CAT 2017 - How to prepare for Verbal and Reading Comprehension

How to prepare for CAT Verbal and Reading ComprehensionHow to prepare for CAT Verbal and Reading Comprehension - English is a primary language for the corporate world, which is why it's an important part of the entrance tests. It is vital for the students to score well in the English language section in management entrance exams. Since CAT has a sectional weight age of 34 marks, it is important to focus and crack the Verbal and Reading Comprehension (VARC) section to add on to a good overall percentile.

In this CAT 2017 preparation series by Careers360, we bring to you a complete guide on ‘How to prepare for CAT Verbal and Reading Comprehension (VARC)’, where according to the CAT exam pattern candidates will have to answer a total of 34 questions within a sectional time limit of 60 minutes.

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With the addition of non-MCQs, there will be changes in the overall question pattern in the VARC section. It would be better to revise your preparation strategy accordingly. Since you have to clear not only the overall but the sectional CAT cutoff as well to get an IIM call, you must not lose the chance by compromising on sectional performance. This section can be the most scoring, resulting in an improvised sectional as well as overall scores.


CAT 2017 - How to prepare for Verbal and Reading Comprehension


The CAT preparation strategy for VARC section must be divided topic wise, as each topic requires different techniques to learn.  But before starting, let us first understand the type and number of questions in this section.


VARC Topics and number of questions



Number of Questions per topic

Reading Comprehension (16 Questions)

4- 5 Reading Comprehension Passage


English Usage (18 Questions)

Jumble Paragraph


Deductive Logics


Sentence Correction


Critical Reasoning


Para Completion







Reading Comprehensions (RC)


CAT 2016 Topper, Bhushan Baviskar says, “In CAT, 24 questions are from RC section. So, this section required maximum time for preparation. For VA/RC, I read online articles of a different genre. The word count in the articles should vary between 500-1200 words. Not less not more. And I mostly focused on the articles which did not have 'complex' English. When I started this exercise, my reading speed was around 210-220 words per minute. After practising this exercise for around 5 months, my reading speed galloped to around 350 words per minute.” RC is one of the important topics in this section. The passage can be from different areas and the questions can be either factual or inferential.


There are five passages each carrying around four questions to answer, which holds 45-60 per cent of the marks of the whole Verbal Ability part.  This is the important section where more attention and detailed information are required.


The foremost step to prepare for reading comprehension is to read on regular basis. Read newspapers, novels, magazines such as ‘The Economist’, India Today etc. Another CAT Topper, Satish Parchani of IIM Shillong shares, “VARC was a challenging section for me. So, I read as much as I could.”


A few suggested books for RC:

  • How to Prepare for the Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension for the CAT by Arun Sharma and Meenakshi Upadhyay (Tata McGraw-Hill) is a workbook with practice questions and tips based on previous CAT papers.

  • Norman Lewis’ Word Power Made Easy.

Vocabulary Questions


Questions related to analogies, synonyms & antonyms, sentence correction etc are part of this. This section can be answered correctly, only if you have explored English language and know the meaning for most of the words. Hence, a good vocabulary is the key to crack these topics. Having a reading habit of newspapers and magazines will support in developing a good vocabulary. Sreenath S Nair, who secured 99.42 percentile in CAT 2016 and pursuing MBA from SPJIMR Mumbai shares, "Regarding vocabulary, I used to keep a track of all the new words I learnt, be it from newspapers, blogs or magazines. This habit helped me register more words in my mind."


Besides reading the important step to prepare is from the CAT sample papers. The sample papers will make you learn the words that are important in terms of examination. Topper Nikhil Raj Singh, who secured 99.51 percentile in CAT 2016 also agrees and says, “Taking mock tests and analysing them played a very crucial role in my performance in CAT 2016. It helped me create a strategy for the D-day and gave me an idea about my weak and strong areas”  


Suggested Books:

  • Barron’s Pocket Guide to Vocabulary

  • Nishit Sinha’s The Pearson Guide to Verbal Ability and Logical Reasoning (Pearson) covers a wide range of topics explained in an easy-to-understand manner

Critical reasoning and Para completion - These questions can be answered only if you understand the logic behind it. The types of questions to be prepared under this section are:

  • Questions on conclusion/inference

  • Questions on identifying an assumption

  • Questions on weakening the conclusion

  • Questions on identifying a paradox/contradiction/inconsistency

  • Questions on identifying a parallel situation

As a preparation strategy, Topper Sarthak says, “For the reasoning part, resort to the method of practising as many different varieties of questions you can get your hands on”

Deductive Logic and Para Jumbles - These are non-logic based questions; hence preparations from short puzzles, quizzes can prepare you to successfully attempt these questions. While preparing, you must make sure that you understand the question. CAT Topper Rubal Bagde shares, “I used to solve the quizzes available in newspapers. This sort-of prepared me to analyze and eliminate incorrect options and answer the questions correctly”. Gautam Puri, Vice Chairman, Career Launcher mentions, "Practice solving the verbal logic questions through selection and elimination method."


Sentence Correction - These questions are based on basic grammar rules and are knowledge based. For preparation, it is must to read editorial sections of newspapers and magazines and concentrate on the use of grammar. While preparing from mock tests, make sure you do not waste time on these questions and avoid guesswork.

A few books to prepare from are,

  • Barron’s Pocket Guide to Vocabulary.
  • Word Power Made Easy by Norman Lewis.

Below is a pictorial representation of type and number of different topics that will come under VRC section


In the end, quick tips to prepare for overall VARC section,

  1. Read a lot of books, magazines, and newspapers

  2. Prepare from Mock tests and Sample Papers while maintaining speed and accuracy

  3. Focus on improvising grammar and vocabulary by reading editorial sections

  4. Mark difficult words and learn their meaning from dictionary

  5. Underline and take brief notes as you read

  6. Practice critical thinking questions

  7. Practice Non-MCQ’s

  8. Solve Puzzles

Also Read:

CAT Topper Interview

What if I don’t take coaching? Can I still crack CAT?

Must read books for CAT

Know CAT evolution over the years


Stay tuned to for more news and updates

First Published On : 06 Oct 2015 10:05 AM IST

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