How To Crack VA-RC Section For CAT – Reading Comprehension

Verbal Ability is one section which is a low-hanging fruit for a lot of CAT Aspirants. It boosts the overall percentile immensely, even if you have done moderately well in the other sections. However, it is also a risky section for even those who are well-versed with English grammar and fluent in English. As an aspirant, I have given many mock tests and scored over 99 percentile in VA-RC in most of them because I have realised that CAT as an exam tests your ability to use logic and elimination methods, even in Verbal Ability.

In this article, I will not impart common knowledge such as “Read more books, Improve your vocabulary, Read newspapers”, but I will try and bring out a more logical perspective on solving VA-RC sets.

Reading comprehensions are complicated in terms of understanding the intricacies of the question asked, as well as how much time it takes to read one long paragraph which may/may not be filled with numerical figures and jargons.

These are some tips for reading comprehension that you can follow:

  1. Instead of reading an entire paragraph, you should focus on the question asked and then scan the paragraph for the answer. Usually, the question format could be – What does the author mean by “XYZ…..” – followed by options. For this, you can strafe through the entire paragraph and search for the keyword in the Question asked.
    Example: “What does the author think is the biggest reason for unemployment?”
    The keywords here become “reason for unemployment”. So in the paragraph, search for these words and then choose the correct answer once you find it. Note – If you spend 5 minutes reading a comprehension, you will spend the next two minutes searching for the answer since it is unlikely that you will remember the key points of the paragraph. The above-stated method is more efficient and will help you save time.
    Sometimes, you will have no option but to read the article to understand the context it was written in. So keep that in mind.
  2. On the internet, learn more about the various tones that articles are written in. The tone of an article is the attitude of the writer and his viewpoints. This is a common question that is asked in CAT, and more often than not, test-takers skip it.
    Examples of tones: Animated, Condescending, Cynical, Disparaging, Optimistic etc.
    To understand the tone of an article, you will have to violate Tip #1 and read the entire article carefully and try and gauge what the author’s attitude would have been while writing. Do so only if there is a¬†question which asks you to determine the tone.
    Refer to this website for a list of tones used by writers.
  3. Learn to skip the right articles. Often, you will find paragraphs which are difficult to understand or have too many elements that are present. Usually, articles on History and Philosophy are more complicated to understand. Quickly read through the article and see if you are able to understand the summary. Personally, I spend a minute to read these and then answer 1-2 questions from that Set before moving on to an easier set.
  4. Always attempt RCs after you have attempted VA. This is because when compared to RCs, VA questions are less time consuming and more scoring. Also, a majority of VA questions are non-MCQs which have no negative marking. This approach will also give you enough time to read RCs and answer questions carefully. I usually have almost 10 minutes extra at the end of the section when I use this approach.
  5.  Only mock tests can help you understand VA-RC section. Reading newspapers and books will definitely help, but there is no way to test your understanding of what is being asked. So read a lot but also give a lot of mock tests. This holds true for all three sections.

Important Note – A common mistake that I used to make was attempting a high number of questions with low accuracy due to overconfidence. This is the worst possible thing you can do. Attempt those sets which you are absolutely sure of. RCs are known to have confusing questions and even more perplexing options to choose out of. So be sure of what you choose.

The aforementioned methods work for me. You may have your own methods and tricks. Please share them in the comments.

Finally, do not be afraid of VA-RC. It is just a simple test of how well you can understand and logically answer questions. This is the general idea of CAT as well. At the end of the day, it is an aptitude test.

I will be posting more articles related to VA-RC. So if you liked these tips, watch this space for more information.

Chirag Shukla

Aspirant. Writer.