What is Tougher? NID DAT Prelims or Mains

Samiksha Rautela

Updated On: April 19, 2024 07:45 pm IST | NID DAT

Determining the relative difficulty between NID DAT Prelims and Mains poses a challenge, as each stage presents distinct hurdles and assesses different skills. Let's delve into a breakdown to provide clarity on this matter!

What is Tougher NID DAT Prelims or Mains

What is Tougher NID DAT Prelims or Mains: What is tougher between NID DAT Prelims and Mains? Let us explore the differences and similarities between these important phases of the NID DAT exam. Among the top design exams in India, NID DAT is the gateway to the National Institute of Design (NID). It comprises two phases: NID DAT Prelims and NID DAT Mains, both pivotal for candidate selection. Completing both stages successfully is essential for admission consideration to BDes and MDes programs at NID.

Generally, qualifying for NID Mains is seen as tougher than clearing NID DAT Prelims. NID Prelims acts as a screening test, while NID DAT Mains involves more comprehensive evaluation through Studio Test, Interviews, and Portfolio Reviews. To qualify for NID DAT Mains, candidates need to demonstrate a higher level of performance and creativity.

This article aims to shed light on what is tougher NID DAT Prelims or Mains, offering insights into both phases of the exam process.

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NID DAT Prelims vs Mains: Key Differences and Similarities

NID DAT Prelims and Mains have similarities and differences between them. The most common difference is that Prelims comprise 70% of MCQ questions and 30% of drawing aspects, while Mains include interviews and studio rounds. Captured below in this table are the key similarities and differences between Prelims and Mains:


NID DAT Prelims


Conducting Authority

National Institute of Design

National Institute of Design

Exam Purpose

To shortlist students for NID DAT Mains

To finalize candidates for MDes & BDes admissions

Exam Date

B.Des and M.Des: December 24, 2023B.Des: April 27 and 28, 2024
M.Des: March 4 to April 4, 2024

Exam Mode



Exam Weightage

BDes Program: 70%

BDes: 30%

MDes Program: 60%

MDes: 40%

Exam Language



Exam Rounds

Written exam

Theme poster, portfolio submission & online interaction/ Studio test & personal interview 

SOP, portfolio submission & online interaction/ Studio test & personal interview

Total Marks

100 Marks

100 Marks

Application Process



Exam Duration

BDes: 3 hours

Not specified

MDes: 2 hours 30 minutes (for one discipline) & 4 hours 30 minutes (for two disciplines)

Question Type

Objective and subjective


Syllabus for NID DAT Prelims vs NID DAT Mains

In NID DAT Prelims, candidates' skills in Design Fundamentals, Creativity, Observation, Visual Perception, and General Mental Ability are assessed. This stage focuses on sketching, drawing, and visualizing abilities. On the other hand, NID DAT Mains delves deeper, incorporating hands-on studio tests and interviews. Here, candidates are evaluated on their capacity to generate, develop, and bring designs to life. The syllabus encompasses tasks such as 3D modelling, hands-on model making, and participating in group discussions.

Which One is Tougher?

Deciding which NID DAT exam’s syllabus is tougher varies based on individual strengths. Prelims can be challenging due to time constraints and the requirement for rapid, creative thinking. In contrast, Mains necessitates applying design concepts practically and showcasing execution skills. Both stages contribute to a thorough evaluation, making it subjective to label one as tougher than the other. Success hinges on a candidate's proficiency in both creative thinking and practical execution.

  • The difficulty level of the NID DAT Prelims syllabus is mostly moderate as it acts as a screening test, so the questions are designed to be accessible to a wider range of candidates.
  • The difficulty level of the NID DAT Mains syllabus is higher as it separates the design wheat from the chaff, demanding a strong understanding of design principles, application skills, and the ability to articulate your ideas cogently.

Exam Pattern for NID DAT Prelims vs NID DAT Mains

Given below are the exam patterns of NID DAT MDes Prelims and Mains.

NID DAT Prelims


  • The MDes DAT prelims paper is comprised of a Common Design Aptitude Test (CDAT) and a faculty-specific Domain Test which evaluates candidates’ creativity, visualization, analysis, knowledge, and comprehension.
  • There is no negative marking in NID DAT 2020 Prelims (M.Des).
  • The question paper has 2 sections having multiple choice objective type questions and subjective questions respectively.
  • The Mains (MDes) examination is organised only for those candidates who clear the 1st stage of the examination. 
  • The second stage of M.Des DAT Mains involves a Studio test and Interviews.
    • Studio Test: The studio test will comprise of different sections wherein questions of different formats such as hands-on drawing/sketching, hands-on model making, group discussions, etc. will be asked. The duration of the test will be 3 hours.
    • Interviews: The interview round will be conducted separately for each discipline, immediately after the Studio Test, and at the same centre as the Studio Test.

Which is Tougher - NID DAT Prelims or NID DAT Mains?

Determining which is tougher NID DAT Prelims or Mains depends on what aspect you find more challenging. NID DAT Prelims stick to a specific syllabus that you can access online or offline. Regular practice with this syllabus can help you get used to the kinds of questions you will face in the Prelims.

On the flip side, NID DAT Mains presents a different challenge. In Mains, you have to think on your feet, and your creativity and innovation are put to the test by a qualified panel. The exam's unpredictability means you will need to know what questions you will get. You might find Prelims easier if you are comfortable with multiple-choice questions and drawing. But if you are confident in your verbal skills and creativity, Mains might be more manageable.

It is worth noting that over 6,000 students take part in NID DAT Prelims, while the number is much lower for NID DAT Mains. However, the competition gets fiercer in the Mains because only the top students from Prelims move on. This makes the overall challenge tougher at the NID DAT Mains stage. So, to sum it up, what is tougher, NID DAT Prelims or Mains, depends on your strengths and preferences.

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NID DAT 2024 Dates

Apart from knowing what is tougher between NID DAT prelims and NID DAT mains, students should also be aware of the NID DAT 2024 exam dates, as listed in the table below. Keeping track of these dates is important for ensuring ample preparation and avoiding last-minute hurdles.


B.Des Dates

M.Des Dates

NID DAT 2024 Application Form Date

September 8 to December 5, 2023

September 8 to December 5, 2023

Last Date for Submitting Online Applications (without late fee)

5 December, 2023 (up to 1600 hrs)

5 December, 2023 (up to 1600 hrs)

NID DAT Registration 2024 by Paying Late Fee

December 7, 2023 (up to 1600 hrs)

December 7, 2023 (up to 1600 hrs)

Correction of NID DAT 2024 Application Form

December 8, 2023 to December 10, 2023

December 8, 2023 to December 10, 2023

NID DAT 2024 Admit Card

December 12, 2023 (Released)

December 12, 2023 (Released)

NID DAT Exam Date (Prelims)

December 24, 2023

December 24, 2023

NID DAT 2024 Prelims Result

March 28, 2024

February 16, 2024

Rechecking Request for DAT Prelims

March 28 to March 30, 2024

February 16 to February 18, 2024

Download Admit Card for NID DAT Mains

April 14, 2024

February 22, 2024

NID 2024 Exam Date (Mains)

April 27 and 28, 2024

March 3 and April 6, 2024

NID DAT 2024 Mains Result

May 21, 2024

April 30, 2024

Opening of Submission Window of Campus Preference

May 21 to May 23, 2024


Rechecking Request for DAT Mains 2024

May 21 and 22, 2024

April 30 to May 2, 2024

Payment of Token Fees and Uploading of Documents

May 29 to May 31, 2024

April 20 to May 14, 2024

Provisional Offer Letter of NID Admission

June 13, 2024

May 31, 2024

For any admission-related assistance, feel free to dial the student helpline number 1800-572-977 (toll-free number) or fill up the Common Application Form. In case of any queries, write to us in the QnA zone.

Stay tuned to CollegeDekho for more information on NID DAT 2024

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How do successful applicants describe the difficulty ratio of the NID DAT prelims and mains?

Successful applicants frequently describe the difficulty ratio of the NID DAT prelims and mains as subjective. Prelims are more difficult for some due to the written aptitude test, whilst NID DAT mains are more difficult due to studio testing, portfolio evaluation, and interviews. It differs depending on the individual's strengths and preparation tactics.

Do candidates often find the format or structure of NID DAT prelims more demanding than mains, or vice versa?

Candidates' experiences differ, but some may find the NID DAT prelims more difficult due to the written aptitude test, while others may find the mains more difficult due to the varied format, which includes studio testing, portfolio review, and interviews. The perception of difficulty is frequently influenced by individual strengths and preparedness.

Are there specific areas within NID DAT Prelims or Mains that are commonly considered more difficult?

The difficulty level of the NID DAT prelims and mains vary according to individual abilities. While some people struggle with the written aptitude test in prelims, others may struggle with the various phases in mains, such as studio testing, portfolio review, and interviews. It is mostly determined by the candidate's skills and preparation.

Do both stages, prelims and mains, have a similar level of complexity in NID DAT?

No, the complexity of the two stages, prelims and mains, is not the same in NID DAT. The mains exam is generally considered more challenging than the prelims exam. This is because the Mains exam assesses a wider range of skills, including creativity, problem-solving, and design thinking. The prelims exam, on the other hand, is primarily a test of general knowledge and aptitude. However, both exams are important and candidates need to prepare well for both stages to succeed in NID DAT.

Are there any particular skills that are tested more rigorously in NID DAT prelims compared to mains?

No, there are no particular skills that are examined more extensively in the NID DAT prelims than in the mains. Both tests measure a wide range of abilities, including design aptitude, creativity, problem-solving ability, and general knowledge. The mains exam, on the other hand, is more difficult overall since it asks applicants to use their skills in a more practical and hands-on manner. The NID mains exam, for example, involves a studio test in which students must produce designs on the spot. The NID prelim exam, on the other hand, is essentially a written examination with a heavy emphasis on multiple-choice questions.

In terms of time management, is one stage more challenging than the other in NID DAT?

Yes, in terms of time management, NID DAT mains are often regarded as more difficult than NID DAT prelims. This is because the mains test is longer and more difficult, with a broader range of tasks to perform in a limited time constraint. To pass the main exam, candidates must be able to manage their time effectively and prioritise tasks.

What are the key differences in difficulty between NID DAT prelims and mains?

The following are the primary distinctions in difficulty between the NID DAT prelims and mains:
- Scope of assessment: The NID prelims examine general knowledge and aptitude, while the NID mains assess creativity, problem-solving, and design thinking.
- Exam format: Prelims are written, whereas mains include studio testing, portfolio review, and an interview.
- Level of competition: Because only a small number of NID prelims qualifiers move to NID mains, this exam is more competitive than NID prelims.
Overall, the NID DAT mains exam is more extensive and difficult than the NID DAT prelims. However, with hard effort, determination, and proper study, anyone may pass both stages of the exam.

Which is generally considered more challenging, NID DAT prelims or mains?

The NID DAT Mains are typically thought to be more difficult than the NID DAT prelims. This is because the Mains exam assesses a broader range of skills, including creativity, problem-solving, and design thinking. In contrast, the prelims exam is essentially a test of general knowledge and aptitude.

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