This is an extract from a blog authored by my colleague Tony Xavier (Alumnus of IIM Lucknow & Chief Mentor, IMS Pune ). Read on for an insight into how to approach the Decision Making section of XAT.
One of the most tedious and inscrutable sections that you will find across all management entrance tests, Decision Making has been the nemesis of many a XAT aspirant. A lot of factors contribute towards DM possibly being the biggest stumbling block on the XAT. But none is bigger than the fact the amount of time any test-taker would have spent preparing for DM when compared to any other section is miniscule. This coupled with the dislike and unease most aspirants have towards reading and the extremely subjective nature of questions ensures that DM ends up becoming the deal-breaker as far as the XAT is concerned.
Decision Making is not Reading Comprehension
It is a long as RC it is as boring as RC, it must be RC!
The first thing that every test-taker should remember is to remove his/her Reading Comprehension sunglasses before preparing for or approaching DM.
The ability to crack a puzzle has a lot to do with understanding the kind of thinking that the puzzle is testing and orienting your mind to approach it from that direction.
So you need to approach DM with more than the ammunition you take for RC, the default setting for which is usually — I think I have read this somewhere.
The first challenge on Decision Making – choosing the right set
Before I started writing this post, I decided to take last year’s Decision Making section in its entirety and put myself in exactly the same shoes as test-takers last year. Well, it was not an enjoyable experience.
The section is titled Decision Making & Analytical Reasoning but only one set can be classified as a pure reasoning set, the rest are all DM.
One cannot choose a DM set based on judgement, the way one chooses a DI or an LR set —
- read the set
- try classify or map it to a pattern
- estimate the complexity of the information
- and decide whether to attempt or to leave
Firstly, there is really no pattern. There are broadly three types of cases
- number-based decision-making involving a business/revenue situation
- information-based decision-making involving a strategy situation
- information-based decision making involving a HR situation
- analytical reasoning
Secondly, identifying the pattern though does not translate into any strategic advantage as each set in any category is very different from the rest.
Thirdly, unlike DI & LR the information itself can never tell you how difficult or easy the set is going to be. All sets seem to be easy and straightforward.
You can assess the difficulty level only at the last stage, after you have read the question and the 5 options.
Lastly, the difficulty level varies vastly from question to question within a set — you are unlocking a question and not a set!
So, not like RC, not like DI-LR, should you approach it like individual Quant questions? Yes.
The second big challenge on Decision Making — you cannot be on auto-pilot
One has to concentrate harder than one does on any other section one has done so far. The reason for this is that there are very few situations where you will be executing something you have already done, even at micro-level.
Every question is so unique that you will have to be switched on throughout the process of solving a question — something that will tire you out and take up a lot of a time.
If the paper is of the same difficulty as the previous year, it is going to be tight-rope walk, making a score in excess of 10 a real challenge.
So how do we go about it. The devil is always in the details so let’s dissect last year’s sets to understand how to approach Decision Making both at a question-level and at a section-level.
For best results, exit this post now, do the Decision Making section in XAT 2015 and then view the following links:
All the best for XAT 2017!!