How to improve VARC for CAT?

VARC (Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension) is that one section which needs consistency and planning with knowledge about its basic fundamentals. The VARC section consists of four main parts:

  1. Vocabulary

  2. Grammar

  3. Verbal Reasoning

  4. Reading Comprehension 

You cannot crack VARC without a good understanding of these four components. In CAT 2019, VARC turned out to be the toughest among all the sections. The reading comprehensions were lengthy and the difficulty level was also up. One should be prepared for all surprises this year to score well and get into an IIM. For some, this might be a cakewalk while for others (mainly engineers) this section can be a buzzkill. 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.

VARC Preparation for CAT: Exam Pattern and Syllabus

Based on the paper pattern of the CAT 2021 exam, the VARC section comprises 24 questions out of a total of 66 questions. These questions are further divided into two subsections: reading comprehension and verbal ability. Reading comprehension holds a higher weightage with more questions as compared to verbal ability. For this section, the candidate should focus on the reading speed and accuracy of responses.

Given below are the tentative exam pattern and syllabus for the VARC section for CAT 2022-



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 Parajumbles 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


Main Issues in VARC Preparation 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.

How to Improve VARC for CAT?

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

  1. Once you receive the paper give it a few minutes, analyse the paper and make a strategy on how you are going to attempt the section.
  2. DO NOT STICK TO A QUESTION! This is a blunder and can cost you a lot. Try to maximise 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.
  3. If you are losing concentration while reading RCs try to customise 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.
  4. 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 understanding what the writer is trying to say than giving it your own interpretation.

Tips to Solve VARC for CAT

  1. 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.
  2. Expand Vocabulary and Improve Grammar: Actively practise 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Solve Regular Mocks: Keep practising. 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.

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

VARC Weightage in Top MBA Entrance Exams

MBA Entrance Exams

No of Questions


















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.