Well, all the major exams of the season are done now, and you should have your eyes/attention firmly focused on the last challenge for this exam season: XAT-2018. Before we begin with the actual strategy piece dealing with XAT preparation, I want you to keep the following things in mind:

A. CAT, IIFT and SNAP are done now. You have done your best, and all your focus should be on XAT. Irrespective of the fact whether results of these tests are out before/after XAT-2018, you should make sure you remain focused. Remember, these results don’t change how you attempt XAT-2018.
B. Make sure you learn from your attempts from these three exams. Probe yourself and see how you withstood the challenge (more emphasis on the mental side of your effort).
C. Don’t take undue stress upon yourself by thinking that this is a do or die exam: there is no such exam. You continue to live/breathe just fine after these exams. So take it as it is: just an exam!

So, let’s dig into the key things you should keep in mind for the exam.

XAT Preparation: Broad Parameters to be kept in mind

A. Make sure you solve the last 5-year XAT Exams
There is a wealth of knowledge in XAT previous year exam papers. Seriously! For example, these papers the best source for authentic decision making questions, which are up to standard. Where will you get these papers? Run a quick Google search. These are easily available as PDFs.

B. XAT traditionally tests you on knowledge rather than speed
Last year, the exam had only 72 questions with a time limit of 170 minutes. This just gives us one conclusion: knowledge and accuracy are the key determinants here; not speed.

C. XAT will have un-solvable questions
Remember, the exam is made in a way that it always has some un-solvable questions. So, don’t get too attached to some problems; be ready to accept that there will be questions you cannot solve, and just keep on digging away.

D. Sectional Cut-offs are important for some top institutes
XAT cut-offs are tricky and depend upon institutes. XLRI, SP Jain and XIMB have sectional cut-offs, but most other institutes accept the overall score.

For XLRI BM, you can get calls around 96 percentile. But you should keep in mind that XAT scores have 65% weightage in the final score. So you should get around 98 percentile to be on the safe side. For XLRI, the general break-up is:
– 65% for XAT score
– 5% for work experience
– 10% for GD and interview
– 10% for Academics, essay and GK

Keep in mind that this break-up is indicative and this can change this year.

E. Two important FAQs from the XAT official website
These are two important questions/answers that are going to determine your exam strategy:
Q. What will be total time for Part 1 (VA, DM, and QA) and Part 2 (essay and GK)?
Ans: 170 minutes will be given for the first part and 40 minutes for the second one.

Q. Will there be any sectional time limits or overall time limit?
Ans: There will be only overall time limits; there are no sectional time limits.

F. Time management is the key
Keeping the above in mind and that you have to clear sectional cut-offs for top institutes, it is important you balance your time between sections. An ideal approach for part-1 of the exam is:

Verbal Ability: 50 minutes
Quantitative Ability and Data Interpretation: 65 minutes
Decision Making: 55 minutes

Remember, this is a suggested guideline, and you can modify it according to your strengths and weaknesses. You can add or subtract 5 to 7 minutes from these sections based on your strengths and weaknesses.

XAT Preparation: How to prepare for XAT?

XAT-2018 Section-wise approach

Let’s now delve into the individual sections of the exam and come up with an exam strategy for these sections.

Part-1 of the exam: Aptitude Section

1. XAT Verbal Ability Strategy and Preparation
In terms of the level of difficulty, XAT Verbal Ability is one of the toughest sections you are going to face. If you go through the topics, you can expect questions from the following:
– Reading Comprehensions: These account for about 50% of the section. The passage length varies between 500 to 600 words, and the passages are tough to read. On top of this, the questions are mostly inferential. Also, last year, the exam featured a poem as well. So, be ready for such things in the exam.
– Critical Reasoning: You need to be clear with the basics of CR, and you can expect a variety of CR questions in the exam.
– Sentence Completion (fill in the blanks): These are generally multiple-blank questions and also, on occasions, confusing words/homonyms are provided as the answer options. Make sure you go through the important, confusing word pairs before the exam. Last year, the difference between affect and effect was probed in the exam.
Grammar/Sentence Correction: XAT generally tests you a variety of Grammar rules. Make sure you revise your Grammar notes once.
Para-jumbles: The questions last year were tough and time-consuming. So make sure you use answer options to solve para-jumbles and are vigilant enough to identify questions you should not solve.
Vocab questions: You can expect the odd questions on analogies, pronunciation, cloze test, etc. in the exam.

As an overall strategy for the exam, solve the non-RC questions first. In these, you can solve vocabulary questions, sentence completion questions and para-jumbles first and then move on to CR and grammar questions. RCs should be left for the last. In comparison to the other exams, you can expect a higher number of inference-based questions in the exam. Considering this, you will need to read the passages closely, and skimming is not advisable for XAT.

Overall, your target should be 14-16 questions for this section. If the section is your strength area, then you can target 18-20 questions in the section.

In terms of your study plan, you should target the following:
– Revising critical reasoning and important Grammar rules
– Going through important, confusing words
– Solve as many advanced-level RCs as possible

2. XAT Decision Making Strategy and Preparation
This is the section which makes XAT unique. It consists of two types of questions:
– Behavioral based questions
– Mathematical/Analytical Reasoning based

If you look at the exam last year, 15 behavioural questions and six mathematical/analytical reasoning based questions featured in the exam.

The behavioural questions are the ones that are the unique ones in the exam. These questions are essentially mini case studies wherein you are provided situations, and generally, the main protagonists/stakeholders situation is described to you. The situations given have numerous perspectives and you are given these varying situations wherein a decision has to be made, or a path or action has to be chosen. On occasions, these questions almost feel like a mixture of CR and RC questions. If I have to give you piece of advice with regards to how you should solve these questions, then you just need to remember that whatever option you select should be fair, legal, and practical. You cannot let your own personal choices or biases impact you, and you need to stick to the given situation. Go through these four articles here, and these are going to help you understand decision making better:

The mathematical portion of this section essentially consists of questions similar to DI or AR sets. By this time, you should have enough practice for these. But one thing you need to keep in mind for this particular type is that these questions can be quite time-consuming, and you need to be careful whether you should attempt these or not.

Overall, you should spend 50 to 55 minutes for this section and try to solve 15-18 questions out of the 21 questions. Remember, I am assuming that the pattern and number of questions remain similar to the last year.

3. XAT Quantitative Ability and Data Interpretation Strategy and Preparation
In terms of levels of difficulty, XAT Quantitative Ability and Data Interpretation section are similar to CAT levels (some will say that is slightly tougher). In terms of the question mix, there is a good representation for all topics in the exam. Out of the 27 questions in the section last year, 8 were Data Interpretation questions (2 sets), and the remaining were mathematics based questions.

Overall, for this section, you should go through the basics of all topics and solve some advanced level problems as well. Remember, at this stage, it is more important to acquaint yourself with the exam and understand how to perform well in the exam rather than simply mugging up more and more problems. If you go through the last couple of XAT exams, you will understand that even if you are average in QA-DI, you can solve around 12-15 questions in the exam. So, essentially, it all breaks down to question selection and exam awareness. Make sure you go through the previous year papers to perfect your attempt for this section.

Part-2 of the exam: General Knowledge and Essay Writing
You have a total of 40 minutes for this section, and it is important you utilise this well. Even though this section does not count in calculating the cut-offs for the first round, it is going to count in the final selection.

GK is one tough thing to prepare at the last stage. Considering that there is no core syllabus for this topic, it is important that you go through the following at this stage:
– major news events for the last one year
– important information like current heads of major companies, taglines of major brands, current business news (mergers, major economic decisions, and so on)
– terminologies and abbreviations

Remember, just mugging up stuff at this stage won’t work. Go through as much as possible and stay relaxed.

For Essay Writing, generally abstract topics are given.Irrespective of the topic, you will be judged on parameters like Content, Grammar and Punctuation and structure. The basic idea is to present your thoughts in such a way that the reader can grasp the gist easily. Divide your essay into three parts: Introduction, Body and Conclusion.
The best way to practice Essay Writing would be writing at least one essay per day.

Final Tips for XAT-2018: How to Crack XAT?
I completely understand the emotions and stress you must be going through at this stage, but do remember that in order to crack XAT, you need to maintain your cool and remain focused over the next few days. Just keep the following in mind:

  • Focus on revision of core concepts
  • Cover up as much GK content as you can but remember, overloading yourself won’t help. Cover only as much as you are comfortable with.
  • Go through previous year XAT papers for sure (this is a must for Decision making at least)
  • Be clear with your exam strategy and understand the structure of the exam
  • 1 or 2 Mocks are more than enough
  • More than actual learning of concepts, you should focus on being in the right mental frame for the test. You can improve your scores by simply being ready for the different pattern that XAT features. Most of you have solved many Mock CATs and are not ready for the change. Make sure you keep this in mind.

Well, this wraps up this rather long piece for XAT preparation. Hopefully, you have learnt something valuable, and you can build your exam strategy based on this.