A Detailed Strategy To Crack XAT, IIFT, SNAP

Dear Aspirants,

Hope you are grilling yourself hard for the last few days as these few days of hard work might lead you where you all want to be. Just STAY FOCUSED.

With all the Major exams lined up, I want to share with you the Detailed Strategies to crack Non-CAT exams  which also might make your careers better. Yes, Today it’s about IIFT, SNAP, and XAT ( I have personal hatred towards NMAT 😛 ). A different strategy is required for each exam because although the syllabus is somewhat same, the variety of questions, difficulty levels, cut-offs, weightage, time given, GK, etc vary vastly. Since we are all accustomed to writing CAT mocks, we need some special guidance on these exams because these exams are equally important and might open up opportunities for top class colleges like XLRI, S.P.JAIN, IIFT, XIMB,etc.

**DISCLAIMER** —It is a long-long article. Trust me, you will bookmark it after reading in full. I have tried to discuss detailed strategy to be used to rock these exams based on my experiences as well the insights of my Mentors. Utmost care has been taken to cover all the aspects of the exams and to provide the correct data of cut-off marks, yet mistakes might happen. Please comment if you believe corrections are required.

Starting-off with IIFT

 While the pattern of CAT is simple and straight forward, IIFT’s pattern is difficult but the better part is that questions are easy. I won’t say that IIFT exam as a whole is tough but yes, it is complicated. IIFT is:

  • ·         A pure aptitude test
  • ·         Test of temperament
  • ·         Test of multi-tasking
  • ·         Test of quick decision-making

If I talk about subjects then, IIFT tests on the same subjects as the rest of the Entrances with the addition of GK (which is the main differentiator). Don’t worry , it does not require much special attention to be wary of. Also, IIFT is the only exam with differential marking for sections. It is also a small issue only. In the coming paragraphs, I will tell you how.

Basic layout of IIFT:

2hours, 100marks, 115-130 questions, 4-6 Sections (which may have subsections), No sectional time limit, Sectional cutoffs YES!

Let us drill deeper into the IIFT test taking strategies:

Differential marking— GK and English Usage have the minimum marks per question while quant and DI have the maximum. You must have already thought of attempting quant-DI first and in maximum numbers, right? While there’s nothing wrong in doing that but don’t make this a thumb rule. Because there is sectional cutoffs and time is less than 1 minute for 1 question and without the use of calculators, you won’t like to spend time on some tough calculations. I hope you get that DI has sets that need a  good amount of calculations.

Sectional Cut-offs & GK—While students with good speed and knowledge would be able to clear sectional cutoffs (although not very easily) the problem is with those who have good command over one subject but not in all. It is time for some Smart-work, mates!

The most important section w.r.t. cut-offs is GK. This section is a nemesis for all IIFT takers who have not kept themselves aware of the current happenings. But fortunately the cut-off for this section is very low, last year it was 0.83 marks but it varies year-on-year based upon difficulty level. It has also gone up to 2 marks. To be on the safe side lets assume it to be 1.5 marks. And for that, you need to solve just 3 questions correctly. JUST 3! Also, there are a few match the following questions in which even if you know 2 out of 4  then by option elimination you will find the correct answer. Further, there are a mix of static and dynamic GK. In my opinion, Static GK is largely based on luck because subject in the question could be from infinite areas so if you know, you know if you don’t know then you don’t. Whereas, for dynamic GK there are a few headlines in the recent months on which 2-3 are fore sure expected so you can just google “all about (say) tata-mistry row” and within minutes your GK section is over! Also, what I have observed is that there are 1-2 questions on new appointments of officials at national-international levels, don’t miss out on that.

Also note that because GK questions do not need conceptual understanding, they are not time-taking and you can score some quick brownies, it will be of great help. But this should be done only when you have time to spare because a question in GK gives just 0.5 marks while rest all give more than it. It depends on your situation. This is where your decision making is tested.

Sectional cut-offs are usually around 1/3rd of the total marks allotted to that section (except for GK). So, with an accuracy of even 80% if you are able to solve even 50% of the questions you are through with the cut-offs. But, clearing cutoffs in each section does not mean that overall cutoff marks are met.

Sum of cut-offs of (sec1 +sec2+sec3+sec4+sec5+sec) < overall cutoff.

Score Maximisation

Now that your cutoff scores are met, it is time to maximize the score using the section which is either easy or of your comfort. Yes, there is a difference. Surprisingly it may happen that the section you are comfortable in is tough and might be more time consuming. Don’t let your Ego step-in leading to time consumption instead of maximizing scores in the rather easier section. There you pass the test of temperament.

Usually, the cutoff is around 50 marks but it varies. Last year it was 48.xx. To be on the cream of the lot.. you should aim to score around 60.

My take on Sections:

Because of various sectional cutoffs, Lengthy RCs, Calculation intensive Data Sets, vocabulary focused English usage and time-pinch, IIFT is a kind of paper which tests students on topics they averse the most. But it also sprinkles sitters providing you opportunities to identify and grab.(Test of aptitude). Which is why IIFT is a paper of High Accuracy. GUESSING IS NOT AN OPTION IN IIFT.

RCs are lengthier than any other exams which seems scary but ask relatively easy questions. Out of the 4 passages,based upon your interest, you need to identify by skimming through them which passages are you going to attempt. At least 2 passages will surely be easy and factual and if that is not the case then you will have to find factual questions across all passages. Always read the questions and then search the answer in the passage to save time (this is just for IIFT).

DIs usually have single chart/table but are calculation intensive and options are close so you have to calculate precisely without the use of calculators. Identify easy DI sets and complete them quickly. Remember, DI is the most rewarding section, if possible you can maximize your score here.

LR is the Odd section because some questions are different from usual CAT patterns but it has been seen that students get maximum scores in LR given that marks per question are not maximum. So by that, you can guess the difficulty level of the questions. Mind you, LR offers heinous traps and the probability of committing silly mistakes is highest.

EU has nothing unique to be discussed. It is simple. Just that vocabulary questions might frustrate you but it’s okay. There are maximum questions in this section and so maximum options to score.

NOTE: DI and RC are the difficult cases in IIFT but they are often clubbed with QA and EU respectively so you should leverage this opportunity to clear cutoffs using the easier subsections.

Lastly, get accustomed with IIFT’s pattern. Give the minimum of 5 mocks and solve last 3 year’s paper to fit in the 2 hours time-frame. Lack of knowledge won’t harm you in IIFT but the lack of time balance and on-the-spot decision making might do.

SNAP2016( updated):

Easy-moderate level of difficulty. Easier than CAT. Only that the Verbal section is Vocabulary dominated and GK has a high weightage of questions. The good part is that it has no sectional cutoffs neither sectional time constraint. But very low or zero score in any section is not accepted.

Basic layout of SNAP:

2.5 hours, English 40 questions 40 marks, QA-DI 40 questions 40 marks, GK 30 questions 30 marks, LR 40 questions 40 marks.

There is nothing much in SNAP to be cautious about. RCs are mostly small paragraphs, English language questions are direct and it consists of questions like meanings, synonyms-antonyms, fill-up, etc. One should attempt 30 or more questions in 30 minutes or less.

QA-DI is quite easy therefore general attempt is high. Avoid doing mistakes in this section. All question are doable within 40-45 minutes.

LR after the change in pattern, importance of this section has reduced. because you now get 1 mark for 1 qn, so it is expected to be easier. So while previously we could have said that attempting LR completely would be difficult, now it is quite possible. And by my experience, easy LR questions are easier to solve than any other sections. But yet, all the qns won’t be of same level, there will be traps, so don’t go with the stringent aim of attempting all. because 150 qns in 150 minutes is easier than solving in 120 minutes but not that easy too.

GK!  The change in GK pattern is very fair and I support their move of asking questions related to current affairs of the last 2 years ONLY. It takes away the undue advantage from students who have have a strong GK because regardless of any student, knowing about current affairs of recent 2years is the least  a college can expect from its students. So yeah again, the trick would be the internet. and the keywords..’All about _____’ and reading.

While the usual cutoffs are around 100/180 (although last year it was just less than 70 because of absurd and tough questions).This time, although total marks have reduced but I don’t expect the cutoff to come down because difficulty will be low. So expected cutoff could be 100-110 out of 150.Scoring this without GK will not be much possible and because it is evident from the pattern that they want aspirants to attempt GK, you must attempt this section.



The last hope and frankly the difficult one of the lot. XAT is unique from others in that, that apart from normal decision-making about which question to attempt and which to leave it has a separate section dedicated to Decision making test. It also has a GK part but that is irrelevant while calling for interviews.

Basic Layout:

78 questions, 170 minutes, 5 options per question, No sectional time constraint , Sectional cutoffs, YES! Penalties for leaving questions unattempted YES! But only if questions left are more than 13.

Let me clarify this first. This is a move that is meant to encourage test-takers to attempt more questions because, given the difficulty of XAT , trend says that even the topper used to leave 50% of the questions unattempted. But you should not attempt more questions because of this lame penalty. Because an unatempted question fetches -0.05 but an incorrect questions fetches -0.25 marks. See the difference it can make to attempt for the sake of attempting? Right!


The complete paper is inferential. No factual but a couple or so vocabulary based question. RCs consist the most part of the section. But rest of the paper is also not that easy. It has Critical reasoning, Parajumbles, Sentence correction,etc. Easier part can be said to constitute of Sentence completion, Kloze test. Out of 78, 26-28 questions are going to be in this section. But since you have plenty of time in XAT think calmly and then answer.


30+ questions expected. All the hard work in quant is tested on the day of XAT. To a usual CAT taker the Questions may even seem to be incomplete. Yes, Indeed. But then again, as is the story of all the exams. It also has few easy questions but identifying them and attempting them correctly won’t suffice. You will have to go for some moderately tough questions to be through.


This unique section of XAT is easy and naturally answerable to some and extremely difficult and confusing to most. The questions are behavioural, situational or LR. In behavioral questions, the actor/protagonist (which could be you too) is in a situation and you are asked to give/suggest him the correct/Best/Most suitable solution/action. It is testing your rational reasoning skills.

Eliminate choices, usually the extreme actions are not the answers, be unbiased based on your prior experience or school of thoughts. LR questions are tough and should be dealt with, latest. Spend around 1 hr and try to attempt 17-18 questions out of expected 23 questions.


No negative marking so nothing to fear! Shoot in all directions. Play inky pinky ponky! Because they are considered after the interview but hey! They do have a weightage in final evaluation so try to do it seriously but nothing much to worry about. Even if you don’t know anything and mark all Cs you will be OK.


No comments. 😛

Cutoffs—Double digit cut-offs for each section. Last year it was 32.6xx. But one should aim more marks because XLRI considers 65% of XAT score in final evaluation, therefore one needs to be towards the higher %ile side to be safe.

Identifying and attempting all easy questions is the key and solving few moderate questions will book your interview call.



About the Author:
Gaurav Bachhawat
A Small-Towner, A Dreamer, A Learner.

Gaurav is pursuing his MBA in Marketing from Xavier Institute of Management, Bhubaneshwar(XIMB)  and is currently in 1st year. He is a knowledge seeker and keeps himself updated about happenings in the entrepreneurial world. He likes to address queries of MBA aspirants and help them in their MBA preparations.

Gaurav Bachhawat

Gaurav Bachhawat is a Marketing Management Graduate from Xavier Institute Of Management, Bhubaneshwar (XIMB). He works in India's Leading Sanitaryware company in Gurgaon.


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