Hi everyone! So the dust has finally settled on CAT 2018 and in many ways 25th November 2018 turned out to be a watershed date in the history of the CAT. In this series of articles I will take a look at a description of the sections in the CAT 2018 test paper and then at what it means for CAT 2019 preparation. In today’s article I am focusing on the Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension section of the exam.
Section 1: Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension: As usual the structure of the section did not change. 24 questions of Reading Comprehension, 4 questions on Para jumbles (without options), 3 questions on Paragraph Summary, 3 questions on Odd Man out (finding the sentence that doesn’t belong in a jumbled paragraph). If anything, the only change in the structure of the exam was in terms of how many questions there were per reading comprehension passage. While the Reading Comprehension in CAT 2017 and CAT 2016 had 5 passages with 6,6,6,3 and 3 questions respectively, the RC in CAT 2018 had five passages with 5,5,5,5 and 4 questions respectively. So as you can see, this change if anything was superficial at best – and hence does not impact the preparation strategies at all.
However, what did change in the verbal section was with respect to the closeness of the answer choices in the reading comprehension section – and thus CAT 2018 Verbal ended up becoming much more difficult than the earlier years. The following table would be a good way to understand these changes:
As you can see for yourselves, the CAT 2018 Verbal overall was much more difficult than CAT 2017 verbal. Scores of the toppers are expected to drop by close to 10-15 marks and this drop would be at every percentile level.
So what are the learnings for CAT 2019 prep? What should I be doing if I am preparing for CAT 2019?
Verbal & RC prep for the CAT is about two broad dimensions: 1) Improving your English & 2)Improving your solving ability. The following should be parts of your strategy for verbal prep for 2019.
- Read More and More. Read Diverse and at various levels of language. A tougher level of Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension naturally means that your ability to comprehend English needs to go up. The only way to do this, is to increase the depth, the quality and the quantity of your reading. In order to excel at the CAT and other similar aptitude tests, an aspirant needs to have the ability to read and comprehend any sentence, paragraph or passage (upto 1000 words). While you start to do this, you should understand that Pick up diverse topics, from diverse sources and at varying levels of language and improve your ability to digest information – on topics both familiar and unfamiliar. Focus on topics like Sociology, Psychology, History, Culture, Art, Science and technology, Medicine, Business, Sports, Politics etc. Also, in order to improve your ability to comprehend sentences, you could make a habit of reading up on quotations about various topics. I would recommend a minimum of 15-20 hours of reading per week. Needless to say this would have a parallel impact of improving your general awareness and knowledge.
2. Vocabulary: Please read the following blog post: HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR VOCABULARY in order to develop a comprehensive strategy for your vocabulary development.
3. Solving Practise: Unlike Quantitative Aptitude, the number of questions you solve in Verbal has no bearing on your score in this section. Hence, the approach in Verbal prep cannot be that you sit down to solve 500 passages of reading comprehension. Rather, your focus should be to solve not more than 20 passages in a month and not more than 20 questions of any question type in a month. Your improvement in verbal scores would happen only through reading more and more and through that improving your comprehension. Your monthly solving practise should be organised under the following structure (illustrated for RC here – especially during the months prior to June and during your first 3-4 months of preparation):
Solve and Re-Solve: Decide on the 20 passages you want to solve during the month. Solve them without any time limits, 2 passages per day during the first 10 days of the month. Do not look at their answer keys and solutions immediately. Instead, try to identify how many of the questions you have solved you were sure of, how many you think might be correct and how many answers are likely to get incorrect. On every set of 2 passages, you should review your answers once during each day for the next 5 days. So for instance, if you have solved 2 RC passages on 1st February, keep reviewing your answers on them for the next 5 days. Your answer key check and solution reading for those two passages would be scheduled only for 6th of February.
Thus, a typical month solving wise would go as: Solve 2 passages per day between 1st to 10th. Review the answers you have marked for each passage for 3-5 minutes everyday for the 5 days following the day you had solved the passage. Thus, answer checking would be scheduled between 6th to 15th.
Once, you are done with the answer checking, you need to go back and learn from each of the questions you have solved. The learning opportunities presented would be as follows (and more):
Questions you thought were correct but went wrong, Questions you thought were likely to be correct and went correct, Questions you thought were likely to be correct and went wrong etc. These are all symptoms of the errors in your thinking and need to be sorted out if you want to improve your accuracy and then your speed.
Very Important: Once you have solved the target number of questions/passages during a month – take a complete break from your solving for the remaining part of the month. Go back to your reading and Vocabulary.
More on this issue in my forthcoming blog posts. Happy Learning