Are you serious about your CAT preparation?

If yes, then the following might the most important article you will read, especially wrt VA section.

Before I ventured into teaching VA for CAT, I studied Pharmacy where I learnt in Pharmacokinetics that in order to bring about a drastic change in the rate of a pharmaceutical process, we must alter the step that dictates the phenomenon the most. Trying to manipulate a step which has little significance would barely bring any perceptible change. Same, my friends, is true for your CAT preparation!! You are at, say, 50 percentile and wish to jump to 99+. How do you think you are going to make that big a jump? There are topics and subtopics in each of the three sections, but are all of them equally critical? If not then which are the ones on which your performance in the exam broadly rests? A wise man proportions his belief to the available evidence. So let us look at some data to see the distribution of the 34 VA questions across different broad question categories – Reading Comprehension (RC), Critical Reasoning (CR), Grammar and Vocabulary, in that order.

————— (RC)———-(CR)———-Grammar———- Vocabulary

CAT 14——-16————-14-15————3-4———————-0

CAT 15——-24————-10—————–0————————0
CAT 16——-24————-10—————–0————————0

CAT 17——-24————-10—————–0————————0

CAT 18——-24————-10—————–0————————0

CAT 19——-24————-10—————–0————————0

CAT 20——-18————–8—————–0————————0  (CAT 20 had 26 Qs in VA instead of the usual 34 in the preceding 6 yrs)

CAT 21——–?—————?—————–?————————?
As is evident, the areas that have clearly dominated the VA section of CAT in the recent years are RC and CR. One may accuse me of being selective in considering only previous 6 years’ data, but the reasons for that are

a) recent trend has to be a parameter of relevance. I am sure that while preparing for your end-semester exams, you pick the end-sem papers of previous 3-4 years as your cornerstone, and do not worry what was asked 10-15 years back.
b) there has been remarkable consistency in the number of questions asked in CAT (100) and in the individual sections (34 in VA) in the last 5 years, before which it is hard to find such consistency and thus difficult to observe any clear pattern.

One may also point out that I am focusing on only one exam wherein there is a multitude of other tests that do have quite a few, or perhaps a lot of, questions from Grammar and vocabulary sub-sections. Understand that CAT is the mother of all MBA entrance exams you would appear for, for no other exam acts as a gateway to so many and such illustrious colleges, including the elite IIMs. There is a reason the name of most of your study groups on watsapp and Telegram is CAT preparation and not MBA entrances preparation!

I discuss at length in my classes why CR, and especially RC, remain such darlings of CAT and the cornerstone for any test that wishes to ascertain your rationality, however, I will steer clear of that discussion here for the want of time. The point is VA in CAT, in the present context, is all about RC and CR. If I further breakdown CR, we see that almost all the questions asked under this broad category in the recent years are from 3 topics – Summary, Parajumbles and Out of Context. While the first two are known old devils that have been appearing in CAT since always, Out of Context is a recent, somewhat unique (and cryptic) addition. I may choose to write about this question type some other night if I so feel like, and that, I am sure, will ruffle a few feathers here and there  😛

So that brings us back to what we started with. Is what we are focusing on as important as much we are focusing? Are we sure we are not fixated on certain areas because we are good at them or because we find them interesting? You can be the stud who knows almost every word in the newspaper, but what would you do with that vocabulary if there are no questions where it is tested? Grammar could well be made out to be almost half the syllabus in terms of volume, but what’s the point of your spending so much time and effort on it if you will barely get any questions that require any understanding of grammar? Also, I hope we are not avoiding proportionate effort in some areas owing to the amount of labour it would take there or because it requires us to do things beyond our comfort zone. You know which area I am alluding to  😝

Think. Reflect. ADAPT.

With my 10 years of experience of teaching VA for CAT, and having scored over 99 percentile in VA section on many occasions, if there is one thing that I can say is sure to catalyse your accuracy and improve your comprehension in RC and most of CR questions (all in CAT), it is READING DIVERSE GENRES. Whenever you read CAT RC passages (RCs), the single biggest factor that governs your comprehension of that passage is your familiarity with the field/genre to which that RC belongs. Understand that CAT makers do not write these passages themselves. These passages are basically excerpts taken from articles posted on internationally renowned magazines and websites such as,, international etc. So whoever writes these articles, does so for the readers of these websites and magazines. And like any other article, these belong to a particular genre and thus find place in the relevant section of the magazine or newspaper before they are picked up by someone to be turned into an RC.

Now when we read or watch anything, we go for something of our choice- a young college girl might like to read a fashion magazine, a sports fan would pick up Sportstar or watch sports channel, my political enthusiast father would prefer the front page of the newspaper and watch political debates, I would confine myself to The Economic Times or maybe Bigg Boss, a male engineer would   

rather watch….well, let’s not go there  . You have got the larger point anyway. We all read what matches our interest which naturally makes what we read interesting for us, and are thus easily comprehensible. But imagine if one day you pick up something that belongs to an area totally unfamiliar to you. Imagine a person who has never had the inkling of the farthest of particle of philosophy is given to read the works of the great Jacques Derrida or Friedrich Nietzsche!! (if you think just their names are complex, you have no idea what’s in store for you when you read their work  :D). And that is what happens to you when you read RCs, basically articles, that lie outside the area of your interest. Why does that happen? Simple.

1.     You DO NOT get to choose the RCs that would appear in CAT. You have to attempt whatever is thrown at you, which, as a matter of fact, is all luck!

2.     RCs that you would encounter would be from diverse genres. I would encourage you to go through some of the 20 RCs (5 in each of the two slots) that appeared in CAT 17 & 18 and are readily available online. You may even go through RCs from previous years. You would discover for yourself how CAT selects passages eclectically, a beautiful mix of passages from philosophy, religion, history, science, technology, social issues, fiction, literature and what not. And with about 15 to 20 genres out there, what are the chances that you would be lucky enough to get all or most of you 5 CAT RCs from the 2-4 genres that you are comfortable with? For an average person who has familiarity with 3-4 genres at best, on a fair day he would have only 1 reason to cheer and 4 to lament while attempting CAT RCs.

So what should you, as rational and informed people, do so that you do not end up fretting when you face RCs in CAT and before that in the exhaustive series  which we, at Unacademy, have planned for you? You must develop familiarity with all (or as many as possible) different genres. Read the previous sentence thrice. You must read diverse articles from varied fields so that there remains no genre that you are alien to. While that may seem like a punishment in the beginning, the rewards it would reap you in the long run would be rich! If you think reading is an excruciating pain, you have a choice- face this pain either during the preparation or in the exam! There is a well-known saying in army academies across the world- the more you sweat during the training, the less you bleed in the war. Also, know that it is only a matter of time and habit before you develop curiosity in areas beyond your realm of interest, and then it would be a smooth sail after which RCs would not seem as frightening as they might now do. But that would take persistent and conscious effort to step out of your comfort zone and read what you have never read. To implement the above, I strongly suggest the following:

1. Read one novel every week.
It goes without saying that each novel should be from a genre that you have hitherto been unintroduced to. I generally share a list of authors and novels and also give some genre-wise suggestions in my classes. You would find that in the next post.

2. Read the front page and editorial section of The Hindu newspaper. Add Oped (right next to editorial) to this after a month of beginning.
Front page contains the news of national and international importance, adding substantially to your knowledge repository. All this awareness about current affairs would come handy when you participate in Group Discussions (GD), Personal Interviews (PI), Extempore etc., all of which comprise the second stage of preparation. Editorial is one page in the newspaper (usually page number 10 in The Hindu) which has articles from diverse fields. If you are game for it, do read the Oped page, which is the immediate next page to the editorial. And for God’s sake stop reading ToI. ToI to newspapers is what AajTak is to news channels and what fight sequences in South Indian movies are to fights in reality.

3. Read 1-2 articles every alternate day from The website comprises carefully selected, and highly informative and  diverse articles with CAT-level difficulty. In fact, CAT itself has picked 6 of its RCs in the last 5 years from this website!

Having made those earnest recommendations, I concede that only a small percentage of you would actually follow all that I have suggested with the sincerity that is required, but so would be the percentage of the students who would make it to a prestigious B school.

Remember, if it is worthy, it won’t be easy to get; if it is easy to get, it can’t be worthy. “The world is at Sharda University” and not at IIMs for a reason. Where do YOU want to land? If you seriously want to get into a top-of-the-charts B school, you must be mentally prepared to give your 100%, no less. We, at Unacademy, resolve to put in our most sincere efforts to see you through the various obstacles in your path to success, and expect you match us in that. Your choices and efforts today will decide your tomorrow. This current sentence that you are reading has no relevance with the topic of discussion here, and has been introduced solely to mock and expose any competitor who mindlessly lifts this article without even reading it completely and tries to pass it off as theirs. All the best! Let the game begin!!

Lokesh Sharma

The author of the article is part of VA faculty at Unacademy and unapologetically takes more pride in his understanding of MBA entrance exams than others are willing to concede 😉

Following is the list of the authors whose books/authors I suggest you read from now on. The idea behind reading these books is to choose the sequence in which you would want to read the books from different genres and to explore the areas that you have hitherto been either oblivious to or uninterested in. Take this as an opportunity to read some wonderful masterpieces rather than a drudgery being forced upon you. Performing it as a customary rite would prevent you from experiencing the pleasure of reading such accomplished and ingenious compositions. As Amir Khan rightly puts it in Three Idiots- The fright of a whip’s lash does make even a lion sit on a chair, but we call him well-trained, not well-educated! Ultimately our aim is the same as yours- your selection at a reputed B-School! And I assure you that this exercise is imperative and well directed towards actualizing that goal. Obviously, you won’t find Chetan Bhagat or Paulo Coelho in my list of recommendations as the purpose behind reading here is edification, not just entertainment.

Happy reading!!!  🙂
Lokesh Sharma

Do leave a comment mentioning what did you like, what you didn’t and what more would you like to be added to this. You may even mention on what other aspects of VA/ CAT preparation you would like me to blog about. 

Novels-wise suggestions

Dickens- Great expectations

Oliver Twist
David Coperfield
A tale of two cities
Jane Austen
Pride and Prejudice
Sense and sensibility
Emily Bronte
Wuthering Heights
Jostein Garder- Sophie’s World
George Orwell-Animal Farm, 1984
Nabokov- Lolita
D H Lawrnce- Sons and lovers
George Bernard Shaw- Complete works
Complete series of Sherlock Holmes
Mark Twain- Adventures of Hucklebery Finn, Adventures of Tom Sawyer
R L Stevenson- Kidnapped, Treasure Island
Dostoevski- Crime and Punishment, The Brothers Karmazov
Bram Stoker- Dracula
Mary Shelly- Frankenstein
J D Salinger- The Catcher in the Rye
Jules verne- Around the world in 80 days, Journey to the center of the earth
Alexandre Dumas-  The Three Musketeers, Count of Monte Cristo

Genre-wise suggestions


Sophie’s world by Jostein Gaarder (for beginners)
The Republic by Plato (advance level)
The Prince- Philosophy+Politics (easy language) by makaveli

Any by Karl Marx
Freedom at Midnight
Discovery of India- Jawahar Lal Nehru

Sunny Days by Sunil Gavaskar
Tale of a Tiger by Mak Pataudi

Perfect questions perfect answers
Bhagwat Gita by A C Bhaktivendanta (Best, must read)

Author-wise suggestions

John Nashe
Jack London
Rudyard Kipling
James Joyce
Stephen Hawking
Bertrand Russell
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Agatha Christie
Leo Tolstoy
Anton Chekhov
Maxim Gorky
Fyodor Dostoevsky
Franz Kafka
Jean Paul Sartre
Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Mahatma Gandhi
Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru
Karl Marx
Adam Smith
Jerome Klapka Jerome
Ernest Hemingway
Friedrich Nietzsche
Emily Bronte
Charlotte Bronte
D H Lawrence
George Bernard Shaw
Louisa May Alcott
Mark Twain
Mary Shelley
George Eliot
Bram Stoker
F. Scott Fitzgerald
George Orwell
J. D. Salinger
Malcolm Gladwell
Harper Lee
Daphne du Maurier
Victor Hugo
H. H. Munro
Stephen Leacock
P. G. Wodehouse
Charles Dickens
Thomas Hardy
Jane Austen
Vladimir Nabokov
O. Henry
Oscar Wilde
Somerset Maugham
Samuel Butler
Graham Greene
Alexandre Dumas
R L Stevenson
Harper Lee


The Last Week

Dear students, today, 20th November 2020, was my last working day for this year. I couldn’t be more relieved right after my class ended at 6 pm. I have back-to-back domestic and international trips lined up, and am looking forward to them more than I can express. As a consequence of being in that relaxed-plus-happy state of mind, I was able to get a lot more work done, met everyone more pleasantly than I usually do, and enjoyed the various activities to their fullest during the rest of the day. 

That’s barely any surprise to me. It is well known that you make the best of any opportunity- may it be sports, stage performances or exams- not when you are most worked-up and excited, but when you are calm, relaxed and happy.  Understand that to be under some pressure is natural and necessary, but excess of it is counter-productive as it prevents you from giving your best and thus impedes achieving your full potential. In any competition, it is imperative that you walk in with a fresh, relaxed and hopeful mind. It is for this reason that sports teams play games (apart from their sport) and go for team outings right before World Cup finals, for they know that one or two more days of practice or fitness won’t affect their overall performance at all, but entering the field with the right frame of mind and renewed vigor certainly would. 

That state of mental peace and positivity is exactly what you need the most in the next 1 week in the run up to the big day. In my 7 attempts at CAT, if there is one thing I have learnt, it is that more than anything else CAT is a game of nerves. I have seen numerous cases where a student who was all set to achieve a stellar percentile foundered in the exam simply because he exhausted himself and went in with a fatigued mind. On the contrary, I have seen students expected to fetch a mediocre percentile do wonders in the exam with their happy-go-lucky and ‘Jo hoga dekha jayega yaar’ attitude. In this game, it is not necessarily the smartest who emerges victorious, but the one who goes in with the right mix of intelligence, hard-work and mental equilibrium. While we, at MBA Guru, have tried to guide you at the first two to the best of our ability and you have matched us in that endeavour with same fervor, it is time now to shift the focus onto the third! 

Make sure that you keep yourself motivated, relaxed, optimistic and cheerful in the coming week so as to mentally prepare yourself for the exam. While I would encourage you to do things that you find relaxing, I would caution you against doing anything over-the-top (in short, you don’t need to go to Thailand “de-stress”…at least not now)

Here are my 7 suggestions borne out of my experience and observations:


Bulati hai magar jaane ka nai     

1. DO NOT TAKE any more full length tests. Some of my colleagues will disagree with me, and I respect their opinion. However, I believe nothing good can possibly come from attempting a full-length test at this point of time. On the contrary, it can
throw you into self-doubt. You may take sectional tests, even take 2 in a day, but avoid taking a full-length test.




2. Watch motivational movies- I suggest you watch 1 movie a day (I am serious here). Some suggestions would be- Rudy, Stand and Deliver, Forrest Gump (my favourite), Fried Green Tomatoes, It’s a Wonderful Life, Life is Wonderful, Pursuit of Happiness, 300, Valkyrie, A Beautiful Mind, Cinderella Man, Homeless to Harvard. Feel free to share your best picks with me! Google to discover more such gems.



3. Get 8 hours of sleep. Make sure you align your sleep cycle with the examination day. I had stressed on this in my earlier message to you. Know the time of your exam, reverse calculate the time you should get up on 29th November and start adjusting your sleep cycle accordingly. There is nothing worse than appearing for this exam in a sleep-deprived state. Similarly, if you get up at 6 am, you cannot expect your mind to be at its freshest at 4 pm.




4. Go for walks in the park in the morning/evening (on days when the pollution level is bearable). Walking around in a lively park and watching small children play is in itself a very life-inducing experience. 




If you have a hobby– dancing, singing, sketching, and reading- then now is the best time to indulge yourself in it. Take time out to do what really relaxes and rejuvenates you. 



6. Meditate. If you do this one thing daily and correctly, then it would make for the absence of all above. But then in the world full of Instagram, Tik Tok and Twitter, how many of us have the patience for this magical activity!


7. Read one motivational novel. For a person as dark and skeptical as I, nothing less than Bhagwad Gita is fructuous. However, if you find that too much, I suggest you read any bestseller like You Can Win, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, The Power of Positive Thinking. My learned and well-read colleagues would be able to provide better suggestions here. 



One final suggestion- in case you follow a religion/god, pray that the economy recover by the time you complete your management education!! 



Note of caution: Do whatever would help your calm your mind, but kindly do not indulge in adventure sports or do something dangerously stupid!

Remember- Guru jo kehte hain humein wo karna chahiye, jo karte hain woh nahi… 😝😝😝
So do as I say, not as I do!


In case you have any more suggestions/experiences on how you relax yourself (not the dirty ones though), then feel free to share here in comments.

PS- The final suggestion was in jest….economy toh Modiji theek kar hi denge 😂

Leave your feedback/suggestions on what else you think I could have included/excluded in this article. Help me get better 🙂

All You Need is One Seat!

Imagine it’s a cold evening in December and your little heart is desirous of a strong coffee. So you venture out to the nearby CCD, but find it closed. Do you drop the plan to savour your sumptuous coffee or do you go to the next cafe? If you are motivated enough for the beverage, you would not mind going ahead to the next restaurant that you know serves coffee, despite the apprehension that it may too be shut or may be a little pricier or a little far. The simple question one needs to ask himself is- how many of these shops can be shut or be too expensive or too far? If you want a cup of coffee, you will get it provided

1. you have a reasonable amount of money (ability)
2. you are willing to walk some (effort and motivation)
3. you are wise enough to realize that what eventually matters is the coffee, not the cafe (wisdom)

Replace coffee with an MBA seat at a worthy college, and various cafe with the different entrance exams that are there. Does the above example seem more relevant now? Understand that all you want is one seat at a good B-school, and that which exam that seat comes from shouldn’t matter! Ask a lover if it matters to him where he met his love, or a loyal drunkard the place or material in which he would like to be served liquor or a die-hard football fan whether he would prefer soft copy or hard copy of the ticket to the FIFA World Cup final. The answer would be same- It doesn’t matter! Harivanshrai Bachchan has captured this thought most beautifully and succinctly in the below stanza of his poem which I occasionally recite in my classes.

जो मादकता के मारे हैं
वे मधु लूटा ही करते हैं
वह कच्चा पीने वाला है
जिसकी ममता घट प्यालों पर
जो सच्चे मधु से जला हुआ
कब रोता है चिल्लाता है   

Back in 2011, when I was assigned my first batch for CAT, where half the students were elder to me by a year or two, there was a student named Abhishek Shrivastava. Despite his above-average intelligence and whatever hardwork he could manage to put in (after his 10-hour workday at office which was 20 km from his home), he could manage a CAT percentile in 80s. His attempt at almost all other exams met similar fate. However, GMAT clicked, and that landed him at ISB, Hyderabad. So does it matter to Abhishek that the college he eventually got was the only good college that he could convert or, for that matter, the only worthy college that he could secure a call from? No. It is irrelevant now. Had he got 99%ile in CAT and done equally well in all other entrances, he would have still been at ISB, and happily so. There are numerous similar stories that I can recount where some student got to NMIMS, Mumbai or SIBM, Pune or IIFT, Delhi or TISS, Mumbai where that college was the only star call the student had.  

So stop fretting about how your CAT did not go as well as you would have liked or prepared. LIFE IS UNFAIR. PERIOD. Get used to it. However, it is NOT ALWAYS UNFAIR. So bad luck, illness, anxiety etc can play spoilsport in one, two or maybe three exams, but not beyond that. Just as a person in the coffee example may not find what he is looking for at a few shops, but eventually he surely will, you too would find success in some or the other exam provided you have put in effort and have common sense/basic intelligence.

Understand that results are never in your hands, and it invariably happens that 1-2 papers go wrong, and we have no control on which ones those 1-2 will be. However, if one has prepared well, then this misfortune can strike in 1 or 2 or maximum 3 exams. The good news is that we have atleast a dozen worthy exams and all we need is to crack one exam that will pave our way to a desirable MBA college. Which exam gets us to that college should not be a worry. I read somewhere that many a time in life we are so busy looking at and mourning for the door that closed on us that we do not realize that four others opened for us in the meanwhile. So stop cursing your stars for CAT and aim at the next exam in front of you, for only the first battle is over, not the war. Pull yourself back up, gather your armory and prepare for the next battle. Get on with the preparations for the rest of the exams, especially XAT, NMAT, IIFT and SNAP. All this while, keep reminding yourself of the fact that all you need is one seat in any one decent college.

Fun Fact : The writer missed his own CAT in 2018 because his bus to Delhi was cancelled and there was no viable alternative to reach the test center in Delhi in time. The writer hopes that his story doesn’t resonate with that of anyone else here.  

Strategy for IIFT and other exams like SNAP, CMAT (not XAT)

In exams like IIFT and SNAP, SPEED IS THE NAME OF THE GAME. You must move across and within sections swiftly. One who lingers is the one who loses. One who flows like a river is the one who remains in the race.


Following are my not-so-humble suggestions:


1. Read the instructions carefully since IIFT is notorious for its twisted instructions which are far from the blanket instructions one sees in CAT. For example, some questions may have higher weight while some may attract higher penalty when attempted incorrectly. I would be extra careful if the penalty for the wrong answer is half of the marks awarded for the right answer. Conversely, I would invariably mark some or the other option even if I am unsure, if there is no negative marking for it.


2. Begin with the GK section. In any exam that has a GK section, it should be where you start from, for it takes least time. Quickly mark the ones you know and leave the others without spending any time. Know that you are not coming back to this section. Usually each question here (in IIFT at least) carries .5 mark and negative marking is .17 i.e. one-third of the marks awarded for the correct choice. This is not a scoring section in IIFT and most exams where GK is tested, so do not over-attempt because you do not have to. All you need to do is clear the cut-off for this section which varies between .5 – 2 marks and for that all you need is 2-5 correct answers. While attempting last year’s IIFT paper with a student a few days back, I saw that each of the first 2 questions of the GK section were half-a-page long. I left the questions without even reading them! That is how fast one has to be here. For all other questions, keep it simple- if you know it, mark it…else leave it. Do not use your brains here. In most match-the-following type questions, you do not have to match all the pairs, but only 1-2 pairs that you are sure of and then eliminate the options. How to prepare for this section? If you have been rereading the front page of The Hindu, something that I stress upon in all my classes, then you do not have to prepare for it…you are good to go. If not, rely on the GK material shared with you by MBA Guru.  


3. After GK section, attempt the remaining sections in order of your comfort i.e. begin with the section of your strength and so on. Know that from here on, you must attempt the paper in phases/rounds, something that I explained to you in detail during ENS 2 (eclectic reading) and in IIFT-specific session. Attempt the easy/doable ones in round 1 and keep leaving the ones that prima facie seem tough or lengthy. Attempt only the easy and doable ones in one section and swiftly move to the next section where too you must follow the same approach. This way try to attempt the entire IIFT paper as fast as you can. If you are able to reach the end of the last section this way, you can be sure that you will clear all the sectional cut-offs. On the other hand, even if you do exceptionally well in some sections but miss almost the entire last section (irrespective of which section it be), all your grand overall score counts for nothing since you would miss the sectional cut-off of the last section.


4. Once you have attempted the entire paper this way, see how much time remains at hand and which of the various sections you attempted (except GK) do you think has the most potential for enhancing your score. For example, if you feel that LRDI section has quite a few questions that you left in round 1 but can solve, go to that section and begin round 2. If a question seems excessively lengthy or difficult, leave it again. Likewise go to the next section with best potential. This round 2 will ensure that you clear overall cut-off of the paper and score as high as you can. DO NOT RE-ATTEMPT ANY QUESTION THAT YOU HAD ATTEMPTED IN ROUND 1.


5. For VA section- attempt non-RC questions like Vocabulary-based and grammar-based questions first, parajumbles and reasoning-based questions (if any) later and RC passages at the end.

For RCs, just read the question stems at the end of RCs twice and then quickly read the RCs to solve whatever questions you can and move to the next.

Understand that the RC passages you get in IIFT are lengthy but fact-based. You need not scan the passages the way we trained ourselves for CAT. Also, in RCs, first read questions and then simply read the RC passage at a relatively fast pace (NO SCANNING). Keep marking the answers to the questions that you come across while reading the passage. In short, for IIFT RC passages, begin with step 4 of the process we adopted for CAT passages. Also, if, on reading the questions at the end of RC, you feel that the questions are largely reasoning-based or require deliberation, then leave that passage for later (round 2) and move on.


6. Suggestion 5 assumes that the IIFT paper will have RC passages and other VA questions clubbed in one section. In case they decide to split them into 2 separate sections (as they did last year), then you must attempt at least 2 RC passages to ensure that you clear the cut-off for the RC section.


Remember, speed would determine the winner in IIFT. The 14 points I shared in another post before CAT are as relevant here too, so do give that a read. All the best!!

Disclaimer-  The author has himself never taken IIFT but does go through the GK and VA sections of the paper each year and thus has a sound understanding of its content and nature.  

How to speak English fluently?

We all have that one covert desire- to be able to swiftly converse in the beautiful and sophisticated language that English is!! While some people simple lack confidence to speak up in front of people, others lack the comfort with the language itself given that English is not our mother tongue. So how can you converse in English effortlessly? See, there are basically three things you need to do


1. Read English

2. Listen English

3. Speak English


For 1, read newspaper, preferably The Hindu- at least 2-3 pages (editorial is best but you may read some other pages if it is too heavy for you). Even if that is too much for you, read any story book/novel that interests you. If nothing else, read pornographic literature, but do read English so that you learn sentence structuring, usage of prepositions, placement of adjectives and contextual usage of words etc.


For 2, listen to Indian news in English since newscasters have a very refined pronunciation.

Most of the people I know mispronounce the word ‘chores’! Watching English movies and television series with subtitles is also a fun way, but make it an add-on to news, not a replacement. Watching porn wouldn’t help much in this step since many do not have many words, to begin with, and, if even they do, you already are familiar with words like ‘yes’, ‘no’, ‘harder’ and ‘oh yeah’ 😀
Once you get into the habit of reading, try reading out loud, at least some part of what you read. 



Addressing 500+students at FICCI Auditorium

For 3, speak in English with people around you. THIS IS THE KEY! This is the most important of all steps. You CANNOT learn to speak English, or any language for that matter, unless you speak it! You need not change the topics of discussion…keep the conversation, just change the medium of conversation you have with your friends, colleagues, siblings, girlfriend(s)/boyfriends to English. The only antidote to fumbling/being diffident is practice. Make English the default medium of communication….whenever you can, do it. Find people with whom you can talk (not chat) in English. Request people around to speak in English with you…if they can’t, just tell them that they can respond in Hindi but you would converse in English. If you are that one unlucky chap who doesn’t have one person to speak with in this wide world, then start talking to yourself in English- rather than thinking things, start saying things, either in your mind or even perhaps by mumbling. It’s ok to talk to yourself; I do it all the time and often get mistaken for being mentally unstable 😀 

Exercise suggestion: You can narrate the entire day back to yourself before you sleep, just as you would tell all the events that happened during the day to someone else. 


Once you have gained sufficient confidence in these three, move to the ultimate step i.e. writing in English. Start writing stuff in English. Not just FB comments, but some articles. You can choose a random article or write about your day or your dreams or your best friend or a movie review or whatever. Just write. If you want some idea, take a leaf out from my blog-

Happy Englishing!

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