End of the year marks the ‘B school’ season when candidates try to crack the entrances that come up one after the other. This season is usually brought to a close by the Xavier Aptitude Test (XAT), a national-level entrance administered by XLRI Jamshedpur for MBA/PGDM programmes. Conducted in more than 80 Indian cities, the exam is recognised by XLRI and XAMI Institutes, alongside 160 other B-schools.
Speaking to The Free Press Journal, Prof Vishwa Ballabh, the XAT 2023 Convenor, breaks down the approach to what many consider to be India’s ‘toughest’ management exam.
Prof Vishwa Ballabh, XAT 2023 Convenor
Students fear XAT to be the toughest of all Management entrance examinations, why is that?
I believe that is an unfair notion. Even if a student goes through the curriculum for 3-4 hours a day then they will be able to handle XAT. We test our candidates for their communication and problem-solving skills during the exam. Another important section they look at is ‘Decision Making’, where we expect the candidates to understand the situation and recognise the context of it.
We want XAT candidates to challenge themselves to perform better than in the past and not shy away from difficulties, isn’t that the essence of management?
Are there any notable changes in the XAT exam pattern or XAT duration?
This year onwards the XAT will be held in the afternoon slot, from 2:00 to 5:10, instead of mornings and evenings. We will allow students to enter the exam rooms a bit early too so that they can check whether all their machines are functioning well and get comfortable in the exam center.
This change comes in after the feedback we received from the students, who have to travel distances to reach the XAT center and often combat bad weather conditions and dimly lit streets in certain parts of the country. The afternoon slot helps them avoid these problems.
What do you think makes an ideal XAT candidate?
To start with, we look for a sound academic track record in our candidates. We want students who are willing to take on challenges with an open mind. Most importantly we are not looking for a ‘talker’, we want students who are willing to undertake projects to make a change. Candidates should take the initiative to transform themselves into a leader.
XAT has been conducted for over 70 years, how has the examination evolved to keep up with the contemporary business requirements?
The XAT is designed after all the stakeholders of the examination are taken into consideration, the most important one’s being the students and the industry. We understand the industry that employs our graduates to factor in all the capabilities that are expected from our cohort.
XAT tests the candidates for those skills which are expected by the market. For the students, we ensure that the exam is fair and reasonable and everyone has a chance to portray their abilities.
Will XAT continue to remain a Computer Based Test?
Initially, we were concerned about the digital divide that was prevalent in the country and chose to conduct XAT in a pen-and-paper mode to ensure that all candidates get an equal chance at it.
Observing even second and third-tier cities going online, we switched to online testing to keep up with the industry’s demands. This came as a blessing in disguise during the pandemic. Ideally, we would like to conduct XAT in both, a computer-based mode and a pen and paper format.
Important Dates for XAT 2023
XAT registrations end – November 30, 2022
XAT Admit card – December 20 onwards
XAT Examination Date – January 08, 2023