The ‘How and What’ of Reading for CAT-2015

Two questions that are asked most often with regards to the CAT
Verbal ability section are:

1. How does one score in the CAT Verbal Section?

2. How does one score consistently in the CAT Verbal Section?

In fact, the second question is the one that bothers most
students. A number of students perform well in verbal but only sporadically and
generally encounter a lot of inconsistency in their scores. The sure-shot cure
for erasing problems faced in the Verbal section is to improve your reading
skills. If you are a good reader, you are bound to do well in the exam. Why is
reading so critical for the exam? If you want a direct relation of reading to
the exam, think about Reading Comprehension (RC) passages. CAT features
generally 3 to 4 RC passages and most other entrance exams follow a similar trend.
Also, if you think about the overall CAT verbal section, most of it features
content which is hard to read. Therefore, it makes sense to work on your
reading-related skills.

This is easier said than
done, right? Reading is the Achilles’ heel for most students and majority
students find it extremely difficult either to read or to maintain focus while
reading.  Considering the scale of the
problem, it makes sense that to analyze this problem and work out a solution.
The article provides some vital inputs that will help you overcome reading
related problems.

Before
the actual tips begin, let’s look at some of the sources for previous year CAT
RC passages. This list will help you gauge the type of content that appears in
the exam and will illustrate why need to develop the habit of reading.

CAT Reading Comprehension Sources: Listed year-wise

Source CAT 2003:‘Financial story of our
independence’ from the TOI column Swaminomics

Source CAT 2003:‘Will the Potato Take Over’ from a
column in The Telegraph

Source CAT 2005:Extract
on ‘Game Theory’ from the book ‘Prisoner’s Dilemma’ by Anatol Rapopert and
Albert M. Chammah

Source CAT 2005: Extract from the book ‘Work, Postmodernism and Organization: A
Critical Introduction’ by Philip H Hancock and Melissa Tylor

Source CAT 2005:‘Edwardian Summer’ written by Larry
Elliot and taken from a column in The Guardian

Source CAT 2006: Extract from the book ‘Conjectures and Refutations’ by Karl
Popper

Source CAT 2006:‘Communism may be dead, but clearly
not dead enough’ written by Seumas Milne and taken from a column…

Source CAT 2006: Extract from the book ‘A Theory of Justice’ by John Rawl

Source CAT 2007: Extract from the book ‘Knowledge and Post modernism in Historical
Perspective’ by Joyce Appleby, Elizabeth Covington, David Hoyt and Michael
Latham

Source CAT 2007: Extract from the book ‘Logological Investigations’ by Barry
Sandywell

Source CAT 2007: Extract from the book ‘Guns, germs and steel: The Fates of Human
Societies’ by Jared M.Diamond

Source CAT 2007: Extract from the book ‘Sociology: A Very Short Introduction’ by
Steve Bruce

Source CAT 2008: Extract from the book ‘How to travel with a Salmon and other
essays’ by Umberto Eco, Diane Sterling and William Weaver.

Source CAT 2008: Extract from the book ‘The Language Instinct’ by Steven Pinker

Source CAT 2008: Extract from the book ‘Collapse: How Societies Choose to fail or
succeed’ by Jared Diamond

Important
Note: The list only includes RCs till CAT-2008, (when it was still conducted in
the paper-pencil format). This is because official data is available only for
these papers. Though there has been a change in the length of passages when CAT
went online (in 2009), the general nature and type of passages has remained
similar. This also means that the extrapolations and inferences from the above
sources continue to remain valid.

What do we learn from previous year CAT RC Sources

The key insights that can be derived from the above list of
sources are:

1.
There
is a heavy emphasis on liberal arts subjects such as philosophy, sociology and
psychology.

2.
Most
of the areas highlighted by the above sources are generally not read by most of
us.

3.
Frankly,
on first look, the above areas seem to be really boring in nature.

The sources above outline the challenge for you and showcase that
it is important for you to develop the habit of reading.

4 Essential Points for Developing your Reading Habit

Now that the list of texts that appear in CAT has been covered, it
is time to shift to things that you should be doing for developing your reading
habit. Remember, for most people, reading does not come naturally and habit
formation takes time. The following 4 points can aid you in developing the
habit of reading:

Point-1: Identify the area that you like and start from it

Generally
speaking, you should not start with subjects you do not like and have no
experience of reading. If you start with a challenging subject (such as
philosophy or sociology) and you have not previously explored such a subject,
the chances are that you would struggle with it. Instead, start with the
subject/area you like as this will provide you the extra motivation you need for
developing a habit. You area of interest can be sports, business, fashion,
economics, stock markets etc. Once you start explore the reading material
available, you will notice that there is awesome reading material for every
field. Also, if you start with non-fiction subjects like psychology, sociology
etc., you should start with blogs and articles for these subjects instead of
books.

Point-2:
Start Slow rather than leave soon

The
key to establish a new habit is to start slow. It is extremely easy to start
with the most recommended books for CAT and then lose interest in the activity.
The better way to go about things is to set small targets and take it from
there. You can start with 10 minutes of reading per day; then increase it by a
couple of minutes every day. In a few days, you shall have a fairly good
reading habit.

Point-3:
Reading should be fun

Do
not forget: the process of reading should be a pleasurable one and not a
laborious one. Being a better reader gives you skills which far more valuable
in the long run. Read in pleasant surroundings such as book cafes or coffee
places, enjoy the process and feel a sense of achievement whenever you complete
something. After all, nothing works better than some self-congratulation.

Point-4:
Read with Focus

At
times, when we read, we do so in a half-hearted manner. Our attention wavers and
reading starts to become a dull activity. A couple of mental pointers can help
you overcome this fatigue are:

1.
Keep in mind why
are you reading a particular piece (novel, article, short story etc).

2.
Try to make it to
the finish line and experience the sense of achievement.

3.
If something is
extremely boring at the start, do not persist with it; switch to something else.

4.
While reading
non-fiction, try to identify the main argument of the author and challenge his
weak points. This skill, known as critical reading, will provide you extra
focus while reading.

5.
While reading
fiction, find a point of association with the stories. We enjoy those stories
most with which we can associate. Association here means that we relate to some
character/some idea contained in the story and that idea/character is part of
our lives.

Use
some of the above pointers and you will overcome some of your reading problems;
use all of the above and you are meant to become a master reader. So what are
you waiting for? Time to put the above into practice!

Happy
reading..:)

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