01 Oct 2020 20:28 IST

Get a clear understanding of verbal section in CAT 2020

Patience is key: read a lot to improve your speed and comprehension skills

To understand the verbal section in CAT, one has to look at the way the section has been structured in the last five years of the exam. A detailed analysis of the same would help one realise that it has predominantly been a Reading Comprehension (RC) centric paper. This has become more evident since 2015 when Verbal became a standalone section.

Also in the last five years, the paper has shown a bit of standardisation in the kind of questions being asked. Apart from RC, the other area evaluated in the exam are the Para Based Questions. These include Para Formation Questions, Out of context (a variation of PFQs), and Para Summary questions.

Hence when one starts preparing for the exam the emphasis definitely has to be on the RC area followed by the Para Based questions. The reduced time limit per section should not alter the preparation for the verbal section much , unless we get more information from the IIMs regarding the same. We hope the following guidelines help you prepare well in these areas.

Reading comprehension

This area requires speed as well as accuracy since there is a negative marking. To be able to do a good job in this section it is important to begin by reading on diverse topics. You could spend around 30 to 40 minutes every day. There are multiple online portals that provide articles on diverse topics, which can be used for improving your reading speed as well as comprehensive abilities.

Apart from this, practicing passage solving on a regular basis is also very important. It is crucial to be able to identify the types of questions and develop an approach to solve them. This has become very important in the recent past since CAT has clubbed Critical Reasoning along with RC. Identifying will help you develop an appropriate strategy to choose the right kind of passages to solve. Please remember, since it is a time-bound section, it is very important that one chooses the passages very carefully. Solving mock papers and analysing them on regular basis will definitely help you ace this section and finish it on time.

Para based questions

These questions also require good reading and comprehensive capability. The daily reading that one does for RC will also help one improve one’s comfort level while solving these questions. Among these questions, the non-MCQ nature of the questions makes PFQs the most difficult ones to solve.

Hence, I recommend you to begin practicing those at the very outset. Begin from a lower difficulty level and gradually move towards the tricky ones. Using links to identify the sequence also helps improve accuracy in these questions. The practice of PFQs can improve one’s accuracy in the out of context questions. Please remember, OFC questions are a better bet than the PFQs when one considers the accuracy factor. The Para Summary questions, which are about identifying the essence of a given paragraph, can be best solved by using the elimination technique.

Apart from the above, being patient with oneself and good time management skills are important cornerstones for any CAT preparation.

All the best!

(The writer is academic Head - verbal area, T. I. M. E. Mumbai.)