XAT Strat
Comments 15

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. Mukul Kasera says

    Hello sir,
    Just wanted to know that will there be any new sessions for XAT this year or everything is covered in the 7 ADMAT(XAT) workshops.
    Also, is there any video where you have discussed about XAT 2022 DM.
    Thank you.


    • Hi Mukul,
      These workshops should more than be sufficient. There will be video solutions of XAT 2022 done by my colleagues.

      Hope this helps,

      All the best!


      • mukul kasera says

        Hello Sir,
        I solved the 2022 XAT paper on the IMS website , but there are no video solutions for any section ( i was looking for DM specifically though) . where can i find the video solutions for DM sir , as you mentioned it had been done by your colleagues.
        Thank you


      • Hi Mukul,
        We have not done video solutions for the XAT 2022 paper. My bad, I had mistaken it for something else they were doing.

        Meanwhile, I hope you have seen all the XAT DM workshops that I have done.

        Shashank Sir is doing a live solving of SimXAT as well.

        Hope this helps,

        All the best!


  2. mukul1599 says

    Hello Sir,
    Just wanted to know that will there be any new XAT workshop or the 7 ADMAT(XAT) videos are enough. Also is there any video where you have discussed XAT 2022 DM.
    Thank you.


  3. Manisha Agrawal says

    Greetings of the day!

    Can you please let me know,from which source I shall practice QA apart from arithmetic?

    Thank you!


    • An effective speed of 200 will be great. 150 par and 175 above par.

      By effective speed I mean speed with good comprehension and retention.

      Hope this helps,

      All the best!


  4. Once again, a great article. Longtime lurker here.
    I got the SP Jain profile-based call, but I am falling short of the QA cutoff by 0.77 percentile points.
    I was apprehensive of taking the GMAT route, because I understand it requires a different mindset, not easy to develop in 3-4 days. Given the steep cost involved, I am also concerned if the institute will not approve of switching gears to GMAT whereas I applied through CAT in the application form. Can you please suggest on way forward?


    • Hi Achyuth,

      The college won’t have any issues with the test change.

      The only thing you can now is to take a GMAT Mock and see where you stand.

      If you comfortably clear the requirements of SPJIMR then makes sense to do a bit of prep and take the test.

      Hope this helps,

      All the best!


  5. Rishabh says

    A great article, thanks sir!!!
    Sir, I still have one doubt in my mind about the wat part we are required to do in xat test day. Can you pls suggest how to prepare for those topics and from where?


    • Hi Rishabh,

      I will put up a post on how to structure the XAT essay but I do not think there is a specific way to prepare for the XAT Essay.

      The topics are framed to test your understanding of events at an abstract level. For example, globalization and jingoism go hand in hand etc.

      I am afraid to say that as far as the XAT essay you bring your lifetime’s worth of reading of world affairs analysis (not GK and CA). Or the only other way is to prepare for UPSC!

      I know this is not helpful but there is only so much one can train for!

      Hope this helps,

      All the best!


  6. anujpakhariya says

    Hello Sir ,
    I have a doubt about the suggestion of solving 3 RCs daily from GRE ETS Bog Book in your Previous live session for CAT 2023 . I have downloaded the soft copy of the Book but the Book does not have solutions of the questions which are given in the Tests there is only Answer Key Available Then How Can I learn my Mistakes and Improve My Comprehensive Abilities. How Can I know the Right Approach towards the questions etc…
    Help me with this Problem.

    Thank you


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