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Thursday, 29 August 2013

LEARNING ABOUT VERBAL ABILITY

Of all  sections, the area that can be solved fastest in exam is Verbal Ability. However, this section happens to be the most difficult one to prepare for
Questions in Verbal Ability check your power with words, usage of words in different contexts, difference between the shades of meaning while using a word/string of words in different situations etc. While brushing up your vocabulary and working on word lists will help, the real comfort comes with actual usage and therefore this test area is closely linked to your reading skills also.
So try to read articles, essays and commentaries on topics that do not necessarily interest you. Re-read the passage and understand the flow of thinking and the logic build-up. See if you are comfortable in understanding the logic of with the arguments favouring the method and the criticism levelled against it The verbal section is probably a section which engineers are most wary of -normally and in fact this is the only section which proves to be their nemesis. Since their graduation years are not designed for preparation of this section and its a new domain considering that most after 12th exams do not feature the same, it becomes a little difficult.
 In fact, unless one has some amount of grounding in grammar, and a sizable vocabulary which you can build only from extensive reading, this area can turn out to be your biggest obstacle.
Four types of questions have been seen in verbal section:
1.    Paragraph Forming (rearranging a jumbled paragraph).
2.    Grammar.
3.    English Usage and Vocabulary.
4.    Error detection
Critical Reasoning.       
Error correction 
The Verbal Ability section carries 2 to 3 questions based on error corrections in sentences and paragraphs. You need to be very attentive while solving these questions as it carries minor errors also.  A serious preparation for this section may also strengthen your fundamental for other areas in Verbal Ability.  You need to cover following topics in errors corrections           for        learning           fundamentals. 
A. Grammar – Core topics like Articles-definite, Indefinite, omission  and repetition of articles; nouns, numbers, genders, use of collective nouns, subject-verb agreement, pronouns- personal, relative, reflexive; Verbs and verbal phrases-usage, Adjectives and Adverbs. Non-finites- infinitive, gerund, participles; dangling modifiers; punctuation usage; conjunctions-usage   of         connectors
B. Tenses – Indefinite, continuous, perfect, perfect continuous, reported speech, conditional and unreal past, distinction among various words; usage of causative verbs like cause, make; usage of too-enough, as well as, along with etc. 
You must try to understand the concept in this sub-segment in the early stage of your preparation say in next 50 days. This will give you proper time for other parts which will be based on advanced application. 

Vocabulary Usage: 
It is an important part of Verbal Ability section . What should you read to build the stock of Vocabulary and understand the usage?
a. Common words in language from all walks of life: Understanding formation, roots, exercises   
b. Phrasal verbs/confused words: spotting the wrong use, formation with different words and usage  
c. Filling the blanks with correct vocabulary words: Understanding synonyms-antonyms with correct usage                              
d.
 Idioms and phrases: Understanding the meaning and usage   
Understanding meaning of the word and their origin is very important to develop concepts in this section. You should not go on mugging the words, without actually knowing their correct usage. A student, with exceptional memory, might remember stock of words but again the important part of usage would be missing. It is advisable to learn a few words on regular basis, get their correct usage remembered for ever by writing paragraphs & short articles and using them in daily communication. The aim should be to understand the various applications of the each particular word. The discussions in groups, family, friends, with correct use of words will give a boost to your word power.     

Jumbled Paragraphs

This part of VA carries 4-6 questions. Different types of jumbled paragraphs that appear  are
a. Completion of last sentence in the paragraph – The concluding sentence should be such as it would close the discussion and must not take it to further description, controversy or lead to stretch the paragraph. More practice with test papers, Mocks, Exercises etc. will improve your skill in this part. 
b. Out of Context sentence in jumbled paragraphs – The concept behind such questions is to decode the jumbled paragraph and choose the out of context sentence as well. More and more practice is recommended to understand and to get expertise in this type of question. 
c. New Sentence- Such questions may ask you to insert the opening or closing sentence, place a missing sentence in the middle of the paragraph or so. As far as the EU section is concerned, over the years it has moved from being an English language test to being an English usage test. It implies that few years back, a lot of questions on grammar, vocabulary and fill in the blanks were pretty straightforward. Either you knew the answer in 10 seconds or you didn’t. No amount of deliberation and reasoning would help you if you didn’t know exact meanings of words and core concepts of grammar.

 we are talking about inculcating, improving and then expanding reading habits here.

Also, when you have read more and read diverse topics, your comfort level and understanding (especially of passages) will shoot up dramatically. This will save valuable time in comprehending very complex data and make you more convinced about the answer that you think is the most appropriate one among the five choices.

 – there is no other answer to ensure competence in the EU section than reading extensively, reading a lot and reading diverse subject matter. The more varied books and magazines you read, the more familiar you become with different presentation styles and techniques of sentence formation. Sub-consciously you are also soaking in good forms of English, learning new and unfamiliar words and internalizing the correct forms of grammer

It would help to form a reading habit of

1. Editorial page of One daily – Any one from The Times of India, Indian Express, Hindustan Times, The Hindu, Deccan Chronicle, Deccan Express, The Telegraph etc.

2. Editorial page of One Finance daily – Anyone from The Economic Times, Business Standard, Financial Express, Businessline, etc.

3. Material from any of the international magazines available online – The Economist, Time, Far Eastern Economic Review, Harvard Business Review, Mc Kinsey quarterly, etc.

4. International dailies - Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post, Financial Times, etc.

5. Any of the books by Isaac Asimov, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Sherlock Holmes), Dan Brown, Ayn Rand, Richard Bach, Stephen Covey, Adam Smith, Nicolo Machiavelli, Karl Marx, P.G. Woodhouse etc

6. War speeches of Winston Churchill, Letters of Abraham Lincoln, Autobiographies of Andrew Carnegie, Adolf Hitler, Benjamin Franklin, M.K. Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Writings of Vivekananda etc.

Begin somewhere, anywhere with a dedication of about 45 minute a day. As you become more comfortable, you may want to increase your reading time and material and cover all the six areas mentioned above. The idea is to read more and reduce the surprise element in the exam.

Getting the holistic approach

Apart from reading extensively, it helps to keep practicing a few questions on verbal everyday. you may want to begin with 2 questions a day for the first week (basic level). If you are already comfortable and know the pattern, it would help to push 10 questions a day to begin with (intermediate level). It can be a mix of 1 passage with 5 questions, 3 parajumbles, and 2 Fill in the blank Q. As you become more familiar, move on to other types of questions by the 3rd week – Critical Reasoning, FIJ, Paragraph completion, Multiple blanks, Analogies, etc.

The idea is to start from areas which are more comfortable and then move on to areas which are less familiar. With reading on diverse subjects going on simultaneously, one should be in a position to firm the grip on questions type more and more as practice continues. About 1 -2 months before the exam, you should be able to move to the difficult level of questions in the area.

Verbal Ability Preparation:
For cracking this section you need good understanding of grammar as well as a good vocabulary. Below are few preparation tips to improve your Verbal Ability:
·         Improving word power by reading:
The best way to improve your vocabulary of words is by reading a lot. The more you will read, newer the words you will come to know and hence strengthen your stock of words. The most important part of Verbal preparation is the reading up. [In fact, not only does it help in the Verbal section but also in General Awareness section of  This effort can’t be intensive in nature, since we need to assimilate what we read. Thus the reading has to be consistently spread out across a few months or more.
·         What to Read:
You can start by reading something which interests you. It can be fiction or sports and entertainment page of the newspaper. Slowly you can advance your reading habits but only reading newspapers or best sellers books and quality magzines . Like books of Amitabh Ghosh, Arundhati Roy etc. are enriched with words that are not used in daily life and can thus empower your word vocabulary. While reading in English we should make a conscious effort to start thinking in English as well, since this can be a weak point for many of us who come from non English backgrounds.
·         How to Read:
Reading an article it is important, but to discuss it with friends who already have read it will increase your understanding. Similarly, it is important to get a feel as to how arguments are built by good writers and what is an expected line of thought, following a seen passage. This again comes with discussing the passage with friends who            have    read     it. After you have finished your reading for the day (for Reading Comprehension), check out the meanings of all the words that you have come across that day, and write them down in a book, or make flash cards for yourself. Everyday you will come across a minimum of 10 words that you either do not know the meaning of, or are not sure about. This exercise will ensure that over the next 150 days, your repertoire of words will increase by at least 1500 words.
·         Practice:
The verbal ability section too calls for a lot of practice, which should be duly done in the last few months. The scores in the Reading Comprehension section get tremendously boosted by practice followed by analysis of the questions attempted incorrectly. The associated explanation to an answer is very important since it shows what the examiner thought was the correct answer, why and how it was different from what we thought. While answering subsequent RCs, we should be mindful not to repeat earlier mistakes.
Make sure you note the errors you made, as well as the correction to the same. This way, in a week you will be solving about 50 to 75 questions, and in five weeks you will have solved around 250 to 350 questions. After that, implement whatever you have learnt while attempting the Mock Papers. Ensure that you crack Paragraph Forming within a certain time limit, so that you do not overshoot the time available. 
.
For this, a person who reads novels,newspapers and magazines can have a cakewalk in this section with some practice.
The RC passages tend to be lugubrious and hackneyed, but, the questions can catch students off guard. Further,
Tips For Verbal Ability Preparation
This section is one wholesome entity which cannot be prepared by just going through some random book. You need to go for a holistic approach overall and eclectic reading habits can indeed help you go a long way.
Here are certain crucial tips which you can use for preparation about the same. You have to have a reading speed of around 200 words per minute, so try and time yourself too when you are at it.
1.    Finish 1-2 novels per week. Keep switching between the topics you find interesting and other boring one. This would help you get used to the passages in CAT which are normally from philosophy, biology, theology etc.
2.    A newspaper daily. Do not skip the editorial section in favor of the cartoon strip. The Hindu is recommended. Keep marking the vocabulary words and find out their meanings diligently.
3.    A magazine a fortnight. The best magazine if you ask us – ‘The Economist’. It is by far the most suited magazine for VA prep. The cache – ‘It is ridiculously expensive’ for an average student. See if you can afford it as there are attractive discounts going on every now and then on their official website.
4.    Now for the books – ‘CL’s RC-2 is awesome.’ By awesome, we mean literally awesome. It is concise, to the point and very very relevant. Try to find it if you don’t have it. It definitely helps you with your Reading Comprehension.
5.     For Vocabulary use Normal Lewis – the word list at the end is pretty amazing. The normal Barons word list would be beneficial too but this book takes vocabulary preparation to a whole new level by directly indulging you into the task. if you wish to purchase this book, you can find it under the books section on our website.
 Practicing Mocks and Sample Exams
§  Once you are through with the material of your coaching provider, start giving Mock Exams.
§  Utilize Fusion test series which helps you increase your mock score and work on your weak areas.
§  Give sectional mocks of English – see which areas you are not able to score at. Then go back, find out questions about that area from your study material, practice those and give mock again.
§  Repeat this cycle and keep revising Vocabulary from Normal Lewis, reading novels.
§  Make sure you make a habit of reading online, since some students find it problematic to switch over from paper to online format.
Good Books for Verbal Section 
§  Career Launcher English Section Preparation Material.
§  Normal Lewis For Vocabulary.
§  General quality reading material
§  Arun Sharmas’ Verbal Ability is also pretty decent.

Reading Comprehension:This is the key to cracking the verbal section.They are  asked in almost all exams.They cab be subject based or general depending on the exam.
  The number of passages varies from 3 to 4 with three to four questions per passage. A few critical factors in RC preparation:
1) Reading on diverse topics
2) Target all direct questions followed by partially inferential questions.
3) During the Test : Ideally not more than 10 mins are to be spent per passage and it is to be ensured that all passages are looked at.

 When attempting dense reading comprehension passages, it helps to reduce reading speed in order to understand the main idea thoroughly. This is better than having to re-read the passage after reading the questions.
 Style of a passage is defined as the way in which the content of the passage is presented to the reader whereas tone is a reflection of the author's attitude while presenting this content. Thus, style is related to writing style whereas tone is related to written content.
 To keep your concentration levels high throughout the entire verbal section, try splitting it into two sections - RC and non-RC questions. Try and do something that is more mechanical in nature (for example, LR) in between these two sections.
 Retaining information and facts from the passage is very important while solving RC questions. Pay special attention to building your retention skills while practicing RC. This can be done by preparing a mental summary after reading every passage and before answering the questions succeeding them.


1. The nuances of the written word

2. Identify and differentiate the subtleties of meanings of words

3. Correct syntax, structure and formation of sentences

4. Identify the complex ideas presented in the paragraph and link it to the overall theme


1. The PQ approach (passage first, then the questions)

1. PQ - Read the entire passage thoroughly first and then read the questions

2. Pscan Q - Skim & Scan through the passage and keep going back and forth with questions and passage 

3. 2PQ, 4PQ, 6PQ - Read the first 2 paragraphs, scan all the questions and see what you can answer, then read para 3 & 4, scan the questions and see what you can answer, then read para 5& 6 …..

2. The QP approach (questions first, then the passage)

1. QP - Read all the questions with their answer options first and then the passage

2. 1QP, 2QP, 3QP, 4QP - Read question 1 with all the options, then go through the entire passage to answer it. Then read question 2, go through the entire passage. Then question 3……

3. Qstem P - Just read all the question stems, without reading the answer options. Then read the passage and try answering the questions by reading them with the options.

Once you have tried these different strategies (recommended minimum of 3 passages with each strategy), identify which strategy you are more comfortable in and which one gives you a lot of difficulty. It is possible that in passages having certain subject matter for eg. Economics, Globalization, Public Policy, you may be comfortable with 1QP, 2QP approach. Whereas in some other topics such as philosophy, literature, you may be very comfortable with the QP approach.

Once you have identified your comfort areas, try to solve a few more passages with the frozen strategy and see if your attempts and the number of correct answers go up within the allocated time. Keep reshaping and polishing your strategy based on

1. Length of the passage

2. Familiarity and complexity of the subject matter

3. Number of questions

By concentrating on these sections individually we can score high marks in this section.The catch here is practice. The more you practice,the more we score. Always remember to take the mock tests. The more you take the better. Try the fusion test series

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