1. What is IIFT?

IIFT is a national-level management entrance exam conducted once in a year by the National Testing Agency (NTA), for admission to MBA (IB) program offered by Indian Institute of Foreign Trade. IIFT is likely to be conducted in the first week of December, in online or computer-based mode across various exam centers in India. Before filling the application form, candidates must carefully go through the eligibility criteria. Candidates have to register for the exam in online mode. The result of IIFT will be declared in the second week of December. Candidates who qualify the exam will be shortlisted for the selection process – Writing Test, GD, and PI which is likely to be conducted in the month of January or February.

IIFT awards an MBA degree in International Business (MBA-IB). Although the program is majorly based on providing comprehensive coverage on the topics of International Business and Trade, the program also imparts knowledge of the various General Management principles. A candidate can choose 4 electives out of the electives focusing on IB and 4 electives out of the General Electives. Two electives can be chosen from any of the two groups. As a matter of fact, about 50% of the students at IIFT get placed in companies from the Sales & Marketing and Finance domains while only about 10% get placed in Trade and IB firms.


2. Why IIFT?

Differential Marking

There are four sections in the IIFT exam and a few subsections among two of the sections. Unlike the various other management entrance exams where there is a uniform marking scheme throughout the paper, in IIFT exam each section has different marks. In the General Awareness section each question carries 0.50 marks. Each question in the Data Interpretation section is of 0.75 marks. Apart from this each question in the remaining sections and subsections are of 1 mark each.

It is important for a student to realize this nuance of the IIFT exam and proceed with a suitable strategy to maximize the marks.

Marks per minute concept

Following from the aforementioned point, in the IIFT exam pattern, there are two extremely prominent sections, Logical Reasoning, which forms Section 4 of the paper, and Data Interpretation, which is a subpart of Section 4. Both these sections sum up to 20 marks (each) which are the highest marks for any section in the IIFT exam. Also the strike rate of marks per minute is the highest for these two sections.

Glance through the passages and attempt two passages which you are comfortable with based on the subject of the passage, at the rate of 7-8 minutes per passage. Do not target attempting all RCs since this section gives minimum marks per minute.

Errata – A few Incorrect Questions

This might seem strange but, the IIFT exam, on a regular basis, has a few incorrect questions. Either these questions are unsolvable i.e. incorrect or none of the options match the correct answer. It can be understood that these questions are merely there to check the student’s ability to handle chaos and still keep his/her boat afloat.

Since IIFT is an exam of speed, be vary of these dead-ends and move on immediately if a question doesn’t strike you.

Varying Level of Difficulty

The IIFT exam is not one of those entrance exams which can be stereotyped based on the level of difficulty. Students can get a good perspective about the varying level of difficulty by noticing that the cut-offs for IIFT Delhi over the last few years have varied from 38.5 to 50.

This variability is why it is of paramount importance that students spend a few minutes at the start of the IIFT 2020 exam to judge the difficulty level of the question paper. Based on the difficulty, the student should look forward to making a suitable number of attempts.

The Mystery of Sectional Cut-Offs

IIFT has never been consistent across years on having sectional cut-offs. Some years there is a sectional cut-off in the exam while in the other year’s students just need to clear the overall cut-off.

A well prepared student should make it a point to perform equally well in all the sections to clear the sectional cut-offs, if any. It is needless to say that the cut-offs for the General Awareness section is extremely low (as low at 2.5-3 marks) and a candidate should perform like-wise in this section. Even if it isn’t specifically stated that the paper has sectional cut-offs one should assume that it does.

3. How to prepare?

1. Solve at least 2 previous year papers

IIFT is a pen and paper exam and this means that you should practice taking mocks in this format. Download previous year exam paper PDFs, take out prints and solve them as 2 hour tests. The exams for the last 2 years should be more than enough for this purpose. Also, these two papers will provide you an exact idea of what to expect in the exam.

2. IIFT tests you on speed as well as accuracy

Considering IIFT is a 2-hour exam, it tests you on speed as well as accuracy. In fact, most questions are not that difficult but you simply won’t have the time to solve everything. Therefore, be ready to skip questions and search for the doable ones. Getting stuck is not an option in this exam.

3. Remember, you have to mark answers!

Why is this a point? Well, there are some students who solve the questions and don’t mark the OMR side by side. This leaves some of them pretty vulnerable and people have missed marking answers on the OMR previously. Make sure you mark the answers side by side and make this a part of your time-management.

4. Be careful of the cut-offs

Overall, the cut-offs for the sections are generally pretty low and it is easier to cross them (in comparison to other exams) but you cannot screw-up a section. Make sure you attempt the bare minimum questions in every section to do well.

5. Check out the analysis for the previous year exam

This is going to give you an exact idea of the topics and major areas that appear in the exam. It is important to understand the nature and structure of the exam.

6. Time management is the key

Time management is the key for the exam. Make sure you devise a section/sub-section wise breakup based on your strengths. Ideally, you can give about 10 minutes to GK and then divide the remaining time depending upon your strengths.
An ideal break-up is:
GK: 10 minutes
VA: 20 minutes
RC: 20 minutes
QA: 25 minutes
LR: 25 minutes
DI: 20 minutes

You can add or subtract 5 to 7 minutes from these sections based upon your strengths and weaknesses.

  • Focus on revision of core concepts
  • Cover up as much GK content as you can but remember, overloading yourself won’t help. Cover only as much as you are comfortable with.
  • Work on your calculation speeds
  • Be clear with your exam strategy and solve a couple of previous year papers
  • 1 or 2 Mocks are more than enough
  • More than actual learning of concepts, you should focus on being in the right mental frame for the test. You can improve your scores by simply being ready for the different patterns that IIFT features. Most of you have solved Mock CATs and are not ready for the change. Make sure you keep this in mind.

4. Important materials:


IIFT Syllabus for Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension

Vocabulary Synonyms Antonyms
Analogies Spelling mistakes Idioms and phrases
English proficiency Sentence formation One word substitution
Sentence Reconstruction Sentence improvement Sentence completion
Fill in the blanks Rearrangement of words in sentence Paragraph formation
Paragraph completion Rearrangement of sentence in paragraph Reading comprehension
Grammar Word meaning match Preposition
Odd word out Sentence correction Phrases

IIFT Syllabus for Logical Reasoning and Data Interpretation

Decision Making Series Data Structures
Blood relations Coding-Decoding Alphabetical Series
Syllogisms Verbal Logic Visual & Critical Reasoning
Linear & Matrix Arrangements Puzzles Family Tree Problem
Statement & Conclusion Cause & Effect Input & Output
Partnership Line Graph Tables
Bar Pie Graphs

IIFT Syllabus for Quantitative Aptitude

Percentages Number System Binomial Expansion
Arithmetic Progression Simple interest Ratios
Compound interest Arithmetic Mean Coordinate geometry
Standard Deviation Vectors Set Theory
Installments/ payments Permutation & Combination Mode
Trigonometry Mensuration Probability
Clocks Time, Speed, Distance Logarithm
Geometric Progression Averages In- equations Quadratic
Profit & Loss Venn Diagram Calendar
Geometric Mean Ratios & Proportions Linear Equations Algebra
Geometry Work & Time Harmonic Mean

IIFT Syllabus for General Knowledge

Politics Industry Geography
Business Society International Affairs
Science Economics Banking
Awards & Awardees Entertainment Sports
History Mythology

a. E-books:

Best Books for IIFT Exam Preparation:

Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension:

Book Name Author/ Publisher
The Pearson Guide to Verbal Ability and Logical Reasoning Nishant Sinha
Word Power Made Easy Norman Lewis
High School English Grammar & Composition Wren & Martin
30 Days to a More Powerful Vocabulary Wilfred Funk and Norman Lewis
Verbal & Non-Verbal Reasoning R. S. Aggarwal

Logical Reasoning:

Book Name Author/ Publisher
How to Prepare For Logical Reasoning For CAT Arun Sharma
Verbal Ability And Logical Reasoning For The CAT Nishit K. Sinha
Verbal & Non-Verbal Reasoning R. S. Aggarwal

Quantitative Ability:

Book Name Author/ Publisher
How to prepare for Quantitative Aptitude for CAT Arun Sharma
Quantum CAT Sarvesh K Verma
The Pearson Guide To Quantitative Aptitude And Data Interpretation Nishit Sinha
Quantitative Aptitude R.S. Aggarwal
Quantitative Aptitude For Competitive Examinations Abhijit Guha

Data Interpretation:

Book Name Author/ Publisher
Data Interpretation for The CAT Arun Sharma
Logical Reasoning and Data Interpretation for CAT & other MBA exams Nishit K Sinha
Data interpretation and Logical Reasoning for CAT Pearson

b. Videos:

How to crack IIFT:


All about IIFT:


IIFT preparation strategy:


IIFT preparation with time management:


Top 50 IIFT GK questions:


How to prepare for IIFT:


How to score 99.92 percentile in IIFT:


All about IIFT strategy:


IIFT cutoffs and exam dates:


5. Previous year question paper with answer:

IIFT 2019 question paper:


IIFT 2018 question paper:


IIFT 2017 question paper:


IIFT 2017 admission test question paper:


IIFT 2016 admission test question paper:


IIFT 2015 admission test question paper:


IIFT 2014 question paper:


6. Important tips:

  • Brush up your GK:

This is one of the main differences between IIFT and other MBA entrance exams. The General Knowledge & Awareness section is the deal-breaker here. You should not wait until the last moment to start preparing for this section.

If you had been preparing for IIFT from the last few months & had been going through the newspapers (especially the business & economy sections) that would be more than enough.

If you have not been doing that, do not despair. You can always rely on a good yearbook. The number of questions in this section varies from year to year, but you can safely expect at least 15-20 questions in this section.

  • Work on your Speed:

The number of questions in the IIFT exam hovers around 120-135. Speed, therefore, is very vital. The quantitative section of IIFT is considered to be one of the toughest.

But you’d come across some really easy questions too, which will be the real clinchers. For this, you will again need to work on your speed, so that you can easily maneuver through the question paper and manage to reach & spot these easy questions

  • Expand your Vocabulary:

The exam’s English Comprehension section usually has a lot of questions that will test your vocabulary, so you would need to work on that.

You could use “flash cards” with words & their meanings and keep memorizing sets of 10 cards every day. You should also know how these new words are supposed to be used in a sentence.

For this you need to read a lot. Nothing works like reading to improve your vocabulary as well as sentence-formation skills.

  • Get your basics right:

If you have got your basics right & foundation strong, cracking IIFT would be a cakewalk. Just keep in mind that in order to crack a 2-hour long paper that would consist of around 120-135 questions, your speed, accuracy & choice of questions is what would matter the most.

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