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IPMAT Preparation & Attempt Strategy by Aditi Thakur, IPM IIM Indore 2018 Batch

About 20 days ago, this blog featured a guest post on IPMAT which talked about its basics, syllabus, recommended books and the like. It was very well received by the members who are preparing for IPMAT and they further asked for some insights on the preparation & attempt side of the exam. So, today we have another guest post on IPMAT by Aditi Thakur, who is a student of the IPM 2018 Batch at IIM Indore.


In Aditi's Words:

Preparation & Attempt Strategy

If you’re looking for preparation strategies for IPMAT, then chances are you already are aware of the exam difficulty, post-IPMAT selection process, the curriculum, pros and cons of the course etc.

Starting with the exam pattern, it is divided into three sections:

  • Quantitative Ability (MCQ) – 40 questions

  • Quantitative Ability (Short Answer) – 20 questions

  • Verbal Ability – 40 questions

All the sections have a time limit of 40 minutes each, each correct answer fetches 4 marks and an incorrect answer in QA (MCQ) and VA will fetch you -1.

Your first concern going into the exam hall should be to clear the sectional cutoffs. Many students who wrote the exam alongside me aced the Quants section (considered by many as the most difficult section) but lost the interview call because they couldn’t clear the VA cutoff. Sectional cutoffs in 2019 were 31, 20, and 71 for QA (MCQ), QA (SA), and VA respectively. Always attempt to stay on the safer side of past years’ sectional cutoffs.

Quantitative Ability Section

QA is feared because historically, it has not asked direct questions. The concepts are basic enough, but it is the application of those concepts that matters in the exam. This seems difficult because school-life does not prepare us much in terms of application-based problem solving. If you have prepared for JEE, then all you need to do is get familiar with the application based questions. If you are a non-math background student, then I would suggest you to put in significant efforts in these topics:

  • Number System

  • Logarithms

  • Geometry, Co-ordinate Geometry and Mensuration

  • Arithmetic

  • Permutations and combinations

  • Probability

  • Trigonometry

  • Linear inequalities

  • Sequence and Series

  • Functions

  • Matrices and Determinants

  • Set Theory

Apart from these, a basic understanding of the types of graphs/charts/data types is necessary for the Data Interpretation set(s). If you are good at DI sets, I would recommend to first attempt the DI questions. They can turn out to be the low hanging fruits in QA section. And you’ll have ~5 questions up your sleeve quite easily.

IPMAT preparation books by Pearson are available on Amazon. One can also prepare QA topics from CAT QA preparation books (Arun Sharma or Nishit Sinha) by solving questions of the first two difficulty levels. Anything more than that is not required. Once you finish your basics, focus on attempting mocks and analyzing them to find your weak spots. At this stage, you must personalize your preparation to give extra support on your weak topics.

Focusing now on the attempt strategy in QA (MCQ) section, your choice of questions should be your first priority. Your accuracy should be your second priority. You get 40 minutes for 40 questions, and the best course of action is to screen all the questions at least once. Starting from the first question, attempt it only if you can clearly identify a strategy to approach a question immediately, otherwise skip it and move onto the next question. Don't forget the low hanging fruits, aka DI questions here.

IPMAT QA questions are basic, and if you identify the trick then it doesn’t take long to solve it. In the first round itself, you should attempt all the easy questions and note down the question numbers that seemed moderately difficult. In the second round, go for the moderately difficult questions. In the rare case that you still have some minutes left, you can go back to the questions that you deemed difficult. Aim for a 60-70% attempt with an 80% or greater accuracy.

The QA (SA) section can be unpredictable. However, there is no negative marking in this section. Hence, you can freely attempt all questions without any fear of your accuracy rate going down. Just make sure that you attempt all 20 questions at least once.

Verbal Ability Section

The Verbal section can present a challenge if you have not been great at English at the high school level. The sectional cutoff was 71 in IPMAT 2019. The reason for the high cutoff is that VA in IPMAT is not higher than high school English levels.

However, if you struggle in English, then you must begin reading regularly. The objective is to increase your reading speed, improve your vocabulary and expand your understanding of sentence formation and structures. This can be achieved by reading novels, articles or newspapers. Word Power Made Easy by Norman Lewis is recommended by almost every instructor to improve vocabulary. Language cannot be improved instantly, so this will require practice.

Questions in IPMAT VA are a standard mix of Reading Comprehensions, sentence and para completion, sentence correction, suitable phrases, para jumbles, etc. RCs can be extremely fruitful if your reading speed is good. Otherwise, you can plan your own strategy, seeing whatever suits you best after giving a few mock tests. A good practice will also easily ensure that you get enough time to attempt all questions.

You should aim for a 90% attempt here, but 100% attempt isn’t too difficult either. Maintain an accuracy of 80% for a decent/good score.

Apart from these suggestions, I cannot stress enough on focusing on sectional cut-offs. Give mocks to understand your weak section, and work on it enough to be on the safer side of the nightmare that are sectional cut-offs.

Best of luck!


So, these were a couple of tips by Aditi Thakur, to whom I'm really grateful for sharing her valuable insights for the IPMAT aspirants. Hope you get some more clarity on the preparation and attempt side of the IPMAT 2020 exam. In order to supplement your preparation, I'm attaching a couple of links that I had shared earlier for CAT but after reading Aditi's tips, I felt they could help the IPMAT aspirants too:

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