XAT’s Decision Making section is known to be treacherous and can tangle you in a web of options and opinions. There will be questions where you will have to find the least harmful solution in a bunch of bad ones. As the type of questions in XAT Decision Marketing is different, the prep has to be unique too. Want to know how to attempt these questions? Read this article to find out more about the section, question types, pattern, tips to solve decision-making question, and caselets with answers.
What is Decision Making?
In the field of psychology, decision making is the cognitive process that results in a belief or a course of action among many other possibilities. Decision making in business and management is not very different. It consists of three components -
- Choices: Choosing the best solution for solving the problem.
- Alternatives: Select the best one from two or more alternatives.
- Objective Oriented: Make a decision to achieve a certain objective or goal.
Decision Making (DM) is a section typical of XAT entrance exam. This section tests a candidate’s ability to find the most suitable solutions to a set of behavioural, reasoning and managerial questions. It is not merely a test of theoretical knowledge. It challenges your ethics, your thinking pattern, and sees whether or not you will be able to solve real-life problems.
This is to understand the mind of the candidate in terms of business. The questions are presented in the form of case studies. Following is the overall composition of the exam:
- Question Type: MCQs
- Question Format: 7 to 8 case studies with 2 to 3 questions each
- Difficulty Level: Moderate to High
- Total Number of questions: 20 in 2019 (It changes every year)
Why XAT Focuses More On Decision Making?
Decision Making (DM) has been part of the XAT for a long time. In 2012, the XAT exam pattern went through some significant changes. One of the biggest changes was a separate slot being allocated to Decision Making questions by XLRI. Earlier, there were merely 7 or 8 questions related to decision making in XAT. However, in the last 7 years, there has been a considerable increase (20+) in the number of questions. Decision Making is now an important deciding factor based on which candidates will be selected in a B-School.
As professionals, and as individuals, one may have to face a lot of challenging situations. As a business manager, one needs to master the skill of being practical, diplomatic, ethical and level-headed in any given situation, and do this in a fair and just manner. The XAT Decision Making Section tests candidates in this very quality.
Type of Decision Making Questions
- Single Question Prompts: They mimic critical reasoning questions. A single paragraph is followed by one question.
- Two to Three Question Prompts: These consist of moderate length caselets followed by 2 to 3 questions.
- Four to Five Questions Prompt: They generally consist of long caselets (as long as reading comprehension) that are followed by 4 to 5 questions.
- Each DM question will have multiple stakeholders for which the information is relevant. Always make a list of these stakeholders, when you are approaching an article.
- After you identify the stakeholders, try to analyze the problem from every stakeholder’s viewpoint. Viewpoints that neglect one side of the story should be avoided.
- Choose options that benefit the majority. Select a decision that might be completely risk-free.
- Don’t favour a particular case. We, humans, have a tendency to adopt an approach that suits our value system. Don’t let personal opinions influence your decisions.
- There will be questions that have extreme scenarios with cleverly curated opinions. These opinions may appeal to your emotions and you may feel compelled to select them. Don’t fall into the trap. Look at each and every question objectively, without biases.
- Options that seem unethical, or feels like a shortcut, rejected them immediately. They can never be the right answer.
Example 1: Management Related
You are the HR manager of a call-centre that caters to US-based clients. There is an employee named Suraj in your organisation. He is hardworking, diligent, loyal and a team player. However, his communication skills are not up to the mark. Even after language training, there is no subsequent improvement.
What should you do in this scenario?
Option 1: Ask Suraj to leave.
Option 2: Sign him for another language development training.
Option 3: Find another job for Suraj.
Option 4: Change Suraj’s job role.
Option 5: Both 1 and 3
Correct Answer: Option 4
Reason: This is a typical scenario in a company where the performance of an employee is under inspection. There are two sides to the situation. One positive and one negative. Hence, you will have to find a solution that is best for both the company, employee and client. In this case, that option is 4. Options 1 and 3 are extremes. Option 2 is not useful as the solution has failed before.
Example 2: Ethical Dilemma
You are in an FMCG and work for the products Zingo, a famous ramen brand in the country. Recently the National Food Testing Bureau tested the product that you sell in the market. During the test, they discovered the levels of MSG that is present in the spice-mix is twice the permissible amount. Hence, the bureau ordered a ban on the sale of the product. Zingo Ramen is the prime product, hence your company is incurring heavy losses. Your superiors have instructed you to approach the bureau and get a re-test done. They have ordered you to bring the product back to the market, at any cost. You personally think that your ramen and spice-mix still need some worked and there are high chances that the product will fail the retest again.
What do you do?
Option 1: Since the orders are given by your boss, you should just bribe the officials and get the product approved.
Option 2: Apply for the retest and hope for the best.
Option 3: Say no to your boss and take no immediate action.
Option 4: Push R&D team to get product rectified at the earliest.
Option 5:You should make your boss understand that bribing officials might backfire if another agency does the same test again. Provide him/her with solid proof.
Option 6: Resign from the job.
Correct options are:
- 1 & 2
- 1 & 4
- 3 & 5
- 4 & 5
- 5 & 6
Correct answer: 4
Reason: Option 1 should be ruled out because it is unethical and XAT does not entertain or encourage such practices. Option 2 is not useful as it has failed before. Option 3 is too confrontational and does not solve the problem. Option 4 is a logical course of action as it fixes the problem and gives a permanent solution. Option 5 provides gives more credibility to the avoidance of the unethical stand by using facts and logic to change the decision of your boss.
Example 3: Critical Reasoning
Ms Khanna is a world-renowned business manager and has established herself in a world run by men. She has over 20 years of work experience and has recently decided to start her own women accessories brand. She has also decided to have a good gender ratio in her company. In her experience with apparel and accessories industry, she has seen that sales and marketing teams are dominated by men. With that in mind, she has decided to employ 50% of females who will work in the sales and marketing department of her company.
Which of the following options is a serious challenge that Ms Khanna might face with her decision?
- The travel requirements of the job might pose a challenge to some females.
- Females have a more intrinsic understanding of women accessories, hence they will be better suited for the job than men.
- Not all females will wish to take up job roles.
- Men are better at sales than females.
- Both 2 and 4
Correct Answer: Option 1
Reason: Ms Khanna wishes to addresses the problem of gender equality but neglects to consider the fact that the given job role might require a lot of travelling, which women in some parts of India will find difficult. These constraints could be due to societal, family, religious and other constraints. Option 2 does not weaken the argument; rather strengthens it. Option 3 does not provide any evidence against the argument. Option 4 is a prejudiced statement and we avoid such options.
Decision-making practice series:
To know more about XAT and how to ace it, read the articles below:
- Avoiding Wrong Answers Is More Important Than Attempting The Magic Number Of Questions' - Priyamvadha M., 98.37%ile In XAT
- 'Correct Mind-Set Is The Most Important Aspect Of Preparation' - Viraj Patel, 97.4%ile In XAT
- 'Reading Books Helps In Verbal Ability Section A Lot' - Aakanksha Sharma, 99.26%ile In XAT
If you’ve any doubts regarding any Decision Making sets, you can post your queries in our QnA forum: XAT 2020 Decision Making. We’ll have current XLRI students to resolve your queries.