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All the 'HOWs and WHATs' of CAT Reading Comprehension

Reading Comprehension in CAT can make or break your chances of a great score. Read this article to become an expert in RCs.

Reading comprehension (RC) questions hold more than 50% weightage in verbal ability section. Last year, 24 out of 34(70%) questions asked were RC questions. Considering these figures, we can say that RCs in CAT can make or mar your chances of a great score. So, it is crucial to ace the RC section well. The next question that comes to your mind is what is the right approach?

Cracking an RC effectively relies on the following factors:

  • Comprehension and Retention
  • Efficient Analysis and Accuracy of questions
  • Reading speed

As you can see, the first two factors seem to contradict the third one. This dilemma can be resolved by following these tips:

  • Diverse reading (Newspaper Editorials, Magazines/Journal articles, books etc.)
  • Building your vocabulary
  • Remain focused while reading.
  • Daily PRACTICE and lots of PRACTICE

We can very well infer that the above listed tips are inter-related. Reading is an effective way to improve vocab as well as enhance your concentration. Apart from that, reading variety of topics generates interest, which makes you better focused. If you have learnt to maintain focus while reading, half of the task is done. The passages appear less complicated, more understandable and easy to recall while answering questions.

This article throws light on two basic issues of RCs:

  • Passage Analysis
  • How to approaches different RC question types

Passage Analysis

A good passage analysis enables you to answer questions in a flash. Simply stating, it means going through the passage as a detective examines the crime scene with his magnifying glass to find the essential cues. The cues in your case are the ideas that the author intends to convey in every paragraph of the passage. It is important for you to identify these ideas and take a mental note of them.

How to approaches different RC question types:

The strategy to follow for each RC question type is discussed as follows:
Type 1: Big Picture questions
These questions are based on the overall content of the passage and check your overall understanding of the passage. These are mostly in the following forms:

  • Main Idea/Main point/Central theme question
  • Structure and Organization
  • Tone and Attitude of the author of the passage
  • Title of the passage

With the right analysis of the passage, you will be able to answer these questions without referring to the passage again

Type 2: Detail Questions
These are the specific questions. Examples for these question types are as follows:

  • What can be inferred from the passage?
  • The author of the passage is most likely to agree/disagree with the statement...
  • Paraphrase the given line or segment from the passage
  • Vocabulary Based questions
  • Fact based questions

These questions depend on your retention ability. You are required to identify the right sections of the passage from where these questions are framed. The above stated subtypes can be explained as follows:

Inference Questions

Inference refers to the reasoning involved in drawing a conclusion or logical judgement on the basis of circumstantial evidence and prior conclusions rather than on the basis of direct observation. You need to draw out conclusions that relate to the passage. The common mistake committed here is to select an answer option that is outside the scope of the passage. Here again, practice becomes the key.

Author agree/disagree questions

These questions are asked in two ways. Either the question setter might give a statement based on the overall sentiment of the passage or he might give a statement based on specific aspects of the passage.

  • It tests your ability to comprehend minute details
  • You need to go through the directions carefully as multiple cases are possible here: he might ask you the statement the author agrees with, the statement the author does not agree with, the statement the author does not disagree with, etc.

Paraphrase Questions

These questions will essentially ask you to explain the meaning of a particular statement or conclude from it. The trick is to read the line before and after the one given; these have important hints you need to identify for the correct answer.

Vocabulary based questions

These questions test your vocabulary- the meaning of a word/synonym or the opposite of the word/antonym. The contextual meaning of the word has a vital role here.

Fact-based questions

These are the easiest of the lot as these simply ask you to identify the correct/incorrect facts.
The above mentioned approach is sure to help you score well in reading comprehension section of verbal ability of CAT/MBA level entrance exams.

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