Getting into IBA – step by step

To start off with, a big thank you from Nerd Community to Ahmed Mohtasim Zaber and Shuvo Saha, both of the 25th Batch of IBA BBA, for taking the time to write this guide. This goes out to the ones who just finished up A2 exams this Jan or are preparing for exams in June and are already dreading two oh-so-scary words: admission tests… We bring you this write up as the ultimate one-stop guide to tackle the IBA exam head on and perhaps help you set foot into the corporate universe.

If you have ever thought of joining the ritzy corporate world, if you have ever imagined working for big multinational companies or even if you’ve just wanted to make a lot of money, I introduce you to the Institute of Business Administration (IBA) under University of Dhaka. Situated in the core of the historical Dhaka University campus just beside the monumental Modhur canteen, IBA is the leading business school in Bangladesh providing Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) for students who completed A levels/high school. A vast portion of its graduates are serving crucial positions in the corporate society making it one of the most renowned institutions. IBA graduates are highly sought after by companies for their critical thinking and business acumen which is unmatched by its competitors.

So what is it that makes them so special? One of the main reasons is its rigorous admission selection process which ensures superior quality of students. Only around 120 students are selected from over 6000 students who take the admission test. But with sheer determination and proper preparation as mentioned below, it is not much of a tough job. Once you get in, the aunties next door who always hated you will start praising you like never before. You will be astonished at the look on your uncle’s face who always teased you about your poor grades. Money, fame and ‘swag’ are few other complements of IBA. Also, the total cost of attending IBA is around 2 lacs taka whereas good private universities range from 6 lacs to 10 lacs taka. That’s a little less pressure on your parents.This should genuinely motivate you. Positive peer pressure is another aspect that makes IBA more demanding; Since you’re with the smartest bunch of the country, you are bound to think outside the box and bring forth some brilliant ideas in order to compete with others. Soon after getting in, you will be a business guru and start winning all the prestigious business competitions.

I believe that was enough of motivation to get you into preparing yourself. Now, let us take a look at what it takes to be an “IBAite”.

Eligibility: 

Students who have passed IGCSE/O level exam in at least 5 subjects (including mathematics) and IAL/GCE A Level exam in at least 2 subjects are eligible to apply. Out of the 7 subjects in IGCSE/O-Level and IAL / GCE A-level, candidates should get minimum 4 B grades and 3 C grades. Among the best five grades of O level and best two grades of A level, no ‘D’ grade will be accepted.  

*Eligibility is subject to change. This was the eligibility requirement for 2016-17.

Candidates from O-level, A-level or from all other boards outside the country must obtain “Equivalence Certificate” from IBA before applying. You have to provide them with your O levels and A levels certificates and photocopies of your passport to obtain it. Once you receive the Equivalence certificate, you can apply online through the Dhaka University website- (http://admission.eis.du.ac.bd/).

Selection Procedure:

The admission test has two components: Written Assessment and Communication Test. The Written Assessment component evaluates applicant’s aptitude in: Language, Mathematics, and Analytical ability. It is scored out of 85 marks.  To pass in the Written Test, an applicant must obtain a minimum qualifying score in each of the above areas. For the Communication Test where 15 marks is allocated, applicants will be selected on the basis of their performance in viva.    

Exam Content:

The IBA admission test is divided into two parts as stated above. The Written Assessment contains a set of MCQ questions (usually 75 questions: 30 English, 30 Maths and 15 Analytical) and a written section (Usually two essays).

English questions range from analogy, sentence correction, odd one out, vocabulary questions like synonyms and antonyms, comprehension, sentence making, fill in the blanks, prefix and suffix usage and correct usage of words.

Maths questions are almost exactly the same as GMAT maths. Essentially simple problem solving and simple geometry. I highly advise you to do a couple of past IBA question papers or some of the book suggestions to get used to the math patterns.

Analytical questions are mostly the same every year- data sufficiency, critical reasoning and puzzles. Data sufficiency is now included in the math section since the last few years.

The Written section contains essays ranging from argumentative essays, dialogues, theme writing, story writing, descriptive essays, data interpretation and sentence making. Argumentative essays and story writing are most likely to appear.

There is also a small written test during the day of the communication test but do note that it is not marked. It is there just for a conversation starter if required during the actual viva.

Written Exam Tactics and Tips:

It’s important to know that the IBA admission test is an MCQ test which means speed beats accuracy(up to a point). All the maths, english and analytical questions carry 1 mark each. That means each of them should be treated as equally important. If you have the choice of doing a math which you know will take 2 minutes or another which you can do in 30 seconds, it’s preferable to go for the shorter one. If a math is taking too long, leave it. 

Also note that English is a section that can be done in under 15 minutes with proper skills and knowledge- mainly vocabulary. Grammar can be learned in a month but vocabulary will take you time. I recommend learning as many words as you can every day but making sure to revise the words you learned everyday. A strong vocabulary consists of 3000 words and above.

The Analytical section is much more about practice and understanding how to do puzzles quickly. Remember that you don’t need to disprove every answer in the puzzles; if you know the first option is correct and are sure about it, tick it and move on.

In data sufficiency questions, don’t try to do the math and find the answer; just knowing if the answer can be found out with one of the options(or both) is enough.

Learning shortcut methods in Maths can save you a lot of time. To find some helpful shortcuts, search around on sites like GMAT Club (http://gmatclub.com/) for maths shortcuts and you can use some of the resources listed below in our resource section.

Finally remember you do not need to answer every single question. Answering 20 questions each in maths and english is good but 25 is better because you allow room for errors. If you can answer 25 plus in both sections(with confidence they’re going to be right) then great. If not, there’s no reason to fret. In Analytical getting 10 questions is optimal and very easy to do with proper guidance. In order to avoid nervousness in the examination hall, keep practising the previous question papers to get accustomed to the time constraint.

The written section also has a Bangla part which is relatively less significant – there’s no need to fret if you are poor in Bangla. Just make sure you can write a basic Bangla essay and do easy translation work like in O level Bengali.

Viva Tips:

The Viva exam is a 5 to 15 minutes exam of communication skills. The ones selected into the Viva exam (those who passed the written section) are all called in the morning to do a short written test which is unmarked and then Vivas are taken in the morning and afternoon. 

The dress code is a formal shirt and pant for boys (tie preferred) and a suit if it is cold outside. Avoid anything shiny or informal. Watches are preference based. For girls, wear a kamiz or shirt and pants along with a cardigan if cold outside. Makeup is ok but do not overdo it. Also avoid overdressing, you’re going to an interview not a wedding.

Be sure to enter with formalities such as “May I come in sir?” and “May I sit down?” and “Good  Morning.” and make sure to smile while doing so.

Remember to not fidget around while talking, avoid shaking legs, biting nails, moving your fingers or any sort of random movement. Sit straight and relaxed (not too relaxed).

Make sure to maintain eye contact during the interview (with everyone if possible) and avoid moving your hands as you speak. Make sure to maintain a smile if you can but do not force it. If you do not know an answer, humbly say “I’m sorry sir, I do not know the answer”. Do not forget to say sorry. The viva exam is a test of communication not of knowledge; it is ok to not know certain answers.

Prepare answers for stock questions such as “Tell us about yourself.” and “What are your strengths?”. A common question for science students is “Why BBA if you had science?”. Another common question is “What do you want to do after passing out of here?”.

Avoid cliched answers like “I want to be an entrepreneur.” or “My strengths are that I’m too hardworking.” Be innovative.

Do not lie in the Viva. You will get into a situation you cannot get out of.

Try to steer the conversation into your strong points or comfort zones. For example: if you like football, try to get the conversation to football by saying answers like “My name is John Doe and I like football a lot” to questions such as “Tell us something about yourself” or “I want to own a football team” to a question such as “What do you want to be?”.  Do not let them take the conversation to something you are not confident with.

Resources and Book Suggestions:

Resources are listed here with helpful websites at the top and book suggestions from most recommended to least. Any book towards the top is very relevant. Only go towards the bottom of the list if you’re done with the top books.

  • Website- GMAT Club(http://gmatclub.com/): Contains a lot of helpful maths and analytical tips and tricks. English questions from GMAT are a bit harder than what comes on IBA questions. Also note a lot of past IBA maths questions are from GMAT. If you can’t do a past question paper math, try typing the math out in google and sites like this one will pop up.
  • Website- Beat the Gmat (http://www.beatthegmat.com/): Same as above. A great GMAT site which can help if you’re stuck in a question.
  • Book- Cliff’s TOEFL: Arguably the best grammar book for IBA english. This book states all the grammar rules you need to learn. Highly recommend the mini tests.
  • Book- GMAT Official Review: Only do Critical Reasoning, Sentence Correction, Problem Solving(Maths) and Data Sufficiency from this book. The comprehension and other parts are not necessary. This book is your Analytical bread and butter (except puzzles which is listed below)
  • Book- Mentor’s Maths Question Bank: Contains past IBA question paper questions arranged chapterwise. Do note some of the answers are incorrect however still recommended. Do not get the Analytical and English Question Bank. They are unnecessary. This book should be bought from Mentor’s (located near Lazz Pharma, Panthapath) since new editions only come to other book stores after Mentor’s.
  • Book- Mentors BBA Guide: Probably the only source of IBA question papers, use this to practice IBA questions but do take the answers with a grain of salt. Again recommended you buy it at Mentors since new editions come later to other stores.
  • Book- Wordsmart I & II: This book contains a set of approximately 3000 words across 2 books(compiled as one). Finishing Wordsmart I is paramount to a good english score. The hit lists can be tackled next. Then Wordsmart II.
  • Book- GRE Big Book: This book contains a lot of tests which contain analogies and puzzles which you need to complete. Do as many puzzles as you can. This is your best source for puzzles and analogies.
  • Book- Barron’s SAT(Old SAT): Do note new editions of this book are not as helpful as old ones. Barron’s SAT contains a master word list of 3000 words and a high frequency list of 200 words. High frequency words first then master word list if you have the time. Avoid SAT english questions or math questions since english is a bit tough and math way too easy.
  • Book- Nova’s GRE Math Bible: Another great math book. Highly recommended for those with weak geometry skills.
  • Book- Gruber’s SAT: Same as other SAT books. Not recommended but do it if you’re done with the rest.
  • Book- Kaplan’s SAT: Same as above.
  • Book- McGraw Hill SAT: Same as other SAT books.
  • Book- S@ifur’s Geometry and Analogy: S@ifur’s has a geometry and an analytical book both of which are pretty good but you should only tackle these books if you suffer in these sections.

Final Note:

Remember it is not the end of the world if you can’t make it.

A bit of luck is the final thing you need to get into IBA. There are many brilliant students who could not make it. You should always remember that the institution never defines you, it is you who defines what you are. There are many people from all sorts of institutions who have reached the pinnacle of success. If you have a passion, keep following it until you are the best at it. There are good alternatives to choose from with the same preparation if IBA fails: North South University (NSU) provides great business programs with brilliant faculties and Bangladesh University of Professionals (BUP) is a growing business school with economical benefits like that of IBA. Dhaka University also has a great commerce section. Abroad is always an option.

Check out this site if you need help going abroad too! Remember there is always a way, you just need to work hard for it. 

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