Acing The VARC Section Of CAT

Acing the VARC Section of CAT

How to approach Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension section of CAT?

The VARC section of CAT has been on an easier side as far as the last four years’ CAT is concerned. In such case, scoring high in this section becomes a compulsion, if you want to score a good percentile.

In order to ace this section, consistent practice alongwith knowing one’s strength and weakness is required. The primary reason why students fail to secure good marks in this section is their accuracy  and diligent selection of questions.

Accuracy is a direct factor of practice. The more you read, the better you will be at comprehension and deriving inferences. Careful selection of question comes with giving tests and identifying your key weak areas.

The VARC section of CAT can be divided into two parts Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension. Let us look at the strategy of both the divisions:

Reading Comprehension:

RCs have a big share in no. of questions. Out of 34 questions, there have been 24 questions of RC in the VARC section from the last five years. These 24 questions were from five passages. The passages have been easy to read and were from familiar areas.

My take: I always prefer reading the questions first and then going through the passage. This helps in figuring out the requirements of the question. It also helps in targeted reading of the passage, thus saving time.

The questions appearing in the RC section can broadly be divided into three types:

Fact based questions, Inference based questions and Central idea questions

Fact based questions: These questions are the one which ask correct or incorrect facts. Such questions are targeted at a particular sentence or paragraph.   These questions are the easiest in the three categories. The best way to approach these questions is to find the particular sentence of the passage and then read  the sentences which lie before and after that particular sentence.

Make sure that you do not make silly mistakes while solving these questions. These may appear to be sitters, but careful reading is required to solve such questions correctly.

These questions can be identified as:

  • According to the passage,....
  • The passage states that:
  • Which, out of the following, is true/false?
  • Which _____ has not been cited as ______?
  • According to the author, what is ______?
  • By a ______, the author means.......
  • "According to the passage, _______?
  • Which factor has not been cited _______?


Inference based questions: Inferences are indirect conclusions i.e. they are not explicitly stated. These questions require reading between the lines and correct comprehension of the passage.

Such questions are complex in nature, but can be solved correctly after practicing consistently. One more important aspect which need to be considered is, if there is any cause and effect relationship mentioned, pay special attention to it. It may be helpful in solving one or the other inferential question.

Inference based questions can be identified as:

  • It can be inferred from the passage:
  • It cannot be inferred from the passage:
  • The passage uses ______ to imply that ______"
  • What can be inferred when the author states_____?"
  • The sentence, '_____', implies that


Central idea questions: Central idea refers to the main theme of the passage. These questions can be aced after developing a thorough reading practice. For this, you must have a habit of reading newspaper editorials and noting their central ideas daily.

 These questions can be identified as:

  • The primary purpose of this passage is to:
  • The primary focus of this passage is on which of the following?
  • The main concern of the passage is to:
  • In the passage, the author is primarily interested in:
  • The passage is chiefly concerned with:


Verbal Ability Questions:

CAT 2018 consisted of 10 Verbal Ability based questions, all non MCQ type. In the absence of options, these questions become difficult to tackle. These questions can be broadly divided into the following categories:

Para summary questions: These questions demand one line summary of a paragraph given. These are similar to the central idea questions which appear in RCs. A student needs to be mindful of the fact that a summary must only consist of relevant facts, that form a basis of conclusion. Hence, any irrelevant fact present in the passage must not be included in the summary.

Critical Reasoning Questions: These questions are similar to the inference based questions asked in RCs. These questions also require thorough understanding of the paragraphs.

One also needs to understand the difference between inference, conclusion, assumption and  judgement.

Parajumbles: In this, we need to arrange the given statements into a logical order. These questions are prone to maximum number of mistakes, as there are more than 4 or 5 options to arrange the statements.

The best way is to keep an eye on the logical flow of information. Logical flow of information follow a PREP pattern. PREP refer to Point example, reason, point  format i.e. when any passage is written, the author first mentions his stance i.e. a point that he will be taking up, Reason, why he is in favour of his point or argument, Example, I.e., the author will mention examples to elaborate his point, and finally to end his passage, he will give a conclusion, which will be a repeatition of his point.

Odd one out: Odd one questions are the one in which a student needs to pick an option from the five given options which does not fit into the paragraph , formed by the other four statements.

Again, for doing such categories of question correctly, one needs to follow logical flow of ideas.

There are some other categories of questions, which have not appeared in CAT since last five years, but with the exam being unpredictable, one needs to be aware of every nook and corner of this section:

Paracompletion : In these questions, an incomplete paragraph is given, which the student needs to complete by selecting any of the given options. The PREP format needs to be followed while solving such questions. Plus, if the blank occurs at the end, a student needs to incorporate conclusion statement.

Vocabulary based questions: The Vocabulary based questions are one of the most dreaded by CAT aspirants. This is because, students are not aware of different words. Thus, from the beginning of CAT preparation, a student must maintain, his own logbook and record word meanings, alonwith two usages each. A student must also go through Word Power made easy by Norman Lewis.

It needs to be remembered, that the exam setters have stopped giving such vocab based questions for some time now, but vocabulary knowledge does benefit students indirectly. If a student is well versed with complex words, he’ll be in a better position as compared to the one, who isn’t.