Skip to main content

How I went from 52 percentile to 96 percentile in XAT verbal section


Sadashiv Pradhan is pursuing his MBA in business management from XLRI, Jamshedpur. He did his B.E in Electronics and Telecommunication from Vishwakarma Institute of Information Technology and worked with Oracle financial services. He has published papers in Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and International Journal of Science, Engineering and Technology. You can read more of his thoughts @ Sadashiv Pradhan's Blog


Before I start the story of my journey from 52.26 percentiles to 96.29, I must state one thing very clearly; this is not a journey of a struggle that most of us love to read. Unfortunately, we grew up reading all ‘newspaper boys’ achieving extra ordinary things in their lives. Whenever I read such biographies/auto-biographies, I always felt those stories were little exaggerated. “I used to study in street lights…” Okay… Good... But what was the problem with something called as ‘sunlight’? I call this a “romanticism of success”. After achieving success most people tend to romanticize their journey, however in real, normal life a success story can be simple and straight forward.

First comes first, here are my scorecards of XAT 2013 and XAT 2014. (Why trust something blindly?)

The reason for choosing XAT scorecard over CAT is, in XAT we have separate section for Verbal (English), in CAT, however, verbal section is clubbed with Logical reasoning section so it becomes difficult to say where exactly you have improved.
So let’s begin the journey, step by step…

Accepting the failure/weakness – The first and most important step in the journey is to accept that you lost, or you have a weakness. There is nothing wrong in accepting defeat. However, most people, instead of accepting their mistakes and learning from them choose to ignore the mistakes and start blame game. They start giving silly justifications for their defeat. This is the wrong way! If you truly desire success and only success, then you need 100 percent focus and you cannot accomplish required determination, if a part of your mind is wandering around in search of validations of your past mistakes.

How to improve English part

Reading – We have heard this multiple times that reading will improve English language, in my opinion it is not that simple! Firstly, don’t just read, read quality material! Reading ‘page 3’ or sports page will never improve your English. Start reading newspaper Editorials, preferably The Hindu editorials. There is one more site that I found extremely useful in my improvement - Visit this site; try to read 2-3 articles/blogs every day. While choosing articles keep one thing in mind that in Reading Comprehension type, passage comes from different background, hence try to increase your horizon of reading. Don’t just read from a genre you like; choose articles in which you have almost zero interest. In general, Engineers, choose articles from biology, economics, literature background; non-engineers, choose articles from technology, science background. Idea here is to get accustomed with different genres. Secondly, after reading an article, try to write a summary (2-3 lines) about it. This will accomplish two things; your mind will remain alert even while reading lackluster articles, thus improving your concentration and your brain will become habitual of finding crux of the passage, which will in turn help you in RC questions.

Vocabulary, Grammar – Flash card is an over-rated part of MBA preparation. Many coaching institutes include ‘flash cards’ in their course material. Flash cards cannot improve your vocabulary. Instead, go for the book ‘word power made easy’. If you can study each and every word from this book then, you have enough amount of vocabulary to crack an MBA entrance exam. For grammar (sentence correction), go to primary school and do all exercises from Wren and Martin. In the end, remember one thing, we are not giving exams of the literature, we are giving exams of the MBA entrance, understand the difference. Focus your hard work in improving your comprehending power of the language! Not knowing few words is okay, important part is to understand and analyze what author is saying!

Practice – Improvement in the verbal section will never happen overnight. You need to have perseverance. You need to practice hard. Set a target for every day. Track your performance. Analyze what mistakes you are making. Try not to repeat those mistakes. Practice is the only way to improve your performance.

How much practice is required? – This depends on the individual. Important part is an improvement. Don’t judge your hard work objectively. Setting targets for the day is good, but it should not become a burden. It is better to read two articles with utmost concentration and in the right way than to read five articles for the sake of reading it. If you want to judge your hard work do it subjectively, before going to bed, every night, ask yourself one question, ‘Am I doing enough to achieve what I want achieve?’. Answer to this question not only will give you the true picture of your input in the journey but also will give you required motivation to keep toiling hard.

Belief – At the end of everything, what matters is whether you believe in yourself. If you don’t have faith then no matter how hard you try, you are not going to reach your goal. Yes, obstacles will come, yes, moments will come when you will not get desired results, yes, at times journey will get frustrating, the best thing you can do in those situations is to keep believing. Don’t give up. Keep telling yourself that best is yet to come. If you can manage to stay positive and keep pushing harder every time, you come across hurdle then you will achieve your target no matter how impossible it looks at the beginning of the journey.

All the best!