Verbal Strat
Comments 17

How to increase your accuracy on RC – 3

In the previous two posts, RC-1 and RC-2, 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 a 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 
in 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. G
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 
of good health, Geggel writes. The fact that the animals shed their antlers also made them easy to collect from the large 
herds 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.

17 Comments

  1. sanjoy khan says

    i am unable to view your 2nd post of this series; the link to that article shows page not found repeatedly

    Like

    • I just clicked on all the links and they are opening fine. You can just go to the HomePage and you will find them in the Verbal Strat page.

      Like

      • Surbhi Sharma says

        Sir , 2nd post is not opening. Everytime I try to open it it says “Page can’t be found”. Could you please upload it again?

        Like

      • Hi Surbhi,

        It is working fine when I am opening it and a few others as well have tried. Please try to clear the cache and cookies in your browser and try.

        Regards,

        Tony

        Like

  2. Chirag Jain says

    Sir, can you post the link for the 2nd post. When I click on the link from the home page, it says page not found.

    Like

  3. Amey Nakat says

    Hello Sir. The one thing which I find really confusing during solving RC’s is how do we differentiate between an option which is a generalization and an option which is an inference? Needed some help on this plz.

    Like

    • Hi Amey,

      An inference question is a pure CR question — based on the premises, the information given in the passage, what is the most valid argument that can be made. There are no thumb rules to identify generalizations, which essentially are arguments about the population as a whole made using an insufficient small sample size or universal arguments — all x is y — drawn from particular premises — some x is y. If the premises support a generalization, then it can be a valid inference.

      Many people trot out words such as extreme options and other inanities and suggest that they can be eliminated on the basis of a few “extreme” words but one can draw extreme inferences — X is most definitely true — when the premises support the same and hence eliminating options on the presence or absence of certain words is as stupid as it can get, since it puts words ahead of logic, or to use a literary phrase putting the cart before the horse. The logic is woven into the very text and not outside of it.

      I will be taking an RC Masterclass purely on increasing VA accuracy on the 18th of September, it is open to IMS and non-IMS students, I’ll put up a link on this site soon, I am sure that will give you more clarity.

      All the best!

      Like

  4. Still not too clear but looking forward to the rc masterclass sir. Please put in the link when it’s available. I also had a question regarding the reading a single para and checking the questions approach which you had discussed in these RC blogs. It takes around 13 mins for a single RC that way causing to miss out atleast 2 RC’s. What can be done for better time management with the mentioned approach?

    Like

    • Hi Amey,

      After a point you have to take a call on accuracy versus attempts, which ultimately boils down to a question of reading speed.

      If going by the para to question method is taking 13 minutes but yielding higher accuracy then stick to the method and the more you use it the faster you will get.

      If it has not resulted in any increase in accuracy then you can switch to whatever method you were using earlier.

      Alternatively, you can try reading at a slightly faster pace than you usually do and see if you can shave off 3 minutes per passage. May be 4 passages and 10 VA questions with good accuracy is a realistic target to have. Around 28 questions with 22 right, will get you close to 60.

      Hope this helps,

      All the best!

      Like

  5. sadhna sharma says

    Although I would have left question 21 since I was super confused between c and d. However if still try attempting this, I would eliminate D over C because in second statement the para specifically states that the ‘ink comes off the ribbon’, they weigh a ton. Why can’t the answer be C then?

    Like

    • sadhna sharma says

      Well I managed to attempt all 24 questions with 19 correct (Summary question being a pain here, I have now made a point to attempt these at last), with average of 11-14 minutes (Passage 3 took me really long: 14 mins 😦 need to improve ) for 6 questions each.

      In CAT what should be the ideal time to solve each set of 6 questions? Any suggestions?

      Like

    • Hi Sadhana,
      The question is an EXCEPT question, all the following are reasons for praise EXCEPT.

      The author mentions messiness and weight as negatives.

      Hope this clarifies.

      Like

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