Tips to crack CAT Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC) Section

Raunika Sood updated on : 15 Sep 2017

Verbal Ability section in CAT 2017 can be a tough nut to crack for a lot of exam takers. To help you prepare and ace this section in the right way, we list here few beneficial CAT Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension tips.


CAT Preparatipn Tips to Ace Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension - CAT 2017 will have questions from 3 sections, namely, Quantitative Aptitude (QA), Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC) and Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DILR). The exam takers will get 60 minutes each to attempt these 3 sections. Last year, the Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC) comprised of 34 questions in CAT Exam. It is usually seen that students who have always studied through English Medium also face difficulties in answering the questions in CAT VARC section. To help CAT 2017 aspirants prepare well for this section, we are listing below some of the tips to ace Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension section (VARC). The questions that typically appear in the verbal section can be classified as Vocabulary Based, English Usage/ Grammar, Verbal Reasoning. It tests the candidate's reading, writing and communication skills. The candidates appearing for the exam this year can follow these CAT preparation tips to ace verbal section to qualify the exam with high percentile. It must be noted that in order to qualify the CAT 2017 cutoff and for being shortlisted for IIMs or other top B-schools, the candidates must crack each section of the exam with a good percentile. Having an overall CAT percentile will not really help as in CAT, clearance of both, sectional and overall cutoff matters. 

IIM Lucknow has been given the responsibility of conducting Common Admission Test (CAT) this year. CAT 2017 exam date is November 26, 2017. It is a computer based national level management entrance test held once in a year. Considering the competition among the Indian MBA aspirants and the unpredictable nature of exam, it is regarded as one of the most coveted exam. However, the CAT toppers and experts have always been of the view that cracking CAT requires presence of mind and time management skills on the exam day. The exam takers must take CAT mock tests to strengthen all the 3 sections of the exam. However, especially for CAT 2017 VARC section, the candidates are advised to take CAT mock test series devised particularly for this section. Also, they must give variety of CAT verbal ability and reading comprehension mock test series, where the level of difficulty varies as it will help them keep a check on their preparation level. 

Tips to Ace CAT Verbal and Reading Comprehension Section

In Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension, there are two main sections, which include Reading Comprehensions (RC) and English Usage (under which there are multiple parts). Let us look at the Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension topics and number of questions-



No of Questions Expected




English Usage (18 Qs)



Para Completion


Sentence Correction


Critical Reasoning


Deductive logics


Jumbled Paragraph


Reading Comprehension (16Qs)

Reading Comprehension Passage


Areas of Verbal Ability SectionOne can ensure some amount of fine-tuning in these last stages of the preparation. It is important to note that there are a limited number of question types that are most popular in any aptitude test of English. So, one needs to focus on these in the last few days. Let us look at the Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension Section with much clarity.

  • Reading Comprehension: This is one of the most important topics in Verbal Ability section. There are around 4-5 comprehensions from all different areas. In addition, the questions can be either factual or inferential. Each passage will have 4-5 questions to answer, which holds 45-60% of the marks of the verbal ability section.
  • Vocabulary: Vocabulary section will test the candidate's understanding in English, which will include primary meaning of words, secondary shades of meaning, synonyms, antonyms, idioms and phrases, analogies and others.
  • Verbal/Critical Reasoning:  This part of the section generally tests the candidate's ability to identify relationships or patterns within sentences or words or groups.
  • Sentence Correction: The questions in sentence correction are based on basic grammar rules and are knowledge based. To prepare for the section, it is a must to read the editorial sections of newspapers, magazines and concentrate on improving the grammar skills.
  • Deductive Logic and Para Jumbles: These are generally non-logic based questions; therefore preparations from short puzzles, quizzes can prepare you to successfully attempt these questions.
  • Grammar: Grammar based questions will test the candidate's ability to correct grammatical errors. It will include areas like subject-verb agreement, parallel construction, phrasal verbs, prepositions and others.

Important Parts to Cover in CAT VARC Section


CAT of the past has been unlike GRE. There has of course been a time when CAT had analogies, antonyms like GRE, but the words used were not too difficult. However, the frequent question types have been words that you can get confused with - idioms and phrases, fill in the blanks. The first two types can be effectively revised by referring to a standard list of such words and idioms. The third type is more open ended. Difficult to be completed in the given time frame. However, past CATs have not been very tough in these types of questions. A student with an average vocabulary can manage to get at least 70 % of the questions right. It may be a little difficult to sit and complete wordlists now. So I am not even suggesting you do it.


Grammar is close to mathematics. It is rule based. Look back at your grammar material and complete all the exercises in a span of 3 to 4 days. Log the errors and the points that you would want to remember. Use this as a revision tool just before the exam.

Verbal Reasoning

Practice will make problem solving a much easier and quicker task. It is the ability to comprehend and reason using concepts expressed through words.

Last but not the least, if you can manage go over past questions of CAT, you would have used a very efficient tool to work on the verbal section in the last leg of your preparation. So get going. Spend 45 min everyday on verbal ability. This is probably the best tool to build the rhythm of reading.

Tips and Tricks on CAT Verbal Ability

Given below are the tips and tricks on the Verbal Ability Test-

  • Tackle the two groups in this section - English Usage and Reading Comprehension separately.
  • Next, choose the right questions (a mix of many easy questions with some difficult questions which are unavoidable would be appropriate) and attempt these questions.
  • Read sentences and try to identify if they read right or not often using your knowledge of everyday spoken English.
  • For the reading comprehension section, choose the easier of the passages (2 out of 3 or 3 out of 4) based on your comprehension and quickly grasp the main idea of each passage.
  • Re-read the relevant portions in the passage carefully and choose the option that ties in best with the relevant portion.

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