CAT Preparation Plan for VARC: Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension Tips & Strategy

By Gaurav Gupta|Updated : August 13th, 2021

Numerous students appear for the CAT exams for MBA every year, but very few get through. While the number of aspirants is high, the number of seats available is a few thousand. Every year, more than 1.5 lakhs of students compete to get into the best business schools in the country, namely IIM, FMS, SPJIMR, IIT, IMT, and NITIE.

That is why CAT is considered difficult and needs intense preparation. The computer-based CAT exam has three sections - the first one is Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC). Continue reading for the detailed CAT preparation plan for VARC.

Table of Content

Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC) preparation for CAT Exam requires clarity about the topics to be covered as per the CAT syllabus, kinds of questions asked, regular practice, and more. BYJU'S Exam Prep experts have curated a result-oriented Preparation Plan for CAT VARC sections. 

CAT VARC Syllabus 2021

Before checking out the preparation strategy, students must know the syllabus and exam pattern for CAT 2021. In the VARC syllabus, Verbal Ability (VA) is where the student's focus should be. It constitutes 33% of the questions in CAT Exams 2021. The weightage for the same is 34%. 

The VARC Syllabus of CAT 2021 has 3 broad categories:

  • Reading Comprehension: This section has an approximate weightage of 70%, and the topics could be anything from abstract to scientific.
  • Para Jumbles: The student must answer MCQs (objective) and fill in the blanks (subjective) in this section. It carries a marks weightage of 10%. Beware of the negative marking for this section.
  • Para Summary: The student can score a minimum of 10 marks, and it carries a weightage of 7%. 
  • Para Jumbles
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Sentence completion
  • Odd One Out

Check how to prepare for CAT VARC Section

VARC Exam Pattern- Difficulty Level of Verbal Ability Section of CAT

The Verbal Ability paper has approximately 34 questions, and the duration of the exam is 60 minutes. For certain sections, there is a negative marking of 1 mark per incorrect answer. The difficulty level is moderate to high. 

Check the detailed overview of the CAT VARC exam pattern. 

CAT VARC Section- Exam Pattern
ParticularsDetails
Time Duration per section for VARCPwd - 53 minutes and 20 seconds Others - 40 Minutes for other
Question TypeMCQs and TITA Questions (Both)
Marking Scheme for MCQsCorrect +3 marks Incorrect -1 mark Unattempted o marks
Marking Scheme for TITA QuestionsNo negative marking
Difficulty LevelModerately High

Download CAT Question Paper to practice regularly and be exam ready. 

CAT VARC Preparation - Vocabulary

What to Expect 

The student may be asked to complete incomplete sentences and have CLOZE tests to check their command over the language. The CAT exam will test you with synonyms and antonyms, spelling, analogies, inappropriate words, and odd words.

CAT Exam Strategy for Vocabulary

To tackle these questions, students must have excellent reading skills, a combination of reasoning power, and great vocabulary. Being fluent in the language is insufficient. To crack this paper, you need to know how to use a suitable word in a given context.

For instance, four words may be given, which may mean almost the same. Thus, finding the odd words would be extremely difficult. The student must have excellent knowledge and understanding to notice the slight difference to recognize the odd one.

Example

Though all competitive exams do not allow using a calculator, but where they are permitted, there are restrictions on the models allowed.

  1. Though all competitive exams do not allow using calculators,
  2. Not all competitive exams allow the use of a calculator,
  3. Every competitive exam does not allow using of calculators,
  4. No correction required

The correct answer is B.

  • The question asks for a grammatically correct answer. The exception is stated, with a 'but' in the sentence in the first part contradicting the 'though'. That is why A is incorrect.
  • The second question to be reasoned here is what is not permitted by competitive exams. The answer is the use of a calculator. That is why using calculators would be incorrect.
  • The term 'every' is also contradictory as it implies the entire group discussed and not a section of it in the sentence. The message to be conveyed is that a section permits the use of calculators. That is why 'every' gives a wrong message and is grammatically incorrect.

Option B conveys the message, and that is why it is the correct option.

Best Approach to solve CAT Vocabulary questions

The etymology approach is excellent for improving vocabulary. Understand the word by referring to its root meaning, the suffixes, and prefixes to have command over your vocabulary.

You can develop vocabulary skills by mastering connotations and colloquial usage to use them in appropriate contexts.

Check the best books for CAT Exam preparation.

CAT VARC Preparation - Grammar

The right approach to learning grammar is knowing the rules, parts of speech, and their usage. That, however, is time-consuming.

The other option is to learn based on previous question papers. Learn how to correct a given sentence by identifying errors. Such a practice helps in the easy detection of errors to aid the student in tackling VARC.

Questions relating to Para Jumbles, Summary, Logical Continuation, and RC paper are easy to handle with sound grammar.

The knowledge of grammar helps eliminate unnecessary options and get to the correct answer quickly. Error detection, word usage, fill in the blanks, and sentence correction can be easily attempted by students with good grammar.

CAT VARC Preparation - Reading Comprehension

The weapon to overcome the hurdle named VARC is reading comprehension skills.

The skill may be developed by reading the newspaper daily. The diverse topics are an aid in improving vocabulary. Mark unknown words and learn pronunciation, usage in varied contexts, synonyms, and antonyms. Retain them by using them in conversation.

Continue to increase the speed of reading by checking just how many you can read in a minute.

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Gaurav GuptaGaurav GuptaMember since Jul 2020
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  • VARC means Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension in the CAT exam. VARC is the section that tests candidates' knowledge of the English language and the questions are up to the 10th standard.


  • In CAT 2020, 26 questions were asked from VARC. If you are able to score 35+ out of 78 (since each question carries 3 marks), it will be a very good score for sectional/overall score


  • Attempting CAT's VARC section can be very challenging as you need to have a clear idea of which questions to attempt first. For the VARC section, you must start analysing the Reading Comprehensions and see for yourself which you can solve easily. After that, you must proceed to solve Verbal Ability questions.


  • To score 99 percentile in the VARC section of CAT, you need to be well prepared much before the exam. Starting your preparations earlier will help you a lot in scoring 99+ percentile in VARC. Reading is one such habit that will help you prepare in a much better way.


  • There are innumerable books available in the market for VARC section of CAT. However, if you have to choose a few books, you can choose from the ones mentioned below:

    1. A Modern Approach to Verbal & Non-Verbal Reasoning - R.S. Aggarwal
    2. High School English Grammar & Composition - Wren & Martin
    3. How to Prepare for Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension for CAT - Arun Sharma and Meenakshi Upadhyay/Arihant


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