The Ultimate XAT And SNAP Strategy Guide From A 99.8 Percentiler

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1. This is what has worked for me. Read it and use only what you think is useful. Apply those parts which seem common sense, ignore what does not seem right.

2. Use it only to modify your current approach, since at this late stage too many changes should not be done.

3. Try out new strategies only in mocks, not in the actual exam!


XAT – General tips

1. Top priority is the new types of questions in XAT. Study closely the last 3-4 XATs, especially XAT 2016, since it was experimental in format. Make your own observations. This is the first order of business.

2. In a pen and paper exam, you are free to devote more or less time to each section. Prepare to do that according to your mocks performance and comfort level. E.g. solving verbal quickly because your speed in quant is slow.

3. As far as studying is concerned, #1 priority is decision making (DM). Do it from your coaching material and attempt short tests on it online. It is very unique and different year-on-year, so getting a broad idea beforehand is critical.

4.  DM can be both logical reasoning/RC based and quantitative. Choice of which sets to attempt is critical – decide with enough time left in the exam, according to your strong areas and difficulty level of the sets. There will not be enough time to attempt all the sets.

5. E.g. my weakness was quant, so I skipped the toughest quant set in the DM section. Did all the verbal sets first, and in the end did the easiest quant set in DM. Form such a strategy according to your strengths and weaknesses.

6. Other than that, things are broadly similar to general CAT level. The higher difficulty gap which was there a few years ago has somewhat reduced.

7. However, be at your best preparation. Skip the very easy and very tough topics now. Do the topics which you understand already and can improve in with more practice/briefly revising (max 3 hours time devoted to each topic). The idea is to go after topics where you can cause the most improvement in least time.

8.  GK and essay are not evaluative for getting an interview call, but scores in them should be decent to clear the interview. Spend time on both regularly in short bursts.


XAT 2017 – Attempt strategy:

1. There were 5 options last year with 1/4th negative marking. There was also a new twist- negative marking for each unattempted question (after 13 unattempted). There could be new rules again. Read all instructions carefully.

2. Strategy regarding number of attempts will be heavily dependent on your strong sections, difficulty of each section and new negative marking rules (if any). Strategy will have to be made and modified while you are attempting the paper.

3. Start off with your strongest section to build momentum and gain confidence. Do not attempt any section from start to finish. In the first round the motive is to scan the entire paper.

4. Take a look at the technique below. Follow whatever has worked for you in mocks, but add tricks from below that you find useful.

4. Basic rule – scan each page and keep attempting the easiest questions to finish round 1 of attempts (all sections) quickly. Then decide the upcoming strategy for round 2. Scan means just that – just get a broad look at the question and stop only at easy ones. This is a lot faster in pen and paper exams.

5. Illustration – you have read the entire paper in a quick glance. You have attempted the easiest 18 questions (of all sections combined) in the first 33 minutes.

6. You have also circled –

• questions you are familiar with due to practice

• questions which seem short and simple

• questions which are from your strong topics

7. Now you have more amount of time left per question. More importantly, now you also know that which section is tough, easy and moderate. So you can devote time accordingly to each section. This is much better than solving entire section from start to finish.

8. In round 2, do the circled questions.

9. Finally, in the time remaining, attempt the questions which seem doable according to the time left.

10. At all times maintain an accuracy of 75%. Accuracy is #1 in XAT.

11. In some sections, especially DM and RC, questions need to be solved by elimination of options. The options can be close together so this may take a bit of time. So pace needs to be slightly faster than CAT.

12. Keep balanced sectionals attempts if you are aiming for XLRI-BM. The biggest challenge in getting an XLRI-BM interview call is that the cutoff in each section is very high. E.g. quant cutoff during XAT 2015 was 88 percentile. DM cutoff is high and the section is very unpredictable. Therefore a lot of great students do not get an interview call because they do not clear sectionals. Check previous years’ cutoffs online and take care of them while attempting the exam.


GK and essay writing tips:

1. GK is a blend of static GK (general awareness, world knowledge, business) and dynamic GK (world news, Indian news, business developments, Indian business environment etc).

2. Use the sources provided by your coaching or online resources to keep up.

3. GK score is not used for deciding interview cutoff, but it is checked in the interview stage.

4. Keep doing GK regularly and in short bursts but spend the major portion of your time on the main XAT syllabus. It is the first priority.

5. Get a idea of likely essay topics from last 5 XATs. Read some sample solutions for essay writing online.

6. The main components to consider are – logical arguments, good beginning, middle and end, flow from one point to another, depth of thinking and language.

8. Keep your thoughts clear. Decide on a core argument to present. Draw a flowchart of the major points. Be brief and to the point.

9. Practice 3-4 essays on random topics. Improvement will naturally come.


SNAP Strategy:

1. The difficulty level is a lot lower than CAT. With 150 questions in 120 minutes, speed is the #1 requirement.

2. All that matters is the overall score. There are no sectional cutoffs (read instructions carefully before and in exam).

3. Treat the entire exam as one section. Your job is to attempt the easiest ‘x’ questions in 120 minutes. Do not waste time anywhere!

4. Unlike XAT strategy, there is not much time for rounds 2 and 3.

5. In round 1, do the easy questions where the approach is obvious and question is not lengthy. Skip otherwise. Circle if it is gettable.

6. Do at least 75 questions like this and circle about 10-20%. Speed is important. Do the question or leave it. Don’t waste time twice on one question unless necessary.

7. There is 1/4 negative marking and an easier paper. Be more aggressive in no. of attempts v/s CAT.

8. Start with your strongest section. Keep scanning the question paper page by page to spot the easy questions.

9. Some mistakes are likely in the paper. Don’t waste time on incorrect questions.

10. Most important – there are a lot of different types of questions in SNAP which are not there in CAT/XAT. Take a look at the last 4 SNAP papers and study from SNAP specific course material now.

11. Taking 2 mocks is critical but sufficient.

12. SNAP is an easy paper but one should work hard for it, since at least one institute (SIBM) is definitely elite. Maintain speed to not miss any easy questions. Don’t commit silly mistakes. That’s it!




About the Author:


Abhishek Tahlan is a second year Business Management student at XLRI Jamshedpur and is part of the InsideIIM student team 2016-17. He obtained 99.86 percentile in SNAP 2014 and 99.82 in XAT 2015.


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