Reading comprehension accounts for about 67% of the VARC section in CAT. Going by the previous year papers of CAT, one can expect 16 questions in the CAT exam based on reading comprehension (out of 24 questions in VARC). Performing well in the RC questions is crucial to cracking CAT. In this article, let us have a look at how to prepare for reading comprehension for CAT in detail.
The key to answering RC questions is to understand how and why a passage has been built. Taking CAT online mock tests and analyzing them can be of significant help in understanding how to approach RC questions. CAT online preparation can help to structure the preparation process.
Unlike the other 2 sections, the skills of a candidate in the VARC section takes some time to improve. Therefore, aspirants should ensure that they try to develop a sustainable reading habit without looking for quick-fixes. A reading habit will help a great deal in improving the scores of a candidate in the VARC section. With that being said, let us move on to how to prepare for reading comprehension for CAT.
How to prepare for Reading Comprehension for CAT:
The performance of a candidate in the VARC section depends a lot on his/her ability to comprehend the passages given. Therefore, one should assimilate the crux of the passage well to answer the questions. A reading habit can help aspirants to retain their focus while reading the passage. Therefore, try to develop a habit of reading and allocate at least an hour or two every day to reading.
Read articles from various genres and do not limit yourself to a particular style of writing.
Read from a variety of sources. Try reading articles from sources such as the Guardian, the New York Times, the Economist etc., Off-late, most of the passages that appear in the exam are from such sources.
After reading an article, try to summarize what the article intends to convey in your own words. Also, after reading each paragraph, try to note down the purpose the paragraph serves in the passages. Analyze why the author has included the paragraph in the passage and how the paragraph is linked to the central idea that the author intends to convey. Doing so will help you to understand how passages are built and this, in turn, can help while answering questions such as the central theme, primary purpose, purpose of inclusion of a paragraph and the likes.
Analyze your mistakes:
Take mock tests at regular intervals. After taking a mock, analyze the RC passages thoroughly. If you had gotten a question wrong, analyze why you were wrong in selecting the option you did. Read the explanation provided to understand where your line of reasoning differed from that of the question setters and why his line of reasoning is deemed better than yours.
Eliminating the incorrect options can also help to arrive at the right answer in RC questions. More often than not, the incorrect option will have something in it that disqualifies it from being correct. There might be an exaggeration in the option or the option might convey something which might be true but has not been given in the passage.
Common mistakes to avoid:
Vocabulary and reading speed:
Having a decent vocabulary is helpful in cracking the exam. However, drilling down the meaning of hundreds of obscure words will do no good. Avoid indulging in rote memorization of words to increase your repertoire artificially. CAT has refrained from asking the meaning of words out of the blue for a good reason.
The length of the passages has gone down significantly over the years. The subject matter too is not dense. The length of a 6 question RC passage is around 600 words, and that of a 3 question RC is 350 words. The time available is sufficient to read all the passages irrespective of your reading speed. Your ability to comprehend the passage matters a lot more in RC than the speed at which you read the passage.
Reading the questions first:
Most of the questions that appear in the CAT exam are inference-based by nature. Reading the questions first might help in factual RCs. However, the questions that appear in CAT require a thorough understanding of the passage and hence, reading the questions first will not be a good idea. Read the passage first and assimilate the information provided before moving on to the questions.
Do not let your knowledge of a topic interfere with the information provided in the passage. Stick to what that has been given in the passage while answering the RC questions and avoid making conclusions based on your knowledge of the subject discussed. Also, if the author argues for a point you are personally opposed to, avoid letting your personal biases creep into the exam.
We hope that this article would have helped you to know how to prepare for reading comprehension for CAT. For more useful articles, try going through central idea and tone of the passage and CAT verbal ability PDF.