Amid the spectacular Bschool results and inspiring stories coming out every day, here is the journey of Aditya Doiphode who scored a stellar 99.95%ile on the CAT with a whopping 100%ile in the VARC section in 2021. This result fetched him all the calls from the top IIMs of the country. Having an Engineering background, Aditya pursued his BTech in Mechanical Engineering with a minor in Economics from NIT, Tiruchirapalli. After his graduation in 2020, he went on to work at Axis Bank and then at ZS Associates. The VARC section of the CAT exam is generally considered to be the Achilles heel for many aspirants due to its level of difficulty and unpredictability. Read on to know Aditya’s strategy for acing the VA-RC section.
My Strategy To Score A 100%ile In VARC
The CAT is an aptitude test and not an exam of your English language. Hence, it’s important to understand that the VARC section isn’t about knowing tough vocabulary or jargon rather it’s about making logical connections between the paragraphs and drawing inferences from the overall RCs. Aspirants should keep this golden rule in mind while reading articles and also attempting RCs.
Unlike the usual stereotypical notion of Engineers being a little weak in VARC, this section was something that I was personally very comfortable with and the reason I think this was the case, was that I thoroughly enjoyed reading diverse topics and genres. As I also had to juggle at work alongside, I used to have an extremely packed routine during my CAT preparation. And since QA and DILR took up the major chunk of the little preparation time that I got, I made sure to steal a few minutes from here and there to read articles and blogs from websites like-
I always tried to hunt for diverse genres like-
- Science and technology
- Biology and genetics
- Arts and Museums
- Abstract (Anthropology, Psychology, Politics, Opinion pieces, etc)
VA-RC Strategy For CAT 2022- What Will Consistent Reading Help You With?
- Having a check on the above list will make sure you are comfortable with long reading comprehensions and vague topics.
- You need not sit and mug up words for the VARC section, rather consistently reading shall be good enough to help you improve your vocabulary and diction.
- It will help you improve your general reading speed as well which in turn is a crucial skill to have to complete the entire paper.
- RCs, para jumbles etc. in CAT are designed to check your critical thinking. Reading will help you understand and analyze the problems in a very objective way.
After reading an article, you should note the purpose of writing the passage, the main idea, subplots, inferences, etc. Doing this systematically over a few months will significantly enhance your comprehension skills.
How To Approach VA-RC For CAT 2022?
No matter how much net practise you do, mock tests and sectionals will be your prime resource to score well on the final day in the VARC section. The big players of the CAT coaching industry have mastered the test simulation game, and the level of questions seen in their tests is equivalent in difficulty to what is seen in CAT. I recommend taking AIMCATs and SIMCATs regularly, as these have the highest quality of questions and post-test analyses. Take mock tests regularly from April, analyse these mock tests, and gradually increase the number of mocks you take per week as you reach the end of your preparation phase. You can start with the free Mini Mock Tests by InsideIIM, to amp up your practise.
There are different types of questions that are asked in an RC. These can be broadly classified as follows –
- Central Idea – The question can be asked in the following ways :
- The main theme of the passage is –
- In the passage, the author is primarily interested in –
- The primary purpose of the passage is – etc.
- Inference Based Questions – You have to read between the lines to answer these questions and understand what the author is trying to imply. The questions would look as follows –
- What can be inferred when the author of the passage says –
- The following lines from the passage imply that –
- Which of the following can/cannot be inferred from the passage
- Fact-Based Questions – These are direct questions for which you need to refer to the passage or for that matter lines that the question focuses on. The question can ask about the true and false statements according to the passage or can focus on some specific argument which is stated.
Aspirants should try to keep all their personal biases away while reading an RC. The author’s opinion is all that matters. Make ‘logic’ your best friend while deducing inferences.
If you lose the track of RC while reading, it is advised to write down a one-two line summary of each paragraph. This helps in understanding the flow of the RC and also deriving a sense of what is being said. These summaries help in answering the central idea questions and the direct/specific questions if any. Also, while doing so, keep note of the connecting words like – however, nonetheless, not only but also, consequently, etc. which are used to either switch sides or continue with the opinion. These words are the ones that help you understand the stance of the author.
Lastly, the key to answering the RC questions is elimination. It's important to know the traps set by the paper setter. Use the elimination technique to zero down on a few close options and then read the options carefully and comprehend what is being said. Although two options might always seem to be correct, there would be some fault in all the options but one. Look for extreme words like- always, never, must, etc. to eliminate options.
Practice and analyze to understand these minute differences.
The verbal ability usually comprises three different types of questions-
- Para jumble
- Odd One Out
- Para Summary
In order to correctly solve them, you should be good at connecting sentences, and understanding paragraph formation. Here's when your reading habit will come into play as you'll know and understand how authors generally structure a paragraph. ParaJumbles can be solved in many ways. One possible way is to find the starting sentence of the paragraph and then connect the other sentences. It is also possible to find groups of sentences that can only occur together and then find preceding and succeeding sentences in such groups to form a meaningful paragraph. Some other things to keep in mind are- proper nouns come before a pronoun in any sentence, the general idea comes before any specific idea, look for transitional, concluding, sequence, contrast keywords, etc.
For the odd man out, look for a common theme that follows the sentences and select the one which doesn't fall on the list.
Summary based questions will have options. Similar to the RCs, read the pre-text given and comprehend the general idea and then closely look at the options to see which one is closest to what is being said.
VA-RC Strategy For CAT 2022- Test-Taking Strategies
- Do not take any question to your heart! It is important to maintain discipline and tear yourself away from a question after a particular threshold. Since I had decided to attempt the entire VARC paper, my time allotment to each RC was 8 minutes. Post that, I took 8 minutes to answer all the VA questions.
- Consciously use the 'Mark For Review' button. It will help you come back to the questions after you are done with the easy ones.
- While taking mocks, try different strategies and figure out what is your strength between VA and RC. Attempt it first accordingly.
- If there are some specific types of questions you falter at, attempt them later.
- Do not skip any TITA type questions. These can fetch you free brownie points!
- After taking a mock spend enough time analysing it. Re-read even the questions which you got correct and check if your logic was in line with the paper setter. Try to find out the logical flaw because of which you got a particular question wrong. Mark it and make sure not to repeat it.
If you wish to meet Aditya personally and get deeper insights into his journey, register for the RoadMap Series and get mentored by him.
VA-RC Strategy For CAT 2022 - Important Reading Material
Here's important reading material that you may want to refer to build upon/further improve your VA-RC preparation efforts:
- 70%ile To 99+%ile In The VA Section In 60 Days - An Engineer's Journey, for some fantastic insights from an IIM Lucknow alumnus on increasing your reading speed, formulating effective test strategies, and improving passage comprehension.
- A Comprehensive VA-RC Preparation Strategy For CAT - Tips From A VA-RC 99.95 Percentiler, FMS Student, for daily preparation schedules, test-taking strategies, and other unmissable tips to get an astounding 99.5+ percentile score.
- Tips To Solve Para jumbles Type Questions In VA-RC of CAT 2022, to help you form a template for solving complex para jumbles questions that are almost always seen in CAT.