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Preparation Tips for Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC) Section in CAT
  • Last Updated : 30 Jul, 2019

The CAT exam (Common Admission Test) is a computer-based entrance exam in India for students wanting to secure the coveted MBA seats in various management institutes of the country such as IIM’s, FMS, DMS, etc. CAT is conducted every year by the IIMs on a rotational basis and it scores the candidates using three sections, namely Quantitative Ability, Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC) as well as Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR).

Among these sections, Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension forms a major chunk of the CAT exam as it has 34 questions out of the total 100 questions in CAT. Also, developing good verbal skills is extremely helpful not just for acing CAT but also after the admission while doing your MBA. So this article focuses on some important Preparation tips for Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension so that you can best prepare for both the CAT exam and beyond!!!

Pattern for Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension in CAT

To devise an overall strategy for the VARC section in CAT, it is important to first understand its overall pattern. So the pattern for CAT 2017 is given as follows:

The CAT 2018 paper was overall comparatively difficult however the VARC section was easier as compared to 2017 hence the number of attempts in this section went up by 2-3 questions.

Syllabus for Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension in CAT

Based on CAT 2018, the syllabus for VARC is given as follows:

The different tips to handle all the topics in the above syllabus are given as follows:

1. Reading Comprehension

  • RCs form the majority of the question paper. Last year alone 24 questions came from RCs. The problem that most people encounter in this section is reading comprehensions of genres that they are not comfortable with. So, for that remember the magic word RAVAMAS: READ AS VARIED AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE. Make it a point of solving at least two RCs daily. When you finally sit for CAT solving RCs should have become muscle memory.
  • Try to understand that RCs 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. Take any scenario, like even while having a conversation you have a certain thought process which you are expressing. The trick is comprehension and not speed, understanding what is being conveyed is important. Many aspirants start reading the passage but due to lack of concentration and unfamiliar domain their mind wanders, and they are unable to retain what they have read and have to re-read it. So, what you need to master is reading without losing concentration and keeping up with the thought process of the writer.

2.Para jumbles

  • Always use elimination. If you are stuck in Para jumbles make use of all information that is provided and no it’s not the sentences it’s the options. 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.
  • Instead of finding the entire passage find groups of lines that will come together, this way you will have chunks of that passage, which will help you view the big picture faster.

3. Summary Based questions

  • The tips for this section are the same as that for RCs with just a minor addition. While reading any editorial or a passage make it a point of summarizing it. 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.

4. Sentence exclusion

  • Sentence exclusion is similar to solving para jumbles. All you need to do is find what sentences can be grouped together and what cannot.
  • Second approach to these types of questions is getting the idea of the passage the sentences would form and finding the sentence that does not conform to that idea.

Some General Tips for Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension

These are some general tips you can follow while preparing for the VARC section of CAT:

  • The most important tip for CAT reading comprehension is doing 2 RCs daily. For this, you can refer to any source you want.
  • You should remember while attempting mocks and paper, that you need not do ALL THE QUESTIONS but should only mark the answers you are confident about. This is a major problem encountered by most students. Remember, don’t pick options that appear right but rather those that you know are right.
  • Try speed reading and don’t try to attempt all the questions in an RC rather even if you attempt 3-4 questions, it would be more than enough but losing marks is not an option.
  • Try to get the gist of the RCs while reading it, it will help in summary-based questions and descriptive answers.
  • Develop a healthy reading habit, take out 30 mins of your day for reading a novel and another half to one hour (depending on your speed) to read at least the editorial section of the newspaper.
  • There has been a shift from questions that focus on just grammar or vocab to the ones that require reading a large amount of data, processing it and answering questions. Which is why almost all the points above mention focussing on improving your reading habits and English usage.
  • The most important difference between VARC and other sections of CAT is that this section is not about finding the right answers but rather finding the wrong ones and eliminating them. Many options might appear correct so you need to develop logic and understand why they are wrong and not the other way around.

How to Implement these Tips in CAT Preparation

All the tips that are provided above for Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension preparation can be utilized to prepare for the intricacies of the CAT exam and eventually ace it! To implement it even more efficiently, GeeksforGeeks brings you the CAT Preparation Course 2019. This is a FREE course comprising of over 1500 questions on all three sections of the CAT exam that will provide more than adequate support for all sections of your CAT preparation.


CAT Preparation Course 2019 will help the CAT aspirants track and improve the preparation through questions of various difficulty levels. There will be 3 full-length mock tests covering the whole syllabus of CAT. Tracks will cover the theory and quizzes related to all the topics while the Sectional Contests will have time-bound questions on those topics. The explanations for all the questions will be provided at the end of each quiz and tests. There will be 27 Sectional Mock Tests and 3 full-length Contests.

You are just a click away to begin your CAT preparation journey. Register now for the CAT Preparation Course 2019 course by clicking on the button below.

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