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CAT 2008: Preparing for Reading Comprehension
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August 14, 2008

The reading comprehension of the Verbal section has become a conundrum for many CAT aspirants. However, there's always a way out of everything. No doubt, it is a time-consuming process, but through proper strategising, the so-called hornet's nest can be easily tackled. Reading comprehension is the only part in the verbal section of CAT that is least subject to change, so it can not be taken for granted.

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To be very specific, we can strategise for the section in two stages:

Pre-CAT strategy

~ Work on your power of comprehension
Questions in the CAT paper are no longer direct. Every question is based on inference, and for that, you have to read in between the lines to understand the unsaid and implied. So, brush up your skills when it comes to comprehension because knowing a language is one issue and comprehending it is another.

~ Be a voluntary reader
Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.

To talk of the trend of the last couple of years, anything under the sun can be the topic of RC. So, you need to diversify your reading. Reading journals, newspaper articles will be of immense help as through this, you can get well versed with different styles of writing, jargon used, new and difficult vocabulary and a lot of other things. Ultimately, our purpose is to be able to comprehend the text well in the given time. Limiting yourself to a few favoured topics won't do justice to your reading. Always bear in mind:

Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested: that is, some books are to be read only in parts, others to be read, but not curiously, and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention.

~ Be an active reader
To read is not enough in CAT. You have to transform yourself from a passive reader to an active one. You should develop critical reading skills in yourself. There are a few things, which if kept in mind, can better facilitate the comprehension of the text:

By keeping these points in mind, you will have more clarity of the concepts. This improves your comprehension manifold. Is your idea something similar to what the author says? What is the theme? What is the author trying to say? What is his attitude towards the topic? And in this way, you can create a contextual map or flow-diagram of the series of events in the text.

~ Myth about reading speed
Reading speed is an area which is stressed by many. Many CAT aspirants however are skeptical about the concept of reading speed. You need not be very fast, but a little faster than normal, as the length of a CAT passage is no more than two-thirds of a page. One can increase one's reading speed by:

Your eye and brain should work together. Our motive is to comprehend and answer accordingly. Reading is the 'means' and the 'end' is comprehension. You have to accept that:

I am not a speed reader. I am a speed understander.

During CAT

Get well versed with time management
You are prospective managers, and managing such a crucial thing as time is expected from you. This is exactly what CAT is structured around.

During the exam, your strategy should be to read for the ideas. For this you can look into repeated words, metaphors and other focused words. To tackle time, read the questions first, register them in your mind and recall them when you are reading the passage so as to get the answers quickly. In this way, you will be able to limit your focus on more important ideas. It will definitely help in managing time efficiently and answering the questions accurately.

The strategy can't be the same for everybody, but it has worked in many cases. Try it out. It is not difficult, but, yes, it needs consistent effort. That's the reason MOCK EXAMS are very helpful. You get many chances to experiment with your way of attempting questions.

So, this is the time to show your finesse in reading and understanding. Trust your ability to comprehend and catapult yourself to higher levels.

Top Careers & You ( has been preparing national and international candidates for high-end tests viz CAT, XAT, JMET, SNAP, CET, FMS, IIFT and GMAT since 1998. Visit for FREE access thousands for these tests.

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