In the previous blogs in the series we discussed the two other approaches to Reading Comprehension in the CAT, both of which involved deep searching the answer in the specific, relevant portions of the passage. The final blog in the series will discuss the third and the least common approach, one that is favoured by puritans but detested by utilitarians.
Ideally, the Reading Comprehension is meant to be tackled this way. If the CAT were truly and exclusively a test of your Reading Comprehension (as well as to some extent short-term retention), it would show you the passage, permit you time to properly read and process it – ingest, chew, ruminate, digest, and assimilate its contents – emulsify its writing into abstract ideas – and then vanish. Yes, an ideal test of reading comprehension would have 3 characteristics – The Passage should precede but not accompany the Questions, Ample time should be given to slow-absorb the entire contents of the passage, The Questions posed shouldn’t ask specific factual and objective details but only ideas and arguments. However, the CAT, being a test of pragmatism, is far from this, or for that matter, any idealities.
The Thorough Read is still not entirely irrelevant. For passages whose core comprises almost wholly of subjective argumentation and whose questions are more essential rather than being superficial or technical, this approach is a hot knife through butter.
Passages which require you to answer essence-based questions fit well into the classic mould and hence this ideal approach tackles them well. However, as the blade in the stone, this method can only be wielded by, dare I say, the worthy, or rather the well-trained. This method is like a giant broadsword, a once-formidable and fearsome weapon out of its time and perhaps relevance. It is unwieldy, and the uninitiated might end up causing more harm than good by brandishing it. Granted that a single blow from it, if landed right, can wind up the entire battle in one swift motion, but the fact of the matter is that you need the existent stature and training to be able to wield it in the first place.
Unless you have at least a few years of sincere, genuinely-enthused, and engrossed immersive, deep reading behind you, you shall lack the momentum and knowhow to lift this most magnificent tool.
If you indeed possess the impetus and adeptness to employ it, it shall still not prove a boon in general, since CAT, unlike certain other exams does not provide an extra pre-reading time for passages without showing you the questions. However, if you are quick at internalising as well as digesting the ideas as you go through the passage once, you might not even need to revisit it for each question, striking them off based on either your working memory or a simple intuitive conceptual architecture. The key is to design a mind palace, not necessarily laden with an elaborate and ornate web of tangled ideas, but simple, clear pathways, of which side of the arguments the passage is on. Once you have this not so grand understanding of the grand scheme of the passage in place, you can dismiss the questions with a casual flick of your wrist, in quick succession.
Thorough reading is like taking a medieval broadsword to a musketeer rapier duel, it looks badass but may not be the wisest of things to do.
This concludes our four-part series to the triad of approaches to reading. Stay tuned to our blog for more enriching strategy content.