CAT Prep Strategy for Engineering Students

Engineering students generally stay in touch with their mathematics throughout their curriculum – not exactly with topics that are tested in the CAT but certainly with equations, basic arithmetic and advanced mathematics. This helps them get into the groove during their preparation much quicker as compared to others. However, they do find verbal ability quite tough to negotiate. Here are a few tips to help engineers out with the same.

For Reading Comprehension, everyone would tell you to do a lot of reading. I would repeat the same advice – read newspapers, editorials, newsmagazines. But there is a little extra effort that can help you. Underline the main points/ideas that you come across and write down what you interpret from that – the central idea of each paragraph, what the author is trying to say, the premise in each paragraph, the assumptions and the arguments/conclusions. Have discussions with your friends in groups of 2-3. This helped me understand the thought process the author used while writing the article. This is an important skill for solving RCs.

Reading can also help you with questions related to sentence completion, phrasal verbs, and especially para-jumbles. For para-jumbles follow the ‘idea development’ technique. Whatever article you read, underline and write down in the margin how the author introduces the ideas and how the idea take shape further (introduction, explanation, reasons, conclusions, etc.) This would help you how generally a paragraph progresses – it helped me a lot personally.

To begin your practice for RCs, start with some GMAT books. The RC section in GMAT involves a lot more application. With the CAT passages becoming shorter, GMAT passages are a close enough substitute for practice. Once you practice some 50 odd RCs from GMAT books, you would be able to walk through your CAT RCs much easier.

To take care of verbal ability, you should bring your A-game to the fore. Start reading Wren and Martin for grammar; yes, the same old book you had in your primary and secondary school. It is the bible for grammar. To add to it, pick up your English workbooks from school – they have some good solved examples and sufficient amount of practice material to strengthen your basic concepts. Your board exam practice material will also come in handy when it comes to practicing for verbal ability questions.

Something else that can help your preparation, especially the critical reasoning section is listening to good debates on television – something that is up on all prime time channels. Statements that strengthen/weaken the given argument can be analysed not just by listening to these debates but also by developing your own opinions about them.

(Deepak Nanwani is the co-founder of One52.com, an online adaptive solution for GMAT, MBA and UG exams. An alumnus of IIT Guwahati and IIM Bangalore, he is a master strategist for all competitive exams.)

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