Managing Vocabs and DI
I received the following queries through orkut and my blog:
1. Which books to refer?
2. How to manage vocabs?
3. How to manage DI?
Now let me start with books. I prepared in Delhi. Often I used to visit markets like Dariaganj for books. I guess the market is flooded with scores of books on CAT, from vocabs to GD-PI. Now what to choose? Books were not that cheap too! Already I had bought GRE materials spending a fortune. One of my colleagues in IIML advised me not to buy any books and concentrate more on the IMS materials I had. Moreover, my room-mate took TIME coaching. So, there was enough material to study. Anyway, all that we needed was to brush-up the basics and focus on the quick judicious application of the same.
Now if you think you're weak in a particular area - you may refer to a book. But, I found it quite unnecessary. The IMS and TIME study materials was quite enough for us. We also got hold of the previous 5 years CAT question papers. Even some publishers sell previous 10 years question papers too. We had enough materials to practice for the next 3-4 months.
For RC we made conscious efforts to read quick and retain as much as possible. It took us 3 months to increase our speed to a reasonable extent through Self-help and we could read long paragraphs quickly enough without any panic. So, I won't suggest any books to refer, the coaching materials are good enough. At the end of the day, your ability to apply basic knowledge and clarity in thoughts is what tames the CAT.
Vocabs need to be cultivated. Baron's list of words and Word power made easy are the ones we found quite good; better than the materials supplied by IMS or TIME. I remember reading the Hindu (my room-mate thought of preparing for IAS too!) everyday, especially the editorial page. Reader's Digest was another mag we frequently read; I got a free subscription to it (still don't know who put in my name and address - but I thank him! The quality of articles in Reader's Digest was good enough to brush my vocabs). This part of CAT preparation took maximum time for me.
Grammar you can learn from any standard book. Even you can download a grammar book from internet. If you cultivate good reading habit, you can easily guess if a sentence is correct or wrong or which sentence will precede the other. It's kind of gets subconsciously stored in mind - the sentence constructions, the syntax, etc. and gives you power to guess the meaning of a word from the context quite accurately. Reading habits are magical!
One caution I would like to put in here. We generally tend to get a bit carried away on the vocabs part - same happened with me too. Once you can guess the meanings of words from the context - STOP there. No need to waste time on vocabs - even CAT is also gradually moving away from that part.
This is the section initially I found quite difficult. In fact one time I developed a phobia to graphs and tables. But, I had to overcome it somehow. A friend of mine was from economics background, he provided me with loads of data - ranging from cricket matches to India's PPP - all excel files. My job was to practice quick interpretation of large tables - imagine 23 states and their GSDP plus certain indices! I converted some to graphs and some I kept as tables. That exercise really helped me a lot. Practising with big tables make working the comparatively smaller tables easier in CAT and that's how I could do well in that section.
On DI, Businessworld published quite a good article - though very elementary. You can refer to it if it helps. Main thing is to familiarize with difficult tables and graphs - that will help in interpreting the CAT DI section.
Special thanks to all for encouragement. Pour in all your questions. I'll post an article on life at IIMA tomorrow.
Till then, keep mugging!