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6 Rules to Excel in CAT VA

Understanding of a Paper (or a section) along with the understanding of own strengths and weakness are the two essential blocks of deciding the strategy for attempting it. To understand the section, let us look at the question types that appear in English or the VA section of MBA entrance test and look at the skills required to answer them and also simultaneously look at my comfort level with each of these question types.

Reading Comprehension passages or what were called unseen passages in school are the nemesis of a large number of students because of poor (or lack of) reading habit. The passages can be from different areas and the questions can be factual or inferential. The good thing is that length of passage in Computer Based CAT has decreased as compared to its paper & pencil version. It is advisable to attempt those passages first that are from a subject you are comfortable with. If you are not good in Critical Reasoning, then it is okay to leave the inferential questions will help you cut down on the negative score. My Comfort Level: Throughout my school & college years and even today, I read a lot because of which I am by and large comfortable with most kinds of RC passages. However, I do not find inferential, philosophical, literary, medical or biological passages enjoyable and hence avoid them in the paper. I prefer factual passages and the RC passage topics that I prefer attempting in the paper are business, economics, current affairs, politics, history, mythology. Vocabulary questions, synonyms, antonyms & analogies, are knowledge based questionsand can be answered correctly only if you know the meaning of the word and/or the choices. Hence a good vocabulary is essential to well in these types of question. The good thing about these questions is that they consume very little time a single reading of the question and the choices is enough to determine if you can/cannot answer the question. Reading the question or the choices again and again will not give you the answer. It is advisable to leave these questions if we do not get the answer in a single reading. My Comfort Level: I am fairly okay with vocabulary and even with an approximate idea of the word; I am able to get the correct answer by elimination of choices. However if I do not know the meaning of the word, Ill leave the question.

Grammar, like vocabulary, is knowledge based. If you do not know the rule of grammar to be applied, you are unlikely to get it correct and hence the question should be left un-attempted. However if you have good reading habit, you should be able to get a 3 out of 5 questions correct by instinct/gut feel. Grammar and Vocabulary typically contribute to most to the negative score of the students because of our propensity to mark an answer without being sure of the answer. Guesswork should be avoided in all knowledge based questions. Suggest that you read the question once, if you know the answer mark it else move on to the next question.

My Comfort Level: This is my weak area. I do not know grammar however because of my reading habit many times I am able to identify which part of the statement is incorrect. So simple questions of grammar will be attempted but if the complexity of a grammar question is high, I will leave the question. Sentence completion questions are based on knowledge of vocabulary as well as grammar but can be worked out based on the context and elimination of choices especially if the question has more than one blank. It is worthwhile reading the question statement 2 3 times as guesswork based combination of knowledge and elimination of choices usually works in these questions. My Comfort Level: Because of my reading habit, the contextual meaning of a word comes very easily to me and this helps me in sentence completion fill in the blanks. I usually attempt all sentence completion questions.

Para-jumbles and Deductive logic are logic based questions and no prior knowledge of any area is required. Hence you can you can work your way thru in these questions even if the logic is not completely clear. Also the choices are of great help in these questions. It is advisable to move back and forth between the question and the choices to get to the correct answer. For example, in Para-jumbles, identify the opening or closing or a logical pair and eliminate the choice that does not adhere to it. Successively eliminate the incorrect choices to get the correct answer. My Comfort Level: These are my areas of strength; Ill usually not make a mistake in these questions. I work on Elimination of choices in Parajumbles. I try to identify the opening or closing or a logical pair and successively eliminate the incorrect choices. Critical Reasoning and Para completion questions can be attempted only if you understand the logic, elimination of choices is can help you reach the answer faster but the logic is essential. My Comfort Level: These are my weakest areas in usage. Ill typically glance thru the passage; if it looks understandable, Ill attempt the question else leave it.

Logical/Analytical reasoning questions are similar to the reasoning questions of DI and hence are a boon for students who are weak in language but good in QA/DI. My Comfort Level: This works for me most of the time however I always exercise caution in these questions because many a time the questions are deceptive and time consuming.

Unlike QA or DI, where most of the time it is visible that the question can or cannot be solved by us, in English all questions look solvable and hence we end up attempting all questions and end up with a high number of incorrect answers. Hence in English it is advisable not to go in for guesswork. Now on to my rules for attempting the English section: 1. A paper is not a place for R&D, hence a new type of question will be looked at only if I can peg it to an existing question type. 2. I read the choices along with the question as it helps in elimination of choices. 3. In my weak areas, when in doubt I leave the question without marking the answer. 4. In Round 1 (R1) I sequentially attempt the following question types: a. Vocabulary and sentence completion, b. Grammar, c. Deductive Logic, d. Parajumbles. 5. In R1, Ill also glance thru the RC passages to understand the length, subject and the question type of the passage. 6. In Round 2 (R2) I will attempt logical reasoning, critical reasoning, para-completion & summary questions and the RC passages. Try these in your next and youll see that English is not such a funny language after all!