The 3 Basic Approaches to Reading – Read Per Question

In the previous blogpost, we introduced you to the three basic choices of approaching the Reading section of the CAT. In this post, we shall discuss the first one of them in detail. 


Read per Question

To most engineers, the search-intensive approach of seeking an answer in the relevant section of the paragraph, as and when elicited might seem the most tempting. After all, this approach is obviously the most objective and modular one. The ‘as and when’ approach calls for versatility and quick adaptability since there’s no fixed algorithm for reading and you’ve to deal each question on a case-by-case basis. It seems to rid your mind of the clutter of gestating an entire reading or two of the paragraph, and seems to provide the most space and spare the most time for actual problem solving. It seems like a casewise problem solving exercise, a quest that STEM background candidates would find familiar. 

This approach might seem dear in every aspect if you do not account for the fact that when you are walking into totally uncharted territory, your vision fumbles and your gait falters. One’s steps are always slower and clumsier on unfamiliar terrain. If you haven’t gone through the whole passage once, you might find yourself re-reading the same specific sentence from the beginning frequently. This is because you lack the cascade of narrative that reading the passage in its entirety affords. In the long-run, you might as well be putting in as much, if not more, time, in acquainting yourself with the vicinity of the answer’s text, as you would have expended had you gone through the text once.

Language always flows, there’s a sequence to it. Human beings naturally find it easier to go with the flow. It’s always difficult to pick and read a sentence out of context, not just its comprehension, but even reading it in your head, when you lack that momentum, the wave of text behind it. The sentence is meant to be in the middle of a paragraph or passage for a reason. It’s not the best of kindlers. You’ll most likely always struggle to begin a paragraph midway.

Some simple straightforward questions, that do not obey the sequentiality of paragraphs (a question can invoke a paragraph previous to the one invoked in the previous question) can throw you off guard. Their search can become a wild goose chase. It can often lead to a ‘needle-in-haystack’ situation. Questions that are broad in scope or draw from overarching themes and context of the text, although fewer than the specific ones, almost always present instances that make adherents of this approach struggle hard. 

This approach is definitely not without its merits. Reading per question is often the most suitable method for highly scientific, factual, objective, or statistics-heavy passages. Such an identification can often be made quickly. If it is ascertained that a passage calls for specific data or very hard and fast answers, this approach is recommended. Passages that obey a clear and distinctive order of questions, that is, where the first question corresponds to the first paragraph of the passage and so on, are suitable for employing this approach. Trying to establish this nature of the passage though might at times be a bad time investment.


We shall discuss the other two approaches respectively in successive blogposts.

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