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How has Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC) in CAT changed over the years?

  • Last Updated : 27 Nov, 2019

The CAT exam is a computer-based exam in India for admission into the MBA programs of various management institutes of the country such as IIM’s, FMS, DMS, , etc. CAT is organized by one of the IIM’s on a rotational basis and consequently, it is notorious for changing the exam schedule or pattern on a regular basis.

Currently, CAT is divided into three sections namely Quantitative Ability (QA), Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension (VARC) and Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR). Each of these sections has undergone some changes over the past years with even these 3 current sections having been created only in 2015. So this article deals with all the Changes that have occurred in Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension in CAT over the years such as the changes in emphasis on different topics, the introduction of TITA questions, etc.

Change in Questions for Different Sections of Verbal Ability

The VARC section of CAT contains two major topics i.e. Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension which together constitute 34 questions out of 100 in CAT. VARC is comparatively easily scorable in CAT so it is essential that you don’t neglect it.

Verbal Ability contains Jumbled Paragraphs, Summary Questions and Odd Sentence Out in a Paragraph. A graph that demonstrates the number of questions for all the topics in Verbal Ability over the past three years is given below. Since the CAT exam is provided in two slots over a single day, the Verbal Ability questions in the graph are divided according to the slots.

VA-over-the-years



Some of the important patterns that can be observed for Verbal Ability are given below. These may be essential for your preparation strategy for CAT 2019.

  • The Verbal Ability questions together constitute around 10 questions out of the total 34 in VARC.
  • Also, the number of questions in the Verbal Ability section has remained consistent with 4 in Jumbled Paragraphs, 3 in Summary Questions and 3 in Odd Sentence Out. So you can expect this trend to continue in CAT 2019 as well.

Change in Questions for Different Sections of Reading Comprehension

Reading Comprehension normally contains 5 passages in each CAT exam with multiple questions associated with each of them. Most of these questions are direct with few inferential questions. However, there can be some complicated questions with closely related options. To clarify this, a graph that demonstrates the number of questions for all of the passages in Reading comprehension over the past three years is given below.

Reading-Comprehension-Over-The-Years

Some of the important patterns that can be observed for Reading Comprehension are given below. These may be essential for your preparation strategy for CAT 2019.

  • The Reading Comprehension questions together constitute around 24 questions out of the total 34 in VARC.
  • The Reading Comprehension is normally divided into 5 passages which can range in length from 300 to 800 words. Consequently, their difficulty and the number of questions based on them also changes.
  • In 2016 and 2017, there were 3 passages with 6 questions and 2 passages with 3 questions. However, this trend changed in 2018 with 4 passages with 5 questions and 1 passage with 4 questions. But, the total number of questions in RC remained the same.

Change in TITA Questions for Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC)

TITA questions or Type in the Answer Questions are non-MCQ questions that were introduced in CAT from 2015. TITA questions don’t have any options and you have to submit the answer on a virtual keyboard using a mouse. One advantage of TITA questions is that they don’t have any negative marking unlike MCQ questions and so it is best to attempt all of them.

A graph that demonstrates the number of TITA questions in Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension over the past three years is given below:

TITA-questions-in-VARC

Some of the important patterns that can be observed for TITA questions in Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension are given below. These may be essential for your preparation strategy for CAT 2019.

  • There were 10 TITA questions in VARC in 2016 which have somewhat decreased to 7 in 2017 and 2018. However, TITA questions are becoming more and more important with time and may also feature heavily in CAT 2019 so it is best to prepare for them.
  • Most of the TITA questions in VARC are asked from Jumbled Paragraphs and Odd Sentences Out in Verbal Ability. Also, they are comparatively easier than the MCQ’s so it is important to thoroughly prepare for these so that you can attempt all of them.

How to Prepare for Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension in CAT?

It is obvious from the above sections that Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension is a very important section in CAT and consequently it requires thorough preparation. Some of the steps for VARC preparation are given as follows:

  • To handle Jumbled Paragraphs, make use of all information that is provided and focus on the options provided and not the sentences. Always find the combination that you know will definitely come together and then use options to eliminate the ones that don’t have that combination together. So instead of finding the entire passage find groups of lines that will come together and this will help you view the big picture faster.
  • Reading Comprehensions are not a jumble of random words, but a flow of thought illustrated in the paper. So all you need to do is try and catch that flow. The trick is comprehension and not speed in this. So, what you need to master is reading without losing your concentration and keeping up with the thought process of the writer.
  • To practice for Summary Based Questions, make it a point to summarize any editorial or passage you read. What you need to do while summarizing it is include the idea, writer’s opinion, what are the different ways of summarizing it. Always look for at least two ways different ways you could summarize the passage. Doing this activity daily will help you ace this section

To help you prepare effectively for the VARC and the entirety of the CAT exam, GeeksforGeeks has created the CAT Preparation Course 2019 which is a FREE course with 1500 questions on all three sections of the CAT exam along with 27 Sectional Mock Tests and 3 Full-length Mock Tests.

This course has dedicated tracks for all the topics in CAT syllabus including VARC which provides the relevant theory for each topic so that you can learn all the concepts and formulas and it also provides subjective quizzes and contests so that you can understand all the aspects of a particular topic thoroughly. Also, after the content competition, a detailed explanation is provided so that you can analyze your performance and understand your strengths and weaknesses better.

CAT-Preparation-Course-2019

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