It is also worth noting that IIFT Exam clashes with the 2nd Slot of SNAP.
WHY YOU SHOULD CONSIDER TAKING THE IIFT
The IIFT brand name is one of the most respected and recognised among B-schools worldwide. IIFT provides its world class education in three locations: Delhi, Kolkata, and Kakinada. Being the Indian Institute of Foreign Trade, you will get an MBA(IB) degree, where IB stands for International Business. This being the case, your exposure in the institute is guaranteed to be unique and focussed. If you want a strong brand on your CV, and indeed if international business is your calling, then IIFT is the B-school for you.
THE EXAM: A TEST OF SPEED AND VERSATILITY
Sitting for the IIFT truly gives you a sense of how important it is to manage your time well. The test demands speed, accuracy, and comfort with diverse aptitude areas.
The paper is divided into four sections broadly: Quantitative Aptitude, Logical Reasoning-Data Interpretation, Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension, and General Knowledge. Here, I have provided the sectional split ups as per last year’s paper. However, in the past it has happened that the sectional distribution was further split up – for example, LR and DI were separate sections; as were VA and RC.
There are a total of 110 questions in the previous year's IIFT exam, which are to be answered in 120 minutes. The ordinary sectional distribution of questions is as follows:
- QA (25 questions)
- VARC (35 questions)
- LRDI (30 questions)
- GK (20 questions)
For the former three sections, the CAT MCQ marking pattern holds, that is, you receive 3 marks per correct answer, -1 mark per incorrect answer and 0 marks for an unattempted question. However, for the GK section, the marking scheme is as follows: +1.5 marks for a correctly answered question, -0.5 for an incorrectly attempted question and no marks for an unattempted question. Hence, the maximum marks possible are 300.
There are sectional cutoffs for each section, which are very strictly adhered to. If even one sectional cutoff cannot be crossed, you will not get a call from IIFT no matter what you score and what percentile you attain. The rationale seems to be that the institute is looking for well-rounded candidates who aren’t simply one-race horses.
Although the cutoffs themselves are nominal, time and again, I have seen friends and acquaintances attain 99.5+ percentiles and not get a call because just one section caused everything to become undone. The section of particular concern, in my opinion, is the GK section. I cannot stress enough the need to be well versed with current affairs, business lingo and events, as well as static GK.
There is solace though: candidates can freely switch from section to section – there is no sectional time limit as such. Furthermore, unlike the NMAT, where you cannot skip questions, in IIFT you can simply leave questions which are too difficult to focus on doable questions.
WADING THROUGH THE IIFT MARSH
Here, I will share some tips that helped me score highly in the IIFT, while clearing all sectional cutoffs, which eventually fetched me an interview call for the institute.
- Hit the ground running: To answer 110 questions at the rate of nearly one per minute, you must start off at full speed. To help with this, I suggest starting off with a section which is your strength – then carry the momentum to other sections.
- Spread yourself wide, then deep dive: After starting strongly, it is important not to get too carried away. Remember, you have to clear sectional cutoffs in each section, and it would be unwise to leave this exercise to the end, where you might well be under immense time pressure. This initial allocation of time to clearing cutoffs can prove crucial. This is where you spread yourself wide: you dabble in every section to do enough to clear the cutoffs.
Now begins the deep dive: if you have a section or two where you can score highly in the given time, focus almost exclusively on these sections. For me, this section was the VARC section, from which I got more than half of my total marks.
- Work on your GK: GK is one of those sections where you either know the answer, or you don’t. Negative marking for incorrect answers means that you cannot leave too much to luck. Read newspapers daily, get up to speed on financial and foreign trade savvies, and increase your knowledge of static GK. This will help not only in the exam, but also in the interview if you get a call.
- Give a lot of mock tests: The best practice for any exam is to give mock tests. This is the case with IIFT as well – mock tests will reveal strategic changes you might need to make to do better on D-Day.
ALL THE BEST!
By Saurabh Ratnalikar, IIM Ahmedabad
(The writer scored 146.50 in his IIFT attempt and obtained an overall NTA score of 99.96 – equivalent to a percentile benchmark. He also scored 99.98 percentile in the Reading Comprehension and Verbal Ability section.)