How to develop a Reading Habit to help you with CAT 2021?

Thursday, January 21st, 2021

How to develop a Reading Habit to help you with CAT 2021 new

This is the second article in the series of posts that we are doing on ‘Reading for CAT’. The other ones can be read at the links given below:

There are plenty of things that CAT aspirants differ about. For example, what is the right number of mocks to attempt or which coaching institute is the best material. To be honest, I have had multiple discussions not only with CAT aspirants but with teachers as well. However, there is one thing that nearly everyone agrees with. If you have a reading habit, it will definitely help you do well in CAT and beyond. In this post, we will talk about how exactly you can build a reading habit.

Step 1:  Start small

It doesn’t matter how fast or how slow you are going, as long as you are moving in the right direction.

One of the common mistakes that I have seen CAT aspirants make is that they aim too high. If you are someone who hasn’t read a book in the last 3 years and you start with V S Naipaul, you are setting yourself up to fail. It is really important that you set yourself small goals and then achieve them. I think the first step to develop a reading habit is to start reading a newspaper. In the newspaper as well, you could start with the sports section or the business section or the entertainment section – basically anything that you enjoy reading. Give it 15 minutes a day for a week or two. Beyond that you could move on to editorials. Editorials can be tedious and boring in the beginning but once you have gotten into the habit of reading a newspaper for 15 minutes a day, they will fall in to place.

Step 2: Read before you sleep

Take a good book to bed with you – books do not snore.

Reading a book can be a daunting task if you have not done it before. It is important that you start with something you like. And it is even more important that you find time to read that. We have become way too addicted to screens. More often than not, we spend a significant amount of time post dinner / before sleep just mindlessly browsing on our phones. As a CAT aspirant, you need to stop doing that. One easy way to do that is to read a book in bed. Just put your phone on silent and pick up a book. This would lead to one of two outcomes:

  1. You will fall asleep earlier than usual.
  2. You will end up reading a significant part of the book.

Both of these outcomes are preferable over browsing Facebook (or whatever you 20 year olds do these days).

Within couple of weeks of doing this, you will realize that not only your reading speed has gone up but also the time spent reading the book every day has gone up as well.

Step 3: Be Disciplined

There is no magic wand that can resolve our problems. The solution rests with our work and discipline.

Ideally, a CAT aspirant should read at least 1 hour every day. If I have to arrange the various aspect of a reading habit in the order of importance, it would look something like this.

  • How often you read – once a day / every alternate day / once a week
  • How long do you read for – 10 hours a week / 15 hours a week / 20 hours a week
  • What you read – newspapers / magazines / books
  • Who you read – V S Naipaul / Ruskin Bond

The key point that I am trying to make with the list above is that discipline in reading matters the most. If you read for one hour every day, it is probably the best thing that you can do to improve your chances of getting a good percentile in the CAT exam.

Nearly everyone who does well in CAT, does so because they did well in Reading Comprehension. That is because scoring high in Logical Reasoning / Data Interpretation is very difficult. In Quantitative Aptitude, if it is an easy question – almost all good students solve it. If it is tough, nearly everyone skips it. The difference between a 90%iler and a 99%iler is created because of their performance in Reading Comprehension. If you are good at RC, good for you. But if you are not, then start working on the three steps given above. In 6 months, I guarantee you will be good at Reading Comprehension.


Ravi Handa,

Founder, Handa Ka Funda

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