XAT Strat
Comments 38

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 the many old XAT papers.

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 50 WPM higher than your current speed and words per chunk at 6 before you start reading. 

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 — use the IMS XAT GK compendium

If you are still freaking out — 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

IMS students, depending upon the program they have enrolled for will have access to all our some of the XAT resources listed below:

1. Watch ‘ How to crack XAT’ video https://youtu.be/nzxDcanVc6A

2. 6 XAT e-workshops ( myIMS > Channel > XAT)

3. DM sectional tests ( MyIMS> Test > XAT > XAT DM tests)

4. 5 XAT Mocks + actual XAT papers ( 2017 to 2020):  myIMS > Test> XAT > ADMAT XAT

5. Actual XAT papers (2011-2020) – myIMS > Resources (3 horizontal lines on your top extreme right)> XAT.

6. XAT GK compendium : myIMS> GK Zone > Exam-Wise > XAT.

All the best!


  1. Rushikesh Z says

    Sir, will the DM workshop recording be available or are they only going to be live?
    Thank You!
    Also, big thank you for writing these blogs, they really add a lot of value to the prep.


  2. Sir, I am having trouble with XAT RC passages. Most of them are of abstract topics like philosophy and my accuracy is abysmal. I used to be good in VARC but CAT 2020 and XAT passages are bowling me out again and again.

    For reference, I read for 40 min from Aeon on a variety of topics-philosophy/Psychology/Science etc.

    Can you suggest something?


  3. Sir, I am having trouble with XAT RC passages. Most of them are of abstract topics like philosophy and my accuracy is abysmal. I used to be good in VARC but CAT 2020 and XAT passages are bowling me out again and again.

    For reference, I read for 40 min from Aeon on a variety of topics-philosophy/Psychology/Science etc.

    Can you suggest something?


    • Hi AC,

      Well, to be honest, after or beyond a particular threshold, I cannot think of ways and means by which comprehension of heavy-abstract topics can be improved.

      AEON is a good source but maybe only 40 minutes of Aeon will not suffice and maybe just reading a passage once will not suffice.

      If I were you I will do only XAT RCs all day for an entire week, there is no other way I can think of to put on muscle in a short span of time.

      Hope this helps,

      All the best!


      • Subham vyas says

        ill be folowing this idea for sure. I just want to ask that i was planning to take all XAT past year papers as mocks so is there any other alternative for the XAT RC’s for the 1 week sprint? Like if i do it grom GMAT RCs or anything else you would recommend?


      • GMAT CR can help, but GMAT RCs and XAT RCs are not comparable at all in terms of content. I am not sure there is much other content around.


      • Sir,same question here, apart from past year XAT RC’s and CR’s, what will be other good sources for RC and CR practice? And will GMAT RC’s and CR’s be helpful?


      • The IMS Mocks and old XAT papers from 2011 are the only content that is around.

        GMAT CR can help, but GMAT RCs and XAT RCs are not comparable at all in terms of content.

        All the best!


  4. Rizwan says

    Thank you soo much for this post sir.
    A small request though,
    Can you do a session or video lecture on Critical Reasonings for XAT?
    It will be very helpful for us. I have heard that you are absolutely best when it comes to CR 😉
    Hopefully you agree to this ! (With your busy schedule)


    • Hi Rizwan,

      While I really like CR, I am by no means the only one who is good at it. We have a CR Workshop by Sujit Sir on myIMS (myIMS > Channel > XAT) that is pretty comprehensive and XAT focussed.

      You can find most of my CR work on my gmat blog — thegmatblogger.in

      All the best!


      • Rizwan says

        Yes i read it. It’s like i found a treasure !
        Sujit sir doesn’t take any masterclass or live session? I haven’t seen him in any live session as such. Loved his teaching in ADMAT workshop, Learn Module, e-maximiser, etc. He simplifies a topic and explains it soo nicely that we understand it perfectly.


      • Well, he heads our whole content development division and that is a lot of work, so asking him to take Masterclasses as well will become too much of a load, and not everyone likes to take LIVE online classes.


  5. White Knight says

    Is there any way one can download IMS XAT past papers or at least print them from the Resources tab itself. As I know of, you can just view the question paper which is not helpful while solving.


  6. Hello Sir,

    Thanks for the detailed post!!

    I ended up with a terrible CAT day. But I performed good in Verbal. Also, have scored 86%ile last year in XAT verbal with no dedicated preparation for it.I feel of all the sections, I have a natural affinity towards verbal (English to be exact 🙂 )
    I need your guidance on whether I should be applying for XIMB?

    I have 2.5 years of Workex as of Dec,2020.


    • Hi Diwanshi,

      86 on CAT Verbal without prep is quite good!

      You should it is a school that offers good outcomes across its programs.

      Check the website to confirm if the firms that you are interested in working for, visit the campus.

      All the best!


    • Hi Shubham,

      As I wrote in the previous posts, my colleagues will be doing the same, I have never prepared for and taken IIFT 🙂

      All the best!


  7. Hi Sir,
    I have scored 33 in VARC in CAT (slot 3). Please tell me how I can prepare VA section for XAT. I attempted the first XAT mock and found the passages really tough and difficult to comprehend.


  8. Hi sir,

    Will XAT specific GK available on the Channel be sufficient? I was thinking to get the Manorama YB but since GK is so open ended, I felt like putting a cap on GK prep. However, if you feel it is a necessary resource, then I’ll get it. Also, I can’t find the schedule for the DM masterclass. Can you please share the details? Thanks.


    • I think it should be sufficient, Manorama will be a beast to tackle right now.

      The schedule for the XAT Masterclasses will be up by Friday, they will be conducted next wekk after SNAP is over.

      All the best!


  9. Swastik Singh says

    I found this article pretty insightful .
    The main issue is the” Poem Comprehension”. Even though it carries less weightage, I have been unable to make headway in any of the mocks. It seems drastically different from a regular RC. I was hoping you could take a session on this topic.


    • Hi Swastik,

      If there is one thing I will never ever do is take a session on how to tackle a XAT poem!

      1. A poem is not an exercise is not reasoning, it is an exercise in linguistic, personal, emotional and spiritual expression.
      2. The poets themselves never reveal what the poem precisely means — option A
      3. My understanding of it might be option B
      4. The question setter’s understanding of it might be option C
      5. Each poem is different

      Teaching poetry appreciation is a separate course itself that might take many months!

      So the best strategy is to cross the cut-off without solving the poem and solving only it at the end if you have the time and that too only the sitter questions.

      All the best!


      • Swastik Singh says

        Thank you sir,
        I was kind of thinking along the same lines. Just needed validation on this.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Shubham vyas says

    Hello sir,
    i am targetting a 95+ percentile in XAT as well as main target is to cfrack MICAT. I am very bad at doing RC questions, be it its speed or accuracy, CR is going decent and same with other topics in VARC. So now in this case, should I totally ignore RC type questions and focus on other questions or I should give a week and work on RC’s?


    • Hi Shubham,

      The task is to clear the cut-off.

      So you have to get better at whatever you need to get better at to ensure that you comfortably clear the cut-off. If you can leave RC as well and clear the cut-off then go ahead and do so.

      All the best!


  11. Swastik Singh says

    Thank you sir,
    I was kind of thinking along the same lines. Just needed validation on this.


  12. White Knight says

    Hello, you did not reply to making SNAP and IIFT downloads available. But I checked right now, and they are available. I’ll take it that you have made this possible so Thank you very much!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Isha,

      Since Masterclasses are part of the Product Promise of learning programs that students enrol for they are not available for students who have enrolled only for testing programs.

      All the best!


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