XAT 2018: Detailed Expert Exam Analysis

XAT-2018, conducted on 7 January 2018 was an online test for the first time. There were quite a few issues and technical glitches that were reported from the various venues. This is the analysis of the test that was conducted as scheduled, which a majority of the students took without glitches.

XAT 2018 Overall Structure

The overall structure of XAT-2018 underwent minor changes compared to XAT-2017. XAT-2017 consisted of 2 Parts. Part 1 had sections having 24 (VA), 21 (DM) and 27 (QA) questions (Total 72 questions) which had to be attempted in 170 minutes . XAT-2018 consisted of total 74 questions in Part 1 with two additional questions in QA. Part 2 of XAT 2018 remained the same as XAT-2017with 25 GK questions and one essay-writing exercise, to be attempted in 35 minutes.

The break-up of the sections of Part 1 of XAT 2018 is as follows:

Section Section Name Number of questions
Section-I Verbal and Logical Ability 26
Section-II Decision Making 21
Section-III Quantitative Ability and Data Interpretation 27
Total 74


Section A – Verbal and Logical Ability

The Verbal and Logical Ability section of XAT 2018 was on the difficult side. While this is usually the case in XAT, this time, the section was even slightly tougher in comparison to the previous years. There were 15 Reading Comprehension questions and 11 Verbal Ability/Reasoning questions.

The VA/VR questions were predominantly reasoning-based (Critical Reasoning and Jumbled Paragraphs types); there were three vocabulary & usage-based questions (Fill in the Blanks types) and only one grammar-based question (Sentence Correction type). While these were mostly of medium difficulty, there were some rather challenging ones, such as the Critical Reasoning question on identifying logical fallacies in arguments, or the Fill in the Blanks question which had words such as ‘philippic’, ‘insouciance’ and ‘ennui’.
The 15 RC questions were distributed among five passages. One of the passages in particular would have proved to be something of a challenge to the students, as it was a short poem. The remaining four passages had a mixture of medium to difficult questions. Nearly all the questions were of an inferential nature.

Area/Questions No. of Qs. Question Type Level of Difficulty
Verbal Ability / Reasoning
Sentence Correction 1 Grammar-based 1 Medium
Fill in the blanks (4/5 blanks) 3 Vocabulary-based 2 Medium, 1 Difficult
Jumbled Paragraphs 2 Reasoning-based 1 Easy, 1 Difficult
Critical Reasoning 5 Reasoning-based 1 Easy, 3 Medium, 1 Difficult
Reading Comprehension
Passage 1 – Poem 2 All were Inferential 2 Difficult
Passage 2 – Doubts and Beliefs 4 All were Inferential 1 Easy, 2 Medium, 1 Difficult
Passage 3 – Why study history? 3 All were inferential 2 Easy, 1 Difficult
Passage 4 – Problem of consciousness 3 All were inferential 2 Medium, 1 Difficult
Passage 5 – Labour and capital 3 2 direct, 1 inferential 2 Medium, 1 Difficult

A student should be able to attempt 15-16 questions in this section in about 55 minutes, with about 75-80% accuracy would be considered good. We expect the cut-off for this section to be around 6-7 for BM, and for HRM 5-6.

Section B – Decision Making AbilityThis section consisted of 21 questions, out of which one set of 3 questions was based on Mathematics while the remaining 18 questions were Non-Mathematical in nature.
The mathematical part of this section (a set of 3 questions) was on relatively easier side and should not have been missed.
The non-mathematical part of this section (18 questions) consisted of 8 sets of 2-3 questions each. Most of the passages were short and easy to read. As usual, some questions had a fair deal of ambiguity – in that either no answer seemed correct or there was more than one correct answer. Overall, the questions were of medium level of difficulty. Therefore, the choice of sets/questions to attempt would have depended mainly on your personal preferences and strengths. Overall the section was of the same difficulty as compared to last year’s test.

Area/Questions No. of Qs. Question Type Level of Difficulty
Case 1 – Collection officers 3 Ethical nature of questions 1 Easy, 1 Medium, 1 Difficult
Case 2 – Three company business 3 Ethical nature of questions 2 Easy, 1 Medium
Case 3 – Four neighbouring kingdoms 3 Business decision 1 Easy, 1 Medium, 1 Difficult
Case 4 – Nephew of CEO 3 Business decisions 1 Easy, 2 Difficult
Case 5 – Three people living on one hill 2 Business decisions 1 Easy, 1 Difficult
Case 6 – Dead employee’s family 2 Ethical decision 1 Medium, 1 Difficult
Case 7 – Apartment lock 2 Ethical decision 1 Easy, 1 Medium
Case 8 – Train timetables and delivery persons 3 Mathematical question 3 Easy

In 50-55 minutes, students should have solved about 14-15 questions confidently (about 75-80% accuracy), out of the 21 questions. We expect the cut-off for this section to be 7 to 8 for BM and 6-7 for HRM.

Section C – Quantitative Ability
The Quantitative Ability-Data Interpretation section was slightly easier than XAT-2017. Out of 27 questions in the section, 21 were on Quantitative Ability (including 2 questions on Data Sufficiency) and 6 were on Data Interpretation.

The questions on Quantitative Ability were dominated by Geometry, Numbers and Arithmetic. There were two Data Sufficiency questions. One question on Data Sufficiency also had reference to concepts in Statistics.

Students have reported that at least 2 questions (one each on Progressions and Circles) were ambiguous.
There were two Data Interpretation sets, with 3 questions each. One set was a logical Data Interpretation based on a hockey tournament, which was rather simple. The other set consisted of as many as 4 graphs with multiple datasets. That set should have been attempted only after attempting other questions if time permitted.


Row Labels
Easy Medium Difficult Total
Numbers (Total 6 questions)
Data Sufficiency 2 2
Question based on Fibonnaci series 1 1
Question based on units place of a power 1 1
Miscellaneous questions on properties of numbers 2 2
Arithmetic (Total 6 questions)
Time-Speed-Distance 1 1 2
Ratio-Proportions 1 1 2
Percentages 1 1
Time & Work 1 1
Algebra(Total 2 questions)
Quadratic Equations 1 1
Inequalities 1 1
Geometry (Total 2 questions)
Mensuration 1 1 2
Circles* 1 1
Quadrilaterals 1 1
Trigonometry 1 1
Modern Maths (Total 2 questions)
Progressions* 1 1
Probability 1 1
Data Interpretation (Total 6 questions)
A logical DI set containing Table 3 3
An observation-Calculation based DI set containing 4 graphs 3 3
Total 10 11 6 27

* Students have reported that they found these questions ambiguous.
Overall, the level of difficulty of the section was slightly lower than that of XAT-2017. In 60 minutes, about 19-20 attempts with 80%-85% accuracy will be considered good. We expect the cut-off for the section to be around 10-11 for BM and 8-9 for HRM.


There was a short break between Part I and Part II.

General Knowledge
The 25 GK questions contained a distribution of 8 current and 17 static questions. There were 7 easy, 11 moderate and 7 difficult questions. 17 questions were based on national topics and 8 questions were based on international topics. The section was such that it required the student to possess extremely good general knowledge ability in multiple areas to be able to score well. The topics of the questions were very diverse, encompassing subjects such as History, Geography, Business and Economy, names of political personalities, etc.

Students should have spent 10-15 minutes on GK, and as there was no negative marking, all questions should have been attempted without fail. A score of 8-10 would be a good score in this section.

Essay Writing
The essay topic was: Ethical practices and sustainability: do they co-exist?
Since the XAT was computer-based this year, the essay had to be typed out onscreen as well, which may have presented some difficulties to students who were not used to typing at length. Many students reported that pressing some keys on the keyboard such as Control or Shift caused the interface to shut down.
The question advised students to write around 200 words on the given topic. However, the onscreen space counted characters, not words, and provided space for 3000 characters.
Around 20-25 minutes would have been enough for the essay.

XAT 2018 expected Cut-Offs
We expect the cut-off for XLRI BM program to be around 34-35 and for HRM program at around 31-32 marks.

This review of XAT 2018 is by IMS.