XAT-‘There’s No One Size Fits All Strategy – Your Strong Areas Will Decide Your Strategy’ – Gaurav Bachhawat – 97%ile In 2016 – XIMB

Gaurav is pursuing his MBA in Marketing from Xavier Institute of Management, Bhubaneshwar(XIMB)  and is currently in 1st year. He is a knowledge seeker and keeps himself updated about happenings in the entrepreneurial world. He likes to address queries of MBA aspirants and help them in their MBA preparations.

How was your experience with XAT?

Ah! Poocho hi mat! (Dont ask). It was the last exam and I was mostly nonchalant about preparations for the last exam because of planning what to do after the exams. But on a serious note, it was tougher than others. Low-Scoring, High Accuracy exam.


How is XAT different from CAT? How does the difference impact your preparation and how do you manage that?

Not Very Very Different. I mean, naturally, there have to be some differences in exams otherwise what is the point of taking separate exams. Major Difference lies in the Sectional time constraints –  in which XAT is in favour of most students because it does not have sectional time limits like CAT. You are free to choose the section you want to do first and spend time according to your strengths and weaknesses.
Preparations wise, in my case, I did not do anything extra because I was not aiming XAT initially because of the RUMOUR that it is VERY tough. Just the normal preparation. But mind you, I was not a XAT 100%ile so there was room for improvement which means during my preparation, I could have solved questions with better difficulty level to prepare for XAT as well. I was through XAT probably because of question selection (or rejection)  and accuracy.


When did you start preparing for XAT? How did you prepare for different sections (including essay writing)?

After SNAP. Just after SNAP’s disaster, I relaxed for 1-2 days and read some articles about XAT, its pattern and trend and started giving mocks.


What are the different resources you used to prepare for the exam? Did you take any mocks? If yes, which ones?

Of course. No success in any MBA exam without Mocks. I was in CL so it had 5 Mocks and then I had purchased TestFunda’s package for XAT so gave them as well.


How did you manage to prepare for XAT and other exams within the same time frame?

The concepts never change only application varies with exams. Different exams, different level of difficulty in testing the concepts. So the same time frame does not matter much. Mostly, Adapting to the pattern might be someone’s nemesis so for that you get plenty of time after CAT and SNAP (if you are taking it).


Since it’s a paper-pencil test, does it affect the test-taking in any way? Any specific strategy for the same?

On one hand, it is frustrating to mark circles every now and then or wasting time in checking whether each circle is marked against the intended question number or not. But on the other hand, it is less straining to the brain because no computer involved plus you can switch to any sections easily and turn pages around. MOST IMPORTANTLY you can mark things according to your convenience, this helps a lot in RCs.


What do you think you did right during test prep? What was it that you did right on Test Day?

As I said earlier, I was just relaxed! It was just about decent knowledge associated with Question rejection and accuracy that led me through. Question rejection saves time and if your ego does not come in between you will be able to identify not-your-type questions easily and move on quickly.


What was your strategy for the D-Day and what do you think you executed the Best on the D- Day?

I went with a mindset that I will do my best and not expect too much out of this paper. I will start with the section I like the most and that was easy for me: Decision making. And then quickly do some Quant so as to just reach the cutoff mark and then spend time on English because it is time-taking for me. I used to lose track of the RCs and the options in reasoning questions used to be very close and then with 5 options, eliminating options was marginally tricky as well. Do English in one go and then spend the remaining time in doing the marked i-want-to-do-it-but-it-will-take-time questions of quant.

NOTE: This was my strategy as per my strengths, it will and should vary according to your strengths. No rigid strategy is applicable for all.


How did you prepare for the group discussion? What was the topic and how did you tackle the GD round?

So, the result of XAT came on 27th January, but it is usually advised to prepare right after exams.

Because one has to keep himself abreast with current affairs, read a lot to develop opinions for as well as against certain abstract topics and a lot of things. In my coaching centre, we had some mock GDs which were not so useful because we knew all the participants and the amount of seriousness required was not maintained. So I had to give actual GD right on the day.

GD: 40 mins, 8 participants.

XLRI (HR):  something about handicrafts market of India.

XLRI (BM): Make in India would be effective? How?

For the handicrafts GD, I had no idea. No figures to support what I say if at all I had to say anything. But at this point, you automatically start generating ideas. Also, by listening others’ points you also get some novel idea all of a sudden so it helps. When you don’t have an idea about the topic, NEVER start. This is not engineering, faffing is not the key. It was very awkward because none of us was able to make points and had no to a little idea so the moderators ended before time owing to the awkward silence in GD.

In Make in India GD, it was a recent topic. So all of us had a good idea so the problem was that we might get short of unique points to make but the discussion would go well, we all knew. And the same happened. This GD ended in a jiffy. No fights or groupism – all performed well. One reason, I believe, was that we all reached the centre well before time and had spent time together so everyone was gentle and things went smooth. The panel (of 3) seemed interested and were also surprised.  Of course, there was a bully trying to dominate but it was acceptable, I spoke at a few places, maintained body language and then summarised the GD.


How was the interview experience like? What was your preparation strategy and how did the interview turn out to be?

Since XLRI was the best call I had, I decided to choose its interview dates after all the other interviews so that the fear of interviews is gone. Before XL, I gave interviews at IMT and SPJAIN then XL(HR) and XL(BM). I think this helps.
You need to prepare answers in such a way that you are able to tell about yourself in minimal words. One has to seem interesting and interested. Tell me about yourself is very important because the panel has no idea on who are you, they ask questions based on the ‘tell me about yourself’ answer of yours. In XL, they were trying to check whether you are truthful or not and what is your logical rationale. If you say that you were the Event Head of so and so event they will drill down into each aspect of it. For Example, they will ask what was the event about, how many participants how did you plan or organise it, what did you pitch to the sponsors. And for checking thinking abilities they asked me that “If you have to remove a religion from this world, which religion would that be?” I was puzzled! I started thinking what do they want, took my time and answered. Then they asked, Why? Then more Whys and then more.

XL(HR) was a stress interview. If you don’t know what this is you can google it. In such interviews, the panel asks you some questions and would try to make you feel uncomfortable or provoke you by disagreeing to your answers. In my case, they asked me to tell me about myself but within a line one of them interfered and started shooting questions related to JNU and Kanhaiya Kumar as they were all over the news at that time. They were interrupting in every answer and it was like a rapid fire, so to say. XL-BM was for 45+ minutes and HR was for about 12-15 minutes.

I had a very good feeling about the XL-BM interview but the XL-HR interview was of a different kind so I had no idea how it was, or how stress interviews are.

Gaurav Bachhawat

Gaurav Bachhawat is a Marketing Management Graduate from Xavier Institute Of Management, Bhubaneshwar (XIMB). He works in India's Leading Sanitaryware company in Gurgaon.




Hi Gaurav, after not selected in XLRI (BM and HR), what mistake made you fail to get a seat in XLRI?

Gaurav Bachhawat

Hi Amit! There could be several reasons. Like may be my percentile was not enough (XLRI gives 60% weightage to XAT score itself), may be my 10/12/graduation marks were less(which I guess should be quite high for a fresher), Probably my GD and PI were not as good as I think they were ( Although I still believe I did quite well), may be there were already a lot of freshers with better profiles which makes my overall profile seem weak. So not being selected could be attributed to a number of factors.

Suseem Swagat Sahu

hi gaurav…u had a decent percentile so what abt ur spjain and IMT interviews…?? And what should i do for scoring good in Verbal. My scores are upto the mark but my accuracy suffers.

Gaurav Bachhawat

Hi Suseem..
I had straight cconverted IMT..spjain did not happen in my favour otherwise I wouldnt have been in ximb..
Normally not-so-good accuracy is due to lack of knowledge..but since you are able to score well.. I am assuming that knowledge is not a problem.. Issue could be losing concentration amidst the paper because of the complexity of qns and length of paper OR you are taking Chances and not leaving qns.. As I specifically mentioned.. Leaving qns is not weakness but a show of firm decision making character.. So with fewer number of qns in xat.. U can afford to attempt less but within those you should avoid negatives.. This will also increase your score which is being negated by wrong attempts..
I hope I was able to make clear point.. Feel free to ask anything more..

Gaurav Bachhawat

No..I can’t say any specific reason.. but it was a close call because IMT was known was marketing which is going to be my majors soon.. just that XIMB has very reputed faculties.. batch strength was less in XIMB so placement mein you get better opportunities and from my sources and acquiantances I got a feeling that XIMB would be a better choice. So simply. Location disadvantage exists but I dont think that is a problem for XIMB because the placement have been good.