English is a funny language – emphasized Amitabh Bachchan in a Bollywood flick back in the 80s. However, CAT aspirants find it anything but funny. With 34% weightage given to the Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC) section including para-jumbles, critical reasoning, sentence correction and grammar, the fun turns into pressure to be able to display proficiency in the language. Unlike the other two sections of Quants and DI & LR, this section involves a lot of reading and developing an aptitude for English.
In this article, we are going to help you create a strategy to prepare for the VARC section over the period of one year. Before we begin, let’s look at the syllabus of this section:
This section has around 34 questions to be answered in 60 minutes. That’s a little less than 2 minutes per question. So speed and accuracy will be of importance to be able to crack this section in CAT.
One year is enough time to prepare for VARC regardless of your proficiency in English. Let’s divide the year into four buckets of three months each to create a schedule for preparation of this section.
Before your start poring through the pages of Grammar Books or start revising grammar basics, it is important to understand your level of preparedness for the section. To achieve this, we recommend that you attempt a few mock tests in the first month of preparation.
The focus of these tests should be testing your knowledge and NOT the speed. Try attempting the complete paper. This will help you understand the topics that you are strong in and the ones that need work. Analyze the test results carefully and create a study plan for the next two months.
Create a simple sheet that has three columns:
- Topics that you are good at
- Topics that need some work
- Topics that you have no clue about
Start with working on the third column first and work your way up. Also, start a routine of reading one newspaper every day, including all sections. Don’t attempt to memorize the news, the idea is to expose yourself to editorial writing style. Also, depending on your reading speed, start reading novels across different genres, authors and writing styles.
With the basic preparation in place and nine months to go, you can assess your improvements by attempting a few mock tests again. If you feel that you can manage the section by studying at home, then continue with the plan. You can test yourself once every 15 days to understand your progress.
On the other hand, if you feel that you haven’t improved much since your initial tests, then you might want to consider enrolling in a coaching institute. A good coaching institute can be a great asset in this period since the faculty has the experience and expertise to guide you through the preparation process.
Regardless of the option chosen by you, ensure that you keep thrusting forward by sticking to your study plan and attempting mocks intermittently. Also, reading should continue as a part of your daily routine. Newspapers, novels and even blogs written by credible individuals. Also, keep revisiting the basics.
With half the year gone, you should have a good grip over the basics by now. Start solving topic-wise questions in this period. CAT questions are not designed to test your knowledge on the topic but on the application of the knowledge. Spend these three months answering different types of questions and identifying ways to solve them accurately and quickly.
Here is an example:
Choose the correct option that can replace the underlined phrase/sentence below:
From a study of university enrollment figures over the past decade, the evidence is that women are increasingly opting for professional courses.
- No change
- The increasing opting for the professional course by women is in evidence.
- Evidently, it is increasingly the enrollment of women in professional courses.
- It is evident that women are increasingly opting for professional courses.
Think about the correct answer before reading further.
The correct answer is the last option ‘it is evident that women are increasingly opting for professional courses’. There are many grammar rules in play here. While you might know the rules, applying those needs practice and that should be your endeavor in this period.
Don’t attempt too many mocks in this bucket. Rather focus on getting a grip over the different types of questions asked in this section and ways to solve them efficiently. Revise the basics. Also, continue reading.
Don’t try anything new when it comes to your study plan now. Remember, unlike the other two sections VARC demands a persistent effort over a period of time. Last minute rushing will not help you improve your grammar or vocabulary. Just keep following your calendar and revising the basics. You might want to go a little slow on the novel reading now since other sections will need some time too.
In the last two months, increase the number of mocks and try to time yourself in the exam. It is important that you enroll for the mock series with an institute that follows the CAT patterns and creates a test accordingly. Analyze each test performance and try to plug in minor gaps, wherever you can.
Most importantly, remove time to relax and rejuvenate your mind and body. Being your best on the exam day is essential to bring out all the learning in the test.
By dividing your VARC preparation into four stages and having a goal at the end of each stage will ensure that you approach the section with focus and clarity. We have refrained from highlighting important sub-topics because CAT is a very unpredictable exam and we believe that all topics/subtopics carry equal importance.
If you are considering enrolling with a coaching institute, then Exam Victor offers Online CAT Coaching with unlimited access to over 500 video lectures covering the entire syllabus, study material that has been made with ExamVictor’s unique NoMug™ approach to help develop concepts from basics, Weekly live sessions with our IIT-IIM faculty and unlimited 24 hour doubt support, among other features. If you liked our post, please let us know in the comment section below.