XAT Exam Pattern 2024: Sections, Marking Scheme and Past Patterns

Updated on 2nd June 2023 | 12:40 pm | #XATExamPattern

XAT Exam is one of the biggest MBA entrance exams which most MBA aspirants attempt along with CAT. It opens doors to some of the best B-Schools in India including the flagship XLRI Jamshedpur which conducts the exam.

The XAT Exam is also considered to be one of the toughest MBA entrance exams because of the inclusion of the General Knowledge section as well as the unique XAT Exam Pattern which keeps the scores for the XAT Exam quite low. The level of the verbal ability questions is also generally considered to be higher than that of the CAT. The sectional cutoffs in all the sections except for the General Knowledge section only increase the difficulty level.

The XAT 2024 will be held on in the first week of January 2024. It is usually one of the last exams that all the MBA Aspirants attempt, though the GD/PI process occurs in the same February and March window of the other B-Schools.
The mode of the exam used to be Paper and Pen-based as recently as 2017 but in 2018, XAT decided to move to the Computer Based Test.

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XAT Exam Pattern 2024

The XAT Pattern is unique among all the MBA Entrance Exams in India and has over 75,000 aspirants every year. The past XAT exam pattern states that the XAT Paper consists of five sections. The Essay Writing Section that had been removed in the previous years was reintroduced in the XAT exam pattern in 2022.

  • Verbal and Logical Ability
  • Decision Making
  • Quantitative Ability and Data Interpretation
  • General Knowledge
  • Essay Writing

Thus, candidates need to modify their preparation for XAT compared to CAT. The duration of the XAT paper pattern 2024 is 3 hours and 30 minutes overall.

XAT Exam Pattern 2024: Detailed Analysis

The XAT Pattern consists of two parts with a total of 101 Questions (expected) overall. The anticipated distributions of questions are given below:

XAT Division

Sections

Total Questions

Time Allotted

Part 1

Verbal and Logical Ability

26

175 minutes

Decision Making

22

Quantitative Ability and Data Interpretation

28

Part 2

Mock Keyboard Testing

-

5 minutes

Part 3

General Knowledge

25

30 minutes

Essay Writing

1

Total

102

210 Minutes

XAT Exam Pattern: Marking Scheme

  • For every correct answer in the MCQs, a +1 mark will be awarded.
  • An incorrect attempt carries a penalty of 0.25 marks.
  • Apart from these marks, a candidate cannot leave over 8 questions unattempted. All questions (over 8) left unattempted carry a penalty (expected) of 0.10 marks.
  • The General Knowledge Section does not carry any negative marking.

This aspect of the XAT exam pattern makes the XAT exam quite difficult because of the restriction on the number of questions that can be left unattempted. Thus the XAT Exam Strategy becomes extremely important for the candidates. This can only be formed after several mocks attempted by the candidate.

Past XAT Exam Pattern: Key Changes

The XAT Paper Pattern has undergone several changes over the past 3-4 years. The most significant change was the shift from the Paper Based Test to the Computer Based Test in 2018. Apart from this, other changes that have taken place over the years include:

  • Essay Based Question was scrapped after XAT 2018
  • The number of Questions has fluctuated over the years
  • The number of un-attempted questions allowed has been reduced from 12 to 8
  • Subjective Questions were removed in XAT 2019 but have been reintroduced in XAT 2020
  • Essay Writing has been included from XAT 2022
  • The total Decision Making questions were 22 in XAT 2023 and the time of the exam increased to 210 minutes.

XAT Exam Pattern 2023

The XAT Exam 2023 was held online. The XAT exam pattern 2023 noticed various changes as compared to XAT 2022 which are described below:

  • The time allotted for the exam was 3 hours and 30 minutes
  • There were 5 sections in the XAT pattern: Verbal & Logical Ability, Decision Making, Quantitative Ability & Data Interpretation, General Knowledge and Essay Writing
  • The total number of questions is 102 with 101 MCQs and 1 essay question
    • 26 MCQs for Verbal and Logical Ability
    • 22 MCQs for Decision Making
    • 28 MCQs for Quantitative Ability and Data Interpretation
    • 25 MCQs for General Knowledge
    • 1 Question for Essay Writing
  • The overall marking scheme was 1 mark for a correct attempt while a penalty of 0.25 marks for an incorrect attempt. Further, candidates can leave up to 8 questions unattempted but any questions above the limit would attract a penalty of 0.1 marks each.
  • The scores for the first 3 sections will be taken for percentile calculations

For a detailed XAT 2023 analysis, click here

Other XAT Exam Patterns

A brief summary of the XAT Patterns for 2015- 2023 is given in the table below:

  XAT

  No. of Questions; Hours Allotted

Questions per Section

Marking Scheme

XAT 2023

102; 3 hours 30 minutes

VA-26

DM-22

QA-28

GK-25

Essay Writing: 1

  • +1/-0.25

  • A penalty of 0.10 for every un-attempted question over 8

XAT 2022

101; 3 hours 10 minutes

VA-26

DM-21

QA-28

GK-25

Essay Writing: 1

  • +1/-0.25

  • A penalty of 0.10 for every un-attempted question over 8

XAT 2021

100; 3 hours

VA-26

DM-21

QA-28

GK-25

  • +1/-0.25

  • A penalty of 0.10 for every un-attempted question over 8

  XAT 2020

    100; 3 hours

VA-26

DM-21

QA-28

GK-25

  • +1/-0.25

  • A penalty of 0.10 for every un-attempted question over 8

  XAT 2019

    99; 3 hours


VA-26

DM-21

QA-27

GK-25

  • +1/-0.25

  • A penalty of 0.05 for every un-attempted question over 8

XAT 2018

    98; 3.5 hours


VA-24

DM-21

QA-27

GK-25

Essay Type-1

  • +1/-0.25

  • A penalty of 0.05 for every un-attempted question over 12

XAT 2017

    98; 3.5 hours

VA-24

DM-21

QA-27

GK-25

Essay Type-1

  • +1/-0.25

  • A penalty of 0.05 for every un-attempted question over 12

XAT 2016

104; 3.5 hours

VA-26

DM-23

QA-29

GK-25

Essay Type-1

  • +1/-0.25

  • A penalty of 0.05 on each question above 13 left unattempted

XAT 2015

115; 3 hours

VA- 28

DM- 23

QA- 33

GK-30

Essay Type-1

+1/-0.25

XAT Exam Pattern and Syllabus

As you can see, the XAT Pattern has been shifting slightly over the years. This makes preparing for the XAT Exam slightly tricky however the sections have remained the same due to which the XAT Syllabus can be looked at in brief.

Section 1: Verbal and Logical Ability

This section is a combination of the VARC section and LR section from the CAT Exam. The topics which are generally tested in this section, apart from Reading Comprehension, include:

  • Vocabulary, Analogy
  • Paragraph Jumbles, Paragraph Completion
  • Critical Reasoning
  • Statements-Assumptions

Section 2: Decision Making

This is a section that is not tested at all in CAT or in any other MBA Entrance Exams. Last year, it consisted of 6 passages with 2-3 questions each.

There is no particular preparation or syllabus for this section as it is based on the clarity of thought of the candidate. The set of questions also ensures that the answers that the candidate gives do not contradict each other.

Section 3: Quantitative Ability and Data Interpretation

This section like section 1 is a combination of two sections from the CAT Exam. This section consists of the Quantitative Ability as well as Data Interpretation Questions. The Data Interpretation sets are usually followed by 3-4 questions.

The syllabus for the Quantitative Ability is the same as in CAT with the most frequently asked topics being:

  • Time & Work
  • Percentage
  • Profit & Loss
  • Equations
  • Number Systems
  • Clocks
  • Geometry
  • Algebra
  • Mensuration
  • Venn Diagrams
  • Tables
  • Bar Diagrams

The breakup of the section was 25 questions of QA and 3 of DI in XAT 2023.

Section 4: General Knowledge

The General Knowledge section of the XAT 2024 is expected to have no syllabus and can range from current affairs as well as trivia. Based on previous trends, the questions are a balance between static GK and current affairs. The syllabus for this section can vary from literature and politics to technology.

Section 4: Essay Writing

The Essay Writing section was reintroduced in XAT pattern 2022 with candidates being given three options to choose one essay from. There is no syllabus for this section and essay topics are often given based on abstract ideas and thoughts.

XAT Exam Pattern: Preparation Tips

  • Prepare a schedule: To begin your preparation, it is important that you have a schedule you can follow diligently. Break down the preparation into sections and further concepts. This will allow you to manage your syllabus against a deadline and leave time for revisions.
  • Identify weak and strong areas: Identifying your weaknesses and strengths will allow you to spend time on the syllabus more appropriately. You will be able to focus on improving your weaknesses and utilizing your strengths correctly when attempting the paper.
  • Practice with mock tests: Mock tests are the boon of every MBA entrance exam including XAT. They will help you understand your level of preparedness, evaluate the effectiveness of your exam strategy, give a comparison against your peers and determine the areas of improvement.
  • Review previous years’ papers: Previous years’ papers will help you familiarise yourself with the exam pattern and types of questions to be expected and help in revising. Attempting previous papers will also help you in a manner similar to mock tests.
  • Revise regularly: After you have covered the syllabus, it is essential that you revise the concepts regularly, be it by going over your notes, attempting questions or giving mock tests. The revision will help you solidify the concepts and help improve speed and accuracy.

Conclusion

XAT is considered to be the toughest MBA Entrance Exam because the level of questions in each section is generally acknowledged to be tougher than CAT. Thus the preparation for the same is quite difficult as well. However, with proper preparation and analysis of the previous papers and XAT pattern, candidates can clear the XAT cutoffs and get admission to top B-schools in India.

XAT Exam is also acknowledged to be one of the more transparent exams with the XAT exam paper as well as the XAT answer key released by XLRI Jamshedpur before the result is announced. In addition to this, after the XAT Result is announced, there is a limited time window where the candidate can contest the result and demand a recount of his/her score.

While the XAT exam has a similar syllabus to CAT, the Decision Making, General Knowledge and Essay Writing sections are solely found in XAT and require separate preparation. As most candidates would also be attempting other MBA exams, special focus can be given to these three sections when planning for the XAT exam.

FAQs

XAT is conducted once every year in an online mode. For the coming year, XAT will be tentatively conducted in the first week of January 2024.

XAT 2024 will comprise multiple-choice questions in all sections except one. Essay Writing will have one subjective question.

There is no limit to the number of attempts a candidate can take in XAT. Thus, as long as you meet the eligibility criteria, you can appear for the XAT exam every year.

Based on the eligibility criteria, a candidate who holds a bachelor’s degree of three or more years can give XAT. A candidate in the final year of their bachelor’s degree is also eligible to appear for XAT 2024. .

While an incorrect attempt in XAT results in the deduction of 0.25 marks, it is applicable to the three sections excluding GK. Thus, the GK section does not have any negative markings.

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