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Tuesday 17 July 2018
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Ace your Preparation for XAT along with CAT?

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Common Aptitude Test (CAT) and Xavier’s Aptitude Test (XAT) are two management exams of the country which are hardest to crack. The difficulty level of both the exams are similar. The fact is that both the exams carry varied levels of difficulty due to their syllabi, competition level and exam pattern. Nevertheless, like any other exam, there are people who crack one of these tests or even both the tests every year to get into their dream college.

CAT is probably taken by most of the management aspirants, while XAT is taken in lesser numbers. Many aspirants have doubts like if they should or shouldn’t go for XAT along with CAT, or they should go for XAT only, is preparing for XAT feasible along with preparing for CAT, and many other kinds of doubt as well. Now to clear all those doubts and to devise a clear strategy in mind about both the tests, this article might just be the right choice for you.

CAT and XAT – The Difference

CAT is gateway to get admission into the prestigious Indian Institute of Management(s) and other top colleges in the country. On the other hand, scope of XAT may be lesser than CAT, but it still has some great colleges to its name, XLRI being the first one, and many other like SPJIMR. CAT is taken by around 2.5 lakhs aspirant every year, where this number for XAT is around 1 lakh. CAT is generally conducted in last week of November or First week of December, where XAT is conducted mostly in First week of January.

Apart from these basic things, the difference that is actually worth noting is the examination pattern for both the exams. CAT is an online test, with 3 sections namely Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension, Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning and finally Quantitative Aptitude. Candidate has 60 minutes for each section, and candidates can only see and solve one section at a time, and cannot switch between sections. A total of 100 questions where each question carries 3 marks, and negative marking of 1 mark (for MCQ questions) if answered incorrectly.

Now let’s see XAT, from this year, XAT is also going be an online test. XAT has two parts mainly, Part 1, which consists of 3 sections. And Part 2, which contains GK and Essay writing. Candidates are given 170 minutes to complete Part 1, which consists of 72 questions on Quantitative Ability, Verbal Ability and Decision Making. While for answering 25 questions on GK and writing an essay in Part 2, candidates are given 40 minutes. Each question carries 1 mark and answering a question incorrectly will lead to a deduction of 0.25 marks. Also, if you do not answer more than 12 questions in any section, 0.05 marks will be deducted for each such unanswered question.

So, you can see that there are some important differences in both the exams. XAT Syllabus and examination pattern can be called a bit tedious than CAT, but with proper planning, this test can surely be cracked.

Preparation Strategy for XAT

So now it must be clear to aspirants that for XAT they need to do five subjects, whereas in CAT there are only 3 subjects. Also, in XAT there is a Decision-Making section, which is not there in CAT. Candidates also need to know that Part 2 of XAT does not play any role in short listing of Candidate for Interview, but it does play an important part in final selection of candidate.

Let us take a look at preparation strategy for XAT, considering both the possibilities that candidate is preparing for CAT or candidate is not preparing for CAT:-

Quantitative Ability and Data Interpretation

In Part 1, candidates have to answer 72 question in170 minutes, from which around 25 will be of Quantitative Ability. If a candidate is preparing for CAT, then there is no need to worry about XAT, up to the date of CAT. The syllabus is same and type of questions is also more or less same. After appearing for CAT, what candidates can do is that they can pick up past year XAT papers and start solving them, so that they can get an idea of type of questions in XAT. This much of preparation will be enough, assuming that candidate has prepared well for CAT.

Now, if candidate is only targeting XAT, it is advisable that candidate starts preparing in or before June. Candidate needs to cover all concepts like Arithmetic, Geometry, Algebra, Modern Math etc. Solving papers of both XAT and CAT will be helpful for such a candidate. Thus, preparation for Quantitative Ability has no major differences for both CAT and XAT.

Let us take a look at topics which had most number of questions in XAT 2017 and 2016, for this section: –

Topic Questions in 2017 Questions in 2016
Number System 2 3
Geometry 4 8
Tables Chart (DI) 4 3
Data Sufficiency 2 2
Algebra 4 2
Other Graphs (DI) 4 4
Level of Difficulty Moderate to Tough Moderate to Tough


Verbal and Logical Ability

This section of both the tests is not much different. Whether or not candidate is preparing for CAT, the strategy remains almost the same. For both the tests, candidates will need to some common topics like Reading Comprehension, Critical Reasoning, Grammar and all.

If candidate is preparing for CAT, he/she can just start solving previous year XAT papers. If candidate is only going for XAT, then again, starting in or before June and covering all the topics along with solving past year’s papers will be a good strategy.

Let us take a look at topics which had most number of questions in XAT 2017 and 2016, for this section:-

Topic Questions in 2017 Questions in 2016
Reading Comprehension 12 13
Critical Reasoning 3 2
Verbal Reasoning 2 2
Sentence Completion 2 2
Grammar 2 1
Parajumbles 2 2
Level of Difficulty Moderate to Difficult Moderate to Difficult

Decision Making and Analytical Reasoning

Around 20 questions of out 72 can be expected from this section for sure. Important thing is that this section is not there in CAT, so how does one manage to prepare for this section along with CAT preparation. But first let’s talk about those who are going only for XAT. For such candidates, strategy remains the same, start in or before June and solve the past year papers.

Now for those who are preparing for CAT as well, one thing they definitely need to know is that Decision Making is purely an understanding based subject. There are no such things like formulae or tricks for this section. The strategy that has worked for most of the aspirants is joining a Decision-Making course right after CAT. Candidates first need to make one thing clear is that Decision Making section can be cracked in 1 month of preparation. Therefore, candidates can start preparing for decision making right after CAT, either through a good coaching institute or through self-study. One thing they can also do during CAT preparation is that they can read some corporate case studies and their analysis, which can give them insight of various issues that arise in corporate organizations and how these are tackled.

Let us take a look at topics which had most number of questions in XAT 2017 and 2016, for this section:-

Topic Questions in 2017 Questions in 2016
Decision Making 15 18
Analytical Reasoning 6 5
Level of Difficulty Moderate to Difficult Moderate to Difficult

General Knowledge

The thing with General Knowledge is that you can never ignore it. Even for CAT, one needs to be up to date with the current affairs as questions on current affairs can be asked in Interview. Therefore, whether or not a candidate is preparing for CAT, it is suggested that at least 30 minutes every day should be spent on reading and noting down current affairs. Candidates can look at past year papers for type and subjects of questions being asked. And of course, after CAT, the time of revision of GK must be increased, in case candidate was not giving a lot of time to GK before CAT.

Also there is no negative marking in GK, so candidates can do a bit of guesswork as well, but such a strategy is always a secondary one. Primary focus should be on preparing rigorously.

Essay Writing

For essay writing, one necessary thing is that you understand the various issues and events that happening currently in world. Essay writing is something which is prepared indirectly over a longer period. For example – If an essay comes on the topic of ‘Threats of Nuclear Power’, then how can you write on it if you have never read about it? Therefore, it is necessary that candidates read magazines and editorials on regular basis, so that you understand various issues and events of the current year.

Also, candidates need to be good at grammar so that they do not commit grammatical mistakes while writing the essay.

Some of the topics on which essays have been asked are ‘Globalization and Jingoism always coexist’, ‘the most beautiful thing can never be seen or touched or seen but it can only be felt’. So candidates need to be ready to counter any kind of topic.

Finally, candidates do not need to stretch the essay too long. Time should be managed effectively for both GK and Essay Writing.

Final Verdict – Can CAT Preparation help you crack XAT?

‘Yes’, this is probably the shortest and most accurate answer that can be provided for this question. Most of the aspirants just prepare for CAT, shift their focus to XAT after CAT, and end up scoring high in both the exams.

So, if you want to crack both CAT and XAT, the strategy would be prepare properly for all 3 sections of CAT, give at least an hour to reading and GK everyday during CAT preparation, and prepare for Decision Making after CAT. With this strategy applied properly, it is no wonder that you would end up scoring sky high percentiles in both the exams. All the best!