So it’s that time of the year again! MBA entrance examinations are closing in on the anxious aspirants where the best B-schools in India shall be testing the candidates on various criteria to funnel-in the students matching their criteria that they would like to interview for an admission to their respective institutes. CAT or Common Aptitude Test is the Mother of All MBA Examinations as its score is accepted by all the IIMs, FMS Delhi and various other splendid B-schools such as NITIE and IITs for admission to their 2-year MBA courses. But all the schools do not accept CAT yet for they have their own criteria for evaluating, slightly different from CAT, the incoming candidates. These institutes include XLRI and other Xavier association of management institutions (XAMI), Symbiosis management institutions, IIFT Delhi etc. Xavier holds its test known as the XAT or Xavier Aptitude Test and Symbiosis colleges have the SNAP for assessing the prospective candidates for MBA. In this, article, we shall be talking primarily about XAT, the test itself and how to prepare for the same.
XAT is a 3.5 hours exam that is held usually in the first week of January. This test primarily consists of two sections – Aptitude test and GK & Essay writing test. This exam used to be held in an offline mode but from this year onwards both SNAP and XAT are to be held online from this year and not in the conventional pen paper-based format. CAT has already transitioned to the online format a few years back and it’s about time other exams also followed the pattern.
As with any strategic decision taken, this decision also has certain pros and cons associated in regards to both the examination authority and the students. Let us first look into what might be the reasons for the examination authorities to induce these changes:
- Our environment is kind of important
Going online in the tests saves a lot of paper used for the question papers and the OMR sheets. This, in turn, saves trees and consequently, has a positive impact on the environment.
- Reduced operational costs
Printing so many question papers, cataloguing them and transporting them over great distances and then transporting them back to the examiners sure does cost a lot of money for the authorities. All these costs can be eliminated with the help of internet and it also makes the process smoother and more error-free.
Offline question papers exchange a lot of hands before reaching the candidate and hence, there is a greater risk of someone leaking the question paper. This risk is greatly reduced in the online examinations where the authorities can place a lot of checks and safeguards to prevent any misconduct.
- Hastens the process
With the operational aspect of the examination becoming more friction-free, the answers can be sourced back and marked even faster-using computer and the results can be further hastened. This shall be beneficial for both the candidates and the examination authorities.
These reasons combined sure seem lucrative enough for the authorities to bring on the change. Making these exams online makes a lot of operational and managerial sense as compared to the offline mode of examination which is anyway, going to be replaced by the cloud-based examination systems in the wake of newer challenges in our present examination and evaluation mechanisms.
Let us try to analyse the effect of this change on the candidates and ensure that the readers of this blog are able to use this information to better equip themselves for the examination.
- That’s a lot of screen time!
XAT is 3.5 hours long exam and going online means that you shall be concentrating on a computer screen for all this time – not the kind we do during our favourite TV show. This can certainly induce some fatigue as compared to the pen and paper mode that we are used to. This fatigue can weigh in during the final hours of the test and affect your temperament.
The best way to counter this is to give more and more proctored tests (tests in the same setting as the final examination, preferably at your coaching institute in the same time slot). Also, you should try to adjust the screen brightness of the monitor so that it’s not hard on your eyes either way to ensure minimum stress.
- Faster and better decisions
In the pen and paper mode, you can flip through the pages and questions and navigate really fast but that shall not be possible in the online mode if the XAT adopts the same format as the CAT adopts. Questions shall come one by one and you will need to decide on which questions to attempt and which not to in the first go. Also, you shall not be able to flip through the sections and there can be time limits for each section too as is the case with CAT.
The key again lies in giving a lot of mock tests before the D-Day for these tests shall shape your temperament and make you more comfortable with this format of the examination.
- Read even faster!
The biggest challenge we all face during any RC is to complete the reading in limited time and absorb the essence of the passage given. Well, this shall be even more difficult on the screen as the reading speed decreases while reading from a screen as compared to physical paper and also, you shall not be able to mark-out important lines.
Start reading online content be it novels, newspapers, blogs etc. Try to time yourself and make it better test by test. This one thing can give you a competitive edge on the exam date. Also, you can note down the important lines from the passage in your rough paper using some keywords so that you can quickly refer to them while answering the questions.
- Then there’s that essay!
You shall be required to write an essay in the second part of the test and that is where the test being online shall have a major impact on your performance for a lot shall depend on your typing speed in this case. You might have the best ideas but they are of no use if you are not able to type them reasonably fast.
If you are confident about your typing speed, good, otherwise start writing small passages and essays regularly so that you develop a knack for it. Also, this skill shall help you during your MBA too so no harm in starting early.
- LRDI section can become even more difficult!
LRDI questions involve complex figures and numbers and when the test is going online, you shall be required to note down the data and then work on the same on your rough sheets. There are great chances of small mistakes in taking down all this data and even the smallest of the discrepancies can throw you off your answers.
Again, more and more online mock tests so that it becomes a walk in the cake for you rather than being a tough nut to crack. In the end, a lot depends on your temperament on the exam date and during the same. All the content you prepare shall be useless if you are not able to deliver on the date and that’s where mock tests help as they make the exams a routine task for you and build an awesome temperament.
There are, however, certain benefits for the candidates also in XAT going online as compared to the pen and paper mode followed earlier.
- You are already preparing for online CAT, might as well prepare for XAT and SNAP
CAT is already online and you shall already be giving online mock tests for CAT. Making XAT and SNAP also online brings more homogeneity in the process as now, almost all the exams are being conducted online and the candidates can start preparing for all of them accordingly.
- Online exams are intelligent
These exams can take into account other factors other than correct answers too such as the time to complete each question. These provide a better parameter to judge each student. However, it remains to be seen as to what kind of algorithm shall be adopted by the XAT and SNAP examinations.
- Reduced mistakes in marking the answers
In the offline mode, a lot of students solve the question correctly but due to stress or anxiety; mark a wrong answer on the OMR sheet. These OMR sheets are sometimes filled with pen and there is no scope to change the answer once marked. This problem is not there in the online examination as the answers are marked then and there in the questions and these answers can also be changed further.
- Better time management
Current CAT examination pattern allows a certain time to each section, no less and no more, making the candidate devote equal time to all the sections, hence, balancing the result in a better manner through time management. Further, there is a timer on the screen on the computer which makes the time devoted to each question more apparent and the candidate can manage his/her time better.
Rest assured, XAT and SNAP going online shall impact all the candidates equally and the ones who are able to adapt themselves to the change early by giving more mocks and other preparations shall have a huge competitive advantage over the other, relatively ignorant, candidates.
I hope this blog helps.
All the best!