We will discuss 3 key VARC ideas in this Blog article that CAT Aspirants are not usually aware of, that could help nail the VARC Section of CAT. To know more about how to prepare for the VARC section – Head on here.
1. Don’t start an RC passage in the last ten minutes.
This idea is the first of the VARC Ideas list and it is quite self explanatory. If you are down to the last 10-12 minutes, go around fixing marked questions or answering VA questions. Starting an RC Passage with 10 minutes to go is equal to saying,
“let me lie down on my keyboard and wait for the next session to begin“.
If anything, lying down is perhaps better than trying to attempt a RC in the last few minutes.
Why is it wrong?
It is wrong on 2 accounts. Maybe more. But here I am elaborating on 2 of them.
a. It screws up your current section
When you start off a passage, you should think about reading the passage, taking in the ideas in context, then looking at questions and answering them without panicking (at least try to not panic). If you are starting off an RC in the last few minutes left, you are already looking at the clock twice in a minute or more. You are feeling the pressure of the time. If you are someone like me, then perhaps feeling drowned and helpless as the clock ticks by.
The chances are the answers you mark at the end are wrong and carry negative marks, and you end up marking them any which way because you do not want to see yourself as someone who wasted 10 minutes in a precious 180 minute exam.
b. It screws your next section as well.
If you are ending a section in panic, most likely you are beginning your next section in panic as well. Starting a section with a clear head helps a lot. Maybe adrenaline helped flying off the blocks too. But being nervous and overwhelmed does not help your cause at all.
2. There’s no specific time limit per passage.
Many many many times I have students who ask me different variants of this question.
“I am unable to complete a RC passage within 10 minutes. What should I do about it?”A Mislead CAT Aspirant
The answer is simple: You can’t do anything forcefully to change that.
The only thing (closest to brute force) you can do is, keep reading articles and blogs and books and keep solving RC passages. If you read high quality books and articles for 300 hours, it will lead to a significant improvement in your Speed, thereby scores. If you solve 100 RC passages, and analyze your solution vs the solution provided by the faculty, it will have a profound impact on your thought process and approach thereby leading to better RC scores.
Your speed is your speed. Own it. Trying to read with increased Speed helps in drastically reducing understanding thereby reducing your marks.
You cannot Speed read your way out of the RC section. It would literally be reading your way OUT of the section.
What is the fix? How to improve my Reading speed?
The more you read, the better your speed becomes. There is an increasing progression that happens with practice. But it needs patience and perseverance. Let’s say you can read a passage in 15 minutes now and get all 4 questions right, you go about clocking another 150 hours of reading, the same passage will be doable in 12~13 minutes. For a 2~3 minute improvement per passage, there is perhaps 100’s of hours of work that goes into it.
3 minute improvement per passage is unrecognisably huge because in essence you save about 12 minutes in solving 4 passages, and that perhaps opens up an opportunity to add one more passage and a couple of questions in your kitty. But that happens with time, patience, and efforts. Not magically overnight.
3. It is ok to skip more than a few questions.
Last but not least of the 3 key VARC Ideas is that it is okay to skip more than a few questions.
In CAT 2019, thereabouts of 23ish correct answers and 3-4 wrong answers spelled 99.2+ percentile in the VARC Section. A 65+ meant a fantastic Verbal score. You did not have to attempt all 34 questions to get a score of 70. Especially you should not be aiming to attempt 34 to get 25 right.
You should be aiming to attend as many questions as possible accurately. Thereby more time to get the answers right, check, recheck if needed, and maybe take a breather before the timer starts for the DILR Section.
The 3 key VARC ideas discussed above are not usually known to the CAT aspirant. Try and take heed now! 🙂
Traps to Avoid?
Usual trap that people fall into is, maximise score by maximise attempts. But it could not be farther from the truth.
One should always answer questions that one is very sure of, and skip questions left and right, if you are unsure.
Another easy win is, skipping one odd answer that you are not sure of in an RC passage. Just because you have read a passage does not warrant answering all the questions from that passage. The more you are not hung up on answering the question you have zeroed in on the last two options and have agonized yourself for the last 3 minutes, better off you will be when you read the next passage.
Follow these steps in your Mocks and Actual CAT paper to get a better handle on your VARC Preparation.
Stay Safe and Best Wishes for CAT 2020!