XAT Strat
Comments 49

How to prepare for the XAT

A curious phenomenon repeats itself year after year when the results of the CAT and the XAT come out – there is little overlap between the students who crack CAT and those who crack XAT. In other words, a largely different set of test-takers ends up cracking each test.

Why is this so? It is almost like one of the GMAT CR question types – which of the following provides the best explanation for the phenomenon described above? 

The answer(s) to this question will also hold the key to know how to prepare to ace the XAT!

XAT favours the verbose..err those with superior Verbal skills 

As far reading goes, there is a hell of a lot of it to do on the XAT! 

Firstly, there is VA and there is XAT-VA. The 26 questions on VA will have so many unique question types, tricky directions, deliberate twists, turns and hairpin bends that you can’t take your eyes off the ball for a second or go into autopilot mode. 

The questions cover the entire spectrum of VA as well – Grammar, Vocab, Reasoning, Critical Reasoning and Reading Comprehension.

Secondly, Decision Making is equivalent to an entire section of reading comprehension!

So 48 out of 75 questions or almost 70 percent of the paper involves reading -based reasoning compared to 24% on the CAT. 

This is one of the major reasons why a different set of test-takers ends up cracking the XAT – those with good Verbal Skills!

There is a good reason for this as well – remember that XAT is a common test for both BM and HR courses and the latter needs people with good communication skills. 

Those who prep win

Once the CAT is done with, those who know that they have done well enough tend to put their feet up and maybe rightly so since many would have been preparing for over a year.

The ones who really go after the XAT are the ones who had an ordinary outing on CAT-day and are determined to get into a premier b-school such as XL. 

Even among those who prepare, most don’t take Mocks seriously since they are not taken in the same atmosphere like the ones for CAT. 

So on average, the prep-levels across the spectrum are likely to be lower than they are for CAT. 

Given this, it goes without saying that those who prepare seriously with the same diligence that they showed for CAT will end up cracking the test; not necessarily the ones with better skills. They will be in better XAT-taking rhythm and most importantly more attuned to the uniqueness of the XAT.

Decision Making can end up making or breaking your entire paper

This entirely new section, with no equivalence or similarity to any other section on any other test, holds the key to your entire paper. 

Firstly, you need to clear the cut-offs and secondly you need to do it in good time. You might end up doing enough to clear the cut-off but given the amount of reading required, you might end up overshooting your time-limits and compromising the other section. 

Given its novel nature, the DM section in terms of the level of difficulty can be compared to the DI-LR section on this year’s CAT, albeit with more reading. 

So crossing the cut-off is not going to be a walk in the park. If you are under-prepared for DM then you will definitely be caught on the wrong foot on many questions not knowing what to do.

Decision Making won’t be high-scoring section and for this very reason, 0.25-0.5 marks can end up pushing you towards either side of the cut-off.

Apart from the 5 IMS Mocks, we have DM section tests as well on myIMS.

This will be the best resource to practice DM apart from tests.

Increase your reading speed by at least 50 WPM

The copious amount of text is not limited to just the VA and DM sections. Even QA will have quite a few 5-6 liner Arithmetic questions that usually involve chase sequences, running back and forth and verbal jugglery.

Given that there will be so much reading to do, you need to increase your reading speed to ensure that you are able to

  • read all questions and
  • answer enough of them to clear the cut-offs

One of the resources to do this was suggested by a student —http://spreeder.com/. Dedicated to helping you read faster the site allows you to paste text, set a reading speed and words per chunk (I suggest 6 or 8) before you start reading. The HOME page tells you how to go about using it.

The best way to use this resource:

  • For passages, download the GMAT Official Guide PDF (I don’t need to teach you how to do that:-))
  • Copy-paste text into the software and read at a faster paste
  • After reading, solve questions from the passage
  • Two passages every day should suffice

Practice Modern Math to ace the Quant section

The Quant on the XAT as mentioned earlier has long Arithmetic questions. Apart from this a fair bit of questions from Modern Math pop up on the test.

So please ensure that you revise all those things that irritate most test-takers — Logarithms, Permutation & Combinations, Probability, Functions, Polynomials and Trigonometry; numbers do not feature much on the XAT (this year they did not on the CAT as well) so don’t waste too much time re-doing them.

Questions from Modern Math, unlike those from Arithmetic, tend to be shorter in length. So preparing for questions on these topics will be strategically useful.

Combine this with Arithmetic practice from cat100percentile.com and Quant should be taken care of. 

A bit of GK a day to keep the section at bay 

GK is a section that poses a peculiar problem for people — can one even prepare for it?

The GK on most tests, barring IRMA, is as general as the G in GK can get.

But usually, it is a mixture of GK and current-affairs (CA). While preparing for current affairs is a tricky affair, GK is something that can be tackled.

Just get the Manorama YearBook and spend 30 minutes every day with it. In the next 4 weeks, you can easily cover quite a bit this way rather than just fret about it and do nothing.

Also, GK will be a feature on your PIs as well, so this preparation will hold you in good stead for the same.

8 mocks to ace the test

The XAT is a test that will demand something that most test-takers are not comfortable with — time-management

There is no way you can crack a test without sectional time-limits without practising enough Mocks to get your timing strategy right.

I recommend at least 8 Mocks in the last 8 days leading up to the XAT — 5 IMS SimXATs plus 3 Papers from previous years. So a test a day from 26-Dec to 3-Jan, barring New Year’s Eve.

The biggest gainers on the XAT will be those who prepare with a plan and take enough Mocks. There is no reason why should not be one of them.

Don’t trust the CAT, like the animal it is sly!

Even if your CAT went well, you can’t be sure of your percentiles till they come out. Till the 97th percentile things will be pretty predictable but above that, we don’t know how well the guys at the higher end have performed.

So even if you have done well on the CAT, it is still not a great idea to put all your eggs in one basket.

XL is right up there with the IIMs, so there is everything to play for

While XLRI-tag might not seem to carry the same weight as the IIM-tag it is right behind IIMs – A, B & C, up there with IIM-L & FMS and better than the rest of the IIMs in terms of placements.

The batch size is still not very large and the HR department of most premier firms are filled with XL alumni, what better guarantee does one need that placements at XL will be good!

So start your prep in all earnestness and I will be putting up the following posts in the coming days.

  • How to crack XAT Decision Making
  • How to allocate your time on XAT
  • All need to execute on XAT-day

All the best!


  1. Tanvi says

    Good evening sir!
    I have been a regular follower and look up to your blog posts for guidance and support (especially verbal). Thank you for all the posts.

    I wanted to ask you about MICAT preparation, if you could give some tips.Your tips have always been very useful.

    Thanks in advance!


    • Hi Tanvi,

      If I am not wrong the only thing unique about MICAT is the creative part of the test and that is something that cannot be taught. Also, I focus on the CAT and a bit on the XAT ( I have a separate blog for GMAT). I leave the rest of the tests for others to do. I have not taken them myself and don’t really enjoy them 🙂

      All the best!


  2. bhushan kharche says

    Hello Sir,

    Need your guidance. CAT done. Lots of things to do now.
    1. SNAP
    2. XAT
    3. GDPI- I feel I will need more prep for the GDPI process, so this also in line.
    Quite confused, how to prioritize. Because once CAT results are out, interviews won’t be too far.
    I don’t want to miss out on any chance IIMs will give me.
    As per your mentioned schedule, I can prepare for XAT but for the rest of the time, should I do GDPI prep or SNAP.
    What if I attempt 6-7 mocks of SNAP in last 4-5 days, and remaining time for XAT and GDPI.
    Not sure if I am clear but hope you understood my point.
    Please suggest.


    • Hi Bhushan,

      It depends on how much prep you need for each of these tests.

      If given your ability, 6-7 Mocks will suffice for you to crack the SNAP then that should suffice.

      GD-PI Prep at this stage will involve GD Prep — chewing the newspaper up, which should take about 90 minutes every day. Specific answers for the PI you can start after the XAT.

      Till the SNAP do not go very heavy duty on the XAT, you can do that after the SNAP.

      Hope this clarifies,

      All the best.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Vedant Vyas says

    Hello Tony Sir,
    A much needed post that provides insight as well as motivation. I have a some queries regarding XAT prep:
    1] While giving CAT, mocks was my primary focus as it gave test taking practice. So will 8 mocks be enough?Also any reason why we should give mocks at the end rather than spread out like SimCATs? Is it okay to solve past papers older than 3 years?
    2] Can one prepare for XAT RCs by using leftover SimCATs or the level is too different? How many articles should one read daily that will qualify as a good practice?
    3]Apart from DM tests that are available and past papers, is there any other source to prepare for DM?
    4]Is solving QA from SimCATs a helpful practice for XAT?
    5] Is the GK module on myIMS sufficient to gain GK or one MUST buy Manorama yearbook?

    Thanks in advance. Love your posts.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Ved,
      You can take as many test as you want to it won’t hurt your prep, the same goes for old papers as well. I spoke from the perspective of the number of tests an IMS student has access to and based on the fact that people will be preparing for the SNAP as well.

      Once you exhaust XAT papers you can use SimCATs, they won’t hurt your prep and some practice is better than no practice.

      How many articles should one read is again dependent on your current level. If you were able to finish the CAT VA-RC section comfortably (with a bit of rechecking) and scored well, may be you would not need to read anything at all. If you are struggling with speed then may be you have to read about 5 to 6 articles a day.

      4) You have quite a few section tests and also full length tests and past papers. After a point DM is not about solving a lot since every case will be different, it’s about cracking the process that leads to decision making.

      It depends on where you currently stand with respect to GK. The IMS portal will suffice for CA and test-specific GK but it can not compete with the Manorama book in terms of comprehensiveness, the latter will be useful not just for XAT but for your interviews as well.

      Hope this clarifies,

      All the best!


  4. Akshay says

    Hi Tony Sir,
    For CAT there were definite sources like say Aeon, Economist etc. I can’t find specific sources from which XAT picks up it’s RC’s, what sources say magazines, newspapers would you recommend to read for XAT RC’s as I find them pretty complex & hard to comprehend. How Should I specifically prepare for tackling RC’s here?


    • Just solve a lot of the old papers, that’s the only way out at this point of time instead of trying to find sources. We have put up papers upto 2011 on MyIMS.

      The only places I can think of are aldaily.com and aeon.com

      All the best!


  5. Ayesha Agarwal says

    Hello Sir,
    Thanks for the post.
    My maths is not really good and I am especially bad at Modern Math. Could you please give me a direction as to go about quant overall.
    For RCs, can I solve sectional test from the application builder. Will that suffice?
    And what should be done done for lr-di in terms of which specific topics to focus on?
    Thank you.


    • Hi Ayesha,

      Honestly, the only thing you can do at this is to watch all the concept videos done on the new myIMS (the tab is available on the old myIMS). Other than that I can think of no other way.

      For RCs, section tests and old papers should suffice the same applies for DI-LR, there are no XAT specific DI-LR topics.

      All the best!


  6. Vaishnavi Prabhakar Salunke says

    Hello Sir,
    Thank you for the post. Sir, i have few doubts as mentioned below:
    1) I consider myself as average when it comes to vocabulary and for that matter of fact entire verbal. I take bit more time to comprehend language intensive paragraphs. I will follow the method mentioned by you,but is it worth spending time right now on books like Word Power made easy by Norman Lewis.
    2)I have a issue in modern maths. Even during SIMCATs i used to understand the solutions but then how to approach it is something which always bothered me.Please can you give some tips as i have a complete month to dedicate.
    3)Lastly, is a month enough to crack XAT ?
    Thank You.


    • Hi Vaishnavi,

      Glad you found the post useful.

      1. If you have time on your hands then you can use Norman Lewis to prepare for vocabulary, it is not a must but a function of the time at your disposal.

      2. Well, you will know that to explain how to go about Modern Math through a blog post comment is impossible. The best source to prepare will be the concept videos in the LEARN Module of the new myIMS (the link to which is there on the current myIMS). Access will depend on whether you are eligible for the same. Else you can go through the Modern Math concepts on cat100percentile.com. Approach-wise treat it like a game with rules with each topic being a different game with different rules, you cannot do pattern-based solving that much as is the case with other areas.

      3. Whether a month is enough or not should determine whether you can or cannot do it or whether you want to or not want to do it, you have only one month and you have to do it.

      All the best!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Hello sir,
    Thanks for the post

    I just wanted to know as to how to prepare for DM since almost every institute out there has a different answer key for the past papers and since XAT only releases the question paper and not the answer key, it becomes difficult to understand the correct thought process on doing it. I also had a senior who had given XAT on two occasions and he had received 93 percentile in XAT DM in his first attempt and then 83 percentile in the next one even though he was equally confident about both of his sections. I have personally given 2 past year papers and my score in English and DM has varied from around 25 to around 20 depending on whose answer key I verify with.

    All of this is creating unnecessary stress for someone like me whose top priority has always been HR and XLRI. Please do let me know as to how to tackle this exam w.r.t to DM


    • Hi,

      Nothing should create stress, there are only problems to be solved.

      Yes, DM is tricky since at times there is no one right decision! The best approach is thus to leave the really slippery questions where you are not able to make up your mind. But this does not mean that there cannot be an approach — posts will be up today, Friday, and Saturday. Will do a few videos as well that will be up on the IMS portal.

      All the best!


      • Rachhit Singhvi says

        Thank you sir,

        My scores in CAT amount to around 139 marks(68/35/34) and since my only interest is in HR, I was wondering how my good are my chances to get a call from them?

        Also are there any IIMs with a good HR course that I could look into?


      • Hi Rachit,

        The best programs for HR are XL-HR, TISS-PM&IR, MDI-HR, SIBM-HR and SCM-HRD.

        Through your CAT, which will fetch you a percentile between 97-98, you will get a shot at MDI-HR.

        You have to crack, SNAP, XL, and TISS to really have a crack at the good HR roles.

        HR is a specialised course and thus the IIMs do really offer an HR program, the recruiters also do no go to IIMs for HR recruitment.

        IIM-Ranchi offers an MHRM program with a different test.

        Hope this clarifies,

        All the best!


  8. Anvesha Gupta says

    Hello Sir, I have got 123 marks in CAT. Expected percentile is around 95. I have got 10 CGPA in 10th; 93% in 12th and 84% in undergrad. I also have 6 months of work exp in IT. Though I don’t have any national level certificates or something but I do have a nice profile (like I got 2nd rank in my college, getting employee of the month in my company in around 150 people). Also I have some good hobbies(reading books, debating etc) to put which I think puts a decent profile. So, Can I get a call from SPJIMR after all this. And also what are the other colleges I can expect calls from as certain colleges like IIM Indore have kept the weightage of CAT Score to 20%.And I am a GEN(Female)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Anvesha,

      If your percentile crosses 96.5 then you have a chance for a score-based SPJIMR call (but if you are applying to IM, your work-ex is on the lower side, the only other option is Marketing).

      Given the diversity factor, you might get a call from one or two of the old IIMs among L, I, and K.

      All the best!


  9. Ankit Debnath says

    Thanks a lot sir. For someone who has had a below average CAT 2019 XAT is a much needed test and your post just pushed me mentally to prepare my best for this exam . I hope I can hold onto this momentum and score my best in this exam


  10. Yagyansh Kumar says

    Hello sir! Good evening! I wanted to know the best sources to prepare for CR. What material/book should we refer to?


  11. Hi Sir

    Thank you for the detailed schedule you have provided. I have been looking out for such a schedule from an experienced faculty since a week.

    My queries are below-

    1) What has been the recurring source of DM in past XAT papers? Which source would be the best to rely on for practice?

    2) If we don’t have this source, which would be the next best material to practice from to ace the DM section?

    3) What would be a good source to brush up XAT relevant grammar/vocab? I have heard there is this book on 850 high frequency words or something? Kindly suggest some valuable source from your experience.

    4) What would be your inputs for SNAP preparation?

    Thanks again for the detailed article above. Its very helpful. Specially GMAT RC thing! 🙂



    • HI,

      Glad you found the post useful.

      1 and 2. DM cases are written by the professors themselves and not taken from an external source; external sources have really good case studies but they are super-long case studies written for business schools or management programs of some kind and not entrance tests; in short, the only source is the many XAT papers from previous years.

      3. There is no XAT relevant grammar and vocab! There is only grammar and vocab. There are many books on 800 high-frequency words and stuff but unlike the GRE there is no list, not even a longlist or a shortlist for Indian tests. You can watch the Grammar videos on the LEARN Module of the new IMS (the link is on the current myIMS) if you have access to the same. You can choose to read any of the wordlists but do not expect words to turn up from them.

      4. Unfortunately, I have never taken IIFT, SNAP, NMAT, or CET, so I wouldn’t have any expertise on the same; my colleague though knows is great at it — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=til2O6oHytk&feature=youtu.be

      DM posts will be up from today.

      All the best!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Hi Sir

    Thank you for the detailed schedule you have provided. I have been looking out for such a schedule from an experienced faculty since a week.

    My queries are below-

    1) What has been the recurring source of DM in past XAT papers? Which source would be the best to rely on for practice?

    2) If we don’t have this source, which would be the next best material to practice from to ace the DM section?

    3) What would be a good source to brush up XAT relevant grammar/vocab? I have heard there is this book on 850 high frequency words or something? Kindly suggest some valuable source from your experience.

    4) What would be your inputs for SNAP preparation?

    Thanks again for the detailed article above. Its very helpful. Specially GMAT RC thing! 🙂



  13. Lowkey says

    Sir, I blew up IIFT DILR because of my foolishness, accidentally messed up that Food Spend chart because of the sentiment rating erroneously noted down. Now only XAT can save me, so 1: I’ve noticed the solutions to DM vary for some institutes for official past year papers of XAT! Are there any official solutions by XL as well over internet!? I can find the question papers there, but not the solutions.
    And I’m scoring 10-12.5 in those 3 tests in IMS DM, what would be 99+ score for DM. I just can’t afford to lose XAT now 😥


    • Hi,

      Sorry to hear about the way IIFT went.

      There are no official answer keys from XAT so we have to rely on what the various institutes have given. DM is tricky since at times there is no one right decision. The best approach is thus to leave the really slippery questions where you are not able to make up your mind. But this does not mean that there cannot be an approach. I have already put up one post on the approach yesterday. There will be two more up in a couple of days.

      I will also do a 2-3 of Masterclasses as well that will be up on myIMS solving previous years’ papers.

      A 99+ percentile will be a score in excess of 16 marks.

      All the best!


  14. Sanjith says

    Hi sir
    From where can we acess the DM material. Is this available in the ims website


    • Hi Sanjith,

      In the T-module you will find DM section tests and XAT full-length tests.

      We are also converting the last 9 years’ XAT papers in full-length tests.

      All the best!


  15. Shubham says

    Thanks for the wonderful post, sir! I would like to request you to write a similar article for the TISSNET exam. Also, please throw some light on the newly introduced TISSMAT exam and how to prepare for it.



  16. Hello sir,

    I read your blogs regularly and they are truly motivating and insightful! Thank you!

    Today, I actually wanted a piece of advice. I made some foolish errors and couldn’t really performed to my expectations in CAT and IIFT and now, I am only left with XAT in hand and I am not really confident about it. So, I am planning to appear for GMAT before 31st Dec, keeping SP Jain in mind. This shall be my second attempt of GMAT. I had appeared for it once in August and ended up scoring only a 650 (V29, Q49) Should I go for it? And if I do, what course of action will be advisable? How can I sync and manage the preparation for both these exams together?

    Thanks in advance.


    • Also, exam prep is the only thing I am involved in as of now. So, time allocation is not an issue.


  17. Rohan says

    Dear Sir,

    Could you please describe about the strategy of choosing the sections? Which section to start off with and which section to spend maximum time on?


  18. Sakshi says

    Hello Sir, could you please tell me where I could download the GMAT official guide from? I am not being able to find an accessible link.


  19. Sushant Agarwal says

    Hi Sir,

    First I want to say that your Guidance has really been valuable for me. I am an IMS Student of Thane Branch. I wanted to ask if you can please guide a bit on “what should we focus on the manaroma yearbook w.r.t XAT” as it is an enormous book. Would be really helpful.

    Thanks in Advance Sir 🙂


    • The yearbook is meant to be a prep tool for the GD-PI as well. It is tough to pinpoint which parts to read. They have a lot of current affairs and also general knowledge questions such as Which of the following was the capital of Unified Assam? So covering Indian history, states, constitution and stuff can be relevant.

      All the best!


  20. Sushant Agarwal says

    Sir, I am majorly facing Issues with verbal of XAT. RC’s are being a nightmare for me. I know I should be targetting VA more, but accuracy is becoming an issue there. The other 2 sections are pretty manageable for me. Can you please elaborate in a bit detail on what can I do for verbal?

    Would be really grateful to you.

    Thanks in advance Sir.


  21. abishek says

    Good afternoon sir ,
    can i prepare for xat rc and critical reasoning using Gmat official guide +verbal review book.and also solving previous year question paper whether i have to solve from 2011 to 2019 or the last 5 year papers.kindly suggest me sir.


    • Hi Abhishek,

      Solve as many old papers as possible, GMAT Cr might be relevant but RC might not be since they do not have philosophical/abstract/art passages.

      All the best!


  22. Divya says

    Hi ,
    I gave IIFT 2019 and got a score of 104.5 , I haven’t applied for any other exam other than XAT . Kindly guide .


    • Hi Divya,

      XAT and IIFT are very different tests and hence scores in one cannot be compared to scores in the other. So you have to go through all the posts and masterclasses I have done for the XAT and prepare & practice accordingly.

      All the best!


  23. missmundra says

    Hello sir,
    Thank you for the detailed post- it’s extremely helpful!
    I’m only aiming to appear for TISS-NET and XAT, as my main focus is HR. This is my first attempt, and I’m a non-engineer fresher.

    If you find the time, please guide me through these concerns:

    1. Since these papers have many unique elements to them, do you recommend any resources for CR and XAT level RCs (except the previous years’ papers)?

    2. I have time at hand, and I can concentrate solely on these exams for the months to come. Can you recommend a strategy that might streamline my preperation for these particular exams?

    Thanks a lot for all these posts!
    (PS. a fan of your analogies in various blogposts)


    • Hello Miss Mundra,

      Glad to hear that you are fan of the analogies!

      Since the XAT is in Jan and there are not too many mocks around, you should ensure that you peak at the right time and get into intensive practice at the right time.

      So, firstly go through the posts under the category XAT strat so that you get a fairly decent idea of the prep strategy — a big key would be to develop reading speed since there is tons of reading to do, because of DM, in effect, there are two RC sections.

      I would suggest starting slow and on QA concepts and reading speed and getting into solving only from December.

      For CR, you can go through my blog, thegmatblogger.in and solve the GMAT OG, and GMAT Verbal Review. Until December solving both RCs and CR from there will be the best way to build your reading speed, comprehension skills and reasoning skills.

      As of now, there isn’t much material out there for specific to XAT.

      We will be launching a program in October.

      All the best!

      Liked by 1 person

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