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. 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.
XAT essay is very similar to the Written Ability Test (WAT) conducted by the IIMs. XAT essay is very similar to the Written Ability Test (WAT) conducted by the IIMs. However, a key difference is that all XAT takers have to do the essay section in the exam, while only the shortlisted candidates appear for the WAT round. The percentile score does not include essay performance. The percentile score does not include essay performance. However, the essay score carries a certain weightage in the calculation of the final merit and it varies from college to college.
General Awareness (GA) and essay sections form part 2 of the XAT exam and you are a total time of 25 minutes to attempt 25 questions of GA as well as write an essay on a given topic.
The essay 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.
XAT Essay Writing: Evaluation Parameters
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, as in the other sections of XAT, but to assess your ability to express yourself effectively. The evaluation parameters for your essay are as follows:
Structure of the Essay
The examiner checks whether or not the essay flows logically from one paragraph to the other. Illogically ordered ideas and poorly connected arguments lead to a deduction of marks. Structured and ordered representation of arguments will fetch good marks.
While part 1 of XAT tests your subject knowledge, part 2 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.
As future managers, you have to generate new ideas as a part of your job. Hence, evaluators expect your essay to be replete with innovative ideas. Experts advise against the repetition of similar opinions without proper justification.
The 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.
This is very important in the XAT essay. In case of grammar, punctuation or spelling errors, there will be a certain penalty.
XAT Essay Writing: The Right Approach
Now that you know 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, and fiction and non-fiction books. This will arm you with necessary facts, examples and information that will strengthen your viewpoints.
Experts recommend that XAT takers should develop a habit of reading newspapers and articles by reputed writers/ journalists. This aids 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, you must maintain a balanced point of view in the essay, which takes into account the 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 jargon 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 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 15-20 minutes. Make sure that you adhere to the word limit. Also, get the essay evaluation by 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!