How to master Vocabulary for CAT-XAT exams?

Hello future business leader! MBA is about Management learning and Management is all about thinking, planning, structuring and solving business problems. CAT and other MBA entrance exams test us on Verbal ability to find out these 3 things:

  1. Can you read English articles? – Because you will need to do so in your corporate careers.
  2. Can you think critically? – You need to be good at understanding communication to become a good manager. The first requirement is to be able to understand questions being asked and to identify differences between responses. This is what we learn while understanding question types and learning option labels for elimination in Verbal Section in these exams.
  3. Can you master selective thinking – Not everything requires equal focus or similar treatment in life. Selective reading is a key requirement in treating CAT Verbal section. That is what helps you build speed in reading. Eventually, focus and need for speed brings efficiency along with effectiveness in work life!

In your MBA preparation, try to read a lot. Relevant reading with variety and right process is the key to mastering verbal section in competitive exams. It is not just for the exam; you are building skills that will help you through life! Mastering Vocabulary will help you become a better reader.

Now, coming to the question in hand, how to master vocabulary so that these articles become easy to read for me? Let’s get started pals, I will keep it point wise to empower you on the Dos and Do Nots of CAT vocabulary building. I will also share how we provide these things at Bfactory.

Golden rule: Do so much relevant reading that you become familiar with words in different genres. Now, let’s go into the depth of things to do (I will take samples of what we do at Bfactory). Look at the 5 point diagram we work on and suggest to students at Bfactory:

1.Contextual word learning while daily reading

Vocabulary is an important aspect of your reading. If you do not know the words that has been used in the passage; the fluency of your reading is sure to get hindered. These slippages are sure to affect your speed and understanding. First you must try to improve your vocabulary, and this can only be done if you indulge into extensive reading. Content of what you are reading is also important. Anything that is accessible and gives an easy reading should not be picked. You must first try to find out the various topics on which the questions are asked. In most of the exams, passages from Philosophy, Psychology, literature, Economics, History are given. Check out this video on what to read: . Having a prior knowledge of these topics will enhance your understanding during the examination and you will also be able to know various terms which are typical of the particular subject. You should also track your reading progress. Not everyone starts at the same level at a point of time. You must be aware of what your current reading level and appetite is and then plan your reading trajectory accordingly. For example, if you are a beginner and your aim is to becoming good with newspaper reading, you can plan something like this:

Starting Months: Times of India/ Telegraph news articles

Mid months-1: Times of India/ Telegraph editorial section

Mid months-2: The Hindu/ Economic Times editorial section

Final 3-6 months before exams: Aeon/The Guardian/ The New York Times editorial section

This is just a tentative plan. You see, you need to have a plan. Reading progress can be tracked and if you are reading regularly, you can sense improvement in your level of reading. It is no rocket science. But yes, it demands discipline.

No matter how strong one’s vocabulary is, no one can know all the words that are in our dictionary and there are greater chances that while reading you come across words that you are unaware of and due to that the entire paragraph or at least some parts may become undecipherable. To overcome this problem you should avoid looking up for the meanings into the dictionary or your phones while reading the passage, because during the exams you will not get a dictionary. You should always try to find out the contextual meaning of the words. However you can look up for the meanings of the difficult words once you have finished reading and answering the questions. Also try to know the origin of the words, and also maintain a copy where you write down all the new words that you come across. Knowing just the meaning of the words is not useful; you should also know how to use these words in a sentence.

We have a Bfactory Reading club where Rita mam and I select and share daily reading articles from a variety of fact based/opinion based, old school/contemporary articles every day. Read everyday from this source and use contextual word learning in the process.

Let me also share some books, authors and genres I recommend if you want to keep a book going along with your regular daily reading.

Genres: Non fictional, motivational, career oriented, evolution and technology oriented.

Authors: Non fiction – no restriction, Fiction – ideally foreign authors – for the type of English used.

Books: Some of my favorites: Winning by Jack Welch, Robin Sharma – any book, Ayn Rand(fiction) – any book, You can win(motivation) – Shiv Khera, Rashmi Bansal books(entrepreneurship), The Art of War(strategy), India Unbound(economics), Paul Coelho -any, Stephen Hawking- any, Charles Darwin books and many more. Ohh yes, also rememver, try doing as much as possible reading in online mode; we know why? Right? Exam is online!

Check out these screenshots from Bfactory E-library in the app course: these books are provided level wise in app course(provided to all Bfactory online/offline classroom program students) selected and sorted by Kamlesh Sir(Cofounder and Director, Bfactory | IIM A alum). You will also find Bfactory’s Algorithmic Reading Comprehension ebook in the app course. This book has chapters on vocabulary via contextual learning. Do those chapters right away!

2. Reading Comprehension vocabulary glossary after attempt(during solution analysis):

This is simple to do, but needs discipline to follow. I always do this and I know many of my students have done this successfully over the past decade. Check this out.

Step 1: Attempt the RC

Step 2: Check answers

Step 3: Note down meanings of words(that you are not sure of) from dictionary. Now re-read passage to get better understanding during solution analysis.

Step 4: Try to understand answers (if any gone wrong) on your own now.

Step 5: If required, read the solution.

Follow this vocab glossary thing after every RC solving – this will help you by leaps and bounds.

3. Word a day: a bit of word learning and sentence formation should go on. We handpick and share a Word a day in the free test section in the Bfactory app. Take this usage word test daily and make sentence using the word in your copy. A 3-4 minute exercise, but daily! Daily is the key! Indulgence is the key!

4. Weekly revision: Keep a copy where you write down central ideas and contextual word meanings while daily reading. Also write down RC Vocabulary glossary words in the same copy; word a day sentence formation too. Try re-reading this list of words and sentences on a weekly basis (might take 5-15 minutes) – but just watch your relevant vocabulary grow and shine in 3-6 months!

5. Word bucket technique: word bucketing means trying to find correlation in words being used and learning them together. Let me give you some instances of when can you bucket and learn words:

  1. Suppose you are reading about philosophy this week from Wikipedia and other online sources: you can make a bucket of philosophy words with meaning while contextually reading. This will give you added confidence whenever a new philosophy RC comes your way!
  2. Suppose you go through a page of common manias and phobias some day, or some root/prefix/suffix words some week. These are all word buckets. For RCs, may be a bucket of tone and style words! Most of these, you get on Bfactory app; something else on mind? Google has them, just search at will!
  3. Sometimes you can find out synonyms of commonly used words and use them while writing or preparing answers for an interview. This is rare, but I have seen many students use this!

Check out this video by Rita mam: to get an idea on word buckets!

Apart from writing down words, making sentences, one more thing works wonders in word learning. That is Link and Learn. Check out this video on link and learn:

Now coming to the final part: Do Nots for MBA Preparation Vocabulary

  1. Do not look up words in dictionary while solving a comprehension.
  2. Do not try to learn word lists or dictionary directly.
  3. Do not go 100% offline on reading and word learning. Mix with online, more online the better.

I hope this article will help you learn and grow as a budding manager and of course help in your MBA exam preparation journey.

Wishing you happy reading times!

Thanking You

Rahul Anand

Cofounder and Director, Bfactory | Author: Algorithmic Reading Comprehension book | IIM A alumnus

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