XAT – Principles for Solving Fill in the Blank Questions

Sunday, December 13th, 2020

XAT Fill in the Blanks

The XAT Verbal and Logical Ability section can appear difficult for most test-takers. The reading comprehension passages are often dense and taken from arcane subjects while the critical reasoning questions are always challenging. However, there is a small silver lining to this section.


It cannot be stressed enough that a b-school candidate must have a good knowledge of the meanings of difficult words as well as the ability to make sentences out of them. This will serve a test taker well not only in the XAT but in b-school and beyond. A mastery over vocabulary will distinguish you from the rest of the pack and will serve you well even during the interview rounds of b-schools and companies as it would make you appear more articulate and confident.

If you do not have good mastery over difficult words, start your preparation immediately and extend it to well beyond the various MBA entrance examinations that you intend to appear for. Subscribe to membean.com as it helps students to build a robust vocabulary. It helps students to learn in engaging ways and more importantly to retain the meanings of words they have learnt. Learn the roots of words including the more important prefixes and suffixes. Knowledge of roots may help you make a correct guess of a word’s meaning in case you encounter a word whose meaning you do not know. Remember, Fill in the Blanks questions is an absolute scoring section and if you manage to maximize your scoring opportunities in this question type you are well on the road to clearing the cut-offs.

Fill in the Blank questions do not only test your mastery over vocabulary but it is also important to understand the overall logical context of the sentence whose blanks have to be filled. Once, you arrive at that logic successfully, filling the blanks with the appropriate word can become easier.  Thus, this question type tests not only your vocabulary but also coherence or logical flow of thought. In addition, some fill in the blank questions will also test you on the usage and application of grammar rules.


There are broadly four types of fill in the blank questions that have appeared in the XAT in the recent past.

1. Normal fill in the Blank questions with 4 blanks.


Question: A sentence with four blanks. All the options have different words.


a) Expenditure, small, insignificant, irrelevant

b) Productivity, small, erratic, useless

c) Expenditure, fast, significant, powerful

d) Investment, slow, erratic, useless

e) Investment, slow, predictable, irrelevant


2. Prepositional/Pronoun fill in the blank questions.


Question: A short paragraph with 4 blanks. All the words in the options are prepositions or pronouns.


a) less, fewer, some time, sometime, sometimes

b) fewer, less, sometime, some time, sometimes

c) less, fewer, sometime, some time, sometimes

d) fewer, less, sometimes, sometime, some time

e) fewer, less, some time, sometime, sometimes



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    3. Same word fill in the blanks – in this question type the four options consist of the same four words which are distributed differently across all the options.


    Question: A couple of sentence with 4 blanks.


    a) nonchalant, remonstration, philippic, ennui

    b) insouciant, philippic, remonstration, ennui

    c) philippic, remonstration, ennui, insouciance

    d) ennui, philippic, insouciance, remonstration

    e) nonchalant, ennui, philippic, remonstration


    4. Three blank spaces with 8 words.


    Question: A paragraph with 3 blanks.

    Consider the following words:

    1. surrender
    2. choice
    3. symbolises
    4. quandary
    5. attune
    6. option
    7. reconcile
    8. depicts


    a) 1, 4, 2

    b) 4, 3, 7

    c) 2, 3, 1

    d) 4, 5, 1

    e) 2, 5, 7

    In addition to learning the meanings of difficult words, students would be well advised to be aware of the subtle differences between words like every day and every day, some time and some time, less and fewer, in and within, etc. as this awareness would be crucial in solving Prepositional/Pronoun fill in the blank questions.

    Example 1:

    The following list of 87 words is ______ from studies in the American School Board Journal, college entrance and ______ exams. The list is based on test given to more than 87000 high school graduates from 750 different American high schools. The words in ______ are the words appearing in the list above, which would mean that the students have been ______ them since the sixth grade.

    a) compiled, placement, italics, misspelling

    b) placement, italics, compiled, misspelling

    c) compiled, italics, placement, misspelling

    d) misspelling, italics, placement, compiled

    e) italics, misspelling, placement, compiled

    Answer: Let’s take the final blank. …students have been ______ them since the sixth grade. The only word which be grammatically correct for this blank is ‘misspelling.’ Eliminate options d and e.

    The following list of 87 words is ______ from studies…

    A list is generally ‘compiled’ and not ‘placement’ or ‘italics.’ Eliminate option b.

    The second blank has …_____ exams. The second blank words in a) is ‘placement’ while in c) it is ‘italics.’

    ‘Italics exam’ makes no sense while ‘placement exams’ does.

    Therefore, option a) is the correct answer.

    Note: Even if you do not know the meanings of all the words given in the options, solving one or two blanks can often lead you to only one option which is the correct answer option.

    Example 2:

    He left the gun _____ the table, turned _____ the lights and lighted his path _____ the driveway leading to the street with the help of a flashlight.

    The option that best fills the blanks in the above sentence would be:

    a) on; of; to

    b) out; on; of

    c) on; with; to

    d) on; out; to

    e) out; of; of

    Answer: If we can find the word for blank 2, we can get the answer very quickly. What did the man do” Did he turn ‘on’ the lights as in option B or did he turn ‘out’ the lights as in option D. Clearly, option D has the correct word since the man had to use a flashlight to walk himself to the driveway. Had he turned ‘on’ the lights he would not have required a flashlight.

    Therefore, the correct answer is option D.

    Note: Try and solve the blank first which has four or five different words in the options (as the example given above). If you can solve this blank, you need not necessarily have to solve the entire question.


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