In yesterday's article, we looked at common misconceptions about the CAT. Today, we'll provide strategies for the Verbal section which can be employed in the final few weeks of preparation.
This discussion presumes that the reader has finished the basics of the three broad categories of questions in CAT Verbal:
There are not many direct vocabulary based questions in CAT. But a strong vocabulary base is an absolute must before reasoning comes into play.
In CAT-2006, there were no questions based on grammar. But this is more likely to be an exception than a rule. Nevertheless, the fact remains that there is an increased emphasis on verbal reasoning. Our winning strategies are: Reading Comprehension:
You cannot ignore RC. Give it the respect it deserves. The term Reading Comprehension is a misnomer. The term actually does not mean 'read and comprehend', but 'comprehend the main idea and answer'.
There are no marks for reading. Run through the passage once, twice, thrice (in a maximum of two or three minutes); go through the question stems in between; ask yourself whether you have got the main idea and proceed to answer by the Process of Elimination (POE).
~ Speed reading strategies include skimming, scanning, column reading, phrase reading etc. The crux of the argument is that the questions are not based on the passage; they are rather based on the important ideas of the passage.
So learn to read for ideas, not for words. The first reading may be structured. Read the opening couple of sentences, opening sentence of each paragraph, and the concluding couple of sentences. Then have a look at all the question stems to get an idea of what is being asked.
The second reading should have varying speeds. Rush through the less important parts, but slow down where you believe something important is being discussed.
At the end of the second reading (2 min), ask yourself whether you have got the central idea. If you have, proceed to answer the questions. Otherwise have a third look (10-15 sec) for repetitive words. The main idea is likely to repeat itself.
~ Don't look for the right answers. Look for the best, by eliminating the rest.
~ Go through each answer option carefully and find a reason to reject it.
~ It is not the passage that is difficult. Invariably it is the questions that are, since most questions are inference based and there is a very thin line of demarcation between the best and the rest.
~ It is not necessary to attempt all the questions based on a passage. You could skip an odd question that proves too difficult.
~ Always keep the main idea in mind while selecting the right answer. The best answer is more likely to revolve around the main idea. English Usage
Be ready with strategies for questions based on short passages, like
Case I: What succeeds the passage (CAT 2005 and 2006).
Case II: What precedes the passage?
Case III: What comes in between parenthesis?
The strategies here are not much different from RC strategies; except that the last sentence (Case I); first sentence (Case II); both the preceding and the succeeding sentences (Case III), become more important here.
Have a good look at the question types that have figured in the last few CAT examinations. You may not get the same type of questions, but you will get a fair idea of what type to expect. Expect the unexpected
To be more specific, think 'old wine in a new bottle'. Remember, CAT 2005, where the sentence completion (gap fill) questions were given in a different format with unknown words (in italics) replacing the blanks? Expect these types of changes.
Who knows? You could find our old friend, parajumbles, in a brand new package where there could be four paragraphs in place of four sentences. A variation of odd-one out could be four or five sentences, in place of four or five words. Also, the concluding assertion type of questions could come in 'Upstream statement, Downstream statement, Supporting statement' format. Expect questions based on grammar
They could more likely be sentence improvement (GMAT format) rather than sentence correction. Here the key is pinpointing the error and then looking for the answer option that rectifies only that error.
~ For questions based on word usage, look not for an error in grammar or syntax, but an error where the word is not correctly used.
~ For sentence completion questions, try to catch the flow of the sentence and supply the filler yourself, before having a look at the answer options. Same is true of many other question types like parajumbles.
~ For other vocab based questions, don't get put off by words you are not conversant with. Try to split the words, or at least work out the negative positive. This might eliminate certain answer options straightaway.
~ Expect questions based on logical reasoning and critical reasoning. Reasoning based questions essentially have three parts: assumptions, evidence, and conclusion. The right answer need not touch the conclusion. Submit the assumption/evidence to denial test. If the conclusion also gets weakened, you might have found your answer.
~ Above all, if you get the unexpected, don't lose your head. It is more likely to be something you have prepared for, though in a different format. Take time to decide how it is connects with what you have prepared for.
K B Sharma is Verbal Reasoning expert with TCY and can be contacted at . Visit http://www.tcyonline.com/ to more about CAT and winning strategies.
To gain further from the quantitative and verbal reasoning strategies developed by TCY experts for CAT 2007, visit www.tcyonline.com to attend a Web-Seminar in an online classroom atmosphere.