‘Practise All The RCs You Can Find’ – Shelly Saksena, 99.62 In Verbal Ability, 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.

For the first article in this series, Shelly Saksena (HRM 2018-20) shares her preparation strategy.


Q1. 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 XAT percentile was 99.331, with 92.592 in Quantitative Ability, 99.624 in Verbal and Logical Ability and 91.569 in Decision Making. I also took CAT in which I got 95.18 percentile.


Q2. What was your preparation strategy? Please share section-wise strategy in detail.

At first, I went through TIME booklets and HitBullsEye’s online course material and took AIMCATs and BULLCATs to gauge what my strong and weak points were. Once that was done, I spent more time on my problem areas.

Verbal Ability: Practise all the RCs you can find. RCs can all look very similar but there are some distinct underlying themes and it is possible to be good at solving one type of RC and not be good at solving another type of RC. So make sure you cover all the themes and keep revisiting them every few days. Also, when it comes to grammar, just go through the rules thoroughly and then practise, practise, practise! There really is no other way to get better at grammar.

Logical Reasoning: This is a section where there’s very little to learn, so it’s possible to read about and understand the different types of questions that may come. What matters most in DILR is the strategy you follow, so practise all kinds of questions so you can understand which types are time-consuming and which aren’t so that on D-Day, you know which questions to skip.

Quantitative Ability: Learn all the formulae and shortcuts because the most important part of QA is to minimise the amount of time it takes to get the right answer. Keep taking sectional tests so that you don’t forget the formulae and how to apply them.

Decision Making: This section can be very tricky, so solve as many cases as possible. This section does get a bit neglected because it’s only there in XAT, but make sure you work on DM at least once a week.


Q3. How did you prepare – Self-study or Coaching? Please explain which one do you think is better?

I prepared with coaching, which I feel is better because it not only gives you the discipline to study at a certain time for a certain duration but also gives you a chance to see the competition, which can further motivate you.


Q4. 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 in the beginning of May 2017, which was about 8 months before XAT. In the first two months, I just studied all the new concepts and understood my strong and weak points. When XAT was 6 months away, I started to focus more on analysing my mock exams and seeing which topics I was having problems in and working on those particular topics. At the 3 month mark, I started to devise strategies for each section, so as to better manage my time and get more accurate answers. These strategies were then tested to find the best one. The next month went in implementing that strategy in as many mock exams as possible to see if there were any loopholes to be plugged. In the last month, I started moving from a hectic study schedule to a more relaxed schedule. I kept revising concepts and took a few mocks. In the last week or 10 days, just try to get some sleep, eat properly and keep yourself healthy for the day of the exam. As for the last minute, just take deep breaths and have faith in your preparation. Also, don’t think too much about the exam, because that’s the surest way of messing it up.


Q5. 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?

The one thing that I did do consistently was – revise my concepts. It’s very easy to forget the concepts and methods of solving problems. The syllabus can be a bit overwhelming and you can have the urge to learn as many new things as possible every day, but it’s all for nothing without an adequate amount of revision.

According to me, the most important part of preparation is to stay focused and not lose hope. There will be sections that you will take forever to understand and mocks where your percentile will be far below your target, but you still need to keep going. The way I see it, the exam might only be for a few hours, but you’re being tested from the day you start preparing.


Q6. 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 primarily used TIME booklets and online resources along with HitBullsEye’s online resources. I also used websites like Cracku, GPKaFunda, HandaKaFunda and WordPandit, supplemented by YouTube videos from various sources. Along with these, I used to read The Hindu everyday. Most of the material I used was online, because I could carry it all wherever I wanted to. Also, online material can be a lot more visually appealing so it can keep you interested for a longer duration.


Q7. 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 mock tests about two weeks into my preparation. At first, I took one test in a week or so, but a month or so after, I started taking mocks more regularly, until I was taking a mock a day. I asked my teachers from my coaching centre to help me analyse my mistakes and I focused on rectifying those mistakes.


Q8. How one with non-English background should prepare him/herself for the exam as the mode of the exam is only English?

Start by studying the rules of grammar. These are by far the most important and the trickiest part of the language. Also, read a lot. Be it newspapers or books or any other source. This will help understand sentence structure and reinforce the rules of grammar.


Q9. What was your exam day strategy in terms of question selection, time management, accuracy and sectional attempts/cutoffs?

I attempted questions in the following order: Quant, Verbal, Logical Reasoning and then Decision Making. This was a strategy I adopted because it gave my brain time to go from a numerical/logical problem to a wordy one and this back and forth helped me score better. That said, you should try and come up with your own strategy of what works best for you.


Q10. Preparing for XAT is a long and tiring process. How do you suggest one should keep his/her calm and confidence?

I think what’s most important is that you don’t overwork yourself, so keep taking breaks (but not too many breaks) and find a hobby that relieves your stress and helps you stay calm. For me, it was training and playing with my dog.


Q11: What is your message for XAT 2019 aspirants?

Give this exam 6-8 months of consistent hard work, study smartly and most importantly believe in your own abilities. If you can do this much, you will be good on D-Day.

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