Nitesh Padhi

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IIFT 2016 topper with 99.44 percentile studying in IIFT MBA (IB) 2017-19 batch Nitesh Padhi suggests the IIFT 2017 MBA entrance exam aspirants  to go for speed reading the news papers as it will help not only the RC passages but will also help in GK section and in your future life. 


Nitesh comes from a modest family of Bhubaneswar, Orissa. His father is a businessman and mother is employed. He has a younger sister studying in class 10.  Nitesh has a consistently good academic record to his credit. He did his class 10 with 8/10 CGPA, class 12 with 79.40% marks and did his BBA in Finance from NMIMS Mumbai with 75.12% marks. Nitesh had gained a work experience of 10 months with Genpact India in Gurgaon before joining IIFT MBA (IB) 2017-19 batch. 


Nitesh loves playing football and was Captain of School & College Football Teams. His hobbies include photography, reading (Lord of the Rings and Matthew Reilly), blogging among others. 


Nitesh Padhi not only scored 99.44 percentile in IIFT entrance exam, but also scored 96 percentile in CAT 2016 and 99.07 percentile in CAT 2015 and above 98 percentile in NMAT. However, Nitesh preferred to join IIFT instead of any IIM or other B-school.


Sharing with, Nitesh highlights his experience in preparation journey to IIFT and modestly attempts to give the ‘success mantra’ to the IIFT 2017 aspirants 

Topper image
Topper exams


Exam Score
99.44 percentile
Exam year
Exam experience

My exam prep strategy, experience & Advice:

For the benefit of MBA aspirants, asked Nitesh Padhi about his preparation strategy and advice to do well in MBA entrance exams. Details follow:


Nitesh (IIFT topper):  I knew my strengths and weaknesses with regards to the different sections in the exam. My LR and Maths is above average while my English ability is on the higher side. So I knew which portions I needed to focus and spend more time on which I went on to do.


I went through a few coaching books and solved a lot of Mock Tests, which ensured that I was ready for the kind of questions which would come in the exam rather than being caught out by surprise. Please share your sectional preparation strategy for IIFT 2016? How did you prepare for each section Quantitative Aptitude, English Comprehension, General Awareness & Logical Reasoning? What study materials and books did you use?
Nitesh (IIFT topper):  Verbal Ability isn’t really something you can prepare separately for; it’s entirely dependent on your command over the English language and your vocabulary. You could try to speed read a lot of newspapers, this would not only ensure that you don’t spend too much time on the comprehension paragraphs, but would also be extremely valuable for the GK Section and MBA Life at IIFT in general.

For LRDI and Quant, I spent the first few days of my preparations just going through all the concepts in the books. After I had a brief idea of all the concepts, I started solving all the Practice Papers and Mock Tests available in the books. Developing the habit of solving questions would ensure that you’re up to the task on the actual day of the exam. How important is General Awareness section in IIFT entrance exam? Was there any special strategy you adopted in GK preparation?
Nitesh (IIFT topper):  While I wouldn’t say that General Awareness plays a huge role in the selection criteria for IIFT, it’s not something which can be avoided altogether. You need to have a basic understanding of the world around you and the different things going on with it. No one expects you to know even half of the GK questions, and that’s why the cutoff in this section is so low. Just read the newspaper everyday starting almost immediately, and you’ll be fine.

Pay special attention to the International Deals and Government Yojanas out there. Since IIFT specializes in International Trade, special emphasis lies on the International Trade Deals which happen such as ASEAN, TPP, BRICS and so on. Know basic details about them, the headquarters, the year if possible. Also know about the Government Yojanas such as the UDAN Scheme, Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan and so on. Was there any particular section that you were weak at? How did you overcome this challenge?
Nitesh (IIFT topper):  I would say that Quant was probably my weakest section out of them all. I didn’t take any coaching classes though, and cracked it on my own. Like I said above, read through all the concepts given in any coaching book first to get a basic idea and overview of everything, and then give as many Mock Tests and Practice Papers as possible. That’ll be more than enough to crack the IIFT Exam.

The Prime reason for doing this the way I did so was that you need to recognize the concept required for any question within 10-15 seconds max. You can’t afford to spend a minute trying to just understand the question. If you recognize which concept is needed, you’ll be able to solve it that much quicker saving on valuable time. It also helps with your psychology; knowing that you’re able to solve these questions well gives you a boost during the exam and is good for your self-confidence. It works out really well in the end. How can candidates use Mock tests better? What is your advice?
Nitesh (IIFT topper):   A lot of people procrastinate and run away from taking Mock Tests, which is the single most important element during the Preparation Process. Take as many Mock Tests as possible as regularly as possible; not only will it ensure that you’re up to date on your concepts, but it will build the habit of solving within you and really help you with your time management.

Taking mock tests would also tell you the ideal sequence in which you should solve the exam. You can try out different combinations and figure out which works for you. For me personally, English, LR/DI, Quant was the magic sequence. Did you go to offline coaching centre? What role does a coaching centre play?
Nitesh (IIFT topper): I did NOT go to any coaching centre at any point, and took the exam on the basis of my own preparations. This is after dedicating 12 or so hours a day to my Job. Cut down on your sleep, 5 hours is more than enough for you for now. Other than IIFT, which exam did you appear?
Nitesh (IIFT topper):   I appeared in CAT, NMAT and XAT other than IIFT.  Which institutes did you apply for admission?
Nitesh (IIFT topper):   I only applied to the top 10 or so B-Schools in India. I believed that I was capable of getting into them, and would only leave my Job if I received an Admission Offer from one of them. Don’t rush into your MBA and complete it from an Institute you’re not happy with just for the sake of getting done with it. Strive for your dream Institute, and it’ll work out for you if you put in the effort. Please share your strategy for the IIFT Day. What was your last-minute preparation? How did you plan your IIFT test taking?
Nitesh (IIFT topper):   One constraint of me while taking any exam is that I NEVER study for it on the actual day of the exam. You can’t afford to rush through last minute preparations because then your mind would be running at a hundred miles an hour and this would work against you during the actual exam. You want to be relaxed, have a simple light breakfast and listen to music.


Plan to reach the IIFT Exam Centre at least 45 minutes prior to the Reporting Time. Carry a large bottle of water; keeping yourself hydrated helps with the thought process. It’s also needed for when you’re stuck while solving any question; having a sip of water enables you to get your thoughts back on track and give it a fresh go.


Exam Score
96.00 percentile
Exam year


Exam Score
98.00 percentile
Exam year
GD experience

IIFT employs a Case Discussion method and then a Personal Interview.


Case discussion at IIFT
We were given a case related to the decreasing productivity of the Japanese Workforce and the measures which can be taken to improve that. Everyone gets a minute or so at the start individually to speak uninterrupted, and then the floor is open for discussion. The time allotted is more than enough for everyone to get a fair chance to speak, provided you make the effort to enter the discussion and force your point across.


Advice to IIFT aspirants
With IIFT, do not be disheartened if your CD does not quite go as well as you hoped. Not all candidates are dominant in social situations and can excel in every GD. Since every candidate gives the PI, try and make an impression on the Panel. Our professors still talk about a few of the interviews they took of some candidates who were memorable for them.

PI experience

My PI Experience: Personal Interview at IIFT
The Personal Interview ranged largely around the CV Form which I filled out and submitted to IIFT between the Exam Results being announced and my CD/PI Date. A lot of HR Questions are asked, such as Why MBA? & Why IIFT?


Advice to IIFT aspirants
Prepare your answers well for questions like these, so that it doesn’t look like you’re making stuff up on the spot. They also ask a lot about your extra-curriculars and more importantly, what you learned from them. For example, I was the captain of both my school and college football teams. I was asked to list down 5 bullet points on what I learned from football. I was also asked to describe a difficult situation I went through as a Captain and how I overcame it.


A few Questions related to your field or domain are also asked, along with recent developments in the world pertaining to it. Keep your answers crisp and to the point, and it should suffice. If you don’t know the answer, just say that you’re not aware of it. Do NOT try to bluff any answer, it shows and will work against you.


The Interview Panel will always look to help out any candidate, and will be dropping small hints along the way for you. Pick up on them, and you should be fine.

WAT Experience

My WAT Experience:  Topics at other B-schools

Regarding my Topics at other Institutes, they were largely based on open-ended topics such as “Work from Home Culture” rather than any specific topic. They don’t want to gauge your knowledge, they want to see your thought process and communication skills. There’s more than enough time during the MBA Course to work on your knowledge.


Final calls
IIFT New Delhi: Indian Institute of Foreign Trade
Topper Admission
IIFT New Delhi: Indian Institute of Foreign Trade