VA RC is nothing less than a sort of a headache for someone who doesn’t approach the subject with the right attitude. To start with, most aspirants are clueless and do not know how to begin their VA RC preparation. After some time, when they cannot comprehend unseen passages, they crib that CAT and XAT give hard VA RC, but the fact is that they are unable to understand the tone or intent of the passage. This happens because they haven’t worked upon their foundations of comprehension step by step and had directly jumped on solving RCs.
Don’t make the same mistake and keep reading. Not understanding the passage, not knowing the meaning of the words in the passage, stuck between two options etc. are some of the genuine problems and are faced by everybody who has gone through the preparations, but there is a way to deal with it.
But first of all, let us understand Why this section is crucial for you and what should be your mindset while attempting this section before we can see how we can.
See, managers receive papers, reports, articles, emails etc. from various sources. Thus, it becomes imperative for anyone who is aspiring to be a future manager to comprehend things he/she receives on his/her table and also make others understand it. Sometimes, he/she has to undersign a document or a report which may go into the public sphere or sometimes reply to a mail received from the client, and if you miss reading details or don’t know the nuances of the language involved, the tone with which client is talking in a mail, you may land up yourself or your organization and people into deep trouble.
Sometimes, a manager has to reply to a client on an urgent basis, and there he/she cannot enjoy the liberty of taking his own time to understand. You have to be quick and receptive enough to understand and reply. There it is required to read better and read fast without compromising the comprehension.
So, whenever you read an article in your preparation phase, Remember, you can read it only once. You have to explain it to your angry boss who has already called you so many times; also you have to sign a document (basically take responsibility), so if there will be any error, you will lose your job. This will give you a sense of alertness while reading and also help you to understand while keeping your mind calm in pressure situations and time-bounded environment.
- So how do I start?
I will assume that you are going to start from scratch, and it is your first attempt for CAT. I will also assume that you do not like reading, but you can read passages at least.So for those who are starters, the following are the levels you need to accomplish-
DEVELOPING WORD BASE+ DEVELOP READING HABITS + START BASIC BOOKS QUESTIONS- 2 MONTHS
Those who say words are not crucial for CAT are fools- the idea is you should not start cramming up the dictionary. Words should come into your vocabulary through reading and get ingrained in your mind more through writing and by use in your day to day life.
- Try more to get the meaning of the words by guessing than looking at the dictionary while reading. It will help you deal with unknown words in the exam.
- Use words learnt through reading in your WhatsApp, messenger conversations with your friends.
- Make sentences with them or associate them with an image in your mind.
- Play word games with your friends or on apps. It will indirectly help you with your vocab building.
For a basic start, you can start with- Norman Lewis
Since you don’t have any history of reading activities in the past, what you need to is to develop a habit of reading things in the first two months.
See, we all go through several posts on Facebook, Twitter, etc. daily. The idea is to channel that energy of reading useless junk on social media to reading online on newspaper websites, apps and other dedicated websites which provides brain-storming and thought-provoking articles and passages.
I am sharing some links with you. Choose any one or two sites and read one or two articles which interest you in your initial days.
- The Hindu
- Indian Express
- New York Times
- Harvard Business Review
- Science News
- Prospect Magazine
- The Curious Reader
- Science Alert
- Reader’s Digest
- The Guardian
- Smithsonian Magazine–
- Scientific American
- The Atlantic
- Philosophy Now
- The Economist
- New Statesman
- Sapiens- https://www.sapiens.org/
- The Hedge Hog Review- https://hedgehogreview.com/
- Discover- https://www.discovermagazine.com/
- The Evolution Institute- https://evolution-institute.org/
- The Baffler- https://thebaffler.com/
- London Review of Books- https://www.lrb.co.uk/
- Physics Org- https://phys.org/
- Wallpaper- https://www.wallpaper.com/
- Medium- https://medium.com/
- The Philosophical Salon- http://thephilosophicalsalon.com/
- Foreign Affairs- https://www.foreignaffairs.com/
- The Washington Post- https://www.washingtonpost.com/
- New York Review of Books- https://www.nybooks.com/
- The New Yorker- https://www.newyorker.com/
- Economic Times- https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/
- LiveMint- https://www.livemint.com/
- Digit- https://www.digit.in/
- FrontLine- https://frontline.thehindu.com/
- Outlook- https://www.outlookindia.com/magazine/section/business/18
- BusinessWorld- http://www.businessworld.in/
- Economic & Political Weekly- https://www.epw.in/
- DownToEarth- http://www.downtoearth.org.in/
Ok, that’s a lot!!
Sometime we will get distracted while reading or will not be able to finish the part we are reading in one go. It is because our attention span is less and also our habit is not developed to read so much volume at one go. Also, we have very limited knowledge of the terms mentioned in the passage.
Here is a strategy you could follow-
Step-1– Read from your basic coaching material or any dedicated book if you have bought for VA RC and get to know the questions. They will guide you to step by step.
You may also consider starting by doing these-
Step-2- Parallel to the above join the following Telegram groups-
- RC Group– FORM ECLECTIC READING HABITS– This group shares the articles from the list of links I mentioned above and you yourself don’t have to go and read on every website. Daily, they post 4-5 articles.
- Netflip Academy– This group provides the PDFs of most newspapers. It also gives a combined “All Editorial” PDF where editorials from all newspapers are segregated. It will help you save your time.
Please note this is not for the promotion of any particular group of people. You may choose to follow other dedicated sources as well. I followed this, and I liked the content. So I am recommending.
So also start reading articles from these groups above to expand your range of eclectic reading.
Tip – Try to watch YouTube videos and take notes for topics or concepts you have no idea about like topics related to philosophy, history, space, science etc. You will have to have a little background of topics for some passages.
LEVEL-2-BASIC BOOKS QUESTIONS + 4-5 ONLINE ARTICLES/EDITORIALS + DAILY SECTIONALS+ ANALYSIS+ BASIC GRAMMAR
You are now accustomed to reading. You can start off with the daily sectionals. Give Sectionals Daily and analyze. An analysis is very important.
You can also include a basic level of grammar in your preparations. They will not come in the form of questions in CAT, but in other management exams, you will see them in other forms. Also, knowing basic grammar will get you through in later stages of WAT-PI where you need to use correct language. Emphasize on topics like Tenses, Subject-Verb Agreement, Active Passive, Direct & Indirect Speech, Modifiers, Parallelism, and Prepositions etc. But don’t try to become a Grammar Nazi. Don’t invest much time. Do it in your free leisure time. You can watch videos also and finish things off fast on common errors. This will help you identify errors in a sentence. Also, see the previous year papers to know what type of questions in grammar are generally asked.
Study Source- Wren & Martin
LEVEL-3- DAILY READING ONLINE ARTICLES/EDITORIALS + DAILY SECTIONALS+ ANALYSIS+ CRITICAL REASONING+ VERBAL ABILITY PRACTICE
Critical reasoning helps you to understand arguments and form an important part of questions in VA RC. Knowing how to deal with arguments, patterns and flaws will help you ace questions based on critical reasoning.
Study Source- Foundations of GMAT Verbal
LEVEL-4- DAILY READING ONLINE ARTICLES/EDITORIALS + PAST YEAR PAPERS/MOCKS+ CURRENT YEAR MOCKS+ VERBAL ABILITY PRACTICE
The idea will be to continue reading and giving mocks. Since now, when you have taken a sufficient amount of sectionals and know where you stand, try and improve your score and make fewer errors. Remember, an analysis will be crucial to improve your score. Also, form your theories and strategies as to how will you attempt the paper.
I would suggest you increase your reading speed and attempt maximum questions in the paper within the time limit taking into account the score you want to reach with negatives in mind.
Also, give a little one page reading on phobias, idioms, sentence completions, ISM words, foreign words etc. before sleeping twice or thrice in a week. One can also use the account provided by coaching institute like TIME, IMS, CL etc. to read the regular updates on GK and solve question banks of VA RC
After you have done sound preparation, the following should be the learning outcomes-
- You are now comfortable with reading. At least so much that three hours of reading shouldn’t bother you.
- Your daily intake of a range of articles should be so much that you know about the term at least or can speak something on a topic even if it is from other domain.
- You should be able to analyze any argument presented to you critically.
This document is just to give the aspirant a direction to their preparation. However, they are free to formulate their own strategy that works best for them. It is an experience I wanted to share. You don’t need to stick to it. Tweak and follow. Also, the time mentioned against the levels may vary, and you are free to go to another level when you feel comfortable and also take the practice of any topic parallelly if you like.
“The key in English is to give regular sectionals and mocks and read a lot and analyze your mistakes.”
I hope this document helps you by giving a healthy start to your VA RC Preparation. I have tried to keep it as realistic as I can.
Ankur Kumar Srivastava
CAT 2019- VA RC- 98.52
(Xth – ICSE, XIIth– CBSE)