CAT 2015: How to approach VA & RC

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Updated on Sep 2, 2015 18:18 IST

By Deekshant Sahrawat

This is the third in a series of articles on how to make best use of your time till CAT-2015. Beginning with an overall break-up of your time across sections in the first article, followed by an approach to the Quant Section in the second article, this article talks about the approach to the Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension Section.

The Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VRC) section of CAT is likely to appear as the third and final section in CAT-2015. If true, it presents a new challenge for those of you who are not too comfortable with reading comprehension, because you would have to tackle the RC passages after having been in the examination room for nearly three hours, including two hours of actual testing. Retaining your freshness towards the end of the examination will be crucial because VRC is a section that would require you to be at your sharpest best.

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A departure from the two-section pattern of the CAT, wherein VRC and Logical Reasoning (LR) used to appear in a single section, also means that you can no longer afford to ignore any area of discomfort within VRC, and hope to make up for it through a better performance in the LR questions, while ensuring a good sectional score.

While the weightage given to various components of VRC has varied over the years, traditionally, RC has been around 50% of the total. That means the section could have somewhere between four to five passages with three-four questions each. You will have to be prepared to attempt atleast all-but-one passages in order to excel in this section. And given that the other question types in Verbal Ability usually take less time to answer or leave (usually one minute per question), you can plan to devote around 35-37 minutes of your time in the VRC section to RC.

So, given the importance of the RC part, you can’t afford to spare any effort. A daily dose of three-four articles, in around 25-28 minutes, preferably online and from diverse areas, will go a long way in helping you develop the comfort needed to do well in RC. Reading online is important in order to become more familiar and spontaneous with the final mode in which you have to take the exam.

To develop comfort with areas that we are normally not very conversant with, you should look to read articles related to spirituality and philosophy on various websites such as the http://msc.gutenberg.edu/articles. Websites such as www.time.com , www.csicop.org and www.sciam.com also offer articles from diverse areas.

The question types that you need to tackle in Verbal Ability part of this section are far too many. However, what is being assessed essentially boils down to your understanding of Basic English Grammar, your possessing a reasonable level of Vocabulary and your ability to see the logical connect in sentences, paragraphs or expressions in the English Language. Reading is likely to help you in all these areas too, because increasingly it is your understanding of the context of the question that matters more than your knowledge of the meaning of any specific words.

You can practice a lot of MCQ type Grammar questions on http://www.grammarbank.com/grammar-quizzes.html.
Also, you can take out a few minutes daily to practice vocabulary questions on sites such as http://www.vocabulary.com/. Apart from helping you gain confidence when you do well, this will also give your detailed information about words and expressions when you get your answers wrong.

Verbal Reasoning includes questions like Theme Completion, Critical Reasoning, Para-jumbles etc. The good part about this area is that you can ensure a very high accuracy by giving a little more time per question while attempting any test.

The one important thing in VRC regardless of the level at which you practice it – be it a sectional test, an online practice quiz or a mock-CAT – is your control over the accuracy. Do not attempt more VRC questions simply because it is easier to answer them without having to solve anything. Maximize your attempts but keep an accuracy level of around 75% as the minimum desirable benchmark. Use elimination of options as a key strategy in VRC section. If you can cut down most questions to two choices, you can also take some calculated risk to maximize your score in this section.

Also, try and minimize the fluctuations in your accuracy as you move closer to CAT. This is necessary for you to have a plan in place for the final day in terms of the number of attempts you need to make.

Assuming you are planning to invest around 100 hours in your VRC Preparations, the break-up could be as follows:

Area

Hours

Reading Comprehension

50

Grammar

15

Vocabulary

15

Verbal Reasoning

20

But the above assumes an equal proficiency across all four areas, and similar as in the case of QA earlier, this is unlikely to be true for most of you. Hence, you can possibly take away around 10 hours from two of your strongest areas and invest them in one/two of your weakest area(s) among the four.

Finally, at the cost of sounding repetitive, adapt your preparation to your individual needs. Do not just blindly practice what others are practicing because their needs are likely to be far different from yours. Do more of what you are weak at, and vice-versa. That is what will help you improve the most.

About the Author

Deekshant Sahrawat: An IIT Delhi, IIM Kolkata alumnus, Deekshant is the founder of MBAGuru, the Leader in ADAPTIVE Preparation for CAT. Deekshant is also a lyricist and has written a number of songs with Dr. Palash Sen, lead singer of Hind-Rock band Euphoria. Having mentored thousands of students to IIMs and Top B-Schools across India, he also blogs actively for CAT aspirants at www.mbaguru.in/blog/deekshants-blog

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