CAT-Verbal-section-trouble

If CAT Verbal Section is troubling you, read this

Key highlights:

  • Here is a story of a student who jumped from 20 percentile in CAT 2016 to 95 percentile in CAT 2017.
  • When he started preparing for CAT, he realized that his vernacular medium background made it difficult for him to correctly interpret the sentences.
  • The first thing that stunned me was the no of mocks he had written: almost 60 mocks he had written during the 2017 season, and the bigger surprise was that in none of these mocks did he manage to cross the 85 percentile barrier.

August- September is the time when for all CAT aspirants the reality begins to set in. Most of them started with great enthusiasm, joining offline coaching, enrolling for online courses, thinking that this course or that program will indeed work for them. But, it is only when they start writing their sectional tests and mock tests do they realize how difficult a task it is to even clear the cut off in the verbal section. While there are many who never clear the cut-off, there are those whose scores keep on wildly fluctuating, from as high as 97 percentile to as low as 60.

Eventually, most students get a feeling that VARC is a matter of luck and coincidence and that hard work may not necessarily always payoff. Though it is difficult to root out such sentiments, it is always of great help to talk to someone who can give you a good advice on why this happens and how can someone overcome this problem, if there is any realistic chance of overcoming the problem. In this article, I will shed some light on what usually goes wrong and what should be done to overcome the problem.

Like doctors, teachers, too, come across case studies that are nothing short of a miracle. I remember the story one of my students Jitesh Mittal, who scored 99.1 percentile in CAT, and got admission offer from MDI Gurgaon (2018-2020). Jitesh’s story stands out particularly because of the VARC miracle; I call it a miracle because he jumped from 20 percentile in CAT 2016 to 95 percentile in CAT 2017. I will share his journey, and my observations of his journey, and what I, as a teacher, learnt from that journey.

Born in a small town in Orissa, Jitesh did his schooling in Odiya medium, as the town did not have good English-medium schools. After completing his engineering, he started working in Infosys. He always wanted to come out of run-of-the-mill IT job, and he knew that MBA was one of the ways by which he could come out of it.

When he started preparing for CAT, he realized that his vernacular medium background made it difficult for him to correctly interpret the sentences. Apart from this, he realized that his reading speed was appallingly slow. These barriers are difficult to surmount, because these are something beyond the reach of even the best of the teachers. While teaching in the class, I could sense these shortcomings.

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Finally, when the results came out, I got to know that he had scored 99.1 percentile, with 95 percentile in VARC. To someone like me, who had seen his predicament from close quarters, the VARC result was more than a miracle. I asked him what did he do and wanted to know whether his scores in the mocks were anywhere close to what he got in the CAT. It was then that I got to know about his story.

The first thing that stunned me was the number of mocks he had written: almost 60 mocks he had written during the 2017 season, and the bigger surprise was that in none of these mocks did he manage to cross the 85 percentile barrier, in short there was not a single mock in which he had managed to clear the cut-off. Writing almost 60 mocks is a remarkable show of perseverance, particularly for someone who was consistently not doing well in the VARC section.

I asked him how did he continue writing mocks even when he was not clearing the cut off. He said that after every mock, he did a thorough analysis, first, by solving the complete paper again; and then by looking at areas of improvement. He said he was not worried about the result part, after all after scoring 20 percentile in VARC in 2016, he had seen the worst and had nothing to lose. He said that even if there was an incremental improvement of 1 marks after every mock, by his 30th mock, he would have improved his score by at least 30 marks.

I will not go much into the story, but would rather highlight what lessons I learnt from him and how, as per my observations, he was different from the rest:

  1. Most students are weak-hearted. They are easily carried away by success and disappointed by failures. These are the two extremes you must avoid. Things will often not fall in place, particularly if a section is your weak section. You must have the heart to pull yourself up, analyse the mock and improve on your mistakes. As long as you are learning from your mistakes and improving upon them, there is no need to worry much about the consequences. Jitesh was one such student
  2. Most students expect immediate results. They think CAT would be a walkover, but the fact is that it is not. You must have the courage to only write the mocks but also go back to them and face your mistakes. Learning happens through a process called sedimentation, a process in which things gradually settle down and realization in due course of time comes on its own.
  3. Most students worry more about the consequences and are often preoccupied with the ifs and the buts. For instance, there are many who are worried about their profile, their academics, their gaps, their gd pi skills, the fee structure of the college, the selection criteria. These things might be important but will play a role only if you have cleared the first hurdle: the CAT score. Instead of thinking about and overcoming the first hurdle, they are concerned about the trivial matters.

In the concluding lines, I would again repeat the same thing which I have been writing in my earlier articles. The difference between 70 percentile and 95 percentile is just 7 questions. If one more RC had fallen in place, you would have been right up there in that zone. You must learn to laugh at your mistakes, enjoy your prep and look at what is possible rather than what is not.

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