Verbal Ability or the English language efficiency section has gained importance in the CAT paper. CAT 2008 had as many as 40 questions in this section out of 90 questions! The topics covered are Reading Comprehension, English Usage, and Vocabulary.
The idea here is not only to test the knowledge of the intricacies of English language, but also to test usage of words. As can be seen from the last couple of CAT papers, the RC area is being tested which means that the correct usage of a word in the right context is more important than knowing the meaning of the word, says Manish Saraf, COO, PT Education.
Good grammar or contextual usage, good reading and comprehending skills, and good reasoning skills are the key to a good performance in the verbal section of the CAT entrance exam, says Vinayak Kudva, Product Head of IMS Learning.
Let us have a look at the trend in the Verbal Ability section in CAT entrance exam.
Year wise trend in Verbal Ability in CAT
CAT 2009 had 20 questions in the Verbal Ability section out of 60 questions in total. CAT 2008 had as many as 40 questions in this section out of 90 questions whereas the other sections had 25 questions each. CAT 2007 had 25 questions in the Verbal Ability section, which was the same as the other two sections.
CAT 2009 Verbal Ability section was of moderate to difficulty level. According to the experts, the Verbal Ability section of CAT 2008 was tougher than CAT 2007. There were 40 questions on language skills that included 20 questions on grammar and English usage and 20 questions on reading comprehension, an MBA expert mentioned while analyzing this section in CAT 2008. This section in CAT 2007 too was of moderate to difficult level.
Topics of Verbal Ability
The Verbal Ability section contains questions on Reading Comprehension passages, Grammar, Vocabulary and English Usage. Gejo Sreenivasan says, CAT Verbal Ability section tests you in broadly three areas, Sentence Correction, Verbal Reasoning and Reading Comprehension."
Reading Comprehension comprises a major portion of the Verbal Ability. Sometimes the Reading Comprehension part is considered as a separate section all together. In the Reading Comprehension, you are given a passage on any topic. It would be followed by questions related to the passage. So the ability to understand and comprehend is important here.
Other questions are based English usage in the forms of testing your grammatical ability and Vocabulary skills. The Vocabulary-based questions can comprise of synonyms & antonyms, fill in the blanks, matching words with their appropriate meanings etc.
The grammar usage mostly comprises of questions which test your understanding of grammar. It could be questions where you are asked to spot the section of a sentence that is grammatically incorrect or it could be questions where a part of a sentence in underlined and you are provided with four or five alternative choices. You have to select the choice that corrects the error in the underlined part.
The verbal reasoning questions could take multiple forms. The most common one is that of rearranging sentences of a paragraph. It could also include paraphrasing what has been said in a paragraph.
This section consists of basic questions of English language. In order to get a decent score in this section, all you need is to be well versed with grammar, words and verbal reasoning. The concepts have to be clear, as well as you should know the right usage of words, sentence construction etc.
Watch out for the Part 2 of the article on how to prepare for Verbal Ability.