One of the most challenging of management tests, this one demands logical thinking and an analytical mindset.

The Xavier Aptitude Test is barely a fortnight away. Organised by XLRI across the country, it tests a wide array of skills and is considered for admissions by many B-schools.

The model question paper given along with XAT 2014 bulletin talks about questions that could cover the following areas — quantitative, qualitative, verbal, data interpretative, decision making abilities and general awareness. It is mentioned that the scores under general awareness section will not be used for calculating the cut-off scores for the interview, but will be used by XLRI for final admission. Other participating institutes also may use the scores of the general awareness section during their interview processes.

The XAT in 2013 brought several changes in the pattern, in that general awareness was included alongside the essay section in Paper-2. There were changes in Paper-1 also. In the previous year, questions carried differential weightage with 1, 1.5 and 2-mark questions. The total number of questions was increased from 85 to 91. The number of questions in decision making remained static at 25. There were eight more questions in the areas of quantitative ability and data interpretation, while logical ability and verbal ability areas had two questions less than the previous edition.

Now let’s focus on how to score well in the XAT paper by examining the separate sections that could be part of XAT 2014. Different angles‘Corruption is the root cause of economic slowdown in India’. This was the topic of the essay in 2013. Let’s take up this topic itself to see how the essay can be presented well. While it is acknowledged that corruption is a menace that is plaguing our democracy, it would not be a wise strategy to completely blame it for all failures of the economic policies or the underachievement of the initiatives that are trumpeted by the government machinery.

There are two reasons why this should not be done. One — blame dumping will look like an easy way out. Second, it will also not give you an opportunity to present the other issues that are crippling the progress of country. So, examine the problem from different angles, presenting a panoramic understanding of the development issues that are challenging the nation.

While negotiating the question-sets on quantitative ability and decision-making, a very important skill required is to continue the train of thought from the main data input till the very end of the set. While a particular question may not require the output you have worked out for the previous question within that set, it will help if you are able to carry the momentum forward.

When you work on a question, you would be considering several variables and doing background work. If you have to recreate the scenario for another question, that would be underutilisation of time. Focus is the key here. While it is required in general for every examination and for every type of problem-solving, the importance cannot be over emphasised for the decision-making type question sets.

Questions on quantitative ability need not be pure vanilla QA questions. Increasingly, questions that require logical ability to analyse the problem situation and then apply the quantitative tools are being asked. So, try not to approach a set of questions with a compartmentalised mindset.Look deeperWhile general awareness is not considered for the initial cut-off, do not take this section lightly. Remember, any work that you put into this area will help you in your overall preparation including participating in interviews, group discussions or essay writing of any institute.

In an objective type platform, it might be easier to pick the answer from among the choices, but nothing can rival the value that is derived from sustained good reading of current affairs columns.

While answering questions based on passages, remember that the answers cannot be merely located within the text of the given passage. So it is not a good move to search for the answers after reading the questions alone. Questions that test a deeper understanding of the presented passage in terms of the opinion of the author, the stance on a controversial issue mentioned in the passage or the intended action that the author hopes to get from his readers after they finish the passage and so on could be asked.

These questions will require clarity of understanding of the matter presented, and your analytical mind has to work in tandem to tackle the different questions that will follow.

The writer is Director, T.I.M.E. Chennai