Composition

Expected composition of questions of Verbal Ability in CAT 2018 is following. There are five prominent elements:

  1. Reading Comprehension
  2. Paragraph Forming (Para Jumbled Questions)
  3. Critical Reasoning
  4. Grammar
  5. Vocabulary
1) READING COMPREHENSION

Its irony that most candidates ignore the second component comprehension, the key component. Reading Comprehension comprises two parts — Reading + Comprehension). It’s expected from a CAT aspirant tp possess high degree of rate of reading as well as grasp and retain the content presented in quick time. In a knowledge-based economy, reading and comprehension skills is consider essential. One needs RC skills to analyze data, information and take good decisions.

Reading Speed to be measured :

You should start by calculating your reading speed and then working on improving it. Plenty of websites and software help you measure your reading speed. Begin by measuring your reading speed on screen using a website such as www.readingsoft.com. It will give you a quick estimate of your reading speed by asking you to read a small passage under a timer. As you work on improving your reading speed, monitor it using such a tool from time to time.

Take actions to improve your Reading Speed:

Recent CAT online exams prefer not so large RC passages thus the time consumed in scanning the potential answers has been reduced to some extent. But in exchange, the weight age of comprehension has relatively increased!

An average reading speed is in the range of 200 to 300 wpm (words per minute). Reading speeds vary depending on what you are reading and in what environment. Steps to improve your reading speed,

  • Scanning skill is important: Learn to ‘scan’ the material you read — Headings, titles, chapters and any other relevant divisions that might serve to break the reading down into blocks.

  • Be flexible: You should learn to adjust your reading speed as you read the passage. Slow down when you require to comprehend a difficult section. Pump up your speed if you feel the need to skim through familiar sections.

  • Learn to Ignore: You should focus more on independent clauses and only selected key words in supportive clauses. A lot of time during reading is wasted on relative pronouns or sub ordinate clause connected by conjunctions, Eliminate these from the horizons of your focus.

  • Avoid reading word by word : It is more productive if you try to read blocks of words together. It is noticed that one can enhance one’s reading speed by absorbing several words in a line at one time, instead of reading each word or focusing on each letter of the word. If you can store a pictorial image of the words in your mind whenever you encounter that word, Instead of reading each word as constituted of individual letters, its mere shape and visual structure leads you to identify it instantly, within fractions of a second. Without having actually ‘read’ that word!

Measures to attain and retain better comprehension
  • Determine the purpose of writing the passage.
  • Determine the central idea of the passage.
  • What are the transition points where the author switches direction
  • Carefully read the key words ( proper nouns, numbers ) in the passage?
  • Whether the test is about Psychology , Geology, economics or something else?
Other guidelines to improve reading skill are
  • Given passages are not required to be solved in the same sequence they appear in the paper. Take a very sharp look at the first paragraph of the passage. Here, your task will be to mentally paraphrase or summarize it in your own words. If you find yourself comfortable doing it, go ahead with that RC passage. Else skipping should be more fruitful.

  • Take a look at the accompanying Questions (without looking at the answer options. That will confuse you) as soon as it’s decided to solve an RC paragraph, Look for the potential answers , Identify the data points asked for in the Questions. This will put you on the lookout for those data points when you read the passage.

  • Read alternate sentences- its very helpful at the same time highly effective as it reduces the time to know the whole paragraph by half. Surprisingly though you have read only half yet clarity regarding content improves far better.

  • Process of elimination works : Rather than applying process of selection, it will be much helpful and time saver if Process of elimination is preferred where our tendency remains to keep eliminating incorrect options given.

  • Being egoist should be completely avoided – Don’t be under the impression that just because you have read the whole passage you are bound to answer every single question. Some questions are there to just waste your time. They are called the Hidden Warriors’. I would suggest that it is time to move on.

  • It sounds absurd yet amazingly helpful- Start looking at the options from bottom to top. It seems simple but result oriented. When you look at the previous year’s questions you will note that for the most of the answers of questions are not option A atleast, what is compulsion to start considering from option A.

2) PARAGRAPH FORMING (PARA JUMBLED QUESTIONS)

As name suggests it consists of a group of sentences that have been jumbled up. The goal in these types of sentences is to rearrange the sentences in the relevant coherent and meaningful sequence. In para-jumble questions, a paragraph made of four to five sentences whose original sequence has been changed will be given and you will require to figure out the original sequence.

Importance of PJ questions ? Para-jumbles are integral part of the CAT and other MBA entrance tests for many years irrespective of pattern change hence it must be given the priority. Para-jumble questions are usually between 4-7 out of ten non-MCQs. PJs are one of those few questions of CAT exam in which you will not lose marks for wrong answers hence great freedom to explore. It is probably one of the few areas of CAT VA where the scope of ambiguity is limited thus increases the chance of all answers being correct.

Para-jumbles broadly fall in three categories. In each category, the jumbled sentences are coded with an alphabet (usually A, B, C and D).

Magical pairs are the best tool to approach Para-jumblesThere are some 10-15 magical pairs that can be of great help while decoding the sequence of jumbled sentences. Some of them are –

TSA, NPDA, AA, SF Vs FF, SA, S+VA, T-INT , GSA , CEA, FEA,

These are called magical pairs as if you could establish relation between any two elements, it gives you clear hints of probable answer. To say sentence A contains a noun whose pronoun is given in sentence D, according to magical pairs rule a noun must precede its pronoun, hence in all the circumstances the correct answer must retain the magical pair of A+D.

  1. BDAC
  2. BCAD
  3. CABD
  4. CBDA

For example among the given options only option B fulfills this condition thus more likely to be the correct answer. There might be other indicators to keep an eye out for. For example if three of the five options start with A and the other two with C/B/D there is a good probability that A is the starting sentence.

Opening sentence introduces/defines a new idea or element Other than this fact that it introduces or defines the idea, opening sentence hardly starts with a pronoun or conjunction although sometimes IT, WE ,I may be the part of a phrase it starts with. Opening sentence usually have indefinite articles A/AN rather than the definite article THE. Opening sentence is an independent sentence i.e it can stand of its own.

TSA- Time and sequence approach For your disbelieve , most of the para jumbles can be solved by applying only TSA approach. By default it has to be followed, other approaches are to assist you when you don’t get stuck. In such cases Terms such as General and Specific approach or S+V can be effective. General details must come before specific details. On the other hand S+V hints that a singular subject should be followed by singular verb and vice-versa.

NPDA – Noun precedes its pronoun or demonstrative adjective. Look out for pronouns (he, she, it, him, her, you, they). Pronouns always refer to a person, place or thing. Therefore, if a sentence has a personal pronoun without mentioning the person, place or object it is referring to, mark it in your head and scan the paragraph for the original person, place or object that it refers to.

The Abbreviation Approach. Many times you will find that for some terms in the paragraph both the full form and the abbreviation have been used. For Example RBI— Reserve bank of India , Charles Dickens — Dickens, Dr Manmohan Singh — Dr Singh. In these cases where both the full form as well as the abbreviation is present in different sentences, then the sentence containing the full form will obviously come before the sentence containing the abbreviation.

Tangible details should precede intangible details When it seems there is no possible way out then this approach plays a major role, it says tangible details which are visible or physically present should be given priority over intangible details which are not physically present and are conceptual in nature.

3) CRITICAL REASONING

In Critical Reasoning, a decision should be supported by reasonable evidence, facts or data. There should an analytical way of thinking about issues for analyzing and evaluating information gathered from observation and experience in order to come to certain conclusions. Critical Reasoning clarifies goals, examines assumptions, discerns hidden values, evaluates evidence and assesses conclusions. ‘Critical’ as used in the expression ‘critical reasoning’ denotes the importance of thinking to an issue, question or problem of concern. ‘Critical’ in this context does not mean ‘disapproval’ or ‘negative’.

Importance of CR questions

Critical thinking is requied whenever one judges, decides, or solves a problem; in general, whenever one must figure out what to believe or what to do, and do so in a reasonable and reflective way. In CAT 2018 examination, there can be 3-5 CR questions, they test the candidate’s ability to think in a rational manner. In exam you generally face a hypothetical situation and the critical reasoning tests you on how well you understand what you are reading. The strength of your logical powers is tested through these questions. CR questions could play a significant role this year’s CAT with its VA+ LR mix. Students should try and develop skills like observation, interpretation, analysis, inference, evaluation and explanation. A good way to prepare for the CR questions would be to get familiar with the different type of CR questions.

How should one approach CR questions?

CR questions need to be tackled in a structured manner. The following steps can serve as a guide –

  • Identify arguments: In the context of CR -argument means a statement. It states certain observations based on premises and conclusions. Premises are those facts that help to support the conclusion in an argument. Sometimes there is a gap between the premises and the conclusions. This gap can be filled with an assumption.

Premises + Assumptions = Conclusions

  • Understand the different types of arguments – Deductive / Inductive:

Deductive Arguments – There is a strong connection between the premises and the conclusion. If the premises are true then the conclusion is true.

Inductive Arguments – These are based on experiences/experiments and here the connection between premise and conclusion may not be very strong – i.e. if the premise is true then there is a chance that the conclusion is true. Such types of arguments can be weakened or strengthened with additional data.

Rephrase the argument in your own words: All CR questions can be broken down into two parts

  1. The stimulus which provides the premises and conclusion, and
  2. The question stem which asks you to carry out a task. When you finish reading the stimulus, try to summarize in your mind what the argument in the stimulus is about (premises, conclusions, and assumptions). When you put the argument in your own words, you can usually identify where the question is heading and what kind of queries could come. Once you put it into your own words, the question becomes much easier to understand.

Evaluate the strength/validity of an argument: Some of the following points could be used to check this validity.

  • Check for any circular reasoning. (Unproved assertion used to prove another unproved claim)
  • Check if the conclusion has been drawn from a sample that is not big enough to warrant the conclusion
  • Check if there is a faulty extension of an analogy. ( Because two things/people are alike in various ways, that it is likely they will share another quality)
  • Check if there is any ‘non-sequester‘reasoning. (Conclusion does not follow from the premise)

types of CR questions?

CR questions can come in many varied forms. The most common types of questions are described as follows –

  1. Identify an assumption
  2. Conclusion/inference
  3. Identify an assumption
  4. Strengthen/ weaken an argument
  5. Detect a flaw in the argument
  6. Identify a paradox/contradiction/inconsistency
  7. Identify a parallel situation

Questions that ask you to identify an assumption. You are required to fill the gap between the premises and the conclusion with the assumption and for this purpose you have to identify the correct assumption. The correct answer will provide the missing link.

The different forms in which these questions may be asked:

  • The conclusion logically depends on which of the following assumptions?
  • What additional premise is required to support the above conclusion?
  • The conclusion drawn in the first sentence depends on which of the following assumptions?
  • The conclusion of the above argument cannot be true unless which of the following is true?

Questions that ask you to arrive at a conclusion/inference. These questions require you to choose the answer that is a summary of the argument. The summary is a logical ending of the chain of reasoning started in the stimulus argument. Thus, once you are able to form a logical chain using the premises to arrive at the conclusion, your task is accomplished.

The different forms in which these questions may be asked:

  • If the above statements are true, which of the following must be true?
  • Which of the following conclusions is best supported by the statements above?
  • The statements above, if true, best support which of the following conclusions?
  • The author is arguing that
  • Which of the following conclusions can most properly be drawn from the information above?

Questions that ask you to strengthen/ weaken an argument. Identify the conclusion of the argument. Then identify the stated evidence. Next, look for missing links that must be completed in order to create a strong chain of reasoning. If you are looking for the choice that weakens the argument, you need an answer choice that makes that assumption less likely to be true. Conversely, if you are trying to strengthen the argument, you need a choice that makes the assumption more likely to be true.

The different forms in which these questions may be asked:

  • Which of the following, if true, would most seriously undermine the conclusion drawn in the passage?
  • Which of the following, if true, would most significantly strengthen the conclusion drawn?
  • Which of the following, if true, would cast the most doubt on the accuracy of the claim?
  • Which of the following, if true, would most support the claims above?
  • Which of the following, if it were discovered, would be pertinent evidence against the contentions above?
  • Each of the following, if true, weakens the conclusion above EXCEPT

Questions that ask you to detect a flaw in the argument. Another type of question that you will encounter asks you to identify a flaw in the stimulus argument. The question tells you that there is a problem with the logic of the argument. You just have to choose the answer that describes the flaw.

The different forms in which these questions may be asked:

  • Which of the following points to the most serious logical flaw in the author’s argument?
  • The argument is flawed in that it ignores the possibility that
  • Which of the following indicates a flaw in the reasoning above?

Questions that ask you to identify a paradox/contradiction/inconsistency. Sometimes there is a visible contradiction in the situation described in the question argument. Two assertions which both seem to be true but are in direct conflict with each other. You have to identify the source of this consistency or a reason which could have contributed to this paradox.

The different forms in which these questions may be asked:

  • Which of the following, if true, best reconciles the seeming discrepancy described above?
  • Which of the following, if true, most helps to resolve the apparent paradox?

Questions that ask you to identify a parallel situation. In this type of question you will be given a particular situation in the argument. You have to study the different aspects of the situation and from among the answer choices select the situation which can be described as a parallel to the problem situation. In other words you have to find the argument that is analogous to the given argument in that it includes the same relationship between the evidence presented and the conclusion.

The different forms in which these questions may be asked:

  • Which of the following arguments proceeds in the same way as the above argument?
  • Which of the following conclusions is supported in the same way as the above conclusion?
  • Which of the following has the most similar structure to the argument above?
  • Each of the following is similar in structure to the above EXCEPT