XAT Strat
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How to crack XAT Decision Making – Part III

This piece on Decision Making has really expanded and I hope as I begin to write this post that this will be the closing piece that concludes this and this.

SET 6: Information + Strategy Set

Answer questions on the basis of information given in the following case.

MBA entrance examination comprises two types of problems: formula-based problems and application-based problem. From the analysis of past data, Interesting School of Management (ISM) observes that students good at solving application-based problems are entrepreneurial in nature. Coaching institutes for MBA entrance exams train them to spot formula-based problems and answer them correctly, so as to obtain the required overall cut-off percentile. Thus students, in general, shy away from application-based problem and even those with entrepreneurial mind-set target formula-based problems.

Half of a mark is deducted for every wrong answer.

ISM wants more students with entrepreneurial mind-set in the next batch. To achieve this, ISM is considering following proposals:

I. Preparing a question paper of two parts, Parts A and Part B of duration of one hour each. Part A and Part B would consist of formula-based problems and application-based problems, respectively. After taking away Part A, Part B would be distributed. The qualifying cut-off percentile would be calculated on the combined scores of two parts.

II. Preparing a question paper comprising Part A and Part B. While Part A would comprise formula-based problems, Part B would comprise application-based problems, each having a separate qualifying cut-off percentile.

III. Assigning one mark for formula-based problems and two marks for application based problems as an incentive for attempting application-based problems.

IV. Allotting one mark for formula-based problems and three marks for application-based problem, without mentioning this is the question paper.

Which of the following proposal (or combination of proposals) is likely to identify students with best entrepreneurial mind-set?

    1. II
    1. I & II
    1. I & III
    1. II & III
  1. II & IV

Just to reiterate, you should always start a DM question by listing the criteria as precisely as possible:

  • test should be geared towards making aspirants attempt application-based questions

Please note that in the above question defining the goal as selecting those with entrepreneurial skill will make it broader than necessary, it is end and not the means. The case revolves around the means.

The next thing you need to remember, always go by elimination.

I & II revolve around sectional cut-offs and III & IV revolve around the differential marking system. So to maximise the chances of meeting the criteria it makes sense to choose one from each, since you will be implementing two different things.

Between III & IV, the latter can be ruled out since there is no point if test-takers do not know about the differential marking existing in the first place! So III has to be there, reducing it to a choice between options 3 and 4, which is nothing but a choice between I and II.

Between I and II it is better to choose II since it specifies sectional cut-offs. Hence, (4)

ISM conducts a common entrance examination every year. This year, the question paper would comprise 60 questions with an equal mix of formula-based problems and application-based problems. All questions would carry equal marks. Balaji is appearing for the examination. Before, appearing for the examination he gets the following information from coaching institutes:

I. Application-oriented problems take more time to solve in an examination hall.

II. Chances of silly mistakes would be low in application-based problems.

III. ISM would assist the students with bank loans to start a new venture.

IV. Options are generally confusing for formula-based problems.

V. ‘Practice makes a man perfect’ can apply only to formula-based problems.

VI. Students get very good campus jobs.

Based on above information, which of the following options would help him to be better prepared for the examination?

    1. I &II
    1. I, II & V
    1. II, III & VI
    1. IV, V & VI
  1. I, II, IV & V

This is an easy one. As mentioned in the previous post it is best to go in with a one question at a time approach than one set at a time. So if the previous one seemed tricky it makes more sense not to attempt but to move on to the next one.

This one needs no explanation, III & IV are not related to the test preparation. Hence, (5).

SET 7: Information + Strategy Set

Answer questions on the basis of information given in the following case.

The Disciplinary Committee of Nation Political Party (NPP) is meeting today to decide on the future of two of their party members, Mr. Loyal and his son Mr. Prodigal. Mr. Prodigal is the prime accused in the brutal murder of Mr. Victim, an opposition party leader. Mr. Prodigal is in police custody and his appeal for bail has got rejected. Mr. Loyal claims that his son is innocent and Mr. Victim’s death was the result of internal rivalry in the opposition party. Though Mr. Loyal is not accused in this case, his weakness for his son is well known. The media is blaming him for influencing key witnesses to protect his son. Severe criticism of his father-son duo, both by the media and some social activists, is damaging the image of the party. However, Mr. Loyal has significant followers within the party and is considered an asset to the party. Any harsh decision against Mr. Loyal would adversely affect the future of NPP and could even lead to a split in the party. This would benefit the opposition.

Which of the following actions would adversely affect both NPP and Mr. Loyal, the most?

    1. Take no action against Mr. Loyal.
    1. Suspend Mr. Prodigal from the party with immediate effect.
    1. Expel Mr. Loyal from the party with immediate effect.
    1. Ban Mr. Loyal from entering party premises till completion of court proceedings.
  1. Initiate an internal inquiry to find the truth.

In all caselets, questions brought in additional information. Hence do not define the situation and set criteria before reading the question.

This is an easy one, option (3) hurts both the most.

At the Disciplinary Committee meeting, members came up with the following suggestions. Which of the following suggestions would harm the party, the least?

    1. Maintain status-quo
    1. Expel Mr. Prodigal from the party with immediate effect to maintain party’s clean image
    1. Initiate an internal inquiry to find the truth.
    1. Suspend Mr. Prodigal from the party with immediate effect but announce that he will be taken back if the court declares him innocent.
  1. Suspend both Mr. Loyal and Mr. Prodigal from the party with immediate effect.

The criteria in this case

    • decision should not be too harsh on Mr.Loyal so that party does not lose his support.
  • decision should also show the party taking an action against the crime and not prevent the image of the party  being dented further.
    1. violates the second criteria
    1. does not fully satisfy the first criteria
    1. does not fully satisfy the second criteria
    1. satisfies both
  1. violates the first criteria

Mr. Opportunist, a veteran member of the NPP stakes his claim to be nominated as an NPP candidate in the upcoming election. Mr. Opportunist presented the following arguments in favour of his candidature to the NPP Executive Committee.

I. Mr. Loyal’s candidature in the upcoming election will adversely impact NPP’s chances. Hence, the party should not nominate him. II. The party should call a press conference to disown Mr. Loyal. This would enhance the party’s image.

III. The party would not be able to take any strong disciplinary action against Mr. Loyal, if he gets re-elected. IV. I have a lot of goodwill and significant followers in the constituency.

V. None of my close relatives are into active politics.

Which of the following combinations would best strengthen the claim of Mr. Opportunist?

    1. I & III
    1. I & IV
    1. II & III
    1. III & V
  1. IV & V

The criteria for this question

  • a strong to reason to select Mr. Opportunist for his capabilities rather than the situation

The correct option must have IV since it makes the strongest case for Mr.Oppurtunist. The only options that have IV are 2 and 5. Option 5 has statement V, which is irrelevant to the situation. Hence, (2).

The Disciplinary Committee has decided to suspend Mr. Loyal from the party because they felt he was influencing the judicial process. However, Mr. Loyal feels that the committee is biased and he is being framed. Now, election has been announced. The last time. Mr. Loyal had won with a majority on account of his good work.

Which of the following options is most likely to resurrect Mr. Loyal’s immediate political career?

    1. The main opposition party has invited Mr. Loyal to join the party and contest the election Chance of winning is high.
    1. Not participation in the campaign and instructing his followers to stay away from the campaigning process.
    1. Ask his followers to support the NPP nominated candidate and display his loyalty to NPP.
    1. Mr. Loyal should contest as an independent candidate. But because of a split in votes, his chances of winning would be low.
  1. Influence the nomination process through his followers within NPP, to get one of his close associates nominated.

The stake holder is Mr.Loyal and the criteria for this question

  • turnaround/resurrect immediate political career 

Options (2) and (3) will have no immediate effect both are effective tactics to buy time.

Option (4) is riled out since chances of winning are low.

(1) & (5) can be considered and (1) is best since it says chances of winning are high.

Remember, you are supposed to maximise chances for Mr. Loyal and not necessarily looking at a politically correct/moral/ethical solution!

It is one of those questions where you can’t but help attempting and you might go ahead and mark (3) and pick a negative but it highlights the need to follow the process of defining the stakeholder and listing criteria precisely.

SINGLE-QUESTION SET: Information + Strategy

Innovative Institute of Business (IIB) has decided to be the first green campus in India. IIB Administration has advised all campus residents to reduce carbon footprints. IIB faculty members did a brainstorming and came up with the following suggestions:

I. Replacing electricity source for street lights with solar panels.

II. Replacing the existing buildings with environment-friendly buildings.

III.Organizing a seminar on ‘Towards a Sustainable Future’ involving all students, staff, and experts from around the country.

IV. Introducing a compulsory course on sustainability to increase awareness among students.

V. Conducting an initial energy audit to explore where IIB can reduce carbon footprints.

Which of the following options would be the most preferred sequence of actions to reduce carbon footprints on campus?

    1. II, IV, V
    1. IV, V, III
    1. V, I, II
    1. V, I, III
  1. V, III, I

The goal is to reduce carbon footprints.

The sequence should ideally start with V followed by I since I will result in a direct, immediate reduction. This reduces the choices left to (3) and (4).

All other options should be evaluated in terms of their direct impact on reducing carbon footprint. While all the rest can be executed, you need to choose the one that will have the most direct impact. II is the one that will have the most direct and immediate impact. Hence, (3).

How to approach the Decision Making section

1. Choose 12-15 safe questions to attempt instead of sets

Over the course of the three posts we have seen how the difficulty level of a DM question can only be ascertained after you read the question and all the 5 options. So choosing sets based on the outline of the case is not a wise idea. Go in with this in mind and try to pick out 12-15 safe questions.

2. Accuracy can be really low if you do not follow the process

Decision making as we discussed earlier is unlike any other section you have done. You might mark an option and think it was absolutely right but if you arrived at that without following the process your chance of getting it right is no more than 20%. So if you want to ensure that your XLRI dream is realised then please follow the process for every question – define criteria and eliminate options.

3. Always go by elimination instead of selection

The process outlined above is to define criteria and eliminate options that do meet criteria. The normal way of doing it would be to read all options without defining any criteria and looking to select an option. Do  not do this. On decision making elimination is the only way to go.

4. When in doubt leave or mark for later

Given the amount of reading and the trickiness of the questions, you will be operating with very little margin for error. So even after following the process you find yourself caught between two options, do not choose one randomly, mark it and come back later if you are unable to find enough questions to solve.  

Whenever we read a case we tend to miss or rather ignore a few sentences, when we come back to questions we tend to notice these sentences.

You will have the 7 IMS SimXATs and the previous years papers to master the approach to Decision Making. For more questions you can get yourself the IMS Decision Making book with 100 questions.

As we discussed earlier, XAT is there for the taking for those who take SimXATs the way they took SimCATs. The more focussed and better prepared will win out.

Your task is cutout — a test every day from today!


  1. Nishant Singh says

    Hi Sir,
    “Mr. Opportunist, a veteran member of the NPP stakes his claim to be nominated as an NPP candidate in the upcoming election. Mr. Opportunist presented the following arguments in favor of his candidature to the NPP Executive Committee.”
    The answer to this is given as Option B in the IMS XAT 2015 solution.
    And I think it is correct because ( V ) point given has no relevance to put Mr. Opportunist as the next candidate of NPP and ( I ) point will also help him to convince the party that why NPP should look for some other option instead of choosing Mr.Loyal.


    • Hi Nishant,

      I think any option that is correct has to have IV, the only options which do that are B and 2 and 5 and you are right that I and better than V and hence option 2 is better than option 5.

      All the best!


  2. Som Samantray says

    Hello , sir

    My name is Som Samantray
    After following up on the official answer keys of XAT 2019 , i have the following :
    Verbal – 14
    DM – 10.25
    Quant – 11.25
    Overall – 34.2

    What’s the expected percentile i can get and what’s the chance to convert XLRI-HRM ?


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