How to Prepare for Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension for CAT Exam?

Online CAT Coaching by 2IIM.

Before you get into How to prepare for CAT, it is best to know what CAT is all about. If you want to get a holistic idea about CAT Exam’s Syllabus, the selection process, Eligibility, and other details like what other management exams to write and what the syllabus is for those exams - It is best to visit this page. If you already have an idea about all that, read ahead on How to prepare for the CAT Exam from here. This page is specific to the first section in the CAT exam, Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension.

If you are looking for information on How to prepare for CAT Quantitative Aptitude Section or How to prepare for CAT DILR Section head on to the respective links.

What is the syllabus for VA & RC section in CAT?

Key Information:

Duration: 1 hour
Number of Questions: 34
Marks: 102/300
Multiple Choice Questions: ~24
TITA Questions: ~10

Is there an official syllabus disclosed for the Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC) section by the IIM’s?

The IIM’s haven’t disclosed a preset syllabus for the VARC section. But we can safely deduce the topics that are tested in the VARC section by analysing the previous year CAT questions.

We at 2IIM Online CAT Coaching have done just that and compiled the different question templates for VARC section in CAT, and how long it would take for one to get comfortable with them. To read more, click on this link

Schedule for VARC for CAT - RC
Schedule for VARC for CAT - VA

How to prepare for Reading Comprehension?





What does this section try to test?

The Reading Comprehension section in CAT tries to test if the student has a good reading habit or not. So, the only sound strategy to prepare for the reading comprehension section for CAT is the practice of habitual reading.

How to prepare for this section?

1.Try to invest 1-2 hours of reading everyday
2.Read from a diverse collection of topics
3.You don’t need to know all the fancy words! Develop the habit of understanding the underlying ideas from the context of the passage.
4.Should you look at the questions first before reading the passage? - NO, this practice distracts you from what the writer is trying to say and confines your thoughts to just tackling the problem instead of analysing the writer’s perspective which would be detrimental to your attempt.

If you do it the right way, you’ll only have to read the passage once.

Where do I begin my Reading Journey?
1. Books.
2. Blogs and Websites.

How to prepare for Verbal Ability

What does the Verbal Ability in CAT try to test?

Verbal Ability section comprises of Paragraph Logic Questions which are of the following types:
1. Sentence Rearrangement
2. Paragraph Completion
3. Sentence Elimination

There is no theory for solving these questions that you can master – no hundreds of questions that you can solve to gain speed and confidence in different templates because each question is fundamentally different. You can’t “crack” the system of finding the right sequence of sentences in a para-jumble question by merely solving hundreds of Sentence Rearrangement Questions.

CAT last tested vocabulary in the 20th century. CAT last tested vocabulary in the 20th century. This is not a typo. I am trying to reiterate the point, quite literally.
Historically, the CAT has not tested vocabulary the way the GRE tests it, and memorising word after word is worse than a waste of time – it can jeopardise your preparation by making you think the Verbal Segment is tedious to prepare for. When the CAT did test vocabulary, it was always context-based and covered only simple every-day words like “lay” and “lie”, and had very little to do with knowledge of obscure words.






Bootcamp session on CAT VARC

Check out this wonderful session/bootcamp conducted by Swetha Rajagopalan, 780 in the GMAT. This session contains fabulous questions from Reading Comprehension and Critical Reasoning, solved and discussed in detail. If you have healthy disdain for gyan related to CAT and are merely interested in starting preparation at the earliest for this exam, visit our CAT Question Bank to get going. As we never tire of saying, no amount of preparation planning is as good as a few minutes of actual preparation.

CAT 2018 Exam Analysis

The story of CAT Exam 2018 was the level of difficulty of the Quant section. I (Rajesh Balasubramanian) have taken 8 of the last 10 CATs and I can confidently say that this was the toughest Quant section I have seen thus far. We have done a CAT 2018 Analysis of Slot 1 and Slot 2 on Youtube. Scroll down to have a look at that.

Our estimates for CAT Exam 2018 percentiles and scores are given below for both slot 1 and slot 2.Note that these are merely estimates and are not based on statistical analysis.

CAT 2018 - Slot 1 - Score to Percentile Table
CAT 2018 - Slot 2 - Score to Percentile Table

To know the full CAT 2018 exam analysis, please go to this page - CAT 2018 Exam Analysis

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Important facts that you should know about VARC preparation

Check out this page - 2IIM Philosophy

We strongly believe on the Quote by Abraham Lincoln “If I had nine hours to chop a tree, I’d spend the first six sharpening the axe.” We start from scratch giving a stubborn focus on fundamentals so that the student gets the opportunity to learn by discovering ideas. The plan is to provide a framework for students to handle tougher questions.
We demystify this exam and break every idea into small digestible chunks which is categorised as theory, exercise and CAT-level questions. The basic idea is to provide a structure with simple questions and 'push' students to discover some thought processes while handling CAT-level questions. We would always love to ensure that the students have enough fun and enjoyment, preparing for CAT Exam.

What are the best blogs or websites to prepare for the Common Admission Test (CAT)? Quora Link - Quora Answer

We at 2IIM CAT Preparation have 55000+ subscribers, 20+ live sessions, 400+ videos, 20 playlists and a vibrant community. There are quite a few Channels that provide free content for CAT Preparation on Youtube. Apart from 2IIM CAT Preparation , Takshzila Shikshak, Khan Academy, Cracku are some of the channels that are doing a decent job. Check out this Quora link for more details: Quora Answer
Youtube Link - Watch

Find a list of up to 50 fabulous books in this wonderful reading list for CAT. Remember that anything written by PG Wodehouse is golden. Find a list of well-written blogs and websites here. Economist, pre-video era Cricinfo, the Atlantic are all excellent. But if you are really looking for a curated list with a nice article reviewed and sent to you gift-wrapped every day, you should join our Facebook Group – CAT Prep online - 2IIM.. Check out this link - CAT Verbal Reading List.

There are plenty of books available for CAT preparation at very low cost. The best basic books for Quant are the NCERT books for classes VI to X and RD Sharma/RS Agarwal. If you want tougher, more relevant questions to practice from, you should visit the best CAT Question bank in the world - 2IIM CAT Questions. It has great questions, even better solutions and some wonderful video explanations. And also follow our Youtube Channel – 2IIM CAT Preparation for a plenty of free preparatory videos.
But if you are really looking for a curated list with a nice article reviewed and sent to you gift-wrapped every day, you should join our Facebook Group – CAT Prep online - 2IIM.
Check out this link - CAT Verbal Reading List.

There are plenty of websites that will give you this, but be very wary of these. CAT did not release the actual paper from the years 2009 to 2016, so any website giving these is creating these paper without a credible source. The CAT papers from the years 2000 to 2008 are available for free (with solutions) inside the 2IIM Online Course.
There were two sessions each in CAT 2017 and CAT 2018 – these 4 papers are likely to be the best samples for CAT. These can be found here 2IIM CAT Question Paper.
The PDF gives the questions with embedded links to video solutions for all of these.

There are students who attempted 29 questions out of 34 in Verbal Section and ended with 77ᵗʰ percentile, while there have been also been students with just 28 attempts ending upwards of 99.xxᵗʰ percentile. And the reason behind this is accuracy, which matters a lot.

Speaking about accuracy and students often end up with the “The last two choices problem”. That is students narrow it down to two choices in the VARC section and then end up choosing the one which they think is the right one. In the similar way they take chances in these questions but do not take sufficient effort to resolve this. The common mindset we often see is “It will be either of the two. If I attempt 10 questions like this, I will get 5 right. Let me not waste any more time and mark the one you think it’s right.” This line of thought in most of the cases is incorrect. The guys setting the exam paper have planted something in either choice B or choice D that will make it easy to eliminate that and locating that thing will be the key. This is an objective paper with one correct answer per question. When you practice mocks, fight against that last step resistance and work aggressively on improving accuracy will help you master this section. It is a common myth that reading speed and vocabulary are important for VARC while they both count for nothing.

Check out this Quora link for more details: Quora Answer
YouTube Link - Watch Video
YouTube Link - Watch Video.
YouTube Link - Watch Video.
YouTube Link - Watch Video

2IIM has an Android App for CAT preparation. The app contains lessons, videos, slides and tests put together by a team of faculties who take up the exam year after year.

Read More about the App on Quora: Quora Answer.

We have an elaborative list of books for improving your reading habit. Check the links below. For a glorious reading list, Check out this link - CAT Verbal Reading List
YouTube Link - Watch Video YouTube Link - Watch Video

Find a list of up to 50 fabulous books in this wonderful reading list for CAT. Remember that anything written by PG Wodehouse is golden. Find a list of well-written blogs and websites here. Economist, pre-video era Cricinfo, the Atlantic are all excellent. But if you are really looking for a curated list with a nice article reviewed and sent to you gift-wrapped every day, you should join our Facebook Group – CAT Prep online - 2IIM. For Websites, check this link - CAT Verbal Reading List

CAT Questions | CAT Quantitative Aptitude

CAT Questions | CAT DILR

CAT Questions | Verbal Ability for CAT


Where is 2IIM located?

2IIM Online CAT Coaching
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K.K.Nagar, Chennai. India. Pin - 600 078

How to reach 2IIM?

Phone: (91) 44 4505 8484
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