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CAT RC Secrets Revealed

The purpose of this article is very simple: to reveal some vital RC secrets that you can use to boost your CAT preparation.

Let’s get started then.


Secret-1: The most important aspect is passage selection
There is no way you want to be stuck with the wrong passage at the start of the exam. Read the first paragraph of the passage; establish whether you understand it; and in case the answer is yes, then attempt it. If you find the passage obscure and abstruse, it is best to leave it for the second round. You do not want to spend time re-reading passages at the start of the exam itself. It is vital to build momentum at the start of the exam and selecting the right/wrong passage can be the make or break factor.

Secret-2: Make sure you search for relevant data
The best way to ace RCs is to be on the lookout for the information required for solving the questions. How do you establish what is the information required? Quickly glance through the question stems and identify what is being asked. When you are reading the passage, search for the parts that co-relate with these pointers. This way, you can separate the wheat from the chaff and retain the information that is required by the passage.

Secret-3: Try to solve some questions from all passages
There is one simple logic at play for this secret: on most occasions, even the toughest of passages carry some easy questions. Because of this, it makes sense to solve some questions from all passages.

The second reason why this trick is important is that there are certain question types that require significant time investment (selecting multiple correct/incorrect statements from a given set). It does not make sense to attempt these questions in the first go. You do not want to invest too much time on certain question types and miss out on other easy questions in the section.

Secret-4: Be careful of common examiner traps
What kind of traps am I talking about? For example, words such as ‘not’ and ‘except’ in questions. These words are carefully concealed and you miss out these words if you are not careful. Make sure you avoid this tendency and do not get ‘trapped’ in this common trap.

Secret-5: Understand the anatomy of answer options
In terms of style and substance, incorrect answer options generally can be divided into the following types:

  1. Scope trap: These answer options change the context of the passage. Either the context becomes too general or too specific. Make sure you stick to the given subject of the passage and do not fall into the scope trap.
  2. Extreme answer options: Extreme answer options are seductive in nature. These are based on passage content but commit the mistake of converting the given sentiment into an extreme one. For example, words such as all, never, always, etc. convert the option to an incorrect one.
  3. Clever mismatch options: These options make a subtle change to the information given in the passage. Even though the information appears to be from the passage itself, these can lead you down the wrong path.

Secret-6: It is easy to ignore reading at this stage but do not do so!
At any stage of your preparation, you can think that reading won’t make a huge difference. Do not commit this mistake. Make sure you keep reading and keep your mind tuned in. Reading helps you build stamina for solving reading comprehensions and helps you develop patience over the long term. Understand this: patience cannot be built every time and you need to keep working on this skill. The improvement takes place at the subconscious level and the effort of every single day matters in the long run.

What to read? Read 3 to 5 quality articles every day. Focus on topics such as philosophy, sociology, psychology, history, art, culture, literature, science, technology, economy and business. In case you can, try to target one topic at a time and read articles on this topic over a one week period.

Secret-7: Do not fear RCs
One thing that wears down students (commonly) is the fear of RCs. You need to be careful of this tendency. Do remember:

  1. There is no need to understand everything in a reading comprehension passage. You need to just solve the given questions. No one is going to test you on what you learnt; only the questions matter.
  2. Vocabulary does not play a significant role in RCs. Mostly, we can understand the contexts of passages without understanding every word of the passage.

Secret-8: Solve big-picture questions in the first go
It is criminal to read the passage again for big picture questions. These are some questions which are based on the overall theme of the passage. These questions are:

  1. central idea/main idea questions
  2. tone and attitude questions
  3. primary purpose questions
  4. title questions

Make sure you read the passage only once for these questions. For answering the questions, you mainly need to identify:

  1. main topics and subjects in the passage.
  2. key points in the passage.
  3. key adjectives (which helps us identifying emotions) in the passage.

Every paragraph you read, you should try to identify these key points. This will help you answer these questions with ease.

This completes the set of secrets that you need to keep in mind for CAT RCs. Make sure you use these tips to fine tune your preparation over the next few months and make sure you convert RCs into your area of strength.

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