CAT Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension Preparation: Topic Wise Strategy and Online Preparation

    Anam Shams Anam Shams
    Content Curator

    Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension make up CAT's crucial VARC section that carry around 34 percent weightage in the exam. VARC addresses, among other elements, English Language, Grammar, Vocabulary, and Comprehension. Learning at IIM Ahmedabad, Bangalore, FMS Delhi and other leading MBA colleges, CAT toppers acknowledge that they were not very proficient in the VARC segment when they began preparing. However, several of them obtained 95+ percentile in this section. CheckDetailed CAT VARC Pattern

    Latest Update: CAT 2020 notification has been released on July 29 by IIM Indore on official website Exam is scheduled to take place on November 29, 2020. Check Details Here

    • Questions on Reading Comprehension passages have the maximum weightage - 66% - in the Verbal Ability section. Candidates can find up to 4 Reading Comprehension passages followed by 6 questions on each of those passages in the VA section of the CAT paper.
    • CAT VARC is usually seen to be easy, but the analysis of the past year has shown that it has become tougher. Aspirants generally find the Comprehension section difficult because the questions are not direct. It can take students quite some time to even be able to understand what is being asked. Therefore, adequate preparation and practice is necessary to ace this section.
    • CAT 2020 is a coveted exam leading to entries into IIMs, FMS, SPJIMR, MDI, IITs, IMI, IMT, NITIE among other top MBA colleges, scheduled in third week of November 2020 as a computer-based examination. CAT has three parts - Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC), Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DILR), and Quantitative Ability (QA). According to the 2019 analysis of CAT, VARC was quite tricky. Two passages were found to be difficult.

    In this article, you will discover all the necessary information on how to prepare for Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC). 

    CAT VARC Tips for Beginners

    CAT Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension Preparation Tips for Beginners

    Tips for Reading Comprehension (RC) 

    The tips given below would help beginners to build on their reading comprehension skills - 

    • Every day, select a passage from a magazine, book, newspaper or novel to recognize your reading comprehension skills. 
    • Continue to build your vocabulary by making flashcards of words that seem new to you as you engage in reading. Read those flashcards frequently.
    • Develop an interest in what you read to improve your vocabulary. Do not consider it a burdensome chore. 
    • Clearly summarize your readings. 
    • When you get tired, try interpreting the passage aloud. 
    • Read each part of a given text. Do not ignore any of the parts, however minor they may appear. 
    • Discuss with your peers about your readings and their interpretations, and have logical debates with the learned vocabulary.
    • Make use of online reading resources like journals, e-newspapers, and e-magazines for enhanced practice. 

    Must Read Articles

    Tips for Verbal Ability (VA) 

    The tips given below would be helpful to enhance your verbal ability - 

    • Read various genres of magazines and books (use online versions as well), even those outside of your comfort zone. This will help you learn a lot of new terms. 
    • Attempt a range of VARC mock tests to introduce yourself to a series of questions that will evaluate your verbal ability. 
    • Utilize appropriate verbal ability study material while studying for CAT VARC. You will need to look at sample CAT papers and identify the correct syllabus book accordingly. 
    • To make studying fun, install mobile applications like Vocabulary Builder and Word by Word.
    • Use new words that you have learnt in your regular conversations with friends or family. Such use of those words will help you remember them better.
    • Shift to watching movies / TV series and playing word games to find more vocabulary in times when you get bored with reading. 
    • Highlight complex dictionary words and understand their meanings. It is advisable for you to keep your dictionary near you when watching movies or reading books.

    CAT vs XAT VARC Preparation

    CAT vs XAT Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension Preparation

    Common Admission Test (CAT) and Xavier Aptitude Test (XAT) both have the section of Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension. There are similarities and differences between them. 

    • It is important to understand that even though the weightage of VARC in XAT is lesser than in CAT, the questions asked are usually tougher. Therefore, the preparation for XAT VARC must be stronger. 
    • VARC appears with LR (Logical Reasoning) in XAT. This is why the division of questions will differ from CAT where VARC is an independent section. Candidates must plan their study accordingly.
    Jumbled ParagraphsJumbled Paragraphs
    Summary/Inference of Short ParagraphsSummary/Inference of Short Paragraphs
    Identifying the Odd Sentence in a Jumbled ParagraphIdentifying the Odd Sentence in a Jumbled Paragraph
    Sentence Correction Sentence Correction 
    Paragraph CompletionParagraph Completion
    Vocabulary-based questions (like fill in the blanks)Vocabulary-based questions (like fill in the blanks)
    Long and Short Passages on Literature, Economic and Social Issues, Culture, History, Fiction, Science, and Abstract topics. Long and Short Passages on Literature, Economic and Social Issues, Culture, History, Fiction, Science, and Abstract topics. 

    Read  Best Android Mobile Apps for CAT Preparation

    CAT vs XAT Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension Exam Pattern

    Details CATXAT
    Name of Section Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension (VARC)Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension (VARC) and Logical Reasoning (LR)
    Time Allotted 60 minutesNo sectional time limit
    Total Number of Questions3426
    Number of Reading Comprehension Questions23 - 2414 - 16
    Number of Verbal Ability Questions10 - 118 - 10
    Marks Given for Every Correct Answer+ 3+1
    Negative Marks for Every Wrong Answer-1-1/4
    Total Marks10226
    Difficulty Level of QuestionsEasy to DifficultModerate to Difficult 

    Best Books for CAT VARC

    Best Books for CAT Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension Preparation

    Best Books for VARC Preparation 

    Important Books for CAT

    1. Word Power Made Easy

    • Author - Normal Lewis 
    • Publication: Anchor 
    • Latest Edition: November 4, 2014
    • ISBN: 978-1101873854
    • Sources: Online portals like Amazon and Flipkart 

    ‘Word Power Made Easy’ assists in improving vocabulary. It describes precise word use. It is divided into focused sections and at the end of each chapter, you can review the exercises.

    2. Mastering the Verbal Ability for CAT

    • Author - Ajay Singh 

    • Publication: Arihant Publications

    • Latest Edition: January 1, 2018

    • ISBN: 978-9312145753

    • Sources: Online portals like Amazon and Flipkart 

    ‘Mastering the Verbal Ability for CAT’ is an effective learning material for CAT VARC with over 200 passages to prepare from. 

    3. How to Prepare for Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension for the CAT

    • Authors - Arun Sharma and Meenakshi Upadhyay

    • Publication: McGraw Hill Education

    • Latest Edition: August 4, 2016

    • ISBN: 978-9352602261

    • Sources: Online portals like Amazon and Flipkart 

    ‘How to Prepare for Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension for the CAT’ has effective topic-wise separation. The material is quite comprehensive. It also offers mock tests and analysis of the papers from previous years.


    Ideal Approach to Solve CAT Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension Section

    To be able to ace the CAT Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension section, it is essential for you to understand the syllabus, weightage, and how to deal with more important topics. 

    Important Topics in CAT VARC with Weightage

    Important Topics in CAT Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension with Weightage

    Name of Topic Key FeaturesExpected Number of QuestionsWeightage
    Jumbled Paragraphs5 jumbled sentences are to be sequenced in the correct order 3 - 43 - 4%
    Summary/Inference of Short Paragraphs4 answer choices follow short paragraphs of 4-5 sentences3 - 43 - 4%
    Identifying the Odd Sentence in a Jumbled Paragraph5 jumbled sentences out of which one odd sentence has to be identified33%
    Long Passage 1Based on facts66%
    Long passage 2 Dense with vocabulary and based on opinions and literary terms66%
    Long passage 3 Based on abstract topics and literature and can have a challenging vocabulary 66%
    Short passage 1 Based on economy, business, or geography33%
    Short passage 2Dense in vocabulary and based on opinions, historical facts, and future plans33%
    Short Passage 3 Based on an abstract topic33%

    Topic-wise Preparation Tips for CAT VARC

    Topic-wise Preparation Tips for CAT Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension

    Reading Comprehension typically has more weightage than Verbal Ability. It is essential that you begin your preparation with Reading Comprehension. This will help you build a foundation for studying Verbal Ability as well. As you read more and more practice passages, you will come across elements of Verbal Ability like Vocabulary which you can make a note of.

    Reading Comprehension is also considered to be tough by several test-takers. Therefore, you must dedicate more time and effort to this segment. Use books such as Word Power Made Easy by Norman Lewis and How to Prepare for Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension for the CAT by Arun Sharma and Meenakshi Upadhyay for enhanced preparation. 

    Correction of Different Errors

    • Out of the 34 questions asked in the VA section, around 20 questions will be based on this type. These will test the grammar skills of the candidate.
    • Topics like use of Articles, Nouns, Personal & Relative pronouns, adjectives, adverbs, subject verb agreement, active-passive, Reported speech, modifiers, use of conditions, using parts of sentences, tenses and confusing words can be expected and candidates should prepare these well.
    • Ample practice exercises and solving questions based on these will help the candidate succeed in these types of questions.
    • Analysing the errors made while practicing will give the candidates an idea of what not to do in this section.

    Reading Comprehension 

    • Reading Comprehension is the most significant segment of the section on CAT Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension. RC questions make up almost 24 questions in the VARC segment, out of a total of 34. 
    • RC passages are focused on a wide range of topics. Your only rescue is varied reading. If you are well-acquainted with a wide range of topics, you will most likely score well. 
    • Passages from fields like philosophy and sociology need you to to have strong comprehension skills while business or economics passages need you to know the basic vocabulary of these areas. You must read posts from as many different places as you can. 
    • For RCs, the second critical thing is continuous practice. The two best resources to practice CAT level RCs are: papers from the previous year and Mock CAT RCs. These will provide you with the highest quality and most appropriate preparatory material. Ensure that you practice RCs frequently. The more you practice, the better your speed and precision in RCs will be. 
    • Practicing RCs also enhances your grammar and vocabulary and thus, will also help you in other areas of VARC. 
    • Candidates can expect to find questions on statements made in the passage, true-false, assumptions and other critical reasoning type questions based on the Reading Comprehension passages given in the paper. The passages can be expected to be around 700 to 800 words.
    • The best way to prepare for these questions is to attempt mock tests and specimen papers on RC.
    • Speedy and accurate reading exercises will also help the candidates in preparing for this section.
    • Candidates can read editorials, newspaper and magazine articles on a regular basis to crack these questions more effectively.

    Tip: This is the only type of question that will definitely come up in the segment on CAT Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension. So, prepare well. \


    • Up until 2015, CAT featured 3-4 grammar questions. There were no clear questions coming from grammar after that. Nevertheless, to crack other kinds of VARC questions, you have to be knowledgeable with English grammar. 

    • To score decently in questions on VARC, get to know the basics of English Grammar well. To brush up on your basic grammar skills, you can consult any good book on Basic English grammar (such as High School Grammar and Composition by Wren & Martin). 

    • Learning the basics can help you deal with questions with greater precision and speed. It is strongly recommended that you go over the CAT Grammar questions from the previous year.

    Verbal Reasoning 

    • The other important part of CAT VARC after RC is verbal reasoning. 6-8 questions are usually asked in the form of Para-jumbles, Misfit sentences, Summary Writing or Critical Reasoning. In the previous years, questions concerning para-completion have made a frequent appearance in the exam. 
    • It is essential that you routinely practice questions from this area. 
    • Here, your performance will depend on your reading skills in addition to your ability to derive logical inferences. 
    • Most of these topics do not have any hard and fast rules but have a simple set of guidelines you will need to follow to answer these questions.


    • Several times, the difference between percentiles 94 and 96 is attributable to the one word meaning that impeded your understanding of the given text. Hence, it is important that you build on your word power.
    • Strengthen your vocabulary through the daily learning of new words. For improving vocabulary skills, you may refer to effective Vocab Builders. TAlthough there has been no direct vocabulary-based question in CAT for the past three years, vocabulary plays a crucial role in improving productivity in all of the above areas. It expands your understanding of complex reading material.

    Jumbled Paragraphs

    • Candidates can expect 2 to 3 questions on random jumbled sentences and another 2 to 3 questions on ‘Out of context’ sentences to be picked out from a paragraph of jumbled sentences. The total weightage can be expected to be around 10 to 15% in Verbal Ability section.
    • For Para Jumbled sentences, candidates will have to understand the connectors and pronouns used in these sentences to effectively solve these questions. At some places, parts of speech can be mixed up. A noun might be used in place of a pronoun. Candidates will have to find this out, especially if it begins the sentence with. The key here would be to identify that and rearrange the sentences accordingly.

    Also check CAT Paper Analysis

    Para summary 

    • Candidates can expect 3 to 4 questions contributing 8 to 10% weightage to Verbal Ability from these type of questions.
    • Question will be based on a small text. Candidates will have to to go through the text, form the summary of the text and pick out the most appropriate option that best describes the summary of the text from the options given to them.
    • Candidates will have to develop a good reading habit to crack these questions. They are advised to read the editorials and other literary articles regularly to make answering these questions much easier.

    Critical Reasoning

    • Candidates can expect around 3 to 4 questions with a total weightage of 10 to 12% based on Critical Reasoning.
    • Candidates will have to differentiate and select the right answer option based on whether the statement is a fact or an inference or a judgment based on their analytical thinking.
    • The only way to prepare for this is again to solve lots of sample questions and papers. This will help the candidate to speed up the analytical thinking process to answer the questions.
    • Candidates can solve an array of different type of critical reasoning questions to succeed.

    Tricks to Prepare Notes for CAT VARC

    1. When you choose a passage for reading, stick a copy of it in your notebook. 

    2. Identify the core message of each passage and mention it below or beside the passage. 

    3. Highlight any new words that you come across in the passage. 

    4. Write a summary of the passage and evaluate your performance. Make a note in the side margins of what mistakes you have made and tips on how to perform better. 

    5. List down all important grammatical rules in the beginning of your notebook and go through them as often as you can along with vocabulary. 

    CAT VARC: Coaching or Self Study

    Studying CAT VARC: Coaching or Self Study

    To get a desirable percentile in CAT VARC, coaching and self-study are the two options you have. Take into consideration your lifestyle and productivity levels before making a decision. 

    Read more  CAT Preparation Tips for Working Professionals

    Benefits of the Coaching Method

    The coaching method is for those who function well in a structured environment and a fixed schedule. 

    A few benefits of the coaching method are given below - 

    • In a classroom environment, you can concentrate better, because it is an exclusive educational space. 

    • Fellow classmates will promote better learning. 

    • The class duration you have set can help you follow a consistent CAT VARC practice routine. 

    • The coaching institutes provide study plans for only specified periods of time. This system is always designed so as to avoid overexertion or under-preparedness. 

    • Within the space of a coaching institute, you will be interrupted a lot. 

    • Coaching institutes provide study materials so you will not need to spend any more time looking for it. 

    • You would also have the benefit of teachers being regularly present to clear any doubts.

    • They could even provide you with a list of new words that might appear in the exam. 

    • Some coaching institutes even offer mental support to ensure you do not burn out while preparing for CAT VARC. 

    • Teachers will assess the mock tests you answer, which will help you determine your weak and strong areas.

    Benefits of the Self-study Method

    The self-study method is for those who prefer autonomy in preparation. 

    A few benefits of the self-study method are given below - 

    • You can start preparing for CAT VARC more efficiently, as more time can be devoted to each topic rather than studying them in bulk. 

    • There is a high chance that you will learn better through self-learning. What happens with this method is deep learning. In circumstances where questions are complexly structured, you will be better equipped to respond well. 

    • Your confidence will be given a boost as you will have prepared by yourself for CAT VARC. 

    • The greatest advantage is that you can practice at your own speed and at your own time. At times when you feel the most efficient, you could plan to study without feeling constrained by restrictive timings.

    Online Preparation Tips and Resources for CAT VARC

    The challenging times of today have caused a trend of online learning to surface. CAT VARC can also be practiced online. Choose the right resources to help you with your preparation and you are sure to ace this section through self-learning. 

    • Identify authentic resources like well-known YouTube channels, e-newspapers, e-magazines, and e-journals. 
    • Make use of vocabulary building apps that will help you in identifying new words and their meanings. 
    • Solve mock tests and previous years’ question papers online and gain an evaluation of your level of preparation. 
    • Ensure that you have fully practiced and revised the syllabus at least 2-3 days before the exam. 

    Online Preparation CAT VARC

    Best Youtube Channels for CAT Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension 

    Handa ka Funda Handa ka Funda is a YouTube channel with more than 50 demo tutorials and over 600 video tutorials. This channel covers Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension for CAT in extensive detail. The content has been organized by Ravi Handa, a very accomplished mentor. It eases preparation by providing video-based training and mock assessments. 
    2IIMCATThis YouTube Channel has a massive directory of learning materials, tips, and tricks for CAT VARC. Complex constructs are explained using simple techniques. 
    Career Launcher Career Launcher is one among the top education providers that can be trusted. It also provides a free YouTube channel for CAT VARC aspirants, in addition to the online preparation series and classroom mentoring. It is spearheaded by alumni from IIT-IIM. It was founded over 21 years ago, and is the one-stop solution for coaching of CAT VARC. It also provides material for preparation online. CAT-aspirants are provided with appropriate study material. 
    Takshzila ShikshakTakshzila Shikshak is a substantial YouTube channel providing very beneficial and engaging content for CAT VARC preparation. 
    T.I.M.E.Triumphant Management Education Institute, Pvt. Ltd. (T.I.M.E.) is renowned as the top coaching institute in the country. It is present in 119 towns in India. The training given here is exceptional and it is indeed a great space for having adequate CAT VARC preparation. There are classroom courses and online courses. This program also includes The All India Mock Series

    Other Online Resources for CAT Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension

    The online resources available for preparation apart from YouTube channels are - 

    BodheePrepMore than 153 questions are provided on this platform to give you more practice with Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension. Along with the questions, you will find adequate explanations provided.
    Aeon & Aldely This is a great resource for practicing with philosophy and psychology-based passages. In addition to reading tips, these practice exercises are bound to help you expand your reading range and make you a diverse reader. 
    Magoosh Vocabulary This is an app that can be used to continuously improve your vocabulary. 

    6 Month Study Plan for CAT Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension

    MayStart your preparation by reading through The Hindu’s editorial section on a daily basis.  Note: Continue this exercise till the day of the exam. 
    JuneResearch and make note of idioms, phrases, antonyms, and synonyms.  Read various kinds of content online and offline. 
    JulyEnhance your vocabulary and brush up on your grammar abilities. 
    AugustPractice critical reasoning, fill in the blanks, sentence correction, and logical deduction. 
    SeptemberRevise all the VARC topics and practice more. 
    OctoberAttempt a minimum of 1 mock test in 2 days.  Revise all crucial concepts. 

    CAT VARC Preparation FAQs

    Ques: How to score a 99 percentile in Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension?

    Ans: In order to attain a 99 percentile in VARC, you need to continually read on topics such as Current Affairs, Literature, Philosophy, and Politics; remember grammatical rules; and develop a rich vocabulary.

    Ques: Is ‘Word Power Made Easy’ enough for CAT Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension?

    Ans: No, ‘Word Power Made Easy’ is not solely enough for CAT Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension. You will have to refer to diverse reading material and other books such as ‘How to Prepare for Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension for the CAT’ and ‘Mastering the Verbal Ability for CAT’ for thorough learning and practice. 

    Ques: How can I prepare for CAT Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension?

    Ans: Read and interpret diverse content that is articulated well to comprehend good grammar and vocabulary on a regular basis. It will aid you in your preparation for CAT Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension. 

    Ques: What are the online resources available for CAT Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension?

    Ans: Online resources have become increasingly important for CAT Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension preparation. When utilized with offline study material, they are very effective. YouTube channels like 2IIMCAT and Handa ka Funda can be viewed. E-reading materials like newspapers, magazines, and journals can also be used for preparation. Apps like Magoosh Vocabulary can help build your word power. 

    Ques: What are the most important topics in CAT Verbal Ability?

    Ans: The most important topics for CAT verbal ability are - Jumbled Paragraphs, Summary/Inference of Short Paragraph, and Identifying the Odd Sentence in a Jumbled Paragraph. 

    *The article might have information for the previous academic years, which will be updated soon subject to the notification issued by the University/College




    No Comments To Show