Types and approaches to Vocabulary questions in CAT

There are many questions in CAT verbal Ability section based on knowledge of vocabulary. Read to know what should be the right approach to do well in this section and what are the kind of questions asked in this section

The one thing that most test takers are apprehensive about is vocabulary. The word itself sends shivers down the spine of many stalwarts in the queen’s language. To begin with let us understand that nobody can remember words through rote learning. It is not possible for any person to be a walking talking dictionary. Therefore the test makers of CAT too understand this hence the vocabulary based questions that appear in CAT are all usage based. It makes perfect sense for a person to know the word but what is important is to know how to use it and use it correctly in sync with grammar rules.

CAT has two types of questions on vocabulary:

  1. Fill in the blanks (FIB):  As the name suggests one needs to fill in the blanks in context to the sentence that is given. The thing to remember while doing these questions is to understand the meaning of the entire sentence (i.e. understand the meaning in reference to the context being used) so as to fill in the blank.

We will look at the below example to understand how to solve such questions.

Q. When Facebook launches something __________, it’s easy to get irrationally ___________about its potential.

a. minor:sad                                                         b. major : exuberant

c. important: impractical                                         d. huge: happy

Solution: While solving this question let us first understand the context of the sentence. The sentence is conveying that when Facebook (a hugely popular social networking site) puts in a new feature on its website then everyone wants to try out the new feature. With this in mind we can easily rule out option A as the second blank is ‘sad’, which does not convey the meaning of everyone trying out the new feature. Since it is a social networking site anything that it launches cannot be termed as ‘important’. Hence option C can also be ruled out. In case of option D, the sentence seems to come from a press release, so the usage of the word ‘huge’ is casual. Hence we zero down to option B.  Inspite of three options being close, we can indicate the correct answer by understanding the sentence contextually.   

  1. Usage based: Such questions have a word given and four usages in the options. One needs to pick the correct/incorrect usage as stated in the questions.


  1. All my Monday mornings are blue.
  2. The colour of her eyes was as blue as the ocean.
  3. The idea came to him right out of the blue when he was making coffee in the kitchen.
  4. Her parents were blue with rage when they found out that she lied to them.

Solution: In this question one needs to pick the sentence where the usage of the word ‘BLUE’ is incorrect.  Let us go through all the options.

Option A means that all Monday mornings are gloomy or sad. In this sentence Blue refers to being sad.

Option B means that her eyes are blue in colour.

Option C means that an idea struck him suddenly that seemed to solve his problem or query while he was doing another chore which means he was not thinking about it and it just came to him.

In option D “her parents were blue with rage”, when a person is filled with rage (anger), the person turns red and not blue. Hence our answer is option D.

The only approach to solve vocabulary related questions is with the logic we have discussed above as well as read, practice and use the words in daily communication.

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