How To Do Well In XAT – MYRAcle Ganpathy Has Some Tips

Continuing our series on MYRAcles, we meet Ganapathy M N from MYRA School of Business who secured 94.96 percentile in XAT.  We met Ganapathy to know more about how he planned his preparation and strategies for the exam. Ganapathy is currently at Catolica- Lisbon University, Portugal as a part of the Global Immersion Program at MYRA.

1. What was your strategy for XAT? Was there any element that made its preparation different from the other national entrance exams?

I didn’t really have a different strategy for XAT compared to any other exam I take, national or otherwise. I treat every exam the same way. The idea is always to prepare as much as I can in the time I have and then give it my best shot. With exams like XAT and CAT which have multiple sections I figure out which sections are tougher for me and then devote more of my time preparing for those sections.

2. Was MBA always on your radar? How did MYRA happen to you?

A Master’s degree was always on the radar after my Bachelor’s degree, but not an MBA specifically. As time passed and I got more involved in my job, my interests shifted from technical to people and processes. Thus the decision to pursue my master’s in management studies. While I was preparing for the various exams and trying to decide which college to pick, my father told me about a new college in my home city of Mysore. I had heard the name from a senior who was studying there, so I decided to collect some information. The more I learnt about the unique program and the faculty at MYRA, the more interested I became, and I applied. But I was still in two minds about it. What finally convinced me was my interview with the MYRA Leadership Team. The way the conversation was two-sided and the interest they showed in me and my work, convinced me that this was the right place for me.

3. What sort of strategy did you follow for different sections? Especially a section like General Awareness which includes a whole lot of different topics and issues?

Well, quants has always been the tougher part for me. So I focussed a majority of my preparation time on that. I picked up old CAT and XAT papers and worked it out. I also borrowed a few competitive exam books from my friends who had written the exam previously and browsed through, concentrating on the parts that were tough for me. English and vocabulary came easy to me right from the start, so I spent lesser time preparing for it. I like to read a lot of fiction, so that was good practice on writing styles, grammar and spellings. I usually kept a dictionary with me and immediately looked up the meaning of any new word. From then on, I would try to use that word in my daily conversations, when applicable. For the General Awareness section, I didn’t do anything special like buying a GK book and memorizing every section. That was not practical for me with time constraints imposed by my job, and it is not possible to know everything that has happened or is going on. Instead I spent any free time I had on the net, reading anything that interested me, gathering information on current events on social media like Facebook, and in general, talking with friends who were also taking up exams or were generally well informed. Ialso spent some time everyday skimming through the newspaper. Finally, I went through any of the old XAT papers I could get my hands on to see if there were any questions which tend to repeat.

4. Can you throw some light on the difficulty level of XAT on the whole as compared to other entrance tests like CAT?

I have written the XAT and CAT papers, and I don’t think they are that different in difficulty levels.The major difference in the paper is the additional General Awareness section in XAT, which requires some extra preparation. In the exam hall, another important factor which affects your concentration is that CAT is online, while XAT is written. You need to focus on not making a mistake while writing, which is not an issue in an online test where you can change your answer with a click. An advantage in XAT over CAT is that you can attempt the sections in the order you want as the papers are not divided by a break.

5. How did you analyse your strengths and weaknesses? What efforts did you take to overcome those weaknesses?

My strengths and weaknesses with regards to the exams were quite apparent to me after I solved a couple of practice papers. Time management was an issue for me. I spent too long on the quants section, and I had lost touch with writing fast and legibly, which I needed for the essay section. I spent most of my time trying to improve my calculation speed and trying to shift time from sections I was fast at, to the quants section. I also spent about 30 min daily, just writing anything that came to mind, the goal being, to write clearly and as much as I can in 30 min.

6. How did you manage stress and time on the exam day? How did you allocate time across different sections?

Stress is not a problem for me in the exam, once I start writing, since my full focus shifts to the task at hand and there is literally no time to stress! Any time during or before the exam, when stress does begin to creep in, I calm down by reminding myself that I have done or am doing all that I can, and stressing will only affect my performance adversely. Besides, there is nothing productive that I can achieve by stressing out. Take a break, a few minutes to relax and calm down. Think about or do something that you enjoy. Once you’re calm, get back to the task at hand. Even though I had made all efforts to improve my speed in every section, you really can’t predictthe paper and therefore time management has to be spontaneous at the exam hall. I focussed on finishing the section I was confident about (in this case the writing and vocabulary sections), in the shortest time possible and then I used the remaining time for quants. I kept the last 15 minutes for the General Awareness section, because in that section there were only two possible outcomes, I either know the answer or I don’t.

7. Do you think the pen-paper format of the test helped you in securing a better score over a test which is conducted online?

Not really. I actually found it difficult to write. I could have managed time a lot better if the exam for computer based and the options could be selected with a click, and the essays just typed up.

8. How did you work upon your essay writing skills or WAT?

I read a lot. You need to know something if you have to write about it. So I spent a lot of time learning a lit bit about everything I could. I also spent a lot of time introspecting, just in case the essay had any relevance to me and I could give it a personal touch. Apart from that, as I mentioned earlier, I spent a lot of time practicing writing in order to improve my handwriting and writing speed. An added benefit of this was that after a while I was able to predict the number ofwords or lines approximately, without needing to count. That saved a bit of time at the exam too.

9. Can you highlight certain key areas of the preparation which a student should necessarily focus on for XAT?

I can’t suggest any particular section because that depends on the individual student’s strengths and weaknesses. But I would tell them to focus on their strengths first. Don’t neglect what your good at, just to work on what you are weak at. Also, work on time management, not by planning the time to be allocated to each section, but rather on ways to improve your overall speed in all sections. And read a lot, interact with a lot of people. This helps greatly with the essay and General Awareness sections.

10. Finally, any advice to aspirants taking XAT 2016?

Yes…. Relax! Don’t burn yourself out. Don’t stress out. Take out a little time every day to do something fun, hang out with friends or talk to your family. They can help you when you are stuck with a problem, or just give you a new perspective. You can’t avoid all the negative people in the world, but learn to ignore them. And finally remember, it’s just an exam, not the end of the world. Don’t make it the only thing in your life. You have as many attempts as you want to make. But don’t use that as an excuse, not to work. Prepare well and go give it your best shot. That’s all there is to it.


For all previous stories on MYRAcles, click here


This is a promoted feature story

InsideIIM Counselling