CAT 2023 Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension Preparation Tips, Best Books, and Important Topics

CAT Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension Preparation is time-consuming. The test takers find this section to be scoring and hence it should be prepared well. The questions in VARC are asked from RC, Para Completion, ParaJumbles, Fill in the blanks, etc. Reading Comprehension holds 3/4th of the sectional weightage in CAT i.e. around 16 out of 24 questions are from 4 reading comprehension passages

CAT VARC section focuses on evaluating the candidates’ Aptitude in English Language, vocabulary, and grammar.

  • To score high in this section aspirants need to develop reading habits that will help them in the exam.
  • With good practice and dedication, you can score 95+ percentile in the CAT VARC Section.

CAT VARC Section Highlights

Section NameVerbal Ability & Reading Comprehension (VARC)
Allotted Time40 minutes
Total Number of Questions24
Number of Reading Comprehension Questions16
Number of Verbal Ability Questions8
Marks Awarded for Each Correct Answer+ 3
Negative Marks for Each Wrong Answer-1
Difficulty Level of QuestionsModerate to Difficult

Hourly Time Table for CAT VARC Preparation

Time table for Reading Comprehension:

CAT Reading ComprehensionType of RCTime Required in Hours
RC on Daily BasisAlternate types~

Time table for other topics:

TopicTime Required in Hours
Sentence Correction3
Sentence Rearragnement3
Paragraph Completion3
Sentence Elimination3
Word Usage3
Fact Inference Judgement3
Critical Reasoning3

Weightage of CAT VARC Topics

CAT VARC Syllabus consists of various types of questions. Primarily, this section focuses on evaluating the candidate’s Aptitude in English Language, vocabulary, and grammar. However, before moving onto the CAT VARC Preparation Tips and Important Topics, it is important to be thorough with the CAT Exam Pattern.

Topic NameKey FeaturesExpected Number of Questions
Jumbled Paragraphs5 jumbled sentences are to be arranged in the right order 3 – 4
Summary/Inference of Short ParagraphsSmall paragraphs of 4-5 sentences are followed by 4 answer options2-3
Picking the Odd Sentence in a Jumbled Paragraph5 jumbled sentences from which one odd sentence is to be picked out2-3

Type of RCs & Weightage of Questions

Passage TypeKey FeaturesExpected Number of Questions
Long Passage 1Moderate level Based on facts4
Long passage 2 Moderate to difficult level Rich in vocabulary and based on literary terms and opinions4
Long passage 3 Difficult level Based on abstract topics and literature and can contain a tough vocabulary 4
Short passage 4Moderate to difficult level Based on business, economy or geography, historical facts, opinions, future plans4

CAT VARC weightage of Other Topics

Expected TopicsWeightage
Sentence Completion and Correction1-2
Odd Sentences1-2
Fill in the Blanks1-2
Word Usage (Vocabulary)1-2

How to Prepare for CAT RC?

CAT Reading Comprehension section is to test whether the student has a reading habit or not and do they have the analyzing capability. Candidates can prepare for this section using the following preparation plan. 

  • Pick a passage from a magazine, book, newspaper or novel every day to understand your Reading Comprehension abilities. 
  • Work on developing your vocabulary by making flashcards of the words that appear new to you while reading. Read these flashcards often. 
  • To boost your vocabulary, enjoy what you read. Do not consider it a relentless chore. 
  • Summarize your readings with clarity. 
  • Interpret the passage aloud when you feel tired. 
  • Reach every part of a given text. Do not skip any parts, however minor they may seem. 
  • Discuss your readings and their interpretations with your friends and have rational debates with the vocabulary learned
Sr. NoPreparation Tips for CAT RC
1Read Daily for 2-3 hours
2Not only newspapers but also read magazines, books, etc. 
3Try to understand the meaning of difficult words and underline them.
4Note down the important points while reading to answer the questions later.
5Do not check the questions before reading the passage.
6Try to read and answer the questions within a fixed time interval of 10-15 minutes this will help you in exam. 

Types of Reading Comprehension Passages

When it comes to reading comprehension there are three types of RC passages in the CAT exam:

  • Analytical RC – Such RCs will have content in the form of pros and cons points of view. The RC will also have justifications in favor of as well as against the subject. 
  • Descriptive RC – Such RCs do not state all the information explicitly. The style of RC generally encompasses non-material concepts which might be represented in a symbolic way. 
  • Data-Driven RC – Such RCs will be full of information and you need to analyse the data while providing the right answers. The RC will be based on facts and numbers. 

All the types of CAT reading comprehension passages cover major topics like business and economics, science, humanities, social sciences, and current affairs. Check out the past three years of CAT reading comprehension topics below:

Types of RC Questions Asked in CAT: CAT 2021 was conducted in three parts. Below are the CAT RC 2021 topics of all three parts:

Slot 1Slot 2Slot 3
Evolution of TeaLanguage and Indigenous PeopleLanguage Instinct
Mayan CivilisationKnowledge is a Scandal to PhilosophyUnconscious and Psychoanalysis
Utopia and DystopiaColonialism and NationalismNanotechnology
Marshmallow ExperimentWhy Fiction Trumps Truth?Time-Accuracy

Syllabus for CAT Reading Comprehension

  1. Current Affairs – Issues affecting social life, foreign relations, governance policies and schemes such as Triple Talaq, CAA, Covid 19 Pandemic, Clean India Project, migration of citizens from one country to another, world-wide intolerance.
  2. Business and Economics – Global Economic Change, Environmental Economic Growth, Indian Demonetization Effect, Government Waste Expenditure.
  3. Literature – Passages from various books of English literature, essays written by great philosophers and thinkers, different speeches of great personalities like Charles Dickens, Aristotle, Martin Luther King, Mohan Das Karam Chand Gandhi, and Churchill among others. Science and Culture – Transition into the modern world, disappearing society with technological advancement.
  4. Abstract Topics and Fiction – Such passages make the candidates think a lot and put themselves in the shoes of the author before addressing the questions asked because they are opinion-based.
  5. Historical Events – Events leading to social changes such as the French Revolution and the War of Roses. Social changes in Indian Culture and thoughts expressed by various activists that are still of great relevance.
  6. Mythology – Such passages seek to connect mythological events with the actual social system and answers must be given accordingly.

How to Prepare for CAT VA?

CAT VA section comprises the following type of questions: 

  • Sentence Rearrangement, Paragraph Completion, Sentence Elimination. 
  • Use the apt verbal ability study material while preparing for CAT VARC. You will have to look at sample CAT papers and determine the right book according to the syllabus. 
  • To make learning enjoyable, download mobile applications such as Vocabulary Builder, Word by Word, and so on.
  • When you learn new words or phrases, use them in your day-to-day communication with friends or family. It will help you remember the use of those words. 
Sr. No.Preparation Tips
1Each question is different in this section and no shortcut tips or tricks are applicable here.
2The section can only be cracked with regular practice. 
3Gain Speed
4Find the connecting lines or sequence to complete the paragraphs is the key to solve such questions.

Syllabus for CAT Verbal Ability

CAT Verbal Ability Syllabus
Essence of short paragraph/summaryJumbled paragraphs
Odd sentences in jumbled paragraphsError correction in the verb, noun, pronoun, adjective, adverb and other parts of speech in sentences
Correcting the sequence of sentences in articles such as giving the correct usage of conditional statements, time clauses, reported speech, and passive writingUse of vocabulary in selecting the correct pair of words
Filling in blanks with appropriate vocabularyUse of vocabulary in RC passages to identify the right synonyms and antonyms
Completing the last statements of paragraphsCritical reasoning
Analogies Usage of phrasal verbs
Facts, inference, and judgementSentence completion
Irrelevant sentences

CAT 2023 VARC Preparation Books

Candidates can check the books mentioned below for CAT VARC Preparation: 

CAT VARC BookAuthorDescription
Word Power Made Easy
Normal Lewis ‘Word Power Made Easy’ helps in improvement of vocabulary. It explains accurate usage of words. It is categorised into oriented sections and you can review exercises at the end of every chapter. 
Mastering the Verbal Ability for CAT
Ajay SinghWith over 200 passages for preparation, ‘Mastering the Verbal Ability for CAT’ is an excellent CAT VARC study material.
How to Prepare for Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension for the CAT
Arun Sharma and Meenakshi Upadhyay‘How to Prepare for Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension for the CAT’ has a topic-wise segregation. The material is very comprehensive. It also provides mock tests and analyses of previous years’ papers. 

Newspapers & Magazines for CAT VARC Preparation

CAT VARC Newspaper and MagazinesDescription
The HinduIt allows you to explore factual, complex, insightful and challenging content. Read the editorial section everyday. 
Times of India/Hindustan Times It has great language usage to help with grammar and vocabulary development. 
The Economic Times It is a great newspaper to read articles on business and economics twice a week
The New York TimesThis newspaper can be accessed online through its website with a paid subscription. High-quality content is brought out by this newspaper. Blogs like ‘The Stone’ are must-reads on the website.
The GuardianThe Guardian does not require a paid subscription. You can access fascinating reading material for free. 
Frontline This is a magazine full of details. The reading of brilliant articles highlighting tales from around the world can add tremendous value to your preparation. 
Outlook/India Today/The WeekRead from these magazines for very interesting content with high-quality language.
Business Today/Business IndiaReading from these magazines regularly is sure to help you with CAT VARC
The EconomistIt is a great online journal which reports on foreign issues of all kinds. There are several articles on politics, economy, culture, fashion, sports, and books. The style of writing can serve as an idea for how you must attempt the CAT VARC section. All articles are almost perfectly grammatical and crisp. 
The Atlantic They write long-form and well-researched pieces.
Newyorker Here, you will find an extremely high-quality style of writing on numerous subjects.

Common Mistakes to Avoid for CAT VARC Section

  1. Ignoring details: Ensure that you do not misunderstand the questions. Lay off overconfidence and ensure that you read attentively in order to provide the correct answers. 
  2. Spending more time on VA Non-MCQs: It is very common for students to spend a large chunk of their answering time in attempting VA Non-MCQs. Allot a specific time duration for each question and try your best not to exceed it. 
  3. Rushing through RC passage readings: Students often rush the reading of RC passages. This can lead to missing out on important keywords that might be required to give correct answers. Ensure that you read every passage with concentration. 
  4. Losing track of sectional time limit: Do not get very immersed in answering VARC questions and forget the sectional time limit which can cause you to risk the loss of many marks. Must Read Topper Tips

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