Most students who sail through Quant and DI sections in CAT find Reading Comprehension a real challenge.
But the experience of several CAT aspirants have taught them that this need not be the case at all.
Reading Comprehension is a simple test of comprehension. At the most basic level, it requires that the test taker be able to read and understand English passages on various topics.
But Reading Comprehension remains the nemesis of students.
Here is what you can do to crack the Reading Comprehension section of the exam:
Learn Speed Reading
Speed Reading is the ability to process written content at about 500 – 1500 words per minute (wpm). You might think that reading at such a fast speed will completely kill the ability to understand the text but in fact, the opposite is true. Speed Reading is a method of training the brain such that the brain focuses entirely on the text and minimizes distractions. Invest in learning speed reading – ideally about a year before the exam but at the very least, 6 months before the attempt. And after that, practice it every day, on everything you read. You will notice a phenomenal difference in the way you approach a block of written text and deal with it.
Obviously, the importance of this cannot be overstated. CAT routinely gives RC passages from areas as diverse as possible. The more you know about things, the less likely it is to intimidate you. Even if you cannot read all the diverse topics, give yourself a daily challenge to speed read a scholarly editorial or article of about 1200 – 1500 words (Economic and Political weekly or any other journal is fine.) Then write a precis or a bullet point summary of the piece. Then go back and compare it with the article and see if you have missed any KEY points. Over a period of time, you will understand how to automatically spot important keywords, negation statements etc. It is important to write a precis and not do sample questions because a precis is a very thorough exercise.
Do not postpone
The skills that are tested in CAT are all such that they cannot be magically developed in a month or a week. These have to be honed over a period of time. A lot of students make the mistake of keeping RC to the very end – for a variety of reasons. But this can be dangerous for the exam. The brain is being trained on various dimensions while preparing for CAT and like all trainings, the sooner one starts, the easier it gets. Prep for RC should start at least 6 months in advance for advanced readers and about 12 months in advance for most students. Not only that, try and minimise all light reading. If you want to read for fun, read Malcolm Gladwell or Amish Tripathi or Dan Ariely. Read authors who explain concept subjects even when they are talking in a conversational tone. And of course, practice on journals and research papers.
You should notice a marked difference in your RC performance within 2 months of doing the above 3 things.
But do NOT forget these skills after your success in CAT. There is a reason that one is tested on RC during the admission test. Once you do join, your course content will be exactly like this – a lot to learn in a very little time. Most of the content will be research heavy scholarly articles or books in topics that you may or may not be familiar with.
So it is a worthy investment to make in yourself – learning to:
- Read diverse topics
- Consistently read fast and
- Summarize well.