The XAT is closer now and it seems that it is the VA-RC section of the XAT that is causing the most trouble for test-takers. DM seems to be a beast that is now manageable and QA is fairly manageable as well, it is VA-RC that seems insurmountable.
A different approach for XAT VA-LR
Given that most test-takers preparing for the XAT have also taken the CAT, the approach for most might be the RC-first approach. It might seem like the right way to go since RC has about 15-16 questions and VA has about 10-11 questions.
The catch though is that for most test-takers, the XAT passages seem to come from a different planet. XAT passages begin where CAT passages end (British Colonialism) in terms of density of the reading material and they also roam across a wider expanse of topics — philosophy, art, poetry.
To be very honest I am not sure of the capability to handle such heavy text can be built overnight or even a month. Only those who think in English can truly feel comfortable reading such texts. I solved the 2019 paper and barring the poem found the rest fairly do-able since it is not very different from my regular reading ( Aeon Magazine, The Hedgehog Review, The Point Magazine, The Atlantic, et al). Those who are fairly good on Verbal also found the British colonialism passage on CAT quite a tough read. So it goes without saying that some of those who thought Verbal was their strength throughout their CAT Prep might be finding the XAT VA-RC demotivating.
What does one do in such a situation? I think one of the big keys to success is the ability to recalibrate one’s approach. Can you set modest goals from VA-RC and focus on maximising your chances of clearing the cut-off rather than looking to score above 20? Reading such dense passages would mean a drastic reduction in speed and this is something that is incompatible with high attempts.
I suggest non-RC questions first approach where you solve the 10 VA questions first and aim to score 5-7 marks from there.
The cut-offs for Verbal Ability from the actual data of our students from last year varies from 9 to 11 depending upon Male/Female and BM/HR.
So, this means that with 5 marks from VA, you need another 5 marks from RC, which means choosing the 2 easiest RC passages to read.
You are left with 3 passages and 1 poem from which you can set yourself the goal of wringing out another 5 marks.
So, in total, a score of 15 marks will be a great return from the VALR section.
The reason you might not be achieving this is that you are just attempting all the questions one after the other and not going in with a razor-sharp focus to achieve this. In short, you need to treat this section like the DI-LR section of the CAT, on which selection is everything (you would have banged enough your head over the do-able sets in the DI-LR section once you saw the paper)
DM might be the highest scoring section
From the table of cut-offs from last year, it is clear that DM has offered a better return than VA and even QA. We culled out the data of first calls of all IMS students last year to map them as well.
|XLRI – Business Management|
|Male||XLRI Cut-off Percentile||79.46||80||90||96|
|Closest IMS Student Percentile||79.855||80.102||90.019||96|
|PERCENTAGE of Total Marks||35.577%||41.261%||44.444%||49%|
|Female||XLRI Cut-off Percentile||75||75||75||95|
|Closest IMS Student Percentile||75.928||76.006||75.084||94.998|
|Percentage of Total Marks||32.843%||39.505%||31.982%||46.622%|
|XLRI – Human Resource Management|
|Male||XLRI Cut-off Percentile||85||75||72||94|
|Closest IMS Student Percentile||85||76.006||72.137||94.047|
|PERCENTAGE of Total Marks||39%||39.505%||30.245%||45.338%|
|Female||XLRI Cut-off Percentile||80||70||67||93|
|Closest IMS Student Percentile||80.08||70.331||67||93.07|
|Percentage of Total Marks||35.728%||35.689%||27.217%||44.324%|
An 85 percentile on VA corresponds to a 39% of the marks whereas an 80 percentile on DM corresponds to 41% of the marks. So on average, the scoring sections are DM, QA, and VA in that order (for a paper of last year’s difficulty)
So, it makes a lot of sense not go in with a VA-LR maximisation strategy unless you are a female applying to HRM and even on that the score required is not very high, it is still under 10.
If you are a male BM applicant it makes a lot of sense to maximise QA, DM, and VA in that order.
Use the table above and make your best case strategy depending upon your gender and program, but either way, do not go with an all-out VALR maximisation strategy unless you are really good and are not facing any trouble with the VA-RC section.
What should you practice from now on
Use the past papers of the XAT as a tool to get used to the questions on the XAT. The papers before 2017 will not resemble the current paper in terms of difficulty and structure but they will still serve as a good reference.
Watch the DM, QA, and VA Masterclasses that are in the ADMAT Workshops section of the myPREP Zone on myIMS.
Do not be in practice mode when you take a SimXAT or Past XAT Paper be absolutely clinical in terms of timing, selection, and sequence of attempts within a section.
Given that the XAT usually has more time per question when compared to the CAT, it might seem that there is no need to select or sequence attempts but given the amount of reading and density of the text and the cut-offs, there is a clear case to do the same.
Over and above all of this, if you can sneak in an hour of reading from the sites mentioned above it will be a bonus.
Treat the XAT like a low-scoring, really tight match that will go down to the wire and you will be sorted, treat it like a regular match where you go for your shots and you will find yourself falling short of a par score.