‘How XAT Stands Out From The Rest’ – Suman Saha, XLRI 2016-18
It’s that time of the year again. Decembers. Winters. The happy Christmas feeling. You’re all done with CAT and all the other MBA examinations. It doesn’t matter if they went well or if you screwed up. The only thing that matters right now is that you’ve reached the last lap of the race which started a year back when you decided to go for an MBA. Just a few more weeks remain for the ‘baap’ of all MBA examinations, XAT. So buckle up, hold on tight cause this last lap will be one hell of a ride.
XAT is a completely different proposition itself when you compare it with the other MBA examinations. For me who had given CAT and IIFT along with XAT last year, XAT was by far the toughest of the lot in every aspect. Firstly you get so much acquainted with the online examination scheme of things by giving so many CAT mocks that by the time you start preparing for XAT the pen and paper format looks all too alien to be honest. It takes a whole lot of effort to actually get yourself used to the idea of filling up OMR sheets with your very own HB pencils. I’m pretty sure the last time you would have done that was a minimum of four years ago when you were giving those engineering entrance examinations. I’m sure there are many non-engineers who’ll be vying for a spot this time too but sadly it is the engineers who form the bulk. Add to that, there’s a whole new section in the form of Decision Making which you have not come across in any of the other examinations. There’s a common perception that DM is analogical to LR of CAT but get this in your head – They are not even remotely similar.
That’s not it. You’re actually expected to write an essay too along with the actual XAT paper. I’m pretty sure it’ll be the first time that most of you would actually write something of their own in a pretty long time. Even though the essay wouldn’t form a part of your XAT score, it would have a weight in the final selections if you manage to get a call from XLRI. And lastly, on a more humorous note XAT happens at a very difficult period right after Christmas and the dawning of the New Year and we all know how difficult it is to concentrate after that one week.
Coming back to XAT, this is an exam which will never fail to surprise you. With CAT you know there’s this set pattern and a particular scheme of things it’ll follow and rarely you’ll get something very different from that. Here’s when XAT steps in.
I was waiting patiently for the invigilator to give a signal to start during XAT last year with a lot of confidence and determination. As soon as I opened the paper, to my utter surprise, the first question was a RC in the form of a poem which made little or no sense to me. I’m pretty sure about half of the people appearing for XAT last year would have been derailed at the poem itself. And as we all know, these exams are more of a rhythm thing. The momentum is very important. It gets extremely difficult to get back up from a stuttering start. Thankfully my brain had the sense to tell me to skip that and move on.
The rest of the VA part was comparatively of a usual level of difficulty. But it is trickier than CAT. The questions can be very confusing and there’s a whole gamut of different types which have come over the years. You’ll also find a few questions directly related to the vocabulary which can be attempted. What’s important in this section is to be acquainted with all the different patterns of questions which can come since XAT does experiment quite a bit with VA.
Let’s talk about DM. Let me be very clear about it. DM will make or break your XAT. Since XLRI has a pretty evenly spread out cut-off for all the sections, you need to do well in this. You get about a month or so after CAT to actually get a hold of this section since before that it’s unlikely that you’d have been practising DM. Imagine how long it took to get comfortable with LR. This is twice as tough. So it’s very important to invest a lot of time in practising various types of DM questions in this month. You need to give special attention to DM whenever you’re practising. At first glance, the questions seem easy and fun to do but you’d realise pretty soon that you’re way off. Only practice can get you to a position where you can confidently attempt questions in this section.
There will be questions where you’ll be asked to rank the solutions in a particular order of effectiveness and those are the tricky ones. They’ll end up taking a lot of your time and will keep lingering on your mind even after you’re done. It’s better to not attempt in this section even if you have the smallest of doubts since more often than not you’ll be wrong. So focus on attempting less with good accuracy in this section and you should be good. I actually had the exact percentile in DM last year which was needed to clear the cut-off for BM in XLRI last year.
Quants and DI will usually be at par with CAT so this is a section you need not worry about. Naturally, this will be a very high scoring section. But you need to understand that scoring very high just in quant might give you an overall high percentile but you need to clear the sectional cut-offs to get a call. So the focus has to be evenly distributed. The GK and essay part will not be used in your XAT percentile but they do form an important part for the next rounds if you get a call along with the GD and PI, so do not take it lightly. If you have a habit of reading the newspaper every day then GK should not be a problem at all. Practice writing a few essays. It shouldn’t be a case where you are writing an essay for the first time in four years. It will not work that way. Topics are usually straightforward except for that one year where they tried to experiment a bit. Last year’s topic was one which dealt with the trade-off between technological advancement and protection of nature. So you’ll have content on your side to play with.
That is about it. XLRI is the best thing that’ll happen to your life if you do manage to pull through and trust me being an XLer I can assure you that all the hard work you put in will be worth it. Apart from the things you learn in the classrooms from some of the best faculties in this country, everyday will be an experience in itself where you discover yourself and grow from within as a person. You’ll do things which you never thought were possible from your side. You’ll come out a completely different person. I’m on the verge of completing my 2nd trimester here and heading home for Christmas but I can exactly feel the kind of anxiety and pressure you people are going through, being in the same spot just a year back. So give it your all and make yourself proud. The best B-school in the country is just a step away. Have a great year ahead!
About the Author:
Summer Intern at JPMorgan Chase