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How to Analyse Reading Comprehension Passages of Mocks

Tanveer Iqbal is a Verbal Ability Coach for various competitive examinations like CAT, GMAT, GRE and also Banking Entrance examinations. For advice on tackling Reading Comprehension - reach him on [email protected] or

One of the biggest issues which puzzles CAT test-takers is how to derive the maximum benefit out of the RC passages they have attempted in the mock .Too often attempting RC seems to them an exercise in futility. Keeping this in mind I have prepared the following road-map for RC analysis for CAT aspirants. As a sample I have taken the RC passage on civilisation from CAT 2007 (Starting line - "Every civilised society lives and thrives on a silent but profound agreement as to what is to be accepted as the valid mould of experience.")

1. Categorise the type of RC - Sociology, Psychology, Science, Economics, Business, etc. Track your performance in different categories. Helps you make a quicker decision in the CAT when it comes to selecting RCs.

2. Trace the source of the RC - For example this passage was taken from a book - Reflexivity and the Crisis of Western Reason by Barry Sandwell. You will find extracts of the book available free in Google Books. Bookmark these books, magazines, newspapers, etc for regular reference and reading. You must maintain a similar vocabulary level as these publications.

3. Categorise the different types of questions you come across in different RCs in a small diary.

a) Big Picture – This question-type asks about the the passage as a whole

b) Specific Questions - Details about the passage

c) Vocabulary Based Questions

d) Inference Based Questions

e) Assumptions Questions

f) Tone Questions

g) New Types - What follow up question would you ask the author?

This categorisation helps you understand your performance in different types of questions so that you prioritise which types of questions you will attempt in the CAT.

4) Vocabulary Development - Each RC passage will yield certain words, phrases, idioms, foreign expressions that are completely new to the individual. This will depend on the current proficiency in verbal of the aspirant. If you scan the current passage you can see words like flotsam, madonna, fenland, dyke, consummation, etc.

Maintain a list of these words. Punch each of these words into sites like or

Go through the page dedicated to the word.

Then write down the meaning of the word in your diary in your words. Do NOT copy from the site!

The English language must enter your eyes and into your mind and come out through your fingers. Only then is the process complete!

5) Concepts to be picked from the RC

Every RC passage has certain concepts it discusses. You must identify these concepts and do further research on them.

For Example this RC mentions Renaissance period of Art, Shakespeare, Rilke, T.S. Eliot.

Go to Wikipedia and research these topics.

What was the time period of the Renaissance.

Who were the contemporaries of Shakespeare?

What is Eliot's greatest work?

IIM Ahmedabad has ensured in their selection criteria that knowledge will be the trump card!

Please start preparing for it!

All the Best!