Most of the students who are reading this have already written CAT and are gearing up for XAT. With XAT being the gateway to the prestigious XLRI and a few other good institutes quite a few students bank on it. The exam pattern is a bit different from CAT but people who have already prepared for CAT and other competitive exams will need to do some minute tweaking in order to ace this.
The Exam Pattern
XAT is normally a 3-hour long exam with two parts. The first part consists of 3 sections i.e., the Verbal and Logical Ability section, the Decision Making section and the Quantitative Ability and Data Interpretation section.
|Part 1||75 Questions||165 Minutes|
|Verbal and Logical Ability||26||No Sectional Time Limit|
|Decision Making||21||No Sectional Time Limit|
|Quantitative Ability and Data Interpretation||28||No Sectional Time Limit|
|Part 2||25 Questions||15 Minutes|
|Total||100 Questions||180 Minutes|
The marking scheme for this exam is also peculiarly different. While there is 1 mark for every correct answer, every wrong answer bears a negative marking of 25 marks. Candidates can leave up to 8 questions totally in Part 1 and anything beyond 8 question would attract 0.1 negative marks per question left.
For percentile calculation, only Part 1 would be considered but students are requested to attempt both the parts seriously as every part becomes a judgemental criterion when it comes to GDPI.
Verbal and Logical Ability: – This section is a combination of the VARC and the LR portion of CAT exam. Approximately 3 passages are given in this section. The passages are way smaller than CAT and often the passages constitute of poems. Sometimes, that makes it hard to comprehend. The vocabulary will be put on test in this section through passages and through the other VA questions which include fill in the blanks with the right choice of words, grammar questions, synonyms, antonyms and other vocabulary tests. There would be questions from Paragraph Jumbles, Paragraph Completion, Critical Reasoning, Statements-Assumptions etc. The paper would not consist of difficult sets of LR but the level of Verbal ability would be higher than CAT.
Decision Making: – Decision Making or often called Business Decision Making is a section which would be new for the candidates. This is a section which has scenarios of business problems or HR problems and tell you to choose the best option or order the options from most effective to least effective to solve the problem given in the question. It consists of 7 to 8 passages which have 2-3 questions each. The preparation for this section is more or less practising the old set of papers as there is no syllabus for this section.
Quantitative Ability and Data Interpretation: – This section consists of the Quantitative Ability as well as Data Interpretation Questions. There would be 3-4 DI sets and rest would be Quants. The Syllabus for Quants and DI would be similar and of a same level of CAT. This section might not need additional preparation. Just more and more practise will sort it out.
General Knowledge: – This is a section of 15 mins where anything and everything can come. It would be from various kinds of current affairs, news, trivia, history, important past events, business etc. People normally spend the least amount of effort on the preparation of this section but it is important that you have a decent score in this section as the professors interviewing you might judge you on this score. Practising more and more from old papers and mock tests would suffice.
The Cut-offs and preparation strategy
One of the key factors of this exam is the sections are not time-bound and you can move across section during this strategy. Now, people who are strong in a particular section end up spending more time in that section. So, while they meet the overall cut-off of a particular program, they might fall short on the sectional cut-off. A lot of people fall short of the DM cut-off as they pay less importance to the section or they make too many errors. While the section you find easiest should be done the earliest, substantial amount of time should be given to the other sections as well. It is suggested that aspirants should write as many mocks as they can in order to judge how much time to give to each section in order to clear the cut-offs of each section. The cut-off goes till 96 because a lot of students in that range fail to meet the sectional cut-offs.
The 99 percentile score would be somewhere around 40 out of 75 and the 96 percentile would lie somewhere around 35.
Practice is the Key
While not much of time is usually left after CAT to prepare for XAT, it is really important for the students to practise as much as possible. Taking at least 10 mock tests would help the students understand how the pattern is and how he/she can strategize to ace the exam. Once you know how the pattern is and how to work through it, XAT can be aced nicely. Also, people who often falter in the CAT exam find a breather in XAT and many of them end up getting XLRI shortlist while they could not manage a good score in CAT. So, the key is not to get demoralised if you have had a poor CAT exam. Also, the CAT results are often timed just before XAT exam. Keep it in mind that XAT is just another test if you aced CAT already or another lifeline if you faltered in CAT. Do not let the CAT result bother you and ruin this opportunity.