Let's understand what sort of questions you can expect on VA in CAT 2017, and then look at how preparation can be taken up for the next few months. In VA section, there are broadly five types of questions:
- Critical Reasoning
- Paragraph Forming (Para Jumbled Questions)
- Reading Comprehension
1) CRITICAL REASONING
What is Critical Reasoning?
Critical Reasoning is an analytical way of thinking about issues for analyzing and evaluating information gathered from observation and experience in order to come to certain conclusions. Critical Reasoning clarifies goals, examines assumptions, discerns hidden values, evaluates evidence and assesses conclusions. ‘Critical’ as used in the expression ‘critical reasoning’ denotes the importance of thinking to an issue, question or problem of concern. ‘Critical’ in this context does not mean ‘disapproval’ or ‘negative’.
Why is CR important?
Critical thinking can occur whenever one judges, decides, or solves a problem; in general, whenever one must figure out what to believe or what to do, and do so in a reasonable and reflective way. In CAT 2016 examination, CR questions are important as they test the candidate’s ability to think in a rational manner. In the exam you generally face a hypothetical situation and the critical reasoning tests you on how well you understand what you are reading. The strength of your logical powers is tested through these questions. CR questions could play a significant role this year’s CAT with its VA+ LR mix.
How can one prepare oneself for CR questions?
Students should try and develop skills like observation, interpretation, analysis, inference, evaluation and explanation. A good way to prepare for the CR questions would be to get familiar with the different type of CR questions. They will be provided in this module in later parts.
Why should one get familiar with different types of CR questions?
Candidates, if familiar with CR questions, can saves time inside the examination hall. It also reduces errors as you become familiar with the various types of critical reasoning questions and are less likely to make careless mistakes.
How should one approach CR questions?
CR questions need to be tackled in a structured manner. The following steps can serve as a guide -a) Identify arguments: In the context of CR -argument means a statement. It states certain observations based on premises and conclusions. Premises are those facts that help to support the conclusion in an argument. Sometimes there is a gap between the premises and the conclusions. This gap can be filled with an assumption.
Premises + Assumptions = Conclusions
The following words/phrases may be used to identify conclusions.
- We can infer that…
- This shows that…
- It follows that…
- This indicates that…
The following words/phrases may be used to identify Premises
- The reason is that…
- In view of…
- It follows from…
- We may infer from…
- On the basis of…
b) Understand the different types of arguments – Deductive / Inductive:
Deductive Arguments - There is a strong connection between the premises and the conclusion. If the premises are true then the conclusion is true.
Inductive Arguments - These are based on experiences/experiments and here the connection between premise and conclusion may not be very strong – i.e. if the premise is true then there is a chance that the conclusion is true. Such types of arguments can be weakened or strengthened with additional data.
c) Rephrase the argument in your own words: All CR questions can be broken down into two parts
- The stimulus which provides the premises and conclusion, and
- The question stem which asks you to carry out a task.
When you finish reading the stimulus, try to summarize in your mind what the argument in the stimulus is about (premises, conclusions, and assumptions). When you put the argument in your own words, you can usually identify where the question is heading and what kind of queries could come. Once you put it into your own words, the question becomes much easier to understand.
Evaluate the strength/validity of an argument: Some of the following points could be used to check this validity.
- Check for any circular reasoning. (Unproved assertion used to prove another unproved claim)
- Check if the conclusion has been drawn from a sample that is not big enough to warrant the conclusion
- Check if there is a faulty extension of an analogy. ( Because two things/people are alike in various ways, that it is likely they will share another quality)
- Check if there is any ‘non-sequester‘reasoning. (Conclusion does not follow from the premise)
What are the different types of CR questions?
CR questions can come in many varied forms. The most common types of questions are described as follows -
- Questions that ask you to arrive at a conclusion/inference
- Questions that ask you to identify an assumption
- Questions that ask you to strengthen/ weaken an argument
- Questions that ask you to detect a flaw in the argument
- Questions that ask you to identify a paradox/contradiction/inconsistency
- Questions that ask you to identify a parallel situation
What are the techniques for tackling the above type of CR questions? What are the different forms in which these questions may be asked?
Questions that ask you to arrive at a conclusion/inference. These questions require you to choose the answer that is a summary of the argument. The summary is a logical ending of the chain of reasoning started in the stimulus argument. Thus, once you are able to form a logical chain using the premises to arrive at the conclusion, your task is accomplished.
The different forms in which these questions may be asked:
- If the above statements are true, which of the following must be true?
- Which of the following conclusions is best supported by the statements above?
- The statements above, if true, best support which of the following conclusions?
- The author is arguing that
- Which of the following conclusions can most properly be drawn from the information above?
Questions that ask you to identify an assumption. As we discussed earlier, sometimes there may be a gap between the premises and the conclusion. Your task is to fill this gap with the assumption and for this purpose you have to identify the correct assumption. The correct answer will provide the missing link.
The different forms in which these questions may be asked:
- The conclusion logically depends on which of the following assumptions?
- What additional premise is required to support the above conclusion?
- The conclusion drawn in the first sentence depends on which of the following assumptions?
- The conclusion of the above argument cannot be true unless which of the following is true?
Questions that ask you to strengthen/ weaken an argument. Identify the conclusion of the argument. Then identify the stated evidence. Next, look for missing links that must be completed in order to create a strong chain of reasoning. If you are looking for the choice that weakens the argument, you need an answer choice that makes that assumption less likely to be true. Conversely, if you are trying to strengthen the argument, you need a choice that makes the assumption more likely to be true.
The different forms in which these questions may be asked:
- Which of the following, if true, would most seriously undermine the conclusion drawn in the passage?
- Which of the following, if true, would most significantly strengthen the conclusion drawn?
- Which of the following, if true, would cast the most doubt on the accuracy of the claim?
- Which of the following, if true, would most support the claims above?
- Which of the following, if it were discovered, would be pertinent evidence against the contentions above?
- Each of the following, if true, weakens the conclusion above EXCEPT
Questions that ask you to detect a flaw in the argument. Another type of question that you will encounter asks you to identify a flaw in the stimulus argument. The question tells you that there is a problem with the logic of the argument. You just have to choose the answer that describes the flaw.
The different forms in which these questions may be asked:
- Which of the following points to the most serious logical flaw in the author’s argument?
- The argument is flawed in that it ignores the possibility that
- Which of the following indicates a flaw in the reasoning above?
Questions that ask you to identify a paradox/contradiction/inconsistency. Sometimes there is a visible contradiction in the situation described in the question argument. Two assertions which both seem to be true but are in direct conflict with each other. You have to identify the source of this consistency or a reason which could have contributed to this paradox.
The different forms in which these questions may be asked:
- Which of the following, if true, best reconciles the seeming discrepancy described above?
- Which of the following, if true, most helps to resolve the apparent paradox?
Questions that ask you to identify a parallel situation. In this type of question you will be given a particular situation in the argument. You have to study the different aspects of the situation and from among the answer choices select the situation which can be described as a parallel to the problem situation. In other words you have to find the argument that is analogous to the given argument in that it includes the same relationship between the evidence presented and the conclusion.
The different forms in which these questions may be asked:
- Which of the following arguments proceeds in the same way as the above argument?
- Which of the following conclusions is supported in the same way as the above conclusion?
- Which of the following has the most similar structure to the argument above?
- Each of the following is similar in structure to the above EXCEPT
2) PARAGRAPH FORMING (PARA JUMBLED QUESTIONS)
What are Para Jumbled Questions?
It consists of a group of sentences that have been jumbled up. The goal in these types of sentences is to rearrange the sentences in the original sequence. In para-jumble questions, you will be given a paragraph made of four to five sentences whose original sequence has been changed and you have a few minutes to figure out what that original sequence was.
Why are PJ questions important?
Para-jumbles are significant because they have been regularly appearing in the CAT and other MBA entrance tests. There is a good chance of three Para-jumble questions appearing in the 20 questions of the Verbal Ability (VA) section.
Secondly and more importantly — PJs are one of those questions of the CAT in which you can improve your skills dramatically within a short span of time. It is probably one of the few areas of CAT VA where the scope of ambiguity is limited.
Types of PJ questions
Para-jumbles broadly fall in three categories. In each category, the jumbled sentences are coded with an alphabet (usually A, B, C and D).
- 4/5 sentences are given in a random order and you have to unjumble all of them. Toughest of the lot.
- The opening sentence + 4/5 sentences are given and you have to rearrange the group of 4/5 sentences, having been given prior knowledge of the thought that starts off the flow of the discussion.
- 4/5 sentences + the closing sentence is given and you need to correctly sequence 4/5 sentences so that they flow into the last sentence.
- Opening sentence + 4/5 Sentences + Closing Sentence are given. Easiest of the lot. You know where the story starts and where it ends. You only have to figure out the screenplay in between.
The smartest approach
- The best approach to solving PJ questions is the ‘free fall’ one. That is, develop a high reading speed and scan all 4-5 sentences. Try to get a feel of what the passage is about.
- At this point you need to decide whether this particular paragraph is one which you are comfortable with or not.
- If you decide to go ahead, then scan the answer options. Are they of any help?
If, for example the options are,
a) BDAC b) BCAD c) CABD d) CBDA
Then you know for sure that this paragraph has to start either with B or C. A quick look at B and C will tell you which one looks like a better opening sentence and already your choices will be halved.
Similarly, with options,
a) BDCA b) CDBA c) DCAB d) ACDB
Then we know that it has to end with either B or A. So browse sentences A and B and see if any one of them look like a concluding sentence.
There might be other indicators to keep an eye out for. For example if three of the five options start with A and the other two with C/B/D there is a good probability that A is the starting sentence.
If, say, a link CB occurs in more than 2 options then it is something worth paying attention to.
PJ strategies to save time and increase accuracy
Once upon a time long ago… / …and they lived happily after: Identify the opening/closing sentence using what we discussed above. Either the tone of the paragraph or the option elimination method.
Where’s the interlock dude? Identify links between two sentences and try to see if that link exists in multiple answer options (a sure way to know that you are on the right track). A combination of 1 and 2 will take you home most of the time.
Place your magnifying glass on the following,
Approach 2a: Make it ‘personal’. Look out for personal pronouns (he, she, it, him, her, you, they). Personal pronouns always refer to a
person, place or thing. Therefore, if a sentence has a personal pronoun without mentioning the person, place or object it is referring to, mark it in your head and scan the paragraph for the original person, place or object that it refers to.
For example if you go back to the opening jumbled paragraph of this article, the third sentence starts with ‘it’. We now need to figure out what ‘it’ refers to and the sentence containing the original ‘it’ will come before this sentence.
Approach 2b: Look for ‘Poriborton’ (Change, in Mamata Banerjee’s tongue). Certain words called ‘transition words’ help the author to shift from one thought flow to another. In other words, they usher in change. Some transition words that appear regularly are — hence, besides, simultaneously, in conclusion, etc. While you practice PJs whenever you come across a transition word — note it down. Make a list!
Approach 2c: Demonstrate! Look for demonstrative pronouns — this, that, these, those, etc. Again, if you look at our opening paragraph, the first line starts with ‘for this’ — now we know that we need to figure out what ‘this’ refers to and the sentence containing the original ‘this’ will come before this sentence.
Main samay hoon! Sometimes the events mentioned in the paragraph can be arranged in a chronological order making it easy for you to identify the sequence. Example,
- Alexander Bain, Scottish clockmaker, patented the electric clock.
- The next development in accuracy occurred after 1656 with the invention of the pendulum clock.
- Clocks have played an important role in man’s history.
- Spring-driven clocks appeared during the 15th century, although they are often erroneously credited to Nuremberg watchmaker Peter Henlen around 1511.
It is quite obvious by studying the chronology what the sequence should be.
The Abbreviation Approach. Sometimes you will find that for some terms in the paragraph both the full form and the abbreviation have been used. For Example IMF — International Monetary Fund, Charles Dickens — Dickens, Dr Manmohan Singh — Dr Singh. In these cases where both the full form as well as the abbreviation is present in different sentences, then the sentence containing the full form will obviously come before the sentence containing the abbreviation.
What an Idea Sirji! If there are two sentences, one containing an idea and another giving examples of the same idea then the sentence containing the idea should come before the sentence containing the examples. But they need not necessarily be exactly side by side. Example,
- Russia possesses the largest stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction in the world.
- 489 missiles carrying up to 1,788 warheads and 12 submarines carrying up to 609 warheads form a looming threat.
A will come before B in this case, even though there might be sentences in between.
An article of faith. It is highly unlikely that the definite article ‘the’ will be part of an opening sentence. If ‘a/an’ and ‘the’ both are used for the same noun then the sentence containing ‘the’ will come after the sentence containing a/an.
Poor grammar makes for a poor impression! Thus, proficiency in this section becomes all the more critical. Grammar is a vast see which cannot be covered in any module. But students attempting CAT need not be grammar experts. What is required is that the aspirants develop ability in functional usage of words, idioms and phrases. This can be achieved by going through any book that gives a summary of the rules of grammar. Thompson and Martinet's 'A Practical English Grammar' would be a good starting point. Remember, however, that there is no shortcut to grammar.
Therefore we suggest the aspirants that the basic method to prepare grammar section would be to first complete the basics of grammar, and then start by practicing through attempting as many questions as possible.
Here we will provide some useful information on agreements between Subject and Verb, de-obfuscating commonly confused words, Phrasal Verbs, etc.
A frequently tested aspect of grammar in CAT Exam is - “Subject-Verb Agreement” (SVA).
Subject: The part of a sentence that commonly indicates what it is about, or who or what performs a particular action. The simple subject consists of the specific noun or pronoun that is doing the action or whose state of being is being described.
The most hardworking student in my class never sleeps much.
The simple subject of the sentence is student because the student performs the action. The complete subject of the sentence includes the simple subject and all words that modify it: The most hardworking student in my class.
Verb: The part of speech that expresses existence, action, or occurrence. In other words the ‘doing word’. It may also express a state of being.
The most hardworking student in my class never sleeps much.
The verb ‘sleeps’ describes the action of the sentence.
Consequently, he is always fresh.
The verb ‘is’ describes the state of being of the subject, he.
Generic Rules1. Agreement in Number: SVA implies that if the subject is plural (cats), then the verb needs to be plural (meow). If the subject is singular (cat) then the verb needs to be singular (meows).
Do remember that verbs do not form their plurals by adding an ‘S’ as nouns do. In order to determine which verb is singular and which one is plural, think of which verb you would use with he or she and which verb you would use with they.
Which one is the singular form? Which word would you use with he? We say, “He runs.” Therefore, runs is singular. We say, “They run.” Therefore, run is plural.
2. Agreement in Person: Sentences are written in either first, second, or third person, based on the author’s viewpoint. If a sentence is written in first person, the writer is writing about herself/himself, using pronouns such as I and we. In a second-person sentence, the writer speaks directly to the reader, using the pronoun you. Third-person sentences generally refer to their subjects by name or with pronouns like he, she, it,or they.
Often, there will be a change in the form of the verb, depending on whether its subject is in first, second, or third person. For example, the singular first-person, second-person, and third-person forms of the verb are completely different from each other as seen below,
- I am hungry. ( am – a first-person subject)
- You are hungry. ( are – a second-person subject)
- He is hungry. ( is – third-person subject)
There are some additional rules that will help you to maintain SVA in Sentence Correction questions of MBA entrance examinations.
Importance of Punctuation
Let's eat, Grandpa!
Let's eat Grandpa!
For example, when we write “each of my sons,” the verb must agree with the singular subject each instead of the plural noun sons. And the singular subject “everyone who knows my sons” should be followed by the singular “is impressed by them,” and not “are impressed by them.”
Note: There is one indefinite pronoun, none, that can be either singular or plural
- A subject made up of two or more nouns or pronouns joined by and take a plural subject, unless that subject is intended to be singular.
- He and I run every day. (Plural)
- Peanut butter and jelly is my favorite sandwich. (Singular)
- When a subject is made up of nouns joined by or, the verb agrees with the last noun.
- He or I run every day.
- Potatoes, pasta, or rice pairs well with grilled chicken.
- Don’t get confused by the words that come between the subject and verb; they do not affect agreement. Connectives, phrases such as combined with, coupled with, accompanied by, added to, along with, together with, and as well as, do not change the number of the subject. These phrases are usually set off with commas
- The dog, who is barking noisily, is usually very well behaved.
- The team captain, as well as his players, is disappointed.
- When I is one of the two subjects connected by either/or or neither/nor, put it second and follow it with the singular verb am.
- Neither she nor I am going to the festival.
- When a compound subject contains both a singular and a plural noun or pronoun joined by or/nor , the verb should agree with the part of the subject that is nearer the verb.
- The boy or his friends run every day.
- His friends or the boy runs every day.
- Words such as each, either, neither, anyone, everyone, someone, no one, nobody are always singular and, therefore, require singular verbs.
- None of you claims responsibility for this incident?
- None of you claim responsibility for this incident?
- Collective nouns (team, couple, staff, committee etc.) take either a singular or plural verb depending on whether the emphasis is on the individual units or on the group as whole.
- The committee was divided over the issue. [Tip: Think of it as — The committee (members) were divided over the issue.]
- The cricket team is practicing for the World Cup.
- With words that indicate portions — percent, fraction, part, majority, some, all, none, remainder and so forth — look at the noun in your of phrase (object of the preposition) to determine whether to use a singular or plural verb. If the object of the preposition is singular, use a singular verb. If the object of the preposition is plural, use a plural verb.
- 70% of the cake has been eaten
- 70% of the cakes have been eaten
As in any other subject regular and continuous practice is the key to success. There is no magic wand! After every Grammar lesson – this what you should be doing,
- Refer to your grammar book and go to the related chapter. Solve the exercise problems given at the end of the chapter. More than just mugging the rules you should be focusing on these practice questions.
- Use online resources for additional practice
- If you are really diligent and serious about the CAT – while you are doing your online research – keep open a word doc into which you copy paste all the material that you come across on the particular topic. Save the word document with the relevant name e. g. -Subject Verb agreement and you have a ready-reckoner for revision when the CAT is just round the corner. CAT is not only about working hard but also about working smart!
For some time now CAT has been testing aspirants on a particular type of vocabulary question. These types of questions can be labeled as Commonly Confused Words. Like the difference between historic and historical, when to use accept and when to use except, Further and Farther, Sensual and Sensuous, etc.
Here we will discuss some utmost important points for the aspirants of CAT 2017.
Typically a sentence is given which has a blank. Two alternatives are provided for filling up the blank. The aspirant has to use his/her knowledge of English vocabulary to select the right word to fit into the blank. Of course this being the CAT – it does not stop at that – one has to solve 5 sentences like these to be able to arrive at one correct answer! This means you have to solve all the sentences very carefully. Even if you get one of the sentences wrong the correct answers in all the other sentences would not fetch any marks.
Sample question from CAT 2007
- Regrettably [A] / Regretfully [B] I have to decline your invitation.
- I am drawn to the poetic, sensual [A] / sensuous [B] quality of her paintings.
- He was besides [A] / beside [B] himself with rage when I told him what I had done.
- After brushing against a stationary [A] / stationery [B] truck my car turned turtle.
- As the water began to rise over [A] / above [B] the danger mark, the signs of an imminent flood were clear.
(1) BAABA (2) BBBAB (3) AAABA (4) BBAAB (5) BABAB
As you can see in the above question you have to pick the right word for the blanks in Sentences 1-5 and the correct combination among the Answer Choices 1-5 has to be selected.
Accept and Except.
While they sound similar (or even identical), except is a preposition that means “apart from”, while accept is a verb that means “agree with”, “take in”, or “receive”. Except is also occasionally used as a verb, meaning to take out or to leave out.
- Standard: We accept all major credit cards, except Diners Club.
- Standard: Men are fools… present company excepted! (Which means, “present company excluded”)
- Non-standard: I had trouble making friends with them; I never felt excepted.
- Non-standard: We all went swimming, accept for Jack.
Altar and Alter
Altar: a sacred table in a church
Alter: to change
Amoral and Immoral
Amoral: not concerned with right or wrong
Immoral: not following accepted moral standards
Appraise and Apprise
Appraise: to assess
Apprise: to inform someone
Assent and Ascent
Assent: agreement, approval
Ascent: the action of rising or climbing up
Aural and Oral
Aural: relating to the ears or hearing
Oral: relating to the mouth; spoken
Defuse and Diffuse
Defuse: Remove the fuse from an explosive device.
Diffuse: Spread over a wide area
Moot and Moor
Moot: Subject to debate; arguable
Moor: To make fast (a vessel, for example) by means of cables, anchors, or lines
Amended and Emended
Amended: To remove the faults or errors in; correct.
Emended: To improve by critical editing.
Ingenious and Igneous
Ingenious: Marked by inventive skill and imagination.
Igneous: Of, relating to, or characteristic of fire.
Prudent and Prudish
Prudent: Wise in handling practical matters; exercising good judgment or common sense.
Prudish: Marked by or exhibiting the characteristics of a prude (One who is excessive).Practice: Book - Better English by Normal Lewis.
Do you back up or back away or back down? Break away / Break down / Break up? Call back / call off/ call on? Do you find it difficult to differentiate among them? Then, welcome to Phrasal Verbs! To start with, let’s find out the difference between ordinary usage and phrasal verbs,
- I got on the No. 8 bus at Banerjee Road. vs I boarded the No. 8 bus at Banerjee Road.
- I really need to get on with my paper! vs I really need to continue writing!
- We need to get on together to succeed. vs We need to understand each other to succeed.
- We’ll have to be getting on soon, or we’ll be late. vs We should leave soon, or we’ll be late.
As you can see the same meaning is conveyed by the pair of sentences but while one of them uses a single word, the other uses a phrasal verb.
Definition – A Phrasal Verb is a combination of words in any of the following forms:
- VERB + PREPOSITION
- VERB + ADVERB
- VERB + ADVERB + PREPOSITION
Very often the phrasal verb (PV) has a meaning which is quite different from the original verb. This makes it slightly difficult for the new learner because, even if he breaks down the phrasal verb into different words and looks up its meaning in the dictionary, he will not be able to understand the meaning of the phrasal verb itself.
For example ‘look after’ as a PV means ‘take care of.’
However independently look would mean ‘see’ and ‘after’ means ‘next in order’.
Some Rules for Phrasal Verbs
I ran into my teacher at the movies last night. So run + into = meet
She suddenly showed up. ‘Show up’ cannot take an object
We made up the story. So ‘story’ is the object of ‘make up.’
I talked my mother into letting me borrow the car. Here, mother is the object for the verb
I ran into an old friend yesterday.
- Verb + preposition / adverb
- Some phrasal verbs are intransitive. An intransitive verb cannot be followed by an object.
- Some phrasal verbs are transitive. A transitive verb can be followed by an object.
- Some transitive phrasal verbs are separable. The object is placed between the verb and the preposition.
- Some transitive phrasal verbs are inseparable. The object is placed after the preposition.
Some Phrasal Verbs are discussed below to illustrate how different meanings can be obtained from the same word
- break down = fail to function
- break in = interrupt a discussion; burgle
- break off = discontinue (relationship etc.)
- break out = escape from prison
- break up = end a relationship
- call back = return a phone call
- call for = require
- call off = cancel
- call out = read names aloud
- call on = request somebody to do something
- call up = reach by phone
- fall apart = fall into pieces
- fall behind = fail to keep up pace
- fall for = be in love with; deceived by
- fall off = decrease
- fall out with = quarrel with
- fall through = fail, miscarry
What is the relevance of Phrasal Verbs in the CAT?
Phrasal Verbs are used quite frequently in everyday spoken English. That itself makes them very important! Apart from this, PV is tested in the CAT in the following form. A sample word is taken and four different sentences are constructed using the sample word. One has to identify which of the sentences has incorrect usage.
Sample Word: Hand
- I have my hand full I cannot do it today.
- The minister visited the jail to see the breach at first hand
- The situation is getting out of hand here.
- When the roof of my house was blown away, he was willing to lend me a hand.
The most frequently used phrasal verbs are formed with the following words: break, bring, call, carry, come, do, fall, get, go, keep, look, make, put, run, set, take, turn.
Make sure that you research the above phrasal verbs and thoroughly understand the different ways in which these phrasal verbs can be used.
For CAT, a good vocabulary is very essential, although CAT does not test candidates on their knowledge of difficult words directly. This is because the passages and answer options given in the Reading Comprehension section may have some difficult words. Not knowing their meaning could decrease the candidate’s ability to understand the passage. Also, consider what may happen if you do not know the meaning of a word contained in one of the options: your ability to make the correct answer choice may be seriously compromised.
An innovative way to remember the meanings of certain words is to know their origin. Quite a few words have an interesting origin, and there is a story, legend or myth associated with them. A number of words come to us from Roman or Greek mythology. Very often, we find that we remember the story more than the meaning per se-and that it helps us recall the meaning of the word itself.
Few useful tips for improving your vocabulary are as follows:
Make your base strong - You must commence with reading magazines and other reading materials as this will help you to come across more and more words that you can learn. To have a strong command over the language you must make your base strong. Read anything that comes your way as this will steadily aid you to gain knowledge about more words as well as the grammar.
Read a lot - You must read a lot in order to gain expertise. Remember, merely knowing new words will not help to score high marks. You must be well versed and know the right words. This can be facilitated by reading a lot of books, journals and other stuff. Also, you can browse the net to do value additions as the vocabulary section of www.mbarendezvous.com will help you improve your vocabulary tremendously.
Practice what you read- It is not possible to memorize all the new words that you have learnt as it will be very difficult and time consuming. The best way is to practice these words in your everyday conversation. This could a smart way to learn the words as well as know their meaning.
Look at synonyms and Antonyms - Learning new words is of no use if you are do not remember their meaning. In order to simplify the process of learning the meaning of new words, look at the synonyms and try to relate the difficult word with the simple ones.
For instance, the word jeopardy means the same as danger, threat or hazard. Try to find more simple words and relate them as this will help you to know the meaning and remember them easily.
Similarly, antonyms or the opposite words will make you understand not only the word but also it’s usage and limitations.
Play crosswords and scrabble – Try to spend some time by indulging in activities like solving crosswords and playing scrabble as this will help you to learn more words and you can also learn from the other person who is playing with you.
Take vocabulary test - By taking up the vocabulary test you can know where you stand and what the room for improvement is. The more tests you take the more you learn.
Refer a dictionary - Always refer a dictionary and look for meaning of the words you don't know. Having a dictionary with will help you to know more words quickly as you have a help at hand ready with you.
You can make your learning fun filled by getting excited about every new word. You should be able to appreciate subtle differences between words. Learn to say what you really mean and discover the joys of being able to express yourself in writing. Your future can depend on how affluent your vocabulary is. It will also determine the quality of your communication. So, be in it for the long pull. Let building your vocabulary be a lifelong proposition. Remember: "In the beginning was the word." Until you have a word for something, it does not exist for you. Name it, and you have made your reality richer.
5) READING COMPREHENSION
Reading Comprehension comprises two parts — Reading + Comprehension. A CAT aspirant should be able to read at a fairly good speed and also grasp the material presented in very little time. In a knowledge-based economy, reading and comprehension skills would be essential. You would need RC skills to analyze data, information and take good decisions. Information + RC = Knowledge.
You can become confident in RC by following the below mentioned tips:
Measure your Reading Speed:
You should start by calculating your reading speed and then working on improving it. Plenty of websites and software help you measure your reading speed. Begin by measuring your reading speed on screen using a website such as www.readingsoft.com. It will give you a quick estimate of your reading speed by asking you to read a small passage under a timer. As you work on improving your reading speed, monitor it using such a tool from time to time.
Improving your Reading Speed:
An average reading speed is in the range of 200 to 300 wpm (words per minute). Reading speeds vary depending on what you are reading and in what environment. Steps to improve your reading speed,
- Scanning: Learn to ‘scan’ the material you read — Headings, titles, chapters and any other relevant divisions that might serve to break the reading down into blocks.
- Adjustment: You should learn to adjust your reading speed as you read the passage. Slow down when you want to be sure about having comprehended a difficult section. Pump up your speed if you feel the need to skim through familiar sections.
- Ignore what is not important: You should focus on the key words in the sentences. A lot of time during reading is wasted on conjunctions, prepositions or articles. Eliminate these from the horizons of your focus.
- Read in blocks: While reading, try to read blocks of words together. You can boost your reading speed by absorbing several words in a line at one time, instead of reading each word or focusing on each letter of the word. Instead of reading each word as constituted of individual letters, store a pictorial image of the words in your mind so that whenever you encounter that word, its mere shape and visual structure leads you to identify it instantly, within fractions of a second. Without having actually ‘read’ that word!
Having said all the above, the CAT in its online avatar has not been featuring very large RC passages so the role played by reading speed has reduced to some extent. But in exchange, the role of comprehension has correspondingly increased!
Here is a suggested workflow to tackle and improve your comprehension.
When you start attempting an RC passage, you need to quickly skim through it to understand
- What the author is talking about.
- What are the key words in the passage?
- Is the piece about theology, geology, economics or something else?
- Are you comfortable with it?
You have to make a decision here, whether you want to proceed with solving it or not? If you decide to continue, then jump directly to
Step 2 — else skip to the next RC passage. In the actual test, you have the right to choose your RC passages. You don’t have to even solve them in the same sequence they are in the paper.
Take a very hard look at the first paragraph of the passage. Here, your task will be to mentally paraphrase or summarize it in your own words. If you find yourself able to do it, go ahead with that RC passage. Else skipping it is advised.
Once you decide to solve an RC paragraph, take a look at the accompanying Questions (without looking at the answer options. That will confuse you). Identify the data points asked for in the Questions. This will put you on the lookout for those data points when you read the passage.
Read the piece. Never graduate to the next paragraph until and unless you can summarize the current paragraph in your head. There are candidates who read entire passages and not have a clue about what the author is talking about.
Now you come to the crux of the matter. Either while reading the passage itself or after completing the reading, you should be able to answer the questions.
Do not get into ego hassles over questions:
This often happens when a person has read the full RC passage and managed to answer 3 or 4 questions out of the total 5 very quickly. I would suggest that it is time to move on. Don’t be under the impression that just because you have read the whole passage you HAVE to answer every single question. Some questions are there to just waste your time. They are called the ‘Speed Breakers’.
Answering by elimination:
Sometimes, you can solve the RC questions by eliminating all the answer options until one answer option remains which seems to fit in and is your answer.
If you come to a juncture where you think you have narrowed the options down to two by elimination but can’t seem to be sure thereafter, means that you have not successfully comprehended the passage. At this point, you can either opt to take a calculated guess (if you have attempted other sections very well) or just leave the question alone.
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