Score with Sentences (CAT)

When you’ve developed considerable command over your vocabulary, the next step is to hone your skills in reading and comprehending complicated, long winded sentences.

Last week we dealt with the basic level of language development, namely, studying words, and focusing on developing your active vocabulary, standard word usage, phrasal verbs, etc. The next level of language development is concerned with sentence and paragraph comprehension.

Comprehension is, in fact crucial when it comes to cracking the verbal section of the CAT. In the verbal and reading comprehension section, your ability to understand long complex sentences, and paragraphs containing these, can be seen the one defining skill that can turn around your sectional scores.

This paragraph that appeared in CAT 2006:

He has chosen a good year for his ideological offensive: this is the 50th anniversary of Nikita Khrushchev’s denunciation of Josef Stalin and the subsequent Hungarian uprising, which will doubtless be the cue for further excoriation of the communist record. Paradoxically, given that there is no communist government left in Europe outside Moldova, the attacks have, if anything become more extreme as time has gone on. A clue as to why that might be, can be found in the rambling report by Mr Lindblad that led to the Council of Europe declaration. Blaming class struggle and public ownership, different elements of communist ideology such as equality or social justice still seduce many and a sort of nostalgia for communism is still alive. Perhaps the real problem for Mr Lindblad and his right wing allies in Eastern Europe is that communism is not dead enough and they will only be content when they have driven a stake through its heart.

If you count the number of words in the paragraph provided above, you will notice that it has 160 words in five sentences, which means the average length of sentences in the paragraph is 32 words per sentences. However an average CAT aspirant may only be comfortable with up to 15 to 20 words per sentence. To add to this dilemma, students might be completely unfamiliar with the topic of the passage. It’s no surprise then, that even English medium educated students, or students who have studied throughout their lives, have a difficult time tackling this section. Therefore what you need to do is focus on developing your ability to understand longer sentences from complex and diverse topics.

A good starting for you is to improve your understanding of content and language in the following areas:

1) Economics
2) Philosophy
3) Politics
4) Psychology
5) Socio-political issues
6) Biology and medicine
7) Sociology and civilizations
8) Art and culture
9) Science and technology

Since it might be impossible to read up on all the above mentioned subjects a more feasible approach is reading short extracts (paragraphs and passages) from each of these areas. This exercise ensures you become more familiar with the typical style that you are likely to experience in the CAT and other aptitude exams.

A lot of test takers would lose out by marking the right answers for the wrong questions. In extreme cases, an entire set of correctly solved questions would become incorrect, due to marking them in the wrong slots in the OMR sheet. All in all, the computer based CAT should be a big boon for test takers, as the positives far outweigh the negatives. Perhaps, the only thing you need to teach yourself is thinking on the machine which is the ability to keep your mind focused on the question, while solving the test. So go ahead and focus on the management of your mind the foremost thing you need to do to master the computer based CAT.