XAT 2018: Exam pattern & Syllabus – key changes; 10 days preparation plan

MBAUniverse.com News Desk |
December 30, 2017
XAT 2018 on January 7, 2018 will be a different exam in computerised format for 92000 XAT aspirants who have registered to try their luck with XAT 2018 for admission to XLRI, SPJIMR, XIMB, IMT, and other 150 prominent B-schools accepting XAT scores
XAT 2018 exam pattern
“XAT is slightly more unconventional examination, presence of mind on the day of the examination hall can fetch a higher score” Fr. Antony Uvari, SJ. XAT 2018 convener and admission chair XLRI Jamshedpur

XLRI-XAT 2018 on January 7, 2018 will be a different exam in computerised format for 92000 XAT aspirants who have registered to try their luck with XAT 2018 for admission to XLRI, SPJIMR, XIMB, IMT, and other 150 prominent B-schools accepting XAT scores.

So far the Xavier Aptitude Test (XAT) used to be a paper based test and for the first time XLRI has decided to conduct XAT as an online computer based test on 7th January 2018.

Sharing his message to XAT aspirants to take XAT 2018 in revised format, Fr. Antony Uvari, SJ.  XAT 2018 exam convener and faculty at XLRI Jamshedpur advises, “XAT is slightly more unconventional examination, presence of mind on the day of the examination hall can fetch a higher score.”

10 Key Changes in XAT exam pattern
XAT 2018 will prove to be a more aspirant friendly exam, if you are well conversant with the online computer based exam pattern and know well how to navigate in an exam with computerised format. Important changes in XAT exam pattern are:

  1. XAT 2018 will have 4 sections with MCQs and 1 section as descriptive essay writing test
  2. It will be the first computer based XAT
  3. The descriptive essay writing test will also be computer based exam
  4. Total number of questions in XAT have been reduced to 72
  5. Scores in General Awareness (GK) and Essay writing sections will not be counted to calculate percentile in XAT 2018
  6. Total time for XAT 2018 exam is 210 minutes including 5 minutes taken as turnaround time. So the available time for the test taker to solve the XAT question paper is 3 hours 25 minutes.
  7. No sectional time constraints will be there in XAT 2018. Test takers can move from one section to other within the overall allotted time.
  8. Equal 1 mark will be awarded for all correct answers. There will not be varying marking system
  9. ¼ Negative marking is applicable for each wrong answer
  10. Penalty of 0.05 marks for unattempted questions will be imposed. A student is allowed to leave a maximum of 12 questions without incurring penalty for leaving them un-attempted; this means from the 13th question onwards, there will be penalty for leaving questions un-attempted.

XAT 2018 exam Pattern
The sectional composition, number of questions and expected difficulty level in XAT 2018 is to remain as under:  

Part-1: Time limit to solve - 170 minutes

Number of questions
Expected Difficulty level
Verbal and Logical Ability*
Moderate to difficult
Decision Making*
Quantitative Ability & Data Interpretation*
Moderate to Difficult

*Scores of these sections will be counted to calculate the percentile in XAT

Part-2: Time limit to solve - 35 minutes

Number of questions
Expected Difficulty level
General Knowledge
Moderate to difficult
Essay Writing
1 topic
Expect Abstract, social or current affairs topic

Important notes on revised XAT exam pattern:

  • The candidates will not have any break in between except for the fact that Objective MCQ part -1 with 3 sections will be over in 170 minutes and next 35 minutes will be allotted for GK and Essay writing part with 5 minutes in between for turn over time.
  • The test will be conducted from 10:00am to 01:30pm on Sunday, 7th January, 2018.
  • There may be more than one essay topics. Aspirants will be asked to write essay only on one topic.
  • XLRI taken into account the performance in essay writing to form the base of final section round.

XAT Syllabus & 10 days preparation plan from toppers and experts
XAT exam syllabus although is not changed but there is no repetition of XAT questions in any XAT exam although difficulty level of the questions in XAT exam does not go out of XAT exam syllabus.

XAT 2018 Syllabus covers all the major topics on all the test sections. With the reduction in number of questions over the years from 100+ to 72, there are few changes in XAT syllabus. Still the

XAT 2018 syllabus is much more wide than one can anticipate.

Important topics that cover the different sections in XAT exam are:


Verbal Ability, Reading Comprehension & Logical Reasoning
Syllabus for Verbal Ability, Reading Comprehension and Logical Reasoning section in XAT 2018 is divided in 3 parts.

The 1st part of XAT 2018 syllabus covers questions based on Verbal Ability; 2nd part covers Reading Comprehension passages and the 3rd part is based on questions on different topics on Logical Reasoning.

Major topics covered in XAT 2018 syllabus for VARC & LR are - Vocabulary based questions – fill in the blanks with correct words; synonyms/antonyms; contextual usage on vocabulary words

Jumbled Paragraphs; Correction of errors in sentences; Completion of paragraph; RC passages are based on Abstract topics, Literature, Social and Economic issues;  Science & Culture; history & fiction among others.

There are few critical reasoning and a few LR based questions in XAT exam. All questions are of MCQ type. Topics covered on which LR questions are based, are Analogy, Clocks, calendars, Fact, Inference, Judgement, binary logic, seating arrangement, blood relations, logical sequence, assumption, premise, conclusion among others.

Questions on Logical Reasoning can be individual or can be in the sets.


Decision Making
XAT Syllabus on Decision Making is unique as neither CAT nor any other national level entrance exam has Decision Making as one of its exam sections.

Decision Making is the problem or case solving expertise of a candidate. Broadly the decision making questions are based on Conditions and Grouping Test; Data Arrangement Test; Complex Arrangement; Decision Making in a situation; Case lets 


Quantitative Ability & Data Interpretation
Syllabus for Quant and DI section is very wide. There would be 27 MCQs on Quantitative Ability & Data Interpretation section in XAT 2018. QA & DI is the 3rd and last section in the revamped XAT exam pattern. Syllabus of XAT 2018 for Quant is vast and covers everything in Mathematics that you may or may not expect.

Quant questions are based on different topics on Arithmetic, Algebra, Modern Math, Geometry, Mensuration, Trignometry.

Number of questions in Arithmetic: 10 to 12. Major topics 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

Other key areas in XAT 2018 Quant syllabus are: Numbers (3-4) questions; Algebra (3-4 questions); Geometry/Mensuration (3-5 questions); Pure Math (1-2 questions); Venn diagrams and other topic based questions are 1-2 apart from above.

Other important topics are: Linear Equations; Quadratic Equations; Complex Numbers; Logarithm; Progressions; Binomial Theorem; Surds and Indices; Inequalities; Permutation and Combination; Probability Functions; Set Theory; Mixtures and Alligations; Geometry; Co-ordinate Geometry; Trigonometry; Mensuration

Data Interpretation (DI)
Questions in Data Interpretation part in XAT exam are in sets in most cases. Sometimes individual questions are also asked. Topics on which DI questions are based, are - Data Tables, Data charts, bar diagrams, Pie charts, Graphs, Data analysis and comparison among others. All the questions are of MCQ type.

DI questions in XAT exam are in the set of 4 questions. Questions on interpretation and analysis of data based on text, tables, graphs (line, area), charts (column, bar, pie), venn diagram, are asked.

Data could be given in form of tables, charts or graphs. In this section it is tested that how candidates can interpret the given data and answer questions based on it.

XAT 2018 syllabus for GK and Essay Writing
Second part in XAT exam has 2 sections. One is General Awareness (GK) which consists of MCQs and other is Essay Writing Test in which you have to write a well worded essay on a given topic. 

General Knowledge
As per the changed pattern of XAT exam, there would be 25 questions of Multiple Choice type in XAT 2018 exam.

Economics, finance, national and international current affairs are a few of the many topics on which questions are placed in this section in XAT exam. Questions are also based on conventional GK.  In-depth and regular reading of GK helps more as sometimes a few GK questions in XAT appear more tricky and need intensive reading.

Essay Writing
Essay writing in XAT 2018 will be the test of writing skill. This section needs a well worded essay on the contemporary issue of will be an abstract topic. Test taker has to write essay on one topic but sometimes there is choice to choose between 2 topics and sometimes there is no choice at all.

The test taker is supposed to write after giving a thought and produce a better piece of writing in 20-25 minutes. Ideal size of essay in XAT exam is around 300-400 words. Essay in XAT plays important role in the final selection PI round as questions are based on it.

Next 10 days Preparation plan
Experts and XAT toppers advise XAT 2018 aspirants to devise a proper strategy to tackle the vagaries of the exam.

Since this is the last leg of your preparation and you must have already appeared in CAT 2017 or other important MBA entrance exams, most of your preparation must be complete. XAT has unique and important Decision Making section which needs to be prepared well. Following preparation tips from toppers will help you to crack the otherwise difficult XAT 2018:

  1. Key tips for Decision Making questions: Identify the category

Lovish Soien, student from XLRI with a DM percentile of 94+ and an overall percentile of 99.49 in XAT 2017 suggests the XAT aspirants to identify the type of Decision Making questions  which can be

  • Data based where data given and the answer is to be based on analysis of the data,
  • There can be a scenario wherein you will be tested on your ethical standing,
  • Thirdly there can be a mixture of both of the above.

So, analyse the situation first
Understanding the motives behind the test will help you align your thinking process with the expectations of the test setter. Thus before answering a question you need to first analyse the situation from the different perspectives, i.e., the economic as well as the social perspective.

Now frame the answer in your mind by gauging the motive behind the question. Other options is to eliminate the incorrect options. So in next 10 days prepare on this pattern to crack the Decision Making (DM) section.

  1. Satyarajsinh Jethwa and Sakshi with high XAT percentile beyond 85 and 88 suggest the aspirants to take more Mocks to improve time management and accuracy level in the exam.
  2. Experts suggest that when you are preparing,  reading every question is very important, so that you do not miss out on easy questions
  3. Candidates usually fee shy in maximizing the attempts to maximize the scores to get the best percentile possible. It should be avoided even in the Mocks and in practice exercises also.
  4. There is no need to begin something new unless you feel you can improve well on the topic with a little practice.   

Suggested time division to attempt different sections in XAT


S no.
No of Questions in XAT 2018
Time Allotted (in min)
Expected Attempts
50 – 60

Buffer time should be used to give to that section to maximize the score OR use that time to give it to that section so as to get the cutoffs (if in danger of not crossing the cutoff marks in a particular section).

Part II  - GK & Essay (35 minutes)
In the Part II of the paper, there is a GK section with 25 questions and an Essay to be written. The marks of Part II are taken only at the time of the Interview (for XLRI) and won’t be used at the shortlisting stage for the GDPI.

The GK questions may not be specific questions and may have general questions with options, which require common sense to decide. One should finish the GK part in about 10 minutes and give 25 minutes for the Essay.

XAT essay writing topics in last 4 years
The Essay topics for the last 4 years are:

XAT 2017: Globalization and jingoism always coexist

XAT 2016: Technology and Nature are Natural Enemies

XAT 2015: Listening is a dying art. We hardly listen to understand, we only listen to refute or reply

XAT 2014: Corruption is the root cause of economic slowdown in India

Essay writing tips

  • The essay should be around 300 words with at least three paragraphs
  • Introduction to the topic while taking a stand
  • Pros & Cons of the Issue/topic while giving examples to support your stand
  • Conclusion based on a summary of the above arguments with concluding comments

XAT 2018 will be conducted from 47 centers all across India that will include the cities - Agartala, Ahmedabad, Allahabad, Amritsar, Bengaluru, Berhampur, Bhopal, Bhubaneswar, Chandigarh, Chennai, Cochin, Coimbatore, Cuttack, Dehradun, Delhi, Goa, Greater Noida, Gurgaon, Guwahati, Hyderabad, Indore, Jabalpur, Jaipur, Jammu, Jamshedpur, Kanpur, Kolkata, Lucknow, Mangalore, Mumbai, Nagpur, Nasik, Noida, Patna, Pune, Raipur, Ranchi, Rourkela, Sambalpur, Surat, Tiruchirapalli, Trivandrum, Udaipur, Vadodara, Varanasi, Vijayawada, Visakhapatnam. The test will be held in 2 international cities of Dubai and Kathmandu.

 Stay tuned to MBAUniverse.com for more updates and prep tips on XAT 2018

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