How to prepare VARC for CAT?

Updated on 12th June 2023 | 1:05 pm | #VARCPrep

VARC (Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension) is one section that needs consistency and planning with knowledge about its basic fundamentals. The section focuses on school-level English and candidates can prepare well for this section with a consistent strategy. The VARC section consists of four main parts:

  • Vocabulary
  • Grammar
  • Verbal Reasoning
  • Reading Comprehension

You cannot crack VARC without a good understanding of these four components. So this gets us to the question, How to improve VARC for CAT? But before that, we need to identify the structure and composition of VARC for CAT preparation.

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VARC Preparation for CAT: Exam Pattern and Syllabus

Based on the paper pattern of the CAT 2022 exam, the VARC section comprises 24 questions out of a total of 66 questions. These questions are divided into two subsections: reading comprehension and verbal ability. Reading comprehension holds a higher weightage with 16 questions while verbal ability comprises 8.

Given below are the tentative exam pattern and syllabus for the VARC section for CAT 2023-



Total Questions for VARC


Multiple-choice Questions


Type in the Answer (TITA) questions


Division of questions

16 questions of RC- 4 passages having 4 questions each
8 questions of VA- 3 Parajumbles, 2 Odd Sentence Paracompletions and 3 Parasummary

Total Time for Section

40 minutes

Main Topics

Parajumbles, summary, facts, inferences, reading comprehension, etc.

Marking Scheme

+3 for a right answer
-1 for a wrong answer
No negative marking for TITA

Check the full syllabus

Struggles when Preparing VARC for CAT

  • Difficulty in concentrating throughout the reading comprehension.
  • Many answers that one presumes to be correct actually turn out to be wrong.
  • Confusion about attempting the question or leaving the question in case you have eliminated two options.
  • Inability to connect different sentences in the VA section.
  • Managing time to attempt the questions. Many times students read the RC but are not able to answer the questions due to time constraints.

Relatable much? Don't worry, after reading this page, you will have a clear understanding of how to go about the VARC section. Now we are in a position to actually answer how to begin VARC preparation for CAT.

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Tips to Solve VARC for CAT

The VARC (Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension) section is mainly dominated by reading comprehension, which constitutes roughly 67% of the section. The most effective and efficient way to improve your VARC scores is to understand the main idea behind the question and frame a preparation strategy around it. For example, while solving an RC passage, you might crossways with some complicated sentences. It can be said that some passages in CAT are mind-boggling for everyone, regardless of how much of a scholar the candidate has been. Apart from logic, the verbal section focuses on a candidate’s unexplored areas i.e basic academy grammar and complex vocabulary. 

  • Read Regularly: Establish a habit of reading regularly and become more aware of the English language and literature. Consistent reading will help you improve your reading speed and assist you in your reading comprehension. Newspapers and magazines will also keep you in tune with current affairs and various topics.
  • Expand Vocabulary and Improve Grammar: Actively practice and learn new words on a daily basis. VARC preparation for CAT focuses on your skills to understand, read and respond quickly to vocabulary-based questions. Grammar is also a fundamental building block of this section.
  • Work on a Strategy: The reading comprehension section requires a strategy to go over the text and answer the questions as quickly as possible. Thus it is imperative that candidates note and actively improve their performance by timing themselves and solving papers to develop an understanding.
  • Solve Regular Mocks: Keep practicing. It will help you build a strategy for the VARC section. Mock exams are a one-stop destination for VARC preparation for CAT. The tests will also get you in the habit of answering such questions and allow you to develop your strengths and weaknesses.

VARC Preparation for CAT: RC Passages & The Elimination Technique

While solving an RC passage, try to make use of the “elimination strategy” i.e. eliminating answer options that are not relevant to the passage. To achieve mastery of this technique, you need to bolster your reading speed and practice more than 700+ RCs until the CAT Exam. Also, following the reverse technique i.e. looking at the answer options before looking at the passage can be of great help in hitting the correct answer. This strategy has observably been the most successful and preached by CAT 99 %ilers repeatedly. Here is how you go about it:

  • Refrain from extreme answer options: You need to watch out for options that stretch the main idea a bit too far. Sometimes, this can be inferred from a single word. For e.g., words like “all”, “never” or “every” point to the extremity of a given statement, deferring from the main idea of the question.
  • Avoid answer options contradictory to incidents mentioned in the passage: Some answer options will “flip” a relationship. They’ll say that B caused A when the passage states that A caused B, or they’ll say something came first in the process when it really came later. 
  • Eliminate Outlier/Distortion: These are the easiest answer option to eliminate. They bring in information or ideas that weren’t mentioned at all in the passage.

Be wary of choices supported by the passage but don't answer the question being asked: As we said above, this is a very common wrong answer type, which is why it’s so important to make sure you fully understand what is asked in the question before selecting the answer.

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How to Improve VARC for CAT?

These are a few insights about a good approach to the section-

  • Once you receive the paper give it a few minutes, analyze the paper, and make a strategy on how you are going to attempt the section.
  • DO NOT STICK TO A QUESTION! This is a blunder and can cost you a lot. Try to maximize your answers. The plan behind getting a high percentile does not require answering the trickiest questions. Instead, focus on selecting the easiest questions you are most confident about to gain marks.
  • If you are losing concentration while reading RCs try to customize your approach. Try doing 1 RC first and then solve a few questions of VA and then back to RC and so on, to keep yourself engaged.
  • Focus on what the author wants to convey, not what you want to interpret. You are more likely to reach a conclusion if you try to understand what the writer is trying to say than giving it your own interpretation.

Best Books to Prepare VARC for CAT

To help candidates prepare for VARC for CAT, we have listed a few books that can be used for guidance alongside mock papers and previous years' papers.

  1. Word Power Made Easy- Norman Lewis
  2. How to Prepare for Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension for the CAT- Arun Sharma and Meenakshi Upadhyay
  3. Mastering the Verbal Ability for CAT- Ajay Singh
  4. A Modern Approach to Verbal & Non-Verbal Reasoning- R.S. Aggarwal
Download the CAT Syllabus

VARC Weightage: Other Top MBA Entrance Exams

MBA Entrance Exams

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In the end, don't be too harsh on yourself. Remember, in this exam, you have to play on your strengths and you will sail through. VARC for CAT is the first section, so it is imperative that you remain calm and collected because the other two sections will follow it. In this section, your strategy should be to answer the questions for reading comprehension as quickly as possible and strengthen your grammar and vocabulary for the VA section. Get into the habit of reading, garner more knowledge about current affairs and practice more mock tests.


To prepare for the VARC section of CAT, candidates must focus on improving their English skills, including grammar, reading speed and vocabulary. Reading comprehension is an important part of VARC, with 16 questions out of 24 total VARC questions. Here are some ways in which you can prepare for VARC:

  • Get into the habit of reading books, magazines and newspapers. It will help you improve your speed and keep you updated on current affairs.
  • Expand your vocabulary and improve your grammar actively. Regularly practice and learn new words.
  • The RC section focuses on reviewing the text and responding as quickly as possible. So practice papers to formulate your exam strategy for the section.
  • Practice mock tests and previous year's papers to identify your weak points and understand the accuracy of your preparation strategy.

RC passages are all about reaching the correct answer as quickly as possible. This requires you to have a good reading speed and a strategy to identify the answers without having to reread the passages. Here are some tips you can follow in your RC preparation:

  • Master the elimination technique as explained in the article above
  • Read magazines, books, and newspapers excessively to increase speed
  • Note the time you take to attempt a passage, & restrict the time limit steadily
  • Review past year papers to understand the types of RC passages in CAT

As per the CAT 2022 analysis, the VARc section was easy to moderate in terms of the level of difficulty. CAT aspirants required a score of 40-42 to reach the 99-%ile.

VARC consists of 24 questions out of the total 66 questions, i.e. it has a weightage of 36% in CAT.

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