Skip to main content

Tips & Tricks for Verbal Aptitude Section in CAT Exam

Hello All! With CAT approaching nearer, I am sure you are burning the midnight oil to cross the coveted 90th percentile in the CAT Exam.
 Earlier, we focused on the Quantitative Ability section. This week let us do a deep dive in to the Verbal Ability section. As one of the crucial sections in determining your score in CAT, this section can make or break your entry in to an IIM. Verbal Section in CAT evaluates you on your comprehension, grammar, reasoning and vocabulary skills. In today's article, let us look into navigating the pit-falls of the Verbal Section while also focusing on choosing the right Reading Comprehension passages to attempt.

It might appear that sailing through the Verbal Ability section is easy since it comprises questions which we used to encounter in some form or the other in our school days. While this may hold true for exceptional cases, but a majority of us need to continuously work on our language skills and when it’s for an exam, the stakes should be raised.

Basis the previous years’ CAT pattern, we can expect 3 Passages (around 600 words long) with 6 questions based on each and 2 shorter passages (of around 300 words) with 3 questions. That is a sum total of 24 questions out of the 34 questions of the Verbal Ability Section. The level of difficulty of questions has also come down a bit as compared to previous years.

Given the time constraint, of course, you need to choose the best passages to attempt, decide the order in which to attempt them and the amount of time you would spend on each passage. However, the variety of themes on which these passages are based on, the complexity of ideas as well as the sentence structure, differential difficulty of questions belonging to a specific passage make these decisions tough to make.

You should target to attempt is FOUR passages – either two short and two long passages or three long passages and one short – this decision is based on your reading speed. Faster readers should go for longer passages. In either of these cases, you would end up with around 18 to 20 attempts. Add to this another 6 to 7 attempts from the non-RC questions (Para Jumbles & Para Completions) and you would end up with around 24 to 25 attempts (a fine number! provided you are accurate, 80% or more). Ideally, you should target to complete these four passages in around 35 to 40 minutes – 12 minutes for a long passage and 6 minutes for a shorter one – an average of around 10 minutes per passage.

The question now is – how do you select those FOUR passages? For one, start by skimming the passage. Run through the first paragraph and the first and last lines of rest of the paragraphs. This should not take you more than half a minute at the end of which you should at the least have a vague idea about the
  1. Subject Area of the Passage
  2. Topic and the Central Idea of the Passage
  3. Conclusion of the Passage
  4. Difficulty level of the Ideas
  5. Difficulty level of the passage structure

The next step is to skim through the questions. Run through the questions (leave the options out or it would take too much of your time) with two objectives –
  1. Identify the kind of questions being asked – questions such as Central Idea/theme/main Idea, Suitable Title, Primary Purpose, Conclusion require a deeper understanding as compared to questions related to facts, specific details/examples, vocabulary, phrases, inferences which require a more specific reading.
  2. Check if the questions can improve your understanding of the passage by providing you clues about the Central Idea of the passage

One strong recommendation – try noting these things down as you skim through the passage and the questions. Think of this time you spend as an investment for a better performance.

Students often go with a blinkered view – Philosophy based passages are difficult for example. That is often wrong – you should select the passages based on a wholistic view of all the parameters mentioned above. Though philosophy could be an area that you find difficult to read – the ideas mentioned in that passage could be simple and the questions asked only require specific reading in which case you should attempt that passage.

Rest of the 10 questions in the CAT exam could come in from Critical Reasoning, Para Jumbles, Para Summaries and Sentence Correction (Grammar). As suggested above, you should target to attempt at least 6 to 7 questions from among these. However, these can be trickier and in some cases, could be of the fill in the blank format and thereby increasing the difficulty level. Be it for the Comprehension or the rest of the questions, one necessary ingredient to success is your vocabulary. Make sure that in the last one week to ten days, you are spending at least half an hour with your word lists or with a vocabulary mobile app like VocabPrep.

Make sure you take enough Mock Tests to perfect the strategies mentioned above. It is one thing to finalize a strategy and another to implement it.

All the best! Fight on!

Deepti Abdullah – 10+Yrs Experienced English Faculty
(Chief Financial Officer) Conduira Online
Published date : 17 Nov 2018 06:30PM

Photo Stories