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How To Crack RC In CAT

How To Crack RC In CAT

Anon ymous, MBA Aspirant asked 8 months ago

My language skills are supposedly good but yet I find myself struggling with 70-80 percentile in mock tests. I mess up the PJs with one sentence order difference or get my inference questions in RC wrong OR assuming one close observation in option to be likely wrong. What can I do to improve on this. I find myself getting almost equal number of rights and wrong almost in every test of VARC. And I rarely feel that I am taking a chance on those wrong ones – I either feel every question barring one or two is doable or the opposite 🙁 .. Any suggestions and thoughts are the most welcome 🙂

2 Answers
Chirag Shukla, MBA Aspirant
answered 8 months ago

Before I answer, I would like to mention that I used to also score in a similar range when I gave my first few mock tests while preparing for CAT 2017 (Even worse actually. I had very little time to prepare for some reasons, and I took my fluency in English for granted). In my mock tests now, I am scoring in the range of 99.3 – 99.8 percentile for the Verbal Ability section (AIMCAT)
Here is how I did it – 

  1. Reducing the number of attempts – I know it feels like every single question is doable, but that is what the examiners want you to believe. Its the same as with QA – a question appears to be easy but as you begin solving it, you realise that it is probably best that you leave it and move on. 

    You should realise that negative marking in CAT is a pretty big deal, and separates the 98+ percentilers from the rest. While preparing for CAT 2017 and giving a few odd mocks in the time that was left, I attempted all 34 questions for all mocks. Accuracy? 50%. I literally got only 17 right. That means I also lost out on 17 marks. That is probably the difference between 95 and 99 percentile. I made a similar mistake in the actual exam and managed only 95 percentile. 

    While preparing for CAT 2018, I have given around 7 mock tests (the rest are scheduled October onwards). My number of attempts have been fluctuating between 22 and 28, and no more. I leave out a mix of PJs and RC questions (almost never the entire set though). As a result, I avoid negative marking while marking answers for only those question that I am 90%+ sure of. Below that, I mark it for review and solve it later if time permits. There has been a huge spike in my percentile because of this, and I suspect it will be a major contributor to my overall score in CAT 2018. 

    Therefore, in your mocks, always maintain an accuracy of 80% or above. It will boost your scores immensely. 

  2. Improve your ability to strategically attempt this section
    This will take time. What I mean by “improve your ability” is that you need to learn to recognize from your previous mocks as to what kind of questions you are skipping. Mark my words, when you attempt another mock and leave out questions you know you are not sure of, it will turn out that you skipped questions under the ‘VD’ and ‘D’ category. You see, why this happens is because every question that is difficult for you is also difficult for everyone else. 
    Don’t ever take it upon your ego to solve every single question. This isn’t CBSE.
  3. A careful judgement of questions – 
    You mention that you are not able to assess if you’re taking a chance on the questions that you are getting wrong. That is perfectly normal. I still do that sometimes, and I am sure everyone attempting any mock test does that. However, make it a habit to check and recheck your answers. Don’t just submit an answer the moment you think of it. For instance, in parajumbles, your first reaction is – “Clearly, the sequence for this is 53421”. However, pause for a second and think – “Can 53412 also work? Which one makes more sense?”
    More often than not, we miss out the parajumbles answers by just one mistake in the sequence, and that is the intent of the paper-setter. So pause, assess the question, trust your instinct and submit the answer (since TITAs have no negative marking, you can at least be a little less stressed about losing marks).  

That’s it! I think if you deliberate on these points and implement them, your scores should definitely increase. 
Also, keep giving mocks and sectionals. They are the best way to keep making mistakes and learning from them. 
Hope your scores improve! All the best!

(If you have any tips for QA, please let me know)

How do u attempt RC .means ur approach to solve RC and do u prioritise RC order?

How do u attempt RC .means ur approach to solve RC and do u prioritise RC order?

Chirag Shukla, MBA Aspirant

replied 8 months ago

Hi Devendra. Yes, I solve Verbal Ability first and then solve Reading Comprehension.

I spend 15-20 minutes on VA and then spend the rest on RC. Ideally, don’t spend more than 20 minutes on VA otherwise you will miss out questions from the RC sets.

Ok . And how do u approach RC passage .in term of time allocation to 6 Q RC and 3Q u read Question 1st or passage 1st? Do u prioritise RC based on it comfort area?

Hi, Jithin!

Get a detailed strategy to tackle RCs here:

Let me summarise the strategy for you:
Well, take a sigh of relief! You need not be a Milton or a Shakespeare or even a voracious reader to ace the Verbal Ability section. Yes, you read it right, and that’s because VA is not equal to vocabulary or literature. It’s about your ability to comprehend while you read. It’s about filtering the important information from a plethora of noise. It is, therefore, more scientific than literary. You can formulate rules and apply them like formulae quite similar to what you do in mathematics. All it takes is a well-charted strategy to develop these formulae.
The next 60 days that you have at your disposal should be spent working on developing this strategy. Before we take a plunge into the strategy per se, let us look at the building blocks of the winning strategy:
(a) Reading Speed: The biggest pain-point in the VA section is reading speed. Speed and comprehending ability seem to be at a trade-off. If you up your reading speed, down goes your accuracy and your comprehension at large. Is that the case with you? Well, that’s “curable”, because yes, you can read fast and still understand the passage. Here are some quick ways to accelerate your reading speed multifold:

  • Lipreading: Ever since childhood we have been taught to read things out loud, with gestures, postures and of course voice modulation. For a poetry recital, that’s the best thing to do, but not so much for a competitive exam like CAT. Next time when you take a mock or read in general, make sure you don’t lipread. It imposes the added work of coordinating your voice and your brain. Eliminate this extra, vestigial step.
  • Subvocalization: Given the reading style we are hard-wired with, there’s always a voice in your head that reads things along with you. It so appears that this voice is reading things out to your ears. This silent voice in your head is called Subvocalization. You need to kill Subvocalization to increase your reading speed to at least twice.
    The bigger question to ask is, How to get rid of this involuntary, innate habit of subvocalization?
    It’s simple, hold your breath while reading, read on till you can comfortably, breath in when required, hold your breath again and repeat the process. It takes 3 weeks, typically, to get rid of Subvocalization.
  • Eyespan: Most of us like reading things word by word. We look at a word, read it, move to the next word, read it and continue doing so. Our eyespan therefore is limited to just one word at a time. An efficient reader has an eye span of 6-7 words, which would mean an entire sentence. So just as you look at the sentence, your brain comprehends it and you move to the next sentence. To increase your eyespan, go in steps. Increase your eyespan from one to two, two to three and so on till you can comfortably read the entire line in one go. It took me around two weeks to get this in order.

(b) Comprehension of a Passage: To naturally comprehend a passage there are two ways:

  • Know the genre perfectly, which a very few of us will.
  • The Hack: However, you can develop decent familiarity with genres by following this hack:

Till CAT don’t read novels/books/articles entirely. Read snippets of them. What it means is that you need to open at a random page of a novel and start reading it without knowing the context. Read about two pages and try summarising it in your head. Next, move to an editorial, skip a few paragraphs and read from a random paragraph, again without having any clue of the context. This is what CAT does, gives you a part of a story and expects you to decode it.
While doing so, remember to diversify your reading. If you are reading one article from politics, choose the other from economics and so on.
Also, be wary of the writing style of the passage and take special note of the trigger words. The author will always state the most important idea after a trigger word/symbol.
Trigger words: Although, But, However, Although among others

(c) Elimination Strategy: The real challenge of accuracy in an RC is tested while eliminating between the last two options that you finally zero down to. It is here where the real litmus test lies. Remember I had talked of a mathematical formula for RCs? Here is where you can apply them.
What are these formulae and how do we develop them?
Whenever you solve any RC (while taking a mock or for practice), analyze the RC you’ve attempted. Every question. Irrespective of whether you got it right or wrong. Figure out why you got it wrong. Right the reason down as a rule (caveat: don’t generalize while doing so). You’ll observe that after you repeat this exercise for about 30 RCs, the rule starts getting repeated. What does this tell you? It tells you that a wrong answer option has typical characteristics. If you identify them well, write them down, remember them; you will leapfrog your accuracy manifold.

(d) Attempting Strategy: Having discussed the prep strategy, let’s zoom in to the attempting strategy.
How can we maximize my score with my current level of prep?
Listed below are simple pointers that will help you score more and with better accuracy:

  • Don’t go linear: Don’t go linear while attempting the VA section. That is, don’t attempt questions in the order in which they appear. How should we attempt the paper the? Read on to know.
  •  Scan the paper: Even before you start attempting, scan the entire paper. Start with skimming every passage and reading the questions. Attempt that passage first which has more direct (less inference based) questions. This will ensure that the time you’re spending with a passage, get’s you the maximum ROTI (Return On Time Invested).
  • Non-RC Questions: While Scanning the RCs also scan the Non-RC questions. If you feel that the questions are fairly manageable, do them outrightly or in between two passages.
  • Don’t get stuck with any question. Learn to “move on” (pun most definitely intended).
  • Remember: All questions carry equal marks. So, solve the ones that fetch you the maximum marks in the minimum time.

Good Luck!

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