Verbal Abiity tips from Keerti Pendyal, CAT 100 percentiler
Content & PR team - MBAtious
Keerti Pendyal scored a 100%le score in CAT and did his PGDM from IIM A. He worked with top firms like Ernst & Young and was a consultant at ISB, Hyderabad. He is also engaging his talent as a Co-promoter at Talent Management Solutions and is currently pursuing his FPM from IIM C
VA prep is largely common-sense driven. In QA and Logic/DI, you have a certain fixed set of types of questions, you can memorize the formulae/methods of solving and you are set to attempt those sections of CAT or any other standardized test. The problem with VA/RC is that although the types of questions appear to be fixed, each question in a given type of question is as different from each other as the question types are different from each other. The painful truth about VA/RC is that there simply are no shortcuts to master these sections like one can find with QA/DI/Logic.
Now, what follows might seem very obvious and not require anybody pointing out what needs to be done. But that is precisely the problem. Everybody thinks that since it is pretty obvious what needs to be done, they can postpone the preparation of this section to the end and focus on the more "difficult" QA/DI/Logic sections.
I will repeat. VA/RC sections are difficult because one did not practice enough for these sections and not because one did not know how to prepare.
Now, what does one need to do?
- From the day you start your preparation, devote some time to the VA/RC section. This has to go on till the day you get admission into a school of your choice (Not just till you give your exam, because nowadays you have WAT instead of GDs in a lot of top B-schools and you need to be very good at putting to paper all that you have learnt while studying VA/RC).
- Study your word lists religiously. Before you start your prep, fix the number of words you are going to do in a day. STUDY AND COMPLETE THOSE WORDS EVERYDAY. Never, ever ignore your word lists. Why is it so important when you no longer have questions on synonyms/antonyms in top B-school tests? Because the RCs might have words whose meaning completely escapes you. And unless you have been a regular reader since you were a small kid, trust me you wouldn't be able to understand a lot of these words based on the context. And sometimes even if you are an avid reader, there are chances you have misunderstood (A risk you do not want to take at this stage).
- Read the newspapers everyday. I would suggest "The Hindu" and "Economic Times" but in case "The Hindu" is not available, you can go for "Hindustan Times" or "Times of India" in that order. It would be even better if you can add some magazines to this. Magazines like "Frontline" or "Tehelka". When I say read the newspapers, I mean not just the headlines. The entire news story as well. The most important part of the newspapers are the editorials and the opinion columns. This will help you understand how the words you learnt in the previous step can/should be used and also help you built an instinct when it comes to sentence correction questions.
- I would also ask you to read books. If you have been an avid reader, I dont need to ask you to do this. This is aimed more at students who haven't read a lot before. If you are working, start with smaller books (in terms of number of pages/word count) like 1984, Animal Farm, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, etc. These books are small in terms of the word count but they are very weighty books in terms of the ideas. If you do not have time for books, read articles online and I do not mean articles on ESPNCricinfo or Yahoo News. Something on the likes of Economist, Forbes, etc. which cover a wide variety of topics and help you get out of your comfort zone.
- Practice as much as possible. Do as many RCs, VA based questions as possible. Sources include the test prep material you purchased, material from friends, previous years CAT papers, previous years mock CAT papers, etc.
- And finally REVISE. REVISE. REVISE. All of the above is of no good use unless you revise regularly. I would suggest every weekend (saturday since sundays go in analysis of the mock CAT you gave that morning/week). Revise everything you studied that week. And at the end of the month, revise everything you did that month. Repeat this process till the day of your examination and ideally till the day of your interview (actually it should go on even after you get into a B-school)
To sum it up:
- Practice/prep daily
- Do your word lists
- Read Newspapers
- Read books/articles
- Practice as many questions as possible
- Revise and analyse regularly (this applies to other sections and your mock CATs as well)
As I said earlier, no big deal about the tips I mentioned. And very tedious as well. Precisely the reason why people dont want to focus on this area or quickly lose interest while preparing for this area.