Tips to solve VARC Section in CAT

The Common Admission Test (CAT) is one of the most competitive entrance exams in India for admission to prestigious management institutes. It is conducted every year by the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) for admission to their various postgraduate management programs. CAT 2023 exam is scheduled for 26th November 2023, and as a CAT aspirant, you should start your preparations if you are looking to ace the exam.

One of the CAT exam sections is the Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC) section, which requires a firm hold on vocabulary and comprehension skills. To score well in this section, aspirants need to understand the exam pattern and syllabus well. It is also essential to have a clear strategy for attempting the questions and a sound preparation strategy. 

 This article will provide you with tips and tricks to solve the VARC section and resources recommended by top CAT 100 %ilers. These tips will help you to prepare effectively and score well in the VARC section.

10 Tips to Solve CAT VARC Section

Here are the top 10 tips by PG experts to solve the CAT VARC Section without missing the top score with proper time management.

Top 10 Tips To Ace VARC Section in CAT 2023
10 Tips to Solve VARC Section in CAT Exam

Also Read: “It’s about leading with example” – Ft. Rahul Sharma, an IIM A graduate & 3X CAT Topper.

How to build Grammar and Vocabulary for the CAT VARC Section CAT Exam 2023?

The best way to build & improve your Grammar and Vocabulary for CAT 2023: 

  1. Read Widely: Develop a habit of reading newspapers, magazines, novels, and quality online articles to improve reading speed, vocabulary, and comprehension.

  2. Solve Mocks and Previous Years’ Question Papers: Regularly practice CAT-specific mock test and previous years’ CAT question papers to familiarise yourself with the exam format, build stamina, and identify areas that need improvement.

  3. Analyse Mistakes: Review and analyse the questions you answered incorrectly to understand the underlying concepts and avoid repetition.

  4. Seek Guidance: Consider joining coaching classes or seeking guidance from experienced mentors to gain insights, strategies, and personalised feedback.

How to approach reading comprehension passages for CAT Exam 2023? 

When approaching RC passages for the CAT exam, follow the given solving strategy.

  • Practice Variety: Solve RC passages from diverse topics and difficulty levels to improve comprehension skills and expose yourself to different question types.

  • Identify Passage Structure: Understand the structure of RC passages, identifying the main arguments, supporting evidence, and the author’s perspective.

  • Active Note-Taking: Take concise notes while reading passages to aid in answering questions accurately and efficiently.

  • Apply the Elimination Technique: Eliminate answer choices that are factually incorrect or contradict the passage, increasing the likelihood of selecting the correct answer.

How to Improve Reading Speed for the CAT Exam in 2023?

Top 10 tips to help increase your reading speed for CAT

  1. Practice daily: Set aside time each day for reading practice.

  2. Skim and scan: Quickly identify the main ideas and keywords in the text.

  3. Eliminate subvocalisation: Read without pronouncing each word in your mind.

  4. Expand your vocabulary: Learn new words regularly to comprehend passages faster.

  5. Read diverse materials: Explore different genres and topics for good reading experiences.

  6. Increase reading pace gradually: Push yourself to read slightly faster over time.

  7. Take timed practice tests: Simulate exam conditions and solve as many questions as possible to improve speed and accuracy.

  8. Use a pointer or finger: Guide your eyes along the lines for better focus.

  9. Avoid distractions: Create a quiet environment for focused reading.

  10. Review and analyse: Summarise the main points after reading to reinforce understanding.

More preparation material is available HERE.

Strategy for CAT: Quick tips on CAT VARC by Past CAT Toppers

Chirag Gupta, CAT 2021 100%iler

Read more in general: It’s crucial to develop a habit of reading to improve your VARC skills. Start by choosing topics that genuinely interest you. This will make the process enjoyable and help you form a reading habit. Remember, the goal is not just to read but also to comprehend the text quickly. Practice speed reading techniques to enhance your reading speed while maintaining comprehension.

Use the elimination technique for RCs: Instead of searching for the correct option, focus on eliminating the wrong ones. By carefully analysing each answer choice and eliminating the ones that contradict the passage or lack supporting evidence, you can arrive at the correct answer more efficiently. This approach can also be applied to the Data Interpretation section in exams like XAT. Discussing RC passages with peers can provide valuable insights and different perspectives.

Master para jumbles: When tackling para jumbles, start by identifying the first sentence. This will serve as a foundation for arranging the remaining sentences. Look for pairs or phrases that connect logically. With regular practice, you’ll become more adept at identifying the correct sequence. Utilise online resources or join study groups to solve para jumbles collaboratively and learn from each other’s strategies.

Ace summary questions:

  1. For summary questions, identify the three most essential points in the passage according to your understanding.
  2. Write them down concisely. The correct answer choice should align with these three points without any distortions or additions.
  3. Practice summarising passages regularly to improve your ability to extract key information.

Disclaimer – Whatever I have written here may or may not work for you. There is no single cookie-cutter strategy for an exam like CAT.

Also Read: Top 5 Tips For CAT Exam Prep Strategy, Beginners To Toppers by CAT Author Arun Sharma

Patrick Dsouza, 6 times CAT 100%iler

Focus on enjoyment: Instead of approaching reading as a mere CAT preparation task, find reading material that interests and captivates you. Choose something that sparks your curiosity and brings you joy, whether it’s novels, magazines, newspapers, or other written content.

Consistency is key: Develop a habit of reading regularly. Dedicate a specific time each day or week to immerse yourself in reading. Consistency is essential to reap the benefits and see improvements in your Verbal scores.

Variety in reading material: Explore a diverse range of reading material. It could be novels by favourite authors, books from different genres, magazines covering various topics, or newspaper editorials. This exposure will broaden your understanding and enhance your ability to comprehend different writing styles.

Prioritise reading three months before the exam: While regular reading is beneficial, consciously intensify your reading practice three months before the CAT exam. This focused approach will significantly impact your performance in the Verbal section.

Enjoyment leads to improvement: You naturally become more engaged and attentive when you genuinely enjoy reading. This heightened interest and involvement will enhance your reading speed, comprehension skills, and overall performance in the Verbal section.

Remember, the key to improving your Verbal scores is finding pleasure in reading. Embrace the joy of exploring new worlds through words, and you will witness its positive impact on your CAT preparation journey. 

Sanjit Sarkar, CAT 2022 99%iler

Reading Comprehension:

Familiarise yourself with various genres: philosophical, science-based, factual, and historical paragraphs. Prepare a diverse range of reading materials to minimise surprises on the exam day.

Verbal Ability:

  • Assess questions carefully: Understand the requirements and determine the correct answer from the options. 
  • Utilise the elimination strategy: Eliminate unlikely options to narrow down the choices.
  • Practice extensively: Work on all VA questions, including paraphrasing and sentence fragmentation.


  • Focus on building a solid foundation in reading and language skills.
  • Practice regularly to improve speed and accuracy.
  • Stay calm and composed during the exam to make sound decisions.
  • Seek additional resources like books or online materials to enhance your understanding and skills.

To know Sanjit Sarkar’s entire CAT prep journey, read: How to Score 99 Percentile in CAT 2023? – CAT Toppers Success Strategies by Sanjit Sarkar, IIM Ahmedabad.

Best Resources for CAT VARC Section Preparation 

CAT Preparation Books For VARC

Here is the list of best books as CAT study material for VARC section recommended by CAT Toppers

  1. How to Prepare for Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension for CAT” by Arun Sharma and Meenakshi Upadhyay
  2. Word Power Made Easy” by Norman Lewis
  3. High School English Grammar and Composition” by Wren and Martin
  4. Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension for CAT” by Nishit K. Sinha
  5. 30 Days to a More Powerful Vocabulary” by Wilfred Funk and Norman Lewis
  6. Barron’s Essential Words for the GRE” by Philip Geer
  7. The Official Guide for GMAT Verbal Review” by GMAC (Graduate Management Admission Council)
  8. Mastering the Verbal Ability for CAT Common Admission Test” by Ajay Singh
  9. A Modern Approach to Verbal and Non-verbal Reasoning: R.S.Agarwal

Reminder all these books cover the VARC syllabus in detail; while books can be helpful resources, it’s equally important to practice with online mock tests, solve previous year CAT papers, and engage in regular reading of newspapers, magazines, and quality online articles to enhance your overall verbal abilities.

CAT Preparation RC Resources For VARC

Here are some recommended reading resources for CAT preparation:

  1. Newspapers: The Hindu, The Economic Times, The Indian Express
  2. Magazines: Forbes India, Business Today, Frontline
  3. Novels: Classic literature by authors like Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, and F. Scott Fitzgerald 
  4. Non-fiction Books: “Thinking, Fast and Slow” by Daniel Kahneman, “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind” by Yuval Noah Harari, “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg
  5. Online Articles: Websites like Medium, Harvard Business Review, and
  6. Business Publications: The Wall Street Journal, Business Insider, Forbes
  7. Current Affairs Magazines: Pratiyogita Darpan, Competition Success Review, Civil Services Chronicle
  8. Literary Magazines: The New Yorker, Granta, Paris Review
  9. Online Blogs: Malcolm Gladwell’s blog, Seth Godin’s blog, Brain Pickings
  10. Editorials: Editorials from leading newspapers like The Guardian, The New York Times, and The Washington Post

If you are looking for Tips, Tricks and strategies to ace CAT in 6 months, check out this insightful video by Shweta Arora

Also Read: How to score 90+ Percentile in CAT 2023? – CAT Toppers Success Strategies by Rohith S G Mudedla, IIM Bangalore

VARC Preparation for CAT: Type of Questions, Exam Pattern and Syllabus

Understanding the pattern and CAT syllabus of the Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC) section is crucial to understanding the level of difficulty and creating an effective preparation plan. Let’s delve into the details:

  • CAT Test Pattern: The CAT exam consists of three sections: Quantitative Ability (QA), Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DILR), and Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC). Each section is allotted a specific time duration.
  • VARC Section: The VARC section for CAT comprises of 34 questions in total. It consists of both RC questions and Verbal Ability questions.
  • RC Passages: Typically, there are 5-6 RC passages with 4-6 questions per passage. The passages are based on subjects like social sciences, humanities, economics, science, and technology. Each passage is followed by a set of questions that test comprehension, inference, and analysis skills.
  • Verbal Ability Section: This includes questions that assess vocabulary, grammar, para-jumbles, para-summary, sentence completion, and critical reasoning. It requires a strong command of the English language and logical reasoning abilities.
  • VARC Weightage: The VARC section carries approximately 34% weightage in the overall CAT exam. However, it is important to note that the weightage may vary slightly from year to year.

The CAT exam is designed to assess a candidate’s aptitude in various areas, including Quantitative Ability (QA), Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR), and VARC. Each section contributes to the final percentile calculation, with VARC being one of the crucial components.

CAT VARC (Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension) Section Pattern and Approach:

Section Pattern:

  • The VARC section in CAT typically consists of 34 CAT questions.
  • The section is divided into two major parts: Reading Comprehension (RC) and Verbal Ability (VA).
  • RC usually accounts for 24 questions, distributed among 4-5 passages type questions.
  • VA comprises of 10 questions, covering a variety of questions in this section.

Reading Comprehension (RC) Approach:

  • Skim the passage: Quickly go through the passage to get a sense of the topic, structure, and main idea.
  • Read the questions first: Before diving into the passage, read the questions related to it.
  • Active reading: While reading, underline or highlight important points, keywords, and key arguments.
  • Comprehension Focus: Pay attention to the author’s tone, purpose, and the main idea of each paragraph.
  • Answer strategically: Try to answer questions that you find relatively easier first and come back to the tougher ones later.
  • Time management: Allocate a specific amount of time for each passage and stick to it.

Verbal Ability (VA) Approach:

  • Analyse the question: Read the question stem carefully to understand its requirements.
  • Understand the options: Examine all the answer choices and eliminate the clearly incorrect ones.
  • Paraphrasing: For questions that require paraphrasing, identify the key components of the original sentence and look for a similar option.
  • Sentence Fragmentation: In questions where you need to rearrange sentence fragments, focus on logical flow and coherence.
  • Practice variety: Work on different types of VA questions, including grammar, vocabulary, critical reasoning, and logical completion.

If you’re seeking additional tips and tricks to align your CAT Prep journey and boost your VARC scores, there’s an insightful video you should definitely watch.

Prepare for VARC for CAT 2023: FAQs

1. What are the Word Usage and Grammar Rules for Verbal Ability in CAT exam?

Ans: The Verbal Ability section in the CAT exam assesses a candidate’s language proficiency, including word usage and grammar. While it’s not possible to provide an exhaustive list of all word usage and grammar rules, here are some important concepts to focus on for CAT Verbal Ability preparation:

  1. Vocabulary: Learn synonyms, antonyms, idioms, and phrases.
  2. Grammar: Master subject-verb agreement, tenses, modifiers, etc.
  3. Parts of Speech: Understand nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc.
  4. Sentence Construction: Practice concise and logical sentence formation.
  5. Error Spotting: Identify and correct grammatical errors.
  6. Sentence Correction: Rectify grammatical mistakes in given sentences.
  7. Contextual Usage: Learn how words change meaning in different contexts.
  8. Idioms and Phrases: Familiarise yourself with common expressions.
  9. Reading Comprehension: Analyse sentence structure and grammar in passages.
  10. Practice: Regularly practice exercises and solve previous papers.

2. How to identify strengths and weaknesses in the VARC section when analysing mock tests?

Ans: To identify strengths and weaknesses in the VARC section when analysing mock tests:

  1. Evaluate time management and completion of all questions.
  2. Assess accuracy in different question types: reading comprehension, vocabulary, grammar, and critical reasoning.
  3. Analyse performance in reading comprehension passages.
  4. Review time allocation for each question or passage.
  5. Identify patterns of difficulty or consistent weaknesses.
  6. Learn from incorrect responses and understand the reasons behind mistakes.
  7. Note specific areas for improvement: vocabulary, grammar, critical reasoning, and reading speed.
  8. Practice and focus on targeted areas of weakness.
  9. Seek guidance if needed from mentors or coaching programs.
  10. Regularly analyse mock tests to track progress and adapt study strategies.

3. Could you please provide a CAT preparation strategy specifically for the VARC section for one-month prep timeframe?

Ans: In order to prepare for the VARC (Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension) section of the CAT exam within a one-month timeframe, it is important to have a focused strategy. Begin by understanding the exam pattern and familiarising yourself with the structure of the VARC section. Assess your strengths and weaknesses in this area and prioritise your study accordingly. Dedicate time each day to build your vocabulary through word lists, flashcards, and online resources. Read regularly to improve comprehension skills and exposure to different writing styles. Practice solving reading comprehension passages from previous CAT papers to enhance your understanding of main ideas and supporting details. Additionally, pay attention to improving grammar skills by reviewing essential concepts. With consistent effort and targeted practice, you can effectively prepare for the VARC section in one month.

4. Can you share Parajumble and Odd Sentence Out Techniques?

Here are the techniques for approaching Parajumble and Odd Sentence Out questions:

Parajumble Techniques:

  • Identify the topic sentence: Look for the sentence that introduces the main idea or sets the context for the paragraph. It usually provides a general overview or background information.
  • Look for logical connections: Analyse the relationships between sentences and identify transitional words or phrases that connect them. Look for clues like cause-effect, contrast, or continuation.
  • Pay attention to pronouns and references: Note pronouns or references used in sentences to establish their logical order. Identify the sentence that refers to previously mentioned information.
  • Analyse sentence structure: Consider the grammatical structure of the sentences. Look for subject-verb agreements, verb tenses, and parallelism to determine the correct sequence.

Use elimination technique: If unsure about the correct order, eliminate options with illogical sequences or unrelated ideas. This can help narrow down the choices and increase your chances of selecting the correct order.

Odd Sentence Out Techniques:

  • Identify the theme or central idea: Read the sentences and identify the common theme or main idea that the other sentences revolve around.
  • Look for inconsistencies: Identify any sentence that does not align with the central idea or does not logically connect with the remaining sentences.
  • Pay attention to tense and voice: Look for inconsistencies in verb tense or voice. Sentences that deviate from the consistent tense or voice might be the odd one out.
  • Analyse sentence structure: Compare the sentence structures and lengths. The odd sentence might have a different structure or significantly vary in length from the others.
  • Identify the stand-alone sentence: Sometimes, the odd sentence is independent and does not contribute to the flow of ideas. Look for sentences that can stand alone without relying on other sentences.
  • Remember to practice these techniques regularly through mock tests and previous CAT papers to improve your skills in solving Parajumble and Odd sentence-out questions effectively.

5. How many questions do I need to answer to get a 100 score in VARC CAT?

Ans: If you struggle with VARC, aim to answer at least 8-10 questions correctly in the VARC section. This will help you secure a high score and prevent your overall CAT percentile from being negatively impacted. By achieving 8-10 correct answers, you can comfortably aim for a percentile of 90+ in VARC.

6. How can I improve my VARC section accuracy?

Ans: To improve your accuracy in the VARC (Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension) section, consider the following tips:

  • Read extensively to improve vocabulary and reading speed.
  • Understand different question types in the VARC section.
  • Practice with mock tests and analyse incorrect responses.
  • Manage time effectively by prioritising easier questions.
  • Focus on grammar and language skills.
  • Create a distraction-free study environment.
  • Take online quizzes and exercises targeted at VARC accuracy.
  • Seek guidance from mentors or online forums.
  • Practice regularly to build confidence and improve skills.

7. Which site is best for free mock test on VARC?

Ans: if you are looking to tackle CAT Mocks, here are some leading websites that provide FREE mock tests for CAT aspirants.

  1. Career Launchers’s Free full-length CAT Mocks
  2. Cracku’s Free CAT Mock Tests 2023 with video solutions
  3. BYJU’S Exam Prep’s practice CAT Online Free Test Series  
  4. InsideIIM’s Free Mock Test Series 2023

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