Strategy to ace XAT Verbal Section

Once you are done with the CAT and IIFT exams, it is time to focus on other important entrance exams. One such popular competitive exams is XAT. Conducted by XLRI, XAT is taken by over 90,000 candidates from different educational backgrounds. Considering the unique challenges posed by the exam, it is important to have a customised exam strategy.
In this article, we will discuss the tips and tricks to tackle Verbal Ability questions of XAT 2023.
XAT Verbal Ability: Important Topics
Before we delve into the specifics of the section, let's have a look at the weightage of different topics in the last year exam (XAT 2022):
Area Number of Questions
Reading Comprehensions 13-14
Critical Reasoning 5
Sentence Rearrangement 2
Sentence Completion 2
Grammar 3
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From the above table, you can notice that the verbal portion features questions from a variety of topics. This also means is that you need to increase the scope of your preparation in order to successfully master the exam and score well in it. Besides, XAT introduces minor variations in the exam pattern year to year and some of the question types might disappear this year and new ones might take their place. This is why it is important that you solve the previous year XAT papers as well as mock tests.
The pattern of verbal part highlights the following:
  • The exam tests a mix of reading and reasoning skills.
  • Reading comprehensions form a very important part of the exam.
  • Diversity of question types poses a challenge.
  • The section requires focused and in-depth reading.
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XAT Verbal Ability: Time Management Tips
XAT provides you a total of 165 minutes for the 75 questions that will be asked in part-1 of the exam. In this, verbal questions appear in the verbal & logical ability section. Out of these 165 minutes, you should not spend more than 45 minutes on Verbal & Logical Ability section. Remember, the top institutes in XAT do have sectional cut-offs and you are advised to balance your sectional attempts in case these institutes are your target. In case you are targeting institutes other than the top ones, then you can probably devote extra time to the areas of your strength and try to maximise your overall score in the exam.
XAT Verbal Ability: Question Types and Examples
The unique thing about the XAT exam is that even with areas such as vocabulary, the exam features some unique questions. Have a look at the following questions:
Vocabulary Question 1
Six words are given below; you need to answer the accompanying question based on these:
I. Cacophonic II. Cacographic
III. Calamitous IV. Catastrophic
V. Contraindicative VI. Cataclysmic
Which of the above words have similar meanings?
A. IV & VI only
B. I, II &V only
C. II, V& VI only
D. III, IV & VI only
E. Ill, IV, V& VI only
Solution for the question:
The meanings of the words given in the question are:
  • Cartography is the study and practice of making maps.
  • Cacography means bad handwriting or spelling.
  • Contraindicative is to make a treatment inadvisable.
  • Calamitous involves calamity.
  • Catastrophic involves disaster and horrible events.
  • Cataclysmic means severely destructive.
Thus, we can see that cataclysmic is similar to catastrophic.
Option (D) is the correct answer here.
Note for the Question:
In this vocabulary question, we can see that XAT question setters have not directly asked you to identify meanings and have complicated the question. If you maintain your wits, then essentially you only need to know the meanings of the two words that match and this should help you identify the correct answer.
The trick with XAT questions is that you have to read them carefully and use option elimination even for a vocabulary question.
Vocabulary Question 2
Read the four sentences given below and then, answer the question that follows:
  1. He is the most ________of the speakers to address us today.
  2. The belief in ______justice is the essence of his talk,
  3. This hall would have been full but for the______ rain.
  4. Many in the audience have achieved ______in their respective fields.
Which of the following sequence of words would most appropriately fit the blanks?
  1. i. Eminent, ii. Imminent, iii. Immanent, iv. Eminence
  2. i. Immanent, ii. Imminent, iii. Imminence, iv. Eminence
  3. i. Eminent, ii. Immanent, iii. Imminent, iv. Eminence
  4. i. Eminent, ii. Immanent, iii. Imminent, iv. Imminence
  5. i. Immanent, ii. Imminence, iii. Eminent, iv. Eminence
Solution for the question:
The meanings of the words in the option are:
  • Eminent - outstanding
  • Immanent - inherent/ existing or operating within
  • Imminent - about to happen
  • Eminence - quality of being eminent
In this case, option (C) is the perfect fit.
Note for the Question:
Again, you can see in this question that this is not a straightforward sentence completion question. The blanks in this case are confusing words and you need to know the differences between these words in order to correctly identify the answer.
The important thing here is that the unique nature of questions is not only limited to vocabulary. In fact, RCs also feature questions which are unique in nature and test your ability to think out of the box. Have a look at the following application-based questions that featured in the exam in the last few years.
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Application-based Questions of RCs
1. A father and son aged 60 and 25 respectively, have been learning paragliding for quite some time. Based on the passage above, which of the following would be true?
  1. The son would always learn more.
  2. The father might learn more, if both of them started at the same time.
  3. The son would learn more, if both of them started at the same time.
  4. If both of them have been learning since the age of 15, the son would learn more.
  5. Both of them would always progress equally.
2. Mr. Good and Mr. Evil were batch-mates during the college. Five years after graduating, Mr. Evil was put behind bars for financial fraud while Mr. Good was running a successful NGO, working for orphans. Mr. Good was raised in a protective environment while Mr. Evil was a self-made man.
Based on the above information, which of the following statements is definitely correct?
  1. It can be concluded that Mr. Evil is a 'dandelion', but nothing can be concluded about Mr. Good.
  2. It can be concluded that Mr. Evil is an 'orchid', but nothing can be concluded about Mr. Good.
  3. It can be concluded that Mr. Good is a 'dandelion', but nothing can be concluded about Mr. Evil.
  4. It can be concluded that both Mr. Good and Mr. Evil are 'orchid'.
  5. It is not possible to conclude about 'children typology' of the two batch mates.
Other Question Types in XAT Verbal Ability
The above questions are the outliers in the exam. Apart from them, there are quite a few standard question types in the exam, that are explained below:
  • Para-jumbles are generally conventional in nature.
  • RCs feature questions on the main idea and structure of the passage.
  • RCs feature questions that ask you to check whether particular facts or inferences are valid in the given context.
  • Critical Reasoning questions can be based along conventional lines (weaken or strengthen the argument).
Final Tips for Verbal Ability:
Considering the above discussion, there are a few simple things that you need to keep in mind while solving the section:
  1. Start with vocabulary, para-jumbles, and other non-RC questions. Maximise your attempt in these questions.
  2. In the first go, do not attempt question types that are new to you. Maximise your attempt in familiar areas first.
  3. RCs in XAT can be quite challenging at times and therefore, RC selection is extremely important. Make sure you scan through the questions and establish what kind of questions are asked from the passage. If the passage poses a lot of inferential or application-based questions (like the ones above), avoid it at first. Solve passages that feature main idea, phrase meaning, vocabulary, fact co-relation questions. These are generally easier to solve.
  4. Do not get emotionally attached to passages. There are going to be cases in which even after reading the whole passage, you might not be able to answer the questions. Do not worry about that; focus on what else can be solved in the exam.
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