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XAT: In-depth analysis of previous years' question papers

  • Sep 18th, 2017
XAT Detailed Question Paper Analysis

The recent decision of XAT authorities to conduct the XAT exam online has definitely increased the anxiety of aspirants by few notches. While most of the MBA exams have moved to online pattern, first time glitch is something both the organizers and aspirants would be hoping against. 
With XAT being the most sought after MBA admission test after CAT, Career2NextOrbit team planned to help the aspirants in this transition by doing something different. The team painstakingly did an in-depth Section-wise analysis of XAT question papers from 2012 to 2017. We thoroughly analyzed the various changes that have been implemented in the XAT exam pattern, over the last six years in terms of the duration, the number of sections and type of questions asked from each section in the exam. This article is a compact summary of the detailed analysis of the XAT question papers from 2012 to 2017.

Looking at the Composition of Question Paper,

  1. The XAT question paper till 2012 had just one part divided into three sections. 
  2. From 2013 onwards, it is typically divided into 2 parts. 
    • The first part has 3 sections, namely, Verbal and Logical Ability, Decision Making and Analytical Reasoning, and Quantitative Ability and Data Interpretation. 
    • The second part comprises of questions based on General Awareness. 
  3. A new change from 2015 onwards, the second part also includes one compulsory question on Essay writing (Though historically, it had been a part of XAT exam-which was discontinued in between).

The number of questions asked section wise in last six years of XAT exam is captured in the table below.

Year

 Verbal

and

Logical Ability

Decision Making

and 

Analytical Reasoning

Quantitative Ability

and

Data Interpretation

General Awareness

Total

Essay

Remark

2012

32

25

28

n/a

85

No

-

2013

30

25

36

30

121

No

-

2014

28

24

31

20

103

No

Total Time = 150 mins, 

Part 1 = 140 Mins,

Part 2 = 10 Min

2015

28

23

33

30

114

Yes

Total Time = 180 mins, 

Part 1 = 140 Mins,

Part 2 = 40 Min

2016

26

23

29

25

103

Yes

Total Time = 210 mins, 

Part 1 = 170 Mins,

Part 2 = 40 Min

2017

24

21

27

25

97

Yes

Total Time = 210 mins, 

Part 1 = 170 Mins,

Part 2 = 40 Min

Looking at the composition of the question paper, it is evident that while all the sections play almost equally important role, Decision-Making section has got slightly lower weightage compared to Quantitative & Verbal Ability section.

Looking at the Section-wise details of the questions:

Verbal Section in XAT

VERBAL ABILITY: With the distribution of questions as given below in the table, we can infer

Reading & Comprehension is the most important topic-with average of 51.49% questions coming from this topic alone.

  1. Sentence Completion/Arrangement and Critical Reasoning (CR) are 2nd and 3rd most important topics with them accounting for 24.69% questions together on an average.
  2. With Verbal reasoning accounting for another 6.24% and syllogism a small 2.27%, a good pattern for engineering background aspirants is that almost 1/3rd of questions in Verbal Ability section is of Reasoning in nature, and they may prefer to answer these questions first.

Verbal & Logical Ability

Topics 2012 (%) 2013 (%) 2014 (%) 2015 (%) 2016 (%) 2017 (%)  Average Percentage 
RC 71.43 40.63 53.57 43.33 50 50 51.49
Sentence Arrangement/Sen. Completion 7.14 9.38 25 13.33 7.69 16.67 13.2
CR              -    18.75              -    30 7.69 12.5 11.49
Analogies/Vocabulary/odd One Out              -    21.88              -    6.67 7.69 4.17 6.73
Verbal Reasoning 7.14              -    14.29              -    7.69 8.33 6.24
Grammar 14.29 6.25 7.14              -                 -    8.33 6
Contextual Understanding              -                 -                 -                 -    15.38              -    2.56
Syllogism              -    3.13              -    6.67 3.85              -    2.27

 

QUANTITATIVE ABILITY & DATA INTERPRETATION: With the distribution of questions as given below in the table, we can infer

  1. Quantitative ability And DI Section in XAT
    Pictorial DI questions (Tables and Line Graph/Pie Chart/Bar Graph/Multiple) is the most important bucket of questions accounting for  1/4th of questions in this section. What matters here is calculation efficiency and speed, but XAT has also been known for giving non-conventional representations, and that may be one area to keep an eye for.
  2. Geometry is the second most important topic, with almost 1/5th of questions on an average from it. This has been a pattern in recent CAT papers as well, so it would be good strategy to prepare Geometry well.
  3. Number System and Arithmetic account for almost 12% of questions each- a slight deviation from recent CAT patterns, where Number System contribution has gone down, and Arithmetic contribution has gone up significantly.
Quantitative Ability & Data Interpretation
Topics 2012 (%) 2013 (%) 2014 (%) 2015 (%) 2016 (%) 2017 (%)  Average Percentage 
Geometry and Mensuration 10.53 15.15 30 25 27.59 15.38 20.61
Number System 15.79 9.09 16.67 12.5 10.34 7.69 12.01
Tables 7.89              -    20 12.5 10.34 15.38 11.02
Line graphs/Pie chart 7.89 6.06 10 12.5              -    19.23 9.28
Functions/Algebra 5.26              -    6.67 12.5 6.9 15.38 7.79
Time, Speed and Distance 15.79 9.09              -                 -    3.45 3.85 5.36
Miscellaneous 5.26 21.21 3.33              -                 -                 -    4.97
Average/Profit Loss 2.63 9.09 3.33 3.13 10.34              -    4.75
Probability/Trigonometry 2.63 3.03 6.67 6.25              -    7.69 4.38
Bar Graph              -    9.09              -                 -    13.79              -    3.81
Percentage 5.26 9.09              -    3.13              -                 -    2.91
Arithmetic Sequence              -                 -                 -    3.13 3.45 7.69 2.38
Mixture and Partnership              -    6.06              -    3.13              -    3.85 2.17
Set Theory 2.63 3.03              -                 -    6.9              -    2.09
Multiple Graphs 10.53              -                 -                 -                 -                 -    1.75
Time And Work 5.26              -                 -                 -                 -    3.85 1.52
Simple Interest 2.63              -                 -    6.25              -                 -    1.48
Data Sufficiency              -                 -                 -                 -    6.9              -    1.15
Ratio and Proportion              -                 -    3.33              -                 -                 -    0.56

ANALYTICAL REASONING & DECISION MAKING: The section primarily contains Decision Making questions, with last two years seeing a sprinkle of Analytical Reasoning. So, it will be a good idea to keep practicing for AR questions even after CAT exams.

Analytical Reasoning & Decision Making
Topics 2012 (%) 2013 (%) 2014 (%) 2015 (%) 2016 (%) 2017 (%)  Average Percentage 
Decision Making 41.67 100 100 100 78.26 71.43 81.89
AR Block 58.33              -                 -                 -                 -                 -    9.72
Analytical Reasoning              -                 -                 -                 -    21.74 28.57 8.39

 

General Awareness Questions XAT

GENERAL AWARENESS: From 2013 onwards, each year a section on General Awareness is included in the XAT exam. Our analysis revealed that on an average, at least 26 questions are based on it; about 8 questions are asked on Current Affairs and nearly 18 questions are fact- based static questions.

XAT Exam Year Current Affairs Factual Total Questions
2013 12 18 30
2014 2 18 20
2015 12 18 30
2016 10 15 25
2017 5 20 25

The three most important topics from this section were identified as Economic & Business news, Geography & Astronomy, and Politics, Governance & International events.

General Awareness Topics 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 Average
Economics and Business News 10 3 5 6 4 5.6
Awards 1 1 2   1 1.25
Politics, Governance, and International Events 5 3 6 3 5 4.4
Science & Technology  3 3 2 3 2 2.6
Famous Personalities 5 2 1 5 2 3
Geography & Astronomy 3 4 8 5 7 5.4
Sports 1 1 4     2
History   3 2 1 2 2
Biology/Health 1     2   1.5
Entertainment         1 1
Environment and Wildlife 1       1 1
Total 30 20 30 25 25  

To sum up, RC, Verbal Reasoning (Including CR), Pictorial based DI Questions, Geometry and Decision Making questions hold the key to more than 50% of questions in XAT paper. Ensure you are well prepared before the D-Day.


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