XAT Strat
Comments 7

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. Hello Sir,
    I am preparing for XAT’22 . I have been giving mocks which are both made by IMS and past year papers. I am scoring 15-17 marks(which I know is less) and I’m scoring 9-12 marks in the GK. My attempts are more or less 15-17 in VARC and BDM and about 10-12 in QADI. My accuracy is the biggest problem that I’m facing in VARC and BDM. Just like the CAT RC I’m getting stuck on two options and even after using techniques suggested by you. It boils down to the two answers and the option tend to be very close and I end up marking the wrong answer 50% of the times. It seems like if I don’t attempt 4-5 questions which I do wrong ill score more.
    Can you please suggest me on how should I move forward with my prep as XLRI is one of the only good option that is remaining for in this EXAM season.



    • Hi Agam,

      As far as technique goes, there is little I can help with besides what I already cover.

      It is obvious that you attempt questions even when you are not able to reject 3 out of 4 options. So, the only option is to leave out the 50-50 cases since it means that your technique is only able to take you that far on those questions.

      Hope this helps,

      All the best!


  2. Maanit says

    Hello Sir,
    How to prepare for the essay writing section of the paper?
    As the section is re-introduced, how should we move forward in the part 2 of the exam? What should be our strategy?


    • Hi Maanit,

      There is no strategy for essay writing!

      Your Gk is what it is. So, you reading the newspaper is all you can do.

      And whatever you write ensure that you do the following two things:

      1. Do not explain the terms in the topic back the the evaluators (globalisations means XYZ etc)

      2. Separate different ideas into separate paragraphs.

      That’s about it.

      All the best!


  3. Hello sir, I hope you are doing good.

    Sir, since it is mentioned that the essay shall be evaluated after the candidate will be shortlisted for the interview, so based on previous years’ criteria (prior to 2019) what is the weightage that can be expected? Also, it is mentioned that a candidate has to choose ONE of the two arguments and develop a coherent essay. So, can it be inferred that we will encounter an argumentative essay topic? If yes, any suggestion as to how should we structure the same? (Any resources which we can refer to at this hour?)

    Looking forward to hearing from you soon. Your response always helps.
    Warm Regards.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi,

      There is no strategy for essay writing!

      Your Gk is what it is. So, you reading the newspaper is all you can do.

      Since they have mentioned argument. it is going be like GMAT AWA and IIM-A AWT.

      And whatever you write ensure that you do the following two things:

      1. Do not explain the terms in the topic back the the evaluators (globalisations means XYZ etc)

      2. Separate different ideas into separate paragraphs.

      That’s about it.

      As far as weightage goes, it will be a small part of the PI.

      All the best!


      • Thank you so much for your prompt response sir. I will keep the said things in mind.

        Warm Regards.


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