Although she studied science till HSC, Maisha (pseudonym) always knew that she wanted to be a corporate leader, and her knack for managing people and situations made her aspire to apply for the best business school in the country, IBA, University of Dhaka. In a different context, Ayesha (pseudonym) went for a typical admission season approach for her undergraduate goals. She tried in every public university possible, making her sit for the IBA admission test, an exam that typically takes place after most other public university admission tests in Bangladesh.
Whichever the reason is, every year, a lot of admission seekers apply for the IBA admission test because of its glory in being the first and one of the finest business schools in the country to this date. While popular business schools in the developed countries mostly offer MBA or post-graduate specialised degrees, IBA under the University of Dhaka offers a four-year undergraduate BBA degree. Due to its US-based curriculum enriched with a practical learning approach, unique aptitude test for admission, and competitiveness, the degree is sought after and held high in our society as well as the corporate landscape.
In Bangladesh, most public universities arrange a competitive knowledge-based admission test. However, IBA has always taken an aptitude test consisting of MCQs and a written portion. Similar to the exam format of GRE, GMAT, and SAT, the MCQ portion is further divided into three sections namely, Mathematics, English Language and Communication, and Analytical Ability. The fun part of this being an aptitude test is that students do not need to memorise for the test, rather the students need to strengthen their command over certain areas. There are students who take planned preparations for the admission test. Also there are students who just review previous years’ question papers for a week or so, and pass the admission test.
Now coming to the preparation part, usually, students from all the curriculums-- English medium, NCTB Bangla, and English version get in IBA in almost the same proportion. Since this year's IBA BBA admission test is just a few days away, to be held on June 24, let us hear from Roza Shawal Rizwan, a third-year student at IBA who got first place in her admission test in the 2019-20 session. Roza focused more on dividing her time in a day in a way that helped her stay healthy and improve her weak areas.
"Basically, I had to work on my comprehension skills most, the rest like vocabulary and grammar were already covered in the ‘C’ unit syllabus. What I did was split my time among English (the least), and math (the most) and complete a certain number of analytical puzzles during the last month of preparation."
There is a stereotypical mindset that in recent years that students from a science background in high school have a better chance of getting in IBA. Roza, however, proved this wrong by successfully acing the admission test despite being from a business studies background. Her take on this is that business students of our NCTB curriculum mostly stay out of touch with mathematics which is why they find the mathematics section difficult. She covered up this gap by starting from the basics of mathematics.
Since the admission test is an aptitude test, it is also important to allocate some time outside of test materials and invest in some activities that in a way facilitate the preparation. As Roza added her hack in this regard, "The rest of the time I just read books and watched stuff and I felt reading nonacademic books help a great deal to both relax and put a new perspective on everything."
Everything in the world faced disruption due to the unprecedented pandemic and the admission test for undergrad universities is no different. The 2020-21 admission examinees faced the toll of lockdown which certainly made their IBA admission test different from others. Tajoar Masud Kabbo, a first-year student at IBA and the first position holder of the 2020-21 IBA admission test shared his experience, "The constant anxiety of not knowing what will happen, and more importantly when will that happen made the time even harder than it usually is." The effect of the Covid-19 pandemic has reached this admission test as well as it is happening at an unusual schedule than the historic ones.
Kabbo adds that the candidates enter the exam hall with the same level of competency as their competitors. "Whatever you do in the next two hours will determine who wins the race - at that point, it won't be about competency anymore, your composure will determine the outcome. So stay calm during the exam, and try to make some strategies for how you will approach the exam in advance."
Undoubtedly, the last few days before the exam is the hardest phase to go through. The candidates who took a thorough preparation for the test and those who are taking a hasty chance of prepping are under pressure. For all the candidates for this year's IBA admission test, Aasim Bin Bakr, a mathematics instructor of IBA admission preparation at Mentors', shares some valuable advice.
"Since it's almost the last moment, I tell my students to focus on the basic procedures of mathematics and rules of English grammar. It is wise to take a balanced approach to the test prioritising the strengths of the examinee. Self-analysis, and deciding on an answering strategy by trying out the past years’ question papers are some steps they can take now."
To assure the anxious candidates for the IBA admission test this year, Aasim reminds them that if the test question feels too difficult, it is usually the same for most other candidates as well. Undoubtedly, it is crucial to handle oneself as much as possible to ensure the best performance of aptitude. No matter how competitive the test is, successful candidates instead of getting carried away by the social opinions should take a while to research and decide if they really want to invest four years of their life at IBA because often the real experience differs a lot from the external expectations.
Good luck to all the candidates for the IBA BBA admission test 2021-22!
The writer is a third-year BBA student at IBA, University of Dhaka.