Tips for CAT Verbal Ability Section

As always, the CAT notification will be out in July and it is expected that it will be accompanied by some changes. In a way, this has become a norm for this exam and this means you have to quickly adapt to these changes. Since the introduction of this exam in 2015, one key change has been the sectional time-limit and division of the exam into three sections, which continued in 2016. What it actually means is that you can no longer piggy-back on Logical Reasoning for clearing the exam and you need to work on your Verbal Ability skills as well. In short, you can no longer afford to leave Reading Comprehensions (RCs) or else this would surely throw a spanner in the works for you.
Keeping the analysis of pattern followed in CAT previous papers in mind, here is a list of four things you need to do in order to crack the Verbal Ability section of CAT-2017:
1. Be prepared for a variety of CAT verbal ability question types:
The first thing that a change of pattern brings is uncertainty in question types. Make sure you are well prepared for a variety of question types that have appeared in the exam for the last 5 years. These include questions on:
  • Para-Completion
  • Confusing Words (eg. effect and affect, disinterested and uninterested etc.)
  • Word Usage (Phrasal Verbs)
  • Sentence Completion
These topics were missing from the previous year CAT exam, but might just make reappearance this year.
2. Best source for CAT RCs practice is still previous year CAT RCs:
No matter how many varieties of sources you may find for CAT RCs, but still the best sources of all are the previous year exam passages. Ensure that you solve these on daily basis. You can get books in the market that feature passages and questions from CAT 1993 onwards. Pick up any one of these books and start practicing regularly.
3. Diversify your reading:
Irrespective of the pattern change, RCs is such an area that will certainly feature in the exam. You need to be ready for those challenging and complicated pieces that are going to require immense focus and mental stamina.
To ace this section well, follow these given tips well:
  • Keep yourself well-versed with variety of topics from fields like social sciences, sciences, business, economics, psychology, philosophy, literature, politics etc.
  • Be aware of the current events and issues as passages generally come from them in form of author's opinion. While reading editorials and articles from newspapers like The Hindu or Economic Times, try to analyse and understand the central idea that author intends to convey.
  • Read quality international publications such as The Guardian, The Economist, Harvard Business Review, The New York Times, Slate and Project Syndicate.
  • Read articles from magazines like Reader's Digest, Business Today and go through science journals for new developments.
  • You can also refer to sites such as Scientific American and National Geographic for more knowledge or can run a quick Google search and identify the top blogs area-wise.
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4. Build your vocabulary and knowledge of idioms and metaphors:
This is that one crucial step that will assist your performance in all the areas of verbal ability section.
  • Learn atleast 10 new words daily and revise them frequently.
  • You can take the help of flash cards, mobile apps, books (like Word Power Made Easy by Norman Lewis) etc. We also provide a powerful section for enhancing your vocabulary skills: Vocab Builder.
5. Stop trusting your Gut Feeling:
For once, you should stop trusting your gut feeling and avoid selecting the first answer option you think is correct in Verbal Ability questions. Go through other options as well and eliminate them. This way, you can improve your accuracy in this section with the highest variations in percentile scores. Elimination works as an effective technique when you are not able to spot the answer directly.
If you follow these tips, you could be well on your way to maximizing your scores in this vital section. These small but important things can make a huge difference to your scores.
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