The Xavier Admission Test (XAT) is the most popular exam in the MBA entrance test universe after CAT. A large number of highly ranked MBA colleges/ universities accept XAT scores to shortlist candidates for the next stage in the admissions process. The XAT is unique in the sense that all candidates appearing for the test have to write an essay on a given topic. Most students find this to be the biggest challenge in the exam. In this article, we will provide you with a strategy on how to prepare for the XAT essay and how to approach the topic given to you in the exam.
The XAT essay is very similar to the Written Ability Test (WAT) conducted by the IIMs. However, a key difference is that, while the WAT is conducted for candidates who have been shortlisted for the GD/ PI stage; the essay in XAT has to be written by every applicant in the paper stage itself. The essay in XAT is not counted while calculating your percentile score. The essay is evaluated only if you are shortlisted for the GD/ PI round and has 15-30% weightage in the calculation of the final merit and it varies from college to college.
The essay is clubbed with the General Awareness (GA) section in the XAT and you are given a consolidated time of 40 minutes to attempt 30 questions of GA as well as write a 200-word essay on a given topic. In the past, XAT examiners have given one topic to write on, with the exception of XAT 2012, wherein 2 topics were given and candidates had to select one.
The topics are very general or abstract in nature and do not require any specialized study. Regular reading of the newspapers and/ or current affairs magazines is sufficient to provide you with the examples and instances required to substantiate your claims/ arguments in the essay.
The objective of giving broad essay topics is to evaluate the candidates on their ability to think logically and coherently. The idea is not knowledge appraisal, which is done in the other sections of XAT, but to assess your ability to express yourself effectively. The parameters on which your essay is evaluated are given below:
Structure of the EssayThe examiner checks whether or not the essay flows logically from one paragraph to the other. Marks are deducted for illogically ordered ideas and poorly connected arguments. Marks are awarded for structured and ordered representation of arguments.
KnowledgeWhile your subject-knowledge is tested in the other sections of the exam, this areas checks whether you are aware of the ongoing debates in the public media and important events, personalities, laws, etc. as such facts are effective in corroborating your arguments or opinions in the essay.
Innovative IdeasAs future managers, you will be expected to generate new ideas as a part of your job. Hence, evaluators expect your essay to be replete with innovative ideas. Mere repetition of experts' opinions is not recommended in the XAT essay.
AttitudeThe evaluators deduct marks for any view that they perceive to be extremist, prejudiced, unreasonable and unscientific. They expect a balanced view in the essay that reflects the rational mind of the writer.
GrammarThis is very important in the XAT essay. Marks are deducted for grammar, punctuation and spelling errors.
Now that you are acquainted with the evaluation criteria for the XAT essay, you can now devise a sound preparation strategy. Since you have to write only 200 words, there is little room for beating around the bush. Follow a classical Introduction-Body-Conclusion Structure. In the introduction, take a broad view, which gives the examiner an impression of your understanding of the topic.
In the Body of the essay, focus on analyzing the topic from as many different perspectives as possible, neatly divided into points or paragraphs. Ideally one paragraph should contain only one idea. Conclude with your own opinion, ideas and suggestions which are forward looking and optimistic.
In order for you to make your essay content-rich, you must read on a regular basis, newspapers, current affairs magazines, fiction and non-fiction books. This will arm you with necessary facts, examples and information that will strengthen your viewpoints.
Reading of newspapers and articles by reputed writers/ journalists is also recommended, as it will aid you in forming an independent opinion on current issues of national and international importance. It will in turn help you suggest new solutions and ideas, which are sure to make your essay stand out and fetch more marks.
You must understand that examiners are evaluating future managers. In managerial positions, you will be interacting with people from all walks of life. Thus, any prejudices or biases exhibited in the essay will display an inability on your part to deal with problems rationally and logically. Thus, it is advised that you maintain a balanced point of view in the essay, which takes into account maximum possible angles on an issue.
As far as grammar proficiency is concerned, we suggest that you re-visit the standard English Grammar books studied in school. Also, you may refer to "Word Power Made Easy" by Norman Lewis to review basic grammar rules. Remember, impressive essays do not always have excessive jargons or atypical words. Essays written in simple and lucid language, with due regard to grammar and punctuation rules will always stand you in good stead.
Last but not the least, lots and lots of practice is the only way to go if you want to score well in the XAT essay. Pick up topics from a wide variety of areas and practice writing an essay in 20 minutes. Make sure that you adhere to the word limit. Also, get the essay evaluated from an experienced teacher on a regular basis.
Rest assured, if you follow a methodical approach to essay writing for XAT, you give yourself every chance to ace the exam!
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