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IIFT 2019 Topper Interview - Indian Institute of Foreign Trade (IIFT) Topper 2019, Chandan Ram who bagged 99.98 percentile firmly believes that pursuing one’s interest is the greatest asset. Through his interview with Careers360, Chandan emphasized quality over quantity while appearing for the exam. Through hard work and strategic planning, he believes one can score well even without taking the coaching. In this article, Chandan shares his mind mapping technique to tackle his weaker areas, the importance of giving mock test, exam day strategies and much more.
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Question: Congratulations on your admission to IIFT Delhi. What was your score in IIFT?
Answer: Thank you. I scored 99.985 percentile in IIFT 2019.
Question: Which MBA entrance exams did you appear for and what was your score or percentile in them?
Answer: I had appeared for CAT 2018 and XAT 2019. I scored a 99.03 percentile in CAT 2018 and 98.73 percentile in XAT 2019.
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Question: Did you have admission offers from other B-schools? Why did you choose IIFT over other B-schools?
Answer: Yes, I had offers from IIM Shillong & nearly all other new IIMs, XLRI and MDI. But as I always have a strong proximity towards International trade and business and also as it offers one of the most prestigious MBA degrees - MBA in ”International Business”, so it was a no brainer for me to join IIFT Delhi. XLRI and IIM Shillong were also very good options but at the end its your interest that really matters.
Question: Please share your preparation journey. How did you strike a balance between your academic/professional life and preparation for an entrance exam?
Answer: At that period, I was doing my under graduation in engineering also had some responsibility as being the Class Representative (CR). I had planned to study only one chapter a day be it from Quant or from Logical Reasoning and Data Interpretation or from Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension. But after September, when I got free from college academic activities, I strongly focused on the preparation and increased my study time to 12 hrs a day and in November nearly 14-15 hrs per day so that I could give 2 mocks in a day. The most important factor that affected my score was the hard work I had done in the last month of exams. I made sure that there shouldn’t be any shortage of effort from my side. In such exams sometimes luck plays a very crucial role and if you want to minimize this effect you really have to go hard into it.
Question: What was your section-wise strategy for the exam? Did you follow any specific preparation strategy for IIFT?
Answer: The section-wise strategy is the most important thing to crack exams like IIFT. My plan was very simple, first I targeted to clear the sectional cutoff of all the sections, in the meantime I was also checking for the easy section to target later on. By adhering to this plan first, I solved quant (my strongest section). In this I was able to solve nearly 11-12 questions in 20 mins. Then I went for RC and solved 3 passages and kept 1 for the later period. Then I moved on to LR which had quite moderate level questions and in the end I went to the DI section which was quite lengthy. After doing enough questions to clear the sectional cutoffs I again went back to RC and Quant to get marks to clear the overall cut-off.
I strategically placed the VA and GK section for last 12-15 mins cause both sections have always straight forward questions and your panic at the last 10 mins wouldn’t affect to score in it.
Question:Mention section-wise books and study materials you referred during your preparation.
Answer: For quant - Arun sharma is more than enough. For LRDI, my choices were Arun Sharma and Disha Publications & for VARC I was following study materials of IMS Learning and Career Launcher.
My only advice in this regards is “Quality is always better than the quantity”, so don’t go for lots of books, maximum 1 or 2 books per section along with some study materials will be enough to get top score in MBA exams.
Question: Were you a part of any coaching institute? Do you think coaching is necessary for aspirants to bag the top rank?
Answer: No, but I had to study materials of Career Launcher and IMS and also I had registered for the online test series of CL.
For your second question, I always feel that grab any advantages you can, if you personally think that getting into some institutes might give you new concepts and methods then join it. But if you can't join for some reasons, it won't have much effect on your scorecard, if you can work hard and smartly during your preparation period. But in my own opinion its an MBA exam not GATE or UPSC, spoon-feeding by coaching institutes won't help you a lot.So, in the end it’s all you and your hard work and strategies that matters the most.
Question: What were your strong and weak areas and how did you tackle your weaknesses?
Answer: Quant is always my strong hold, in CAT, 39 percent and in IIFT 30 percent of total score came from this section. I was quite good (if not better) in LRDI section.My weakness was RC section.To tackle this issue I applied mind mapping technique while reading RC passages. In this technique you just have to focus on the emotion of the author and ideas rather than the supporting statements and this method helped me a lot to increase my accuracy level in RC.
Question: How did you balance your MBA entrance preparation along with your studies or job? Please share your study schedule.
Answer: As I have mentioned earlier I used to study quant during the less-important college classes and LRDI during the free time in night, as LRDI required much more focus than Quant. I was studying RC in the morning time just after reading the English daily – The Indian Express, as it was really helpful to get into reading flow in RC just after reading the news paper.
In the last 4-5 weeks I started giving 3-4 mocks per week and analyzing it effectively to find out more area of scoring. In November, the study plan was 1-1.25 hours for reading newspaper, then 2 hours for RC, 30 mins to 1 hour for summary and PJs, 3 hrs for Quant(1 subject per day), 1.5 hrs for LR and 1.5 for DI and remaining 3-4 hrs for mock/analysis. I had to study intensively cause I had very little time to prepare for. So plan your study as per your own required. And trust me, if in case you are feeling underprepared now, you can crack it in 30 days also if you go hard at it and give your best.
Question: When did you start taking mock tests? How did you get them analysed and the strategy you followed post-analysis?
Answer: In August I started giving my mock tests. Back then I was giving 1 mock per week. In my experience how much mocks you have given is not as important as how you are analyzing them.So, what I always analyzed the mock a lot more time initially. My analysis strategy was of 3 things.First, I looked for the silly mistakes I made in the mock and the questions which were easy but I didn’t attempt it.Secondly, how I performed in my strong areas and tried to find out all those loopholes in it.Thirdly, the most important thing was to look for any new concepts or methods used in the solutions so that I could use that in future mocks. Simultaneously I was working on my weaker sections so that I can get some additional score from it.
Question: How has your journey been at IIFT so far?
Answer: It has been a very good and tedious one. But honestly speaking, it's been a mixed experience so far, as your hard work is not over yet. The faculties here are having a lot of experience and they are very helpful too. I am now looking for my next stage and if all goes well the reason behind my decision to join IIFT will be more conspicuous.God is Great.
Question: Apart from the assignments and class projects, what other non-academic activities you are involved in? Share your experiences.
Answer: Well there are lot of non-academic activities are happening recently like TEDx and inter batch gaming competition named “BIG FIGHT”. In last 3 months we have done 3-4 parties attended by whole batch and also the festival celebrations.Also there is going to be a marathon event and a lot of games and tournaments in November.So I am quite excited about it.
Question: What was your exam day strategy? How did you manage time?
Answer: Most Important things on the exam day is to stay calm and composed.Believe me, it has a huge impact on your performance on that day.So to remain calm I played music and watched sports videos, and yes I had booked a ticket for a movie that day right after the exam. This excitements ease the pressure during the exam.
And about managing time, I just solved 10-12 questions from each section and tried to attempt as many easy and small questions as possible.if I found a question easy but lengthy then I used to mark that question and came to that after going through the whole paper.
Question: Any suggestion that you would like to share with aspirants?
Answer: Here are my 3 suggestions for the aspirants :
1. You still have enough time to crack it so go and try as hard as you can.
2. From now on, don’t go for any new subjects, just revise the concepts you have studied till now and analyze how you are performing in this subjects in mocks.
3. Tighten the grip on your strong area, give more time to those areas in which you are neither strong nor weak and for now leave out your weakest chapters by just reading out the concepts once so that you will not miss any sitters from those chapters.
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You need atleast more than 105+ marks to get a good percentile and almost 138 to secure a call from any good college taking part in IIFT entrance test.you will have around 40 percentile according to previous year trends which is very low.
I hope it helps.
These are some of the best books
Books by Arun Sharma (TMH) and by Nishant Sinha (Pearson)
Hope this helps
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