14 years of schooling, 3 years of college, 2 years of coaching, almost 10 entrance examinations (including CAT) and still it seems that English is an alien language. As soon as I start thinking I know it, it surprises me.
Coming to CAT, I still had a confusion of the level that ‘listen’ and ‘hear’ mean the same when I started preparing for it. Slowly, ‘listen’ became ‘listen’ and ‘hear’ became ‘hear’. But then ‘may’ and ‘might’ became my new nightmares. The next night they changed to ‘can’ and ‘could’.
This foreplay continued along with some English lectures that claimed to teach me what I had already read in my middle school grammar- I mean who needs to know there are 3 types of tenses? Yet when it came to their use, I hardly knew what’s being asked anyways. Where did the knowledge of tenses go? I mean where the freaking hell did I go wrong?
It makes me laugh how I used to score full in school when we got jumbled up sentences. Yeah I know you can feel what’s been said. We all have been there. In CAT, these are like slow poison. Very attractive category, and should be served with a caution ‘Too hot to touch, wait before you jump over it’ (Look, I am still confused whether it’s jump ‘Over it’ or ‘On it’). It may seem to be an easy deal, but is not. Atleast 2 out of 4/5 options that you may come down to, after arranging the rest, give you the feeling of being stuck in the middle of nowhere thinking what to do. Yeah, I know many have been there too!
Spotting errors exercise reminds me of the puzzle I used to solve in childhood, in which two almost identical images were given and we had to find 10 dissimilarities between them. Wow, I wish that comprised of CAT syllabus! (though CAT would have found a tougher way out there, too) Coming back, what always is done by most of us including me, is to read it aloud in mind and if it FEELS wrong at some place, it’s wrong there. End of story. Who the hell cares for grammar logic?
If I was a reader since 2 years of age marking words in every single line I read, knowing that just incase I appear for CAT in my 20’s, it will be a great help, it would have been a child’s play for me to crack the vocabulary part. I am talking about the antonym -synonym questions framed in form of sentences. I mean at one place CAT wants me to be ‘Wren and Martin’ and nail grammar, at other it expects me to be an ‘Oxfords Advanced Learners dictionary’. What am I, a library?
So after being in an amazing English medium school having best of the education and teachers, sometimes I still feel abandoned when it comes to grammar and vocabulary. After apparently beating 95 percent of the 2 lac students appearing in CAT in 2013, I still feel I am not confident enough to tell someone whether to start any sentence as ‘You and I’ or ‘You and me’.
If anyone reading this article is appearing for CAT this time as a fresher, and maybe has a situation as general as described above, the hardest part is that it doesn’t stop at CAT. It goes on, until we either compromise with it or slog day and night to try and make a difference in our roots rather than just aim for an entrance examination. It does sound a lecture, but once you are a little ahead of CAT phase, you’ll get it! Till then, All the best ! 🙂