Cracking CAT RC passages in no time

The CAT VARC section contains around 24 Reading Comprehension based questions. With close to 70% weightage, RC passages can make or break your sectional score. For an average CAT aspirant, these questions can be tricky and time-consuming. This blog shares some easy steps to cracking RC passages in no time.

Types of passages in VARC section

Most of these RC passages are borrowed from economic, philosophical, sociological articles and literary criticism published in major newspapers and magazines. The passages can be classified into following broad categories

  • Criticism/ Subject Analysis: Passages that contain Literary criticism and event analysis fall under this category. The central idea of such passages can be gauged by carefully reading the first paragraph and the concluding sentence.
  • Factual: Passages which contain a lot of facts, figures or census fall under this category. These might contain some inference based questions.
  • Narrative/Descriptive:  Passages which describe or explain certain theories or ideologies fall under this category. It is important to establish the writer’s view on the subject. This can be done through indicative sentences, i.e. sentences starting with words like hence, therefore, thus etc.

Types of Reading Comprehension questions 

The general questions cover the central idea, theme, structure and purpose of the passage. Some of the examples can be, What is the theme/ central idea of the passage? Which of these sentences best describe the tone of the author? The author is most likely to agree/disagree with which of the following sentences?

Broadly categorizing, following are  the most common type of questions asked in CAT RC passages

  • Theme or Central Idea: It is advisable to use the method of elimination here. Usually, the correct answer is the one that is consistent with all or most of the themes explored in the passage.
  • Agree/Disagree: These questions ask to choose a line or idea that the author might most agree or disagree with. The trick here is to choose an option which is closest to the theme of the passage. 
  • Title based questions: These questions ask to choose the most suitable title for the passage. It is very important to understand the central idea of the passage here. The correct answer would be short and would aptly sum the theme of the passage.
  • Inference based: For these questions, it is important to identify indicative sentences. These usually start with hence, therefore, thus etc. and convey information that can be used to draw the inference.
  • Vocabulary based: The easiest way to solve these is to have a good grasp of vocabulary. Cultivate a habit of reading and try to learn at least 5 new words each day. 

7 easy steps to solving the RC passage

  • Go through the passage quickly, time is the essence here. Avoid getting stuck in complex sentences or difficult words.
  • If you find yourself getting caught up by any word or phrase, carefully read the complete sentence. Then form a general contextual meaning.
  • Make a mental note of the general idea/ information conveyed in each paragraph. This will help in clearing the confusion between 2 probable choices
  • Form a skeletal sketch of the themes covered in the passage. Since most of the questions are related to the central idea/tone, forming a skeletal sketch can prove quite helpful
  • Read the questions and dive into the answer choices, start by eliminating the choices that are inconsistent with the theme of the passage
  • Keep an eye on the timer. This needs to be practised while taking mock tests.
  • If something appears too difficult do not struggle, instead, try moving on. The time saved can be used in answering other questions

Conclusion     

While these tips can be quite helpful in solving the RC passage, there is no substitute for reading regularly. Reading regularly improves the vocabulary and also helps in increasing reading speed. Dedicate a portion of your time to reading. You can start with subjects that interest you and later move on to harder subjects. For example, if you are a sports fan, try reading the sports section of the newspaper. Once the habit builds,  you can switch to harder topics.

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