‘Take More Mocks & Try To Understand The Pattern Of Questions’ – Ankita Nehal, 99.64%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 was your XAT 2018 overall and sectional percentile? Apart from XAT, which other entrances you appeared for and what were your percentiles?
Quantitative Ability: 96.14
Verbal and Logical Ability: 98.37
Decision Making: 98.93
Apart from XAT, I appeared for CAT and IIFT.
Overall percentile for CAT: 99.66
Overall percentile for IIFT: 99.91
What was your preparation strategy? Please share section-wise strategy in detail.
My overall strategy was to start with the basic concepts and then identify my strengths and weaknesses via the mock tests I took. For English, I had developed a habit of reading newspapers, online articles and books on a regular basis which helped me a lot. During my preparation as well, I continued to do so. While taking mock tests, my strategy in this section was to maximize my attempts with a decent accuracy. With DI/LR/DM (for XAT) being my weaker section, I initially solved questions of multiple types from books or other study material and analysed the mocks meticulously. While appearing for tests, I tried out multiple approaches of attempting questions and figured which one works out well for me (In terms of attempts and accuracy). For Quantitative aptitude, I practised extensively, labelled questions, noted down concepts and revised those regularly. This section was the balancing section for me in case I did not perform as expected in the other two sections.
How did you prepare – Self-study or Coaching? Please explain which one do you think is better?
I prepared on my own and by taking online mock tests. Periodically, I used to refer to my friend’s class notes who had taken up coaching for a few quick methods/tricks. Self-study worked for me as I tried to bring structure to my preparation and was persistent enough to stick to my schedule. You cannot conclude decisively as to which one is better. It depends on what works for you and what resources you have and what you need. People who have sufficient time, learn better in a collective environment and required a directed approach in preparation can join a coaching institute. For others with little or no time (especially working professionals) who can follow a planned approach on their own and have their fundamentals clear can study very well on their own.
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 5 months before CAT 2017. The initial preparation phase of ~5 months was common for all the entrance examinations. I started with solving Quant and DI/LR questions from the ‘Quantitative Aptitude’ and ‘Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning’ by Arun Sharma for the initial 2 months. Post that, I took a few sectional tests to test the waters. The later 3 months were about taking mock tests, analysing each of them, making a note of the weak areas and then going back to the basics and working on them. For XAT in specific, I started after CAT, solved the previous 5-6 years’ question papers and took a few mock to understand the pattern and get acquainted with the questions (especially those of Decision Making). As a last minute strategy, I revised the concepts/formulae and a few labelled questions from the previous year papers I had solved.
How did you balance your preparation with studies or job? Please share your timetable.
Balancing studies with preparation was indeed a daunting task, especially for me as I used to tutor students in the evening after my college. I did not have a specific timetable. I believe that it doesn’t matter how many hours you put into preparation but how efficiently you use it. A major chunk of my time was spent travelling to college. So, I utilized this time to read newspapers/books/analyse the English section of the mock tests I took. After I came back home, I analysed the other sections and concepts. On weekends, when I was relatively free, I used to take the mock tests.
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?
According to me, the most important aspect of preparation is to know your strengths and weaknesses. Once you spot these, you can accordingly devote time to improve on your weaknesses and build on your strengths. Throughout my preparation, I consistently spent more time analysing the mock tests; identifying the topics where I consistently faltered or did silly mistakes or improved my performance. Apart from this, I labelled questions while solving them as questions/type to revise. This saves a lot of time during the final stretch of the preparation.
Apart from this, I almost never missed out on reading newspaper/online articles. People tend to do this in the final stretch of the preparation. I believe that reading regularly not only improves your grammar and vocabulary but also your analytical skills.
For XAT in particular, though the fundamental concepts remain the same, the paper pattern is different, especially the decision-making section. One should consistently solve questions from the previous year papers to get a fair idea about the pattern and type of questions asked.
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?
For XAT, I solved 5-6 past years’ question papers and referred to the online tests by CL. During my preparation in general, I referred to the online study material by Career Launcher. I also followed ‘The Hindu’, ‘Nautilus’,’aldaily.com’ and ‘The Frontline’. This kept me updated with the latest news and expanded my horizon of thought in general. I personally prefer a combination of both. Offline material has all the concepts in one place with the flexibility of quickly turning around pages, marking questions and concepts; whereas online material is handy and can be used while travelling or the short breaks that you get between classes.
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 ~3 months before CAT. The frequency of tests increased with CAT and XAT approaching. I started off with ~2 tests per week in the first month, increased to ~3 tests in the second and first half of the third month. In the final two weeks, I took ~ 4 tests and focussed on revising the concepts and important questions.
While analysing, I bifurcated all the questions into weak areas, silly mistakes, improvements observed and consistent scoring. This helped me to keep a track of where I am going wrong or where I have been improving. Following this structure throughout my preparation helped me channelize my energy and efficiently analyse my performance in the limited time frame.
How one with non-English background should prepare him/herself for the exam as the mode of the exam is only English?
The first step would be to get it out of your head that not being from an English background can stop you from cracking XAT or any entrance examination. You surely have to put in a lot of effort compared to others but that surely will bear fruits if you try hard enough. Read as much as possible, newspapers, magazines, online articles etc. Refer to ‘Wren and Martin’ for basics of grammar. The theoretical book will set the rules straight while articles/newspapers will give you a fair idea of the application. Watch more and more of English videos of your area of interest. To be able to comprehend the examination questions, take a few questions every day and ask someone (comfortable with English) if your understanding of the question is correct.
What was your exam day strategy in terms of question selection, time management, accuracy and sectional attempts/cut offs?
On the day of the exam, I took it like any other mock test to maintain my composure. I started with my strong area, English and tried to attempt as many questions as possible. I aimed at maximizing my attempts in English. (Lower attempts and lower accuracy never quite worked out of me). After English, I moved on to the Decision-Making section which was a tricky part for me. I believed solving Decision Making section at the end might lead to solving questions in haste and hence, lower accuracy. I took on a conservative approach and attempted questions I was fairly sure about. Then I moved onto Quant, my next stronger section and tried to balance attempt with accuracy in this one. My overall aim was to maximize scores in English, score above the cut off in DM, and balance the attempts/accuracy via Quant.
Preparing for XAT is a long and tiring process. How do you suggest one should keep his/her calm and confidence?
It is a long and exhausting process, indeed, especially for XAT as it happens one month after CAT. What I would suggest is one should not stop preparing after CAT. If you take a break, it becomes difficult to get back into that flow. Continue the rigor and enthusiasm till XAT. Do not get discouraged if your other entrance examinations were not as per your expectations. Take more mocks, try to understand the pattern of questions. As you improve in your mocks, it will add to your confidence. Remember that worrying can only make things worse. It’s better to stay calm and give it the best you can.
What is your message for XAT 2019 aspirants?
My sole message for XAT 2019 batch would be a famous quote from Nelson Mandela which goes like “It always seems impossible until it’s done.” I am here and you can be too. Believe in yourself, have faith in your abilities and never give up. All the best!