CAT, as you all are aware of by now, tests an MBA aspirant's abilities in
three different sections, namely Â* Quantitative ability (QA), Data
interpretation (DI) & Logical Reasoning (LR) and Verbal Ability
constituted by the English usage (EU) and Reading comprehension (RC) portions. In this article, we will look at how our reading habits, if properly
channelized can be effectively used to enhance our CAT preparation in a variety of ways, especially in the Verbal part.
During the 90s till 1998 the verbal section constituted around 50-60%
of the total questions thereby giving the edge to those with good command over the language especially since a lot of vocabulary based questions were asked.
But from 1999 the trend changed, now all three sections have equal
weightage The pattern and type of questions also showed a distinct change in 2001, stress was more on usage of words while regulars like Para jumbles were dropped. The best way to gather them will be general reading.
Even though all the coaching institutes give word list they serve only a limited purpose as the stress in CAT is on usage of words and phrases rather than on their dictionary meaning.
Another aspect (especially looking at the last year paper) as far as CAT
questions regarding reading comprehension are concerned is that they were relatively easy as far as the length and the subject matter of the
passages were concerned. But the questions were largely essence-centric as opposed to the data-centric questions which were asked in previous CAT examinations.
It could have been cracked with ease provided the reader was used to
reading a wide variety of topics and assimilate new information very fast.
Keeping this in mind the 3 most effective weapons in our hands will be :
Vocabulary with stress on idiomatic usage Extremely fast reading speed
Reading a wide variety of topics
Now let us see how our reading habits can help us achieve all the 3
above-mentioned objectives. We all usually indulge in two distinct
reading, which are performed differently Â*
Â§ Pleasure reading Â* Comics, novels etc.
Â§ Study / Information reading Â* Academic books, Newspapers,
But, CAT or any other MBA entrance requires a combination of
For this I would recommend a regular reading of atleast two newspapers
like The Hindu, Economist, Business Standard etc. and atleast one
magazine like Frontline. The input you will receive in terms of
language and content is unbeatable. Specially spend more time on the editorial section.
Those of you who find it difficult to get a copy, can always browse
through the online editions available at www.economist.com
Lets start with vocabulary. In addition to reading that is mentioned
above, lots of resources are available on the net like www.yourdictionary.com
which sends you a new word with meaning and usage by mail every day for free, so do search for these and similar resources in the web. Another good one is the word power booklets published by Readers Digest. So please ensure that you spend around 2 hours on general reading. By any means possible build a large repertoire of words and be clear as to their usage.
Second is speed-reading which is immensely beneficial for attempting
RC. The good thing about RC is that once you have gone through the passage properly the chances of making mistakes is minimal. In CAT you can expect passages from such diverse topics like psychology and economics to rocket science and medicine, like in 2001 there was a passage from a critique on a Kurosowa film. You can also try some speed reading techniques, which can make a dramatic improvement to your reading speed. Some interesting softwares are available for it too on the net. www.google.com
can be used to lead you to an invaluable treasure trove of such resources (type in keywords "speed reading techniques".
The third issue is that of diverse reading. As mentioned above, most
of the passages are not what we read in day-to-day life. Whenever we read something with which we are not conversant with, the technical terms and nuances involved prove to be a red herring. They require more understanding than a topic we already know about. A commerce graduate would like a topic on say mutual funds while a software engineer would love a passage on say data storage mechanism. While its agreed that one can not be an expert in all the fields at once, the more diverse once reading habits are, the better are his chances of increasing his comfort level with new topics.
Finally, as a bonus, your general awareness, which is of paramount
importance for GDs as well as Interviews, improve exponentially too.
Remember that one needs to stress more on opinions formed over issues, rather than remember facts and figures. One needs to consciously try and create one's own stand on issues. For this reading editorials would be extremely beneficial, especially sections like Black&White which
features on the Sunday Times of India.
Some other Principles which can be used for effective reading for RC are:
Ã˜ Make a reading speed check everyday. This means that always
keep an eye on your reading speed and count the number of words you are able to read and understand on a daily basis.
Ã˜ Try to push your speed everyday. Comprehension will pick up in due course of time.
Ã˜ Read the editorials everyday and try to summarize the main points.
Also time your reading in the editorial.