Admission to the postgraduate diploma programmes in mass communication (with specializations in digital media, ad-PR, journalism, and audiovisual production) and broadcast journalism at India Today Media Institute (ITMI), Noida, is competitive, and cracking the test is both challenging and delightful. Challenging because the underlying theme of the test is your ability to reason, rather than prior, memorized knowledge; delightful because you will enjoy the little tricks the questions throw at you. Many questions are straightforward, but many will invoke the side of your brain that our education system typically doesn’t: independent thinking and analysis.

That said, the ITMI-Admission Test (ITMI-AT ) pattern is not unique. Several international testing agencies adopt a similar method of evaluating how you think. So this guide can help with other, similar competitive examinations.

Back to basics

Many postgraduate or professional institutes will test you on the core subjects for which you are applying. This means you would need to prepare yourself for questions on mass communication before you enter to study mass communication! Thankfully, ITMI is not one of them. Before you proceed further, please set aside any notion that the admission test, ITMI-AT, will test your “creativity”. Knowing the basics of the world around you is important to score well on this test. The test assumes that you have continuously updated yourself about the world around. It also assumes that you have basic skills in English language. Indeed, ITMI says that in many ways, ITMI-AT is a reflection of the approach at the institute itself—that of “back to basics” in many ways.

There is no real preparation guide for ITMI-AT. ITMI itself will tell you that it expects the candidate to continuously update himself or herself, so preparing last-minute will not help on this test. However, some patterns are surely useful to know beforehand.

What we expect from you

The test comprises two multiple-choice sets of 30 questions each. The first is English Comprehension, and the second is General Awareness. This is followed by one longer, written test with one or two essays or arguments.

#1 Comprehension. Comprehension includes passages, synonyms, antonyms, sentence completion, and logically matching sets of words. You can tell that this is coming from a media/communication school—most passages are related to communication. Of course, they don’t expect you to actually know all that is written in the passage. They just want to test if you can read it, understand and analyse. The passage may be a paragraph from a media book, or an excerpt from a speech by an advertising guru (for example). The passage is then typically followed by questions that make you think beyond the passage itself. For example, “What is the best title for this passage?” or “What do you think the next sentence after this passage should be?”

#2 Logical thinking. The synonyms and antonyms section is straightforward if you’re confident of the meaning of the word. If not, the choices may be tricky. The word may be as simple as “Clear”, but the antonym choices may confuse you: Is it Complicate, Involved, Muddled or Irrational? Look at the word “clear”—it can be used as a verb or adjective, and the choices are a mix of both. But “clear” does not correspond to “complicate”—could have if it were “complicated”. “Involved” and “Irrational” are what you can call a dummy suggestion—included just to test your basics.

“Muddled” sounds like a verb, but actually, if you use it as an adjective, it is the opposite in meaning of “clear”. (Think of clear thinking versus muddled thinking; clear versus muddled argument.)

#3 Rational deduction. Completing a sentence is usually easy if you’re only focusing on the grammar. Here you need to keep in mind the context. For example, “Our news media are getting increasingly nosy. They have begun to confer upon themselves the freedom of disrespecting our ………” Would you go for Culture, National sentiment, Privacy, or Responsibility?

Responsibility is a dummy suggestion. Choosing it would tell the evaluator that you have no clue what this sentence even means. If you went for Culture or National sentiment, it portrays you as someone who is swayed by emotion and lay rhetoric you see on media. It also means that in the process, you have ignored what the sentence really is trying to say. If news media are getting nosy, they are invading people’s space, and thereby coming in the way of privacy.

#4 Basic awareness. General Awareness includes both current affairs and stuff you learnt about your world in school—geography, history, social studies mainly. But again the emphasis will be largely on how you, from your reading, can analyse. They often probe how much you know, especially when it comes to very commonly used terms. Consider:

Fortune 500 companies are called so because

  • they are the top 500 American companies as ranked by Fortune, a non-profit research organization
  • they are the top 500 companies listed as most favoured on the New York Stock Exchange
  • they are the top 500 companies ranked as ranked by Fortune, a business magazine
  • they are 500 top companies that have shown the maximum profit graph over the previous year

In some cases they may ask you a question that makes you analyse. What is the impact of the budget on agriculture? What would be the most obvious economic impact of the odd-even scheme in Delhi? Don’t neglect to read each word. It is there for a reason.

Similarly, your basic knowledge from school should come in very handy if you think enough about it. For example, Which range of mountains does not run east-west—the Vindhyas, the Satpuras, the Himalayas, or the Aravalis?

#5 Expression. While the MCQs are typically low-scoring (although students in the past have scored as high as 80%), the real make-or-break are the essay questions. Questions can range from asking you to write specific points on an arguable issue—such as the impact of technology on our lives. But whether you’re asked to write “about yourself” or about a debate topic, the evaluator will look for

  1. a) the structure—how you have progressed from broad to specific arguments, how you have built up and tied it up at the end? Are your thoughts cogent and expressed in logical steps?


  1. b) the argument—how clear are the points you have put forth? Are you just stating the obvious or have you brought out new sides to the topic? Have you elevated a simple-sounding topic to sophisticated levels? Do you have the power to analyse and reason a topic and see its various dimensions?
  1. c) language and expression—you are not expected to write in flowery, bombastic rhetoric. Leave that to the speechwriters. You’re expected to frame simple, correct sentences. Some of you may find it convenient to write in your own style. Do so only if you are comfortable. Writing “gonna” for “going to” or “u” for “you” puts off the evaluator—and that could be the break you didn’t need!

Good luck, and happy career!

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