Decision Making (DM) is a section unique to XAT and consists of a mix of behavioral, managerial and mathematical questions. Decision Making is not really a test of theoretical knowledge but challenges the basic assumptions of your thinking and whether you are able to understand real-world problems that are presented as cases in these questions.
The mathematical decision-making questions can be regarded as Data Interpretation or Logical Reasoning sets that can be solved using the techniques adopted for these areas. Keep in mind that these questions are generally very data-intensive and require in-depth analysis. Make sure that you quickly scan through the problem and only solve them if they appear to be manageable within a decent amount of time.
The behavioral and managerial questions in the section are the interesting ones. Generally, you are provided a situation in which multiple courses of action arise or there are multiple fallouts of a particular action, and you are supposed to identify the correct path/ analysis. Majority of the time, the questions pose ethical/ management/ human resource related dilemmas that you are expected to address and solve. Effectively, you can view these questions as a combination of critical reasoning and reading comprehension questions.
In terms of how the questions appear in the exam, the following types are seen:
Single Question Prompts: These mimic critical reasoning questions, where a single paragraph is followed by one question. Generally, you should go through majority of these questions as these are not time intensive and you can easily gain a foothold in the section using these. The number of such questions has increased in the last couple of years.
Two to Three Question per Prompt: These questions consist of a moderate prompt followed by 2 to 3 questions. On a number of occasions, long caselets have been provided by XAT, which have been followed by only 2 or 3 questions. Make sure you select the questions you wish to attempt wisely as you do not want to end up wasting too much time for just 2 questions.
Four to Five Questions per Prompt: These questions are generally long caselets that are followed by 4 to 5 questions. In these caselets, you generally have multiple viewpoints presented and at times, these are as long as reading comprehensions.
Seven Things to be kept in Mind while solving Decision Making Questions:
The above forms a cursory introduction for the decision making section and provides you few details with respect to what you can expect in the examination. In this section, we analyze the things you should keep in mind for this section.
1. Establish Stakeholders in a given problem
Every situation that you are given generally has multiple stakeholders, people or parties for which that information is relevant. Make sure you make a mental list of all of these.
2. Analyze Problems Holistically: From the perspective of each stakeholder
For the stakeholders that you have analyzed, make sure you are able to analyze the problem from the viewpoint of every stakeholder. Do not adopt viewpoints that neglect one side of the story.
3. Take the viewpoint that maximizes benefit and minimizes damage from a complete angle
In decision-making questions, you are supposed to select the option that maximizes the benefit for the majority, and at times, this might mean selecting a course of action that might be completely risk-free.
4. Avoid personal opinions
Also, do not favor any one side in any particular case. It is a common tendency of students to adopt an approach based on your own value system (for example: an anti-business or anti-worker's approach in a dispute between management and workers). Do not allow personal opinions to cloud your judgment.
5. Do not adopt unethical practices.
Options that present shortcuts or unethical ways of solving a problem need to be instantly rejected. These are never be the answer.
6. Do not select options that pronounce unsubstantiated judgments.
Many of the options that present extreme scenarios are actually nothing else but cleverly concealed opinions. Remember, these opinions appeal to emotion and can tempt you to select them. Be careful about them and make sure you do not get enticed by this trap
7. Question yourself and make sure you are not missing anything
Majority of the time, you are faced with intricate scenarios where you miss one element or the other while solving a problem. Make sure you question yourself about these assumptions and ensure that you have not missed some vital piece of data.
Along with the above, one critical thing that you need to do is to practice all previous year XAT decision making questions.