‘Correct Mind-Set Is The Most Important Aspect Of Preparation’ – Viraj Patel, 97.4%ile In XAT

The oldest B-School of the country, XLRI has been ranked as one of the best B-Schools of India and ranked first among private B-schools.  Renowned for offering an education that encompasses business studies along with a holistic development of students through its vibrant committee culture, social initiatives and projects, it is not for no reason that corporate organizations make a beeline for hiring from XLRI.

In the run-up to XAT 2019,  current students of XLRI share with you the things that worked for them during their preparation and the tips and tricks that helped them fulfill their dream of studying at this prestigious institute.

What were your XAT 2018 overall and sectional percentile? Apart from XAT, which other entrances you appeared for and what were your percentiles?





General Knowledge



As given below

Quantitative Ability


Verbal & Logical Ability


Decision Making




Entrance exam



256 marks (probably close to 99.8 percentile)








76 marks (doesn’t provide percentile)


What was your preparation strategy? Please share section-wise strategy in detail.

Before starting preparation for the entrance exams seriously, I had hardly read a few books. So, I started reading books of acclaimed authors such as Malcolm Gladwell, Eliyahu Goldratt, Laslo Bock, Harper Lee, Klaus Schwab, etc. I read around 25 books in last year, in order to gain more exposure to diverse kinds of passages, which is necessary for almost everyone to do well in solving Reading Comprehension (RC) passages. Diverse reading also helps in para jumbles, complete the paragraph, etc. and improves the critical reading ability. Understanding the tone of the passage is central to critically understand the main message that an author/s is trying to convey through the passage, and also to understand the other intricate messages that the passage contains. To improve on the understanding of the tone, I also started reading Mint and ET for business news, and editorials of leading newspapers such as Guardian, New York Times, Indian Express, Hindu, etc. Reading speed increases if you systematically focus on that aspect while reading anything. The increase in speed is really helpful in scoring high. Other than that, I used to solve the material provided by coaching class and take and analyse the mocks diligently. I used to classify RCs and evaluate my strength in each kind. In mocks and exams, at first, I used to skim through the RC in 30 seconds and if I felt that I will be able to comprehend the RC, then only I used to read it properly and attempt the questions.

For Quant, I brushed up the concepts and solved the material given from coaching class. I also solved the questions from “Face 2 Face” and “Quantum CAT”. I did not pay special attention on Quant since that was my strong suit. During mocks, I used to attempt Quant in 3 rounds. In the 1st round, I solved only those questions which can be solved by me within 2 minutes. In the 2nd round, I solved the tougher set of questions and if time got left at the end, then I went for the remaining questions in 3rd round.

For Logical ability, I used to solve the question sets from the past papers, refer to the material provided in class and mock tests of 2 coaching institutes. Solving puzzles of various kinds such as Sudoku also helped me improve in logical ability.

For Decision Making, I referred to past papers, coaching material and mock tests and got a rough idea of how to answer the questions.

For General Knowledge (GK), I used to focus more on Dynamic GK, i.e. notable events that has occurred around the world in almost last 2 years, by making notes from the news. There is no negative marking for GK section, so I attempted all the questions.


How did you prepare – Self-study or Coaching? Please explain which one do you think is better?

After scoring 97 percentile in CAT 2016, initially I started preparing more seriously by self-study. But after a few days of deliberation in April, I decided that this will be most probably my last attempt and it is best to opt for coaching. So, I joined coaching classes from May and eventually took a drop from the job from August. I experienced myself, and have heard from most of the other aspirants and B-school students I came in contact with, that once one gains a few months of work experience, one becomes a little rusty in terms of academics. So, for guys with work ex, unless one is confident that one can reproduce quant concepts at one’s fingertips, has great critical reading skills and can consistently find correct patterns and answers from seemingly obscure question sets, coaching from a good mentor will definitely add value.

For freshers, at the risk of generalizing, many students lose the drive for preparation due to various reasons. Also, there are almost always a lot of sources of distractions in and around college that can hamper the preparation. By joining good coaching class, students get the ambience, guidance and material for well-structured preparation, which I believe is key, for almost all the aspirants, to securing admission in the best possible college.


 When did you start preparing for XAT? Please share in detail your month-wise preparation strategy for XAT in terms of 6 months, 3 months, 2 months, 1 month and last minute strategy you followed.

Decision making is a section specific to XAT, for which I started preparing after IIFT entrance exam, i.e. 5 weeks before XAT. For General Knowledge, I did not do any specific preparation as such. I devoted around 30 hours in total to GK preparation, mostly before the IIFT exam. For other sections, preparation is more or less the same, I started for that in April.

From April to July, rather than focusing on any one exam, my focus was on brushing up the basics and improving the critical reading skills and vocabulary. I also used to solve the question sets that provided data in the form of charts, graphs, tables, etc.

I started taking the mocks more regularly from August. I used to analyse each mock almost the same day as the completion, and identify my strengths and weaknesses. Alongside that, I also started solving problems on each major topic in Quant. I kept working on solving questions from a wide range of RCs and LR sets as per the directions of the coaching institute. I continued this till the last week of September.

By the end of September, I finished solving the entire coaching material provided till then. Now was the time for revision – reinforcing established strengths, developing strengths in new areas and ironing out weaknesses. I started attempting more difficult RCs and LR sets.

By the start of November, my focus was on solving more and more difficult questions, as accurately and quickly as possible. I also kept on modifying my test taking strategy as per my performance in mocks. This continued till 1 week before CAT, after which I merely revised the concepts, shortcuts and relaxed for 1 week until CAT.

After giving CAT, XAT was obviously on the highest priority. So, I practised tough to comprehend RC sets from the special material provided from the class. I also devoted a few hours to the GK preparation. After IIFT, I was focusing singularly on XAT. Other than RCs, I also started practicing DM sets, by referring to past years XAT question papers, coaching material and mocks. I was specifically focusing on RC and DM, because I knew many instances wherein an aspirant scored high percentile overall, but missed out on GDPI call just because he/she could not clear sectional cut-off in one of the 3 sections. I was reasonable confident with my Quant. Also, scores of GK and Essay are not considered while shortlisting for GD-PI round. I took a few sectional tests for Verbal & Logic ability & DM, and analysed the mistakes that I made. I used to emphasize more on accuracy than speed while giving XAT mocks.

I finished my preparation 2 days before XAT. I decided that I will attempt 8 to 9 questions in Quant with 100% accuracy at the start of the test. I will then move on to DM and finish the section in next 1 hour, solving as many questions as possible with reasonable (around 80%) accuracy. Then, I will move on to Verbal & Logical ability and if I find the questions tough to solve, I will solve more number of questions, compared to Quant, with reasonable (between 70%-80%) accuracy. Then in last 15 minutes to 20 minutes, I will attempt the remaining Quant questions. That way, I will stay around at least 90th percentile in each section, which is generally good enough for sectional cut-offs and overall cut-offs too.


How did you balance your preparation with studies or job? Please share your time table. 

For around 4 months, I used to study around 1 hour a day after almost a 13 hours work day, 6 days a week. In transit, I used to solve a few reading comprehension sets or read the editorials on mobile. On Sundays, I used to go to the coaching centre and generally spend around 5 hours.

I would probably have secured admission in some of the Top 20 B-schools, by preparing alongside the job throughout. But I had some specific target colleges and branches of specialization in mind (XLRI being one of them!). I thought that it’s best to dedicate around 4- 5 months for preparation and in the meanwhile, develop a habit of reading books and do some useful courses on the side. That is why I resigned from my job at the end of July’17 and focused on the preparation.


What was the one thing that you did consistently during your preparation? Or What do you think one should do consistently during the preparation of XAT? According to you, what is the most important aspect of preparation?

When it comes to Verbal Ability, the difficulty level of questions in XAT is higher than those in other entrance exams. Decision Making (DM) is a section found only in XAT, so special preparation is needed to crack DM. So, while preparing for XAT, one should focus on solving RC sets which are difficult to comprehend and refer to the past papers of XAT to prepare for DM, and also to gauge the difficulty level of other questions. Correct mindset is the most important aspect of preparation. Do not build a perception about your abilities beforehand, always look forward to solving the maximum possible number of questions accurately, without wasting time on solving the questions from fields which you are not your strengths. There are aspirants who score around 85 percentile till the last mock test and score 99 percentile at the D-day, the opposite case too holds true.


What are the best study materials for XAT or other exams? Please name some books, or other study materials (even newspaper/magazines) and online materials you had referred to during preparation. In terms of online or offline materials, which one did you prefer and why?

Aristotle RC 99 is one good book to solve varying levels of reading comprehensions (RCs). “Word Power Made Easy” by Norman-Lewis, while not central to success in XAT, definitely plays a role in improving your verbal ability by expanding your vocabulary. Just read the word list given at the end of the book, if not the entire book. I used to read Face to Face (Arihant Publishing House) in order to refer to past question papers, but there are claims by some customers on Amazon that the book does not include all the questions and is repetitive. For logical ability, refer to as many diverse sources as possible – puzzle books, online material (includes mock tests and practice questions) by a leading coaching institute, a book on DILR by Arun Sharma (McGraw Hill publications), etc. For Quant, I used to refer to “Quantum CAT” by Sarvesh Varma (Arihant Publishing House).

Read business newspaper like Mint or ET (InShorts won’t help much with RC preparation!) and editorials of newspapers that use rich language, like Guardian, New York Times, Hindu, etc. There is an app called Knappily, on which you will be able to read the 5W1H analysis of major issues, that can help to polish your critical reading skills.

Barring IIFT, all other exams are now conducted in online mode. So, acquaintance with the online interface is necessary to do well in exams. That’s why, it’s good to join online test series course of leading coaching classes such as CL, TIME, IMS, etc. – you also get to know your standing among a reasonable large pool of leading aspirants. I prefer online material over offline, provided level of content is the same.


When did you start taking mock test and what was the frequency? How did you get it analysed and integrate it in your preparation?

I started taking mocks regularly from August, one mock test per week in 1st month and 2 mocks per week from September till one week before CAT. I focused almost singularly on XAT, after the completion of CAT. I took around 45 full-length mock exams in total till XAT.

I used to spend around 4 hours per mock test, in most cases immediately after taking the test, to analyse the same. I used to check the solutions of the questions that I did not attempt, note the reason for not attempting the same. For wrong questions, I used to find out the error that I made, and for correct questions, I just used to check the method of the solution provided. I also used to keep track of time spent on each of correct, unattempted and wrong questions and maintain all these details for each mock in an excel workbook. As far as I know, CL and few other leading classes also provide in-depth analysis of the mock immediately after completion, by the help of which you can immediately detect your areas of strength and weakness, how much time you spend on questions from each area and work accordingly to adjust your strategy and method of test taking so that more proportion of time is spent on questions that you are sure that you will be able to answer correctly (target of at least 80% should be set).


How one with non-English background should prepare him/herself for the exam as the mode of the exam is only English?

The first priority should be to have a good command over the language in terms of vocabulary and grammar, which will help with accurate comprehension. Such a person shall start with getting acquainted with grammar, ideally by joining coaching class and referring to the basic material provided by them, or else he/she can refer to the good grammar books, such as Wren & Martin. Simultaneously, he/she shall start maintaining a different book in which the person shall enter at least 10 new words daily and memorize all the words from book from time to time. He/she can use tools such as flash cards to learn and memorize new words on the go. Spend at least 1 hour daily on reading English newspaper such as Times of India, The Indian Express, The Hindu, etc. Once the reasonable command is attained over the language, then the person shall start focusing more on practicing RCs of varying levels, this shall be done till his/her VA section becomes reasonably strong as compared to Logic, Quant and decision making skills. After the parity is achieved till a reasonable level, he/she can strategize as per his/her wish and target.


What was your exam day strategy in terms of question selection, time management, accuracy and sectional attempts/cut offs?

There is a really small margin, in terms of marks scored, between getting a call for GD-PI round and missing out on the call. Also, questions in XAT are generally more difficult, when compared to questions in other entrance exams. But then, XAT also provides more time per question. So, my strategy was to attempt at least 50% questions in each section, with substantial emphasis on accuracy at the same time. I searched for questions from Quant which were from my areas of strength and solve them in the first round of around 30 minutes. Then, I moved on to DM and tried to solve as many questions as I can in the next 1 hour – there is no sure shot way of determining accuracy for DM. Then, I moved on to VA and looked for the RC sets which were easily comprehensible to me, solved them and first and then moved on to the tougher sets. By the time I almost finished VA & Logic, I realized I only have 20 minutes left. So, I went back to Quant and solved around 5 more questions.


Preparing for XAT is a long and tiring process. How do you suggest one should keep his/her calm and confidence?

There should be a designated “cheat period”, of around 4 to 5 hours at a stretch, in a week, where the person shall do what he/she likes the most, without worrying about the future and repenting about the past. 30-60 minutes of light exercise for 5 days a week or more will help the person to stay physically fit, which helps in sustaining the high level of intensity for long period of preparation. Also, by meditating for 10-15 minutes every day, preferably before sleeping, the person will stay calm and relaxed, which is must for performing well in XAT and other entrance exams too. Stay in touch with the loved ones and appreciate the life that you are living, because XAT, any other exam, a 21-months B-school life, everything is ultimately just a part of your life. Don’t get fixated on one thing and just try to give your best in whatever that you do.


What is your message for XAT 2019 aspirants?

Stay calm, identify your strengths and weaknesses. Keep reinforcing your strengths, work on your weaknesses so as you can attempt questions from those areas too with satisfactory levels of accuracy, if required. Strategize such that you spend a minimum amount of time on unattempted questions. Keep the number of wrong questions to a minimum. Look for easy questions first and solve them. It’s okay that you have a 5- minute or even 10-minute dry patch, stay focused and don’t lose hope till the exam ends. In spite of all of this, if you don’t do well, remember that this is not the end of the road. You can always attempt next year, there are many other ways to succeed in life as well. In a nutshell, KEEP CALM & XL.

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