XAT Syllabus 2020

Overview of XAT

The XAT Exam is considered to be the toughest MBA Entrance Exams. The level of difficulty in each of the sections is generally higher than that of CAT. In addition to this, the Decision Making Section which does not have any particular syllabus but rather focuses on the candidate's presence of mind and analytical skills at the time of the XAT Exam adds to the difficulty of the XAT Exam.
Having emphasized on the difficulty of the XAT Exam, it becomes even more important for the candidate to prepare not just hard but also smartly. In order to do this, the proper groundwork has to be done. For this purpose, it is important for the candidate to carefully study the XAT syllabus. The XAT Syllabus is the first thing that every serious candidate should look at so that they can schedule their preparation with enough time for mocks at the end.
XAT 2020 is going to be held as a Computer Based test. The XAT Exam Notification will be released in the second week of August, 2019 where the XAT Exam Pattern as well as the date of the exam will be communicated to all the candidates.

Overall XAT Syllabus

The XAT Syllabus is just as extensive as the CAT Syllabus and similar to CAT, it does not have an official syllabus which gives the convening body some flexibility while setting the paper. Before the XAT Syllabus, the XAT Exam Pattern has to be carefully looked at. The XAT Exam is composed of 4 sections:

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

The marking scheme for the XAT Exam 2019 was:

  • +1/-0.25
  • If more than 8 questions are left un-attempted, 0.05 marks is reduced per un-attempted question

Due to this rule of not leaving more than 8 questions un-attempted, the candidates have to be extremely strategic in the questions that they decided to leave.
Apart from this, the XAT Exam Pattern keeps on changing as is evidenced by XAT dropping the Essay type of question from the paper as well as continually changing number of questions from 114 in XAT 2015 to 97 in XAT 2019. The number of un-attempted questions that can be left by the candidate has been changing since 2015 from 13 to 12 to 8 finally.
As mentioned above, the XAT Syllabus is not explicitly released by XLRI Jamshedpur, which convenes the XAT, but the previous XAT papers can be used as an guideline for the types of questions asked as well as the topics which are generally tested in the XAT Exam. In order to prepare according to the XAT Syllabus, we need to look at the syllabus according to the sections.

In-depth XAT Exam Pattern 2020

This section is a combination of the Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC) & Logical Reasoning. It consists of three distinct section for preparation purposes:

  • Verbal Ability
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Logical Reasoning

This article looks at the all the components of the sections in detail.

Verbal Ability Portion

This part of the Verbal Section is similar to the VA section in the CAT Exam. Thus the topics which are generally tested in the XAT Exam and hence are considered part of the XAT Syllabus are:

  • Vocabulary Based Questions: Fill in the blanks, Synonyms/ Antonyms, Contextual Meaning of Words
  • Jumbled Paragraph
  • Correction of Errors in Sentences, Correct Usage of Words
  • Completion of Sentences
  • Completion of Paragraph
  • Cloze Test
  • Poem, etc.

Reading Comprehension

Reading Comprehension in XAT is a smaller (but still significant) part of the section than in the VARC section in the CAT Exam. Like in CAT, there is no topic which is exempt from the XAT Exam. The word limit of the passages in the XAT Exam is quite limited. This, however, does not mean that the passages are more readable.
The types of questions asked in the RC section according to the XAT Syllabus are:

  • Information Based Question
  • Author's View type of question
  • Inference based Question
  • Main Idea and Purpose of the Passage
  • True/False Statements based on the Passage
  • Explanation of Words/Phrases in the Passage

Logical Reasoning

The Logical Reasoning section in the XAT Syllabus is mostly covered by the CAT Syllabus. There are generally few questions for this section in the XAT Exam. It also includes some Critical Reasoning Questions which are generally not asked in the CAT Exam. The topics generally tested in the Logical Reasoning part according to the XAT Syllabus are:

  • Clocks & Calendars
  • Analogy
  • Fact, Inference and Judgment
  • Binary Logic
  • Seating Arrangement
  • Blood Relations
  • Logical Sequences
  • Assumption, Premise and Conclusion

The Logical Reasoning Questions in the XAT Exam could be in the form of sets or as individual questions.

Decision Making: XAT Syllabus

The Decision Making section is unique to the XAT Exam in comparison to all other MBA Entrance Exams. It tests the candidate on their presence of mind and ability to read the situation so that the candidate's problem solving/ case solving skills can be tested. In XAT 2019, this section consisted of 21 questions and it consistently has over 20 questions.
The topics which are generally tested in this section according to the XAT Syllabus are:

  • Conditioning and Grouping Tests
  • Data Arrangement Test
  • Complex Arrangement
  • Decision Making in a situation
  • Case lets

In order to prepare for the Decision Making Section of the XAT Syllabus, the candidates are encouraged to solve as many XAT Exam Papers of the Past as possible. This will ensure that the candidates are familiar with not only the topics of the section but also the language of the XAT Exam.

Quantitative Ability and Data Interpretation: XAT Syllabus

Like the Verbal Ability section, this section is a combination of two sections of CAT: Quantitative Aptitude and Data Interpretation. It had 27 questions in the XAT Exam 2019 with the highest number of questions in recent years being 33 in XAT Exam 2015. The XAT Syllabus for the Quantitative Ability Portion is similar to that of the CAT Syllabus. According to the previous XAT Paper which determine the XAT Syllabus that candidates have to go by, the topics generally tested are:

  • LCM and HCF
  • Percentages
  • Profit and Loss
  • Interest (Simple and Compound)
  • Speed, Time and Distance; Time and Work; Averages; Ratio and Proportion and others
  • Number System
  • Algebra
  • Geometry including Co-ordinate Geometry
  • Mensuration
  • Pure Math
  • Venn diagrams
  • Linear Equations
  • Quadratic Equations
  • Complex Numbers
  • Logarithm
  • Progressions
  • Binomial Theorem
  • Surds and Indices
  • Inequalities
  • Permutation and Combination
  • Probability Functions
  • Set Theory
  • Mixtures and Alligations
  • Trigonometry

Given the extensive nature of the XAT Syllabus in the Quantitative section, it is important to start the preparation as soon as possible. The level of difficulty of the XAT Questions is tougher than that of the CAT Questions due to which knowing the basics of the subjects is not enough.
Candidates would benefit if they study for the Quantitative Ability section with XAT in mind rather than CAT so that they can get accustomed to that level of difficulty.
The XAT Syllabus for the Data Interpretation section consists of:

  • Data Tables
  • Data Charts
  • Bar Diagrams
  • Pie Charts
  • Graphs
  • Data Analysis and Comparison

The Questions are generally in the form of sets, like in CAT, however individual questions may also be asked on occasion.

General Knowledge Section: XAT Syllabus

This is another section that CAT does not test. However despite the presence of the section, the percentiles are calculated on the basis of the first 3 sections.
The XAT Syllabus in this section is extremely wide with current affairs as well as conventional GK (trivia). The topics which are regularly asked in this section include:

  • Economics and Finance
  • National and International Current Affairs
  • Constitution of India and Laws
  • Capitals and Currencies
  • Famous Personalities
  • Books and Authors


The XAT Exam is considered one of the toughest MBA Entrance Exams due to the level of difficulty of the exam. However this reputation also contributes to a lower number of candidates attempting the exam. In 2019, 75,000 candidates appeared for the XAT Exam compared to close to 2 Lakh aspirants for the CAT Exam. Another possible reason is the lower number of colleges accepting XAT Scores compared to CAT however the top colleges which accept the XAT Score means that it should definitely be on the calendar for every serious MBA aspirant.
In terms of the XAT Syllabus, the difficulty level lends itself well to the preparation of the candidates since it means that they would find other MBA entrance exams to be rather easy. Looking at the pattern and the percentile calculation, the first 3 sections are of the highest importance. The sectional cutoffs and the roughly equal number of questions means that the each section is of high importance.

The Decision Making section is generally considered to be the make or break section by most candidates because while the other 2 sections can be prepared for, the level of preparation possible for the DM section is minimal.

Thus thorough preparation according to the XAT syllabus is the only way that candidates can clear the XAT cutoff.