XAT : Last minute tips from an XLRI alumnus

Chinnappa Reddy
Chinnappa R – Mentor (IMS Delhi NCR)

Read this blog by Chinnappa Reddy, an alumnus of XLRI (Batch of 2012). He cracked XAT 2010 and made it to the renowned HRM program of XLRI. Chinnappa has been mentoring MBA aspirants for over 3 years now. In this post, he shares a few important tips that could make a difference to your XAT prep – after all, it always pays to listen from the horse’s mouth:)


CAT, IIFT, NMAT, SNAP are over, and irrespective of the performances in these exams, most of you are looking forward to give your best in XAT 2016. Those of you who have performed well, would like to ride on the flow and add-on to the calls you already have or are confident of managing, and those who haven’t, want to give your best and try one more crack at landing a call from a top BSchool. Accordingly, you must be almost done with your preparation as far as concepts and practice is concerned. You must have already finalised your strategy as well, just with a few doubts left to clear. So, this is where I would like to help as I try to wish you all the best for XAT 2016 as an alumnus of XLRI.

Get rid-off the phobia (that XAT is tough):

The one thing that could inhibit your performance is the fear (that XAT is tough). I have seen many students perceive XAT to be tough, but, first of all, XAT is not as tough as it is perceived to be. If you go through the previous papers, there are a good number of easy questions, solving which is enough to clear the cut-offs. Secondly, if it is tough, it is tough for everyone and what matters is your percentile, not percentage. So, be clear with this, and just give your best.

Choose questions wisely:

As mentioned by Professor Munish Thakur (the convenor of XAT 2016), they are planning to achieve a higher level of differentiation this year compared to the previous years, and hence have planned to reduce the difficulty of the questions and increased the overall time. They foresee that only the top 100 candidates would be able to complete the paper in the given time. Given this, a good candidate would have attempted 65+ questions (This is just an attempt at predicting it, and a more accurate prediction is possible only after the exam). So, doing well in the exam depends on choosing the questions to leave (Not choosing the questions to attempt as was the case till last year). To be able to do that effectively, you can follow the ABC approach (Classify the questions into “Abhi  karo”, “Baad mein karo”, “Chhod do”) during the exam.

Take calculated risk:

Another thing they want is to select the candidates with risk taking ability. To achieve the same, negative marking for the un attempted questions is introduced (So that this can encourage students to take calculated risk). Though not for avoiding the negative marking (which is anyways not that significant, given that it is only 0.05 per question), my advice would be to take calculated risk. If in any question you are able to eliminate some of the options, and are left with a couple of them, you should go for one of the remaining. It pays off as below.

Let’s say in a question, after eliminating three of the options, you are left with option (a) and option (b), and you choose to go for option (a). Then there is a 50% chance that your answer is correct and 50% chance for it to be wrong. If it is correct you get +1, and if it is wrong you get a -0.25. So, your effective return by attempting this question is as follows

0.5(1)-0.5(-0.25) = 0.375.

So, you are better-off attempting as above. This strategy would pay-off if you apply this over a number of questions (5+ questions).

Don’t keep the decision making or DI till the end:

Decision making and DI questions appear in sets. So, don’t keep these till the end, lest you should end – up half solving the sets (and hence can’t answer the questions) before the time is over. Ideally, you should start with VA/QA and end with QA/VA and keep DM in between. Allocate the 170 minutes to the sections keeping in mind your strengths and weaknesses, so as to clear the sectional cut-offs and overall cut-off. Also, keep a buffer time of 10 minutes, so that you can manage any surprises.

Don’t be complacent regarding GK and Essay Writing:

Even though GK and essay writing scores are not considered for shortlisting the candidates for the second stage, it is very important for the overall selection. If you go through the previous XAT papers, 40 – 50% of the GK questions are current affairs (XAT 2014 is an exception), and the rest are static GK questions. Also a majority of these questions are based on business and economy (companies and products, imports exports, monetary policy, CPI, WPI etc.). Given this and considering the limited time left for the preparation, select the content wisely. The GK section doesn’t have negative marking – use it to your advantage.

I have seen some students with low GK scores not getting selected in XLRI despite having a good XAT percentile. One thing is that GK scores are considered for final selection (Though subjectively – it doesn’t have a fixed weightage), and the other thing is that a low GK score could create a bias against your candidature during the selection process. So, give the due respect it deserves!

               Coming to the Essay Writing part, if you have been reading editorials regularly, this won’t be a difficult thing for you. What is tested in this is the thought process, logical flow of ideas supported with facts, and the language proficiency. In other words, you just have to write an editorial about the topic given. Given that you have limited time to finish it in the exam, practice writing a couple of essays (Do this exercise: Go through the editorials of any newspaper, understand the flow and the way of writing, pick up a topic of your choice, write an editorial on it, and get it reviewed by your friends or self-review it).

Hope this helps! Wish you all a happy new year and all the best for XAT!

Chinnappa Reddy

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