IIFT Test Taking Strategy

IIFT 2016 is to be held on 27th November 2016. Since it is exactly one Sunday before CAT this year (as it normally is!), it is important for students to concentrate on IIFT while not losing sight of CAT prep.

The basic prep for CAT and IIFT, thankfully, remains the same. However, the exam pattern of IIFT is different from that of CAT and hence it makes immense sense to write couple of Mocks of IIFT (at the least) before the IIFT exam while continuing to prepare for the exam areas required for both CAT and IIFT.

A few important points to be noted for IIFT exam

– No Time limit per section: Student is given 120 min to work on all the areas/sections given as the student chooses.

– Differential Marking of questions: Not all questions carry the same marks and hence the time to be given to each section will depend on the marks for that section rather than the no of questions!

– Each section has a different no of questions as can be seen in IIFT 2013 and IIFT 2014 (which was the same in the previous years too!)

– LR has been given separately OR clubbed with DI over the years.

– Similarly QA has been given separately OR clubbed with DI in some years

IIFT has traditionally given differential marking for various areas. The number of questions in each area also has varied over the years and hence it is not entirely predictable. Having said that, the broad idea of the exam has remained the same and hence it is easy to prepare for the same and be ready for the changes (if any) in IIFT 2015.

IIFT 2013 IIFT 2014
No of Qns Marks Cutoff* No of Qns Marks Cutoff*
VA 20 15 5.75 VA 20 15 6.5
RC 16 12 RC 17 17
QA 25 25 6.34 LR 20 20 4.34
DI 19 19 9.75 DI 15 15 4.67
LR 20 15 QA 20 20
GK 28 14 1.8 GK 26 13 2.49
128 100 128 100
Overall Cutoff* Overall Cutoff*
General Category 48 General Category 38.5
OBC 43 OBC 33.5
SC/ST 38 SC/ST 28.5

Before we get to the strategy, let us quickly analyse the Cutoffs for IIFT over the last two years – IIFT 2013 and IIFT 2014.

*The overall cutoffs are not the exact cutoffs but only estimation as per the information available for the two years. The individual cutoffs are however EXACT cutoffs in the two years

As can be seen very clearly, the cutoff in each of the areas is going to be less than 25% of the overall marks for that area. Only in IIFT2013, the DI and LR section had the cutoff close to 30% of the overall marks.

Let us also understand the time division and expectation from each of the areas/sections & Strategy for the same.

Find below the approximate time that should be allotted as per the number of questions in each section.


Area No. of Qns Marks Time allotted (in Min)
Verbal Ability 20 15 15
Reading Comprehension 16-18 12-18 15
Quantitative Ability 20-25 20-25 25-30
Data Interpretation 15-20 15-20 15-20
Logical Reasoning 20 15-20 15-20
General Knowledge 20-28 10-14 7-8
100 110


As can be expected, there could be anywhere between THREE sections to SIX sections in the IIFT paper. More likely, it would be 3 or 4. However, when one allots the time between sections, it is important to allot the time as per the areas and the number of questions in each area than just as per sections.

The time division is done ONLY for 110 minutes. If one sees the pattern of Cutoffs and the Overall cutoffs for IIFT, it is imperative that one gets a good overall score to cross the IIFT call cutoffs. By giving a certain minimum time to each of the sections, clearing the sectional cutoff would be very easy, however, clearing the overall cutoff would mean one should score heavily in at least ONE or TWO areas. The buffer time (10 min) is to spend time in that area or section that can help maximise score!

A brief idea on each of the areas and what to expect in each area is given below:

Reading Comprehension:

The RC passages are normally lengthy in IIFT. Normally 4 passages are a Norm with about 4 to 5 questions in each set. Questions like ‘Identify the correct/incorrect statement’ or ‘which of the statements can/cannot be concluded from the passage’ have been regular in IIFT. These types of questions require one to be careful in skimming the passage and searching correctly for the right sentence(s).


Verbal Ability

The verbal ability area is fill of Vocab questions either directly through Fill-in-the-blanks and Idioms and phrases. Para jumbles and Grammar also appear in IIFT. In general, these are not very difficult and hence one should try to finish these questions at the quickest possible time. Given that the VA questions carry only 0.75 marks per question, it is advisable NOT to WASTE time on any questions.


Logical Reasoning

IIFT’s LR is very much similar to that of MH CET or NMAT. In general, the questions on Arrangements, Distribution, Selection or Order Sequencing are easy (though sometimes lengthy) and can easily be solved if one is systematic. There are questions on Letter series, coding decoding, number series, Cause  & Effect, Courses of Action, Input/output as well as Syllogism (deductions). From among these, Course of Action and Cause & Effect questions can be done fast. Questions on Number series can be deceptive and hence if one is not getting the same in about 30 to 40 seconds, it is advisable to leave them!


Data Interpretation

There are two issues with the IIFT DI sets. One, the sets have lots and lots of data. Two, the questions are all mostly calculation intensive. However, every set of DI has at least one or two questions which can be solved easily (and with less calculations) and hence instead of concentrating on finishing a complete set, one should go through all sets and then pick and choose the questions within each set.


Quantitative Ability

The QA section of IIFT consists of quite a bit of Arithmetic, Pure Math (Probability, P&C, Heights & Distances), Geometry, and Mensuration. While there are a few questions on Algebra, the percentage of Arithmetic happens (at least in the last four years papers) to be higher. The unique thing about the Quant section in IIFT is that the questions appear LONG and Lengthy. However, by giving 30 seconds to read the question, one can easily understand the same and get the answer in two to three steps! Hence the KEY in cracking QA section is to patiently read the questions and attempt the ones, which are really easy. There would be easily about 8 to 10 questions that are easy (out of 20)


General Knowledge & Awareness

The GK section is more of current affairs than Static GK.  Various areas of Current affairs are covered which include Indian & International Economic Scenario, important Budget announcements, special Indian govt. schemes, GDP, businesses and brands in news. In addition, awards and winners in categories such as Films, Books, Sports (all sports, including IPL, ISL, etc.) over the part one year are given.

There could be static GK too but it is almost impossible to prepare for the same in a short time. Hence concentrating on the current affairs part would make sense.


Final Recommendation

– Take the original IIFT papers of 2013 and 2014 as MOCKS! (Available at http://cat.vistamind.com/iift-2015/)

– Stick to the time limits that you have decided while ascertaining that there is at least one section that will give you high score!

– Take an extra Mock (of VistaMind)!


We at VistaMind wish you the best for IIFT 2016!

ARKS Srinivas

ARKS Srinivas is an alumnus of IIM Calcutta and has been the All India CAT Director at TIME. He is currently the National Head for MBA Prep at Career Launcher.