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CAT: Don't waste time on vocab building
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October 12, 2006

You have five weeks left to prepare for the Common Admission Test scheduled on November 19.

On October 11, we suggested tips on how to make the most of your upcoming MOCK CATs as well as how to ace Quant, Data Interpretation and Reasoning.

Here are preparation tips for the remaining two sections -- Reading Comprehension and Verbal Ability. 

Reading Comprehension 

There are two issues to consider here -- your familiarity with the topic and your ability to zero in on the right answer from the similar choices offered to you. Just as there is a pattern in the DI and Quant areas, there is a pattern in the way you can solve RC questions as well. 

If you are wondering why you sometimes get marks in an RC passage and sometimes get everything wrong, you must realise it is neither your speed nor comprehension that is the problem. The problem is your failure to recognise the type of questions that appear in RC.

It would be worthwhile to spend time on the CAT papers of the last five years. Observe the format for RC questions and make notes to help you understand the difference between direct questions (the answers can be found in the passage) and inference questions (the answers are not directly stated but must be understood in context of the passage). 

Pick all the RC passages you have done and categorise them into various topics such as economics, philosophy, psychology, medicine, biotechnology, management, religion, language and art, sociology, history, science, politics, general topics, etc.

Tackle one area every day. Read at least five passages and answer the questions in that passage. This way, you will become familiar with that area and be comfortable attempting any passage related to this topic.

For instance, if you read five passages pertaining to Biotechnology, you will become familiar with the jargon used in that topic and you will get a basic understanding of that area.

It will take you 15 odd days to do this for all the topics listed above. It would also be better to take an RC test every other day. This way you will be familiar with the various topics, as well as be able to use your familiarity in the passages and see the improvement in this section/ area.

Verbal ability

This can be broadly divided in six types of questions.

1. Grammar

2. Paragraph forming (Para jumbles)

3. Fill-in-the-blanks with words/sentences

4. Summary

5. Critical reasoning 

6. Vocabulary

There is no point in wasting time on vocabulary building anymore. The last 40 days should be spent in a thorough revision of these types of questions from the MOCK papers. Ideally, you should take up 10 to 15 questions from each area from the MOCKs that you have already taken (same strategy as DI/ Quant).

However, unlike the Quant and DI areas where extra tests may not give a higher return in terms of marks, it will be prudent to take tests in Verbal area almost every day and thoroughly revise them.

Also, to ensure that Vocabulary is not forgotten, it would be worthwhile to revise the words that appear in the tests/ mocks at least once.

Part I: How to ace your MOCK CATs

Part II: Study tips for Quant, DI and Reasoning

Also see: Books to help you crack CAT

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