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XAT Unplugged!

Being the first MBA entrance exam every calendar year, XAT serves as a rude awakening to all MBA aspirants who are still basking in a New Year hangover. Difficulty wise, XAT is more or less on the lines of CAT.

How is XAT different than CAT?
Unlike CAT, where the number of questions are less than 100, the total number of questions hover around 120 to 130. To add to this, the length of the paper is only two hours (as against 2½ hours in CAT). Also, what is interesting is that XAT has progressive negative marking. This means for the first five errors in each section you lose 1/3rd of the marks per question. But for every additional error you lose ½ marks per question. Because of this equation, the overall cut-offs in XAT are generally in the range of only 35-40 marks for top institutes like XLRI.

Content wise, there are two major differences between the two papers:
1. The Management Decision Making Questions and
2. The essay to be written at the end of two hours.

Here is a break-up of last year’s XAT paper across different sections:

Paper Pattern of XAT 2008
1)English Usage + Reading Comprehension – 38
2)Analytical Reasoning + Decision Making – 38
3)Quantitative Aptitude + Data Interpretation – 44
Total – 120

English Usage and Reading Comprehension
This question type is very much on the line of what is asked in the CAT, with proportion of Reading Comprehension around 50% of the entire section. There is a good proportion of Critical Reasoning questions every year. So make sure you practice these question types very well.

Analytical Reasoning and Decision Making
The reasoning questions are more based on caselets and are very time consuming. The management decision making questions are unique to XAT. These contain a couple of case studies which you are expected to analyse and suggest a suitable course of action to some issues that are raised. Here is an example of such a question picked up from XAT 2007.

Sayan, a recent MBA graduate with specialization in sales and marketing, applied for the position of sales manager in a firm producing industrial fabrication tools. The management of the company took pride in its non-discriminatory recruitment policy. In offering Sayan the position, the management made it clear that an indispensable feature of the job involved entertaining purchasing agents and that a certain amount of social drinking was necessary. Sayan assured them that he was a moderate drinker with no moral or religious prejudices against drinking. During the following two years Sayan became a successful manager and on two occasions received awards for achieving the highest sales for the quarter. However, he found that he was encountering a problem resulting from the necessity of entertaining customers at least two or three times a week. The problem was that he felt that he was becoming an alcoholic, since he had recently been overindulging even when not entertaining customers. The problem became progressively worse until he found himself in a constantly inebriated condition and unable to work without resorting to drinking at work. On reporting about his problem to the management, Sayan was sent at company expense to an alcoholic rehabilitation centre, from which he was discharged after six weeks of rest and recuperation. However, within two months of resuming duties, Sayan was arrested in a local pub and charged with drunkenness and assault. The victim of his assault was a customer whom he had taken to the pub to discuss a sale. The management viewed the incident extremely negatively and fired Sayan. Shortly thereafter, a lawyer representing Sayan informed the management that Sayan intended to bring legal action against the company. Sayan felt the company was liable since his alcoholism was a result of his employment. He commented that drinking was a requirement of his job, and therefore alcoholism represented an occupational hazard. The management decided to form a committee to discuss the matter and recommend a course of action. The course of action should be such so as to prevent a recurrence of such a situation.

(The above case was followed by 3 questions).

Quantitative Aptitude and Data Interpretation
Like in CAT, the emphasis in XAT is again on topics like Algebra (Equations, Functions etc.) and Geometry. Math questions constitute a little more than 50% of this section. There are usually 3-4 sets of DI, consisting of around 15-20 questions. These involve bulky charts that require to deal with a large amount of data and hence are time consuming.

At the end of the two hour test, 20 minutes are stipulated for the essay. It is said that these essays are evaluated only at the time of your personal interview and the calls for GD-PI are given solely based on your performance in the aptitude test. A few essay topics that have been asked in the past are:
There is no right way of doing a wrong thing. (XAT 1996)
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. (The Economist September 27, 1997) (XAT 1998)

Ships are safer in the harbour. But they are not meant for the same. (XAT 2000)

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 2004)
More than one billion Indians. A gigantic problem or a sea of opportunities? (XAT 2005)

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

Economic growth without environmental damage a mirage or a reality.(XAT 2007)

The consequence of gender imbalance – The Third World War (XAT 2008)

All the best! Happy XAT-ting!

Bhavin Gala

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