“Ignore the rule of negative marking for unattempted questions and stick to your pre-determined strategy,” says XAT 2016 topper, Akshit Soni

                                                                                            Tips for XAT 2017

  • Avoid learning anything new in the final days before the exam
  • Go through previous year’s question papers for Decision Making section
  • For GK, Current Affairs pertaining to a couple of months prior to the exam are sufficient to refer to for the exam
  • Take as many mock tests as you can before the exam
  • Develop your own exam taking strategy
  • Attempt the section you’re most comfortable with, first
  • Keep calm and be confident

It was in XAT 2016 that negative marking for over 12 unattempted questions was introduced. This year as well, the exam authorities have chosen to retain the rule, which has left most aspirants nervous. However, one of XAT 2016 toppers, Akshit Soni, believes that the penalty for not attempting the questions is still very low compared to getting the questions wrong. “If you are really unsure about the question, my suggestion would be to ignore the rule of negative marking for unattempted questions. Do not change the way you plan to take the test,” he assured.

Born and brought up in Shimla, 23-year-old Akshit Soni secured a 99.9 percentile in the Xavier Aptitude Test (XAT) 2016. Currently pursuing MBA at XLRI Jamshedpur (2016-18 batch), he plans to specialise in Marketing and Finance in his second year.

Exam Pattern

The exam pattern of XAT has undergone a number of changes since it was first introduced. Commenting about the paper pattern being changed every year, Soni said, “The XAT paper undergoes change every year to encourage students to take risks and not play safe. I believe that a lot of thought goes into changing the pattern in order to test students on the required capabilities. There is always an element of surprise with such exams and instead of being worried about the changes, welcome them.”

Preparation Strategy

According to Soni, MBA is an exam which requires one to put in consistent efforts over a period of time, even if just for half an hour daily. “In hindsight, I would say that 5-6 months of preparation is enough to crack any MBA exam if one follows a diligent routine,” he said. Soni started preparing for the exam by primarily addressing his weak areas through solving mock tests. Soni found the Verbal Ability section relatively difficult and hence practised it regularly.

By the time XAT came, Soni realised his preparation for Verbal Ability, Quantitative Ability (QA) and Data Interpretation/ Logical Reasoning (DI/LR) was nearly done. “I still had Decision-making left, which I began preparing in December. Typically, under the decision-making section, questions are asked in the format of scenario-based problems, for which one has to choose the best possible solution. Rather than attempting a lot of questions, I focused more on analysing what made each option in the question right/wrong and developed my thought process on those lines. For this section especially, previous year questions are quite useful,” said Soni, who is also lead guitarist of Bodhi Tree, XLRI’s famous student band.

GK and Essay Preparation

According to Soni, current affairs pertaining to a couple of months prior to the paper are sufficient to do well in GK. However, he admits that GK was never his strength. “For essay writing, I would recommend students to go through a diverse set of topics from women empowerment, to sustainable development in order to have a fairly good amount of material to write. If you want further practice, you can time yourself and practice,” he said.

Last minute study

With just a few days remaining for the test, Soni advises aspirants to avoid stress as much as they can. “Work a little on your weak areas, but don’t try to learn something completely new. In the last week ahead of XAT 2016, I just focused on decision-making questions, solving a few sets every day. I merely gave two mocks in the last week,” he said, adding that these tests act like a thermometer. “Mock tests help one in addressing his/her weak areas, and help one get familiar with the paper pattern. However, one should not overdo them either. After you know your weak areas, solve mock tests to improve your percentile score,” he guided.

Exam-taking strategy

A major advantage that aspirants have in this paper, Soni said, is its pen and paper format as it gives them freedom to choose which section to attempt first. “Everyone has his or her exam taking strategy, depending on what he/she is comfortable with. I started with the Quant section and then moved onto the other sections. Roughly, I gave about 50-55 minutes to Quant; about the same time to decision making and nearly 45 minutes to Verbal Section,” he said.

He started with areas that took the least amount of time like Statement-based questions, para jumbles and vocabulary questions. However, he did not attempt the questions he was not confident about. He then moved to the Reading Comprehension part which was the biggest chunk in the Verbal Ability section. “Skimming through the paragraphs may not be very useful as there are usually a number of specific detail-based and inferential questions. I attempted the passages which were shorter in length and then moved onto the longer ones,” he said. He further added that students must try to attempt as many questions as possible, particularly from the section they are most comfortable with.

Last minute tips

Finally, Soni urges aspirants to keep calm and be confident. “With just a few days remaining for the exam, avoid any kind of negative talk as that would hamper your performance. Remember, how much you score will depend on the difficulty level of the paper but the selection of the questions is key to doing well. There will be a lot of speed breakers you need to be wary of. But, by the end of it all, XAT is not just an aptitude test, but also an attitude test,” he said.