This is the next article in our series of ‘How to Prepare for CAT’. The first article delved into the basic approach you should adopt for your overall preparation. This article has a specific target area: Verbal Ability Hacks (in the language of a common man, CAT English).
Part A of Verbal Skill Development: Reading
In the last post, I talked about reading, and how it should be the most vital activity for you. But the one question that was not answered was with regards to the nature of this reading: ‘what should you be reading?’
The first reading choice you have: Newspapers
Ask your coaching center trainer the same question and most would reply that you should be reading the editorial of ‘The Hindu’ everyday. The advice is pretty genuine but not quite up to mark. ‘The Hindu’ is one of the things that you should be reading. Better still, in this digital world, you should generally consume all your reading material online itself, and expose yourself to the best authors. The problem with ‘The Hindu’, as with other papers, is that the editorial page is not written keeping in mind a CAT aspirant. Reading the newspaper editorial helps but only till a certain level and the learning is never complete. What is the solution? I have three possible solutions for you:
Pick-up articles (selectively) from The Hindu, Economic Times or The Times of India on a daily basis. The Sunday editions are always the best as they offer a quick re-cap of the week as well as interesting analysis. So you can give yourself extra time to read these.
Follow individual authors, and read them online. The list of authors you could begin with include:
a. Bachi Karkaria (Times of India): Wit, humor and awesome vocabulary
b. Jug Suraiya (Times of India): For the same reasons as Bachi Karkaria
c. SA Aiyar (Times of India/ET): Rigorous Economic Analysis
d. Hasan Suroor (The Hindu): International Flavor
e. P Sainath (The Hindu): In-depth exploration of India’s rural landscape.
The above are just five from a long list of authors and bloggers you should be following. In order to simplify your job, we also have an option 3 for you.
You can simply use our Daily Reads section. We post two reading suggestions post on a daily basis. These contain 6 reading links in total and cover a wide range of topics. Level-1 generally covers Indian publications and Level-2 generally consists of foreign publications. The article links in Level-2 suggestions are generally more abstract in nature and are for advanced level readers. Based on your current reading levels, you can start with either level. In case you want to put in some extra effort, then you can go through both the levels on a daily basis. If you do this, one thing is assured, your knowledge quotient will see a massive increase in a short period of time.
The second reading choice you have: Books
Reading books for CAT is a religious activity, and trust me, treat it as one if you want to do well on the exam. The question again that you are faced with is what should you begin with? Well, a simple list of 15 books for you to browse through (arranged approximately in the order of difficulty, though subjective evaluation applies here):
- Five Point Someone by Chetan Bhagat
- Mediocre but Arrogant by Abhijit Bhaduri
- Tin Fish by Sudeep Chakravarti
- Love Story by Erich Segal
- Oliver’s Story by Erish Segal
- Bridges of Madison Country by Robert James Waller
- To Sir with Love by ER Braithwaite
- Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom
- The Diary of Anne Frank by Anne Frank
- Animal Farm by George Orwell
- Time Machine by HG Wells
- The War of the Worlds by HG Wells
- The Prophet by Khalil Gibran
- Anthem by Ayn Rand
- We the Living by Ayn Rand
How many from this list have you read? I expect at least 1 would be answer. In case you are just beginning, pick books from this list and dig into them. The common theme of these books is that these are all short books. Yup, you heard me right. The theme, content, narrative styles and level of difficulty of these books have not been considered to generate this list. My criterion for selection was simple one: suggest thin books which in themselves become easy targets to achieve. Read all or most of these books, get some reading confidence behind yourself, and prepare yourself for some heavy reading in the coming months.
The above forms a fairly huge amount of reading material. Don’t worry, I have a lot of other recommendations to pass on to you guys as well. Be ready for those in the foreseeable future.
Part B of Verbal Skill Development: Vocabulary
The second part of language development revolves around improving your vocabulary skills. How do you do that? In part, by reading more and more. When you read more, you discover more words, the more words you discover, the more words you learn. As simple as that. But beyond discovery of words, you should also look at making sure these words are embedded in your memory. What could you do for that?
Option 1: Use books
Refer to book such as ‘Word Power Made Easy’ and ‘Six weeks to words of power’. Both these books are pretty effective and are highly recommended. You can browse a sample of Word-Power’s method here, in our Word Power Blogs.
Option 2: Use Online Tools
This is where Wordpandit comes in. You can use these two tools, to go with our extensive Visual Vocabulary section,
Part C of Verbal Skill Development: Grammar
This is a repetition of the last post. For Grammar, refer to Wren and Martin (High School Grammar and Composition). Go through its Parts of Speech section. Also, make sure you solve online exercises for all grammar topics you study. Basic exercises that probe you to identify nouns/pronouns/adjectives etc. go a long way in enhancing your learning.
These are the three simple things that you need to begin with. As CAT-2017 approaches, these tips would become more specific in nature. Go through this article, prepare a small plan of what you wish to do with Verbal Ability, and post it as comment here for review and feedback. Let’s make this an exercise in collaborative learning.