Abhishek Batni scored 99.827 in IIFT 2018. A fresher, he hails from Mumbai and did his graduation in mechanical engineering from Manipal Institute of Technology. He is currently a first-year student at IIFT Kolkata. In this conversation, he shares how he prepared for the IIFT entrance exam.
1) Did you join any coaching institute? How did it help your preparation?
Since this was my first time giving MBA exams, I joined the TIME coaching center in Mumbai to prepare for them. With regards to the IIFT exam, there were no special classes as such. I gave 3 timed mock tests in the TIME center and solved some of the previous year question papers at home. I felt that was enough since most of the paper, syllabus, and difficulty wise, was on the lines of CAT and hence the preparation for the IIFT exam was not too different. What was important to me was to get a 'feel' of the paper - time-wise, since that was the biggest differentiator with respect to CAT and to develop a strategy accordingly.
2) How did you change your exam strategy from CAT to IIFT?
There was more of a focus on time management as you will face a time crunch in the IIFT exam. As the Quant section for IIFT was tougher than CAT, I focused on solving higher difficulty level math problems and worked on quicker, yet more precise calculations for DI. I read GK compendiums provided by coaching institutes, as well as the ones provided by GKmojo and other online sites. I solved some of the previous years IIFT question papers, along with a few mock papers provided by TIME.
3) What was your overall exam day strategy in terms of accuracy and time management to clear the sectional and overall cutoffs?
For the exam itself, I divided the 2 hours into 3 segments –
0-30 minutes: In this, I solved the 'easier', less time-consuming sections such as GK, English grammar and Logical Reasoning. My focus here was to solve as many questions as possible.
30 - 90 minutes: Within this time, I focused on solving the time consuming and calculation-intensive sections - RC, Quant, and DI. The focus here was on solving the problems that I knew I could do, and getting them correct. Accuracy is the key here as IIFT has low cutoffs in these sections and getting 3-4 questions correct will get you through the sectional cutoff.
90 - 120 minutes: In this time, I went back and reviewed all the questions and solved the ones in which I either had a doubt or felt were highly time-consuming. I also revised some of the answers to ensure that no silly mistakes were made.
4) What was your section-wise strategy for this exam?
For the overall paper, look to solve at least 60-70 questions with a high accuracy level. Try to solve the maximum number of questions in the GK section as there is a low cutoff. In the Quant and DI sections, make sure that what you have solved is correct, or at least most of them are. Thus, go for questions that you are confident of solving and can solve as quickly as possible. Further, for the DI section, use approximate (like 150) instead of actual values (like 151.36) to save time in calculations so that you get the answers in the vicinity of the options. The RC section is generally of a much easier level than CAT and even though the passages are longer, you can skim through them to find the relevant information in the passage through the questions. The LR section is of an easier level than CAT, and CAT aspirants should not have too much of a problem with the questions in this section. Many arrangement type problems can be found here, and solving these would lead to good marks in this section. The English Grammar section can be difficult but learn a few terms/words that are derived from Latin, Greek, etc. These can come in a few of the questions. Practice jumbled words as these can fetch you a quick 2-3 marks. This too is a low section cutoff and accuracy is the key.
All in all, don't waste too much time on any one question and make sure that you answer all the questions that you know. It should not happen that you realise after the paper that you could not answer a few easy questions because you had wasted time in a few difficult ones.
5) Any suggestions for the examinees?
I would consider the IIFT exam as one of the most 'doable' exams for B-school admissions as all you need to have is a simple strategy to mitigate the time factor. The low sectional cutoffs play into your hand as you just need to go for the concepts that you are strong in. For example, if you are strong in Percentages, Geometry, and Probability, then just solving questions from those topics correctly will get you through the sectional cutoff. You wouldn't need to solve any other questions in the Quant section. You can clear the overall cutoff by answering more questions in the 'easier' sections like LR, RC, and GK where negative marking is also low.
Also, try to relax and solve the paper as calmly as possible. I wish best of luck to all the IIFT aspirants!