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Here’s how you can ace XAT 2011

A XAT topper and an MBA expert reveal some tricks that will help you sail through the exam

education Updated: Dec 29, 2010 09:18 IST

The gateway to prestigious B-schools such as XLRI, XIMB, SPJIMR, LIBA, the XAT exam is scheduled for January 2, 2011.
Hereare some tips and tricks to crack the exam.

It’s different
In order to crack XAT, you should first know how the exam differs from other MBA entrances. Abhay Mittal, a student of the Xavier Institute of Management Bhubaneswar (XIMB) tells you how XAT’s pattern is different from other MBA entrance exams like CAT, IIFT, FMS etc.

In XAT, the quantitative ability and data interpretation questions are in one section. The second section is on English usage (EU) and reading comprehension (RC) and the third section is on analytical reasoning (AR) and decision making.

The perception is that XAT is a tougher nut to crack than CAT. Of late, there are more questions in XAT than the CAT exam that require to be solved in less time. In XAT it is advisable to drop seemingly tough questions, and solve the ones that you find easy. Thus, selecting easy questions is very important. Most of these are found between the tough ones.

To cite an example, one can easily find simple questions based on algebra and trigonometry between two questions that might involve application of calculus.

Differential marking scheme
While the marking pattern is almost the same for CAT and other MBA entrance exams, XAT follows a differential marking system. Negative marks in XAT 2010 for first five wrong questions were 0.20 or one-fifth of the total mark of the question, and beyond that 0.25 or one-fourth of the total mark of the particular question (for each section).

Sidharth Balakrishna, MBA expert and IIM Calcutta alumnus advises that one should avoid wild guesses as XAT follows the system of progressive negative marking. “The negative marking is progressive, which means that if you make more mistakes, the quantum of negative marks increases. Wild guessing is a dangerous strategy for the XAT exam.”

“It is advisable to make a calculated guess only if you have eliminated a couple of options and are confused about other two options,” says Mittal.

Verbal and logical ability
XAT focuses on good language skills. One will, therefore, find questions on vocabulary more often in XAT instead of other entrances like CAT. You, therefore, need to brush up your vocabulary and English-usage skills. This section has questions on reading comprehension, fill in the blanks, figures of speech etc.

The reasoning questions are in the form of para jumbles, fact inference judgment, inferences, arguments etc.

Decision making
The analytical reasoning section has questions based on logical reasoning while the decision making section usually has a business scenario wherein you as a manager have to decide the best course of action (generally tough questions). So, consider all the options, as given in the caselet, before taking a decision and marking the right option. Since this section takes a lot of time, you may want to save it for the last. For the decision making ability questions, Balakrishna suggests that you “go through the test papers of previous years”.

Data interpretation and quantitative ability
This section can be divided into four parts — basic maths, higher maths, data interpretation and data sufficiency. If you have prepared well for other MBA entrance exams, you will be familiar with these topics. Good practice on the quantitative and data interpretation will help you score well in this section.

Essay writing
Another section is essay writing. After a break of 10 minutes, the candidates are required to write an essay within 20 minutes. The essay topics for XAT 2009 and XAT 2010 were ‘The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; The inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries’ and ‘Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not every man’s greed’, respectively.

For essay writing, you need to read a lot and practice. Do not feel bogged down if you have not understood the topic of the essay.