The Indian Institute of Foreign Trade (IIFT) Entrance Test 2011 turned out to be pleasant surprise to anyone who had worked hard. I am sure those taking it for the second time would be laughing while the first-time applicants would keep wondering why. It seems that b-schools are in the mood to change patterns and provide better testing experiences to MBA aspirants this year.
As expected, the paper contained a differential marking system but was much more organised than the last few years IIFT papers. The exam was divided into 6 sections --- General awareness, Reading comprehension, Verbal ability, Quantitative ability, Data Interpretation and Analytical & Logical Reasoning. In all there were 120 questions amounting to a total of 100 marks. Each section had questions with the ideal blend of level of difficulty and variety.
IIFT made up for the cancellation of the FMS test this year by making a paper a lot like the erstwhile FMS test.
General Awareness: 21 questions, 0.5 mark each. 10.5 marks
As expected the section carried questions picked from history, geography, Hollywood, Bollywood, media, economics, current affairs and people. Some questions would have made you scratch your head to the core. Especially the question which involved the matching of three parameters. The options were placed carefully. One had to be very careful in eliminating the choices as two choices were often very close. An aspirant who has been following newspapers religiously would not have found it difficult to attempt 15+ questions. However for a well prepared student, an attempt of 12+ in a duration of 15 to 17 minutes would be considered as an ideal go. So with a reasonable accuracy rate, one should be scoring 4 to 4.5 net in this section of moderate difficulty.
Reading comprehension: 15 questions, 0.75 mark each. 11.25 marks
The passages this year were a little lengthy and were accompanied by relatively fewer number of questions. There were four passages of about 1,000 words each. Three of these passages had four accompanying questions each while the fourth had three. The first passage was on the effect on economy and trade due to the influence of technology and government policy. The passage had a lot of information and data. It discussed the shipping industry in the US from the 1950's to 1970s. There were four questions and all of them were direct in nature. Fast reading and quick grasping of data was all that one required to attempt this passage.
The second passage seemed to be extracted from a lecture on the analysing how people of different income groups managed their finances. The passage was analytical and contained strong inputs and opinions. Only those who understood basic finance terminology should have tried this one. Although the questions were not inferential, without proper orientation of the subject it would have been difficult to manage all the attempts from this passage even in 7 to 8 minutes.
The third passage however was very simple and a good read. The passage was about the behavioural aspects of popular lawyers. There were two direct questions while another two were about proverbs used in the passage. This passage was a must-attempt one.
The last passage was a review of Indian banks' performance and the strategy they should adopt for the future. Though the passage contained opinions of the author, it did have some facts in support. All the three questions were direct and hence this passage was also worth an attempt. Overall a candidate should have had wonderful reading speed in order to attempt around 11 questions from the section. A good candidate would have taken around 25 to 30 minutes to attempt this section and attempt 11 questions with a reasonable accuracy rate. A net score of 5.5+ will be ideal for this section.
Verbal Ability: 23 questions, 0.75 mark each. 17.25 marks
This section contained a diverse set of questions. Vocabulary driven questions received special focus. If I clubbed the review of the RC section and this section, it reminded me of the FMS paper of last year. Although the number of questions were lesser, but the pattern was similar, especially the questions on parts of speech. Questions on word usage and synonyms were simple. Questions on confusing words were a bit tricky though. There were two questions on Antonyms and one question on finding the correct spelling. The section was of easy to moderate level. For candidates having a good command on Vocabulary, this section would have been a clear breakthrough. Overall a good candidate would have managed 16+ attempts in 15 minutes. An ideal net score for this section can be 8+.
Quantitative Aptitude: 24 question, 1 mark each 24 marks
The quant section was this year's bonus gatherer --- comparatively very easy and scoring too. Except for a few lengthy questions, all questions could have been attempted within one minute. Most of the questions were standard. Any candidate with sufficient practice from good quality reference material could have related to most of the questions. There were no tricky options in this section either.
Questions based on percentages, logarithms, progression, linear equations & inequalities and mensuration were very easy. Those on Time and Work, Time and Distance and Logic were slightly time consuming. But there was hardly any tough question. Overall 20+ attempts in 25 to 28 minutes can be considered ideal. A net score of 17+ should be good and this was necessary too considering the need of a good overall score.
Data Interpretation: 15 question, 1 mark each. 15 marks
IIFT maintained its tradition in the DI Section. That means, the section was calculation intensive and therefore time consuming. The ideal strategy would have been to manage a decent number of attempts in order to attain the sectional cutoffs. So considering this, a candidate should have attempted the bar graph and the set on GDPs. A maximum of 17 to 18 minutes should have been allocated to attempt around 8 to 9 questions from this section. Since many options were close to each other, there was a risk of calculation mistakes leading to an incorrect answer. A good score would have been a net score of 3.5 marks.
Analytical and Logical Reasoning: 21 question, 1 mark each. 21 marks
The diverse questions in this section contained those on decision making, coding, alphabetical and numerical series and Statements - Assumption and Statement. Most of the questions seemed familiar. Some of the questions were also inspired from previous years' CAT questions. Overall an easy section. Ideal time would have been 20-22 minutes with an attempt of 18+ questions. Managing accuracy in this section should not have been a big challenge and hence one should manage a net score of 14+.
Finally, there is one more feel-good paper after the CAT. IIFT 2011 will be a high scoring one unlike previous papers of this school. Hence this year's cutoffs are estimated to be higher than those in recent years. Cutoffs could be close to 46 net score out of 100.
Wishing all of you good luck for the results.
Hitesh Devalia is the Director and CMO of Endeavor Careers, a leading test preparation institute in Ahmedabad and also the driving force behind www.catgurus.com, an online test preparation website.