“We are trying to design a question paper that does not give undue advantage to certain sections of students” – Chairperson, Admissions – XLRI on XAT 2015
In our endeavor to provide you the best guidance this ongoing MBA entrance exam season, we bring to you an interview with Chairperson, Admissions – XLRI, Professor Munish Thakur. Professor Thakur, Fellow – IIM Calcutta, teaches Strategic Management in XLRI Jamshedpur. We thank him to spend his precious time in answering our questions. Read below to find out what to expect from this year’s XAT, what does XLRI look for while screening through the XAT, and why the XAT hasn’t gone online yet.
What is different in the XAT as compared to other top entrance exams (CAT, IIFT, GMAT etc)?
I would like to answer the question in a different way. How is XAT different? XAT is multidimensional in nature and the most distinctive part is the decision making section of XAT. The decision making section tends to assess ability of students to understand real life situations. There are quite a few questions in DM sections that are different from pure mathematical and linguistic skills. We believe that mathematical and linguistic proficiency helps to analyse any situation, but socio-emotional understanding of techno-economic reality of today’s global context is equally important for managers. These skills are important in terms of creating better managerial possibilities that are socially relevant in the future.
What type of candidates is XLRI looking for, and how do the above differences (in the test format) help you in screening the right candidates?
As I said in the response to previous question, XAT is multidimensional in character and we want to create managers who can create innovative solutions that take into account – profitability of the organization, the interests of society and yet preserve cultures and environment. Though it becomes difficult to screen candidates on these parameters but that is our focus in XAT.
Why hasn’t the XAT moved online?
We tried going online in 2004 but the supporting infrastructure had not developed at that point in time and hence, we were forced to go back to a paper-pencil test. We had the intention of going online. However, over a period of time, and I must say accidentally, we realized that there are huge advantages of remaining a paper and pencil test. Going online reduces time and it is also convenient to the students, especially if we can do it multiple times in a year. However, normalization of score creates a huge problem if exam is held several times in a year. It becomes difficult to compare scores of one test with other (though computer aided testing has advanced). Can we get highly reliable comparison of tests conducted on one day with the another day? Hence, we are facing an interesting catch twenty two situation: either we provide more convenience to students and conduct the exam frequently or we be fair to students and provide them with their true percentile with respect to other students. We have decided to pursue fairness and given up on convenience. If in future we feel that convenience leads to fairness, we would go online. Of course, we still agree that there are other problems with conducting online as well offline exam like luck on a particular day, complexity of conducting exam, so on and so forth…
What makes XLRI special and why should every serious MBA candidate take the XAT?
I think we provide an interesting learning culture to the students. We have attendance compulsion of 75% for students and yet the learning environment is very informal. We attempt to create fair and informal learning environment…..other points, I have already described in response to above questions.
What is your view on diversity? What are the benefits of diversity? Along what dimensions would you like to see diversity (gender, educational background, work-experience etc)
I do not believe in diversity for diversity sake. Hence, gender, educational, work experience based diversity is rather restricted way of looking at it. I know male and female students coming from similar colleges but thinking very similarly. I know students coming from different educational background thinking similarly. I know students coming having work experience in two different industries but thinking similarly. I know people having work experience but not having learnt anything from experience similarly I know people who have no experience but have learnt a lot from even day to day activities/friends/college. I think we are trying to understand these issues in more detail.
On the other hand, I also know students who come from same educational background but thinking differently. For example, one engineer likes numbers while other likes poetry, a doctor like administration, one female thinks literature is cool while other thinks there is place for literature in management. For me, diversity is in terms of “thinking”. That does not mean that we ignore often understood forms of diversity but we realize that understanding both aspects of diversity is very critical (based on gender, which is gross and based on “thinking” which is more subtle). We also think that diversity needs to be looked at many other dimensions (gross) like rich-poor, urban-rural, east-west, language-emotions. We are trying to capture this broad-based understanding of diversity in our GC/Interview process this time.
Does XLRI release its shortlisting criteria for the interview stage? Could you give us an overview of what factors would be considered and what would be the weightages for different factors (XAT score, Std X, Std XII, Graduation Score, Work Experience, Quality of Work Experience, Interview Performance) etc?
We do not release it but we have the criterion. Shortlist is based only on the XAT score. But we consider past academic record, XAT score, Experience, Essay, General knowledge, interview and GD marks for final selection. We would update candidates on the criterion as soon as possible. We want to make XAT fair and still transparent.
What are some of the changes that have been made to the course structure, curriculum and pedagogy at XLRI to keep up with changing times?
We keep revising our course content and design every 3-4 years. As far as pedagogy is concerned, we are very eclectic. We have mix of cases, lectures, simulations, games, role plays. The pedagogy differs from subject to subject with a full of freedom given to professors. We intend to make some significant changes to our course redesign.
What is your advice to XAT aspirants this year? What should they do to crack XAT?
I would say work hard for XAT and be prepared for a few changes. If there are significant changes in the exam, we would announce them so that students are aware about them. We are trying to design a question paper that would be fair and does not give undue advantage to certain sections of students. That way, it is not only test for you(students) but also for us (it becomes fair).
Read all about XLRI Jamshedpur on xlri.insideim.com