Verbal Strat
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How to increase your accuracy on RC – 3

In the previous two posts, we discussed 3 RCs from CAT 2017 Slot – 2 and executed a specific strategy — paragraph to questions — to solve CAT RCs that will increase your accuracy.

In this final post of this series, we will solve the two remaining passages and fine-tune the methods discussed so far.

What if there is only one paragraph?

The GMAT has over the years consistently had two long and two short passages — one para passages — in its Verbal Reasoning section.

The single paragraph RC has never appeared in the Verbal Ability section of the CAT — barring the sole passage in last year’s second slot. Even Slot 1 did not have one. Suffice to say that it seems to be by accident rather than by design.

Typewriters are the epitome of a technology that has been comprehensively rendered obsolete by the digital age. The ink 

comes off the ribbon, they weigh a ton, and second thoughts are a disaster. But they are also personal, portable and, 

above all, private. Type a document and lock it away and more or less the only way anyone else can get it is if you give 

it to them. That is why the Russians have decided to go back to typewriters in some government offices, and why in the US, 

some departments have never abandoned them. Yet it is not just their resistance to algorithms and secret surveillance that 

keeps typewriter production lines - well one, at least - in business (the last British one closed a year ago). Nor is it 

only the nostalgic appeal of the metal body and the stout well-defined keys that make them popular on eBay. A typewriter 

demands something particular: attentiveness. By the time the paper is loaded, the ribbon tightened, the carriage returned, 

the spacing and the margins set, there's a big premium on hitting the right key. That means sorting out ideas, pulling 

together a kind of order and organising details before actually striking off. There can be no thinking on screen with a 

typewriter. Nor are there any easy distractions. No online shopping. No urgent emails. No Twitter. No need even for 

electricity - perfect for writing in a remote hideaway. The thinking process is accompanied by the encouraging clang of 

keys, and the ratchet of the carriage return. Ping!
Question 19

Which one of the following best describes what the passage is trying to do?

A) It describes why people continue to use typewriters even in the digital age. 

B) It argues that typewriters will continue to be used even though they are an obsolete technology. 

C) It highlights the personal benefits of using typewriters.

D) It shows that computers offer fewer options than typewriters.
Question 20

According to the passage, some governments still use typewriters because:

A) they do not want to abandon old technologies that may be useful in the future. 

B) they want to ensure that typewriter production lines remain in business. 

C) they like the nostalgic appeal of typewriter. 

D) they can control who reads the document.
Question 21

The writer praises typewriters for all the following reasons EXCEPT

A) Unlike computers, they can only be used for typing. 

B) You cannot revise what you have typed on a typewriter. 

C) Typewriters are noisier than computers. 

D) Typewriters are messier to use than computers.

Now that there is only one paragraph to read, we know there is only one way to go — from the passage to the questions.

Once you go to the questions, it becomes important, as discussed in the previous post, to look at the sequence in which you have to attempt the questions. It is always advisable to finish off the detail questions first and then proceed to the summary questions.

The first question is a summary question and hence needs to be left for later.

Question 20 is a detail question that is very direct and I don’t need to solve it for you to arrive at the answer as option D.

Did you notice the paraphrasing? The passage says the only way anyone can get a typewritten document is if you hand it over, which is why some governments have reverted to them.

This has been paraphrased to — they can control who reads the document.

Very often test-takers are subconsciously looking for the same wording to be used in the options, as in the passage.

This expectation tends to have two negative fallouts.

Firstly, they fall for trap options that use the phrasing from the passage but tweak the logic. Secondly, they tend to, at first glance, quickly reject the correct option since it uses different words. So ensure that you are reading for logic and not for phrasing.

Question 21 takes paraphrasing to a new level and hence can become tricky. But any tricky question can become easy if you go by rejection.

  • The author clearly says that when typing there are no distractions and lists them out. This has been paraphrased to — they can’t be used for anything other than typing. So this can be rejected since it is an EXCEPT question.
  • Option B has been clearly stated that since you can’t revise you have to be attentive to what you type. So this can be rejected since it is an EXCEPT question.
  • Option C is tricky. Does the author praise the noisiness of typewriters? The word/phrase that is used is “encouraging clang”, clang does mean noise and the author finds the clang encouraging. The author lists this as one of the things to like about typewriters. So this can be rejected since it is an EXCEPT question.
  • The author does not mention the messiness of typewriters as one of the reasons for liking it. So this has to be your answer.

Now we can go to the summary question, which is the primary purpose question.

  • Option A cannot be rejected since the passage talks about how some governments are using it for security reasons and then lists all the other positive things about typewriters
  • Option B is incorrect since the author makes no claim that typewriters will continue to be used
  • Option C is close but it talks only about the personal benefits and not the security benefits
  • Option D is incorrect since the passage is not about computers versus typewriters

So by rejection, you are again left with the right option, in this case, A.

If you read this passage in under 3 minutes and answered the other two questions in about 4 minutes, you will have 6 marks in about 7 minutes. If you found yourself even remotely struggling with this question then you should have asked yourself whether you want to waste time over this.

Despite their fierce reputation. Vikings may not have always been the plunderers and pillagers popular culture imagines 

them to be. In fact, they got their start trading in northern European markets, researchers suggest.

Combs carved from animal antlers, as well as comb manufacturing waste and raw antler material has turned up at three 

archaeological sites in Denmark, including a medieval marketplace in the city of Ribe. A team of researchers from Denmark 

and the U.K. hoped to identify the species of animal to which the antlers once belonged by analyzing collagen proteins 
the samples and comparing them across the animal kingdom, Laura Geggel reports for LiveScience. Somewhat surprisingly, 

molecular analysis of the artifacts revealed that some combs and other material had been carved from reindeer antlers. 
iven that reindeer (Rangifer tarandus) don't live in Denmark, the researchers posit that it arrived on Viking ships from 

Norway. Antler craftsmanship, in the form of decorative combs, was part of Viking culture. Such combs served as symbols 
good health, Geggel writes. The fact that the animals shed their antlers also made them easy to collect from the large 
that inhabited Norway.

Since the artifacts were found in marketplace areas at each site it's more likely that the Norsemen came
to trade rather 
than pillage. Most of the artifacts also date to the 780s, but some are as old as 725. That predates the 
beginning of 
Viking raids on Great Britain by about 70 years. (Traditionally, the so-called "Viking Age" began with these 
raids in 793 
and ended with the Norman conquest of Great Britain in 1066.) Archaeologists had suspected that the Vikings 
had experience 
with long maritime voyages [that] might have preceded their raiding days. Beyond Norway, these combs would 
have been a 
popular industry in Scandinavia as well. It's possible that the antler combs represent a larger trade network, 
where the 
Norsemen supplied raw material to craftsmen in Denmark and elsewhere.
Question 22

The primary purpose of the passage is

A) to explain the presence of reindeer antler combs in Denmark. 

B) to contradict the widely-accepted beginning date for the Viking Age in Britain, and propose an alternate one. 

C) to challenge the popular perception of Vikings as raiders by using evidence that suggests their early trade 

relations with Europe. 

D) to argue that besides being violent pillagers, Vikings were also skilled craftsmen and efficient traders.
Question 23

The evidence - "Most of the artifacts also date to the 780s, but some are as old as 725" - has been used in the passage 
to argue that:

A) the beginning date of the Viking Age should be changed from 793 to 725. 

B) the Viking raids started as early as 725. 

C) some of the antler artifacts found in Denmark and Great Britain could have come from Scandinavia. 

D) the Vikings' trade relations with Europe pre-dates the Viking raids.
Question 24

All of the following hold true for Vikings EXCEPT

A) Vikings brought reindeer from Norway to Denmark for trade purposes. 

B) Before becoming the raiders of northern Europe, Vikings had trade relations with European nations. 

C) Antler combs, regarded by the Vikings as a symbol of good health, were part of the Viking culture. 

D) Vikings, once upon a time, had trade relations with Denmark and Scandinavia.

Once you read the first two paragraphs you will see there are no questions on both of them.

The first specific question you will encounter will be question 23 which is based on the third paragraph.

This question is like a CR question and the answer to this is option D. The presence of artifacts 70 years before the raids is used to highlight the argument that trade relations began before the raids.

We are now left with question 24 and question 22.

As discussed, always move from detail to summary questions and you should approach the last question.

Option A is not mentioned and hence is the answer since this is an EXCEPT question.  The passage says that Vikings might have brought raw material to make combs from Norway to Denmark. The question-maker cleverly slips in the reindeer instead of raw material.

The summary question again is best solved by elimination.

The passage is about the image of Vikings — they are not the fierce pillagers that they are considered to be.

Based on this you can eliminate options A and B since they do not mention or refer to the popular the perception, image or view of Vikings

Between C and D, the latter says — besides being violent pillagers. This means that the author supports or acknowledges the fact that Vikings were violent pillagers. The author nowhere states this.

Whenever you are caught between two options, always look for ways to reject.

Is this all there is to it?

The three posts might make it seem as if RC on the CAT is terribly easy. They might make you wonder if it is so simple, then why do I keep scoring such low percentiles on the SimCATs. Are IMS SimCATs unreasonably tough? But if they are easy then, those who are currently scoring higher than you will score still higher than you and in percentile terms, things will not change.

Well, this is what I have to say about it.

IMS SimCATs are made deliberately tougher for two reasons.

Exam pressure or pressure of the D-Day makes easy questions seem medium and medium ones seem difficult.

So even if you encounter moderate stuff on CAT day, it will seem tougher due to exam pressure. We might as well give you that experience beforehand.

One thing that is for certain though is the language and complexity of arguments on the CAT RC passages will be easier than that on the SimCATs.

But no, this is not all that is there to it. The para to questions approach will increase your accuracy on detail questions and improve your ability to navigate through the passage. But it still does not cover the big skill required to master RC.

One of the skills you need to master is to never lose track of what the passage is primarily about. This you should be able to spot in the first two paragraphs.

The really good readers

  • subconsciously follow the thread of the argument as it builds up to, supports or elaborates on the main argument
    • they do not need to take notes to do the same
  • know that all sentences are not equal and vary their reading speed accordingly
    • they do not read all passages and parts of the passages at the same speed and vary it according to the content

Writing and making notes can make the whole process of solving an RC way longer than it should be. What is a better way?

Pause after each paragraph and ask yourself what is the main idea that this passage is obsessed with and plant that into your head using the fewest words possible.

If you can master this skill and execute the paragraphs to question strategy then you will see your RC scores shoot up.

And don’t forget the cardinal rules — rejection over selection, and if you can’t make up your mind between two options walk away before it is too late.


  1. In the first passage in your explanation, you misinterpreted the question numbers. Thanks Tony, it really helped me!! Please write similar articles on how to ace LRDI section.



    • Hi Charan,

      Glad the post was helpful and thanks for pointing out the mix up with the question numbers.

      I have written posts about LR-DI and QA as. The titles are how to improve your DI-LR percentile.

      All the best!


  2. Mohak says

    For how many mocks we should try this method to see if this method works out or not ?how much time will it take to master this method since we just have 40 days remaining,Is it not risky to change strategy at this point .


    • Hi,

      It all depends on where you stand right now and what your current accuracy levels are.

      If your performance in terms of percentile on the VA-RC section has been fairly steady — you are comfortably crossing 85 percentile — and are able to maintain good accuracy levels in RC then there is no need for you to implement this strategy.

      As to how much time you will take to master this method, honestly, it depends on your individual capacity. Some students have found the method helpful already as they have indicated in the comments and others have found the change difficult. Either way, I feel you need to solve about 25-30 RCs in a short span of a week or so using this method to see if it is working for you.

      As far as is it worth the risk.

      If your current method is not really working then you have to try something new. You can do the same things and expect different results.

      Hope this clarifies,

      All the best!


  3. Ashutosh Sinha says

    Thank you sir for these posts, these were really helpful.
    I have a few questions.
    We are used to solving the RC conventional way, i.e first reading the passage and attempting the Questions. How much time and practice will it take us to get comfortable with this approach?

    Second, how many RC passages should we practice to get really comfortable with solving all different types of Questions and what is the ideal score we should aim for in VARC in Simcats?


  4. Hi Sir,

    I applied the above strategy in SIMCAT 13 but it backfired. My score was pathetic and that further dented my overall score as well. Earlier, I used to score on an average 40-48 in VARC section but in SIM 13 I managed only 14. 😦 What could have gone wrong?
    Also, I need your guidance for Quants as well. I’m not able to score above 45 in SIMs. The range for Quants score is 20-42. I’ve tried going through Application builders and solved numerous questions but yet I cannot overcome this situation.
    In this process, as the exam is approaching my confidence and belief is going downhill and I feel that I cannot even manage 90%ile and that is hampering my preparation as well as my overall confidence.
    Could you help/guide me? I already have 3+ years of work exp and if I don’t manage to crack the exam I don’t stand a chance henceforth as the exp will be +1 next year.


  5. Sameer says

    When I am confused between two options for RC,I mark that question for review to come back after I am done with the whole section. But by that time the primary purpose and summary are lost while I was attempting other questions, this makes it even harder to answer it when coming back.So,Should I not mark for review such questions or should I attempt it then and there only?


    • Hi Sameer,

      If you can’t recollect the contents when you return then it is best to sort out the question then and there and remember you have the option to leave the question altogether as well, you need not attempt the question then and there.

      The fact that you have read a passage does not mean that have to or can answer every single question. Give the question maker some credit and let a few ones go 🙂

      All the best!


  6. Hi Tony,

    I found it helpful, but the irony is I can’t able to practice in this way .. because almost 95% questions in all the simcats or sectional mocks and even in RC100 are based on summaries, author poin of you, purpose … These kind of questions only. Please tell us , how to practice.



  7. Sir, what is the A-B-C approach ( English section and LR DI ) ? I came across this while seeing the solution but was not able to find it.
    Plz share the link or plz explain.


    • Hi,

      Please go through the older posts on this site titled – How to improve DI-LR percentile and How to improve QA percentiles.

      All the best!


  8. Jahnavi Svls says

    i am clear with most of my concepts but i manage to get a good score only in one of the sections. when i sit down later to solve and analyse my mock, i solve almost everything with ease.
    how to maintain efficiency and score well in all the three sections?


    • Seems to be a very peculiar problem! I think it might have to do with maintaining concentration for a long-lengths at a stretch and under a bit of pressure.

      So may be without your knowing you are operating at a sub-optimal level. Later I am sure you don’t analyse 3 hours at a stretch without a break. So you might be able to concentrate better. Also since you have read and tried your hand at the question once you will know the approach to avoid and read the question better.

      Take more full length tests and when you are fresh to think hard for 3 hours.

      All the best!


  9. Harsh says

    Hello sir,

    As per scores over a period of time, I am somewhere around 95-96 percentile. How do I take these scores to the next level?
    What should I do specifically to work the fine margins? Please guide.

    Thank you.


    • Hi Harsh,

      After a point, it comes down to reading speed that is where the additional marks are going to come from.

      So you need to see if you can raise it without sacrificing accuracy.

      Hope this clarifies,

      All the best!


  10. Sharvi says


    In some of the simcats I found out that the RC passages with 6 questions were very long around 7-8 paragraphs. In such cases how do we go through all these passages and try to attempt some sure shot questions .

    Should we follow the same one paragraph-read questions practice ?



  11. Rahul says

    Very informative.
    Thank you, Sir.
    I really appreciate your effort in writing this and even replying to everyone’s comment
    Much respect.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Rahul, glad you found it useful.

      I felt that in a few posts if I can say all that I want to say about VA-RC I thought I should do it and rest easy.

      All the best!


  12. Ashwin says

    Hi Sir,

    In terms of strategy,would you recommend the average aspirant to focus more on attempts or accuracy? Now since the section can be so subjective and if we factor in the exam jitters on the D-Day, would a 30q attempt with lets say 60 percent accuracy be better than a 20q attempt with 70 percent accuracy?

    Does overall score really trump accuracy in the context of determining the sectional and final percentile?


    • Hi,
      Score is the only criteria to determine percentile, accuracy has no role. It’s like asking which contributes more to the area of a rectangle length or breadth?

      This does not mean that you go with a fixed number of attempts in mind and attempt for the sake of attempting and accumulating negatives.

      All the best!


  13. Ashwin says

    So, what happens if the overall verbal scores of a few candidates are same but with different attempts? Will they still get the same percentile?


  14. Hi Tony,

    A little off topic but just wanted to know if it would be a good idea to supplement the RC book by Sujit Kumar for GMAT RC prep. Would the explanations provided in the book with any GMAT RC specific strategy?


  15. Ashish Goyal says

    Sir, I have been following you and also I have been solving RC’s daily, but I have not been able to score good marks in VA section of SIMCAT’s. I have tried key word mapping as well as question to answer approach but my accuracy is just 40%. What should I do next. Kindly help.


    • Hi Ashish,

      Both keyword mapping and question to answer approaches are very limited. The approach I suggest in the posts btw is not keyword mapping but reading 1-2 paragraphs at a time and then scanning the questions to answer any question that might be related to those paras.

      Obviously, this is not something that you can master by solving a few passages, you need to solve at least 50 to 75 passages using this method to see if this is working for you.

      Also, while people read the posts, it does not often translate into adopting the specific things mentioned in the post — going always by elimination and not by selection, doing the specific questions first and summary questions last. More often than not test-takers read posts and take “tips’ while fundamentally sticking to their own method or moving from one method to the other in quick succession.

      Also, remember that you cannot improve your RC ability overnight since your ability to comprehend written text is not a formula or a short cut it takes time. You will not see your best scores till about October, so you are in it for the long haul.




  16. rishabha84 says

    I applied your methods and my accuracy has increased very much! But sometimes I encounter a passage which I don’t understand clearly maybe due to the language or the subject on which it is written etc. In such situations I find it better to answer a very few questions which could be solved through matching the phrases.

    How do I improve myself even with such passages ? So that I don’t rely on matching the phrases method


    • Hi Rishabh,

      After a particular level of difficulty, the Verbal section fully depends on the ability to process language. So if you are finding difficulty with tough passages, then there is honestly no short cut. Just solving as many passages, and reading slowly on such passages is the way out. Also, most importantly you need not solve all the passages you encounter!

      Hope this clarifies,

      All the best!


  17. Suchitra says

    Most of the times I panic while taking RC section and the passages seems totally alien to me even if the topic is easy resulting in more number of answers becoming wrong. How to overcome this problem


    • Hi Suchitra,

      If I were to say that I have a cure for panic, I would be lying. No one has a cure for fear.

      What I can suggest is how to deal with it. One of the ways of dealing with fear is to focus on the process you have to follow. Your inability to read even easy topics is as identified correctly by you a function of fear.

      The process you follow, the faith your place in it, and your ability to execute it every single time will result in fear eventually becoming minimal.

      The first step is to choose the right passages and the next is to follow the paragraph to question approach to solve.

      So the first thing you should do is to slow down and diligently read all the posts on the Verbal Strat page of the blog —

      Also, it will not be a bad idea to start some breathing practices — kapalabhati and pranayama — both of them will help you still your nerves.

      If you both of these things diligently — the reason I stress this is that most people do a lot of reading on how to solve a specific problem they have, be it CAT Prep or something else, but do not end up incorporating anything of what they read — you will see an improvement.

      Hope this clarifies,

      All the best!


  18. Would you recommend a preview of the passage ?
    That is reading the first and last sentence of and last paragraph and reading first sentence of rest of the paras ?


  19. Saurav Anand says

    Hi Sir,
    I am able to follow this approach and it improved my attempts and accuracy, but it is not enough. I am able to attempt almost 11-12 questions in the RC sections and 6 questions from VA (not PJ). My accuracy is 100% in the VA, but I struggle with assigning the RC’s from (10-1). Currently, I am using the following strategy to assign RCs from to easy to hard:
    the RC which has most of the specific questions is easy and the RC with most of the summary questions is difficult.
    This strategy fetches me 70-75% accuracy in the RCs.
    Is there a better way to assign the RCs from easy to hard?


    • Hi Saurav,

      I am not a fan of selecting based on questions since what makes an RC difficult are the options and not the questions themselves.

      I will be doing a post on selection in a couple of weeks.

      All the best!

      Liked by 1 person

  20. Shubhankar saxena says

    Sir, what is your stand on the critical reasoning aspect of the questions asked, as i see they were not been discussed in the blogs above.
    I believe one just cannot answer them without reading the whole passage and understanding the inner ideas that follow and certainly i am in a doubt that the approach you’ve just discussed would even be a viable one to follow for this.
    Please respond.


    • Hi Shubhankar,

      The blog just deals with top-level reading strategies.

      Who should follow the approach, in what cases will it work, the role of CR, the technique to solve (irrespective of reading strategy) — are all things I have covered for IMS students in the two RC Masterclasses.

      All the best!


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