XAT Exam Pattern – Key Changes in 2021, Comparison of Previous 7 years XAT patterns

XAT 2021 is regulated by XLRI on the behalf of Xavier’s Association of Management Institutes. Over the years, the XAT pattern has evolved and has recently gone through some further changes. Those who want to score well in XAT must develop the understanding of its pattern.

In this article, we will analyse the XAT pattern, do some comparisons with previous year’s questions and see some of the recent changes happening in the exam. 

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XAT 2021 – Exam Pattern

  • XAT 2021 is a computer-based test which will be conducted online. 
  • The candidates will have to answer 100 questions in three hours. 
  • The exam will be divided in two parts. In part 1, candidates will have to answer 75 questions within a time frame of 165 minutes whereas in part 2, there will be 25 questions that will have to be answered in 15 minutes.
  • Part 1 will have 26 questions from Verbal and Logical Ability (VLA), 21 questions from Decision Making (DM) and 28 questions from Quantitative Ability and Data Interpretation (QA & DI).
  • On the other hand, part 2 will have 25 questions from General Knowledge.
  • In Part 1, each correct answer will give one mark and each wrong answer will deduct 0.25 marks. 
  • There is no negative marking in the General Knowledge section.

Click here to get the complete information on XAT 2021 Syllabus.

XAT 2021 – Sectional Scoring Pattern

Sections in XAT 2021 Exam PatternNumber of questionsOverall Time Duration
Part-175 Total MCQs165 Minutes
Verbal and Logical Ability26No Sectional Time Limit
Decision Making21No Sectional Time Limit
Quantitative Ability & Data Interpretation28No Sectional Time Limit
Part-225 Total MCQs15 Minutes
General Knowledge25
Total questions (Part 1 + Part 2)100

XAT 2021 – Changes in the exam pattern

In 2020, a few new changes have been made in the XAT exam pattern which were never seen before. The changes made were for the convenience of the candidates and were also in line with the changing needs of the corporate world. Here, we will see the major changes which took place in 2020. 

  • Test timings  changed from 9.30AM to 12.30PM and from 10AM to 1 PM
  • Essay writing test scrapped
  • Numerical Answer Type (NAT) questions  introduced without negative marking
  • All questions made MCQ-type
  • GK section not counted for percentile calculation
  • Negative marking for every wrong answer:¼ 
  • Marks for every correct answer:1
  • No negative marking for General Knowledge section in Part 2
  • All the questions have five options, from which one will be chosen as a correct answer.
  • Visually impaired candidates with scribe given additional 25 minutes only for Part 1 of XAT exam

Key Changes in XAT Exam Pattern 2021 

  1. NAT Questions Introduced – From the year 2020, a new type of Numerical Answer Type (NAT) questions were introduced in XAT by XLRI. Answers to the questions will be given through the virtual keypad.
  2. Deduction in Marks for Unattempted Questions – According to the new rules, after 8 unattempted questions, every subsequent unattempted question will result in deduction of 0.1 mark.
  3. No Essay Writing Test – Now XAT is a fully multiple-choice-questions based test and the essay writing question has been removed from the test.
  4. XAT Time Duration Reduced – XAT 2021 exam duration has been reduced to 3 hours from 3 and a half hours. 
  5. 25 Minutes Extra for Visually Impaired Candidates – XAT 2021 offers 25 minutes extra time for the scribe to complete the Part-1 (first 3 sections) of XAT exam. No time concession is given for the GK section.

Click here to know about the XAT 2021 Registration details.

Comparison between XAT Rules 2019 and XAT 2021

XAT exam yearXAT 2020XAT 2020XAT 2019XAT 2018
Test Duration3 hours3 hours3 hours3.5 hour
Number of Sections4445
Subjective Answer QuestionNoNoNoYes
Maximum marks100999997
Key ChangeNo Essay Writing testNo Essay Writing testNo Essay Writing testEssay Writing test

XAT 2021: Comparison of previous 7 years XAT patterns – XAT exam rules and process have constantly evolved over the period of time. FInd the table below to find the changes which took place in the last seven years.

XAT Exam YearTotal Questions, Time DurationSection-wise Division of QuestionsMarking Pattern for MCQsPercentile Calculation
XAT 2020

(Scrapped Essay Writing test)

100 MCQsVARC-26

DM-21

Quant-28

GK-25

1 mark for each correct answer;

¼ negative marking for each wrong answer;

penalty of 0.1 mark per question if more than 8 questions left unattempted

Score for 75 MCQs in 1st three sections accounted for percentile calculation
XAT 201999VARC-26

DM-21

Quant-27

Gk-25

1 mark for each correct answer;

¼ negative marking for each wrong answer;

penalty of 0.1 mark per question if more than 8 questions left unattempted

Score for 75 MCQs in 1st three sections accounted for percentile calculation
XAT 2018(Changed to Computer Based Test)97 MCQs

1 Essay topic

3½ hours duration

VARC-24

DM-21

Quant-27

GK-25

Essay topic-1

1 mark for each correct answer;

¼ negative marking for each wrong answer;

penalty of 0.05 mark per question if more than 12 questions left unattempted

Score for 72 MCQs in 1st three sections accounted for percentile calculation
XAT 201797 MCQs

1 Essay topic

3½ hours duration

VARC-24

DM-21

Quant-27

GK-25

Essay topic-1

1 mark for each correct answer;

¼ negative marking for each wrong answer;

penalty of 0.05 mark per question if more than 12 questions left unattempted

Score on 72 MCQs in 1st three sections accounted for percentile calculation
XAT 2016103 MCQs

1 Essay topic

3½ hours duration

VARC-26

DM-23

Quant-29

GK-25

Essay topic-1

1 mark for each correct answer;

¼ negative marking for each wrong answer;

penalty of 0.05 mark per question if more than 13 questions left unattempted

Score on 78 MCQs in 1st three sections accounted for percentile calculation
XAT 2015114 MCQs

1 Essay topic

3 hours duration

VARC-28

DM-23

Quant-33

GK-30

Essay topic-1

1 mark for each correct answer; ¼ negative markingScore on 84 MCQs in 1st three sections accounted for percentile calculation
XAT 2014113 MCQs

1 Essay topic

3 hours duration

VARC-28

DM-24

Quant-31

GK-30

Essay topic-1

1 mark for each correct answer; ¼ negative markingScore on 83 MCQs in 1st three sections accounted for percentile calculation

XAT Exam Pattern – FAQ

Q. What are the key changes made into the pattern of XAT?

A. Following changes have been made in the XAT pattern:

  • The total number of questions have been raised to 100. NAT questions were introduced without negative marking
  • Only MCQ type questions are asked.
  • GK section not counted for percentile calculation.
  • Visually impaired candidates with scribe are given additional 25 minutes only for Part 1 of XAT exam
  • No negative marking for General Knowledge section in part-2
  • All the questions have five options in answers and only one of them is correct.
  • Essay type questions are removed.

Q. What is the marking scheme for XAT 2021?

A. XAT 2021 will be examined on the following marking scheme:

  • All the correct answers will get 1 mark each
  • ¼ negative marking for wrong answer
  • After 8 unattempted questions, 0.1 mark will be deducted for every question left unanswered. 

Q. Is there a time division for attempting different sections of the XAT test?

A. There is no time division for the first three sections of XAT, namely Verbal and Logical Ability, Decision Making and Quantitative Ability & Data Interpretation. The total time allotted for all 3 of these sections is 165 minutes. However, for the last section of General Knowledge, 15 minutes will be allotted separately.

Q. How many questions are asked in each section of XAT?

A. The total number of questions asked in XAT are 100. The section wise division is as follows:

  • Verbal and Logical Ability: 26
  • Decision Making: 21 
  • Quantitative Ability & Data Interpretation: 28
  • General Knowledge : 25