The XAT conducting body has retained the change that they had introduced last year – in XAT 2017 students have a choice of not attempting 12 questions(compared to 13 last year). Beyond this, any unattempted question will carry the negative mark of 0.05.
What this means?
You can skip upto 12 questions without being penalised for the same. But for every additional question skipped thereafter you will be penalised 0.05 marks per question
“We have tried to counteract the phenomenon of students leaving too many questions un-attempted. We appreciate the fact that “leaving the question” is also a sign of intelligence but we are also concerned that students are becoming risk averse in attempting to answer difficult questions. We believe that if one aspires to be a good manager, one should be able to take reasonable risk. That is how one “creates future possibilities”. We believe this would encourage the risk taking ability of the students while making XAT robust in differentiating a good student from the not-so-good student.” Source: http://xatonline.net.in/XAT-2016_Announcement.pdf
How does it work?
The admit card states that the negative marks obtained due to skipped questions will be divided proportionately across the three sections. One of the common queries I have received over the past few days is on lines of the following: “If I skip 15 questions, how does the negative marking for the 2 additional questions apply to the 3 sections?” Will it be divided equally across the 3 sections? Will it be divided in the proportion of number of questions in each section? Will it be divided in proportion of number of questions attempted in each section? The answer is, it will be divided in the proportion of number of skipped questions per section.
So, for example, if a student skips 32 questions (10/8/14 respectively in the 3 sections) then the negative marking for the students will be 1 (20×0.05 with no negative marks for 12 questions). This negative 1 would be distributed across the 3 sections in the proportion 10:8:14. This works out to a negative marking of -0.3125, -0.25 and -0.4375 respectively for the 3 sections.
How does it impact you?
In my opinion, as a test-taker you must not be too much worried about this aspect at all. Even in the above example, with 32 skipped questions, the impact is a paltry -1 mark!! So, take the test as if this rule did not exist. Work towards maximizing your attempts in each of the 3 sections and in all probability, you won’t even be affected by this rule. And even if you are, the impact as we have seen won’t be too much (I don’t think someone will be looking at a strategy of skipping as many as 32 questions). In any case, I do not think any of you would skip questions by choice or intentionally. You generally skip questions when
- you do not have sufficient time to solve all questions
- you do not know how to solve a question
- you get stuck between a couple of options
The XAT authorities have (according to them) addressed point 1 by increasing the test duration and stating that they will decrease the difficulty level of the test. So, time should not be a problem if you were to solve questions efficiently and adhere to the general time management principles recommended for any test-taker.
You need to address point 2 by becoming a “conceptual all-rounder” – because if you do not know a certain concept, you will need to wild guess the answer and the probability of getting it right is 1/5. And remember the penalty for getting a question wrong is 0.25, 5 times that for skipping it. So, wild guessing is not a wise choice.
Point 3 is the only case where you will probably be tempted to mark an answer rather than skip a question – the probability of getting the question right is now 50% and you could possibly take the risk to secure that 1 point for the question. In such cases I would advise you to play the ball on merit – if there is a ball to be hit, HIT IT!!
To Sum Up..
Do not get perturbed by this new rule – do not start thinking on lines of how many questions you can skip per section or overall. The mantra is to maximize your attempts – if the test is on the easier side, you may end up attempting all or most of the questions and if the test is tough, do not try too hard to skip less than 12 questions and avoid the negative marking.
Keep it Simple: In the time left, work on being a conceptual all-rounder and also on the test-taking skills that help you minimize the average time spent per question. And, do not waste time wondering how many questions you should solve or skip per question to minimize the impact of the latest change in XAT.
All the Best for XAT 2017!!