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XAT Exam Pattern

XAT Exam Pattern is officially announced by Xavier Labour Relations Institute (XLRI) each year. It details out the complete paper pattern, marking scheme, weightage of questions, important questions, etc. The current format of XAT Exam Pattern is same as that of last year but the number of questions might vary.

xat paper pattern

Here are some key points about XAT Exam Pattern:


  • XAT comprises of two papers and it is mandatory to clear both the papers.
  • Paper 1 contains 3 section viz. Decision Making, Verbal & Logical Ability and Quantitative Ability and Data Interpretation.
  • Paper 2 contains questions from General Knowledge and Essay Writing.
  • The total number of questions in XAT Paper 1 is 72 and 25 questions in Paper 2.

XAT 2018 will be scheduled in January 2018. It is suggested to be thorough with XAT Syllabus, as it informs all candidates with the important topics that one must cover. 

Last year, the level of difficulty of XAT 2017 was observed to be ranging from moderate to high. While questions in quantitative ability were comparably hard, the verbal ability section was slightly easier than the previous years’. Check complete XAT 2017 Exam Analysis

XAT Exam Pattern Highlights

XAT Exam DateJanuary 2018
Number of Papers2
Number of sections

Paper 1: 3 (Decision Making, Verbal & Logical Ability and Quantitative Ability & Data Interpretation)

Paper 2: 2 (General Knowledge and Essay Writing)

Duration of exam

Paper 1- 170 minutes

Paper 2- 35 minutes

Number of questions

Paper 1- 72

Paper 2- 25

Language of paperEnglish
Number of answer choices5
Mode of examinationOffline i.e. Pen Paper based exam
Marking scheme

Paper 1- +1 marks for correct answer; -0.25 marks for incorrect answer

Paper 2- No negative marking

XAT Exam Pattern- Paper 1

Paper 1 consists 3 sections namely:

  1. Verbal & Logical Ability
  2. Decision Making and
  3. Quantitative Ability & Data Interpretation

Major facts about XAT Paper 1:

  • Paper 1 of XAT Exam evaluates a candidate on his/ her aptitude. 
  • It focuses on the candidate’s ability to analyze and solve various reasoning and logical questions.
  • The questions asked in the paper are objective in nature.
  • There will be 5 answer choices for each question.

Number of Questions: According to XAT Exam Pattern, candidates have to attempt 72 questions in Paper 1. The following table indicates the section-wise distribution of questions:

PartSection NameNumber of Questions
AVerbal and Logical Ability24
BDecision Making21
CQuantitative Ability & Data Interpretation27

Check XAT Preparation

XAT Time Duration: Participants of XAT 2018 will have a total of 170 minutes i.e. 2 hours and 50 minutes to solve Paper 1. Since there are 72 questions, candidates must take an average 2 minutes and 17 seconds to solve each question.

Here is the section-wise time duration for Paper 1 of XAT:

PartSection NameDuration (approx.)
AVerbal and Logical Ability56 minutes 
BDecision Making50 minutes 
CQuantitative Ability & Data Interpretation63 minutes 

XAT Marking Scheme: 

  • All questions carry equal marks.
  • Negative marking is applicable in the case of incorrect entries as well as in the case of unanswered questions.
  • 0.25 mark is deducted for every wrong attempt.
  • A candidate can leave out 12 questions unattempted, beyond which there will be negative marking of 0.05 marks.

XAT Exam Pattern- Paper 2

  • Paper 2 of XAT 2018 comprises of two sections namely General Knowledge and Essay Writing.
  • This section covers various conventional general knowledge questions and trending current affairs. The topics could vary from economics, politics, geography, business, and history.
  • In case of essay writing, all candidates are given a particular topic. They have the provision of writing in support of the topic or against the statement of the topic. They have to provide valid points supporting their view on the statement of the topic.
  • There are 26 Questions in Paper 2 (GK & Essay).
  • Questions in Paper 2 are both, subjective and objective in nature.

XAT Number of Questions: The distribution of questions in both parts of Paper 2 vary. Check them below:

PartSection NameNumber of Questions
AGeneral Knowledge25

XAT Time Duration: According to the pattern, the time allotted to Paper 2 is 35 minutes. Thus, candidates have to attempt a total of 26 questions including essay in this time frame. Since essay writing requires more time as compared to the GK questions, we suggest candidates o allocate around 10 minutes for the essay and 15 minutes to solve the GK questions. The time management for this section rests entirely in the hands of candidates.

XAT Marking Scheme: According to the marking scheme, there is no negative marking for Paper 2 in XAT.

XAT Syllabus

It is essential to be thorough with XAT Syllabus before sitting for the exam. This is to avoid any surprises in the actual paper. The syllabus helps cover all topics and sub-topics from all the sections of Paper 1 and Paper 2. Here is the section-wise syllabus for your reference:

XAT Paper 1

Data Interpretation Important Topics:

VariationTime and WorkTime, Speed and Distance
Linear and Quadratics EquationsSurds and IndicesInequalities
LogarithmsMensuration and GeometryTables and Case lets
Probability/ Profit or LossCritical PathAverages and Partnerships
Alligations and MixturesAlgebraPercentage

XAT Preparation Books for Data Interpretation

Book namePublisher / Author
Quantitative Aptitude for CATNitish K.Sinha
Quantitative Aptitude for the CATNitish K. Sinha
CAT 2017 Quantitative AptitudeGautam Puri
Wiley's ExamXpert XAT (Xavier Aptitude Test)Wiley India (Author)
Jabbing the XAT Mock Tests & Solved PapersR K Jha

Verbal and Logical Ability Important Topics:

Grammar QuestionsPara Completion and inferenceReading Comprehension
Verbal LogicPara JumblesArguments

XAT Preparation Books for Verbal and Logical Ability

Book namePublisher/ Author

Study Notes Material On XAT Paperback – 2017

Sourav Sir's classes

Verbal Ability Comprehension for CAT/ XAT/ IIFT/ CMAT/ MAT/ Bank PO/ SSC 2nd Edition

Bharta Patodi and Aditya Choudhary

Decision Making Important Topics:

ArithmeticAnalytical Reasoning
SituationalConditions and Grouping Test
Data Arrangement TestReading Comprehension
Case letsDecision Making in a situation

XAT Preparation Books for DM

XAT XAT2018 XATPreparationBooks XATSyllabusforDecisionMaking XAT2018Syllabus

Book namePublisher

XAT 2016 Decision Making Online Coaching by Ravi Handa (Voucher)

Online book

Target XAT 2017 (Past Papers 2005 - 2016 + 5 Mock Tests)

Disha Experts

XAT Solved Papers 2008-2016 with Full-Length Model Papers Essay Writing & Practice Essays Decision Making

Career Launcher

XAT Paper 2

SubjectImportant Topics
General Knowledge


Government and Politics; Science; Famous Personalities; History; Geography; Awards and winners; Business; Economy; Current affairs; Important happenings around the World; Static GK


Essay WritingEssay is an impromptu test of candidate’s ability to perform under pressure.This section has no fixed syllabus. The topic of the essay questions can vary from any general awareness questions to something very abstract. Candidates must understand and identify what the question is actually asking.

Read more XAT Syllabus

XAT 2017 Paper Analysis

XAT 2017 was successfully conducted on January 08, 2017. Its exam pattern was similar to what was decided last year. XAT 2017 Exam contained a number of tricky questions in all its sections. This year, the level of difficulty of XAT ranged from moderate to high.

While the overall difficulty level of the exam was moderate, the paper 1 and paper 2 has different difficulty level. While the questions in quantitative ability were comparably hard, the verbal ability section was slightly easier than the previous years’. 

Here is the section-wise XAT 2017 Exam Analysis:

Paper 1

SectionQuestionsDifficulty Level
Verbal & Logical Ability24Low to Moderate
Decision Making & Analytical Reasoning21Moderate to High
Data Interpretation & Quantitative Ability27High

Paper 2

SectionQuestions/TopicsDifficulty Level
General Knowledge25Moderate to tough
Essay1 (Globalisation & Jingoism always co-exist)Moderate

Read detailed  XAT 2017 Exam Analysis

XAT Paper Pattern Analysis (2010 to 2017)

XAT Exam Pattern has undergone a lot of changes from the past few years. Listed below are the changes in the following fields:

  • Level of Difficulty
  • Number of questions
  • Number of Sections

Tabulated below is the analysis of XAT Exam Pattern for Paper 1 for past few years.

YearNo. of Questions (Paper 1)
  • The table clearly signifies the variation in the total number of questions asked in XAT Paper 1. It can be seen that questions have decreased over the years i.e. from 101 in 2010 to 72 in 2017. 
  • Also, earlier GK Section was not included in the exam. But, from last year, there is a separate section for GK. But, the marks scored in it are not considered for preparing the final merit list.

XAT Sample Papers

XAT is an exam that evaluates a candidate on his speed and accuracy. It is always advisable to solve as many XAT Sample Papers as possible before you actually sit for the exam. They help you give a fair idea of XAT Exam Pattern and what questions to expect. Regular practice is especially important for sections such as VA, LR, and DI. Also, you get to learn about which section is eating up your maximum time. So, you prepare accordingly. 



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