I have gone through the different types of reading comprehension passages of almost all major exams, including those that have come in previous year CAT papers. I have observed that there are as many different RC types as there are passages and writers.
In the subsequent paragraphs, I would discuss the ‘types of RC passages in CAT’ from exam point of view. We will try to chart out a strategy of RC passage selection based on the most rewarding plan.
It is difficult to say what kind of reading comprehension you are likely to encounter in a particular exam. But RCs have their own subject matter, as without a subject we cannot have an RC. But if have to categorize the RCs into different types, I would categorize them from two different perspectives:
- Subject matter
- Writing style.
CAT Reading Comprehension passages are usually from the following areas:
- Business and economics
- Science, environment, and technology
- Art and literary criticism
- Philosophy and sociology.
Thankfully, at least in CAT so far we haven’t seen many passages from natural sciences, which are quite common in GRE and GMAT. In CAT, RC passages from sociology, philosophy and business and economics are found in plenty.
But the difficulty does not lie as much in the RC subject matter as in the writing style. Just as in Mathematics a simple concept might be presented in a complicated way, so in RCs a simple subject might be written in a complex language.
How to select RC passages
So, if at all you want to prioritize the reading comprehension passages in the CAT exam, you should go not by the subject that is being discussed but by the ease with which you are able to read the passage. This will ensure that you can read quickly and comprehend better.
I always feel that the more the time you spend reading the passage, the lesser the time you will have for solving the questions. Please remember that it is the right answer to the question that fetches you the marks. So you must devote much of your time to the questions, not to the passage.
As a VARC teacher and an avid reader, I am more comfortable reading that which is not very complicated. The writing style should be such that I should be able to move from one sentence to the other effortlessly. So, regardless of the subject matter, the first type of RC is that which is easy to read.
Sometimes the RC passages that you come across in the CAT exam will have a complex writing style. The arguments are dense and are challenging to keep track of. The vocabulary used is well beyond what you have heard or seen until that time. Thus, no matter how good a reader you have been, you will have difficulty understanding such RCs. For me, these are the second type of RCs: complex and not easy to read and comprehend.
Since CAT gives me the option to choose the questions, I will always prefer those passages first which are easy to read.
Final Tips for CAT Reading Comprehension
Unlike GMAT, GRE and LSAT RCs, the CAT RCs are far less standardized. In other words, the RCs are not designed exclusively for the exam but are picked from different sources such as newspapers, magazines, journals, research articles, etc. As a result, the RCs have widely varying writing styles, ranging from difficult to easy.
While solving mocks, you must start with those RCs that are easy to read. In such RCs even if the options are quite close, you would still have time to arrive at the answer by elimination.
Sometimes the writing style of all passages is almost alike; in such cases, you should pick those passages first with which you have some familiarity. Being familiar with a particular topic helps you predict the ideas that are likely to come, thus helping you in getting a quick and effective understanding. You should try to practice RC passages from different areas such that you become familiar with the technicalities of the subject.
List of Articles on CAT Verbal Ability
- How to improve accuracy in Reading Comprehension
- Types of Reading Comprehension Questions
- How to identify Tones of the RC Passages
- How to find main idea or central idea of the RC Passages
- How to solve inference based RC questions
- Types of Reading Comprehension Passages
- 5 most common mistakes made by students in CAT RCs
- How to approach CAT parajumbles
- CAT Para Summary Questions
- How to Solve CAT Odd sentences
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