XAT Exam Analysis 2021: Difficulty Level, Section-wise Paper Analysis

Exam Date : January 3, 2021

For those candidates appearing the XAT 2021 exam will first have to check for the precise exam pattern before attempting it. The expected XAT 2021 Exam analysis and cut-offs can be checked as the exams start off. 

Well, depending on the academic experts from the reputed institutions and student difficulty level, performance and exam expectation, the analysis of XAT 2021 exam will be taken into consideration.

XAT is the next big management exam after CAT. The difficulty level of XAT is far higher than that of the CAT exam.

XLRI, Jamshedpur on account of Xavier Association of Management Institutes (XAMI) conducts Xavier’s Aptitude Test (XAT) every year for students aspiring to pursue an MBA/Management courses in XLRI (Xavier Labor Relation Institute) and various top-notch management institutes/universities across India. Every year over 80,000 candidates apply for XAT. The exam pattern for XAT 2021 exam is divided into two portions;

  • Part-I: contains three sections namely Verbal and Logical Ability, Quantitative Aptitude & Data Interpretation, and Decision Making 
  • Part-II: contains General Knowledge

Let us consider the previous year’s data in this article, and can draw an idea to check the XAT 2021 expected cut off and its difficulty level with the examination analysis.

Latest Updates:

The XAT 2021 Exam will be conducted on January 3, 2021. The appearing candidates can access the response sheet for XAT 2021 by the 1st week of January, followed by the release of answer key by 2nd week of January 2021. You can also attempt free online XAT free mock tests.

XAT Exam Analysis

XAT 2021 Exam Analysis

The XAT 2021 Exam was conducted successfully on January 3, 2021. With XAT 2021 being conducted online, the essay type questions were excluded to reduce the duration of the exam to 3 hours. However, a new type of question, the Numerical Answer Type (NAT) was included in this paper. To answer this, the candidates were required to use a virtual keypad on the computer screen to enter the answer.

There was negative marking involved for unattempted questions, where the candidates will have to face a loss of 0.10 marks per unattempted question, but only if the total number of unattempted questions is over 8.

Take a look at the table displayed below with Sections, Number of questions with difficulty level with time allotment (in minutes) per section.

Total Questions (Part I & II) 100 Questions  
Name of the Section Difference No. of Questions Level of Difficulty
Verbal and Logical Ability Part-I 26 To upgrade after the exam commences
Decision Making 21
Quantitative Ability and Data Interpretation 28
Time duration 165 minutes
Overall questions number 75 MCQs
Note: There will be no sectional time-limit for Paper-I unless emergencies/technical glitches.
General Knowledge Part-II 25
Time duration 15 minutes
Overall questions number 25 MCQs

Section-wise XAT 2021 Exam Analysis

Laying more emphasis and experiment on the previous year’s XAT exam analysis, the appearing candidates can well-check the analysis tabulated section-wise highlighted below:


1: Verbal Ability & Logical Reasoning

Subject Topics Number of questions Level of Difficulty
Error Correction 2 Moderate
Para Jumble 2 Moderate to Difficult
Fill in the blanks 2 Moderate to Difficult
Critical Reasoning 6 Easy to difficult
Pleasure in today’s world (Reading Comprehension passage) 2 Moderate to Difficult
Capitalism  (Reading Comprehension passage) 3 Medium to Difficult
Culture  (Reading Comprehension  passage) 3 Moderate to Difficult
Knowledge as Product  (Reading Comprehension passage) 3 Moderate to Difficult
Fire and Ice (Poem) 3 Moderate to Difficult

2: Decision Making

Subjects topic Number of questions Level of Difficulty
Ethics & Dilemma  (4 Problem Sets) 12 Moderate to Difficult
Business Decision (3 Problem Sets) 9 Moderate to Difficult

3: Quantitative Aptitude & Data Interpretation

Subjects topic Number of questions Level of Difficulty
Arithmetic 7 Moderate to Difficult
Geometry 6 Moderate to Difficult
Modern Mathematics 5 Moderate
Multiple Graphs 3 Moderate
Table 3 Moderate
Number System 2 Moderate
Algebra 2 Moderate to Difficult


4: General Knowledge

Subjects topic Number of questions Level of Difficulty
National Events 18 Difficult
International Events 5 Moderate
General Knowledge 2 Moderate

XAT Cut-off 2021 Exam (Predicted)

The cut-off for the XAT 2021 will be released by the XLRI after the result announcement with respect to the lists of categories accordingly.  Each cut-off mark varies with the different institutes, the XAT results will be announced on February 1, 2021.

Candidates will be eligible for the counselling process based on the percentile achieved on the XAT scorecard with the cut-off set by the different institutes. GD & PI round will be conducted only for qualifying candidates meeting the cut-offs.

Noting that, XAT 2021 cut off variates every year depending on the level of question paper set for the subjects. Most of the reputed Universities like XLRI require the same high cutoffs with few variations with the past years. 

You can check out the XAT Cut off marks (section-wise) for the different colleges. With the declaration of the XAT result by February 1, 2021, the associated B-Schools will release their cut-off.

XAT Cut Off for Institutes XAT Cut Off 2021 (expected) XAT Percentile
Xavier Institute of Management, Bhubaneshwar 30.5-32.5 90-93
Institute of Management Technology, Ghaziabad 30.5-32 90-92
SP Jain Institute of Management & Research, Mumbai  32.5-34.5 93.50-95
GIM, Goa 27.5-30.5 85-90
IRMA Anand  26-27.5 80-85
TAPMI, Manipal 26-27.5 80-85
MICA, Ahmedabad 26-27.5 80-85
LIBA Chennai 26-27.5 80-85
Great Lakes Institutes of Management 26-27.5 80-85
KJ, Somaiya- Mumbai 27.5-30.5 80-85

XAT 2021 Exam: Latest Exam Key Points

Enlisted below is the various points with changes made in the exam pattern for the upcoming XAT Exam 2021.

  • Essay Writing Test Section will be excluded from the sections.
  • The overall time allotted to attempt the exam will be 3 hours (180 minutes) from 3.5 hours. However, there will be an extra time consideration of extra 25 minutes for visually impaired candidates in the XAT exam for Part-I, but not in Part-II portion of the exam paper.
  • Negative marking for Questions Unattempted: If a candidate has more than 8 plus questions unanswered/blank response, there will be a dedication mark of 0.10 per unattempted question.
  • Marking Scheme: There will be a 0.25 marks deduction (negative marking) for every wrong answer. For the right answer, +1 mark will be rewarded.
  • Numerical Answer Type (NAT) Questions: XLRI will be adding NAT questions with the exam conduction accessible to the virtual keypad on the screen to enter the response in numerical answers/solutions to the questions asked.

Above all the latest changes, it is advisable to always go through the in-depth analysis of XAT 2020 exam analysis or previous year analysis as described in the following, to understand for the upcoming XAT 2021 regarding the exam process, pattern, type and difficulties of the questions levels, expected score with results.

Also, refer to the XAT 2020 Analysis with the answer key to test the level of your preparation with the standard of the XAT 2021 exam test score.

XAT 2020 Paper Analysis

XAT 2020 was held in various Indian cities on January 7, 2020. XAT exam was once again as difficult as the previous years.

General Knowledge section did not have negative marks and consisted of 25 questions with a sectional time duration of 15 minutes. The other three sections were Verbal & Logical Reasoning, Decision Making and Quantitative Aptitude & Data Interpretation. There was a total duration of 165 minutes for these sections with no sectional timings. The total time duration of the exam was 180 minutes.

Name of the Section No. of Questions
Verbal and Logical Ability 26
Decision Making 22
Quantitative Ability and Data Interpretation 27
General Knowledge 25

Difficulty Level of XAT 2020

While the overall difficulty level of the paper was moderate-tough, the sectional difficulty varies. The VA-LR section was difficult compared to the last year. There were about 6 critical reasoning questions which were of moderate difficulty. The RC passages were short and most of the questions were inference based questions. There were questions based on sentence correction as well.

The DM section had the same level of difficulty as that of the previous year. Questions were based on the following topics. A small detail regarding the question is also been provided in the table below.

Question Type Question Detail
Resource Sharing A King who ruled a land with plains and mountains
Customer behaviour Deepti buying pillow covers
Market Forecast Bakery with eggless cakes

The QA-DI section was relatively easier when compared to the previous years. There was one question each from Profit and Loss, Percentages, Timea and Distance etc. But the questions from arithmetic topics were relatively hard. There was a bias towards more number of geometry and probability questions.

General Knowledge questions were based on Static GK as well as Current affairs. The score in the GK section will be taken into consideration only when there is a tie between candidates with the same score.

There was a negative marking of -0.25 for every wrong answer.

Negative Marking Confusion

Well in the instruction page of the computers of some candidates it showed that there were no negative marks for the entire paper. However, that was a glitch as only the GK section attracts no negative marks. The other section has a negative mark of -0.25 for every wrong answer and -0.10 for every unattempted question after 8 (unattempted questions).

XAT 2019 Analysis

The XAT exam in 2019 was also usually tough. To be precise the Verbal section was very tough and the Decision Making (DM) section had some challenging questions.

Apart from the difficulty level, there were certain changes that were implemented in the exam pattern which are mentioned here.

Negative Marks for Unattempted Questions

In XAT 2019, 0.1 marks were deducted for every unattempted question. Candidates were given the freedom of leaving only a maximum of 8 (previously 12) questions as unattempted. Beyond which each unattempted question will attract negative marks.

Previously the negative marks for an unattempted question were 0.05 marks.

Removal of Essay Section

The essay section in the XAT paper was also removed and therefore the total duration was reduced by 30 minutes. The total duration effectively was 3 hours instead of 3.5 hours.

Total Number of questions

The total number of questions rose to 97 from 99 as two more questions were added in the Verbal and Logical Reasoning Section.

XAT 2019 had a similar level of difficulty as that of XAT 2018. Students were benefitted with the removal of the essay section.

Sections Number of questions Difficulty
Verbal Ability & Logical Reasoning 26 Difficult
Decision Making 21 Moderate
Quantitative Aptitude & Data Interpretation 27 Moderate
General Knowledge 25 Moderate

This was the pattern that was followed in XAT 2019. Every wrong answer attracted a penalty of 0.25 marks.

Verbal Ability (VA) & Logical Reasoning (LR) Section

XAT 2019 verbal section had predominantly RC (Reading Comprehension) passages. There were 4 RC passages with three questions each. Other than that, there were two poems, which were quite difficult to comprehend. CR (Critical Reasoning) questions were also found difficult.

On the other hand, the 2 PJ (Para Jumble) questions were easy. The RC passages were based on Psychology, Art and Social Studies. This section was quite time-consuming.

A potential candidate could have attempted 16-18 questions with 70% accuracy.

Decision Making & Analytical Reasoning

This section had the same level of difficulty as that of the previous year. 18 questions were based on situational decision making. There were no Mathematical or calculation based questions which made this section easier. Overall there were 3 caselets and those sets were also similar to that of XAT 2018.

16-17 attempts were considered as good.

Quantitative Aptitude & Data Interpretation

Questions in this section were quite difficult compared to that of XAT 2018. Most QA (Quantitative Aptitude) questions were based on Geometry & Algebra. The questions from Geometry was difficult which made the paper challenging.

Arithmetic based questions were considered doable.

There were two DI (Data Interpretation) sets and one of them were tricky while the other was doable. On the whole 16-17 attempts were considered as good.

General Knowledge

The difficulty level of General Knowledge section was same as the previous exam. Questions as usually were based on current affairs and static GK. Anyone strong in GK could have attempted 12-14 questions right and scored 7-8 marks.


Overall as per student reviews, XAT 2019 was relatively difficult when compared to XAT 2018.

XAT 2018 Paper Analysis

Every year there are minor changes made in the exam pattern with respect to the previous year. In the same way, XAT 2018 had some changes.

Sections 2017 2018
Part 1 72 Questions 74 Questions
Part 2 25 Questions 25 Questions

Unlike XAT 2019, the exam in 2018 had two sections for a duration of 210 minutes. Part 1 had the QA, DM, LR & VARC sections for 170 minutes, while Part 2 had General Knowledge questions for 40 minutes.

Verbal Ability & Logical Reasoning

As usual, this section was tough comparatively. Most of the questions were based on RC and CR. The PJ (para jumble) questions and the one and only grammar question was relatively easier.

RC questions were based on Philosophy and Logic. VA and LR was a long and tiring section which almost took 50-55 minutes for a potential aspirant to complete.

Decision Making & Analytical Reasoning

In comparison to XAT 2017 paper this section was much more easier. All the caselets were short and hence took less time to read which proved to be beneficial. Most of the questions were based on situational decision making and only 3 questions were based on Mathematical or Analytical Reasoning.

Quantitative Aptitude & Data Interpretation

This section was also easier when compared to XAT 2018. One of the DI sets was found to be tricky. A total of 19 questions were asked from QA section and most of the questions were based on Geometry and Algebra.

On top of that, the Geometry questions were difficult. However, the arithmetic questions were much easier to do.

Two caselets based on sports was found on the paper. The two DI sets had 6 questions each.

4-6 questions in DI and around 14 questions in Quant were found doable. On the whole, any potential candidate could have done 17-19 questions in a span of 60-70 minutes.

General Knowledge

GK as usually had the same level of difficulty. 25 questions were asked and getting a score of 9 or 10 by attempting 12-14 questions right was considered a good attempt.


The essay topic on XAT 2018 question paper was “Ethical Practices & Sustainability”. As this was a general topic students found it easier.

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