The 3 Basic Approaches to Reading – Introduction

Reading is something that CAT aspirants often find unpalatable or even disruptive for an exam of its nature. One is acquainted with the rush of solving mathematical questions in a rush but here is an exam where you are headed with all those hastily mugged-up formulas floating in your mind, the adrenaline rushing, and mind poised to sort things out perfectly, only for the very first task to invite you to immerse and ponder subjectively, even emotively at times.

Reading Comprehension in CAT is tantalising since on one hand CAT is clearly a test of speed, time apportionment, and non-ideal solutions, aimed at testing your managerial prowess and pragmatism, and on the other the task unambiguously calls for “comprehension”, as opposed to simple sifting for direct answers. Scanning, Cursoring, and Skimming certainly don’t work alone, you must delve deep at some time or the other. You are required to take several dips into the passage which often seem to make you lose sight of the rest of the test.

So how do you reconcile the pressing urgency of a timed test with the tasks’ calling for holistic visualisation and total understanding. How do you plan your dives beneath the superficial when you have no breathing gear?

Well, broadly the question boils down to a series of optimisation choices, the broadest and primary one being of the overall balance that you strike between scanning and delving. There are three elementary but very consequential options here:

  • Read per Question – Seek out each question’s answer as and when you encounter the question, cursoring the text to look up keywords that match and indicate the rough position of the relevant lines. Once the location of the segment is ascertained, run a more specific search and crack the answer in a jiffy.


  • Quick Read followed by Read per Question – Familiarise yourself with the passage and gain a rudimentary foresight into the probable set of questions to come. Flag key points, gain an idea of the tone and intent of the passage, mark checkpoints, take note of arguments, and keep some floating notes handy to quickly target likely, predicted questions that do pop up.


  • Thorough Read – Ingest, Ruminate, Internalise, and Assimilate the Passage. This method calls for absorption of the passage in its entirety. This comprehensive approach is undoubtedly the best for people who have inculcated in themselves at least a few years of regular, consistent, and diverse reading habit. This is the ideal and integral way to tackle a passage. However, its overall efficacy and general utility is highly dubious and questionable for the average aspirant.

Each one of this trio of basic approaches to reading shall be discussed extensively by us, one-by-one, in the upcoming blogposts. Stay tuned!


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