Come November and the temperatures will again rise this winter. This MBA entrance exam season will begin with the troika of NMAT, IIFT and CAT exams (and that too exactly in that order). With just about 2 months still with us, it becomes important for us to review plan, realign our strategy to develop a momentum that continues till D-Day(s). This post is aimed at guiding you through the process of acknowledging the difference between these three exams (IIFT, NMAT, and CAT) and work accordingly in order to cover all bases. In short, ek teer se teen nishaane.


Let’s first talk about the IIFT exam

The IIFT exam, to be held on 27th November 2016, is undoubtedly the most complex MBA entrance exam in India. It tests your time management skills, decision making ability and resource optimization. The complex exam pattern and variable difficulty of the questions doesn’t allow the candidate to chart out a set plan and neither it allows any cushion time during the exam in which the candidate could sit back and re-analyze his/her strategy.

The IIFT exam is a 120-minute exam with around 115 – 135 questions. The IIFT paper is generally divided into 4-6 sections and the exam is of 100 marks. Questions of different sections have different marks but in almost all the past papers GK & EU had the minimum marks and QA & DI had the maximum marks. There is a negative marking in the exam equal to 1/3rd of the marks allocated to that question. Some details pertaining to the registration and the exam are given below:

About IIFT

IIFT has two campuses in India, in Delhi and in Kolkata. Contrary to the general perception, both the institutes are at par with each other with both of them featuring in the top 20 B-schools of India.

About the Programme

IIFT awards an MBA degree in International Business (MBA-IB). Although the program is majorly based on providing a 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.

MBA-IB graduates find great opportunities in international as well as government organizations. Global organizations, like those in the airline and hospitality industry, are places where IB graduates are highly regarded. Apart from these, organizations, which are in pursuit of expanding their footprint in various countries across the world, bank upon the IB graduates.

Now, let’s move to the NMAT exam

The uniqueness of this exam lies in the fact that there is no negative marking in it. Along with this, a candidate is allowed 2 retakes after he/she has taken the first attempt. The exam consists of 120 questions divided into 3 sections, namely:

  • Language Skills
  • Quantitative Skills
  • Logical Reasoning

Also, a candidate is allowed to choose the arrangement in which the paper can be attempted. In NMAT 2016, in the quant section, there were a number of questions that were quite new even to a seasoned test taker. But in all the sections, the questions were of moderate difficulty. Even the most difficult questions in the quant section could be solved with the help of the SQC techniques and using the options. The details regarding the registration and the exam dates are given below.

NMAT Exam Window                         :           7th October’ 16 – 20th December ‘15

Last Date of Registration                   :           3rd October ‘16

Fees (for registration and                 :           Rs. 1700 + applicable taxes

each retake)


NMIMS has established 3 campuses in India, in Mumbai, Bangalore and in Hyderabad. Its oldest campus at Mumbai stands out in terms of the reputation. The other two campuses haven’t been able to make a mark as yet and it is more like a compromise to take an admission in those two campuses. Candidates should aim at a NMAT score of at least 210-215 to secure a call from NMIMS Mumbai.

About the Programmes

NMIMS offers an array of management programmes at its Mumbai campus. Right from a general MBA degree to specialized MBA degrees, NMIMS has the following programs on offer:

  • MBA
  • MBA (Pharmaceuticals Management)
  • MBA (Capital Markets)
  • MBA (Banking)
  • MBA (HR)
  • MBA (Entrepreneurship & Family Business)

The students who have already chosen a predetermined career path can go for one of the specialized programs as per his/her interest and career objective. Banking and Finance courses at NMIMS are the most sought after.  NMIMS has always witnessed a great response from the industry during its final placements and summer placements. BFSI and IT/ITes sectors have been the major recruiters at NMIMS Mumbai.

Who should write the NMIMS exam?

NMIMS Mumbai has been a favorite recruitment destinations for the BFSI sector

Strategy – Kaise lagayein nishaana for NMAT, IIFT, and CAT?

Are you appearing for all three – IIFT, NMAT and CAT? If yes, you should be through with learning the basics and revising concepts by now. In the next few days, you must consolidate all the learning by taking as many Sectional tests and Test Gym tests as you can.

The first attempt of NMAT could be scheduled in the last week of October while the second one (if felt the need for it) could be scheduled in the second week of November, a few days before the IIFT exam on the 27th November.

In order to make these attempts fruitful, the student should start dividing his effort across these three exams right from the first week of September. September onwards aspirants must start solving the NMAT mock papers keeping in mind the exam time limit. This would give the candidate a feel of the kind of questions in NMAT which are different from those asked in IIFT and CAT. More towards the end of September, the candidate should look at the start taking the IIFT mocks. By the second attempt of NMAT, the candidate should have attempted around 4-5 NMAT mocks and 4-5 IIFT mocks.

An important point that must be clarified here is that appearing for any mock other than a CAT mock is NOT a waste of time. Students generally tend to give all their time taking mocks based on the CAT pattern. This leaves them with insufficient practice for all the other exams. Students must remember that appearing for too many CAT mocks can be an over kill. Appearing for 10-15 CAT mocks along with a total of 10 mocks for NMAT and IIFT would be enough for them to sail through these exams.

Hope you sail through the IIFT, NMAT and CAT trioka well!

You might like to consider filling up the Profile Evaluation Form to download The Ultimate Profile Building Guide. Months before CAT, we would be able to suggest you a host of B-schools that are suited for you as per your profile. These suggestions can help you take an informed decision about your next step in your career.

Best of luck!