‘The RC Section Is Surprisingly Easier And Fact-Based In IIFT’ – Pragyanshu Pandey, 99.98%ile In IIFT

Pragyanshu Pandey is a Mechanical engineer from IIT-BHU and graduated in 2015. He has 34 months of work experience working with Oracle Financial Services in Bangalore. In his free time, Pragyanshu spends his time playing the guitar and playing e-Sports.


What was your IIFT 2018 overall and sectional percentile? Apart from IIFT, which other entrances you appeared for and what were your scores?

My IIFT 2018 percentile was 99.98 at a score of 52.93. IIFT does not award sectional percentiles.

Apart from that, I had also appeared in CAT 2017 and scored a percentile of 99.19 OA

(VA: 91.20, DILR: 98.29, QA :99.46)


What was your preparation strategy? Please share section-wise strategy in detail.

I followed a general strategy for each entrance exam during my preparation. What differentiates the IIFT entrance exam is the General Knowledge section and therefore I did prepare some statics: heads of major organizations in India, UN etc. I would recommend aspirants to get hold of past year IIFT question papers to gain an understanding of the kind of questions they can expect in this section. The DILR section happens to be my Achille’s heels, so during the exam, I allocated my time as such: 75 minutes for the other 4 sections and remaining 45 minutes to the DI and LR sections. DI for IIFT tends to be lengthy due to calculations on complicated data sets. The quantitative section is standard competitive level so the strategy for CAT is sufficient here as well. The key is to clear cut off in all 6 sections. DI and GK sections have the lowest cut-offs so as soon as you can finish 3- 4 questions of those, you should move on to other sections where you can get more marks for the amount of time you invest.


How did you prepare – Self-study or Coaching? Please explain which one do you think is better?

I took an online course from Handa ka Funda for CAT 2017 and complemented that with a test series from Career Launcher. Handa ka Funda is more suitable for employed people like me who have relatively lesser time for preparation than a college student.


When did you start preparing for IIFT?

I started my IIFT preparations in July 2017. I started off by completing all the Quantitative topics. By the end of August, I had practiced a sufficient number of DILR sets to get me confident about starting with mocks. Apart from this, I read 10 novels in the period as a brush up on VA. I would give mocks every Saturday/Sunday morning and analyze it in the evening from July onwards.

The idea after completing the course is to be always prepared: you should be ready to write your CAT/IIFT/XAT etc in the month of October if the need arises.


How did you balance your preparation with studies or job? Please share your timetable.

I had a regular 9-5 job in an IT firm in Bangalore. On a weekday, I would reach home by 6pm. From 7pm till dinner time I would try to finish a few video lectures from Handa ka Funda. After dinner, I would study some more till 10-11 pm. Most of my studies were on dedicated days like weekends. The course is not as big as engineering and other competitive exams. People with non-math background may need to put in more hours on a few sections.


What was the one thing that you did consistently during your preparation? Or What do you think one should do consistently during the preparation of IIFT? According to you, what is the most important aspect of preparation?

Something to be done on a consistent basis: revision. You want to finish the course as soon as possible because your mocks will not reflect your preparation truly until you have covered all your course. Once the course is finished, give mocks regularly. More importantly, spend some time analyzing the mock results.


What are the best study materials for IIFT or other exams? Please name some books, or other study materials (even newspaper/magazines) and online materials you had referred to during preparation. In terms of online or offline materials, which one did you prefer and why?

IIFT is one of the only few entrance examinations left that is still being conducted in a pen and paper format. One of the major benefits of the format as a candidate is that you can manage time as per your discretion in the exam. As such, CAT mocks serve as decent replacements for IIFT mocks. A newspaper like The Hindu or The Indian Express should be sufficient to cover the GK part. I had the books from Arun Sharma, but if you are giving mocks properly, any other textbook is not necessary.


When did you start taking mock test and what was the frequency? How did you get it analyzed and integrate it in your preparation?

I started taking mock tests in July and would give one mock on Saturday and Sunday each. I would give the mock in the morning and study the analysis in the evening. Analysis of the mock is even more important than the mock itself since it would tell you how to solve such questions effectively.


What is the difference between IIFT and other management entrance exams such as CAT or XAT?

First and foremost, IIFT is a written examination as of now. All other examinations have moved to the online format. And since it is not moving to an online format for this year as well, students can rest assured that they’ll have the option to balance out their strong and weak subjects in terms of time allocated. DI-LR sections once separated will have relatively low cutoff every year. So even 2-3 questions done correctly will get you through DI-LR. Beyond that, the time consumed per mark would not be optimum for scoring high.


How one with non-English background should prepare him/herself for the exam as the mode of the exam is only English?

The RC section is surprisingly easier and fact-based. You do not need to draw inferences like CAT. The answers are embedded in the passage itself. So I would tell you to read the questions first before reading the passage. That way, as you read the passage you would get the answers immediately.

The Grammar Section can be tricky. Very basic concepts were asked, but if you are not in touch with the basics, you are likely to make errors out of confusion. Everyone should read up the basics from Wren and Martin for this.


What was your exam day strategy in terms of question selection, time management, accuracy and sectional attempts/cutoffs?

Don’t look at the sectional wise breakdown of marks awarded, negative marking etc. Note only if there is no negative marking in some section. From 120 or so questions, you need to attempt 70+ questions to get a good percentile. I attempted 81 personally. Since each section has a separate cutoff, you need to first prioritize attempting enough in each section to clear the cutoff, then go for scoring areas like Quant and RC to increase your score.


Preparing for IIFT or any entrance exam is a long and tiring process. How do you suggest one should keep his/her calm and confidence?

Consistency is the key. The course for MBA competitive exams can be completed in 3-4 months. As long as you are prepared, stress levels will be low. Keep objectivity in mind. Go in with a strategy for attempting the sections. If you just jump in, you might not even be able to read all the questions.


What is your message for IIFT 2019 aspirants?

Prepare well. Keep abreast of current affairs. Have a plan for the D-day. Last but not the least, BEST OF LUCK!!!