XAT 2020 Exam Pattern - Highlights, Sectional Distribution, Marking Scheme and Paper Analysis

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By Anam Shams - Content Writer Jan 03 2020 Share this blog

XAT 2020 Exam Pattern is decided by XLRI, Jamshedpur, being the conducting body. It is one of the most popular MBA entrance examinations with scores being accepted by many prestigious B-Schools across the country. It is conducted annually in a single session in online mode. Over the years several changes to the Exam Pattern of Xavier's Aptitude test have been made. Numerical Type Answer (NAT) questions have been introduced for XAT 2020 Exam Pattern and sectional time limit removed therefore, students will be able to utilize the total allotted for solving all the sections. 

Latest Update: XAT 2020 Results had been declared in the form of Scorecard on January 16, 2020. Candidates can download the same using their Registration Id and Password.

  • Until 2018, examinations had to attempt a descriptive Essay section. The allotted time was 3 ½ hours including the descriptive part. 
  • Since 2019, XAT has scrapped the descriptive section and there are only MCQ to be solved. Candidates have to solve a total of 99 MCQ questions within a consolidated time of 180 minutes. There will be five options for each question. 
  • There are four sections – Verbal and Logical Ability, Decision Making, Quantitative Ability and Data Interpretation, and General Knowledge. 

Candidates have to solve the first three sections within 165 minutes and the GK section within the remaining 15 minutes. The score for the GK section will not be considered for final percentile calculation. Penalty of 0.05 per un-attempted questions beyond the permitted number of 8 questions is introduced. Also, there is a provision allowing candidates to submit their papers after 30 minutes of the commencement of the examination.

XAT 2020 Exam Pattern Highlights

XAT 2020 Examination modeComputer-based
Total number of questions99
Type of questionsMCQ
Number of options5
Total allotted time180 minutes
Total marks300
Number of sections in XAT 20204
Name of sections in XAT 2020Verbal and Logical Ability, Decision Making, Quantitative Ability and Data Interpretation, and General Knowledge
Marking system of XAT 2020+1 for correct answers, -0.25 for incorrect answers, -0.05 for each unanswered question (beyond 8 questions), GK has no negative marking

Do You Know The XAT 2020 Selection Process?

XAT 2020 Exam Pattern

XAT 2020 Exam Pattern Sectional Distribution 

XAT 2020 allows candidates to solve the first three sections in 165 minutes, with no time limit for each section. The remaining 15 minutes are allotted for the GK section. There is no time concession, except for candidates with scribes. Those candidates will get an extra 25 minutes to complete the first three sections.According to XAT 2020 Exam Pattern, the number of questions for each section are tabulated below.

SectionNumber of QuestionsAllotted time
Verbal and Logical Ability (VA and RC)26165 minutes
Decision Making21
Quantitative Ability and Data Interpretation27
General Knowledge2515 minutes

XAT 2020 Exam Pattern Changes Over the Years

  • Introduction of Numerical Type Answer or NAT. Candidates have to use virtual keypads on their computer screens during answering.
  • No Essay section, only MCQs.
  • Total time reduced to 3 hours.
  • A penalty of 0.05 per question for more than 8 unattempted questions.

The number of questions in each section in the XAT 2020 Exam Pattern has changed for each year. Here is a table representing the changing XAT 2020 pattern for the last four years, along with the allotted time.

XAT YearTotal No. of QuestionsSection-wise divisionsTotal time
VA and RCDecision MakingQA and DIGK
2019 (without Essay) online test99 MCQs262127253 hours
2018 online test97 MCQs and 1 Essay242127253 ½ hours
2017 (pen-paper test)97 MCQs and 1 Essay242127253 ½ hours
2016 (pen-paper test)103 MCQs and 1 Essay262329253 ½ hours

Know Tips to Prepare for XAT 2020

In the XAT 2020 Exam Pattern, the score of the GK section is not considered for final percentile calculation. Therefore 74 MCQs will be considered for the final percentile. Each question will be followed by 5 options.

XAT 2020 Exam Pattern Marking Scheme

Since 2017, few changes have been made by XLRI to mark the XAT paper. It is expected that XAT 2020 will also have the same marking pattern as the previous years. Until 2015, XAT did not have any negative marking for unanswered questions. The pattern was introduced in XAT 2016. However, the number of permitted questions that could be left un-attempted has varied over the years. The changing patterns in the marking system of XAT over the previous four years are presented in the table below.

XAT YearMarks for Correct AnswerPenalty for Incorrect AnswerPenalty for Unanswered Questions
202010.25Beyond 8 questions0.10
201910.25Beyond 8 questions0.05
201810.25Beyond 12 questions0.05
201710.25Beyond 12 questions0.05
201610.25Beyond 13 questions0.05

While the marking scheme remains largely similar to previous years, XAT 2020 will also have sectional cut-offs, other than overall cut off.

XAT 2020 Exam Pattern - Syllabus

XLRI did not declare any official syllabus for XAT 2020. However, analyzing examination patterns over the years, a syllabus can be framed covering the relevant topics. The XAT 2020 Exam Pattern questions covered topics that evaluate the candidates quantitative, decision making, verbal and analytical skills. Here is a tabulated format of the syllabus for each section in XAT.

Verbal and Logical Ability (VA and RC)Grammar, Para Jumbles, Vocabulary, Paragraph Completion, Reading Comprehensions on abstract topics, social and economic issues, science and technology, culture, historical fiction, etc.
Decision MakingData Arrangement Sets, Analytical Reasoning, Conditions and Grouping, Case lets, Situations, Complex Arrangement
Quantitative Analysis and Data InterpretationArithmetic, Profit and Loss, Time and Distance, Simple and Compound Interest, Percentages, Average, Ratio and Proportion, Probability, Permutation, Combination, Geometry, Mensuration, Trigonometry, Venn Diagram, Binomial Theorem, Progressions, Surds and Indices, Logarithm, Equations, Set Theory, Complex Numbers, Number System Bar Diagram, Data Tables, Data Charts, Pie Charts, Graphs, Data Analysis and Comparison
General KnowledgeHistory, Politics, Economy and Finance, Sports, International Affairs, Books and Authors, Literature, Current Affairs, Society and Culture etc.

The above-mentioned ones are some of the major topics for the XAT 2020 Exam Pattern. More about the syllabus can be understood from the XAT examination preparation books and materials.

XAT 2020 Exam Pattern - Recommended Books

Candidates can have an extensive idea about the XAT 2020 exam pattern and syllabus from the preparatory books for XAT. Many renowned B-School experts and professors have authored books to help students prepare for the examination. They can find sample papers and previous year’s solutions in those books as well. Here we have created a list of books on each subject that was useful for a XAT 2020 aspirant. Have a look at the table below.

Verbal Ability and Logical Reasoning
Verbal Ability and Comprehension for XATBharat Patodi
Word Power Made EasyNorman Lewis
Concepts of LR – Logical Reasoning for CAT, XAT, CMAT, Bank PO & Other Aptitude TestsGajendra Kumar
Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning for CAT/XAT/IIFT/CMAT/MAT (Box Set)Gajendra Kumar
Verbal & Non-Verbal ReasoningR.S Agarwal
Quantitative Ability and Data Interpretation
Quantitative Aptitude For Competitive ExaminationsAbhijit Guha
Quantitative Aptitude Simplified for XATDeepak Agarwal
Concepts of Numbers for XAT and Other Aptitude exams (Old Edition)Gajendra Kuma
Quantitative Aptitude for Competitive ExaminationsR.S Agarwal
How to Prepare for Quantitative Aptitude for CATArun Sharma
Data Interpretation for the CATArun Sharma
General Knowledge
General Knowledge 2020Arihant
Target XAT 2020 (Past Papers 2005 - 2017 + 5 Mock Tests)Disha
IIFT & XAT (GK Compendium) 2016-17Career Launcher
Jabbing the XATR.K Jha

Apart from books, XAT aspirants should also follow magazines and newspapers to have a better knowledge of current affairs. Some of them are mentioned below –

  • Competition Success
  • India Today
  • Business World
  • Business Line by The Hindu Group

XAT Previous Year Paper Analysis

XAT exam papers over the years have maintained a moderate to difficult standard of questions. The exam pattern has altered the difficulty level of papers each year. For XAT 2020, candidates can refer to previous year papers to have an idea of the difficulty level. Here we have presented an analysis of previous years exams.

XAT 2019 Exam Analysis

No. of sections4
No. of questions to attempt99 (VA-RC – 26, Decision Making – 21, QA-DI – 27, GK – 25)
Total time165 minutes + 15 minutes
Good attempts54-55
Overall difficulty levelModerate to difficult
Most difficult sectionsVerbal Ability was reported as the toughest by examinees and QA was tougher than in previous years. Decision Making had a few tricky questions too.
Easiest sectionsDecision Making and Analytical Reasoning had no mathematical reasoning so many candidates found it easier to solve.
XLRI cut-off for Business ManagementMales – 96, Females – 95
XLRI cut-off for Human Resource ManagementMales – 74, Females - 93

XAT 2018 Exam Analysis

No. of sections5 including essay
No. of questions to attempt97 (VA-RC – 24, Decision Making – 21, QA-DI – 27, GK – 25)
Total time170 minutes + 40 minutes
Good attempts54-55
Overall difficulty levelModerate to difficult
Most difficult sectionsVerbal Ability was the toughest and many aspirants found GK questions difficult.
Easiest sectionsQA and DI was easier than previous years and so was Decision Making and Analytical Reasoning
XLRI cut-off for Business ManagementMales – 94, Females – 94
XLRI cut-off for Human Resource ManagementMales – 92, Females - 92

The above-mentioned cut-offs are for PGDM courses at the XLRI, Jamshedpur. Apart from the overall cut off released by XLRI, there are sectional cut-offs as well. The sectional cut-offs can vary for male and female candidates. Other institutes will have different cut-offs for their programs. Candidates securing between 75 to 94 percentiles can get admission in one of the popular B-Schools that accept XAT score.

XAT 2020 Exam Day Instructions

XAT candidates must follow the following guidelines to ensure smooth functioning throughout the day.

  • Reach the exam center an hour before the reporting time.
  • Electronics such as calculators, mobile phones, etc. are strictly prohibited at the exam center.
  • Eatables and stationery items are not allowed in the examination hall.
  • Following documents must be carried to the center - 
  1. XAT Admit Card
  2. Aadhar Card
  3. Voter ID Card
  4. Passport & College ID 
  5. Driver’s License

FAQs for XAT 2020 Exam Pattern 

Ques. Can I decide the sequence of the XAT 2020 Exam?

Ans. Yes, you can

Ques. Was there any sectional time limit for XAT 2020?

Ans. No, there is no sectional limit for XAT 2020.

Ques. Who conducts XAT 2020?

Ans. XLRI, Jamshedpur conducts XAT 2020.

Ques. How many sections were there in XAT 2020?

Ans. Four

Ques. What are the four sections in XAT 2020?

Ans. The four sections in XAT 2020 are VA-RC, Decision Making, QD/DI and GK.