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Understanding the IIFT Exam Pattern

Age-old wisdom dictates that you must understand the challenges before attempting to overcome them. This article breaks-down the IIFT written test for you to understand it better!
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Among various MBA entrance exams in India, IIFT has the most challenging and interesting exam format. Some of the stand-out features of the exam are: a unique marking scheme accompanied with differential marking, multiple sections divided into sub-sections, and a variable number of total questions in the exam. The unique nature of the exam also means that it gives a lot of jitters to numerous students. Understanding the pattern of the exam is of paramount importance as it will help you in formulating a winning strategy to tackle the exam.

First of all, take a look at the format of last year’s IIFT:

SectionSectionsNo. of QuestionsMarks per QuestionsTotal-Marks
Section -1Quantitative Ability221.0022
Section -2(Part-1) Analytical & Logical Reasoning200.7515
(Part -2) Data Interpretation181.0018
Section -3(Part -1) Reading Comprehension161.0016
(Part -2) Verbal Ability200.7515
Section -4General Awareness280.5014

This table clearly highlights the fact that differential marking plays an important role in IIFT and you should allocate time as per the weightage of each question.

Following are some more details about IIFT based on previous year papers:

Number of Sections4 (With Sub Sections)
Marks Per QuestionDifferential, for 2015 paper it was (0.5 for G.K, 0.75 for Verbal Ability, 1 for RC and 1 DI and Quant and 0.75 for Analytical and Logical Reasoning)
Negative Marking1/3rd of the marks allotted to the question
Duration2 hours
Number of questionsVariable. In 2011 there were 122 questions, 135 in 2012, 128 in 2013, 118 in 2014 and 124 in 2015
Total Marks100
Sectional cut offYes
ModePaper Based Test. Students need to mark answers on OMR sheet using pencil
Number of setsFour (A,B,C,D)

While IIFT has not specified the syllabus for the exam, generally the areas tested in the exam are: English Usage/Verbal Ability, Reading Comprehension, Quantitative Aptitude, Data Interpretation, Logical Reasoning and General Knowledge. The major takeaways based on the above analysis are as follows:

  • Give equal importance to all the 4 sections as clearing sectional cut- off is the gateway to move ahead.
  • Keep a proper tab on the time management as there is differential marking scheme with 124 questions in 120 minutes.
  • Overall, the IIFT test can be best managed if you follow a three-pronged approach - ensuring concept familiarity, developing application orientation and sharpening test-taking strategies.
  • For Quantitative Aptitude, Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning: you should keep in mind that you can comfortably attempt 10-12 questions in quant, 10-12 questions in reasoning, and 8-10 questions in DI section.
  • The Verbal section is a mix of Reading Comprehension, Vocabulary and Grammar based questions. Reading Comprehension questions have more weightage than the English usage questions and the English Usage section consists heavily of vocabulary based questions.
  • Generally, GK sections have very low cut-offs, so you need not attempt a large number of questions. Also, this section features 'Match the following questions' type of questions. Make sure you go through these as even if you know some of the correct matches it might help you solve the question.
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