IIFT vs CAT: Is IIFT Tougher Than CAT Exam?

By Anjali Chowdhury|Updated : April 4th, 2022

This article will provide valuable insights about which exam is tough and will also help to learn the differences and similarities between IIFT and CAT. The aspirants preparing for both CAT and IIFT must be well-versed with all the details for these two exams. It is very important as both of these exams are challenging in their own way. The basic difference between CAT and IIFT is that IIFT is the only test for admission into the Indian Institute of Foreign Trade. However, CAT is accepted by IIMs and many other B-schools in India.

CAT (Common Admission Test) is a national-level entrance exam and is the key gateway for admission into the top B-schools in India, like IIMs. On the other hand, IIFT (Indian Institute of Foreign Trade) is an entrance test for admission into the flagship programme of MBA in International Business. In this article, Experts have analyzed a detailed study of IIFT vs CAT to assist you in your preparation.

Click Here to Attempt All India Open Mock-3 for CAT 2022

Table of Content

IIFT vs CAT Similarities

Both CAT and IIFT are national-level management entrance tests. So, there are some basic similarities between these two. Note the table for IIFT vs CAT Exam similarities.

Key Highlights


Course for admission 


Exam Medium


Level of Exam


Negative Marking 


IIFT vs CAT: Conducting Body

CAT and IIFT are conducted by two different authorities. Everybody knows that the official notification of the CAT Exam is released by one of the IIMs on a rotational basis, once every year. For example, CAT 2021 was conducted by IIM Ahmedabad, and IIM Indore and IIM Lucknow conducted CAT 2020 and CAT 2019, respectively. As per the latest notification, the CAT 2022 exam will be conducted  by IIM Bangalore on  27th November 2022

On the other hand, the official notification of the IIFT Exam is released by NTA (National Testing Agency) once every year. It is the only institute that accepts IIFT scores for admission in MBA in International Business.

IIFT vs CAT: Exam Pattern

The exam pattern difference between CAT and IIFT is  known to everybody who wishes to appear for both of these exams. It is different in terms of the number of questions, exam sections, time limit, and sectional time limit. Note the table below and check all the details about the IIFT vs CAT exam pattern


CAT (as seen in CAT 2021)

IIFT (As seen in IIFT 2022)

Total Number of Questions

66 Questions


Exam Duration

120 Minutes (40 Minutes Sectional Time limit)

120 Minutes (No sectional time limit)

Number of Section

3 Sections

  • VARC (Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension)
  • DILR (Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning)
  • QA (Quantitative Aptitude)

4 Sections

  • English Comprehension
  • Quantitative Analysis
  • General Knowledge and Awareness
  • Logical Reasoning and Data Interpretation

Question Types



Negative Marking Scheme

-1 for every incorrect answer (No negative marking for TITA questions and Unanswered questions)

  • -1 for every incorrect answer in English Comprehension. QA and LR&DI
  • -0.5 for every incorrect answer in GA 

Marking Scheme

+3 for every correct answer

  • +3 for English Comprehension. QA and LR&DI
  • +1.5 for GA 

☛ Check for details CAT Exam Pattern and IIFT Exam Pattern.

IIFT vs CAT: Which is Tougher?

As per expert's analysis, CAT and IIFT are considered as tough MBA Entrance Exam. CAT is a popular exam for MBA admission in IIMs, IITs, and other reputed institutes across India. IIFT is only the key to enter into the country's three IIFT campuses: IIFT Delhi, IIFT Kolkata, and IIFT Kakinada.

The syllabus of these two exams is almost similar except for 1 section, i.e., General Knowledge and Awareness. General Knowledge and Awareness is an additional section included in IIFT Syllabus. Note the below table to know the topics covered in VARC, Quants, and LRDI sections, along with the variation in the difficulty level.

Verbal Section of IIFT vs CAT

Note the table below to get an idea of the Verbal Section of IIFT and CAT.

Topics of Verbal Section

Difficulty Level in CAT

Difficulty Level in IIFT

Para Jumbles






Reading Comprehension



Para Completion



Critical Thinking



Fill in the Blanks



☛ Check Section-wise Preparation Tips for CAT

Quant Section of IIFT vs CAT

Note the table below to get an idea of the Quant Section of IIFT and CAT.

Topics of Quant Section

Difficulty Level in CAT

Difficulty Level in IIFT

Co-ordinate Geometry















Permutation and Combination



☛ Check section-wise Preparation Tips for IIFT

DILR Section of IIFT vs CAT

Note the table below to get an idea of the LRDI Section of IIFT and CAT.

Topics of LRDI Section

Difficulty Level in CAT

Difficulty Level in IIFT

Family Tree






Seating Arrangement



Reasoning Based DI



Both of these exams require similar effort and approaches for preparation. The aspirants must prepare well and solve sample papers to tackle these exams with ease.

☛Check here for CAT Syllabus

IIFT vs CAT: Test Areas

The aspirants may know that the key differentiator in the IIFT exam has been the General Knowledge and Awareness section. However, this section is of ess weightage, but you must be prepared well for this section to overall score well. The aspirants can expect 20-25 questions from this section with 1.5 marks for each correct answer (with -0.5 marks for each incorrect answer).

The common areas of these two exams are Quantitative Ability, Data Interpretation, Logical Reasoning, Verbal Ability, and Reading Comprehension. Note the table below and understand the test areas of the Quantitative Ability section of IIFT vs CAT.

Exam Section



Quantitative Ability 

In the CAT exam, the most critical sections are






Most of the questions are asked from:


Permutations & Combinations (P&C)

Set Theory

Functions (including maxima & minima)

Trigonometry (both height & distances and trigonometric expressions)

You can also go through the detailed study for CAT Analysis and IIFT Analysis

IIFT vs CAT: Application Fee

The aspirants may know that both CAT and IIFT are conducted online once every year. You have to submit the application form and payment for both of these exams online. Note the below table to get an idea about the application fee difference between CAT and IIFT.

CAT 2022

IIFT 2023-25

The application fee for the CAT exam is ₹1150 for SC, ST and PwD candidates.
₹2300 for all other candidates.

The application fee for the IIFT exam is Rs.1250/- for SC/ST/Transgender/PWD and Rs.2500/- for other Categories


Click Here to Attempt All India Open Mock-3 for CAT 2022


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  • As per exam analysis, the basic difference between CAT and IIFT is in its syllabus. There is an additional section on General Knowledge and Awareness. Apart from this, some other important differences between these two exams are as follows:

    • CAT is conducted by IIMs, while NTA conducts IIFT.
    • CAT has a sectional time limit, but in IIFT, there is no sectional time limit.
  • As per expert analysis, The difficulty level for IIFT vs CAT is moderate to tough. In IIFT, the aspirants need to solve 110 questions in 120 minutes, but in CAT, you can expect to solve 66 questions to solve in 120 minutes, with a sectional time limit of 40 mins. So, if you are not prepared well, then both of these exams may come access as the toughest exam.

  • Yes, the eligibility criteria for IIFT vs CAT is the same. The aspirants need to qualify for their graduation studies with 50% marks (45% marks for the reserved category). Final year aspirants can also apply for the exam if they score 50% marks in their first and second years. Before applying for these two exams, check for CAT Eligibility and IIFT Eligibility

  • As per analysis, the exam mode for IIFT vs CAT is the same. Both of these exams are conducted online computer-based. Till 2018, the IIFT exam was conducted in pen-paper mode, but since 2019, it has been conducted online, as NTA is now conducting this exam.

  • As per expert analysis, RC passages of the IIFT exam are fact-based, and CAT RC passages are inference-based. That’s why RC passages of the IIFT exam are quite easier than that of CAT.

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