PART A : Understanding the Verbal Section in CAT
7 Building Blocks of Verbal Section
A Few Basic Ground Rules
- One needs to be comfortable with all the 7 Building Blocks mentioned above to do well on the entrance exams. E.g Critical Reasoning is asked in XAT. RC is extremely important across all exams. SNAP & NMAT tend to focus on Grammar & Vocabulary. While one may have a few ‘strength’ & ‘non-strength’ areas, one should not completely avoid a particular area during the preparation phase.
- Only Grammar involves studying concepts in great detail. Rest of the topics are based on natural aptitude and/or practice. If you haven't done Grammar concepts well, please brush your concepts for the following topics
a) Subject – Verb Agreement Tenses
b) Pronouns Modifiers
d) Use of Articles
- It is important to stay in touch with all the ‘building blocks’ by solving a few questions of each type atleast once a week.
- While learning Vocabulary is important, it is not the ‘end all’ of Verbal. All exams ( except NMAT) have moved to testing contextual usage of words rather than testing memorized words
- I am a big advocate of regularly reading editorials & of reading (as a hobby) in general. There is a strong corelation between reading habits & language skills. However, given that CAT is only 120 days away, I would want you to priortize question solving over i.e ( Never say -I did not solve RCs because I was busy reading the latest best-selling novel). Ideally, reading should be considered as a hobby and not to be mixed with Verbal Preparation at this stage :-)
Understanding CAT 2014 Verbal Paper Pattern
In CAT 2014, 34 Verbal Questions were asked in Section 2. Students typically devoted 50 minutes to Verbal. Break up of the the Verbal section was :
|Topic||Number of Questions||Comments|
|Reading Comprehension||16 ( 4 passages of 4 Questions each)||Passages were of medium difficult. While most of the questions were indirect in nature, one could attempt 8-10 questions in 20 odd mins.|
|Grammar||2-3||Simple Questions on Error Spotting|
|Assumptions, Inference, & Summary Questions||7-8||Surprise Package !! This was the highest weightage to the topic ever.|
|Parajumbles||8 ( 4 questions were regular Parajumbles questions. 4 more questions were on ‘ Odd Man Out’ type.||Again, the high weightage given to ‘Odd Man Out’ surprised the aspirants.|
|Total||34||Good Attempt : 24-2695 %ile score : 50
85 %ile score : 40
- Absolutely no questions on Vocabulary – no questions on Fill in the Blanks & Phrasal Verbs.
- Absence of Paracompletion Questions – most aspirants dreaded this question type and welcomed the change.
- With 4 passages ( instead of 3 passages as in CAT 2009-13) and introduction of Summary questions, there was a lot of content to read. Aspirants had to read around 3000 words in the Verbal section alone !!!
Possible Changes to Verbal Section (CAT 2015)
- Comeback of 2-3 Vocab Questions & 2-3 Paracompletion questions at the cost of a few Parajumble/ Summary Questions.
- Parajumble questions asked as direct questions i.e. as non- MCQ questions.
- * Even though Grammar & Vocabulary questions can also be asked as non-MCQ questions, I think chances of the same are remote as there is a possibility of multiple answers fitting in. Even Vocab is asked as Non-MCQ, I think it will be asked as match the column ( e.g match the meaning with sentences)
Part B : The Actual Study Plan ( 6 weeks till Mid Sept)
I have suggested 2 plans – Plan A will take around 9 hrs a week. This is the ‘ de facto plan’ I would request you to follow. I would suggest you look at it as 90 mins of Verbal a day.
Plan B will take 6 hrs a week and is suitable for working professionals who are slogging for 10-12 hours a day at their corporate jobs. Look at it as 60 mins of Verbal a day.
Suggested Methodolgy :
- Most people find Verbal Preparation a little vague and have no clue about how to “exactly” prepare for Verbal. To avoid the confusion, I have suggested a very precise structure instead of laying a general plan . So, instead of saying Learn words daily, I have mentioned learn 10 words daily from an app named ‘ Quizlet’.
- I would want you to practice all the ‘7 building blocks’ every week. Doing 25 Rcs at a stretch and then not solving RCs for next 6 weeks is not the best way to prepare. Verbal is about ‘ staying in touch’ – even the best sportsmen get rusty if they have’nt practised for a while – we are mere mortals.
- I would suggest that you do all your practice as timed-tests. The only exception is when you have’nt practised a particular question type at all. In that case, for the first 2 weeks, do not time yourself.
- The exact studen pattern : Let’s do this with an example. I have asked you to solve 2 RCs at a time in 20 mins. So, select 2 random RCs and solve it as a test for 20 mins. It is possible you were not able to solve all questions – now give yourself extra time to solve the remaining questions ( say 10 minutes). Immediately score yourself and check the explanatories. So, ideally one RC lap ( of 2 RCs) will take around 45 mins ( solving time + extra time + checking answers). Please follow the same aproach for all question types.
- When you solve questions ,please maintain detailed records on the same. Some statistics you can capture – number of attempts, scores, accuracy %. This will provide quantitative evidence of progress and will really help you strategize when you start your Mocks.
- It really pays to have a detailed daywise schedule – E.g you must know that if it is a Monday, you need to have 1 lap of RC + 1 lap of Parajumbles + 10 words. This saves a lot of time spent agoninzing over ‘what to study today’. So, review the study plan and create a daily plan for yourself. Reward yourself with a weekly break only if you have completed scheduled tasks for the previous 6 days. If you have’nt completed the weekly task, use the 7th day to clear the backlog. Needless to day, working professionals cannot be taking ‘weekly offs’. I expect them to devote extra study time on weekends.
- Most of the coaching institutes would have started their test series and rightly so. I would say solving 15-20 Mocks is more than enough and can be done post 15th Till that time, it is okay to write a Mock every 3 weeks. Do not get into the mad rat race to complete ‘x’ number of Mocks. Testing makes sense only after you have practised enough to write a test.
Suggested Verbal Study Plan
|Building Block||Plan A||Plan B||Notes|
|Reading Comprehension||Take 2 RCs in 1 lap. Solve as a sectional test for 20 mins. 3 Laps a week ( Each Lap is approx 45 mins)||Take 2 RCs in each lap. Solve as a sectional test for 20 mins. Do it twice a week.( Each Lap is approx 45 mins)||Solve RCs based on history, philospohy and Science. Use Previous CAT RCs. Typical Questions are – primary purpose, tone of passage & inference of the passage|
|Grammar||Each Lap is 15 Questions in 20 minutes. 2 Laps a week. Each lap will be 35 mins||10 Questions in 15 minutes. Solve twice a weekEach lap will be 25 mins||Once you know basic concepts, focus on question solving. Grammar Theory is vast and studing entire theory is not the best utilization of time. CAT focuses on Usage and not obscure rules of grammar.|
|Parajumbles||1 Lap is 8 Questions in 15 minutes. Do 3 Laps a week.Each lap will be 25 mins||8 questions in 15 minutes. Do 2 Laps a dayEach lap will be 25 mins||Easiest topic to master. I really think, you need to master this and ensure 80-85% accuracy. Make sure you are solving ‘ Odd Man Out’ questions too.|
|Para Completion||Each lap is 8 Questions in 20 minutes. Practice 2 laps a week.Each lap is 40 mins||8 questions in 20 minutes. Solve once a week.Each lap is 40 mins||Given that this topic did not appear in CAT 2014, some of the Mocks may not include these questions but we need to be prepared for a ‘ surprise element’ in CAT 2015|
|Vocab||Fill-in-the-Blanks : 15 questions in 25 mins- twice a week. Each Lap is 45 minsLearn 10 words a day||Fill-in-the-Blanks : 10 questions in 15 mins- twice a week. Each Lap is 30 minsLearn in 10 words a day||Suggested Apps to learn words with example sentences - Quizlet & Memrise.|
|Assumptions, Summary & Inference||8 questions in 20 minutes. Do 3 Laps a week. Each lap will be 30 mins.||8 questions in 20 minutes. Solve twice a week. Each lap will be 30 mins.||Expected to have 25% weightage in CAT’15.|
|Critical Reasoning||8 questions in 20 minutes. Solve once a week. Each Lap is 35 mins.||8 questions in 20 minutes. Solve once a week. ( can be skipped in case of severe time crunch). . Each Lap is 35 mins.||Inmportant for CMAT, XAT. Basic Questions from GMAT will be an excellent source for the same.|
|Verbal Sectional Tests( all topics of Verbal)||1 Sectional test per week. 34 questions in 60 minutes. Followed by detailed analysis. Each lap is 90 mins.||1 Sectional test per week. 34 questions in 60 minutes. Followed by detailed analysis. Each lap is 90 mins.||This will help refine your test-taking strategy.|
About the Author
Hemang Panchmatia (MBA from NMIMS, Batch of 2005) is Co-founder and Head of Verbal Dept at CREDence Academy (Mumbai’s only personalized coaching institute) He has trained 3500+ students in the last 6 years. With 10,000 hrs of Verbal teaching experience, he is well-known among students for simplifying Verbal and making it ‘solvable’. He is credited with bringing structure to Verbal Preparation and students vouch that Hemang Sir’s ‘90 minute Verbal-a-day’ approach really works .When not in class, he loves reading and watching Bollywood movies.
Hemang also has 4 years of Corporate Experience in Financial Services Space.
About CREDence Academy
CREDence Academy provides personalized, high quality coaching for MBA Entrance Exams. Based in Mumbai, it has trained 2500 students in the 5 years. 1 in 4 CREDence students make it to the Top 30 B-Schools – thanks to the rigourous teaching methodology. CREDence faculty members are known to go that ‘extra mile’ – be it GD Preparation or doubt solving.
Know more on www.idealcredence.com
Verbal Action Guide is an initiative to help CAT aspirant who do not have access to quality mentors – either due to geographical reasons or due to wrong selection of coaching institutes J