Give your VARC skills that special boost!
Updated: May 20, 2020
Hey guys! I hope you have figured out your CAT matrix through our LIGO approach.
If you have no clue what that meant, please read the Step 1 to CAT preparation here!
Now, let us delve right into the first section (In order of appearance) in the CAT - The VARC.
Historically, the VARC section has consisted of the following sections:
Generally, the below trend can be observed around VARC:
CAT 2019 VARC 98%ile was around 63 marks (21 questions) because of a higher than usual difficulty level. Sidenote: If a section is tough for you, it’s probably tough for everyone else as well. In this case, fight the urge to bump your attempts up at the last minute. Negative marks hurt!
My VARC LIGO points to VA being easier to score in since it has TITA questions, there is no negative marking and no downside. It takes very little time and has 30 marks allotted to it! So there is great RoI on the ‘time spent’ front as well.
That is why, I also recommend starting with VA questions in the section because RCs need a lot of deliberation while marking the answers. So, by the time you come to VA, you are exhausted or just unsure of yourself.
However, the best way to know what works for you is to simply experiment with a couple of sectionals and nail it down.
Go ahead and exhaust all the VA questions you can get your hands on. Past papers, course material, free resources on the internet – All of it! (BTW I’ve linked a few of these below as well, so do check them out!)
The aim here is to get at least 6-7 questions safely and consistently in your pocket. It’s also important that you spend no more than 12-15 minutes on this part of the section since covering the remaining 24 questions will involve a lot of heavy reading and quick understanding of the essence as well.
The trick that was a game changer for me was when I started watching video solutions of these VA questions. Experts explain the why along with the how of solving the questions.
Example - If a sentence has a pronoun (He/She/They), chances of your para-jumble starting with that are lesser.
As opposed to the doable VA section, I find that difficult RCs can almost always stump even a seasoned VARC champion. Passages can be boring (and I do mean boring) or the options can be confusing and look the same. A few tips I (and many others) have found useful are as follows:
1. It can be difficult to build a better grasp on the English language as such in a short span of time, and that is why even though I understand why people recommend reading newspapers, editorials and magazines as good sources of prep, I find that to be only true in the long run and it does not directly translate to a better VARC score in the short term.
VARC is not a test of your vocabulary or communication fluency, it is a test of your reading speed, understanding and interpretation and sometimes even option elimination skills.
Thus, if you are going to invest time reading, might as well pick up a passage to do so. Don’t be afraid to bust out a dictionary when you are just starting out or to write down a 5 line summary before even proceeding to the questions just to better understand the gist of the passage.
This is not to discourage you from reading more though! It is just to highlight that while your VARC prep will get a definite boost from reading more in general, the only way to have the most impact is to actually follow point 2 below.
2. Practice, practice, practice! Read more passages, understand them and analyse them – All while keeping one eye on the clock. Time your attempts.
Stick through even the boring, riddled with jargons and abstract ones.
Make a note of the ones you got wrong and spend time trying to figure out why. You’ll definitely come across questions where you got confused between two choices. Those are the questions that’ll teach you the most!
3. Passage first, questions later! This one’s self explanatory.
That said, it always helps to just glance at the type of questions asked for an RC before reading it to know if they are mostly fact based or inference based. If there are too many interpretative questions, it is best to leave that RC alone and circle back to it. Always remember that a hard to read paragraph can have easy to answer questions and vice versa too!
4. It’s okay to skip questions. Said it once and i'll say it again- Negative marks hurt!
5. Lastly, even if nothing in a passage makes sense, do go through the questions. You might just come across an easy fact based question like the ones we had in middle school. That’s some low hanging fruit right there!
6. When you move from VA to RC (Or the other way round), do glance at the timer once. It helps to know how much time you are investing in each sub-section and then optimize that number.
Very soon, you will start to solve even the confusing para-jumbles faster and build instinct when it comes to answering the RC questions, irrespective of how your English communication is.
Check out the other sections here: