not require any knowledge-based preparation since they are not measured by the correctness of their answers.
Syed Samiun Mostafa, a second-year student of IBA gives a better view in this regard. He thinks that the entire viva experience becomes much better if a candidate can portray his/her strengths directly or indirectly. In the viva, the teachers usually ask the candidates their likings, reasons for their decisions and other questions.
"From my experience, I understood that once a base is created regarding strengths, it is much easier to navigate the entire viva from the candidate's part. In the viva, an examinee is evaluated based on his/her communication skills," explains Samiun.
A common misconception is that the final result is determined solely on the viva which is not true. Usually, the aggregated score of the written and viva test is used in making the final rank. Inappropriate responses or lack of basic modesty can cause a candidate to be disqualified during the viva. However, this is certainly not a thing to worry about if someone is genuinely sincere.
Another student at IBA, Arian Mehjabin's story will comfort the future candidates about all the nervousness. Going into the viva, Arian had the same mixture of apprehension and worry as anyone else. She was also told that the teachers would be harsh, coercive; they'll try to twist words and keep questioning you until they get the answer they are looking for. "Well, they did ask me a lot of follow up questions, but it was more like a friendly conversation with our elders than anything else," assured Arian.
Arian spent the previous day going over questions like why she chose to shift from a science background to BBA, what her future plans are, etc. But she was not asked any of these standard questions.
"Instead, they asked me about the essay we had to write before coming for the viva. I had written 'Tissue' as the one thing I cannot live without. The first thing one of the teachers said when I entered the room was 'Do you cry a lot? Why are you carrying tissues everywhere?' That made me break out of my nervousness and we all had a good laugh."
In the IBA viva board, there are a lot of chances where a candidate can talk about what they like, be it a skill, person, hobby, place, etc. For instance, Arian said that she likes playing the violin and then the violin became a topic of discussion. Talking about her favourite violinist certainly made her relaxed. This also indicates, lying or making up something for an answer is a terrible idea. Talking about something just to be cool or look smart might not end well. Rather honesty is appreciated even if a candidate does not know something.
Nevertheless, sometimes the viva board asks tricky questions to make the candidate nervous only to see their instant situation handling capabilities. Responding with politeness in such situations always helps. As Samiun mentioned that sometimes the environment can get a bit spicy. But there is nothing to worry about in those situations.
"Just handling the questions with confidence can make a very good impression. And of course, what helped me the most was keeping a smiley face for the fifteen minutes I was inside."
Any test can be slightly frightening, especially if it is an in-person viva. But a little preparation can help ace it easily. Arian's words fit right for the ending advice to future IBA viva candidates- "All in all, my conscious effort to act as I would with any of my familiar teachers or elders and the teachers' easy approach that made me say, huh, that wasn't so hard!"