The importance of CAT Grammar
We all ponder over this question: is grammar for CAT really important?
When you go to an institute to learn a new language, what is the first thing that it teaches you?
Grammar and always Grammar! We must not forget that grammar defines the logic of language. CAT English Grammar is not about academic grammar. Instead, it is about a few simple grammar rules that you have to keep in mind to ensure that you are aware of the basics.
How does grammar help you?
- Connects complicated and convoluted ideas!
- Retains critical information while flushing out the less the important ones!
- Helps you read things quickly and thoroughly!
- Gives clarity to language!
How many questions come from CAT Grammar?
From 2011 to 2013, CAT was consistent with its paper pattern. The verbal section comprised 20 to 21 questions, with 10 questions from RC, and 10 to 11 questions from Verbal Ability. The number of questions from Grammar was 1, 2 or maximum 3.
In CAT 2014, there were around three to four simple grammar questions. In CAT 2015, the pattern changed again; out of 34 questions in the verbal section, not a single question came from English Grammar.
But this doesn’t mean that the questions have stopped coming. Grammar is the building block of language; it helps the writer to logically express his ideas or logically comprehend the written or spoken ideas.
Though we haven’t seen many questions in CAT coming from English Grammar, it is a vital topic as far as lesser known MBA entrance exams are concerned. Tests such as SNAP, IIFT, NMAT, and XAT do ask a good no of questions from English Grammar. But these questions are basic questions, and you need not be a grammarian to get these questions correct. But we must look beyond grammar. The importance of grammar would always be there irrespective of how many questions come from it.
Well-read people do well in Verbal, not because they are more intelligent, but because they can instinctively feel what is grammatically correct and have an extensive vocabulary.
How to prepare for CAT Grammar?
By now we know that yes CAT grammar is indeed important. But, does that mean you should go through all the concepts given in Wren and Martin, or learn all the grammar rules? No, that is not required. You must go through grammar that directly teaches you the application of basic grammar concepts in framing grammatically correct sentences.
Unlike GMAT Sentence Correction questions, CAT Grammar questions neither have a definite format nor a pre-defined set of concepts meant to be tested in the exam, making the task of arriving at the correct answer difficult, time-consuming and often frustrating. We, nevertheless, can lay down a flowchart that may help a student arrive at the right answer. After going through the past CAT papers, I have found that there are certain basic concepts which are frequently tested in the CAT; those concepts are as follows:
- Subject-Verb Agreement
- Parallel Construction
- Clarity of meaning
- Idiomatic errors.
10 Steps to solve CAT Grammar Questions
1 Spotting Subject and Verb
The Subject and the Verb are building blocks of any sentence. By quickly picking the Subject and the Verb, the student can grasp the key elements of the sentence and relate them with one another. The Subject and the Verb must match in number and person. Once this has been done, the student should look for other errors
2 Identify Pronouns in Complex Sentences
Where there are long and complex sentences, there one often comes across pronouns. The Pronouns test is as follows: First, the pronoun must point at one and only noun or noun phrase; second, the number of the pronoun must be equal to the number of the noun or the noun phrase. If the pronoun points at more than one noun or noun phrase, the student must try to logically relate them, and if confusion still persists, then there is a blatant case of pronoun ambiguity.
3 Focus on the usage of ‘Articles’
Article usage has been frequently tested in past CAT papers. Though there isn’t any set of rules that define the Dos and don’ts of Article usage, the student must keep in mind some basic concepts on article usage to avoid making silly mistakes.
4 Concepts of Tenses
The concept of tenses is often tested in most Verbal Aptitude tests. To successfully pass this test, the candidate must keep an eye on the ‘verb’ of the sentence, and on the time frame in which the action takes place. The time frame in which action takes place may not always be explicitly stated by the verb, at times the hints are given in the nouns and the adverbs of time. For example: He comes to my place every day. Here the phrase ‘every day’ demands the verb to be in simple present tense. The student must look for such hints and ensure that there is verb-tense agreement.
5 Punctuations are the keys
So far, the only punctuations that have been tested in CAT are comma, semicolon and apostrophe. Though there are many more punctuations, they are not so relevant from Verbal Aptitude point of view.
6 Spot the ‘Modifiers’
Modifiers are quite frequently tested in GMAT Sentence Correction, but not so much in CAT. Getting the modifiers correct means placing the right description at the right place. That description could be an adverb, an adjective, a prepositional phrase, a subordinate clause etc. If there is any comical meaning coming out from the sentence, then there is a definite modifier error.
7 Parallel Constructions
Though we haven’t seen many CAT questions testing the concept of Parallel construction, the concept is very important as far as perspicuity concerned. In short, parallel construction means similar ideas must be in similar form. For example: I like to paint, to sing and to dance is parallel while I like painting, singing and to dance is unparallel.
8 Test of Redundancy
Once all the above stages have been tested, we are left with the test of redundancy. Many CAT questions in the past have tested it. For example: He hypothetically assumed that the college starts at 10 am. Here, ‘hypothetically’ and ‘assumed’ mean the same thing. This is, therefore, a case of redundancy
9 Possible Idiomatic Errors
If, even after following the above 8 steps, one is not able to spot any error, then the sentence is quite likely to be correct; but one last thing must be kept in mind, and that is ‘idiomatic errors’. In Idiomatic usages, the prepositions play a very important role. Most of the students don’t have an eye trained enough to spot such errors, but regular reading can help them overcome this problem.
Let’s take an example: Rohan refused to plead guilty for the crime and had to stand trial.
The above sentence has a grammatical error. The correct idiom is: to plead guilty to something. So, instead of ‘for’, we must have the preposition ‘to’
Rohan refused to plead guilty to the crime and had to stand trial.
10 Clarity of meaning
The last step towards spotting grammatical error is: clarity of meaning. Once the above grammatical rules have been tested, one must look for the intended meaning and whether the sentence expresses that meaning or not. The variety of errors in Grammar could be innumerable. If one is not able to spot the error in two minutes, then instead of unnecessarily grappling with the question, one must leave it
This article has been a long one. To summarize, I would say that grammar for CAT is all about structural grammar. There is no different set of CAT grammar rules. You have to just stick to the above ten steps and CAT Grammar would no more be a barrier.