How to score 99%ile in Verbal Ability

cat percentile

How to score a 99 percentile in Verbal Ability

“The problem is in the search of a magic formula for 99 percentile. I would tell them, having a wider perspective on what CAT checks, would rather help!”

About the Podcast:It is for those who are aspiring to crack Verbal Ability section. It focuses on how one aims for 100% accuracy in VA attempts by using certain tips and tricks that still remain unknown to all. This has been done by a T.I.M.E senior faculty who shares his 27+experience in education industry.

About the Author:  Mr. Anand Mohan De, is a senior faculty at T.I.M.E. He has given 8 crucial years of his life teaching Verbal Ability and has closely observed the student community to contribute his teachings in dealing with Group Discussions and Personal Interviews as well.


1) What is this 99 percentile in Verbal Ability?
2) A secret that should not remain a secret
3) Battling with every aspirant’s phobia- The Reading Comprehensions”
4) Dealing with close options
5) Minimum Question Attempt for a Decent Percentile in CAT
6) Vocab Pandits V/s The Engineers- ‘The World War 3!’
7) Paper Solving? Why you need to know about this?
8) Analysis for Mock Verbal Ability? Why no one told you about this?
9) Final Verdict

What is this 99 percentile in Verbal Ability?

Sir, I’ve left my job for only 3 months for CAT. Literally, you can take my score at 0 in VA. I want to Improve my score in these three months. Take me as a Newbie. Please share the Strategy to score > 99%ile in VA

Vamsi, CAT’16 Aspirant

By the end of September, CAT aspirants talk nothing but certain shortcuts that straightaway lead to a whopping 99 percentile. It is high time we turn to one of the most ambiguous and contentious issues that every MBA aspirant faces . We turned to Mr Anand Mohan De who shared some awe-inspiring facts that every aspirant must know!

Every year my students come to me and ask me naively- Sir, How do I convert 33 straightaway into a 99 percentile. I am sure such is the perception of most of those who take CAT/MAT/XAT and other ‘N’ no. Of management entrance exams. I would like to share what I tell each of my students who asks me this:

“As the name says, ‘The Management Entrance Exams’, these exams are conducted with a view to check certain managerial qualities that every manager must possess. Students forget about the main notion behind preparing for such exams. They also tend to forget that there is no magic formula for scoring 99. It is through the medium of Verbal Ability or Quantative Aptitude or Logical reasoning that these exams check the certain managerial qualities- “Decision Making”  being the imperative one. Scoring a 95 percentile or beyond comes with the students working upon- Whether they are at par with making a decision regarding the choice of questions they would attempt in the exam.

To all those who prepare for certain management tests, they ought to  presuppose them as managers of certain organizations who plan in advance the every next step they take. I am sure, if you all do that, then CAT would be any other exam that you might have given and you would easily ace it.

A secret that should not remain a secret

  •  The 5 essential items – A Lifesaver
  •  Judicious Blend- Accuracy & Attempts
  •  Fool proof Reading Strategies
  •  Who is a 99 percentiler?

The 5 essential items- ‘A Lifesaver’

These 5 items are what I feel, every student who whether aims for CAT or not, must make a routine activity. This is a secret I tell to my every student who asks for a sure shot 99percentile. It is a simple and a doable one for every type of student-.

Whatever newspaper you have been following, make it a point to read these 5 essential items. The 5 items being:-

1)    Editorial Page

2)    Edit Page Article

3)    Spirituality  

4)    Business

5)    International

I don’t say Sports or Entertainment News is something you cannot give a try, obviously-‘ The More, The Merrier’. But these 5 must be a routine activity, something that is a part and parcel of your everyday reading habit.


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An added advantage- Why these 5 items?

All these 5 items, as mentioned above, cover different topics. These 5 items are in line with what CAT/XAT/IIFT/SNAP etc have been wanting, i.e.’ Are you an avid reader?’ Do you have a habit going through diversity of material?

CAT is not a literature exam wherein I mug up certain answers, use the same words and score like anything. Reading these 5 items would help an aspirant take on what he would be expected to see in CAT. Also it would help him in making a better use of vocabulary, comprehending well, using best practices available and also doubling the reading speed.

Judicious Blend- Accuracy and Attempts

I may be brilliant in English Literature- But does that mean I can do equally well in those mind boggling Para Jumbles as well, the trickier Reading Comprehensions or those Vocabulary questions that blow my mind off?

I, certainly, by this time need to get acquainted with the – Judicious Blend between Number of attempts and Accuracy.

The Management entrance exams do no not want you to blindly attempt all the questions you come across. You need to choose wisely the questions you attempt, in consideration with both your strong and weak areas and then make sure that each time you attempt a question, you end up maximizing your chances of getting it correct. Ultimately, no one would check whether you tried for 90 questions or 100? What they would see is whether you attempted 90 correct or 100 incorrect and considers the same for selection in their renowned B-schools.

Fool proof Reading Strategies

1)    Holistic Reading

As I told, you must follow up with the 5 essential items for strategizing upon a Holistic Reading style that helps you a lot in cracking the Reading Comprehensions that come in CAT or any other exam. Holistic Reading would help broaden your reading horizons to help you get confidence of reading every genre that you come across in CAT.

2)    Practice

As everyone says, I may assert and repeat those same words – Smart work might be needed but you can surely not deny the importance of hard work. For going a step ahead, you need to first take an initial step, ie, practice every type of question. Once you master that, you take the 2nd step- Work upon the judicious blend between- accuracy and attempts, as told by me.

What a 99 percentile scorer looks like?

Every year we see many 100 or 99+ percentile scorers, getting interviewed on what best practises they followed for scoring a whopping 100 percentile. That is when my students come to me and ask me- What do I do to become like them? Who a 99 percentile scorer is?

Description- A 99 Percentiler

You don’t need to possess extraordinary characteristics to be like them. In fact, you are one if you have these:

1)    I belong to T.I.M.E/ CL or any XYZ institute and I, on a daily basis follow their material as well.

2)    I take sectional tests for every other crucial, non-crucial topic that gets covered

3)    I take regular doubt session, whenever I have one

4)    I ask my institute for assigning me a mentor for proper guidance

This would for sure helps all IIM aimers to transit their hard work into a percentile as desired by them.

I am sure many students know this, but for some who still miss out on, It becomes my duty to put the perspective- “There is a difference between Percentile and Percentage”

As a student. Possibilities are that I am brilliant in terms of the hard work done by me and I aspire to score a good percentage, but when it comes to CAT/XAT/IIFT and other exams, I must know the concept of percentile well. Percentile is not in my hands. Rather, it depends on my peers who have been taking the same exam like I have been doing and the scores that they have been getting. For instance, My peers find the exam Difficulty level: High. Then both I and my peers would find it tough and hence chances are, I get a 99 percentile at a much lower cut off.  On the other hand, If I find the exam relatively easier, chances are, my friends would also find the exam easy and I score a 99 percentile at a much higher cut off.

Battling with every aspirant’s phobia- The Reading Comprehensions”

RC is a phobia for many! It has been more than 8 years, I have been dealing with students, who, at the end of each year come to me with their same predefined fears of dealing with Reading Comprehensions. These 8 years have helped me devise a stratagem which I have been testing and amending every year for maximum efficient results.

How to improve accuracy in Reading Comprehensions? What should be the strategy to approach a question from RCc?               

 Aditya Mahajan

How to trade with attempts and accuracy in VARC ?

Tanmoy sen

Which passage needs to be attempted in CAT/ XAT/ IIFT and other MET exams?

I will begin with what most students do and then I will put my perspective!

All,  except for a few, normally go by what I call- ‘The Familiarity of the Passage’. Now, Familiarity in terms of –You, being used to that specific genre, used to that subject matter etc.

What generally happens is that- “I, as a student, unconsciously or consciously would use my subject knowledge , my general knowledge, and my assumptions while solving the passage that I am most comfortable with. And it becomes a  direct consequence that I happen to come across only those options which tempt me to mark upon them and I end up losing marks on the same.”


  • Students should make sure they be emotionally detached from the content of the passage
  • Students should not go by whether the passage is interesting or boring

The Familiarity of the passage, as I say, is good with just one respect, i.e., Reading Speed might be faster for, Students might be accustomed to reading that genre, but believe me there are more dangers that come with it.

The Right Approach for an RC

Scanning the Question stems first

Question stems means the body of the questions without the options. A great way to approach these RCs would be first scanning the question stems and then reading the passage. Once you know what kind of questions have been asked and then you read the passage, Trust me! Your reading would be more focused.

Why scan the question stems?

While solving the passage, once you see the options and return to the passage, You might have already read the area where the notion has been discussed. That is when you re-read that part again and would choose between two closest options.

Inferential and  Noninferential Questions- How to solve both?

In a Reading Comprehension, you generally come across two types of questions- Noninferential and Inferential.

Most students get stuck while solving – Inferential Questions.  Inferential Questions like

1)    What can be inferred from the passage?

2)    What is the author suggesting?

3)    What is the implication of *****?

As the word says- Interpret, or Infer, you deduce some from the data. By data, I mean the words in the passage. So when you deduce something from the passage it is to note that your option cannot be the exactly same as written in the passage. It needs to be a little extra. Now extra does not mean it has to be your own ideas. The two close options that you are left out with- 1) The hinted one 2) Your own assumption , It becomes more obvious that your answer would be the one that is hinted. Remember, The hinted one is  what you deduced from the passage minus your own assumption

The next comes this- Noninferential Questions

Noninferential questions are those which are data based. Here, the story is a bit different. The two close options you are left out with are- 1) The hinted one 2) The specified one. It becomes pretty obvious that your answer is the 2) the specified one.

In the past 8 years of my experience, this is what I tell normally to my each student. And they do come to me after they give mocks or such exams, and thank me for the strategies.

Shorter Passages or Longer Passages? Which one should I attempt?

Kartika Badola

Shorter or longer passages, which one? A cliché question But I must admit, an important one!

In CAT or GMAT, the usual questions are not that long. But in IIFT or XAT or even SNAP, passages are relatively long.

Shorter Passages? Why I say No to them?

Shorter Passages may save your time, but generally, as I have observed, they are more difficult to solve. They are full of inferential questions which do test your analyzing and interpretation skills.

Long Passages– Why you would find them helpful?

The turning point over here is that, long passages which are generally liked by none would actually help you in many ways. Remember, The look of certain long passages might get you psychologically afraid of them, but believe me, chances are you end up marking the correct option. Reason being, it generally turns out to be a data based passage which makes it easy to deduce facts from it. Mostly, things are specified over there and students might not have to waste time hunting or thinking for marking the correct option.

Still, having said this, I maintain – Scanning the Questions Stems first, and then reading the passage- longer or shorter, makes sense than just trying to understand the passage.

IIFT and their long passages? – How to recall the important points?

I can not recall facts stated in the reading comprehension section. Is there some strategy I should master?


With IIFT on 27th November 2016, not much time is left. Still, I am sure my attempt to solve your query would lessen your many problems and help you do a recheck on your current strategy.

As I have told, When you scan the question stems first and then go through the passage, your reading gets more focused. Now what you need is to practice both offline as well as offline. I l tell you why?

With Offline tests comes a liberty to underline the text in the question paper. Generally when students underline, they do it because they feel their reading seems to be an important notion which could help them mark the right option. Underlining the text would lead your eyeballs to fall on the portion that you had underlined and you would certainly not waste time upon hunting. Wherever comes that fact,you would just read, fine tune and look at your options.

Now, you may ask, “Sir, In Offline I have the privilege to do so, but what about online?”

Adaptability to Ease in Reading Online text would test your patience a bit. But when you master it , you can solve most RCs like anything. My advice would be- first hone your Focused Reading skills.  In the next one month, every day, if you spend minimum 2 hours reading those 5 essential items as told by me ,you would develop a Focused and a Faster Reading habit. Focused reading would help you remember the facts whenever you come across them in longer passages.

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Why Underlining is no more a waste of time?

Students, as I have seen, are more or less reluctant to underline the text. They feel, the lesser time they already have, would get wasted. But my experience says- Not underlining the text would actually lead you to waste a whole lot of time.

As long as you scan the question stems and you read, and simultaneously underline the important part of your reading, you tend to follow a predefined pattern to approach an RC. And you are not wasting the entire time understanding the content and hunting what you read then. With more practice you would, after some time, overcome this habit of ‘Underlining the Text’ as well!

When All 4 options look like each other? What is my mistake?

How to eliminate choices and derive at the right answer?

How to differentiate between options when all the options seems legit in verbal ?

Devi R Shivam

Let’s take this in detail. For your reference, I would explain about Para Jumbles

I will discuss the 4 scenarios that every student mistakenly, ends up ignoring, often leading to post exam regrets.

The Four Scenarios with Para Jumbles

I have problem in para jumbles. 4/5 options in the sequence are correct, it is that 1 option that always goes wrong. I am not able to figure out how I should on that.I used to think English as my strength but giving Aimcats and getting answers wrong consistently, I am losing confidence.

Gauri Bhawarkar

First Scenario

The first scenario comes into play, when you get 4 sentences of which 3 talk about a problem and 1 talks of the solution. The solution , being the odd one out, could have been easily eliminated. The same is for the vice-versa scenario when all 3 of them talk about the solution and the 4th one talks about the problem. Here the problem would get eliminated.

Second Scenario

The second scenario occurs, when you get 4 sentences of which 3 talks about a concept and the other one relates to some data, or instances or cross references. The 4th one seems clearly out of context and could have been easily eliminated.

Third Scenario

In the third scenario, you might come across the 4 sentences when all 3 of them relate to a similar geographical zone or location and the left one talks about a different geographical location.

Fourth Scenario

The fourth scenario occurs when you get 3 sentences which talk about the same time zone, say, present tense and the other one talks about a different time zone, say, future or past tense. Here the one that relates to future/past tense could have been easily eliminated.

Dealing with close options


I tell this secret to normally my every student. I am sure, it would not remain one now and I am glad about it. It would help many whenever they come across the similar problems.

What is this jargon- Inverted Pyramidal Approach? And How does it help the IIM aimers?

You can relate better to this- Ever read a news report? What these journalism people do, they follow up with the “Inverted Pyramidal Style Of Writing” . How?

You might have noticed that the most important detail is right up front, whereas other details follow the suit.

Allow me to take you all back in time, when your English Teacher taught you “ The Essay Writing Tips’. You were told that the Intro stanza introduces the idea, the middle stanza amplifies the idea and the concluding stanza sums up the notion.



Similar is what we come across in Para Jumbles. We tend to follow the Inverted Pyramidal Approach, so that we know about the opening paragraph as the one which has the potential to introduce the idea and the others , as I just mentioned ,to amplify it and  to sum it up.

For instance- Following up with the Inverted Pyramidal Approach- Of 4 options , I would be easily able to eliminate 2 of them and would be left with the other 2. Now one of these is what I have to achieve, Right! Say, the two options are

1)    Bdac

2)    Bcad

Tip: Normally in Para Jumbles, 3 sentences are more than enough to crack.

Now as I analyse the options, I know my opening sentence. A follow up with the concluding or the middle sentences can help me ace this Para Jumble. I again use the Inverted Pyramidal Approach to check which sentence is apt for a logical follow up with the first one.

Bc or bd?

If I still don’t get an idea, best would be I try to identify the concluding sentence- the one that, in all the best possible ways sum up the whole of the idea. And I can easily crack this Para Jumble

If someone could have acquainted you with this approach- then things could have got easier before. But not an issue, you still have ample of time to learn from your mistakes and improvise your performance before you take CAT and other exams.

 Minimum  Question Attempt for a Decent Percentile in CAT

He is weak at Quants and DI, and expects to make most out of verbal ability. How many questions should he ideally attempt to score more than 90 percentile

Aditya Gupta

In my 8 years of teaching Verbal Ability, not a single year has been missed when students come to me and ask this question. And I have the audacity to tell them on their face that there is no such minimum number of attempts that get you a decent percentile which is 95+. As I have mentioned before, There is a difference between percentile and percentage. Being a CAT aspirant, you would be more interested in enhancing the second aspect, ie the percentile that you score. I would insist to remind all of you again that percentile depends on other’s performance.

Aditya’s Case

Aditya scored a 99.99 percentile in Verbal Ability but still did not get a call from IIM A.B. C and many top colleges. Reason being he could not clear the sectional Quants Cut off

In- Depth Analysis- Aditya’s Case:

The top B-schools are not checking how outstandingly you outpace others in just one section. The idea should be- “ Am I able to clear all the sectional cut offs? “

Aditya, I am sure, if might have followed the notion, then would have definitely stood in a better position and could have converted calls from Top IIMs.

Every year, we see CAT being smarter than the people who give it. That is the reason a roll back on the provision to switch between the sections would help them choose people who can manage between all the sections.

Vocab Pandits V/s The Engineers- ‘The World War 3!’

What both miss out while outpacing the other?

I have categorized these two types of students I meet each year:

1)    Vocab Pandits

2)    The Engineers

Both in this war to outpace the other, still forget the main idea- To aim for the Top IIMs. Because the ultimate winner would be the one who makes it big to the final destination and in this case- The top IIMs.

While Vocab Pandits miss out on none to score 99 percentile in Verbal Ability, and the whole year practise to polish the same,  ‘The engineers’ focus on Quants and forget that Verbal Ability section is very much a part of the syllabus for CAT. To both the classes, I would like to suggest that you still fail on the major aspect of what these entrance tests have been trying to check, i.e. Management- How well you can manage across all the sections!

If Vocab Pandits are brilliant in Verbal Ability, that is not an issue. Problem is they should be able to maintain their score above than the sectional cut offs , if they aim for the top IIMs. Similar would be for the engineers. Blindly aiming for IIM Ahmedabad is not the solution. It in fact is a problem!

Paper Solving? Why you need to know about this?

You get the exam and you start with it? If this is what you have been doing , then, you should read about This- Paper Solving Techniques

Trick 1

You get the paper and you do not start with it.  How about take a minute to scan the whole of it- Read All the questions and simultaneously  mark upon the familiar questions you have done before which comprises of your strength. The one minute scanning would also help you get an idea of whether the paper has come easy or difficult and you can form a strategy at the moment.

Trick 2

With whatever section you pick up, make sure you get 75-80% of that portion of the section covered by you.

Trick 3

Since we talk about Verbal Ability,  let’s discuss on the sameVerbal Ability section comes with more than 70% of it being the Reading Comprehensions (Past exam pattern).  That surely means RC remains in the top notch for having the highest number of questions.Hence, leaving RCs to the end would turn out to be a bad idea. Whatever your stronger area is within your weaker area, you can set the paper solving strategy to begin with them.


Your mood would already be upbeat and that upbeat mood would take you through the so called relatively weaker areas and you would certainly not goof up. On the other hand , if you begin with what you have never been good at, I am sure nervousness would step in, taking you through many downs and will make you regret later on your scores.

A rough estimate on-  Tackling with how many to attempt?

If I know I am good at RCs but equally bad at Vocab, Grammar and Para Jumbles- I ought to know how to make the most of it.

If I happen to come across 4 such Passages. An ideal attempt should be :

                                           3 +

Three plus means that with a minimum attempt of 3 questions, you also attempt the fourth passage and mark only those questions which don’t want you to actually read the whole of the passage. You can go for the direct or the specified questions over here.

This would give you the confidence to skip on your weaker questions, in this case, the non-RC questions and your score would increase.

Analysis for Mock Verbal Ability? Why no one told you about this?

To remark upon the delicacy and the importance of this question such would be the score from my part

Delicacy: 9/10                                                          Importance: 10/10

This is that end of the road which can either be a dead end or be a turning point for all. The one who overcomes this checkpoint, in my view, would be a true 99 percentile scorer.

Why analyzing Mock VA exams is essential?

No. of mock Cats Given * No of mock cats analysed= A better CAT percentile

Such is the equation. For a student to increase the percentile,  he has to also increase the pace with which he analyses the mock CATs. Hence, I as a student, am solely responsible for taking mock CATs and analysing them so I get an idea on what are my weaker areas and my relatively stronger areas.

Why Students avoid mock CATs?

I find myself fortunate enough to analyze in depth what could have been the reasons for students not taking CAT. Interesting reasons I must say:

1)    Sir, I have been traveling

2)    I have not been scoring well and that frustrates me

3)    I am afraid of mock CATs

How not avoiding the mock CAT analysis would help you score 95+ percentile

If you just take mock CATs and don’t analyze them, you will see a downward sloping graph of your performance.

What you should do?

I l start off with an example, As ,over here. Since I am from T.I.M.E I would give an example of what T.I.M.E Hyderabad does. T.I.M.E Hyderabad, to every MBA aspirant, gives a detailed analysis of the mock CATs whereby the most important of all the pages is their ‘color coded page’. On that page, we have colors ranging from green, red etc. The colors on that page is not a matter of concern but their significance is. I l tell how?

Green color on that page means I have attempted that question and I have got it correct

Red color, on the other hand, means that I have attempted the question and I have got it wrong

Peach color demarcates that I have not attempted that question at all

What that Analysis page tells?


Difficulty Level: Moderate, Green 

I have got a green mark over the question, means I have attempted it right. If you go deep into it, you would see other astonishing facts as weAs,to attempt that very question I spent 5 minutes compared to  the average time taken, IE 2.5 minutes across the whole country.

This tells me on how much time, ideally, I should have taken in solving that moderate-level-question that came in the exam

Difficulty Level: Extremely Difficult,  Green

The question has been attempted and is correct. But analysis tells me that my peers, across the country, have not dared to mess up with this question when I was busy battling with the same for more than 7 minutes.

This tells me, that CAT is not testing my brilliance in that one topic. I might have deserved a pat on my back for solving that trickier question, but my peers rather attempted 4 such questions correct in the same time as taken by me to solve that one question

While analyzing the mock CAT, you might also come across questions which, while attempting , you thought of marking some option and you ended up marking the other. By fluke or by whatever reasons best known to you.

Analysis tells you that not going with your gut feeling would land you in a better position to avoid such dangers while taking the actual exam

 Final Verdict

While analyzing the mock CATs , try analyzing the colleges you get those mock scores. You can use to put in your mock score and see the colleges to target.

The reason I say this is- Normally students apply for each and every college like that. They need to make a wise decision while applying to the colleges. With an analysis of what colleges you get on those mock scores you can not only save the costs so involved in the application for colleges, but you can also target the specific colleges accordingly.

Through the medium of this I have tried to put into best words, all my experience of the past 8 years. I would certainly hope that it does help you do wonders in CAT 16. Make your parents proud and make your teachers proud! I am sure India would have the best possible future managers, CEOs and Entrepreneurs.

Prepare well for CAT 2016 🙂


The First Ever Thank You Note by MBA Aspirants for the Hard Work put in by their Teachers


  1. Milind Sharma

    I would like to have more details on Inverted Pyramidal Approach from Anand Sir. It would be great if he tells me how I use the same while solving a passage. Thanks!

  2. EKTA


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