CAT preparation: 5 tips to ace critical reasoning in VARC

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Pursuing a Master of Business Administration (MBA) is a coveted career path for many. Not only does it come with a promise of high-paying jobs, but an all-round experience comprising professional networking and work exposure, essential for career advancement.

The Common Admission Test (CAT) is a single window gateway to professional MBA courses in India. CAT scores are needed as basic eligibility criteria for admission to the prestigious Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) and other top business schools in the country. Considered to be one of the most challenging of all entrance exams, it consists of a computer-based test (CBT) divided into three sections- Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC), Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR), and Quantitative Ability (QA).

The VARC section is often regarded as the most challenging part of the exam. It tests your ability to comprehend and analyse written material by reading comprehension questions. After reading a passage, you will be asked questions regarding it. You might be asked to identify the passage’s main idea, supporting details, conclusions, and inferences in response to these questions. However, the section is not as straightforward as it may seem!

Within the Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension or VARC section, there is a segment known as Critical Reasoning. Here, tricky questions are asked from a given passage. A candidate’s capacity to assess how the provided statement might impact an argument is tested by the critical reasoning questions.

Understanding important terms
While attempting the critical reasoning section of VARC in the CAT exam, candidates are sure to come across certain terms. It is necessary to understand what these terms imply when mentioned in a question.

  • Premise:A premise is a statement in a passage that is assumed to be true. These premises serve as the foundation for all conclusions, as do any hidden presumptions that may be present in the explicitly stated inferences.
  • Assumption:An assumption is an unstated fact that is necessary for the conclusion of a passage to be valid.
  • Stated Inference:A conclusion explicitly stated in the passage is the main point that the author directly tells the reader.
  • Unstated Inference: It is the most likely conclusion based on the information in the passage.


Strategies to master critical reasoning

After getting familiar with these terms, it will be easier for CAT aspirants to understand what the passage in the question is asking for, and how to attempt it. Here are 4 tips to win over this section.

Understand the question being asked: It is important to comprehend the question because, in many cases, students become very confused about what is being asked. When this happens, the outcome is an incorrect response.

Focus on the Question Stem: Analyze the question stem carefully. Is it asking for an assumption, inference, conclusion, or weakening/strengthening argument? Tailor your approach according to the specific question type to avoid misinterpretation.

Divide the CR passage into sections: If you are finding the passage difficult to understand, divide it up into smaller sections. Determine the facts, conclusions, and presumptions. This will facilitate comprehension of the passage when applying the structural approach to its solution.

Look for Keywords: Pay attention to keywords such as “except,” “not,” “infer,” “assumption,” etc. These words can significantly change the meaning of the question, so be sure to answer in accordance with these specific instructions.

Reword passages to use simpler language: Critical reasoning passages usually use difficult, ambiguous language. Therefore, it is best to simplify the language for your own benefit. In this manner, not only will you be able to comprehend the question more fully, but you will also be able to break it down and eliminate any unnecessary information that could impede your search for the right answer.

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