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CAT Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension 2021: Preparation Tips, Best Books, and Important Topics

CAT Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension Preparation is time-consuming but does not include any calculation hence considered as scoring section by the test takers. The questions in VARC are asked in sets of 3-4 questions and the type of questions are RC, Sentence Correction, Fill in the blanks, etc. From CAT VARC topics, RC i.e Reading Comprehension questions have a high weightage in the exam. Reading comprehension holds 3/4th of the sectional weightage in CAT i.e. around 24 out of 34 questions are asked from CAT reading comprehension topicCheck CAT VARC Syllabus

Primarily, this 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. Check CAT Exam Pattern.

​Read the article to know more about how to prepare for CAT VRAC and what are the important topics in this section. 

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CAT VARC Section Highlights

Section Name Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension (VARC)
Allotted Time 60 minutes
Total Number of Questions 34
Number of Reading Comprehension Questions 23 - 24
Number of Verbal Ability Questions 10 - 11
Marks Awarded for Each Correct Answer + 3
Negative Marks for Each Wrong Answer -1
Difficulty Level of Questions Moderate to Difficult
CAT VARC Time Table

Hourly Time Table for CAT VARC Preparation

Time table for Reading Comprehension:

CAT Reading Comprehension Type of RC Time Required in Hours
RC-1 Basic 1-2
RC-2 Moderate 2-3
RC-3 Difficult 3-4
RC-4 Advance 3-4
RC on Daily Basis Alternate types ~

Time table for other topics:

Topic Time Required in Hours
Sentence Correction 3
Sentence Rearragnement 3
Paragraph Completion 3
Sentence Elimination 3
Word Usage 3
Fact Inference Judgement 3
Critical Reasoning 3

CAT VARC Imp Topics

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 Name Key Features Expected Number of Questions
Jumbled Paragraphs 5 jumbled sentences are to be arranged in the right order  3 - 4
Summary/Inference of Short Paragraphs Small paragraphs of 4-5 sentences are followed by 4 answer options 3 - 4
Picking the Odd Sentence in a Jumbled Paragraph 5 jumbled sentences from which one odd sentence is to be picked out 3

Type of RCs & Weightage of Questions

Passage Type Key Features Expected Number of Questions
Long Passage 1 Moderate level Based on facts 6
Long passage 2  Moderate to difficult level Rich in vocabulary and based on literary terms and opinions 6
Long passage 3  Difficult level Based on abstract topics and literature and can contain a tough vocabulary  6
Short passage 1  Moderate to difficult level Based on business, economy or geography 3
Short passage 2 Occasionally difficult level Rich vocabulary and based on historical facts, opinions, future plans 3
Short Passage 3  Difficult level Based on an abstract topic 3

CAT VARC weightage of Other Topics

Expected Topics Weightage
Para-Jumbles 6 - 12 
Para-Summary 6 - 9
Sentence Completion and Correction 6 - 9 
Odd Sentences 3 - 6
Fill in the Blanks 3 - 6
Word Usage (Vocabulary) 3 - 6

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CAT RC Preparation

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. No Preparation Tips for CAT RC
1 Read Daily for 2-3 hours
2 Not only newspapers but also read magazines, books, etc. 
3 Try to understand the meaning of difficult words and underline them.
4 Note down the important points while reading to answer the questions later.
5 Do not check the questions before reading the passage.
6 Try 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 Last Year: CAT 2020 was conducted in three parts. Below are the CAT RC 2020 topics of all three parts:

Slot 1 Slot 2 Slot 3
Anarchism Investing in renewable energy technologies Travel writing and feminism during colonial times
Migration of Northern Seals Piracy in international trade The need for economic literacy in the general population
Currency of Tang Dynasty Freudian models of aggression Screen time and undercurrents of social class
Grammar/Vocabulary A study of visualization Analysis of human nature

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.

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CAT VA Preparation

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
1 Each question is different in this section and no shortcut tips or tricks are applicable here.
2 The section can only be cracked with regular practice. 
3 Gain Speed
4 Find 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/summary Jumbled paragraphs
Odd sentences in jumbled paragraphs Error 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 writing Use of vocabulary in selecting the correct pair of words
Filling in blanks with appropriate vocabulary Use of vocabulary in RC passages to identify the right synonyms and antonyms
Completing the last statements of paragraphs Critical reasoning
Analogies  Usage of phrasal verbs
Facts, inference, and judgement Sentence completion
Irrelevant sentences -

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CAT 2021 VARC Preparation Books

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

CAT VARC Book Author Description
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 Singh With 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. 

Check CAT Preparation Books for All Sections

Newspapers & Magazines for CAT VARC Preparation

CAT VARC Newspaper and Magazines Description
The Hindu It 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 Times This 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 Guardian The 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 Week Read from these magazines for very interesting content with high-quality language.
Business Today/Business India Reading from these magazines regularly is sure to help you with CAT VARC
The Economist It 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. 

  1. 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. 

  1. 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. 

  1. 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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CAT 2021 VARC Preparation FAQs

Ques. What is verbal ability and reading comprehension in CAT?

Ans. Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension are part of every competitive exam. Verbal Ability tests your vocabulary and sentence-formation abilities. Reading Comprehension involves the interpretation of sentences and finding answers to questions that are asked from passages.

Ques. How do you score a 99 percentile in VARC?

Ans. To score a 99 percentile in VARC, you must consistently read on various topics like Current Affairs, Literature, Philosophy, and Politics; memorize grammatical rules; and get a rich vocabulary.

Ques. What is the most important topic in VARC ?

Ans. The most important part in VARC is the Reading Comprehension (RC) because about 70% of the questions in VARC come from it

Ques. What are the best books to prepare for CAT VARC?

Ans. The best books to prepare for CAT VARC are -
‘Word Power Made Easy’ by Norman Lewis
‘Mastering the Verbal Ability for CAT’ by Ajay Singh
‘How to Prepare for Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension for the CAT’ by Arun Sharma and Meenakshi Upadhyay

Ques. Is ‘Word Power Made Easy’ good for VARC?

Ans. Yes, ‘Word Power Made Easy’ by Norman Lewis is good for VARC. It can greatly help in improving your vocabulary

Ques. How to prepare for Verbal Ability?

Ans. Read well-articulated content regularly to grasp good grammar and vocabulary. This will help you prepare for Verbal Ability

Ques. What are the most important topics for Verbal Ability?

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

Ques. How many questions should I attempt to get 95+ percentile in VARC?

Ans. To get 95+ percentile in VARC, you must attempt 23 - 25 questions with 90% accuracy

Ques. Where can I find the best VARC preparation resources online?

Ans. The best online resources for VARC preparation can be found from the websites of newspapers like The Hindu and The Guardian

Ques. What are the most important topics for Verbal Ability?

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

Ques. What are the expected topics for Reading Comprehension?

Ans. The expected topics for Reading Comprehension are - Literature, Current Affairs, Politics, History, Business, Economy, Geography, and Abstract topics.

Ques. How many questions should I attempt to get 95+ percentile in VARC?

Ans. To get 95+ percentile in VARC, you must attempt 23 - 25 questions with 90% accuracy

Ques. Where can I find the best VARC preparation resources online?

Ans. The best online resources for VARC preparation can be found from the websites of newspapers like The Hindu and The Guardian. 

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


How can I improve my vocabulary?
mohit sarohi

Hello Sadim,

Here are some pointers for improving your vocabulary.

  • 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. 
  • To make studying fun, install mobile applications like Vocabulary Builder and Word by Word

For more tips, please visit: Preparation Tips for VARC

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