CAT-2018: Strategy for Non-RC questions in the Verbal Ability Section
In this article, I will help you define your strategy for the Non-RC portion of the exam.
There are three question types that are part of the Non-RC portion: Para-jumbles, Misfit Sentence, and Paragraph Summary. Each of these question demands that you have a specific action plan for them. Let’s take them up one at a time.
Para-jumbles for CAT
This is, in fact, the trickiest portion of the exam. Para-jumbles, without options, are next to impossible to solve. If you have a four-sentence question, there are 24 possible answers, and if you have five-sentence questions, there are 120 possible answers. An even bigger issue is that most of these arrangements make some sense and each order is driven by the perception of the individual reading the question. This means that accuracy for these questions goes for a toss and these questions do not offer the best return on investment.
Strategy for CAT Para-jumbles
Avoid these questions in the first go. Since these questions do not carry negative marking, you can attempt them (in the balance time you have left for the Verbal Ability section). Do not spend time on these questions at the start of the exam. For the reasons stated above, these questions do not offer the best return on investment.
Paragraph Summary Questions for CAT
Paragraph summary questions probe you to identify the correct and succinct summary for the paragraph. Effectively, these questions are like RC main idea questions and require you to capture the essence of the paragraph. For these questions, you need to make sure:
a. you identify the correct subject of the paragraph and make sure the option you select is about the same subject.
b. Be careful of extreme options that subtly change what the passage implies.
c. Stick close to the theme of the paragraph and do not let personal sentiment cloud your analysis.
d. Make sure you do not focus on a single point in the paragraph.
Strategy for CAT Paragraph Summary Questions
In terms of the structure of these questions, these questions are effectively multiple choice questions (MCQs). You have four choices provided, and you need to input the answer. You should solve these questions within the first 50 minutes of the exam. In comparison to RCs, these questions are easier and require less time (which makes them a viable pick).
Misfit sentence for CAT
Misfit sentence questions are close cousins of Para-jumbles. These require you to pick the one sentence that does not fit the given context. In the first go, you should approach these questions as para-jumble questions and try to come up with the correct sequence of related sentences. The odd one out will not fit in the sequence. Key clues that you can use for this question are:
a. Identify the common subject in sentences and spot one that does not fit in place with the others.
b. Identify the common thread of thought and identify the option that talks about a different subject.
c. Try to come up with the order/sequence of sentences and identify one that does not fit.
Strategy for CAT Misfit Sentence Questions
These questions are again text-input questions but behave like MCQ questions. You need to identify one option that does not fit the given context. Overall, you should again attempt these questions in the first 50 minutes of the exam and not leave them for the end of the exam. These offer good return on investment and no negative marking in the case of MCQ style questions is a bonus.
Overall Strategy for CAT Non-RC Questions
As far as the overall strategy is concerned for this section of the exam, it important you keep in mind that questions do not carry any negative marking. This can tempt you to spend a lot of time on these questions, but you need to be careful here. As far as misfit sentence and para-summary questions are concerned, you should spend time on them and solve them within the first 40-50 minutes of the exam.
One ideal approach is to solve two to three RCs first and then solve these two question types. Then you can solve the remaining passages and leave the para-jumbles for the end.
In case you are not comfortable with RCs, then you can solve paragraph summary and misfit sentence questions at the start. But make sure you keep para-jumbles for the end, as there is simply not sufficient return on the amount of time you spend on these questions.
With this, we complete the strategy article for this area. Hope you can refine your strategy using this article.