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XAT 2018: A perfect alternative to the CAT

  About 80 to 90,000 students take the XAT compared to the 2 lakh plus students registering for the CAT. This means that every student taking the CAT does not necessarily take the XAT. Let's break the myth and unravel why every CAT-taker should also take the XAT.  

“Why should I take XAT – I was never interested in HR!”
“XAT is more difficult than the CAT, so I rather take easier tests”
 “XAT has an essay section – I am not good at writing essays”
These are some of the common reasons I hear from students on why they generally do not register for the XAT. Let me give you a few good reasons why you should definitely take the XAT:

Beyond HR
For a whole lot of people XAT corresponds to XLRI and XLRI to HR specialisation –  hence the usual refrain, “I am not interested in HR, so I am not taking the XAT!”. Both these analogies are incorrect, to say the least.
The HR programme of XLRI is no doubt the best of its kind in the country, but that does not in any way belittle the quality of the BM programme at XLRI. The BM programme is also very popular and successful as and is considered to be amongst the best 5 MBA programs in the country for General management.  So, if you are an HR aspirant then you must take the XAT and if you aren’t an HR aspirant you still must take the XAT.

Beyond XLRI
XAT is not a test to be taken only for XLRI – it is also the gateway to 150+ other institutes that include names like S.P. Jain, XIM Bhubaneshwar, MICA, TAPMI, GIM Panaji, LIBA, K.J. Somaiya, Welingkar, Great Lakes Chennai, IIFM Bhopal and IMT Ghaziabad. One may argue that most of these B-schools also accept the CAT – then why take one more test?
The reason is very simple – XAT will serve as a Plan B for you. If you unfortunately under-perform in the CAT, you will have one more test to back on and still have a chance to make it to your dream B-Schools. I know of enough students in the past who did not do too well in the CAT but achieved a 90+ percentile in the XAT and eventually made it to some of the top 30 Indian B-Schools thus SAVING a year!!

Difficulty level does not matter
XAT being more difficult than CAT is only a perception – there is no scientific measure for level of difficulty. In any case, these entrance tests do not need you to score a 100 on 100 or even an 80% to qualify. It is only your relative performance that matters. In other words, you only need to perform better than a sufficient number of test-takers to do well and secure GD-PI calls from the institutes of your choice.
It is interesting to note that last year a score of around 30% was sufficient for a call from XLRI and a 20 to 25% would get you calls from some of the top 30 B-Schools! So, it does not matter if the test is easy or difficult – you just need to go and give it your best shot. Maximise your attempts and accuracy, and who knows that may just be enough to clear the cut-offs this year.

The importance of ESSAY writing
The essay section of XAT is another reason why a lot of people hesitate to take the test. Let me clear a few cobwebs around the reality of the essay section – firstly the essay section score is only considered by XLRI and none of the affiliate institutes for their selection process. And even the XLRI programmes consider the essay score only at the second stage of the selection process. So the only thing you lose because of a badly written essay is a probable admit to an XLRI programme.
Note that I am in no way suggesting that you should therefore write a bad essay – I strongly believe that you should work on your essay writing skills as the same is also assessed by most of the top 30 B-Schools including the IIMs at a later stage of the selection process (Written Assessment Test or WAT). A little bit of effort and practice now on how to construct an essay and how to analyse an issue or an argument will stand you in good stead not only for the XAT but also for the WAT process.

The XAT timing
The XAT is conducted in the first week of January – this gives you one complete month after the CAT to fine-tune your preparation and enhance your level of preparedness. So, your XAT percentile may get sufficiently better in comparison to your CAT percentile. Further, if you missed the CAT deadline and are therefore not taking the CAT this year – here is your opportunity to take a test that still gives you a chance to be in the top 30 B-Schools of the country.

Nothing to lose
Even if none of the above reasons convince you – take the XAT in any case because you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. If you do well in the test you would have added a few more GD-PI calls to your kitty, and if you don’t do well then you can at least say that you tried. Remember that you must run the race to have any chance of winning it!! 

Some of the major B-schools that accept both CAT and XAT

MICA, Ahmedabad

Gitam School of International Business, Vizag

IRMA, Anand

Amity, Noida

KJ Somaiya, Mumbai

IIRM, Jaipur

FORE, Delhi

IMT, Nagpur

IFMR, Chennai

MET, Mumbai

Acharya IOM, Bangalore

XIM, Bhubaneshwar

Christ College, Bangalore

TAPMI, Manipal

Great Lakes IEMR, Gurgaon

Welingkar, Mumbai

XISS, Ranchi

Great Lakes, Chennai (2 programmes)

IMDR, Pune

Praxis, Kolkata

ITM, Navi Mumbai

XIME, Bangalore

SP Jain, Mumbai

PUMBA, Pune

GIM, Panaji

BIMTECH, Noida

IMT, Ghaziabad

IMT, Hyderabad

IIFM, Bhopal

ISB&M, Pune

LIBA, Chennai

NDIM, Delhi

Alliance, Bangalore

Flame School of Business, Pune