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How to improve your accuracy in Reading Comprehension while preparing for CAT?

Aug 3, 2015 17:50 IST

    Importance of Reading Comprehension:

    Reading Comprehension has always been an important part of the CAT exam. In CAT 2014, there were 4 passages with 16 questions out of a total of 100 questions. In CAT 2013, there were 3 passages with 9 questions out of a total of 60 questions. Safe to say, it is not something that you can ignore if you are planning to do well in CAT. As a matter of fact, I recommend my online CAT 2015 course students to dedicate at least 1 full day every week to practicing passages for Reading Comprehension.

    Background information:

    I analyzed the past year CAT papers and this is what I found

    • The passages are mostly from esoteric books.
    • There are also passages from global magazines / newspapers.
    • More often than not these are opinion pieces and data heavy in nature.

    If you are planning to game the system to do better in the CAT, I don't think it is possible. Also, I don't think reading esoteric books is a good idea to improve your Reading Comprehension skills. There are easier and better ways.

    How to improve accuracy?

    How to prepare for Reading Comprehension is probably the topic for another post. Today, I am going to focus on what are some specific things that you can do to improve your accuracy in the Reading Comprehension section of the CAT exam.

    Funda 1: Do not attempt all questions

    We are a very selfish and time starved generation. We look for return on investment in almost every aspect of life. Is it a good MBA college to join based upon the ROI with respect to placements? Was watching Mad-Max: Fury Road a good investment of 2 hours and Rs. 300 in movie tickets (It definitely was for me)? And this sort of thinking leads to the dangerous habit of attempting all questions associated with a passage whether you are sure of an answer or not. Please try and understand that you do not get marks for the number of questions you attempt but for the number of questions you answer correctly. So, if a passage has 4 questions – do not attempt all of them. Only attempt the ones that you are sure of. May be it is 2 out of 4 or 3 out of 4, doesn’t matter. Guessing answers is a wrong practice in a paper that has negative marking.

    Funda 2: Analyze the type of questions that you get right / wrong through Mock Tests

    There are two types of questions which are typically asked in the CAT exam.

    a) Fact based questions

    b) Inference based questions

    Typically, fact based questions are on the easier side whereas inference based questions are harder. To be honest direct / fact based questions are asked less frequently when compared with inference based questions. Even in the inference based questions, there are some common types of questions that are asked such as “theme of the passage”, “tone of the author”, etc. Check if you get these standard questions correct most of the times or you get them wrong most of the times. Once you observe a pattern you can use it to decide whether or not to attempt them in the CAT exam.

    Funda 3: Select the passages that suit you

    One of the most important skills that will help you improve your accuracy and score in the Reading Comprehension section of the CAT exam is the ability to pick better passages. Most students, at least when they are practicing, practice passages one by one. While that is a good way to improve your RC skills, what you should also try to do is to solve them in a bunch. What I am trying to say is that you allocate 30 minutes and try attempting 4 passages in those 30 minutes. It is extremely unlikely that you will be able to attempt 4 passages in 30 minutes. This will force you to pick 2 or 3 passages in the allotted time. Once the allotted time is over, see your performance in the passages you picked. It is very important that you also solve the passages that you could not attempt in the allotted time. This will help you in analyzing how good was your selection. If you master the habit of selecting the right passages, you will do well in the final exam as well.

    I hope you learnt something about Reading Comprehension from this post. Do provide feedback about the same via the comment section. If you liked it, do not forget to share it on Facebook / Twitter. Also, I teach an online course for CAT 2015 on my website Handa Ka Funda – do check it out.

    Ravi Handa, an alumnus of IIT Kharagpur, has been teaching for CAT and various other competitive exams for around a decade. He started online courses on his website Handa Ka Funda in 2013 and 10000+ students have subscribed for them since then.

    DISCLAIMER: JPL and its affiliates shall have no liability for any views, thoughts and comments expressed on this article.

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