XAT Strat
Comments 4

7 things to do on XAT day

By now all of you would have taken one major MBA entrance test at the least. This means that you are familiar with the biggest challenge of all — uncertainty on test day

  • IIFT turning out to be easier than usual
  • CAT throwing up a tough DI-LR
  • SNAP coming up with the GK section that made every one question the meaning of the word “general”

For most aspirants (apart form those pursuing an education in HR at TISS) this is the last big attempt to get into a b-school this year. So here is the last to-do list, on which ticking all boxes will ensure that you achieve your dream — an MBA from a premier institution, a launching pad for a great career.

1. Know yourself

Self-knowledge has always been the first step towards mastery in every aspect of life and hence life itself. It is no different when it comes to tests.

You have now taken enough tests to take a few steps backwards and look dispassionately at what tends to happen to you during the 120-180 minutes of test-taking.

This is not about being good at QA, poor at DI or VA. This is about the to-do list that you were not able to execute in the tests so far.

What has been you biggest undoing so far?

  • the paper was easy but you did not really pick up pace
  • you got stuck on a few questions
  • you chose the wrong questions
  • you panicked when things did not go well during a particular part of the test
  • you made one too many silly mistakes
  • questions turned up from all the topics you left!

Identify the big things that you need to change to avoid the same mishaps. For example, if you are prone to making silly mistakes arising from not reading the question properly then resolve to ensure that you will read questions properly.

If you are prone to panicking just visualise things not going well and you handling them with ease, panicking did not get you anywhere in the first place!

You can’t do the same things and expect different results. So this has to be the first step.

2. Go in with a timing strategy and stick to time-limits

On any test without enforced time-limits, having a time allocation strategy is critical and adhering to it is sacrosanct. If you deviate even by 5 minutes from your scheduled time slots your whole test can go for a toss. Please go through the time allocation post again to finalise your timing strategy.

3. Do not leave Decision Making for the end

Whatever strategy you choose do not leave Decision Making for the end. Towards the end of the test you tend to

  • be low on stamina, not necessarily the ideal state to tackle DM caselets
  • rush to mark answers in a hurry, something that will be fatal on DM

4. For Quant do a quick read to mark out easy-medium questions

By now you know that easy questions are interspersed between tough ones and usually towards the end! So start the Quant section by quickly marking out all the easy and medium question that you should attempt.

There is a caveat thought. What if it is an easy section like it is on the CAT? So suppose you read and find 5 out of 6 questions on the page are easily do-able, then stop there and finish those 5 questions.

5. No question is worth more than 3 minutes

78 questions in 180 minutes. We are looking at a cut-off of 45+ which means an attempt of around 55-60 questions. So you do not have more than 3 minutes per questions. So do not ever get stuck, keep moving.

Remember you are the rider and your mind the horse, so ensure you whip it from time to time, urging it to get going!

6. Do not let your performance on one section jeopardise your performance on another section

It is a tragedy that a lot of test-takers bungled up their CAT due to one section, DI-LR. A poor performance on that overwhelmed many and led them to a sub-par performance on the Quant section. In hindsight it turned out that 12-13 attempts were par for DI-LR and many hadn’t performed that badly on it but had ended up performing poorly on Quant.

7. It is not over till GK and Essay Writing are over

Lastly, there is a huge possibility that you might take your foot off the pedal at the end of 180 minutes. GK & Essay Writing play a part in the final selection so ensure that you are fully switched on till the end of the test.

In the post before CAT, I had explicitly written about the middle section DI-LR being crucial since performance on it can end up psychologically impacting performance on the last section.

Unfortunately despite reading the post some of my students fell into the same trap.

So there is no point reading this post if you are going to feel good for 15 minutes and go ahead do exactly the opposite during the test!

All the best for XAT, hope you have your best test-day of the season and hope this is year is definitely new and you reach your dream b-school. Here is wishing a great year ahead to all readers and aspirants!


  1. Sunith Surendran says

    Proofreading required!!

    “4. For Quant do a quick page-read to mark out easy-medium questions before you start solving
    This is a paper-based test so make the most of it.”!!


  2. Hilori says

    I am a final year Bio undergraduate with 72.25 percentile in CAT 2017 and I had also taken a drop preparing for medical entrances. Should I attempt cat 2018 by taking a drop again? I’m really confused. I know this is not a place to ask questions like this. But,Please guide me.


    • Hi,
      Your drop for medical exams will not have any impact on your drop now.

      There are many students who have two drop years, not consecutive, and still make it to top schools.

      So it should not be a problem.

      All the best!


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