XAT 2021 Analysis

XAT (Xavier Aptitude Test) 2021 was conducted online on January 3, 2021 between 9:30AM and 12:30 PM. The test had the same structure as last year. The structure is given below along with suggested time allocation, good attempts and estimated cut-off based on the feedback from IMS students and experts.

The Question Paper consisted of two time-bound parts.

Section No. of Questions Marks per question Total marks Suggested time allocation Good Attempts
PART – I (165 minutes) No Sectional Timing within Part - I
Verbal and Logical Ability 26 1 26 55-60 14-15
Decision Making 21 1 21 50-55 12-13
Quantitative Ability and Data Interpretation 28 1 28 55-60 17-19
Total 75 75
PART – II (15 minutes) No Negative Marks
General Awareness 25 1 25 No Negative Marks 15

There was a negative marking of -0.25 marks for Part-I. There was a penalty of -0.1 marks for every unattempted question after 8 unattempted questions.


Overall, XAT-2021 was roughly similar in difficulty level to XAT 2019. VARC and DM Sections were on par with last year with a few questions in DM being difficult .

Based on the inputs received from students and IMS mentors who appeared for the test and the actual cutoffs over last two years, we estimate the following cut-offs for XLRI BM and HRM programs:

XLRI BM Program

VA-RC Section DM Section QA-DI Section Overall
Male candidates 3-3.5 6-6.5 8-9 30-31
Female candidates 2.75-3 5.5-6 7-8 28-29

XLRI HRM Program

VA-RC Section DM Section QA-DI Section Overall
Male candidates 3.5-4 5-5.5 7-8 28-29
Female candidates 3-3.5 4.5-5 6-7 26-27


Note: For both BM and HRM programs of XLRI, the overall cutoff is significantly greater than the sum of the sectional cutoffs. Therefore, the number of good attempts for different sections have been entered from the point of view of a student who wishes to maximize the score in that section.


Verbal and Logical Ability Section (26 questions)

The Verbal and Logical Ability section of XAT 2021 was at par with last year’s paper. There were 17 Reading Comprehension questions and 9 Verbal Ability/Reasoning questions. The Verbal ability/Verbal Reasoning questions were a fair mix of grammar, vocabulary and reasoning based questions (Critical Reasoning and Jumbled Paragraphs). The 17 RC questions were distributed among six passages and one poem. The poem was a short one (like last year), but was abstract – at par with last year. The remaining six passages were of 150 - 350 words each approximately; they had a mixture of mostly medium to difficult questions. Nearly all the questions were inferential and application-based. The options were close and the directions emphasised to choose the ‘best’ one among them.

Area/Questions No. of Qs. Level of Difficulty
Verbal Ability / Reasoning
Grammatically incorrect sentence 2 2 Medium
Grammatically correct sentence 1 1 Medium
Fill in the blanks (4 blanks) 1 1 Medium
Jumbled Paragraphs 2 2 Medium
Critical Reasoning 3 2 Medium, 1 Difficult
Reading Comprehension
Passage 1 (Multitasking and Distraction) 3 2 Easy, 1 Medium
Passage 2 (Poem - Sit by Vikram Seth) 2 2 Difficult
Passage 3 (Uncertainty in life) 2 2 Difficult
Passage 4 (Importance of the ability to process numbers in animals) 3 1 Medium, 2 Difficult
Passage 5 (Microsoft and Windows Phone) 2 2 Medium
Passage 6 (Realization of truth of life) 2 2 Difficult
Passage 7 (Gender data gap) 3 2 Medium, 1 Difficult

An attempt of about 14-15 questions in this section in about 55-60 minutes, with about 75-80% accuracy would be considered a good attempt.

Decision Making (21 questions)

This section consisted of 21 questions, and like last year, none of the questions were quantitative.

This section consisted of 7 sets of 3 questions each. Most of the passages were short and easy to read. As usual, some questions had a fair deal of ambiguity – in that either no answer seemed correct or more than one option appeared correct. Overall, the questions were of medium difficulty. Therefore, the choice of sets/questions to attempt would have depended mainly on your personal preferences and strengths. Overall, the section was more difficult compared to last year's test.

Area/Questions No. of Qs. Question Type Level of Difficulty
Case 1 3 Business Decisions 3 Medium
Case 2 3 Business Decisions 1 Medium, 2 Difficult
Case 3 3 Business Decisions 1 Medium, 2 Difficult
Case 4 3 Ethical Dilemma 3 Difficult
Case 5 3 Ethical Dilemma 3 Difficult
Case 6 3 Business Decisions 2 Medium, 1 Difficult
Case 7 3 Ethical Dilemma 1 Medium, 2 Difficult

In about 50-55 minutes, an attempt of about 12-13 questions with about 75-80% accuracy would be considered to be good .

Quantitative Ability and Data Interpretation (28 questions)

This section was of moderate level of difficulty, at par with XAT-2020. Out of the 28 questions in the section, 19 were on Quantitative Ability and 9 were on Data Interpretation. One question in the question was based on logic.

There were three sets on Data Interpretation with three questions each. The set on Venn Diagram was Difficult while the other two sets (i.e., a set based on table and a set based on scatter plot) were medium in terms of Level of Difficulty. The set based on the table also had a slight logical angle to it.

There were a few sitters which should not have been missed. The section also had a number of time consuming questions. One DI set was especially time consuming. Therefore, selection of questions was the key.

Following is the break-up of the questions in the section:

Quantitative Ability (19 questions)
Easy Medium Difficult Total
Arithmetic 3 2 0 5
Geometry 1 1 3 5
Modern Maths 1 2 0 3
Algebra 2 2 0 4
Numbers 1 0 0 1
Misc.(Logic) 1 0 0 1
Data Interpretation (9 questions)
Table 0 3 0 3
Venn Diagram 0 0 3 3
Scatter Plot 0 3 0 3
Total 0 6 3 9

An attempt of about 17-19 questions (with about 80 percent accuracy) in about 55-60 minutes would be considered a good attempt.


There was no break between Part-I and Part-II.

General Knowledge

The 25 GK questions comprised 15 current affairs questions and 10 static GK questions. Overall, the GK section was slightly more difficult than last year’s test. 14 questions were based on national events, 10 questions were based on international events and 1 question was based on general science. As usual, the questions covered a wide range of areas and gave no special advantage to specialists in any one area. The topics were diverse - Science, History, Geography, Business, Economy, names of political personalities, books and authors, etc.

To maximize the score in this section, one should have attempted 15 questions seriously. Additionally, as there was no negative marking in this section, all the remaining questions should also have been attempted. A score of 6 - 7 would be a good score in this section.


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