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CAT Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension Syllabus 2021, Important Topics, Difficulty Level & Pattern

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Shekhar Sumann

Exams Prep Master | Updated On - Nov 24, 2021

CAT Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension syllabus include topics like Jumbled Sentences, Para-completion, Odd Sentences, Reading Comprehension etc. Around 15-20 questions will be asked from CAT Reading Comprehension out of the total of 26 questions. CAT VARC Preparation should be focused on basic concepts of vocabulary, grammar, verbal reasoning, and reading comprehension. Download CAT VARC Previous Year Question Papers

CAT VARC syllabus also includes topics like Fill in the blanks, errors in tenses, etc which can only be solved with good vocabulary and the right knowledge of grammar. The time allotted for this section is 40 minutes out of the 2 hours for the entire CAT Exam. Check CAT Exam Pattern

The level of questions for the VARC Section is generally moderate to difficult. Read the article to know more about the important topics in CAT, weightage of topics, study material, and much more. 

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CAT VARC Exam Pattern 2021 (Updated)

Section Name Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension (VARC)
Allotted Time 40 minutes
Total Number of Questions 26
Number of Reading Comprehension Questions 15-20
Number of Verbal Ability Questions 7-10
Marks Awarded for Each Correct Answer + 3
Negative Marks for Each Wrong Answer -1
Difficulty Level of Questions Moderate to Difficult

CAT VARC Syllabus 2021

Candidates can check the sectional syllabus of CAT VARC provided in the tables below: 

CAT RC Syllabus

CAT Reading Comprehension Sectional Syllabus

  • 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. 
  • Business and Economics - Global Economic Change, Environmental Economic Growth, Indian Demonetization Effect, Government Waste Expenditure. 
  • 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. 
  • 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. 
  • 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.
  • Mythology - Such passages seek to connect mythological events with the actual social system and answers must be given accordingly.
CAT VA Syllabus

CAT Verbal Ability Sectional Syllabus

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  -

CAT VARC Study Material

Candidates can check the topic wise study material from the links provided below: 

Weightage of Important Topics in CAT VARC
VARC Topics Expected Number of Questions
Inferences, Statements, Arguments 10-12
RC Passage 2-3
Questions on Author’s assumption 2-3
Synonyms & antonyms 3-4
Para Summary 3-4
Jumbled paragraphs 3-4
Error Correction 1-2
Fill in the blanks 1-2
Analogies 1-2
Vocabulary 3-4
Irrelevant Statements 1-2
Para Completion 1-2
CAT VARC Important Topics

Important Topics in CAT VARC

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 Topics in Reading Comprehension

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

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CAT VARC Books

CAT VARC Preparation Books

Candidates can check the best books for CAT preparation provided in the table below. These books will help you in your 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. 

Newspapers and 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.

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Diffuclty Level of VARC

Difficulty Level of CAT VARC Question Paper

Candidates can check CAT VARC Paper Analysis of the previous year to get an idea about the difficulty level of VARC question papers. 

VARC Slot 1 Analysis

Topic Number of Questions Type of Question Difficulty Level
Reading Comprehension 18 MCQ Medium to Difficult
RC-1: Currency in the Tang Empire 4 MCQ Easy to Medium
RC- 2: Elephant Seal Migration 5 MCQ Medium to Difficult
RC-3: the importance of Grammar 5 MCQ Easy to Medium
RC-4: Subsets of Anarchist philosophy 4 MCQ Medium to Difficult
Verbal Ability 8 MCQ and TITA Medium
Out of Context sentence 2 TITA Easy to Medium
Para Jumbles (4 sentences) 3 TITA Medium to Difficult
Summary 3 MCQ Easy to Medium

VARC Slot 2 Analysis

Topic Number of Questions Type of Question Difficulty Level
Reading Comprehension 18 MCQ Medium to Difficult
RC-1: Piracy in International Waters 4 MCQ Easy to Medium
RC- 2: Renewable Energy Technologies 5 MCQ Medium to Difficult
RC-3: The Study of Visual Culture 5 MCQ Easy to Medium
RC-4: Aggression - Theories and Models 4 MCQ Medium to Difficult
Verbal Ability 08 MCQ & TITA Medium
Para Jumbles 3 TITA Medium to Difficult
Out of Context Sentence 2 TITA Easy to Medium
Summary 3 MCQ Easy to Medium

VARC Slot 3 Analysis

Topic No. of Questions Ideal Attempt
Reading Comprehension 18 (5+5+4+4) 14-15
Verbal Ability - Parajumbles 3 3
Verbal Ability - Summary 3 3
Verbal Ability - Parajumbles (Odd-sentence out) 2 2

Download CAT VARC Question Papers

Slot Number CAT Question Paper CAT Answer Key
Download Official CAT Question Paper & Answer Key of 2020 
CAT VARC Slot 1 Download  Download 
CAT VARC Slot 2 Download  Download 
CAT VARC Slot 3 Download  Download 
Download Official CAT Question Paper & Answer Key of 2019
CAT VARC Slot 1 Download  Download 
CAT VARC Slot 2 Download  Download 
Download Official CAT Question Paper & Answer Key of 2018
CAT VARC Slot 1 Download  Download 
CAT VARC Slot 2 Download  Download 

Preparation Tips for CAT Reading Comprehension (RC)

The following tips will be helpful to develop your reading comprehension skills for CAT 2021 - 

  • 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 learnt. 

Types of RC Questions Asked in CAT Last Year

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

Preparation Tips for CAT Verbal Ability (VA)

The following tips will be helpful to develop your verbal ability - 

  • Read different genres of magazines and books, even those that are out of your comfort zone. This will help you come across many new words. 
  • Try a number of mock tests for VARC to expose yourself to a range of questions that assess your verbal ability. 
  • 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. 
  • When you get bored with reading, turn to watching movies/TV series and playing word games to grasp more words. 
  • Highlight challenging words from the dictionary and learn their meanings. It is recommended that you keep your dictionary handy when watching films or reading books. 

Read Toppers Preparation Tips:

Mistakes to Avoid while Attempting CAT VARC Section

  • 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. 
  • 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. 
  • 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. 
  • 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. 

CAT 2021 VARC FAQs

CAT VARC Syllabus 2021 FAQs

Question: What is verbal ability and reading comprehension?

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.

Question: 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. 

Question: 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. 

Question: 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

Question: 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. 

Question: 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. 

Question: 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. 

Question: 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. 

Question: 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. 

Question: 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.

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