Tuesday, July 11th, 2017
Reading Comprehension has always been an important part of the CAT exam. In CAT 2014, there were 4 passages with 16 questions out of a total of 100 questions. In CAT 2013, there were 3 passages with 9 questions out of a total of 60 questions. Safe to say, it is not something that you can ignore if you are planning to do well in CAT. As a matter of fact, I recommend my online CAT 2017 course students to dedicate at least 1 full day every week to practicing passages for Reading Comprehension.
Background information about Reading Comprehension for CAT 2017
I analyzed the past year CAT papers and this is what I found
• The passages are mostly from esoteric books.
• There are also passages from global magazines / newspapers as well.
• More often than not these are opinion pieces and data heavy in nature.
If you are planning to game the system to do better in the CAT, I don’t think it is possible. Also, I don’t think reading esoteric books is a good idea to improve your Reading Comprehension skills. There are easier and better ways.
How to prepare for Reading Comprehension is probably the topic for another post. Today, I am going to focus on what are some specific things that you can do to improve your accuracy in the Reading Comprehension section of the CAT exam.
We are a very selfish and time starved generation. We look for return on investment in almost every aspect of life. Is it a good MBA college to join based upon the ROI with respect to placements? Was watching Mad-Max : Fury Road a good investment of 2 hours and 300 Rs. as movie tickets (It definitely was for me)? And this sort of thinking leads to the dangerous habit of attempting all questions associated with a passage whether you are sure of an answer or not. Please try and understand that you do not get marks for the number of questions you attempt but for the number of questions you answer correctly. So, if a passage has 4 questions – do not attempt all of them. Only attempt the ones that you are sure of. May be it is 2 out of 4 or 3 out of 4, doesn’t matter. Guessing answers is a dangerous thing in a paper that has negative marking.
There are two types of questions which are typically asked in the CAT exam.
a) Fact based questions
b) Inference based questions
Typically, fact based questions are on the easier side whereas inference based questions are harder. To be honest direct / fact based questions are asked less frequently when compared with inference based questions. Even in the inference based questions, there are some common types of questions that are asked such as “theme of the passage”, “tone of the author”, etc. Check if you get these standard questions correct most of the times or you get them wrong most of the times. Once you observe a pattern you can use it to decide whether or not to attempt them in the exam.
One of the most important skills that will help you better your accuracy and your score in the Reading Comprehension section of the CAT exam is the ability to pick better passages. Most students, at least when they are practicing, practice passages one by one. While that is a good way to improve your RC skills, what you should also try to do is to solve them in a bunch. What I am trying to say is that you allocate 30 minutes to yourself and try attempting 4 passages in those 30 minutes. It is extremely unlikely that you will be able to attempt 4 passages in 30 minutes. This will force you to pick 2 or 3 passages in the allotted time. Once the allotted time is over, see your performance in the passages you picked. It is very important that you also solve the passages that you could not in the allotted time. This will help you analyze that how good was your selection. If you master the habit of selecting the right passages, you will do well in the final exam as well.