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Get Ready for the CAT: Preparation Strategies for VARC
May 24 2024

The Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC) section is a critical component of the Common Admission Test (CAT) for MBA aspirants. Based on the CAT 2022 exam pattern, the VARC section consists of 24 questions out of 66. These are split between reading comprehension (RC) and verbal ability (VA), with RC having a higher weightage of 16 than VA’s 8 questions.

What is Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension?

As the name implies, the VARC section covers Reading Comprehension as well as areas of Verbal Ability such as Para Jumbles, Para Summary, and Find Odd Sentence. In CAT 2021, there were 24 questions in this section, with 16 coming from RC passages and the remaining 8 from VA.

To achieve the 99th percentile in this section, you must correctly answer approximately 17 questions. If VARC is not your strong suit, your goal should be to get 12 to 15 questions correct with practice. This will easily place you in the 90+ percentile, and you can increase your score by focusing on your strengths.

Particular's Details

Total Questions


Multiple-choice questions (MCQs)


Type in the Answer (TITA) Questions


Division of Questions

16 RC (4 passages with 4 questions each), 8 VA (3 para jumbles, 2 odd sentence para completions, 3 parasummary)

Total Time for Section

40 minutes

Main Topics

Para jumbles, summary, facts, inferences, reading comprehension

Marking Scheme

(+) 3 for a correct answer, (-) 1 for an incorrect answer, no negative marking for TITA questions


Syllabus of Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension

The VARC section is the first of the three sections to be solved in the exam. The section is divided into two parts: Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension. Take a look at the important topics and key points in this section.


CAT VARC Syllabus

Fill in the blanks

Para Completion and inference Verbal Logic

Verbal Reasoning

Subject-verb agreement Para jumbles

Sentence completion

Foreign language words used in English Different usage of the same word


Reading Comprehension Idioms
Syllogisms Analogies


Jumbled paragraphs Sentence correction

One word substitution

Parts of speech Preposition

Types of Clauses

Phrases Modifiers Errors in tenses

Articles usage


  The topic-wise questions in CAT VACR are given in the table below.


Number of questions expected



Sentence Completion & Correction

Odd Sentences


Others (Fill in the blanks, Vocabulary Based, etc.)



Also read: Verbal ability strategy guide

Reading Comprehension (RC)

  1. Skim the Passage: Quickly skim through the passage to grasp the main ideas and structure. Focus on headings, subheadings, and the opening and closing paragraphs for valuable context.
  2. Read the Questions First: Read the questions before delving into the passage to understand what information you need to look for, saving time by focusing on relevant sections.
  3. Highlight Key Information: Underline or highlight important details, main ideas, and supporting evidence to easily refer back to when answering questions.
  4. Identify Purpose and Tone: Determine the author’s intent and tone to answer questions more accurately. Is the passage argumentative, informative, or opinionated?
  5. Tackle Questions Sequentially: Start with specific detail questions, as they are easier to answer, and then move on to inferential questions.
  6. Refer Back to the Passage: Use the highlighted sections to find evidence and support your answers, avoiding assumptions or prior knowledge.
  7. Eliminate Incorrect Options: For MCQs, eliminate incorrect answers to increase the probability of choosing the right one.
  8. Manage Time Effectively: Set time limits for each passage. If a passage is challenging, move on and return if time permits.
  9. Practice Speed Reading: Improve your reading speed without compromising comprehension to handle longer passages efficiently.
  10. Review and Double-Check: If time permits, review your answers for logical consistency and accuracy.

Para Summary

  1. Read the Paragraph Carefully: Understand the main idea and key points of the passage.
  2. Identify the Structure: Note topic sentences, supporting evidence, and conclusions to summarize effectively.
  3. Identify the Main Idea: Express the main idea concisely in your own words.
  4. Identify Supporting Points: Note essential supporting points that strengthen the main idea.
  5. Remove Irrelevant Information: Exclude unnecessary details, focusing on essential elements.
  6. Maintain Coherence: Ensure logical flow and coherence in your summary, using appropriate transitions.
  7. Be Objective: Present information accurately without adding personal opinions.
  8. Use Concise Language: Be clear and concise in conveying the main idea and supporting points
  9. Practice Summarizing: Regular practice with paragraphs from various topics will improve your summarization skills.
  10. Review and Revise: Check for accuracy, coherence, and grammatical correctness before finalizing your summary.

Odd Man Out

  1. Understand the Concept: Identify the word or concept that doesn’t fit based on patterns like synonyms, antonyms, or categories.
  2. Read Carefully: Analyze the given set for patterns or relationships.
  3. Look for Commonalities: Identify common attributes shared by most items.
  4. Eliminate Similarities: Narrow down choices by eliminating options that fit a common pattern.
  5. Analyze Differences: Focus on unique characteristics to find the odd item.
  6. Consider Multiple Patterns: Think flexibly and consider various criteria for identifying the odd item.
  7. Prioritize Clarity: Choose the option that deviates based on a consistent criterion.
  8. Practice with Variety: Practice questions from diverse topics to understand different patterns.
  9. Time Management: Avoid spending too much time on individual items; make educated guesses if unsure.
  10. Review and Double-Check: Ensure your reasoning is logical and supported by patterns before finalizing answers.

Para Jumbles

  1. Read the Sentences Carefully: Understand context and identify linking words, pronouns, or transitions.
  2. Look for the Opening Sentence: Identify the introductory sentence that sets the stage for the paragraph.
  3. Identify the Closing Sentence: Find the concluding sentence that summarizes or concludes the main idea.
  4. Identify Logical Flow: Determine the sequence of ideas, using transitional phrases to link sentences logically.
  5. Pay Attention to Pronouns and References: Pronouns can indicate relationships and order between sentences.
  6. Identify Contrasting Ideas: Look for sentences presenting opposing ideas and the resolution.
  7. Pay Attention to Time and Cause-Effect Relationships: Time-related and cause-effect sentences provide clues about the sequence.
  8. Consider Sentence Length and Complexity: Use a mix of short and long sentences to determine logical flow.
  9. Check Coherence and Readability: Ensure the paragraph reads smoothly and logically.
  10. Practice with Time Constraints: Practice under timed conditions to improve speed and accuracy.

For more expert advice and tips from Sumit Sir, check out the verbal sectional course

Regular practice and strategic preparation are key to excelling in the VARC section of the CAT exam. Analyze your performance in mock tests, refine your strategies, and keep honing your skills. 

Good luck with your CAT exam preparation!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the pattern of the VARC section in the CAT exam?

The VARC section in the CAT exam consists of 24 questions, including 21 multiple-choice questions (MCQs) and 3 Type In The Answer (TITA) questions. The section is divided into 16 reading comprehension (RC) questions and 8 verbal ability (VA) questions. Candidates have 40 minutes to complete this section.

How is the VARC section scored?

The VARC section follows a marking scheme where each correct answer earns 3 marks, and each incorrect answer results in a penalty of 1 mark. There is no negative marking for TITA questions.

What are the main topics covered in the VARC section?

The main topics in the VARC section include reading comprehension, para jumbles, parasummary, odd sentence para completions, and questions involving facts and inferences.

How can I improve my reading comprehension skills for the CAT exam?

To improve your reading comprehension skills, practice skimming passages, reading questions first, highlighting key information, identifying the purpose and tone of the passage, and managing your time effectively. Regular practice with passages from various topics and difficulty levels is essential.

What strategies can help in solving para jumbles problems?

For para jumbles, carefully read the sentences, identify the opening and closing sentences, determine the logical flow of ideas, pay attention to pronouns and references, and practice under timed conditions to improve speed and accuracy.

How should I approach odd-man-out questions?

To tackle odd-man-out questions, understand the concept, read the given set carefully, look for commonalities, eliminate similarities, analyze differences, consider multiple patterns, and practice with a variety of questions to improve your ability to identify the odd item accurately.

What are some tips for summarizing paragraphs effectively?

To summarize paragraphs effectively, read the paragraph carefully, identify the main idea and supporting points, remove irrelevant information, maintain coherence, use concise language, and practice summarizing paragraphs from various topics regularly.

How important is time management in the VARC section?

Time management is crucial in the VARC section, as you have only 40 minutes to answer 24 questions. Set time limits for each passage and question type, and move on if you find a particular question challenging. Regular practice under timed conditions will help improve your speed and accuracy.

Where can I find additional resources for VARC preparation?

You can find additional resources and expert advice for VARC preparation from Sumit Sir’s videos on the following topics:

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cat 2024
Anisha Mukhija

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