‘During the XAT preparation my primary focus was on the Decision Making section.’
This is what PIYUSH CHOPDA, a Second Year, PGDBM student at XLRI, Jamshedpur has to say when asked about tips to prepare for XAT. In an interview with Kalyani Majumdar, Piyush shares his experience being at XLRI and his suggestions for MBA aspirants.
Tell us about yourself.
I studied Mechanical Engineering and started working with L&T Defence in Mumbai as a Senior Engineer. It was during this time that I realised I didn’t want to pursue an MS as I felt it would limit me to a technical field, whereas an MBA would be a better way to broaden my horizon. I am pursuing a PGDBM at XLRI, Jamshedpur. After completing my First year, I interned with KPMG in a strategy and operations role. Some of their projects are smart city development and security analysis.
Did you follow any preparation strategy for CAT and XAT?
Since I took both CAT and XAT, my XAT preparation was a continuation from my CAT-prep.
So, my strength was Quant and my weakest point was Verbal. I did my schooling in Marathi medium. So, for me Verbal Ability was the greatest challenge. Other than mock tests when I was preparing for CAT I used to read editorial of some of the leading newspapers regularly. So, around 60 to 70 percent of my time was spent to prepare for Verbal; 20 percent to prepare for DILR; 10 percent to prepare for Quant. I used to regularly read the Editorial section of Hindu newspaper. I scored 99.86 percentile in CAT.
Once CAT was over, I turned my focus on XAT preparation. My primary focus was on the Decision Making section as this was an entirely new section that does not exist in CAT. I collected XAT papers for the last 5 years that was available online and solved questions on Decision Making.
For XAT the Verbal Ability section is different than CAT. In CAT, this section is easier. In XAT, it is not only reading comprehension, but it also focuses a lot on language skills. You need to have good command over grammar. CAT assesses you on the basis of whether you understand the sentence or not. But XAT assesses your overall command over the language. So, reading a lot really helps. For Quant again, I solved some of the XAT papers from previous years.
I didn’t really prepare for GK section, as it is just too vast a subject and one month is not enough. However, reading newspapers and staying informed does help in answering the multiple choice questions. Also, you can attempt those questions that you are not sure of, as negative marking does not apply in this section.
How much did you score in XAT?
I scored 99.76 percentile in XAT.
Do you have tips on how to prepare for XAT?
I guess, since CAT was tough this year so everyone will be giving a shot at XAT. And, everyone will try to make the best out of it. My most important tip to all the XAT takers will be to continue with their reading habits. Because after CAT many students get study- inertia and stops studying. That shouldn’t happen. You should keep on practising everyday. Maybe not a lot but at least you should keep solving some papers.
Keep reading and learn new words. Understand and interpret the meaning of different words. In case of Quant too, you will need to keep revising.
Decision making section should definitely be your focus as it is absolutely different. How do you tackle decision making? How do you prepare? First try to solve every question on your own. You will realise that you are perhaps scoring half the questions incorrectly. Spend maximum amount of time analysing the paper. That is the only way to get better in this section.
I was working while preparing for XAT, so after coming back from work I used to sit everyday for 3 to 4 hours and solve questions from different sections. So, I would highly recommend the same for you.
Tips on how to tackle the test on the day:
If you do well in decision making your overall percentile shoots up quite easily. You have to decide on how to handle each section and manage your time. In my case, I knew I wanted to finish Verbal Ability section quickly and then calm down before starting on the Decison Making section as one needs to be in a proper state of mind to solve this section. Every time you will be stuck with two options and actually solving a question at that time can be a difficult task if you are not calm and focussed. Since Quant was my strength I didn’t want to miss a question, so I had planned my test in a way that I had ample time for Quant.
Why did you select XLRI?
I converted IIM Kozhikode, but I felt XLRI was a better fit for me. It is one of the top B Schools and I heard about the XLRI culture and I knew I wanted to be part of that. I did a lot of due diligence before deciding on the B School. I asked my friends and spoke to some of the seniors and everybody told me to go for XLRI. And the experience so far has been fantastic here at XLRI.
What is the specialisation you have chosen for yourself?
I feel Operations is something I enjoy the most.
Did you apply for a student loan?
If you get into a top B School then you don’t have to worry about even a single rupee. So, there are three or four banks in every college, they will come to you and contact you just before admission and they will do everything, so the entire process is simple. My total fee amounts to Rs 24 lakh and they sanctioned Rs 30 lakh.
How to decide which specialisation to pursue?
Most B Schools let you decide in the second year, so you get an entire year to explore your interests. I would suggest one should not have preconceived ideas about what to pursue. Go to the B School with an open mind and see what all subjects you truly enjoy and then decide. Also, it is always better to talk to people from those fields.
Do you have suggestions for MBA aspirants?
When you get interview calls for the B Schools, always go to every interview with a mindset that you want to get into that particular B School. In the end, ranking of the B School is not everything. That cannot be the sole reference point for you to decide where to go. While preparing for CAT or any other competitive exams make sure to spend enough time with your friends and family, and talk about the challenges. Having a support system is very important. Take life moment by moment and don’t take unnecessary load. Just do your best, no matter the situation you find yourself in. Things will work out just fine.