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Monday, 5 August 2013

PREPARING FOR XAT 2014

XAT 2014 syllabus consists of

mathematics,
 English,
Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning,
General Knowledge
 Essay Writing.
Part 1 of the exam will include the sections of Verbal & Logical Reasoning, Decision Making and Quantitative & Data Interpretation.
 The Part 2 of the XAT 2014 exam will include Essay Writing and General Awareness section.
The XAT exam pattern is scheduled for some major changes from the year 2013 onwards and instead of its earlier duration of 140 minutes the duration of the test has been extended to 3 hours and a new section on general awareness is included.
The common topics covered by the Quantitative Ability section are
 Geometry and coordinate geometry, trigonometry,
 Functions, log, maxima and minima,
 Integration and differentiation along with probability,
Permutation and combination
 Data sufficiency.
The Data interpretation involves topics like
Tables and charts,
 Case-lets and
 Different types of graphs.
The Verbal Ability and Logical Reasoning portion normally has four RC passages carrying up to seven questions for each of them.
  The rest contains
vocabulary and critical reasoning,
 analogies ,
 grammar,
 correction of sentences,
 filling up blank spaces and jumbled sentences.
 Questions in the Critical Reasoning section are always on the tougher side and the passages can be extremely long and complex at the same time.
 In order to score well in this section candidates are required to understand  every word as well as the central idea and tone of the passage and as every single question require critical understanding as well as inferential logic to solve these questions.They can be really difficult
Paper Pattern for XAT 2013:
 the Reading Comprehension and English – 40 questions
·         Quantitative Ability – 44 questions
·         Interpretation and Reasoning – 43 questions
·         Each question carries one mark.
·         Negative marking will be 1/3rd for first five wrong answers and ½ marks for subsequent wrong answers same section.

Test Pattern

Section
Area
No. Of Questions
Marks
PART ONE
Section -A
Verbal and Logical Ability
30
30

Section – B
Decision Making
25
25

Section – C
Quantitative Ability and Data Interpretation
36
36

Total

91
91
PART TWO
Part A
General Awareness
30
30

Part B
Essay

30
·          


XAT papers are always known to contain some surprise elements and that makes it more important to have complete control over one’s mind. In order to check out a candidate’s ability to manage unexpected changes every year some new element is introduced in the exam pattern and candidates with a strategy that allows space for these changes are expected to have a better chance of successfully cracking the exam. Maintaining a minimum accuracy level of around 80% is also considered as a must for successfully qualifying the entrance test.
XAT 2013 was characterized by tough Verbal Ability and Decision Making Sections .
SECTION A: VERBAL AND LOGICAL ABILITY (30 questions)
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
5
1 easy 2 medium 2 difficult
How Enrico Fermi measured without instruments
370 words
4
2 easy 1 medium 1 difficult
Falsification vs. verification in establishing scientific claims
530 words
4
1 easy 1 medium 2 difficult
Soros’ views on free market capitalism
630 words
5
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. 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.
 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.  Ideally the first two passages should have been solved as they were shorter.
SECTION B: DECISION MAKING (25 questions)
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 & Colorful Company ( which was actually more of Data Interpretation Set) on first impression  looks like a tough set .However once  you have  given 5-7 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 .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 behavior. 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.
.
Section C : Quantitative Ability  & Data Interpretation (36 questions)


The  trend of this section in XAT has been characterized  with The breakup of the section is as follows
S no

No of questions

Quantitative Ability


Arithmetic
8
1
Averages and Mixtures
1
2
Time and Distance
3
3
Time and Work
3
4
Simple Interest, Compound Interest
1

Algebra
10
5
Numbers and Number Theory
6
6
Indices, Logs, Surds
2
7
Polynomials
1
8
Venn Diagram
1

Pure Math
7
9
Functions and Graphs
1
10
Statistics
1
11
Probability
1
12
Geometry
3
13
Misc
1

Data Interpretation
10
Set 1
Tournament & Games
4
Set 2
Line Graphs – Railway train chart
3
Set 3
Table – GDP and other parameters
3

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.  the Quant Section when compared to last years paper in terms of level of difficulty with Maths questions were easier but the Data Interpretation being much tougher requiring higher reasoning and calculation skills .Also the number of topics covered were much wider in this years paper. The paper was quite well balanced with 5 questions on Geometry, 6 on Number Properties, 12 questions on Data Interpretation, 8 questions on Arithmetic and Word problems, 1 on  Algebra  (Indices) and 3 on Modern Maths (Functions ,Probability and Modern Math)
As all questions carried equal marks ,it would have been better  to attempt the questions on Quant and then attempt the DI sets 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 3questions.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 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. Even if one attempted these 14-15 with 85 -90% accuracy questions correctly  on can easily expect  a percentile of around 85 - 90 % for this section. 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.On the whole one should  have allotted around 50-55 minutes to this section attempting  aroung  18-22 questions  with 85-90 % accuracy for a net score  of  12+ to get a percentile of 90% + for this section.
Part II - General Awareness and Essay
Subject Area - General Awareness
Number of Questions - 30
Time Allotted - 40 minutes (Suggested Time: GA-20 minutes and Essay-20 minutes)

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. Overall one could have an attempt of around 12-15 questions in a time frame of 20 minutes. 
Overall the estimated Cut offs Section wise and Overall for XLRI-BM and XLRI-PM  for a GD-PI CALL should be as follows

Pattern of 2013 XAT
No of parts                  : 2 (A and B)
Time available              : 40 minutes
Part A                          : General Awareness
Part B                          : Essay – To be written in NOT more than 200 words
“Corruption is the root cause of economic slowdown in India”




 TIPS ON CRACKING XAT

The section on Analytical Reasoning & Decision Making is one of the most difficult ones in XAT on account of the lengthy time consuming reasoning puzzles given and also the totally unfamiliar section on Decision Making. The best way to tackle this section is to practice difficult reasoning is by solving puzzles An area to focus on would be the lengthy puzzles on distribution involving lots of variables. The section on Decision Making can be best practiced by going through         the       mock   XAT     papers. 

For the section on Verbal & Logical Ability, it would be advisable for students to revise concepts pertaining to reading comprehension, sentence correction, vocabulary based questions (words confused), para formation, and logical reasoning questions .Students should also focus on figures of speech as there have been questions on identifying the metaphor, personification, oxymoron,      etc.      in         previous          XAT     exams.

The RC passages in XAT are usually based on off-beat topics (one of the passages of a previous year was in the form of a conversation from the film, Matrix!). Most of the logical reasoning questions have been discussed during classroom sessions for those preparing for CAT. The logical ability area in the section deals with applications of deductive reasoning, syllogisms         and      connectives.

For the section on Quantitative Ability & Data Interpretation, a good preparation for CAT should be more than sufficient. Though it must be added that some of the questions in XAT tend to be pretty tricky and it would be advisable for students to be very judicious while attempting questions. It would also be advisable for students to brush up on their speed math concepts as some of the questions in DI tend to be lengthy
Traditionally the Essay Writing section used to have just one essay to be written in 20 minutes. The essay topics have been quite diverse across the years — some of the essays asked have been on topics like ‘The consequence of gender imbalance — The Third World War’; ‘The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of riches; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries’; ‘Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need but not every man’s greed’.  However in XAT2012 there was some respite to the students as two essay topics (statements) were given and students had to choose one of them and justify with examples. The essay topics last year were — ‘Poverty is a big menace in India. Due to its complexity and magnitude, most of the government initiatives fail’ and ‘Poverty is a consequence of failure of government policies due to the fact that governments do not target the root causes.’

The make or break section in XAT2013 may well turn out to be General Awareness. Since this is not extensively tested in most management exams some students are not very comfortable with it. However there is no need to get worried — All one needs is a bit of planning.XAT2013 like SNAP is likely to test students on general knowledge, current affairs and business knowledge. Students could do well if they prepare for questions on India, business — national and international, organisations, sports and personalities in the news. Apart from Manorama and CSR Year Books one can also use online sources for information. 

For information about India one can visit www.india.gov.in – a comprehensive website about India. Read the past issues of business magazines (from January 2012) and pick up the main events in the corporate world. Read about organisations/associations like the UN and its associate agencies, ASEAN, SAARC, NATO, BRICS etc. This preparation along with the mandatory study of stock GK questions like countries/capitals/currencies, inventions and discoveries, science should help students gain an advantage over others taking XAT2013.

The final selection in XLRI depends on both the written test and the GD/Interview process for the shortlisted candidates. Both the process have significant weightage in the final selection. XAT is known to be an exam with high competition and stringent cut offs. Students should note that there are sectional cut-offs for each of the sections and one has to ensure that they clear these sectional cutoffs 




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