Expert speak on XAT 2013, part 1. No surprises at all

Manish Harodia

The Xaviers Aptitude Test (XAT) 2013 wished the aspirants new year in a grand style. The centre where I took the test (Sinhgad Insttute of Management, Pune) must have had about two thousand aspirants taking the exam today. It somehow resembled the golden days of Common Aptitude Test (CAT) being a paper pencil test when the test-centre would bubble with enthusiasm. The biggest surprise of the paper was that there were no surprises, at-least with the type of questions and the hullabaloo over the humanity cenric question earlier last year.

The exam was a two-stage process.
Stage 1 had the aptitude quotient which spanned over 140 minutes and covered three sections: Verbal and Logical Ability, Decision making, Quantitative Ability and Data Interpretation.
Stage 2 of the paper was for General Knowledge and the much famous XAT Essay. Separate OMR sheets were provided for both the stages, indicating the fact that second stage scores would be used selectively.
Anatomy of the paper:
Section 1: Verbal and Logical Ability. This section had 30 questions with a wide exposure to the types of questions asked. There were questions from Grammar, Sentence Arrangement, Reading Comprehension, Sentence Correction, and Critical Reasoning. The three questions on grammar were the usual XAT types with a long sentence and 5-8 blanks provided. The blanks did not test a student on the vocabulary aspect but more on the conversational and technical grammar. All the three questions could be cracked easily using the options. Reading comprehension, in my opinion, was on the tougher side. The array of topics was carefully chosen by some extremely avid reader, I must say. The answer options for almost all the questions were tricky and the passages themselves required VERY CAREFUL READING to get a good understanding.
There were a total of 4 passages with 4-5 questions totalling a healthy 18 questions in the paper. The answer options were intricately designed and used words like arguably, induce, and deduce to add layers of grey to the options. The questions on parajumbles and critical reasoning could be cracked confidently if one devoted enough time on them.
Overall an attempt of about 13-15 questions with 80% accuracy should be decent.
Section 2: Decision Making. The most obscure and contentious section of the paper had 25 questions and had lengthly paragraphs to be dealt with. A student had to be practical and non emotive while selecting the right answer option. A plus for this section was that most of the cases mentioned were contemporary and had strong semblance to the corporate happening in India Inc. The only flip side where students may have faced an issue was the length of the question and/or paragraph. The types of questions ranged from making practical decisions to questions on charting a course of action. There was, infact, a question that tested students on some concepts of pricing and segregating the expenses based on conditions highlighted. There were a couple of logical reasoning questions also in the section making it an overall balanced section for a well prepared aspirant.
Overall an attempt of about 14-16 with an 80% accuracy should be comfortable here.
Section 3: Quantitative Ability and Data Interpretation: Relatively, the easier of the lot in my opinion. There were many questions that tested students on the basic concepts of arithmetic and number crunching. A logical approach could have been enough to solve atleast 5-7 questions with ease. There were some aberrations as well. Some questions involved analysis of multiple variables and/or statements in order to arrive at the answer and may have acted as speed breakers. Identifying the right questions to skip in this section was the key. Geometrical figures were conspicuously absent from the question paper but questions on inequality, surds, indices, and base system made their presence felt.
DI part of the paper was manageable if one was willing to invest some time in analysing the long charts and/or graphs. A horrendous looking caselet ( one that talked about exports, GDP et al) was actually the simplest of the lot and careful reading of the questions would have highlighted the limited use of data making it an easy nut to crack.

An attempt of about 13-15 questions with 85-90% accuracy would be good here.

Overall, the paper was a game of accuracy and proper question selection. Needless to say, since all the questions were of equal marks, unlike previous years, it would make little sense to get stuck in uncomfortable areas. A total attempt of about 42-44 questions, considering an 80-85% accuracy should be a reasonable attempt.
Manish Harodia is an MBA from IIM Kozhikode and has been a CAT and GMAT trainer since 2004. He is also the founding director at Genesis Mentors, Pune.