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Zipping the XAT 2015
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JANUARY 4, 2015

XAT or Xavier Aptitude Test is the entrance exam organized by Xavier Labour Relation Institute (XLRI), Jamshedpur. However, it is conducted by the Xavier Association of Management Institutes (XAMI) for admission in XLRI and many other top tier management institutes of India. It is considered to be one of the toughest MBA entrance exams in India that calls for complete dedication and awareness.

Students might perceive with the concept of XAT being the toughest to crack but, experts who have been analyzing this examination for a long time now, claims that you do not need to be a mathematical genius or a literature pundit to crack this test. Rather, the real objective of the examiner's is to check the presence of mind, common sense and logical ability of the aspiring candidates and to cherry pick those who are promising enough and show tremendous potential.

XAT scores are accepted by several prestigious MBA institutes like Xavier Institute of Management and Entrepreneurship - Bangalore, Xavier Institute of Management Bhubaneswar – Bhubaneswar, Xavier Institute of Social Service – Ranchi, XLRI Jamshedpur School of Management – Jamshedpur, Xavier Institute of Development Action and Studies – Jabalpur, Xavier Institute of Management & Research – Mumbai, S P Jain Institute of Management Research (SPJIMR) Mumbai, Loyola Institute of Business Administration (LIBA) Chennai, etc. 

XAT 2015 will be conducted on 04th January, 2015, Sunday and the registration for the same is open and will end on 30th November, 2014. Register at Detailed bulletin is available on

Exam Structure :
Quantitative Ability
English Language & Logical Reasoning
Decision Making
GK and Essay

XAT 2015 will be conducted in 47 cities across India and 2 International cities outside India

In XAT exams, unlike other MBA entrance tests, candidates need to be more attentive in selecting which question to solve and what to drop without wasting much time. This is an important aspect of XAT examination as it throws more number of questions to be solved in less time. In such a pressure building scenario, students need not lose their nerve and solve easier looking questions before attempting tough or complicated questions. However, selection of easier questions is very difficult as they are very well inserted between the tougher questions that are speed breakers in such competitive exams. But, it is not impossible to master the skill of scrutinising questions and one could polish this skill by regress practice and disciplined preparation.

For instance, one can easily find simpler questions based upon algebra and trigonometry, between two questions which might involve application of calculus. Though the questions based upon calculus and functions are themselves on decline as observed in the past. Thus, XAT primarily tests three skills in any aspiring student:

  • Decision making abilities,
  • Pressure handling and meeting deadline capability
  • Ability to capitalize on ones' strengths


Analysis of XAT 2013 Paper Pattern:

The first step for a focused XAT preparation is to understand the XAT paper pattern. XAT sample and practice papers, which are available at MBA Rendezvous, will help you figure how the pattern of XAT 2015 will be. Also for your understanding, XAT 2013 paper has been discussed in detail:

XAT 2013 – Analysis

XAT 2013 was characterized by tough Verbal Ability and Decision Making Sections with the Quantitative Ability and Data Interpretation Section being a lot more manageable as compared to previous years. There were 91 questions in PART 1 all with all questions carrying equal marks. Section Wise Analysis is as follows:

Part I


This section was a bit tougher than the earlier XAT papers, especially compared to last year’s paper. Also, this section was time consuming. At least 10 out of 30 questions were difficult. At least 5 were of a moderate level of difficulty. All the passages were difficult to comprehend. Almost all RC questions were inferential. Many options were framed ambiguously and in a tricky manner, with the obvious answer not being available.

Reading Comprehension:

18 out of 30 questions were reading comprehension based. There were 4 passages. The passages were about concepts that were very advanced and esoteric for a graduate. They were technical and contained a lot of jargon. No attempt was made to tailor the content or language for a layperson. Except for 2-3 questions, all were inferential. There were 3-4 further application based questions too.

Topic of RC

Approx. Length

No. of Questions

Difficulty Level

How belief in karma affects setting expectations

325 words


1 easy 2 medium 2 difficult

How Enrico Fermi measured without instruments

370 words


2 easy 1 medium 1 difficult

Falsification vs. verification in establishing scientific claims

530 words


1 easy 1 medium 2 difficult

Soros’ views on free market capitalism

630 words


2 easy 1 medium 2 difficult


Verbal Ability (including Verbal Reasoning):

Grammar Based (6 questions): 3 questions required filling in multiple blanks. Two questions required filling in articles and one required filling in prepositions. There was a misprint in the last question that caused all the options to be incorrect. 3 questions had an italicized part presented in five different ways. All the six questions were very easy.

Reasoning Based (3 questions): These were 3 questions based on a new question type. Test takers were required to identify the relationship between the 2/3 statements given – whether they were dependent or independent, deducible or inducible from one another etc. Unfortunately, the terms (dependent/independent) were not defined. All three of these were difficult.

Jumbled Paragraph (3 questions): 1 paragraph contained 5 sentences and two contained 4. These were very easy.

It was important to not get intimidated, frustrated or loses patience. As XAT gave 140 minutes this time, one could easily spend 45 minutes on English. 15 minutes were sufficient for the 12 non-RC questions. In the remaining 30 minutes, one could solve 2 passages comfortably. The passages should have been selected as per one’s comfort level with the topic and language. As most of the RC questions were inferential, ‘question type’ would not play a role in selection of passages. Ideally the first two passages should have been solved as they were shorter. Here, it wouldn’t have been prudent to solve a few questions from each passage after giving a cursory reading to the passage as the passages were difficult and gradually built on the main idea. Also, the questions were inferential. 


Decision making is always the distinguishing element in XAT and the most subjective. There were 25 questions in this section. 8 questions required Numerical & analytical reasoning. Out of these, 4 required calculations. The remaining 17 questions were pure decision making questions.

The Set on the Big & Colourful Company (which was actually more of Data Interpretation Set) on first impression looked like a tough set. However, once you have given 5 to 7 minutes reading and analyzing the question, calculation of profits (which was  quite simple and  on which 3 of the 4 questions were  based ) for all  firms could  be done in  3-4  minutes and  all questions could be easily answered. Quite a few students made the mistake of leaving out this set, which was actually the most straightforward. Out of the other 4 Analytical Reasoning questions; it would have been preferable to attempt the single questions on Data Sufficiency and Arrangement

Pure Decision Making:

Case I – Island of growth (2 questions): The case was almost a page long. It talked about a developing island where corruption had become rampant and the citizens were keeping quiet about it. Shambhu, a highly ethical gentleman took up the cause and initially enjoyed massive support. After a few months though, support for him seemed to decline. The questions asked for the most unlikely reason for his initial success and the most likely reason for the decline in support. The first question was easy; the second was difficult as the options presented completely hypothetical reasons that hadn’t been mentioned in the case at all.

Case II – Unethical bidding of public resources (3 questions): This case was more than half a page long. All three questions gave further information on the case. The first question had the media implicating the minister and he defended himself. The question was unclear. It asked for an appropriate inference, but it was actually asking the test takers to give their views on what is ethical or unethical. The second question had the minister accusing the media of being unfair. The test takers had to decide what an independent observer’s comment would be. The third question had the anti-corruption branch charge-sheeting some managers and ministers. The test takers had to decide who an independent observer would find guilty. 2 questions were quite subjective and confusing.

Caselets III and IV (2 questions): These were actually 2 critical reasoning questions that asked for the best explanations for two apparent paradoxes. They were very easy.

Case V – What to do with an employee who is over-bearing, unfriendly and a poor team player (3 questions): The case was half a page long. The first question gave 5 possible decisions and asked the test taker to rank their appropriateness. Two options here were very close. The second question gave new information and asked which decision would be weakened by this. This was very easy. The last question asked which of the 5 options, if true, would weaken a particular decision. Again, two options here were very difficult to choose between.

Caselet VI – The best performer is not taking interest in work (3 questions): This caselet was only 7 lines long. The first question asked for the most unlikely reason for the behaviour. It was very easy. The second question proposed 4 possible solutions and asked for the most appropriate ones. Here the options were confusing as the ideal answer was absent. The last question gave further information and asked for the best out of 5 decisions. This was easy.

Case VII – Inflation of grades by college students seeking placements (4 questions): This case was less than half a page long. The first question asked what the chairperson should do. This was easy. The second question asked for a third party’s reaction. Here, it was difficult to choose between 2 options. The third question gave a paragraph of new information and asked what a fourth party should do. Here also, it was difficult to choose between 2 options. The last question also gave a paragraph of new information and asked what the chairperson should do now. This was easy.


The trend of this section in XAT has been characterized with hardly component of Higher Maths in the past 2 years. The questions have been designed in such a way that they test basic conceptual knowledge along with logical reasoning /understanding skills of the student. This has probably done so as to encourage students with a varied profile (especially non – engineers) to appear for the exam and also attempt a greater no. of questions.

In comparison to last year, the Quant Section was comparable to last year’s paper in terms of level of difficulty with Maths questions being marginally easier but the Data Interpretation being much tougher requiring higher reasoning and calculation skills. Also the number of topics covered was much wider in this year’s paper.

The breakup of the section is as follows:

S. No.


No. of Questions


Quantitative Ability






Averages and Mixtures



Time and Distance



Time and Work



Simple Interest, Compound Interest






Numbers and Number Theory



Indices, Logs, Surds






Venn Diagram



Pure Math



Functions and Graphs















Data Interpretation


Set 1

Tournament & Games


Set 2

Line Graphs – Railway train chart


Set 3

Table – GDP and other parameters


The arithmetic area was probably easier than the other areas. The questions on Time & Distance and Time & Work were easily doable. Questions on Statistics as well as some questions on Numbers and Geometry were very much solvable for a student whose quant fundamentals are strong.

Questions on Data Interpretation were also in this section. Though the DI part appeared lengthy, it was solvable with a bit of concentration. For instance, the Data Interpretation set on the Football teams could have been done away with. The table on Indian Economy (GDP, current account etc) though slightly cumbersome in calculations was a sure shot as using approximation one could have easily arrived at answers for 2 of the 3 questions. Also for the 3rd question (determining the true statement) it became pretty obvious that the first 2 statements were not necessarily true and then looking at the options with no “None of the above” option, one could have marked option C.

The other DI set that one should have attempted and solved is the one on Country of Ten, which though long in reading was quite easy to analyze. Other must do questions were the ones on Prof. Mandal, circular pool of city’s Municipal Park, Mr Mehra, Albela  Bob & Chulbul, points on the square, maximum value with pq, whole numbers between 100 & 800, Interesting number, probability a/b, Country of Four. For the students who are reasonably good in Quantitative Aptitude question with finding minimum value  with abc, Sara’s friends, indices with p & q, Ram Shyam & Hari, base number system (xxx) and remainder of polynomial function, Taxi to Wasseypur, Graph on Functions were the other score maximizers.  (Check last year exam)

Part II


Number of Questions - 30
Time Allotted - 40 minutes (GA + Essay)

The newly introduced General Awareness section in XAT had 30 questions with a one fourth negative marking for each incorrect answer. A total of 40 minutes was given for both the essay and general awareness section. Ideally one should have allotted around 20 minutes to each section.

The general awareness section had a good mix of questions on topics ranging from business economics (national and international), government, sports, awards and famous personalities. There were around 10-11 questions which could have been attempted with ease by anyone who has been regularly following the news. The remaining questions although not difficult required an extensive and detailed knowledge of the given topics, making high attempt in this section a bit difficult.


Topic - To be written in NOT more than 200 words:

“Corruption is the root cause of economic slowdown in India”

Corruption, if considered was an easy and manageable topic by XAT standards. With almost every available news channel devoting hours on the subject of corruption throughout the year 2012, it was not a difficult topic to write an essay on. However, the factors that makes any essay influential and grabs higher grades is the structure of thought, right usage of language and data to support one’s stand.

The topic was easy, whether easy or difficult to write, plays a vital role during the interviews wherein the candidates might be asked to justify their stand which might help the interviewer assess the thought process and depth of understanding of the topic.


Previous year's XAT Essay topics for your reference are as follows –

XAT 1996: There is no right way of doing a wrong thing.

XAT 1997: By the third or fourth week of the term, business school had succeeded in afflicting me with a variation of the Stockholm syndrome, named after the incident in which a hostage in a Stockholm bank robbery fell in love with one of her captors.

XAT 1998: Max Weber, a German Sociologist, defined state as an entity that has a monopoly over legal violence. India proves that the converse is also true; if criminals cannot be punished by the law, its effect they become the state.

XAT 1999: That is what a Television really is; it is another eye so you can see anywhere; another part of your heart so you can feel and care about things you never felt and cared about before; another ear to hear strange music, the first and only International language

XAT 2000: Ships in harbour are safe; but that is not what they are built for.

XAT 2001: Economic Growth without distributive justice can only lead to violence.

XAT 2002: Indian Economy in the Post WTO Era

XAT 2003: To give real service, one needs to add something that cannot be bought or measured, like sincerity and integrity.

XAT 2004: Asked at the age of 83, as to which of his project would he choose as his master piece, Frank Lloyd Wright, the architect answered, "The next one"

XAT 2005: More than one billion Indians: A gigantic problem or a sea of opportunities.

XAT 2006: India has one of the largest pool of talented manpower, but few innovations and patented products.

XAT 2007: Economic growth without environmental damage - a mirage or a reality

XAT 2008: Gender imbalance will lead to Third world war.

XAT 2009: The Inherent vice of Capitalism is unequal sharing of blessings and the inherent virtue of Socialism is equal sharing of misery

XAT 2010: Earth provides enough to satisfy everybody's need but not everybody's greed

XAT 2011: A statement given and one had to make a judgment on it.

XAT 2012: The essay topic this year comprised two statements:

  1. Poverty is a big menace in India. Due to its complexity and magnitude, most of the government initiatives fail.
  2. Poverty is a consequence of failure of government policies due to the fact that governments do not target the root causes.


One had to select one of the statements and justify it with proper examples.

XAT 2013: Corruption is the root cause of economic slowdown in India

Strategies to crack XAT

  • Know your exam – Although there is no any written syllabus for competitive exams like XAT or CAT, but still, by observing the past trends, you can get a lot of idea of what sort of question is expected to appear in the question paper. The sections are usually announced in advance like verbal ability, quantitative aptitude, decision making, essay writing, general awareness, etc. So, what you really need to work upon is the basics of these subject areas, like Maths formulas for QA, English grammar for VA & essay writing and regular current news updates for general awareness. Thus, if you are aware of the essentials of the paper, you will come out with flying colours.
  • Know the difference - XAT is pretty different from all the other MBA entrance exams that you plan to appear for. That doesn’t mean it is the toughest but undoubtedly the one that checks your academic skills as well as IQ and expression power. It does not require you to be the master of any one field while ignoring others; rather it looks out for a jack of all trade who could be transformed into the master of business administration/management in near future. 
  • Sharpen your edges – Once you are aware of the intricacies of your exam, you need to plan your preparations accordingly; after all, it is rightly said, "He who fails to plan, plans to fail". So, please don’t undermine the importance of planning and pave your way to success by cracking this exam.
  • Know your strengths and Weaknesses – While you prepare for your test, you also need to understand your own strengths and weaknesses like you can be strong in Mathematics, average in DI and totally clueless in RC. This is important because for clearing XAT; you need to clear all the sections of the paper. If you will not strengthen your strong areas and hone your weak areas, you might lose your entrance ticket to some of the most reputed colleges of this country.
  • Schedule you preparation – Only knowing what you need to prepare is not enough; planning how to do it the key. You not only need to read and understand things but do so in a fixed time frame. You need to make a routine and stick to it for a scheduled preparation. You need to devote some time to every section and especially to those which is out of your comfort zone and complete the groundwork in the fixed time period.
  • Be ready to adapt to changed scenario – In 2013 XAT, students witnessed some changes in the exam pattern like there was a complete new section of general awareness, long hours and QA section was easier than expected. Students who were mentally prepared to tackle the change successfully made a mark and made it to the league list. So, apart from knowing the syllabus and planning your preparation, you also need to be ready to face any challenge that the question paper posses.

  • Practice Hard - Don't forget that only learning chapters and making plans will not take you anywhere, it is the executions of these strategies that ultimately count. So practice, practice and practice till you are perfect at the chapter and then move ahead. Taking mock test and solving previous year's question papers are certainly beneficial.
  • Reference Material - Mathematics by: R.S.Agarwal and S.L.Gulathi. Reasoning by: R.S.Agarwal [Verbal and Nonverbal] and Marksman Reasoning. English by Wren and Martin [English Grammar], Antonyms and Synonyms [Arihant Publication] and Thesaurus [Idioms and phrases]. You can also follow Norman Lewis's "word power made easy".

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