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Three types of Reading Comprehension passages that the CAT will throw at you by Deepak Nanwani in Reading Comprehension,

Verbal Ability, MBA Test Prep, CAT, CAT 2013 on 19 April '13 The Reading Comprehension (RC) section has been the bte noire of CAT candidates for long now. Simply because the length of the passage has varied every year, the type of questions asked has also varied and there is no tutorial/technique that one can use to prepare for the various types of passages. All one can do is simply practice as many RCs as possible and hope that on the D-day some of this practice might come handy. With the CAT exam going online the RC section has underwent significant changes and in this post I talk of the types of passages and the different strategies that one can use to perform better in the RC section. One of the first things to note is that the passages have become shorter, practically throwing all skimming techniques out of the window. It now makes more sense to read the complete passage in detail. The RC passages can be categorised broadly under three categories: Analytical, Descriptive and Data- Driven (statistical). The analytical passages generally deal with the analysis of ideas/issues/events and are the most difficult in terms of the questions that follow. Most of the questions are implicit in nature (central theme, what would the author do in a particular situation, what is the author implying when he says this.. etc.) Additionally the passages can be about any issue/topic/idea that is not from ones area of interest or is one is not comfortable with. For example, I was always very comfortable with the passages dealing with science/environment/wildlife/history. But bring in philosophy/religion/psychology and the engineer in me used to start sending out warning signals to skip the passage right away. Analytical passages would require you to gain a significant understanding of the ideas that the author had in mind while writing the piece. This is required for questions like 'apprpriate title for the passage' or 'the author would have written this passage for a journal/a newspaper etc....' A good way to do this is the RC coordinate system. When you read the passage, write down on your scratch sheet the main ideas/idea changes that you observe over the course of your reading along with the coordinates - here the first coordinate represents the paragraph number and the second coordinate is for the line number. For example: (3, 6) - 'need for religion in human society'. This means that paragraph 3 line 6, talks of/introduces/elaborates on the need for religion in human society. By the time you are done reading the passage, you would have an 'idea map' that would help you figure out the authors thought process as well as the kind of questions that can be asked from the passage. The questions that can be asked here will be about the tone and style of the passage, the purpose, author's background and his behaviour, etc. Also if you can identify the central idea of each paragraph, it would help you later when you are looking for answers to implicit questions and also to assign a central theme to the entire passage. I have observed that assigning a central idea to each paragraph is easier as compared to figuring out the central theme of the passage. But once you have an idea map and a central idea for each paragraph your task becomes that much more easier. Another important thing to note is that analytical passages usually have an 'open ended' 'style they analyse the central idea from all angles and perspectives. To prepare for such passages it would help if you read books/articles/blogs that deal with subjects/areas outside your comfort zone. Reading editorials, reading news/op-eds that deal with varied subjects will give you good exposure to various ideas and would make sure that during the actual exam you are able to assimilate ideas easily and answer questions quickly. You can also form groups of 3-4 people and form idea maps for articles that you read and then compare your idea maps. This would be a good exercise in passage analysis and would

also keep you motivated. Please make sure that you read short articles. Books/novels are lengthy and the development of the central theme and ideas is gradual - something that is not in context with the CAT exam (where passages are 400-500 words in length). Descriptive passages generally describe an event/a person/a place, etc. The difference here is that these passages contain a lot of factual descriptions and in some cases some opinions/judgements but absolutely no inferences. With descriptive passages the strategy is only slightly different. Figuring out the main purpose of the passage is easier here. Also the description of particular instances can be easily figured out with a quick reading of the passage. However the questions might be tricky at times asking you to draw inferences based on the author's description. Again, reading all kinds of sports articles would help (description of matches, opinions based in that and some things left for the readers' inference). In the case of a data driven passages, the best way forward is to look for specific data. Such passages have a lot of numbers/percentages/fractions thrown around along with the authors opinions on them. While dealing with such passages it is best to read the questions first so that you have an exact idea of what exactly you are looking for otherwise it is very easy to get lost under heaps of data. Most of the questions in the case of descriptive and data driven passages will be explicit questions that would deal with main idea, correct/incorrect description, facts, vocabulary based questions, writing structure and opinions of the author. These questions are relatively easy to answer provided one knows where to look for the answers. To conclude, Reading Comprehension is a lot like the data interpretation section - you have strategies but there are no fixed and limited concepts as such. To fine-tune your strategy, it is important that you do rigorous practice. Do not overdo the RCs if you are not scoring well. Instead, rework your strategies, see if you are analysing the passage correctly and look where you are going wrong. Post test analysis is very important to for improving your performance in the RC section.

(The author Deepak Nanwani is the co-founder of An alumnus of IIT Guwahati and IIM Bangalo - See more at: August CAT advice: Five CAT 99-percentilers get candid about their preparation
by Lajwanti D'Souza in Exam Strategy, CAT 2010, How To Crack The CAT on 20 August '10

Five 99-percentilers who are now studying at the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) speak about what they did right when preparing for the CAT. Read through their experiences, you just might find a magic pill or two!

What to read

Shreyans Shrimali from IIM Ahmedabad with a CAT 2009 score of 99.99 percentile: "A lot of practice material exists in the form of books, papers, tutorials, etc for the uninitiated. To

start with, the previous ten years' CAT papers serve as a very good source of getting acquainted with the basics. Most DI concepts get covered in these. For quant, the PaGaLGuY Quant thread is a great resource. Since I was working, I could never study from books. But I solved any and every mock test that I came across from previous years. Specifically, I used to choose the moderate and easy level questions from these tests and learn all their concepts. By the end of my preparations, I was pretty sure that given the variations in the questions I have seen, I will be able to handle new ones. This actually came true for me as the CAT paper in 2009 was a stereotypical one with very few variations. Even if CAT 2010 is not like that, practicing as much as possible will help in facing new challenges. Verbal was always tricky for me. I concentrated on three major types of questions for this section. I worked on Reading Comprehension by reading TimesBlogs and magazines. I learnt a lot of words and their usages; The WordCommand software and were a few sources for this. Finally for sentence correction, I relied on the Sentence Correction thread and the downloadable material on PaGaLGuY."

Rohitashva Tomar from IIM Ahmedabad with a CAT score of 99.55 percentile: "The best source (of material for improving reading) is The Hindu. With more emphasis on inferential questions in RC it is good to read quality articles and develop a good reading speed. In addition, it helps in interpreting complex passages and understanding their meanings. For quant I read a book called Quantum CAT before taking mocks and I recommend this to people like me who are weak in quant. This book has all the basic concepts and covers all the topics. For DI the only good source is last years mocks as no book provides questions of the level of CAT. Practise as much from these and try to solve a variety of questions so that every time you attempt the questions, they become easier to tackle."

Omkar Sathe from IIM Calcutta who score a 99.65 percentile in CAT: "I recommend reading books such as Shantaram, Nautical Miles, Ayn Rand. I recommend the Hindu editorials. As far as magazines are concerned, it's better to read those dealing with current affairs. Reading editorials and news magazine helps immensely in the GD-PI stage. The level of study depends on where you stand right now, and your target institutes. If you are aiming for the very best, then your preparation needs to reflect that in terms of your effort. To be part of that elite crowd, you have to put in efforts which say that you deserve that coveted seat. Since English was my strong section, (99.38 percentile in CAT and 99.86 percentile in XAT), let me speak about this section. Performance in verbal ability can be most effectively improved by reading good books, newspaper editorials and magazines. Reading will help improve your reading speed and comprehension, will enable you to develop a quicker eye for questions in Sentence Correction or Sentence Completion and will unveil new phrases and words (with their proper usage). Since there are only about 70 days left for preparation, it also would make sense to practice those types of questions where 'rules' can be applied. Generally speaking, one must try to develop expertise in at least two good sections. The disadvantage of having only one strong section is that if that section has very tough questions in the exam, capitalizing on that strength becomes tougher too."

Varun Rajaram from IIM Lucknow who scored a 99.62 percentile in CAT: "Reading material can comprise anything that ranges from your coaching class material to Arun Sharma's book for quant. Articles from the Internet for verbal and DI exercises from last year's mocks and previous CAT papers are also a good source. I believe verbal is the section that makes or breaks a good CAT percentile and it's this section which is often neglected. Regular reading can help tremendously. has some good articles that improve your reading speed and analytical skills as well. Ideally, 6-7 hours of daily study would do. This again is purely inferential from past experience and the average work hours that peers and colleagues did. Even 3-4 hours of undivided attention to books should clinch it."

Rohit Gupta from IIM Ahmedabad who scored a 99.85 percentile in CAT: "One must definitely read the editorials in The Hindu newspaper and the New York Times. The quality put out by both the papers is very very good. One should comprehend what is written. Reading both daily is possibly the best read while preparing for CAT."

How to approach mock-tests

Rohitashva Tomar: "There is no fixed number of mocks that you should take but drawing from my experience I would say that any one coaching institute's test-series is more than sufficient. The emphasis should be more on analyzing the mocks after the actual test and learning about your mistakes and knowing how not to repeat them. There are around 20 AIMCATS offered by T.I.M.E. so if one is taking 15-16 followed by good analysis then that should be enough."

Shreyans Shrimali: "The real test is not just of aptitude but of confidence and outlook. The real time simulation that mocks provide can never be matched by preparing all by oneself. While I was attempting my CAT, the structured approach that I followed was the result of the mocks I had taken. I was sure of my strong areas, how I should distribute the time and the format. More than these, I was prepared to handle the next big surprise I will get as I click the NEXT button. Some of these things can only be experienced, but without ample practice of the test format, one is sure to lose a few crucial minutes figuring out the progress while attempting the final test. Attempting ten mocks in all should ensure familiarity with the test as well as about personal areas of improvements. Everything you do over and above this will add to your skills as well as instill confidence to face the C-day. I personally followed T.I.M.E. but the rest are equally good. Just make sure that the number of participants taking your test-series is large enough for your scores to mean something."

Varun Rajaram: "Ideally, you should take 35-40 mocks before CAT. Merely attempting mocks doesn't help; the most crucial part of the process is the analysis of mocks after the exam."

Rohit Gupta: "Mocks have to be taken but not too many. Mocks help you judge your speed as well as knowledge. Take mocks till your analysis skills, knowledge and speed are upto the mark."

To what extent do coaching classes help

Rohitashva Tomar: "I took CAT coaching during my college days and from my experience I can say that they do help in streamlining your preparation. If one is in college and is taking CAT for first time then joining coaching is a good idea. It is not needed for someone who is taking CAT for a second time as it will not add anything to the preparation process. At that stage, the emphasis should be more on taking mocks and brushing up areas in which the person is weak."

Shreyans Shrimali: "Though I did not attend classes this year, I did earlier during my preparation for CAT 2007. Classes can be very crucial for those who are at a loss to understand where to start and how to go forward. Attending DI sessions can be very useful as the material available for the subject is neither enough nor of standard quality. But there is always the threat of time wastage if one attends all the classes. Identify your weak areas and seek guidance for them specifically at the classes."

Rohit Gupta: "Coaching classes are necessary only if one uses them as a supplemntary study source. They cannot and should not be your main study focus. The problem arises when students consider them as the main source of study and depend entirely on them."

Varun Rajaram : "Coaching institutes help to the extent that they provide material for practice both inside the classroom and outside of it. However I quit my coaching classes within a month of joining as I felt they were not being beneficial. Mock tests at coaching classes are a must, though."

Cut down on social life?

Rohitashva Tomar: "A big no. One should not cut down on social life at all. A person cannot study for the whole day and if you do that then you lose steam after some time. During CAT preparation the most important thing is to remain motivated and for that its necessary that you are not overburdening yourself. It does not mean that you waste time, but just take things one at a time and dont overburden yourself."

Shreyans Shrimali: "Life does not end with CAT. If you succeed, you still need friends and family to share your happiness. If you fail, you need support before you return and strike back. In fact, the CAT score becomes useless once you get an MBA admission, but your close ones stay with you. Do not cut off from them. Go out occasionally, have fun and feel

rejuvenated. CAT is not about the number of hours put in, but the amount of effort put in within a fixed preparation period."

Rohit Gupta: "If one is working, then one is bound to cut down on social life a little at least. Otherwise where will the time to study come from? If one is not working, then there is absolutely no need to cut down on social life because of CAT preparation. "

Omkar Sathe: "I firmly believe that cutting down on social life should only be a last resort, to be exercised only in the most dire of circumstances. In fact, it helps to expand your social circle to include more people with similar aspirations, because they will be the ones who will help you when you get those depressingly bad mock scores. So having fun, enjoying oneself is equally important as is preparation for the CAT. Of course, that does not mean one should go out to party the night before CAT."

Varun Rajaram: "Cutting down on social life is purely a personal choice. I would advise against it as a good social life inadvertendly leads to a good frame of mind which effectively translates into good scores. So a good balance is required."

Keeping the right attitude

Rohitashva Tomar: "Remain upbeat all the time. Never get bogged down by low scores in mocks; instead learn from them and realize that you have to do better the next time. Keeping yourself motivated is the key to good performance. Dont lose confidence, motivate yourself, learn from the mistakes and analyze mocks thoroughly."

Shreyas Shrimali: "I won't think twice before promoting attitude to the top of the list of things a CAT taker should get right. Start with confidence of success in your mind. Picture it, live it. Whenever you fail in any mock test, think about success again. Very few people are

consistent throughout the preparation period. The rest equally falter, not just once or twice but many many times. I scored to be in the 99 percentile only four times out of the 16 mocks that I took, but it never deterred me from believing that I could succeed. Also, a strong driving force in your mind works wonders. I had a reason why I wanted to work hard and I kept reminding myself about it. It helped me come out of the lows caused by scoring in the 80 and 70 percentiles during the preparation."

Varun Rajaram: "I think the hype leads to half the pressure in CAT. Its important not to be bogged down by pressure and work coolly.There will be bad phases but there will be more good ones provided studies are regular."
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sahunisheeth Nice inputs

#81 24 Aug '10 Like

manmishr @ Shreyans Hi Shreyans,I'm facing problems in Verbal. Other sections are my strong points but i fare miserably in verbal. My accuracy hardly comes over 60 % in va. Specially I'm very low on confidence for tackling RC's. I try to avoid these in mocks. Pls help if you have any suggestions for improving my score in VA. Many Many Thanks.
#82 24 Aug '10 Like

hunky-dory-back Proud to be their class mate..u guys rock!!!!

#83 24 Aug '10 Like

vikas_ i need more information about cat online criteria.. plzzz help me out..its really important..
#84 24 Aug '10 Like

rmanoj87 this mean a lot..... a real confidence booster...

#85 25 Aug '10 Like

AspirendAchieve inspiring article

#86 25 Aug '10 Like

ASR.dreamz. keep the gud work goin ...

#87 26 Aug '10 Like

Vibs13 Thnx buddies ....

#88 27 Aug '10 Like

mudita_pathak wow man....tanks

#89 27 Aug '10 Like

convalesce will post in this article next year:)

#90 28 Aug '10 Like

san456 hi to Pagalguy Team...very informative article..shows the level of people getting into IIM's ..?
#91 28 Aug '10 Like

san456 P.S. Please neglect " ? "

#92 28 Aug '10 Like

rdx_akon thanks a lot and better life ahead........

#93 28 Aug '10 Like

vts much needed article

#94 29 Aug '10 Like

sandeep444 Thanks for these really helpful advices, i am really rejuvanated after reading your article.
#95 29 Aug '10 Like

Ju@r! @ Shreyans : Nice one bro !!!

#96 30 Aug '10 Like

dhruv_gupta great work puys......gave a lods of boost to my preparations....

#97 31 Aug '10 Like

vivek278chauhan tx alot guys this article is amazing hats off

#98 31 Aug '10 Like

tushar.acharya in case of verbal ability,i guess it is also 'luck' that cant memorise thousands of if somthing comes in the exam and is something that u went through in ur preparation days.then its luck.but i would like to promote for extensive reading.that helps
#99 01 Sep '10 Like

Talish Its really a very nice boostup as well as motivated article.Thanks pagalguy moderator for this article .
#100 30 Sep '10 Like

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bigdreamer gr8 read!!

#101 13 Oct '11 Like

rahul.jawale Thank you all for words of wisdom!!!

#102 15 Jul '12 Like

pankhudi123 I am loving it!!! Inspired and streamlined after reading this article.
#103 27 Jan Like

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