Cracking the Verbal Section in the CAT Exams

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With so many problems that need solutions, so many calculations and a variety of theories to learn, it is no mystery why the verbal section in the CAT exam is often the one most ignored.

Days before the exams, students attempting CAT preparation online are often found googling terms like, “3 easy steps to ace the verbal section in the CAT exams”. If you too selected this particular article in hopes of solving the section with easy solutions that will take you a couple of days, then here is a list compiled for you:

  • Don’t prepare for the verbal like you would for Quants
  • Approach LR systematically
  • Evaluate the answer options critically

There you go! Follow these three easy steps and attempt the verbal sections in the CAT exams.

But hold on! We are missing the most important factor, without which you are surely doomed: Read, read, read!

Unlike the Quants, which is extremely structured, to ace verbal ability you not only need to have extensive knowledge, but must be an avid reader as well.

The CAT Verbal Ability section is all about analyzing and testing a candidate’s reading ability. An entire one third of the section is Reading Comprehension, with a total of 16 questions on the pattern alone. So, what is reading ability and how can you improve it?

The Quant way suggests that faster calculation, faster approximating and a faster understanding of different types of tables and graphs are sure to do the trick. Given this, you might assume to improve reading ability, you just have to read faster!

But, that is far from the truth.

Speed reading is an easy way to fall into traps that examiners plant. Hence, students often spend a lot of time learning how to ‘skim’ through the passage, when in reality, this offers no significant advantage.

To test the reading ability of a candidate, examiners look for the measure of how well they can relate to the ideas presented in the paragraph. Yes, that’s all. It doesn’t mean testing the speed of reading, or the extent of your vocabulary.

So, how can you increase your reading ability?

Have you every experienced an incident where you are reading a sentence but nothing of what you read registers in your mind? If yes, then you should know that this is the reason why most candidates fail the Verbal Ability section. This happens for two reasons.

One, when the passage is too abstract, with too many words that make no sense.

For example, “An ontological catalogue is an attempt to list the fundamental constituents of reality. The question of whether or not existence is a predicate has been discussed since the Early Modern period, not least in relation to the ontological argument for the existence of God.”

Two, when your mind isn’t alert, due to tiredness, lack of concentration or any other reason. This generally occurs when a person doesn’t have a habit of reading.

The difficulty level for this section in the CAT exams lies in the questions and the closely related option of answers, not in the passage itself. You will never find a passage in the CAT paper that is long and boring with difficult words stringed in the form of sentences. So, point number one is not a problem. But, number two could pose as a threat.

This exam has now gotten longer with a lot of reading absolutely necessary to crack the test. Hence, not being a habitual reader can sabotage your attempt of acing the exam. Preparing for the Verbal Ability test is much like how an athlete would prepare for a 100 m race. While he needs to build his stamina by running everyday, you need to increase your stamina for reading, to ensure extensive reading doesn’t tire you out.

While reading will take care of understanding the paragraph, here a couple of pointers that might help you prepare for the questions:

  • Be prepared for a variety of questions

What makes this section extremely difficult is the uncertainty in the type of questions. So, make sure you are prepared for a variety of questions, some of which involve:

  • Para-logical questions
  • Sentence rearrangement
  • Paragraph completion
  • Sentence elimination
  • Critical reasoning

 

  • Solve the previous years’ RCs

You get multiple books in the market that feature passages and questions from CAT 1993 onwards. Pick one of these books and start solving the RCs mentioned in them. You can also invest in CAT classes online, where these passages and similar ones will be provided to you.

  • Do not trust your gut feeling

Most of the questions in this section portray that they are subjective, causing you to trust your gut feeling and choose the first answer that comes to your mind. However, you cannot trust your gut feeling when it comes to Verbal Ability. Once you read the question and pick an answer, stop for a minute, start eliminating other options and then be absolutely sure while picking your answer.

In conclusion, in order to crack the Verbal Section in the CAT exam, (cracking = 99.5%) you need to attempt between 36 to 42 questions, depending on the difficulty level of the paper. Which means, the easier the paper, the more questions you need to attempt and get them right. You can only leave between 8-14 questions for guesswork, which is not a lot.

So, if you think you can attempt the CAT exam thinking you are a Quant expert with good knowledge of LR and get away by simply answering a few questions from one passage, you are wrong.

Lastly, verbal is not only about skills. It is about how well you approach the questions and picking exactly those which are sure to put you in the sweet spot. Choose wisely.

Handa Ka Funda is the leading online course provider for various MBA Entrance Exams like CAT, XAT, IIFT, SNAP, etc. 10,000+ students have used our online courses from 50+ cities in India: http://www.handakafunda.com/online-cat-coaching/

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