How to solve decision making questions in XAT 2018?

Rajat updated on : 09 Nov 2017
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Decision making section separates XAT from other exams. It is very time consuming and tricky. part of the exam. Read here to know how to solve decision making questions in XAT 2018.

How to Prepare for Decision Making Section

XLRI (Xavier Labour Relations Institute, Jamshedpur) conducts Xavier Aptitude Test (XAT) every year for admission to its management courses. XAT is considered not only one of the most famous management entrance exam but also it is very complicated if talked about its difficulty level. Every year lakhs of students appear for this exam and there are around 150 top B – schools in India which participate in this exam which means, candidates can seek admission in those colleges on the basis of their XAT scores. Hence, there is a great competition and in order to crack XAT with 99+ percentile, one needs to develop a preparation plan which includes all the concepts, understanding of fundamentals along with focus on mock tests and practice of sample papers & previous years papers. XAT aspirants should make sure that they cover all the topics while preparation as every topic is equally important and carry marks.

XAT preparation is slightly different from other competitive exams considering the exam pattern and exam syllabus of XAT. XAT has a very different section which other MBA entrance examinations don’t have and that is decision making. This section is exclusively designed to check the decision making strategy and abilities of a student on selecting the best option if given a situation. Every student should be prepared with decision making strategies in this highly changing and challenging global business environment. Hence, XLRI has introduced this section in its entrance exam so that it can judge how comfortable the student is, in taking decision in a defined case. The student doesn’t have to be emotional while making the decision; s/he needs to pick the most suitable answer based on his/her logical understanding of the case scenario.  

How to solve decision making questions in XAT 2018? 

In decision making section, the student will be given a situation or a case study. There will be two general types of the questions which are to be answered:

  •  What would be the ideal course of action to take in such a situation?
  •  What lead to such a situation?

These questions are to be answered with logical approach by understanding the situation in depth. The situations may be given as simple questions passage or multiple questions passage.

Click here to know - How to do Section - Wise Preparation of XAT?

Since 2012, an entire section has been structured on decision making, containing a total of 25 questions. Prior to this, there were usually 7 to 9 questions and were merged in other section.  This section contains mix of several questions such as mathematical, behavioral and managerial questions. This section doesn’t usually contain theoretical knowledge. However, decision making challenges the grounding assumptions of a candidate’s thinking capabilities. Here, you need to understand the situations real – world scenario and need to give the best option for solution.

The mathematical questions in decision making section can be considered the logical reasoning or data interpretation sets which can be answered on the basis of the techniques which you have been using for these sections. But one thing to focus here is that such questions require great in – depth analysis approach and generally you are required to scan the questions with logical understanding. You will find some interesting questions in managerial and behavioral section. Most probably, you will be given a situation where there will be multiple course of actions wherein you need to identify the correct statement. Most of the time, such questions will be based on human resource, management or ethical situations. In other words, this section can be taken as a reading comprehension with critical analysis area.

As we know, decision making is unique to XAT and the candidates who have been preparing for other MBA entrance examinations will face little trouble, there are strategies to prepare for decision making section. These tips and strategies will help you to ace decision making in XAT. You won’t not only be judged on the basis of the knowledge but also the attitude towards the situations. This section is very important and can increase percentile in XAT 2108. Generally, there are four sections on the basis of which questions are asked. These are listed below:

  •  Pure Logic
  •  Financial Issues
  •  Ethical Issues
  •  Managerial Issues

General types of Decision Making Questions

As mentioned above, there are generally four major areas from where the questions of decision making can be raised. The focus information will be given in the form of a passage which will have around 4 or 5 questions. Then, these questions further have 4 to 5 sets of decision making answers given in option. These questions can be based on the decisions that you want to make in the situation. It is expected that questions are way tricky and will be confusing enough as you will find all the four options similar to each other.

The set of questions at the end of the passage is to be answered on the basis of your skills of decision making. It will include your leadership qualities, your intelligence; your emotional temperament will be evaluated, which will determine the organizational priorities while behaving in the team as a leader.

Methods of approaching right option

The very first thing is to read and understand the given scenario to the depth. Collect all the important informational data and facts. Access the information with an open mind and pay complete attention on it. Start moving towards the information available. Read the questions in a sequence and go to the depth of the problem, understanding its root.

After this, you need to analyze all the information given in logical manner so that you can draw a conclusion. And for this, you need to classify the data given in the context. You need to develop analytical skills for this.

Candidates need to understand that there is a difference between logical reasoning and decision making. When it comes to reasoning, one has to give answer of the questions to be picked up from the source of data without any help of human intervention. The data available for answering the reasoning questions will be given simply in informal system and there will be a clear idea of semantics in the case. If we talk about decision making, this more focuses on giving correct answers of the questions concerning the choices and preferences between two or more activities, for example in case of an autonomous agent who is trying to meet out any task for a human being.

There will be situations in the question where the actions taken earlier will influence the decisions made later. There will be involvement of goal achieving or optimizing some basic criteria like cost of the actions, plan length, future expected accumulated reward etc.

Tips to Ace Decision Making Section in XAT

Following are the tips which are very helpful for scoring well in decision making section in XAT. These tips are tested and have been strategized by experts and toppers.

1. Finding out who are affected by the event

You need to promptly do an in depth analysis and need to find out the multiple people who are connected to the given context in the question. You need to know the right decision which you need to take in the context. There should be a stakeholders’ list always in your mind in such questions. The more you understand the question, the more you will head to the solution.

2Taking the best beneficial choice

The option which you choose should give benefit to maximum stakeholders in the context. First you need to look at all the perspectives of the scenario; you need to choose an option which has the potential to make a difference for a maximum number of people. You may end up choosing an option with least risk but you need to be assured that the option you opt needs to satisfy the purpose of the situation.

3. Don’t involve your personal opinion

There can be situations where the correct option will be totally different to your personal perspective. But here, you don’t have to involve your own value system; you need to keep it aside. You should choose what is the most ethical and most reasonable option to choose for the given situation. You need to be completely logical and analytical; you don’t have to be emotional while answering. The solution which you give has to be totally correct and morally it should fix the context in the best possible way.

4. Undertaking situation’s  holistic analysis

You need to first keep the list of the stakeholders in your mind and then you need to select the option which benefits most of them. You need to do an analysis of the situation, depending on the stakeholders’ perspectives. You should do the analysis from all the angles of all the people who are involved in the given situation. Make sure that if you neglect any of the perspectives that can lead to choice of wrong answer.

5. Following Good Ethics Practice

There will be situation where you will find options, giving advantage but if you analyze them ethically, they will not be right. Hence, it’s better not to select such options. As we discussed decision making section is more about what is logical, right and ethical rather than what you feel. Therefore, if you pick any option which is unethical, the answer will be wrong. Always focus on the ‘right thing to do’ strategy rather than ‘anything which has monetary or material benefit.’

6. Finding out the reason of options being incorrect

A very important aspect which students should understand is that if any option is incorrect, he needs to diagnose the reasons behind it. Here, you not only have to know why the answer is correct but you should also know the reason behind the answers being incorrect as well. This section is tricky and you will feel that all the options given are correct. The options will tempt you but you don’t have to choose any of them randomly or even if you find one correct. But you need to analyze them. And once you find out why the options given in the situation are wrong, it will be easy to find out the correct one.

7. Asking key questions to yourself

Once you go through the complete case, ask yourself if all the bases are covered or not. There are more chances of opting a wrong answer if you miss even a bit of the important information. Therefore, every small information is important and you have to cover each and everything in the given case – study.

Let us take some examples of decision making case studies for practice.

Case Study 1.

Mrs. Pathak is working as a business manager and is known for his capabilities in the business world which has male domination. She has gained a lot of experience working in the industry for long. Recently, she launched her own personal product business and ensured that she would give proper representations for females in his organization. As per experience, she has found that most of the sales and marketing sectors are dominated by males only. With this thing in her agenda, she has planned to hire around 50% of sales and marketing department as female for her organization.

Which can be the most serious concern which Mrs. Pathak may have to encounter while taking decision?

  •  The females may have to challenges as the job may require lots of travelling.
  •  Females understand personal products and cosmetics more than the men do.
  •  It is never said that females will be all ready to pick up these jobs.
  •  Males are considered better than females at such designations.
  •  Both 2 & 4.

Now you need to think over the scenario for the most suitable option here as per the situations given in the case study.

In the case study given here, this situation somehow seems like a critical reasoning prompt. The main concern in the case study is that Mrs. Pathak wants to address the social issues of gender equality. She has a great experience working in the industry and has noticed inequalities at several places. Thus, she thinks that one solution can be selecting the employees on gender basis. But, she denies the fact that the job which she is offering to females, needs some sort of requirements where males fit. This is a potential threat for her planning. If we look at 2nd option, this gives strength to her statement.3nd option doesn’t support her argument as it gives no conclusive evidences. The fourth option is clearly a prejudiced statement, hence it’s better to neglect such statements while answering the questions of decision making.

You need to evaluate the questions as an argument when you are asked questions based on reasoning. You should separate the premise and conclusion and should hit the assumptions given to support the argument.

Case Study 2

You are working as a Human Resource manager in a company. Mr. Goyal is a very hard – working and dedicated employee of your company. He is one of the most loyal, sincere, talented employees in your entire organization. The problem is that it’s a call – centre for a UK based firm and Mr. Goyal’s communication skills don’t match the quality. He hasn’t been able to bring any significant improvements in his communication skills even after training.

What will you do as an HR manager of the company?

  •  You can ask Mr. Goyal to leave the company.
  •  You can give him extra training program.
  •  You can search a new job for him.
  •  You can job his designation and role.
  •  Both 1st and 3rd option.

Understating the entire scenario, the answer should be 4th option. This case study highlights the behavior of an employee whose performance is under scrutiny. If you have analyzed the situation in depth, you will find both positive and negative aspects here. So, being an HR manager, you have to find out a solution of this challenge. You should find a cure which benefits the organization and doesn’t affect the employee. In the given option, there is option 4th which is a middle path option. Therefore, this options suits best and satisfies both the sides. Rest, 1st and 3rd options have no grounding and are totally illogical. If you pick option 2nd, that will be wrong as it has already been in the case study but it didn’t work out.

Most of the students make a very common mistake of ignoring this section. They feel that they would prepare for this section in the end. They have this notion that decision making is something which they can do on the spot. And then they practice some mock and that’s how they finish their preparation of decision making section. But, the reality is decision making is also equally important as other parts of the syllabus. This is very concerning in case of XAT as it is believed to be very low scoring examination. A single set of questions can bring a difference in 98% to 89%. The main reason can be the preparation for other entrance examinations like CMAT, CAT, MAT etc. where decision making section doesn’t exist and student may find it little boring as they are used to with other three sections. But, it’s better to take it as an advantage that you have been preparing for rest of the sections for long and you can devote enough time for decision making preparation strategy.

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