How to prepare for IIFT 2021

How to prepare for IIFT 2021 has become a serious concern for students who wish to secure their future by landing in one of the most prestigious institutes in the country I.e., IIFT. Each year, almost 75 thousand students appear for IIFT exam, with the shortlisting restrained to only 1200-1400 students across all the branches. IIFT exam’s structure is very similar as that of CAT, only difference being the addition of fourth section I.e., General Awareness and no sectional time limit. However, just like CAT, IIFT 2021 will have sectional cut offs. Hence, candidates need to chalk out their philosophy as far as IIFT preparation is concerned to cement their chances of cracking IIFT 2021. As IIFT and CAT test structure and syllabus run on the same lines, students who are or have already prepared for CAT do not need to ponder how to prepare for IIFT from scratch. Brushing up IIFT-centric topics and General Awareness topics will be enough for a serious CAT aspirant to prepare for IIFT. 

IIFT 2021 is a national level MBA entrance examination conducted in an online CBT (computer-based) mode by NTA (National Testing Agency). This exam will be held on January 24, 2021 for candidates seeking admission in the flagship MBA-IB (International Business) program offered by IIFT (Indian Institute of Foreign Trade) across three main campuses in the country I.e New Delhi, Kolkata and Kakinada (launched recently). Due to low number of seat intakes and strict marking scheme, cracking IIFT becomes cumbersome for candidates. This article is a formulation of foolproof techniques of cracking IIFT 2021 created by CL experts. Read on to find which technique works the best for you in terms of time left for exam, feasibility and resources available. These techniques would ensure that there is no dearth in your preparation journey and that you ace IIFT with flying colors.

However, before we delve into the actual preparation module, let us break down the anatomy of IIFT 2021 in terms of IIFT 2021 Exam Pattern and sectional framework.

Also Read: IIFT Notification 2020

IIFT 2021 Exam Pattern

This year, IIFT will comprise four sections as compared to six sections in IIFT 2020. Here is a detailed layout of IIFT 2021 Exam Pattern.


Important Details

Test Administrator for IIFT 2021

National Testing Agency

Mode of the exam

Online CBT (Computer Based)


2 hours (120 mins)

Type of questions

Multiple choice questions

Medium of Instructions


Number of questions


Number of Sections

Four Sections

  1. Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension
  2. Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning.
  3. Quantitative Aptitude
  4. General Awareness
Marking scheme

  • 3 Mark for every correct answer (VARC, DILR and QA)
  • Deduction of 1 mark for every incorrect answer (VARC, DILR, QA)
  • 1.5 for every correct answer (GA)
  • Deduction of 0.5 for every incorrect answer (GA)

This is to note that IIFT 2021 Exam is conducted on an autonomous level and that scores of IIFT exam will not be considered valid for any other university apart from the three branches of IIFT.

IIFT 2021 Sectional Framework:

There have been a few guidelines kept in mind when it comes to the paper pattern for IIFT this year. The guidelines are as follows:

  • IIFT will only be conducted in an online CBT mode
  • The overall time duration will be 2 hours, with no individual section time limit. 
  • You can switch between sections as per your comfort level.
  • No on-screen calculator will be provided.
  • Data Interpretation section will be heavier on calculation than QA section
  • General Awareness section will only comprise of two main topics I.e Static GA and Current affairs.
  • The number of questions will be 110 
  • An incorrect question will result in a penalty of 1/3 marks of the total marks awarded for that question.


Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension


Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning


Quantitative Ability & Data Interpretation


General Knowledge


Total questions 

110 total MCQs

In order to outperform IIFT 2021, you should have a systematic course of action in check and work towards improving your attempt to accuracy ratio. This can only be achieved with the help of effective time management and getting a lead on speed through consistent practice.

More info regarding exam pattern available on this page

Another thing that candidates need to acknowledge as a stepping stone for IIFT 2021 preparation is the IIFT 2021 syllabus. Acknowledging and referring to the IIFT syllabus is like the indispensable bone to the IIFT psyche. Given below are the important topics from which the majority of the questions are going to be asked in IIFT 2021 Examination.

IIFT 2021 Syllabus

IIFT has been a steady examination in terms of complexity and unfortunately, does not have a designed syllabus. However, based on past years’ question paper, we can easily infer the major topics related to the IIFT exam.  As per the latest official notification released by NTA, the syllabus is propounded to be as follows:

  • Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension: Reading Comprehension, Vocabulary-based topics, Grammar-based topics, Error Correction, Sentence Jumble, Punctuation etc.
  • Data Interpretation and logical Reasoning: Table-sets, Venn Diagrams, Charts, Graphs with tables, Arrangements, Blood Relations, etc.
  • Quantitative Aptitude: Arithmetic, Algebra, Basic Geometry, Permutation and Combination, Equations, Probability etc.
  • General Awareness: Business and Economy, Fiscal Growth, Budget, Revenue, Famous Personalities, Brand Marketing, Prominent Authors etc. 

More info regarding detailed IIFT 2021 syllabus available here

To have a detailed understanding of the exact 

kind of questions that are asked in IIFT, it is mandatory for you to pay attention to mock practice for IIFT. Mock practice for IIFT is a syllabus-specific approach to go about IIFT 2021 and helps you cover the maximum range of IIFT syllabus.

IIFT 2021 Preparation: Section-wise Methodology:

IIFT exam is held in a non-adaptive mode.  Hence a candidate has the liberty to focus on the high scoring sections like DILR that retains the maximum time and tackle the difficult questions with strong accuracy. This is precisely what makes a good IIFT score. Here is a section wise course of action for IIFT 2021:

IIFT 2021 Preparation: Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension

  1. Build a solid habit of Active Reading: Reading is the quintessential input towards your VARC preparation. It helps you enhance your vocabulary toolbox, improve your grammatical skills, intensify your visualization and quicken your reading speed all in one go. Read various journals, periodicals, magazines based on economy and business awareness such as The Outlook, India Today, The Week etc. and every time you stumble across a new word, write It down and look up for the meaning as well as sentence usage of that word. Reading helps in instant growth of your verbal skills and minimizes your chances of making errors in the examination.
  2. Practice at least 3-4 RC sets on a daily basis: This part of preparation coincides with the CAT VARC preparation. Make sure you solve at least 100-200 RC passages to turn it into a photographic memory. Brush up on your comprehension skills by solving each kind of passage namely scientific, persuasive, analytical, poem, negative, dialogue-based, sarcastic etc.
  3. Use the Process of Elimination technique while Solving RCs: If you are solving a persuasive or negative RC where you know the direction of the author’s compass, straightaway eliminate options that focus on neutrality and are not siding any entity mentioned in the passage. This will save you a lot of time.
  4. Focus on the Main Idea of the Passage: Most of the RCs in the examination will be based on facts i.e informative, scientific or descriptive. You need to divert your attention towards pebbling out the centralized idea of the passage I.e the main point around which the entire passage revolves. You can use the “Main Point of Paragraph” technique for this. Rough out a main point of all the paragraphs of RC and ensure connectivity in all the points. In the end, just read the drafted points and figure out the main point of the entire RC. This will save a lot of time and help you in solving questions with ease.
  5. Do not fall prey to extreme tones: No RC passage in IIFT exam is based on tone extremity. Hence, do not consider caustic, acerbic, didactic, or cynical tones as valid answer options. They all trip in the favor of extremely negative circumstances of the passage the author is unlikely to agree with. If the passage is factual or evidence based, the author would refrain from using extreme words and would only be either sarcastic or critical in his tone. Other tones which the author is likely to give away are persuasive, hyperbolic, hypocritical, optimistic etc.
  6. Brush up on basic grammatical skills: Pick up any 8-10th standard grammar composition and revise Active-Passive voice, Direct and Indirect Speech, Parts of Speech, Articles, Tenses and Modals properly. This will help you develop a grammar sense in the examination which would help in questions related to fill ups, punctuation and error correction.
  7. Do not neglect Verbal Ability: Verbal Ability is an indispensable part of IIFT exam. Approximately 10-12 questions belong to it. Practice Jumbled Paragraphs, Para Summary, Cloze Passage and critical reasoning topics on priority to get your verbal ability in check.
  8. Eliminate the distortions: While solving any RC question, if you happen to come across a statement which you are not able to interpret, leave it and continue reading. These statements are just put in for the sake of confusion and break the candidate’s flow of reading.
  9. Earmark one VARC mock every week: Mocks are the holy grail of test preparation. Earmark one sectional mock in two days to bolster your language skills and ingrain all what you learnt permanently in your mind. Keep in mind that all the mocks should be followed by 3–4-hour long performance evaluation analysis to take notice of your own errors and rectify them in the next mock.

IIFT 2021 Preparation: Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning

  1. Beat with the Basics: As DILR is the most complex section in the IIFT exam, you should focus on building the concepts. Start with Arrangements in logical reasoning and Missing Information in Data Interpretation. Try to build concepts by referring to your study material or online video tutorials. Once you understand the concepts, take a topic mock to review your understanding of the concepts. Taking mocks at the end of every topic and testing your mental strength is all what would get you through this section.
  2. Develop the logic: Practice various questions based on major topics such as Venn Diagram, Games and Tournaments, Coding-Decoding, Blood Relations, Directions Sense, Quantitative Reasoning etc. Practicing these topics would be majorly beneficial for you due to their logical simplicity. Once you derive the logic behind the question, problem-solving becomes an easy job.
  3. Be clear with your Interpretations: As DILR accounts for table-based, graph-based and chart-based questions, be clear cut with the way you interpret the exact data depicted in the table, chart, graph or frequency diagrams.
  4. Work on your problem-solving speed: It is very important for a student to maintain his/her speed while working on LRDI questions. You need to solve 30 LRDI questions in a 40-minute time span in the final exam which puts you in a tight spot if you do not work on your speed right from the start. Dedicate a specific amount of time to solving any question and if you exceed the time limit, leave that question and proceed to the next question.
  5. Keep accuracy in mind: It is crucial that you concentrate on accuracy just as much as you concentrate on your speed. Do not attempt questions that seem time consuming to you. If you have understood the concepts correctly, there is a 100% chance that you can solve more than half of the questions pertaining to that topic. Some questions are purposely marked as trick questions and digress the student from their attention. If you solved 10 questions with ease and then got stuck on one question, let it go and proceed to the next question. The “art of leaving” is a difficult task to practice, but it is necessary if you keep in mind your “attempt vs accuracy ratio”. Every minute counts while you solve a DILR question.
  6. Solve Missing Information or Incorrect Information questions on a priority: These are some of most common Data Interpretation topics which are asked in the IIFT examination. While solving such sets, keep in mind to extract the information from the question and present it in the form of a table first. Once you have your table in place, populate the missing items by finding the row total,column total and the overall total of the table. This trick will help you find and replace the incorrect information and populate the missing values, thereby find the correct answer.
  7. Do not ignore a lengthy question: If you happened to strike a chord with a lengthy question, give it a scan rather than walking past it. The question might appear to be daunting, but lengthy questions are the easiest to solve in DILR, provided you solve them using the right approach. Hence, try to scan the question from top to bottom and then make a decision whether the question is worth your time or not.
  8. Maintain a cheat sheet of formulas: Learn decimal conversions, squares, cubes and tables till 30 along with Alphabet values, cardinal maps, directions and other important formulas and jot them down in a notebook. This practice will prove out to develop a rudimentary idea of solving any question and increase your ability to identify easy sets and solve them accurately.
  9. Earmark one sectional mock every week: Lastly, remember analyzing your performance from time to time. Analyzing your performance every day by taking one or 2 sectional mocks. When you appear for the mock, take your time in identifying the “sitters” or the easy questions and try to minimize errors as much as possible. This will maximize your scores single handedly and not let you fall prey to negative marking. Mocks are an exact replication of the main entrance exam. Hence, try to build a good accuracy by only solving questions you know properly, and leaving the ones you aren’t completely sure of.

IIFT 2021 Preparation: Quantitative Ability

  1. Build your basics strong:  The first and foremost step in preparing for quantitative ability is to get your basics in place. Build your conceptual foundation by learning arithmetic, algebra and basic geometry from 8th-10th std. NCERT books.
  2. Find out alternate solving methods to decrease time and increase accuracy: There are several approaches of solving QA questions. Choose which approach works out the best for you in terms of understanding and time management. Traditional approach to a question may be easy, but will consume a lot of time and energy. Instead, gauge your mental scale of calculation by learning alternate approaches and practice the questions all over again, this time with a different approach to increase accuracy.   
  3. Practice and practice: Pay majority of your attention towards easy-to-go arithmetic chapters such as percentages, profit and loss, ratio and percentages, simple and compound interest, time and work, arithmetic progressions, permutations and combinations, probability, logarithms etc. as they are easy to understand and can be solved using unitary method. This is what would cover over 80% for your IIFT QA syllabus. After completing these chapters, focus on algebra and then on basic geometry chapters.
  4. Engage in Paperless Calculations: Work towards improving mental calculations instead of paper calculations. As the use of a calculator is prohibited in the examination, doing paper calculations may swallow more of your time and prevent you from attempting other questions accurately. The key is to spot the relationship between the data given in the questions and related concepts and then solving the question. This is how you’ll be able to attempt most questions correctly.
  5. Do not attempt trick questions: QA section can be your percentile maker or breaker. The paper would consist of some latent trick questions that are included to digress the confidence and halt their aptitude progression. IIFT is basically an aptitude screening examination. Ensure that you practice a lot so that you are able to pick out and leave the trick questions as they are.
  6. Do not solve questions using approximation or hit and trial techniques: Shortcut, by no means implies that a candidate resorts to guessing the answer. However, a lot of practice brings forth the ability to make calculated guesses. Hence, engage yourself in solving at least 50 problems everyday based on alternate concepts. 
  7. Earmark one sectional mock everyday: The last and the primitive leg of your preparation is to practice daily sectional mocks to ensure maximum accuracy in the quant section. After the mock, spend 5-8 hours in performance analysis of the mock to find loopholes in your preparation plan. After finding the loopholes, list all the topics behind the questions you were unable to solve and practice them individually.

IIFT 2021 Preparation: General Awareness

  • The IIFT GA portion is vast but easily available. Make sure you gather proper resources as per IIFT’s standards to learn about GA topics effectively.
  • Focus more on reading different journals and editorials preferably the indian express, the tribune, economic times which focus on the current business and economic standpoints.
  • Brush your knowledge of Ancient, Medieval and Modern History and news related to cultural, social and foreign events. Reading is an integral part of GA preparation. Read different newsletters and magazines to brush on static and dynamic sections of GK while getting better and better at reading and vocabulary.
  • Attempt last 5 year’s IIFT papers to make a gander as to which questions are primarily asked in IIFT exam and different variations of the questions as well.
  • Make sure you only study the recent editions of current affairs. It is likely that the paper would contain questions based on recent political, social, art and cultural or international events.
  • Take mocks every week to enhance confidence over your preparation strategy. Taking mocks will also help you increase your sea of knowledge regarding diverse topics.

Is 1 month sufficient to prepare for the IIFT?

Yes, if you put in your cent percent effort then it is more than enough.

While we know that IIFT is susceptible to alterations and changes, one thing never changes. IIFT syllabus. As for 2020, the difficulty level of IIFT is going to be moderate to difficult, given the current covid-19 situation.

Here are a few steps which will help you win over IIFT 2021:

What do you remember?

  • The first step which a candidate needs to automatically follow is by knowing the genesis of your knowledge. Ensure that you are really up for the examination and not just building up your imagination.

Understand the IIFT syllabus.

  • As a determined IIFT aspirant, know what lies in front of you If you do not know which topics to study and where to study from, you might not stay consistent or concentrated during the prep process.

Adhere to Time Management

  • IIFT has a humongous syllabus and the question mark has been raised to 110 in 120 mins. This means you cannot devote more than 1 min to each question. 

Choose the correct mode of Study

  • The test paper has stretched its gamut an extra mile. The confusion and chaos in the mind of a candidate can be overridden once the candidate gets the hang of what type of reading material will guide him in the initial phase of preparation. The preparation will not be difficult, provided you start it the way it should be started. Well begun is half done!

Learn the basics

  • IIFT 2021 has a massive syllabus. IIFT in general has multiple facets and every aspect of it is important. You cannot rule out any topic or component thinking that it is not significant from the exam point of view. It is. That is why it is mentioned in the syllabus. You cannot wait for the coconut to fall on your head in order to learn how to climb a coconut tree. Gotta climb!

Do a SWOT Analysis

  • Know your areas of weakness and strength by ensuring proper SWOT analysis. You need to be an all-rounder to ace IIFT with good marks. Apart from the written examination, a candidate’s caliber is particularly evaluated during the arduous GD (Group Discussion) round. Ensure you focus on building your confidence both orally and mentally.

Read More: How to prepare for Group Discussion for IIFT?

Mock test series for IIFT 2021 Preparation

ock simulations can be your holy grail when it comes to practicing for the competitive entrance. It will proliferate your efficiency by measuring your current level of preparation. You should at least try to attempt 15-20 full length mocks of 3 hours each and spend another 5 hours understanding the analysis. This implies spending at least 8 hours per fortnight for the purpose of practice. From July 2020 onwards, as you would have covered most of your basics, you should take one mock in every 3 days, making it 4 mocks in a fortnight and 8 mocks in a month. This will not only help you keep your preparation in check but also will help you efficiently manage your time and increase your self-motivation.

Career Launcher’s comprehensive IIFT Online Classes would help you prepare head to toe for the grueling IIFT examination, within the solace of your home. Get in touch with our counselors to know more on the course insights and different types of programmes suiting to your convenience.