Cracking The Verbal Ability Section – CAT

First things first! To crack CAT, you need to be good in all major areas of CAT and your should have a balanced strategy to attempt CAT.To do well in section II, you need to have a balanced set of attempts in RC (min 2 sets), VA (min 8 Qs) and LA (min 2 sets).Today we shall look at VA area, which has 18 Qs in section 2. These Questions are especially important as they take less time, approximately 2 minutes per question.Broadly the VA area can be divided into three broad areas. Paragraph Structure This is the most important area of verbal ability. A strong understanding of paragraph structure can help you answer questions on :a) Para Jumblesb) Odd Para jumblesc) Summary Together, these accounted for 10-11 Qs in CAT 2014. In addition to that Questions related Para completion, which did not appear in CAT 2014 but were common in earlier CAT papers is also related to paragraph structure. So what is a paragraph? A paragraph is a mini essay. And like an essay, it has an introduction, idea development and a conclusion. Introduction:The introductory sentence introduces a new idea or a new aspect of an existing idea. Idea Development:The new idea introduced in the opening statement can be developed in different ways. Each additional sentence performs any of the following functions Describing or providing additional information about the new idea.Exemplifying the idea using examplesAnalyzing: Comparing and contrasting viewpointsChallenging: Logically refuting the idea partially or totallyPersuading: Convincing the reader towards a conclusion or course of action Conclusion:The concluding sentence performs one or more of the following functions.Summarizes the idea by bringing together various aspects of the idea.Qualifies the idea by comparing various aspects/perspectives and favoring oneProvides a link to the next paragraph. Exercise: Take paragraphs from various offline/online sources. 1) Identify and understand the starting sentence. Try to explain the new idea in your own words and how it is different from the preceding and succeeding paragraph. This will help you with identifying the starting sentence in PJ. At the same time having a clear idea of the paragraphs central idea helps you identify sentences that don’t fit in odd PJ.2) Take each sentence that follows and understand how it develops the idea. For each sentence identify whether it describes, analyzes or exemplifies the key idea. This will help greatly in PJ and OPJ.3) For each concluding sentence, understand its functions, whether it summarizes the various aspects of an idea, or compares/contrasts viewpoints and perspectives. This will help you solve Para completion questions.  Solving summary QuestionsIn these types of questions, a paragraph is given with 4 different summaries. We have to choose the option that best summarizes the paragraph.An ideal summary should include Key Ideas & ConceptsNew Aspect/Viewpoint of key ideaContrast/Challenge to key idea Summary: Should not includeDescription/Elaboration of same idea/aspectExamples/Data to illustrate/support We verify each of the given option eliminating all options, which either exclude a key idea or include an elaboration or an example. Critical ReasoningCritical Reasoning questions involve a logical argument (a paragraph) followed by a question and answer choices.The argument includes 3 critical componentsConclusion: The purpose/reason behind the argument. The argument is designed to logically prove a particular conclusion. In any argument, first try to identify the conclusion. Premises:  The facts/information given that support the conclusion. If you are able to identify the conclusion, ask why the conclusion should be true and that will lead you to the premises. Assumption: A fact that is not specifically stated but is required to reach the conclusion. In other words, Premises + Assumption logically leads to the conclusion. Identifying the assumption is a critical step in solving critical reasoning Qs. Strengthening or weakening the assumption will strengthen or weaken the conclusion.  Grammar based questions: Sentence Correction Qs.Grammar is a difficult area for most students preparing for CAT. The good news however is that there were only 3 Qs on sentence correction in CAT 2015 and in earlier CAT papers too.Don’t look at Grammar at a large set of rules, some of which seem to contradict each other. Look at Grammar from the functional perspective. The objective of grammar is to ensure clarity in meaning.The best way of preparing for sentence correction is taking sentences and breaking them down into various components and understanding the structure of the sentence. Once you understand the structure, you can then see how the rules of grammar operate. ——For all previous stories by Vistamind faculty on MBA and CAT, please click herePlease join us for our Monday LIVE chat on InsideIIM.com on Preparation for CAT and other entrance exams here —–Rahul Reddy is Founder Director and Mentor at VistaMind. He is a graduate of IIM Calcutta – Class of 1997. He was previously the director of T.I.M.E Kolkata for 10 Years. 

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