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Cracking it verbally

With the CAT just around the corner, here are some basic preparation tips

education Updated: Oct 19, 2011 10:26 IST

With the Indian Institutes of Management’s CAT just around the corner, you can base your final verbal preparation on two basic premises:
* An accuracy of 75% is good (really good in fact!)
* It is always more the merrier; so, try and solve all the questions.

CAT has traditionally been a Reading Comprehension (RC)-centric paper. Hence, this the pivotal area for ensuring success in the verbal portion. The number of passages varies from three to four, with three or four questions per passage. There are a few critical factors in RC preparation. Here are some tips:

* Ideally, don’t take more than eight to ten minutes per passage and ensure that all passages are looked at with the additional rider that all verbal ability and reasoning questions have to be attempted.
* The key to preparation is reading on diverse topics. Various websites like give theme-based articles to read and will help build up your repertoire.
* Target all direct questions followed by partially inferential questions. Questions with the ‘except’ clause or with lengthy answer choices should be avoided as they tend to be quite difficult.

Verbal ability
This section includes grammar and word-based questions. For grammar-based questions, form a template for common areas such as nouns, verbs (tenses), prepositions, articles, etc.

* In the case of word-based questions, spend 30 minutes regularly on going through a list of the most commonly-misused words such as homophones. The root-prefix-suffix method for word learning can help solve the ‘fill in the blank’ questions.

Verbal reasoning
This includes parajumbles and paragraph completion questions. Here’s what will help:

* Identify the introductory statement, which will give you a gist of the paragraph.
* Then identify links that will connect the two sentences. These connectives can be conjunctions (but, and, etc) or can be content connectives like cause–effect, generic to specific, etc.

Critical reasoning
This year’s CAT is likely to have questions from the critical reasoning section. These are questions which typically appear in the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) and have also been asked intermittently in the CAT. These involve:

* Strengthening and weakening an argument
* Identifying flaws in the argument
* Identifying logical fallacies
* There are no shortcuts to learning a language and practice is the key to success. Spend at least an hour on regular reading and 30 minutes solving passages from various online sources. The same is applicable to vocabulary and reasoning-based questions.
* While solving problems, give priority to the time allocated to the verbal and RC areas. If there are an equal number of RC and verbal questions, then the rule of thumb is to allocate time in the ratio of 2:1 (if you allocate 30 minutes for RC, then keep 15 for verbal).