Study Note on Para Jumbles

By Gaurav Mohanty|Updated : December 13th, 2021

Para jumbles form an integral part of verbal reasoning in any BBA Entrance Exam. Reading news, which is often expected out of an aspirant, negotiates many speed bumps in this section, especially if you are in the habit of reading the columns of experts like Paul Krugman and/or magazines like Economist or at the least, the Editorial of The Economic Times and/or The Hindustan Times. (for instance)


1. Playing Peek-a-boo with the Options (Even when there are options, hide them and try to answer): For instance take a look at the following set of parajumbles: Cover the options and see if you are able to rearrange them 

A. "If you miss this digital revolution, our big companies would be controlled by Chinese capital which is very dangerous," Mr.Pai warned. 

B. "India could become a digital colony," warned  Mohandas Pai, chairman of Manipal Global Education, referred to possible consequences of the massive money being pumped into India's digital economy by the US and China. 

C. With China and the US pumping in massive foreign capital into India's digital economy, a top Indian investor and educationist has warned that the country could become a "digital colony" unless Indian businesses start investing in it. 

D. "There is a fight between US and China to dominate digitally. And the Indian capital where they are, buying real estate in California?" he asked. 

Options: 1. ACDB 2. CBDA 3. ADCB D. CBAD

Usually this game begins by guessing what the previous paragraph could have been about. This set does not give us much scope for guessing and the best guess would be that the set of lines given would have been part of the first paragraph in a newspaper/tabloid which covers Business News. In the sentence B, we see the mention of one Mr.Pai. There is a mention of a pronoun, 'he' in option D. Hence A, should come last. Voila, your answer stares back at you: CBDA! 

2. Pride and Alpha (P and A) approach: There the pride of lions and then there is the Alpha; similarly, the paragraph might start off with something broad and then narrow down to something specific. Take the following question into consideration:

A. Take the Saudi-led war in Yemen, spearheaded by Muhammad bin Salman (MBS) just weeks after he became defence minister last year.

B. Each prince respects the other in public, but signs of tension abound.

C. At first, he flaunted his leadership, meeting generals and visiting foreign capitals, always with the press in tow.

D. Although such speculation is taboo in the kingdom Saudis whisper about palace intrigue.

Options: 1. DBAC 2. ACDB 3. ABDC 4. DCBA

As we see, A and F are fixed (to make things easy for the illustration): Now ‘B’ is something generic: the word Each is a giveaway here as it is a word which indicates a broad idea which is about to come. The next sentence hence becomes ‘A’ as it begins with ‘Take the Saudi-led war…’ which narrows it down to one prince: MBS after talking about princes in general in the previous sentence. Hence, BA is a set. (How to deal with sets is explained in the following paragraphs of the article)

3. Leader and Follower: This method is often helpful with MCQ type questions, where you can eliminate options:

For example, in the set illustrated in ‘Pride and Alpha...’, BA was a set and this eliminated TWO options: Option 2 and Option 3.

4. Pros and Cons: Pronouns and Conjunctions are often great aids to identifying the subsequent sentence. Consider the following example:

  1. It lost the popular vote at the most recent election, remaining in power thanks only to assiduous gerrymandering.
  2. Since then news has emerged of the looting of hundreds of millions of dollars from a state development agency.
  3. Malaysia’s current government, alas, is unlike its predecessors.
  4. Officials in America have indirectly accused Najib Razak (pictured), the prime minister, of pocketing some of the missing money, along with his stepson and others.

Options: 1. CADB 2. CABD 3. BDCA 4. BADC

From the options there could only be two starting sentences: C and B. Now, A contains the pronoun ‘It’ and it definitely follows C. Hence CA becomes a set (Leader and Follower) but both Option 1 and Option 2 contain the order CA. The word ‘then’ in sentence B points to the ‘most recent election’ in option A (Demonstrative Pronoun) and hence you arrive at Option 2 as the answer.

Note: There are two types of pronouns: demonstrative (this, that, these, those) and personal (he, she, it, they)

5. Make the Transition:

There’s a list of words which indicate the transition of an idea and hence help you identify the subsequent sentence which may sometimes help you form a set. The following set is approached not as an MCQ but using the Peek-a-boo technique.

  1. But the president had plenty of breathing room in state-specific polls, which turned out to be a better predictor of the outcome.
  2. Barack Obama held a similarly slim edge in national polling over Mitt Romney on the eve of an election he won comfortably in 2012.
  3. By contrast, Mrs. Clinton has lost even more ground in many state polling averages than she has nationally. Iowa, which Mr. Obama carried by ten and six points in 2008 and 2012, seems to have slipped from her grasp entirely: the last two polls there have her trailing by eight and five.
  4. Recent surveys of Maine’s second congressional district, which awards an electoral vote independent of the statewide winner, put Mr. Trump up by 11, ten and five points; Mr. Obama won it by nine.

Applying all the techniques learnt: B and A: The President denotes Barack Obama (Pro-Con Approach); also, the national polling and state-specific polls are related to the general idea: elections in B moves to state-specific polls in A (Leader-Follower). As they are comparing Barack Obama and Mitt Romney the previous paragraph must have spoken about the Trump-Clinton election performances and/or debates. (Peek-a-boo). A should then be followed C which contains the phrase of transition ‘By contrast…’ (Make the Transition). Hence the last sentence is D and the order is BACD.

The exhaustive (almost) list of words indicating Transition: also, again, as well as, besides, furthermore, in addition, likewise, moreover, similarly, consequently, hence, otherwise, subsequently, therefore, thus, as a rule, generally, for instance, for example, for one thing, above all, aside from, barring, besides, in other words, in short, instead, likewise, on one hand, on the other hand, rather, similarly, yet, but, however, still, nevertheless, first of all, to begin with, at the same time, for now, for the time being, in time, later on, meanwhile, next, then, soon, the meantime, later, while, earlier, simultaneously, afterward, in conclusion, with this in mind, after all, all in all to sum-up.

6. Spot the Acronyms:

WTC-World Trading Centre, ITF-International Tennis Federation: Now, WTC may appear in one sentence and the expansion in the next. It is rare that this happens but it would help your cause if you stay sharp and spot the acronyms.

7. Good Ideas Don’t Come Single

Let’s say India’s weaponry and its stockpile of missiles are the central idea being discussed: India’s Fighter planes might be discussed in one sentence and the purchase of F16s (nuclear head carriers) might be discussed in the next. You would hence know that the second sentence would follow the first.


General Suggestions and Comments:

Reading the Guardian, the Economist, oatmeal, mag portal, and the like definitely, helps. If you cannot take out time to read them, you could read the opinion/editorial pieces in The Times of India and/or The Hindustan Times. Ask your peers or friends or siblings or mother/father to jumble 5 or six sentences in an editorial column for you to rearrange. Once you understand the way a sentence is structured, cracking a PJ becomes second nature to you.

Once you are done with the whole set, take out time to read the ordered para again and see if it makes sense. It may take around 10-20 seconds which is a small step for you, but it may help you make the huge leap between a +3 and a -1.  


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