XAT Exam Pattern 2021, Marking Scheme, Important Topics, Best Books

    XAT Exam Pattern is specified by XLRI Jamshedpur; its conducting body. It is a computer based test of 3 hours. 100 questions will be asked from in 4 sections: Decision making, Verbal & Logical ability, Quantitative Ability & Data Interpretation and General Knowledge. Number of questions for each section is not fixed and has varied over the years. Check XAT 2021 Syllabus

      Key highlights of XAT Exam Pattern include:

      • XAT exam pattern underwent a few major changes like essay writing section has been removed.
      • NAT (Numerical Answer Type) Questions with no negative marking have been added to the paper.
      • Candidates can submit the exam after 30 minutes of commencement. Download XAT Sample Papers
      • Scores obtained in GK section will not be included in the final score or percentile of candidates.
      • Visually challenged candidates will get an extra 25 minutes for part 1 of XAT paper.
      • You can leave 8 questions unattempted. Beyond that, a penalty of 0.05 per question will be charged.
      • There is no negative marking for GK section.

      Table of Contents

      Exam Pattern Highlights

      Sectional Questions & Time Limit

      Marking Scheme

      4 Year Exam/Marking Pattern

      Previous Year Pattern Analysis


      Highlights of XAT Exam Pattern 2021

      Exam ModeComputer Based Test
      Total Number of Questions100
      Total Marks100
      Number of Sections
      Name of SectionsVerbal and Logical Ability, Decision Making, Quantitative Ability and Data Interpretation General Knowledge
      Duration of Exam180 minutes (3 hours)
      Medium of ExamEnglish
      Type of QuestionsMCQs
      Number of Answer Choices5
      XAT Marking Scheme

      +1 mark for a correct answer

       - 0.25 mark for an incorrect answer

      Beyond 8 unanswered questions, 0.05 marks will be deducted for each unanswered question.

      Questions without Negative MarkingNo Negative Marking for GK Section

      Must Read News

      XAT 2021: Sectional Division of Questions and Time Limit

      XAT 2021paper will be divided into 4 sections viz Verbal and Logical Ability, Decision Making and Quantitative Ability &, Data Interpretation and General Knowledge. It is also divided into two parts.

      • Exam consists of 99 multiple choice questions to be solved in the duration of 3 hours.
      • Candidates can move to the GK section, after completing the first three sections in the initial 165 minutes.
      • There is no sectional limit between the first 3 sections. However, for GK section, the candidates will get a duration of 15 minutes.
      • Candidates can switch between sections in part part 1 of the paper.
      • An extra time of 25 minutes shall be given to the scribe for completing the first 3 sections.
      • There is no time concession for GK section.

      The sectional division of questions and time limit as per the XAT 2021 Pattern is tabulated below:

      Section NameMax. QuestionsTime Limit
      Verbal and Logical Ability26165 minutes
      Decision Making21
      Quantitative Ability and Data Interpretation27
      General Knowledge2515 minutes
      Total100180 minute

      Check Topper Tips to Crack XAT 2021

      Marking Scheme

      Marking scheme of XAT 2021 is expected to remain the same as 2020. The following table elucidates the changes in XAT Marking scheme over the past 4 years.

      YearCorrect AnswerIncorrect AnswerUnanswered Questions
      Question LimitScoring
      XAT 2020+1-0.258-0.05 per question
      XAT 2019+1-0.258-0.05 per question
      XAT 2018+1-0.2512-0.05 per question
      XAT 2017+1-0.2512-0.05 per question

      XAT Verbal and Logical Ability Exam Pattern

      The Verbal and Logical Ability section comes up with 26 questions of miltiple choice. Around 4 reading comprehension are asked with 14 to 16 questions in total. Verbal ability posses 8 to 10 questions. The level of difficulty generally is moderate to difficult. Important Topics from VARC & LR are:

      • Para Jumbles
      • Para Completion
      • Vocabulary
      • Analogy
      • Critrical Reasoning
      • Statements and Assumptions

      Recommended Books for Verbal Ability

      XAT English Preparation Books
      Book nameAuthor
      Verbal Ability and Comprehension for XAT (2nd ed.)Bharat Patodi
      MBA (XAT, IIFT, NMAT, SNAP, CMAT)Gautam Puri

      Recommended Books for XAT Logical Reasoning

      XAT Logical Resoning Books
      Book nameAuthor
      Koncepts of LR – Logical Reasoning for CAT, XAT, CMAT, Bank PO & Other Aptitude TestsGajendra Kumar
      Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning for CAT/XAT/IIFT/CMAT/MAT (Box Set)Gajendra Kumar

        XAT Decision Making Exam Pattern 

        Considered one of the prominent sections in XAT candidates should score fairly good in decision making to make it to XLRI. Total 21 questions are posed from decision making with 7 to 8 seta. each set folllows 2 to 3 questions to be answered. The level of difficulty is moderate to difficult. Important aspects covering the topic are:

        • Short caselets
        • Analytical Reasoning
        • Situational sets
        • Data Arrangement Sets

        Read: How to Solve XAT Decision Making With Useful Tips and Solved Examples

        XAT Quantitative Aptitude and Data Interpretation Exam Pattern

        27 questions are asked in total from quants as well as DI. These are individual questions along with sets. Each set has 3 to 4 questions to be attempted. Candidates should expect that level of difficulty ranges from Moderate to difficult. Most questions can be expected from topics such as numbers, geometry, and mensuration followed by arithmetic, venn diagrams, and functions.

        Important topics asked are:

        • Geometry
        • Tables
        • Graphs
        • Arithmetic
        • Trigonometry
        • Statistics
        • Profit & Loss
        • Speed and Distance
        • Clocks

        Read: How to Prepare for XAT Quant with Sample Questions and Solutions

        Recommended Books for XAT Quantitative Ability

        XAT Quantitative Ability Books
        Book nameAuthor
        Quantitative Aptitude Simplified for XATDeepak Agarwal
        Concepts of Numbers for XAT and Other Aptitude exams (Old Edition)Gajendra Kumar

        XAT General Knowledge Exam Pattern

        GK in any entrance exam whatsoever cannot be defined in partiuclar as the subject scope is quite vast. Everything under the sun forms part of general awareness. Total of 25 questions are asked in XAT to be attempted in 15 minutes. Key feature of this section is that marks obtained are not taken into account while calculating XAT scores. Important topics to be covered are:

        Politics, History, Sports, Nation and States, Business, Literature, Economics, International Relations, Society. Questions from GK and current affair will be in the ratio 60:40. Read: Preparation Tips for XAT 2021 GK.

        Recommended Books For XAT General Knowledge

        Books play an important role in the life of students. It is very important to choose the right books for proper preparation. Given below are some recommended books for candidates preparing for XAT 2021:

        XAT Important Books
        Book nameAuthor
        General Knowledge 2021Arihant
        IIFT & XAT (GK Compendium) 2016-17Career Launcher

        Target XAT 2021 (Past Papers 2005 - 2017 + 5 Mock Tests)

        XAT Solved Papers 2008-2016 Career Launcher
        Jabbing the XATR.K Jha

        Recommended Magazines

        Reading magazines is a fun way to boost your vocabulary and stay updated with topics for general awareness. 

        • Competition Success
        • India Today
        • Business World
        • Business Line by The Hindu Group

        Also Read: XAT Books for Preparation 2021 With Key Features (Section Wise)

        XAT Exam Pattern and Marking Scheme for Last 4 Years

        Total Questions10010010098104
        Duration3 hours3 hours3 hours3 hours3 hours
        Mode of ExamOnlineOnlineOnlineOfflineOffline
        Type of QuestionsMCQs + DescriptiveMCQs + DescriptiveMCQs + DescriptiveMCQs + DescriptiveMCQs + Descriptive
        Answer Options55555
        Level of DifficultyModerate to HighModerate to HighModerate to HighModerate to HighHigh
        Total Sections3+13+13+23+23+2
        Distribution of Questions

        VALR - 26

        DM - 21

        QA & DI - 28

        GK - 25

        VALR - 26

        DM - 21

        QA & DI - 27

        GK - 25

        VALR - 26

        DM - 22

        QA & DI - 27

        GK - 25

        VALR - 24

        DM - 21

        QA & DI - 27

        GK - 25

        VALR - 26

        DM - 23

        QA & DI - 29

        GK - 25

        Special Case0.05 marks per question for more than 8 unattempted questions0.05 marks per question for more than 8 unattempted questions0.05 marks per question for more than 8 unattempted questions0.05 marks per question for more than 12 unattempted questions0.05 marks per question for more than 13 unattempted questions

        XAT 2021 Exam Day Instructions

        Candidates have to follow the instructions while taking the exam. The instructions will help you to take the computer based exam easily. For time management, a timer will be present on the right- hand side corner of the computer screen. No specified sequence has to be followed by the candidates while answering the questions. While responding to the questions, you will get options for checking the count of attempted and unattempted questions. 

        Candidates can change their response to another option if needed. Also, you can answer the questions in any sequence but you can see only one question at a time.  There are a few more instructions that should be taken into consideration are:

        • They can select the option of ‘Next Question’ or ‘Previous Question’ to move on to different questions.
        • The ‘Erase’ button at the bottom of the screen can be used to change the response. 
        • To review a particular question, candidates can use the ‘tag’ option to bookmark it and later ‘de-tag’ the same, if required. 
        • To know the status of every question, there is a color palette on the right-hand side of the screen. Different colors against the question status they represent are as follows:
        On Screen FeatureInterpretation
        Yellow Question hasn't been answered and kept for review
        Purple Question has been answered and marked for review
        White Question hasn't been answered
        Green Question has been answered

        Must Read:

        XAT Verbal Ability Syllabus, Pattern, Previous Year Analysis, Preparation Tips

        XAT Quant Syllabus, Pattern, Sample Questions, Preparation Tips

        XAT Decision Making Questions With Solutions, Tips, Pattern

        XAT GK Syllabus, Pattern, Sample Questions, and Preparation Tips

        Most of the selections made by the candidate will be on autosave mode. You must make sure that questions marked for review or attempted will be considered attempted unless you use the ‘erase’ option on them. After finishing the exam you can use the ‘Preview Submit’ Button to view their responses. Candidates can only leave the exam hall after the completion of 3 hours.

        Books play an important role in the life of students. It is very important to choose the right books for proper preparation. Given below are some recommended books for candidates preparing for XAT 2021

        XAT Previous Year Exam Pattern Analysis

        There were some major changes introduced in the exam pattern of the XAT 2019 paper. It is expected that those changes will be continued in this year’s XAT 2021 exam pattern. XAT 2020 Exam pattern changes are mentioned below:

        • Verbal and Logical Ability Analysis was moderate to difficult
        • Decision Making consisted of moderate and few boring questions
        • Quantitative Ability and Data Interpretation sections had a mix of easy, moderate, and difficult questions
        • GK sections consisted of questions mostly from static GK and current affairs. Level of difficulty was similar to that of previous year.

        The following table displays XAT Exam Pattern (Over Past 3 Years):

        Section20202019 (Essay section scrapped)2018 (XAT in CBT Mode)2017

        For section-wise analysis of XAT previous years’ paper click here.

        XAT 2021 Model Test Paper

        Candidates can practice the model test paper given on the XLRI’s official website a few days before the exam. The questions will give a fair idea about what can be expected in XAT 2021. This paper will have a time duration of 2 hours. The actual XAT paper pattern will have a time duration of 3 hours. The sections will include Verbal and Logical Ability, Decision Making, Quantitative Ability & Data Interpretation, and General Knowledge. Practicing XAT 2021 Model Paper, along with the sample papers, will help you enhance your speed and accuracy. They will help you manage your time properly. 

        XAT Exam Pattern FAQs

        Ques. Any changes in the overall pattern compared to last year?

        Ans. The overall exam pattern was changed last year. No new changes are expected this year. 

        Ques. What is the syllabus for GK section of XAT? How do I prepare for it?

        Ans. GK questions for XAT can be based on Politics, History, Sports, Nation and States, Business, Literature, Economics, International Relations, Society. To prepare for the same, candidates must devote some time to current affairs everyday, leaving GK section preparation for the last is a mistake that most candidates commit and it causes unnecessary stress. Candidates can read newspapers or watch daily current affairs on various news channels to remain updated. A good command over GK will be immensely helpful for the Group Discussion round. Check XAT 2021 Preparation Tips

        Ques. Will the candidates be able to choose the order of sections according to their choice?

        Ans. Yes, the applicants can choose any section, to begin with. However, GK section can be attempted by the candidates after they’re done with the first 3 sections. 

        Ques. Will there be an essay section in XAT 2021?

        Ans. Essay Section was removed from XAT Exam Pattern in 2019. XAT 2021 is expected to continue on the same line. So there will be no essay sectionthis year as well.

        Ques. What will be the duration of the exam?

        Ans. The exam duration will be 3 hours.

        Ques. Will there be any sectional time limit or overall time limit?

        Ans. First 3 sections have to be completed in 165 minutes, 15 minutes will be given for the GK section.

        Ques. Will the candidates have access to an on-screen calculator?

        Ans. No, the candidates will not be given access to the on-screen calculator.

        Ques. What are the sections for XAT 2021?

        Ans. XAT 2021 Exam Pattern comprises of 4 sections:

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

        We hope this article will be helpful during your XAT Preparation. Once you are thorough with the exam pattern and syllabus, the preparation journey becomes a smooth-sail. We wish you luck for the exam. In case of any query, ask in the comments below.

        *The article might have information for the previous academic years, which will be updated soon subject to the notification issued by the University/College


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