How to improve Grammar: Tips & Techniques that you won’t find anywhere else
English grammar is something that is generally a cause of stress for many students, as it’s quite confusing and complicated. However, correct grammar is a must for both writings as well as speaking skills. It is thus, important to understand all the rules of grammar and apply them in a proper manner. Grammar can be seen as a game, some are well-versed with the language while some struggle with tenses, clauses, sentences, and so on. So let’s get to know more about how to improve our grammar for Verbal ability.
Is studying grammar important for VARC section?
Grammar questions in Verbal Ability aren’t much talked about. You will hardly find someone who says that they “spent time practicing Grammar questions” or who consider Grammar as their “favorite subject”. Most of the students spend all their time on RCs, Para-jumbles, and the lot. They don’t really devote enough time to Grammar. And some of them do clear the cut-offs without practicing Grammar. However, this is not the case for everyone.
If you truly understand the management entrance tests, you would know that it is not just about knowing 2-3 important topics in an exam and excelling in them. The key to getting a good score is having an idea about all the topics, and at the same time, knowing when and how to solve them. That is what is required by future managers. A manager isn’t a person who knows just 2-3 processes. A manager is someone who has a brief understanding about everything that takes place around him and his organization.
Similarly, you should have an idea about everything that’s on the question paper in front of you. If you come across an easy grammar question, but you don’t have any idea about solving it, then you would be throwing away precious marks. A single mark can have a huge impact when clearing cut-offs. Therefore, you do not want to come out of an exam hall, leaving simple grammar questions unanswered.
Most of the exam toppers have all their basic concepts covered, including grammar. Also, Grammar isn’t just a topic that will help you to increase your score. Grammar is the basis of all verbal & non-verbal communication. Having a good base in grammar will help you in your GD-PIs and Essay Writing as well. Now that you know, WHY you have to practice solving grammar questions, let’s focus on the HOW.
How do I practice Grammar?
The key, to scoring in grammar questions, is practice. The more you practice, the more efficient you’ll get at scoring in Grammar questions. Now, grammar is all about knowing the rules and guidelines. However, do not just blindly pick up a grammar reference book and start memorizing rules.
To get the maximum benefit out of your preparation, follow these steps:
1) Glance through:
Whenever you study a book/subject, you should first glance through, or have a look at the entire content/topics in the subject. This will help you to build, a sort of roadmap in your mind. You will get an idea about what the subject contains. Based on this, you can then decide how to spend your time on the respective topics in the subject. Without any idea about the subject, if you blindly start, say the first chapter, you won’t have any idea about how much more you have to learn. This holds true for Grammar as well. Your targets won’t be defined and you may get stuck on less-important topics. In short, your preparation won’t be productive. So, have a look at what the book has to offer and then start your plan.
2) Go deeper:
Once you have an idea about what is to be done and how much time is to be spent on each topic, you can then start learning the concepts, topic-wise/chapter-wise. Once you have a good idea about the different rules/guidelines of grammar in a particular topic, you can start attempting the questions.
While solving the questions, follow the steps illustrated below:
Note: The above flowchart asks you to check the solutions to all the questions. Including the ones, you answered correctly. This is because you may sometimes get questions right, based solely on your command over the English language, and not on your knowledge of Grammar rules. Although that is completely acceptable, you should still know the rules involved in the questions. Knowing the rules will help you when you come across a difficult question, wherein your ‘command’ over English may not be enough.
Repeat the steps in the flowchart for every new set of grammar questions that you solve. What happens is that after so much practice, the rule/rules stay fixed in your head.
As depicted in the flowchart, even after getting the questions correct, you should still keep practicing/revising them. Revising a topic strengthens your basic foundations of that topic. You cannot improve grammar by just going through the rules once. After a couple of revisions, your chances of erring in the topic goes down significantly. You can then shift your focus on other topics and improve your skills in them.
This rule applies to all, and not solely to grammar.
If you are completely unfamiliar with Grammar, you can get started with the following topics:
- Clauses (The building blocks of English)
- Conjunctions (The glue that holds sentences together)
- Punctuation (A language is incomplete without it)
- Subject-Verb Agreement (one of the most basic rules of English)
- Tenses (The most important aspect of communication)
Remember, questions asked on grammar are usually in the form of:-
- Identify the Correct Sentence/Phrase
- Find the erroneous part in the sentence
The key to solving these is to know the fundamental rules of Grammar. So, if you really want to score more in verbal ability, focus on these grammar rules and learn to use them as well.
Other Tips on how to improve grammar :
Tip 1: Start speaking in English:
You may not find a direct link between speaking a language and grammar, but it is one of the most effective ways to learn and implement the rules you have learned before. When to speak to someone, or hear someone speak, you automatically start understanding how sentences need to be framed. You will also start identifying when certain words or sentences don’t fit. The human brain is a wonderful device when it comes to comprehending languages! It will automatically start learning and developing your language skills when you speak in it. So I highly recommend that you make it a habit to speak with English, either with your friends or family or with other aspirants like you who are also in need to practices their English. This way you both can benefit together
Tip 2: Start Thinking in English:
This may sound weird, what’s thinking in English? Well if you haven’t noticed already, try to gauge what language you speak to yourself when you are forming your sentences. Most of us speak in Hindi or our vernacular language and then speak in English. This creates a lag in our brain, and a lot of times the sentences that come out are not grammatically correct. So, try to start thinking in English! whether it be daily life stuff or studies. It may take some time to get used to it, but it will definitely help both your speech and written ability in English.
Tip 3: Start reading more:
This is a must if you really want to make your grammar robust! The practice of reading regularly can also make your grammar very strong. When you read, you link sentences to each other, you understand the relationship between parts of the sentence and the importance of different tenses. You understand how words express without expressions. And that is the power you need for your RCs! If you read regularly, Not only will your grammar improve, but para jumbles and RCs will also become a cakewalk.
Tip 4 : Practice writing one article every day
While solving grammar-based questions is a good practice initially, you would eventually have to shift to writing these sentences too. Even in CAT since 2015, no direct grammar question has been asked in the exam. Thus, you are not learning grammar to answer direct questions, but to improve your overall verbal skills, especially para jumbles, paragraph completion, and RCs. This can only be done when you know it can form grammatical sentences on your own. So start the practice of writing every day.
The best way (like have mentioned numerous times in my previous articles) is to take one editorial from the newspaper, read it completely, and write one page on it in your own words. Try to do this without referring back to the article. In case you absolutely need some referring back, read the article in its entirety again and go back to writing. This way you don’t replicate the language of the existing article, but you also know the context of what is to be written. Believe me, this practice will change your life! So definitely make it a habit to write something each day in your own words.
Tip 5: Listen to audiobooks or start watching English series:
This is a new fun way to listen and learn English! There are plenty of audiobooks available on the internet for free, take one (preferably on a good subject, maybe an autobiography or a good book) and start listening to them. This will also help you comprehend English and grammar usage in a better manner.
Apart from that, there is always Netflix! Get hooked onto a series and try to watch it without subtitles. Let your brain understand how sentences have to be formed in conversations, and it will definitely help make your English skills better. (Pro tip: Try watching Suits 😉 )
Practice is all about attempting the activity regularly. Therefore, you can do at least 15-20 questions of grammar in a day. Now you can do this every day, or on alternate days, or maybe just on weekends. That depends on how your schedule is and how your time is distributed among the other sections.
However, remember that grammar does not end with your practicing a few questions on each topic. It’s a continuous activity and can be built only by the tips I’ve mentioned above. Over the long run, you may not consciously remember these rules, but your grammar should be soo strong that you never make a single mistake even with the articles. So start your grammar prep now, and ace your Verbal ability section in all your exams!
I hope you found our article on how to improve grammar usefully. Do read our other articles on Verbal ability skills for more strategies and tips.