XAT Strat
Comments 31

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
  2. I & II
  3. I & III
  4. II & III
  5. II & IV

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

  • the 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 the 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. They will spot the formula-based problems and do them. Entrepreneurs are those who pursue greater risk for the greater reward, the 3-mark application problems are the same — higher-risk with higher reward — but the reward should be known to the test-takers. 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. With overall cutoffs, test-takers with lower entrepreneurial ability can still sneak through on the basis of section 1 scores. 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 the above information, which of the following options would help him to be better prepared for the examination?

  1. I &II
  2. I, II & V
  3. II, III & VI
  4. IV, V & VI
  5. 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 & VI are not related to the test preparation, whereas all the rest are, 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.
  2. Suspend Mr.Prodigal from the party with immediate effect.
  3. Expel Mr.Loyal from the party with immediate effect.
  4. Ban Mr.Loyal from entering party premises till completion of court proceedings.
  5. Initiate an internal inquiry to find the truth.

In all cases, 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 since the party will definitely get split if action is taken against Mr.Loyal who is not even an accused.

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

The criteria, in this case,

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

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

  1. I & III
  2. I & IV
  3. II & III
  4. III & V
  5. IV & V

The criteria for this question

  • the party should benefit from Mr.Oppurtunist contesting the election as against Mr.Loyal

So any statement that shows Mr.Opputinist to be a better bet without jeopardising the party’s future should be considered.

(I) cites a strong reason for not fielding Mr.Loyal and hence would support Mr.Oppurtunist’s claim

(II) will jeopardise the party’s future since Mr.Loyal will have no option but to breakaway people and form his own party.

(III) makes Mr.Loyal the issue rather than his son who is the one who is accused of a crime.

(IV) cites a strong reason for fielding Mr.Oppurtunist

(V) serves no purpose

Hence, option (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, elections have 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, the chance of winning is high.
  2. Not participating in the campaign and instructing his followers to stay away from the campaigning process.
  3. Ask his followers to support the NPP nominated candidate and display his loyalty to NPP.
  4. Mr.Loyal should contest as an independent candidate. But because of a split in votes, his chances of winning would be low.
  5. Influence the nomination process through his followers within NPP, to get one of his close associates nominated.

The stakeholder is Mr.Loyal and the criteria for this question

  • turnaround/resurrect his immediate political career 

Options (2) will have no immediate effect.

Option (3) while a good strategic long-term move will not do anything for him in the short-run.

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

Choosing between (1) & (5) is absolutely tricky since both of them seem to be things that will work out well for him.

The only hitch with (5) is that it is still an indirect route, it does not change the fact he is suspended, it does not ally his fears that he is being framed and sidelined. So while his close associate might get elected it does not secure his political future. 

Option (1) clearly favours him the most since he will get elected and nothing succeeds like success, especially in politics.

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

It is one of those questions where you can’t but help to attempt 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 exercise 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
  2. IV, V, III
  3. V, I, II
  4. V, I, III
  5. 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 in carbon footprint (though we do not know whether the electricity is coming from a hydel-plant or coal-fired plant!) This reduces the choices left to (3) and (4). Also, II is a must since if the claim green campus has to be true the campus buildings, which comprise the biggest part of the infra, should be green.

All other options should be evaluated in terms of their direct impact on reducing carbon footprint — III and IV while desirable would not result in a reduction in carbon footprint.

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 since there is always additional information that comes with the question. 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. When in doubt, keep going back to read the case.

4. When still 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 year’s papers to master the approach to Decision Making. For more questions, you can do the 3 IMS section tests.

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.


  1. Aakash says

    Sir, in XAT Decision Making test 1, I am not satisfied with the answers provided for Question 3 and 8. Is there a way to discuss them with you?


  2. Hello Sir,
    Apart from these 3 blogs that you posted for DM, would you also be conducting a webinar?

    Also, assuming that the number of questions would remain the same in XAT at 72, what would be a safe number of attempts and score to achieve to convert the call for HRM since XLRI places a 65% weightage on XAT which makes it uber important.

    I have only been attempting the past paper at this point(2018 and 2019) and my scores for VA,DM and Quant have been (18-20,12-15,10-12) so far but I have been talking to past students and they told me that they were only waitlisted and could not clear the cutoff even at 97 percentile for HRM(they were female candidates as well and only got waitlisted).

    Do you think that my present scores of around 40 would give me a healthy chance of converting XLRI barring a horrible experience in GDPI?


    • Hi,

      Based on last year’s scores —

      18 and above on VA will be a 99 plus
      15 and above on DM will be a 99 plus, 10 and above will be 89 plus
      18 and above on QA will be close to a 99 and above

      An overall score of 45 was above 99.50 last year.

      So a score of 40 will be close to a 99 percentile.

      I think come Jan you should be able to push 45 and that you should give you a sizeable advantage going into the GD-PI round.

      Also, while the XAT score has a high weightage, interviewers tend to not want the math to take over the final admit and thus instead of spreading out the marks across the spectrum they tend to rate the candidates at the extreme based on whether they want the candidate to be in or out, so they will score a candidate either a 5 or a 45 out of say 50 marks for PI rather than give marks across the whole range from 0 to 50. This ensures that the 65% has a limited role to play.

      Hope this clarifies,

      All the best!


      • Thank you for your reply sir,
        I am just concerned about my Quant. I have been struggling in it since beginning and did so in CAT as well.
        Do you think getting around 10 Qs correct would be sufficient to clear the 75 percentile cutoff for HRM male candidates?

        Also, as a side note, would you suggest candidates to start prepping for GDPI a little since CAT calls will come thick and fast after XAT?


      • 10 should help you clear the cut-off of 75 percentile but keep pushing for more.

        Ideally, you should be reading the newspaper inside out every day as prep for GD-PI, so start that if you haven’t already.


      • Aniket Gue says

        Hello Sir,

        Needed some clarity on the approximate percentile mentioned based on overall scores. Do these estimates correspond to overall scores including or excluding the General Knowledge section?


      • GK score and percentile are not a part of the overall score and percentile, it is given separately, for GK, 52% was 83 percentile.


  3. MEGHA says

    sir what is the sequence to attempt different sections for XAT and what time should we allocate to each section.


  4. MEGHA says

    sir i had not taken a test series for non cat exams and currently i am doing xat past year questions. once it will be done i am thinking to take one. Should i take a test series now?


  5. 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?

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

    Thanks in advance.


    • Hi HB,

      There is nothing in common between XAT and GMAT (XAT CR is not CR) so I do not think there is any possibility of syncing the two.

      You would need to score a 730 or above for a score based call since that corresponds to a 96-percentile and above.

      Q-49 is less than 75%ile so you need to score a 50 at the least, which is also only the 85th percentile.

      With a Q-50, you need to score at least a 39 on the Verbal to score a 730.

      So, if you can prep for both parallelly with either having nothing to do with the other then go ahead, else take one the one on which you can get a higher percentile.

      For more prep info, you can go to my GMAT blog — https://thegmatblogger.in/

      Hope this helps,

      All the best!


  6. Mohit Sorout says

    Hello sir,
    your blogs are really helpful.

    I have a DM question:

    The Ethics committee of Technik Infovision LTD (TIL) is scheduled to meet this week to decide on the future of one of its longest serving employees, Mr. Genie. Mr. Genie has been accused by his Project Manager Ms Sen of having verbally abused her in a drunken fit during the last office party held by the company at a star hotel. Mr. Genie admits he was drunk during the party but states he cannot recollect any events that may have occurred later. Furthermore, Ms Sen accuses Mr. Genie of not obeying her instructions at the workplace for several months. Mr. Genie has been an employee of TIL for almost 14 years and hitherto had an exemplary record with regard to punctuality, discipline and performance. During his tenure at TIL he has risen from the position of a lowly filing clerk to become the company’s top Graphics Editor. He anchors almost all the company’s critical foreign projects and his good work has enabled TIL to bag many repeat orders from satisfied clients. He is considered an asset by the top management of TIL. Any harsh decision against Mr. Genie would adversely affect the future of TIL and could even lead to several team members loyal to Mr. Genie leaving the company to join rival firms. This would not benefit TIL.
    At the Ethics committee meeting, members came up with the following suggestions. Which of the following suggestions would harm the company, the least?

    1. Initiate an internal inquiry to find out what actually took place during the party.
    2. Terminate the services of Mr. Genie with immediate effect to maintain a good image with female employees.
    3. Censure Mr. Genie verbally but tell him that he will be allowed to continue working for the company if he tenders an unconditional apology to Ms. Sen.
    4. Maintain the status quo by not taking any action against Mr. Genie.
    5. Declare Ms. Sen is lying and terminate her services since she is not as valuable an employee as Mr. Genie is.

    Ans given:3, But I think 1 should be right answer by going the process which you have mentioned.
    situation: Mr. G is important for company and he had done something of which there is no proof whether he has done it or not. Criteia: harm the company less.
    So, Instead of asking for sorry, shouldn`t company investigate and then take a decision because it will not tarnish the image of company that it do not take action against employee and also shouldn`t create problem for Mr. G because he is not sure whether he has abused his manager.


    • Hi Mohit,

      The situation is one of verbal abuse at a party, Mr.Genie admits to being drunk and not having a clue, Mrs.Sen has not made any threats.

      The inquiry which will involve taking other people’s to testify will only bring more focus onto the event and tarnish Mr.Genie’s image and might lead him to leave the firm.

      I am sure Mr.Genie can easily find out from his friends if he did in fact misbehave.

      So censuring him, which anyway has to done since senior managers cannot be drunk to the point of not knowing what happened, and letting him continue will ensure. Since it is a case of verbal abuse an unconditional apology should ensure that Mrs.Sen will be mollified.

      Usually, it turns out options saying enquiry committee should be made are incorrect 🙂

      All the best!


  7. Mohit Sorout says

    Thank you sir.
    I have some more questions:
    1. As you told that give 30 min to quant and 30 to Lrdi. Should we prepare it only from xat past year papers because I didn’t find any other specific source for Xat questions especially Lrdi.

    2. I am in a little conendrum about GMAT/GRE exam.
    As I have already told you that I am looking to give GMAT in February for MIM programme.
    When I look for top MIM programme, I found that they also accept GRE.
    After reading many other posts. I infered that getting 330 in GRE is easier than getting 740 in GMAT.
    As I am not good in verbal ability and also don have very good vocabulary.
    But I have completed word power made easy by norman Lewis and okay with contextual vocabulary.
    So, which test should I write?


    • In the latest pattern of XAT, the LR is clubbed with DM and DI with QA, so the sections are DM-LR and QA-DI. The level of DI-LR is below that of CAT. Old papers should suffice for practice.

      Take a mock of each of GRE and GMAT from ETS and mba.com and decide. The Verbal of both are equally tough, the nature of toughness is different that is all.

      All the best!


  8. Surabhi says

    Hello Sir. Thank you for your wonderful blogposts!

    For the 2nd question of Set 7, the IMS answer key states C as the correct answer with the following reasoning.

    “[A] is incorrect as it would adversely affect the party’s image for supporting Mr. Prodigal. [B] is incorrect as if Mr. Prodigal is expelled, Mr Loyal might lead to a split in the party. For the same reason, [E] is also incorrect.
    [C] is correct as the party can still keep Mr. Loyal and his son as members and yet better their image. Though [D] is also close, [C] is the better option as if found guilty, the party will still have the threat of Mr. Loyal splitting the party. Hence, [C].”

    Isn’t the initiation of an internal enquiry fulfilling the 2nd criteria as the party is taking the matter seriously? Please suggest how to resolve this.

    Secondly, I had a general doubt regarding DM. When a question states: “The option that best arranges the above managerial interventions in decreasing order of *organisational impact* is”,
    should the impact being positive be the qualifying criteria for our answer?

    To take an extreme example: if there is an option which suggests shutting the organisation altogether, it will have maximum impact on the organisation but not a positive one. So would that be the highest in order or something with less degree of impact but a positive one?

    Thanks and regards,


    • I still think D is the answer since if the person is guilty then Mr.Loyal will not have a valid reason to split the party and the party also can not afford to have Mr.Prodigal if he is guilty. So it is a situation that gives both parties a chance.

      In terms of impact, it has to be the best decision given the criteria, if it has means shutting down the business so be it.

      A mammoth DM video in two parts will be up on myIMS tom that should take care of most issues.

      Hope this clarifies,


  9. antra raj says

    Hi Sir
    Thank you for writing this post, this gives a great deal of information on how to approach DM questions.
    I have few doubts and It’d be helpful if you could help me in solving them.
    1. In NPP set’s question “ At the Disciplinary Committee meeting, members came up with the following suggestions. Which of the following suggestions would harm the party, the least?” even I had marked answer as option (D) but IMS answer key states that (C) is the correct choice.
    2. Similarly, in IIB set’s question “Which of the following options would be the most preferred sequence of actions to reduce carbon footprints on campus?” the correct answer choice in IMS answer key is option (E)

    I am really confused now, since within 2015 DM making section there 4-5 question wherein the answers in the post and in IMS answer key do not marry. I can understand your approach but what if I start evaluating my answers through IMS answer keys and within that there are 5-6 answers which are incorrect or differ from other sources? I don’t know how to cross verify my answers now. Luckily, we have these articles, but they are for one year’s DM section only


    • Hi Anita,

      I am not sure if XAT was releasing the keys back in the day. I think from 2016 onwards they did.

      But the thing with DM is that one can’t learn to think like another person, the question-setter on all questions. Watch the DM Masterclass that will be uploaded on myIMS today.

      All the best!


  10. Abishek says

    Good morning sir Iam abishek ,
    can i prepare rc as well as critical reasoning for xat using gmat official guide and gmat verbal review book sir.and solving previous year papers from(2011-2019) plus mocks .will this be enough or i have to prepare more for it.your suggestions please sir.


    • I know there is a mismatch, just like I might beg to differ with the OA on a few questions the same can happen with my colleagues as well 🙂 I have dealt with this by making a small addition to the DM Masterclass that is up on myIMS, it will be updated tomorrow, please watch it.


  11. Gayathri says

    Wouldn’t ‘Replacing the existing buildings with environment-friendly buildings’ contribute to more pollution and waste? What does ‘replace’ mean in this sentence?


  12. Shreya says

    Hi Tony,
    I’ve read your posts on DM and also seen your masterclass where you’ve reiterated that we need to ‘test the fallback against criteria’. What I understand from this is that we need to ensure that our criteria (or the objective) is achieved by hook or crook.
    Consider the following two options
    A- Where our objective is DEFINITELY achieved (i.e there is a fallback against criteria) but this option is LESS ETHICAL
    B- Where our objective is MOST PROBABLY achieved (but there is a little scope for ‘what if it isn’t achieved) but this option is VERY ETHICAL.

    Which option should be preferred according to you?

    I’ve seen these kind of options in many cases, hence this question. Looking forward to your response.


    • Testing for fallback means that what if the plan is not successful. Suppose the plan is try to negotiate a better deal, what if the negotiations fail, you have no fallback option.

      So it’s about about choosing unethical practices, the choices have to be ethical.

      All the best!


      • Shreya says

        Right so you mean the criteria has to be achieved by hook or crook, right? What would be your preferred option amongst A and B?


      • No, it does not mean by hook or crook it has to fulfil the criteria and has to be ethically right.

        Also, they will not make you choose an unethical option.

        If there is an actual XAT question that puts forth such a dilemma it will be worth discussing.


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