IIFT entrance test on November 27

Gayathri | Friday, November 25, 2016 9:42 AM IST

Among the Indian MBA entrance exams, the Indian Institute of Foreign Trade (IIFT) test is the most complicated. While the three-section CAT 2016 with a time limit of one hour for each section is essentially only a test of knowledge and speed, the IIFT paper tests your aptitude and temperament. It has multiple sections (and sometimes subsections also), no sectional time limits, differential marking for questions of different sections, negative marking for incorrect answers, insufficient time and at times does not clearly specify if it has sectional cut-offs. The IIFT paper checks your ability to multi-task, to manage time, to take the right decisions.

While CAT 2016 is structurally easier than IIFT, the latter is easier and apart from GK preparation you do not need to do anything extra. Your CAT preparation for QA, DI, LR, verbal and reading comprehension is more than enough for IIFT and all you need to do is to work on your test-taking strategy by attempting old IIFT papers and IIFT mocks. About seven to eight papers should be sufficient for this purpose.

The IIFT paper

Contrary to popular belief that the IIFT paper is unpredictable, the reality is that like any other paper it can be predicted.

a) The EU, LR and GA sections of the IIFT resemble a “South Indian Thali” and instead of trying to attempt all question types you should focus only on the ones that you are comfortable with. Remember you can afford to leave about 40% of the paper.

b) Every IIFT paper has 5-6 incorrect questions or questions in which none of the choices are correct. Possibly trying to see how you handle chaos.


In general, a score of 50+ secures one a call from IIFT. However, aim for 55+ to stand a good chance of converting the call.

Strategy 1: Start with verbal, follow it up with quant then DI, RC, reasoning and GK in that order. Verbal, quant and reasoning should be maximised.

Strategy 2: Take it as it comes. There are about 115-135 questions in the paper. Start with question 1 and carry on till 120. Don’t worry about sections. Answer the question if you know it, leave it and move on, if you don’t. Ensure that you don’t forget to clear sectional cut-offs in the process.

Strategy 3: Start with verbal, followed by reasoning, quant, RC, GK and DI in that order. It’s similar to strategy 1 but the aim is to not spend more than 12-15 minutes on DI and GK combined. That gives one about 105 minutes to secure 50+ marks by attempting the easiest parts of the paper. Aim should be to score 80-85% of total marks in verbal, reasoning, quant and RC.

IIFT cut-offs – sectional and overall:

Practising past IIFT papers will help you in CAT and XAT as well. If you can handle the complexity of IIFT then managing the 3 sections of XAT will not be difficult. Also, IIFT will push you to increase your speed and this could help increase your attempts in CAT. Aim for 30-35% of the total sectional marks to clear the sectional cutoff (in GK aim for a score of 2.5+) and about 55-60% of overall marks to stand a good chance to convert a call.