In my first 2 blog posts on this topic, I wrote in detail about the first 2 steps (of 5 steps to mastering the VARC section in CAT): You can read them here and here if you haven’t already. Onto Step3 now.
Step3: Understand where CAT RCs come from
With my 8 years of experience of teaching VA for CAT, and having scored over 99 percentile in VA section on many occasions, if there is one thing that I can say is sure to catalyse your accuracy and improve your comprehension in RC and most of CR questions (all in CAT), it is READING DIVERSE GENRES.
Whenever you read CAT RC passages (RCs), the single biggest factor that governs your comprehension of that passage is your familiarity with the field/genre to which that RC belongs. Understand that CAT makers do not write these passages themselves. These passages are basically excerpts taken from articles posted on internationally renowned magazines and websites such as time.com, nytimes.com, theguardian.com/international etc.
So whoever writes these articles, does so for the readers of these websites and magazines. And like any other article, these belong to a particular genre and thus find place in the relevant section of the magazine or newspaper before they are picked up by someone to be turned into an RC passage.
Now when we read or watch anything, we go for something of our choice – a young college girl might like to read a fashion magazine, a sports fan would pick up Sportstar or watch a sports channel, my political enthusiast father would prefer the front page of the newspaper and watch political debates, I would confine myself to The Economic Times or maybe Bigg Boss, and, a male engineer would rather watch….well, let’s not go there 😉 You have got the larger point anyway.
We all read what matches our interests, which naturally makes what we read interesting for us, and thus easily comprehensible. But imagine if one day you pick up something that belongs to an area totally unfamiliar to you. Imagine a person who has never had the inkling of the farthest of particle of philosophy is given to read the works of the great Jacques Derrida or Friedrich Nietzsche!! (if you think just their names are complex, you have no idea what’s in store for you when you read their work :D).
And that is what happens to you when you read RCs, basically articles, that lie outside the area of your interest. Why does that happen? Simple.
- You DO NOT get to choose the RCs that would appear in CAT. You have to attempt whatever is thrown at you, which, as a matter of fact, is all luck!
- RCs that you would encounter would be from diverse genres. I would encourage you to go through some of the 20 RCs (5 in each of the two slots) that appeared in CAT 17, 18 & 19 and are readily available online. (These CAT papers are present as online practice tests in the logins for MBAGuru students). You may even go through RCs from previous years. You would discover for yourself how CAT selects passages eclectically, a beautiful mix of passages from philosophy, religion, history, science, technology, social issues, fiction, literature and what not. And with about 15 to 20 genres out there, what are the chances that you would be lucky enough to get all or most of you 5 CAT RCs from the 2-4 genres that you are comfortable with? For an average person who has familiarity with 3-4 genres at best, on a fair day he would have only 1 reason to cheer and 4 to lament while attempting CAT RCs.
Understand where RC in CAT comes from, and not only make peace with it, but prepare accordingly.
The author, Lokesh Sharma, is a serial 99%iler in the VARC Section of the CAT and a Mentor at MBAGuru. The Legend of Logic (and the source of many a LoL in his sessions) is a master of CR and one of the most practical English mentors you could ever hope to learn from. Given his ability and experience, being anything under overconfident would infact be being underconfident.