‘For Decision Making, Choose The Most Ethical Answers And Be Consistent Throughout’ – Srijoni Nandy, XLRI Jamshedpur

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 fulfil their dream of studying at this prestigious institute.

As a part of the ongoing series, Srijoni Nandy (HRM 2018-20) shares her preparation strategy for the exam:

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

My overall percentile was 98.7. The sectional percentile was 97.6, 85.9 and 98.1 in Quantitative Ability, Verbal and Logical ability, Decision Making respectively. I also appeared for CAT and IIFT and secured 94.7 and 95.88 respectively.


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

When talking about MBA entrance exams, be it CAT, XAT, IIFT or any other such exams, the main aspect that should be kept in mind is how comfortable one is with the different sections i.e. QA, VA/LA and DA.

I’ll explain my preparation strategy in the following steps –

Step 1 – To get acquainted with the syllabus. Should be aware of the various topics in the different sections.

Step 2 – Start practicing problems from the various topics. Identify the different patterns of questions asked and solve accordingly.

Step 3 – Take practice tests. Analyse them. Identify your weak points. Put extra effort on those parts.

Due to the criteria of sectional cut-off, one needs to be good at all three sections. So it is paramount that one should focus on all three areas.


Section-wise strategy:

Quantitative ability – This section is all about practice. Practice will not only give you an idea about the various types of questions that are asked every year, it will also go a long way to improve your speed and accuracy which is a crucial part in exam preparation.

Verbal/Logical ability – Reading newspaper articles, books on various topics, editorials and journals help with the vertical ability section. It gives a sense of the English language and you can trust your gut instincts in the exam hall.

Regarding the logical section, if you are practicing for CAT, this should be an easy ride. Again, nothing but practice helps. Go through the solutions, try and understand the different approaches and try applying them in the next set of questions that you attempt.

Decision Making – I did not prepare specifically for this section, but just went through the last years’ questions to get a feel of the topic. I would suggest, go for the most ethical answers and be consistent throughout. That is the strategy I went for and it sure helped.


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

I had the study material from Career Launcher and had enrolled for their online test series.

Coaching helps to a great extent if you judiciously use the various resources at your disposal. You need to approach the teachers with your doubts, which you are bound to have. Everything that is taught in class should be revised and more questions on similar topics should be practiced.

Personally, self-study worked for me. In classrooms, there might be a lot of people asking a lot of questions from concepts you have full clarity on. In that case, that particular session might feel like a wastage of time.

So, I would suggest, give as much time as possible to self-study because that is the best way to measure your preparation level. But at the same time, book sessions with your teachers to clarify your doubts because piling them up is helping nobody.


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. 

I started preparing for the MBA entrance exams during my third year. With almost a year in hand, I didn’t explicitly focus on XAT per se but was trying to get a good grip on the various sections. Since I had a lot of time at my disposal, preparation was slow initially. I completed the entire syllabus from the study materials within 7-8 months. With 4-5 months left, I started taking practice tests. I can’t stress enough how crucial it is to analyse your performance in these tests and to work according to the analysis. The last one week, I just went through whatever I had practised in the past one year. I had stopped solving the questions and taking any tests. A relaxed mind before the exams has a crucial impact on your performance.

Make sure you have a sound sleep the day before the exam. Heavy eyelids and incomplete sleep will only hamper your performance.


How did you balance your preparation with studies or job? Please share your timetable. (if relevant)

I am a fresher, so balancing job wasn’t a factor for me. In the final year of college, even our academic pressure was non-existent so I could completely focus on my 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?

One shouldn’t lose hope. No matter how tough the going gets, one should be determined. I know it’s easier said than done. A bad score in the mock tests would bring me down, I would have self-doubts, be on the verge of mental breakdowns and would convince myself to give up. But the end goal, the light at the end of the dark tunnel is what kept me going.

Talk to friends and family. Go out. Give yourself some break. If you get through this year, it’s great. If you don’t, chill, you have another chance. But don’t ever give up on hope, because at the end of the day, contrary to all evidence, hope is that thing inside us, which will give us the courage to fight for what we want.


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?

I didn’t refer to any offline materials. I had enrolled at Career Launcher and had their study material. Apart from Career Launcher, TIME is also very popular among XAT aspirants. Arun Sharma’ books are also a great help.

For reading, I followed Reader’s Digest religiously. Other magazines like India Today is renowned.

When it comes to offline and online materials, I would always recommend offline. When online, we tend to become distracted easily and end up wasting long hours browsing the internet for irrelevant purposes.


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

I started with the mock tests almost 3-4 months’ prior the exams. The analysis was very detailed and showed not only my overall performance but also how I have performed in various sections, topics and in terms of time taken. This kind of analysis is important as it gives a clear idea about which are my weak areas and then rectify those shortcomings. Like I said earlier, speed and accuracy, both should be kept in mind when preparing for these entrance exams. So, according to the analysis, I tried to search for short-cut tricks to reduce the time taken in the easier questions. Also, I worked on those topics where I scored below average.

Regarding the frequency, up until a week before XAT, I appeared for one mock test each week and spend the entire week on analysis and practice to improve on the drawbacks. This gave me enough time to reflect on my mistakes and prepare accordingly.


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

Someone from a non-English background, no doubt has it a lot harder than the rest of us who are well-versed in the language. For those students, I would suggest, that they read and read and read. Getting a sense of the language, its intricacies as well as the eccentricities is imperative. Also, they need to ask questions and clear their doubts from the faculties. They are bound to have more questions than most, but being hesitant to ask those question in class or in person would put them at a greater disadvantage. So, read, speak and think in English. Get comfortable with the language and you are good to go.


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

The best part about the XAT exam was that we could toggle between the different sections. My exam day strategy was –

  1. I started with the Quantitative ability section as I am most comfortable with it, followed by Decision Making and Verbal and Logical Ability.
  2. I skipped the questions which took more than 2 minutes to solve.
  3. I allotted the least amount of time to Decision Making questions and most to Verbal and Logical ability as those were my Achilles’ heels.

According to the exam instructions, there was an increased penalty for leaving more than 8 questions unattempted. So, I took estimated and calculated guesses and made sure to attempt all but 8. This strategy paid off and improved my scores to a great extent.


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

When things go haywire, first and foremost just let go of your books and take a deep breath. This is something that has been said by our elders time and again and we keep ignoring But this works, tried and tested.

We are millennials. Our lives revolve around books, movies, TV series, social media. When asked to relax, we run after our mobiles like addicts. If only we spare some time, look at the bigger picture and stop demanding perfection from ourselves, stress levels will reduce and we’ll loosen up. Breaks like these are beneficial and improve our efficiency.


What is your message for XAT 2019 aspirants?

IIM-A is Illvermony, but XLRI is Hogwarts. XLRI is home. Right now, there are many Dracos who already know which B-School they are going to, but there are many Harrys too, who are unsure of what the future holds. So, to all the XAT aspirants out there, you need not stress yourself out.  Put in all you have, and a palace of surprises await you here.

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