How to increase your score on the VA-RC Section of CAT 2015 – Part 2

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CAT Strat / Verbal Strat

In the previous post, we discussed how to maximize your VA-RC score by increasing your accuracy on RC. In this post we will take a look at VA, time-allocation and order of attempts for the section as a whole.

The VA section is not very different from RC for most test-takers in terms of maintaining a consistent accuracy. Grammar and vocab-based questions are the bugbear for many, while the rest of VA is the main scoring area. For the purpose of this post we shall limit ourselves to looking at the VA question-types given on the CAT 2015 Mock Test Software.

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[title text=”Summary Questions”]
For summary questions you need to evaluate options with two specific questions in that order:

  • are the key elements of the content present?
  • is the logical relationship between the elements as it is given in the passage

The option for which answers to both questions are in the affirmative is the correct option.

Let us look at a question given in the CAT 2015 Mock Test Software.

Local communities have often come in conflict with agents trying to exploit resources, at a faster pace, for an expanding commercial-industrial economy. More often than not, such agents of resource-intensification are given preferential treatment by the state, through the grant of generous long leases over mineral or fish stocks, for example, or the provision of raw material at an enormously subsidized price. With the injustice so compounded, local communities at the receiving end of this process have no recourse except direct action, resisting both the state and outside exploiters through a variety of protest techniques. These struggles might perhaps be seen as a manifestation of a new kind of class conflict.

(1) A new kind of class conflict arises from preferential treatment given to agents of resource-intensification by the state which the local community sees as unfair.
(2) The grant of long leases to agents of resource-intensification for an expanding commercial-industrial economy leads to direct protests from the local community, which sees it as unfair.
(3) Preferential treatment given by the state to agents of resource-intensification for an expanding commercial-industrial economy exacerbates injustice to local communities and leads to direct protests from them, resulting in a new type of class conflict.
(4) Local communities have no option but to protest against agents of resource- intensification and create a new type of class conflict when they are given raw material at subsidized prices for an expanding commercial-industrial economy.

Do not rush to the answer options before you execute Step 1 —delineate the main elements of the passage.

The clarity to eliminate stems from the clarity with which you delineate the passage elements.

  • Unfair exploitation of resources
  • Local communities have no option but to protest
  • A sign of new class conflict emerging

Now proceed to the options.

  1. No mention of protests by local communities
  2. No mention of class conflicts
  3. All three elements present
  4. All three elements present

Option (4) makes an incorrect logical relationship — Local communities have no option but to protest …..and create a new type of class conflict.

The local communities are not creating class conflict — it is an outcome of the whole situation — unfair exploitation leads to protest leads to class conflict

Now the fact is that this a medium-level question that you might answer correctly without following this process. But following the process will ensure that you will not commit silly errors and more importantly get the tougher questions right. Remember a medium-level question does not require process orientation or technique, like batting in India does not, tougher level questions, like batting in England, test your technique.

Another question that is tougher than the previous one.

Modern bourgeois society, said Nietzsche, was decadent and enfeebled – a victim of the excessive development of the rational faculties at the expense of will and instinct. Against the liberal- rationalist stress on the intellect, Nietzsche urged recognition of the dark mysterious world of instinctual desires – the true forces of life. Smother the will with excessive intellectualizing and you destroy the spontaneity that sparks cultural creativity and ignites a zest for living. The critical and theoretical outlook destroyed the creative instincts. For man’s manifold potential to be realized, he must forego relying on the intellect and nurture again the instinctual roots of human existence.

(1) Nietzsche urges the decadent and enfeebled modern society to forego intellect and give importance to creative instincts.
(2) Nietzsche urges the decadent and enfeebled modern society to smother the will with excessive intellectualising and ignite a zest for living.
(3) Nietzsche criticizes the intellectuals for enfeebling the modern bourgeois society by not nurturing man’s creative instincts.
(4) Nietzsche blames excessive intellectualisation for the decline of modern society and suggests nurturing creative instincts instead.

What are the elements?

According to Nietzsche

  • modern bourgeois society is is decadent and enfeebled
  • the reason is the excessive focus on the intellect
  • we need to forego the intellect and rely on instinct

This is a case where all almost four options have all the elements in place, making the question tougher; options have to be eliminated based on the logical relationship between the elements.

  1. the link between excessive intellectualisation and the state of society is not mentioned, it is assumed; but a summary should not not miss out on crucial casual links
  2. he is not asking society to smother the will, infact it is the other way around
  3. he is not criticising intellectuals as a group but the excessive use of the intellect as a general phenomenon
  4. all the elements and the logical relationships are correctly captured

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[title text=”Odd Sentence Out”]
In all probability the Odd Sentence Out will be a feature on the CAT since it is a recent phenomenon and also lends itself well to being used for TITA.

Let us look at a question given in the CAT 2015 Mock Test Software.

  1. It is a bonding process with the entire situation where you, your car and its name make the entire equation.
  2. Good car names are catchy and fit the product, such as the “Beetle” or the “Mini”.
  3. Marketing departments of car companies spend a lot of time and money thinking up names for cars.
  4. The car you drive tells the world about your status, how much money you have and the socio-economic group you belong to (or want to belong to).
  5. The name should be a reflection of the name product and target group.

The first step is to come up with a phrase/title to which four of the five sentences can be linked. It is best to be as specific as possible.

For this set of sentences the phrase that describes the overarching theme can be:

  • car names
  • the importance of car names

While the first one will suffice, the second one comes closer to the theme. Such an approach will make your job easier on the tougher questions.

It need not be a phrase it can also be sentence that can serve as a title to the paragraph made up of the four sentences that go together.

In the above question, all sentences except (4) can be linked to the importance of car names.

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[title text=”How to allocate time on the Verbal section of CAT 2015″]

Rule # 1: Leave Jumbled Paragraphs in the TITA format for the very end. Jumbled paragraphs with options were a strength for many but without options they can become a liability in terms of time consumption.

If you attempt them in regular time you will on average end up wasting at least 2 minutes on them and will not be sure of the answer as well. So solve them after finish everything else.
Solve RC as a group

While those who are extremely good at Verbal can solve questions as they appear, on average it makes sense to solve questions of a particular type together so that you can manage your time better.

You can choose to do RCs first and VA next or the other way around depending on what you are comfortable with.

  • Read the part of the first paragraph of each passage and rate it on a scale of 10 for readability (this will be subjective since test-takers have different levels of comfort with passages from different areas).
  • Set aside the one with the lowest rating for later and do the rest.
  • Set a time-limit of 2 min per question including passage reading time. Give yourself a buffer of 5 minutes
  • Solve the passages from the highest-rated onwards
  • Come back to the passage you have set aside at the end if you have the time.
  • Do not waste time trying to redo questions on which you were able to choose between two options. If you solved it as per the process the first time, then it might be a question better left alone.

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[title text=”How to approach the VA-RC section”]
CAT Verbal questions are notorious for their ambiguity. Your accuracy on this section depends to a very high degree on your process orientation.

The only way you can successfully tackle the ambiguous nature of CAT Verbal questions is by following the processes that we have outlined. If the question is ambiguous even after that then you are better off leaving that question alone.

Imagine the mess if you are swinging your bat wildly and the ball is swinging as well!

This is something that is true even for those who have a good felicity with the English language. Your comfort level with the language will help you read fast and easily understand passages but option elimination is something that is closer to logical reasoning than verbal ability.

So approach all questions with the mindset that you will try to dissect options with a scalpel and not try to smash them with a hammer :-).

I hope the two posts have given you some much needed clarity before the test. Feel free to drop in a comment for any clarification you might need.



  1. ishaan says

    (1)While attempting RC i come across the questions like what is the Flow of the main argument in the Passage ? what exactly we have to look to answer this type of questions.


    • Just try capture every paragraph in one phrase and link them together. They are looking for the chain of logic that results in the main argument. It is similar to the Summary question strategy we discussed in the second part of this post. All the best!


  2. Ashfi says

    Thank you sir, this is really Helpful. Please suggest some strategies for CR questions, I don’t get good accuracy in weakening/Strengthening Argument Question type.


  3. saiyam jain says

    sir, thank you for a brilliant post!
    Can you please elaborate on how to identify the source of the passage ?
    I always end up getting confused among different sources.


  4. saiyam jain says

    sir, thank you for such a wonderful article!
    Could you please elaborate on how to tackle the source questions in RC.
    i always end up getting confused among different sources.


    • Hi Saiyam,

      What you should look at when answering questions is the nature of the passage:

      1. if it is providing analysis then it has to be part of a newspaper editorial or a magazine.
      2. if it is providing analysis but in a very scholarly fashion with the usage of tough/technical words then it has to be a part of a journal related to the topic.

      These are the usual suspects as far as answer options go.

      Hope this helps.

      All the best!


  5. Amrita says

    Hi Sir,
    Thankyou for writing such a wonderful article.
    For the TITA questions there is no negative marking.So is it advisable that if time permits then we attempt them even if we are not sure of the answer?
    Incase the answer is wrong there wont be a negative mark but qon’t it bring my accuracy level down and hence lead to a lower percentile?


    • Hi Amrita, Accuracy has no bearing on percentiles since guesswork is accounted for with negative marking. So you can mark TITA question but make sure you don’t waste time on tough TITA questions.
      All the best!


  6. sir,
    as you know SimCat 2 had error corrections. How to approach error corrections and FIJ questions? and that too error corrections were of TITA type!


    • Hi Hari,

      Will do a post on FIJs soon. Error Correction – let me see what I can come up with.

      All the best for the next SimCAT!


  7. Pingback: How to prepare for CAT 2016 – Part I – The CAT Writer

  8. AG says

    I am a student really struggling with VARC section in CAT. This post was really amazing for me.Thanks for sharing!

    Keep up the good work!



  9. Pingback: How to prepare for CAT – I – The CAT Writer

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