CAT Preparation for VARC

Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension in CAT 2017 exam would be the 1st section. VARC is considered as the most tricky section as this section can get any composition of topics and different type of questions.

You need to begin your preparation for VARC much earlier than for other sections. During the last few years,VARC has gone for substantial changes in CAT exams. Your preparation therefore, has to be focused on the current trends. But another important feature of CAT exam is that it suddenly asks questions of such type which have not been asked during last many years. Your preparation therefore, has to combine the current as well as the past trends in CAT.

Sometimes you may find more questions on Grammar and Vocabulary and at other times the entire part on Grammar based and vocabulary based questions may be missing in CAT exam. The difficulty level of questions in VARC section is from moderate to highly difficult.

The Reading comprehension part in VARC has become more dominating during past few years. Reading Comprehension used to have a share of around 45% of total VARC questions in CAT but now this share has increased to 70%, rest 30% questions are based Verbal Ability.


Latest CAT Preparation for VARC Updates:

VARC Section exam pattern
Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension section in CAT exam was totally revamped in CAT 2015 and the last year CAT 2016 exam also followed the same exam pattern for VARC section. The key features of VARC section in CAT are as follows-

Total Questions: 34
Total MCQs (Multiple Choice Questions): 24
Total Non-MCQs (Answer to be typed on screen): 10
Answer choice for each question (MCQ): 4
Answer choice for Non-MCQ: May or may not exist. In any case you need to type the answer in the given space on the computer screen
Maximum marks for correct answer: 3
Negative marks for wrong answer: -1


Reading Material
A CAT 2017 aspirant needs to know what and how to prepare Verbal Ability before moving on the tricky path of CAT preparation module. Entire syllabus has to be placed in 2 sections- Verbal Ability and Reading comprehension.

Clear understanding of basics and the skill to apply them in English language can only strengthen the Verbal Ability.

Preparation topics as per last 2 year trend
Going by the changed pattern of CAT, there are 4-5 key topics which need comprehensive preparation by you-

  • Reading Comprehension
  • Jumbled paragraphs
  • Out of context sentences in Jumbled Paragraph
  • Essence or summary of short paragraph

Other important expected topics in CAT 2017

  • Error correction in sentences
  • Fill in the blanks with correct vocabulary words
  • Contextual use of vocabulary words

Essence/Summary of Paragraph
Para summary in CAT examination is of recent origin and was introduced in 2015. Now it forms an important part of questions in CAT Verbal Ability section. There are 3-4 Non-MCQ type of questions in CAT of this type. There is a short paragraph followed by 1 question asking for summary/inferred idea from the paragraph. There are 4 answer options also. Since Para summary question is of Non-MCQ type you have to type in the right answer in the given space on computer screen. Although there is no negative marking for Non-MCQ, you will lose your marks if you type in a wrong answer in the given space.

Section 1: Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension

CAT 2017: Quiz 1

CAT 2017: Quiz 2

Section 2: Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning

CAT 2017: Quiz 1

CAT 2017: Quiz 2

Section 3: Quantitative Ability

CAT 2017: Quiz 1

CAT 2017: Quiz 2

Sample question with answer-
The passage given below is followed by four alternative summaries. Choose the option that best captures the essence of the passage. Key in the number of the option you choose as your answer.

Although almost all climate scientists agree that the Earth is gradually warming, they have long been of two minds about the process of rapid climate shifts within larger periods of change. Some have speculated that the process works like a giant oven or freezer, warming or cooling the whole planet at the same time. Others think that shifts occur on opposing schedules in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, like exaggerated seasons. Recent research in Germany examining climate patterns in the Southern Hemisphere at the end of the last Ice Age strengthens the idea that warming and cooling occurs at alternate times in the two hemispheres. A more definitive answer to this debate will allow scientists to better predict when and how quickly the next climate shift will happen.

  1. Scientists have been unsure whether rapid shifts in the Earth's climate happen all at once or on opposing schedules in different hemispheres; research will help find a definitive answer and better predict climate shifts in future.
  2. Scientists have been unsure whether rapid shifts in the Earth's climate happen all at once or on opposing schedules in different hemispheres; finding a definitive answer will help them better predict climate shifts in future.
  3. Research in Germany will help scientists find a definitive answer about warming and cooling of the Earth and predict climate shifts in the future in a better manner.
  4. More research rather than debates on warming or cooling of the Earth and exaggerated "seasons in its hemispheres will help scientists in Germany predict climate changes better in future.

Correct answer: Option 2
Statement (3) is factually wrong as we don’t know if further research can happen only in Germany. Option (4) wrongly brings out a contest between research and debate. Between options (1) and (2), choice (1) is inappropriate because we don’t know if ‘research’ will help find a ‘definitive answer’.


Jumbled Paragraph
A jumbled paragraph can be defined as a group of the sentences not arranged in a proper sequence. The candidate is expected to arrange all the sentences in logical & sequential order. In another words it is the test of the student’s versatile reading, understanding of language, writing ability based on deep stock of vocabulary, grammar and correct use of tenses. So, try to have fun while solving jumbled paragraphs instead of finding them a burden.

This part in CAT gives Weightage of 12 to 15 marks. There were 4 questions in CAT 2016 on Jumbled paragraphs and all of them were of random type. This may improve percentile by 20 to 28.


Key features of Jumbled Paragraph in CAT
Higher level of difficulty
Para can be on anything under the sun-economic, business, spiritual, social, opinions, ideas etc.
Different types of parajumbles could be any of the following types 

A. Idea based
B. Action
C. Contrast
D. General to specific or vice/versa
E. Analysis of cause and effect and so on.

Multi dimensional reading and understanding the same will help a lot in this segment. Questions on jumbled paragraphs are mostly formed to arrange the jumbled sentences in such a sequence so they form a meaningful and coherent paragraph.


Key tips - How to put the sentences in sequence

  1. Read the parajumbles attentively and quickly
  2. Find out the central idea/message – whether in the beginning or in the end to make it clear. Search the links between sentences.
  3. Mark & strike out the words & sentences that create confusion in your mind
  4. Think what would be the order, if you wrote the same sentences.
  5. Connect and replace the marked out confused words & sentences.
  6. By now you would have understood the things discussed in the parajumbles
  7. Put the sentences in the most suitable order as you have understood.
  8. If the order is incorrect, it might be due to certain words which you have not understood. Read them again, search for the meanings of the words in proper context and do the exercise.
  9. Don’t be depressed, initially it might take some more time but once you start cracking them, you will enjoy doing them
  10. Time is limited, so do not give more than 3-4 minutes on one jumbled paragraph.

Strategy to solve
Step-1 – Mark the idea and tone of the sentences. This will enable you to identify the Opening and/or closing sentence making the task easier. you may opt for elimination method

Step-2 – Search for connectors to sentences e.g. conjunctions, personal ( He/she/it/they/their etc), relative (Who,whose, that,which etc.), Demonstrative (These, those, this, that etc.) pronouns as they indicate that they must have been used in place of some noun-proper/common etc. So find the link between the sentences.

Step-3- A few paragraphs have time factors in it-indicating that the events mentioned for the earlier time should come first and could help you to put them in chronological order- Example.

A. First war of independence took place in 1857
B. East India Company came to India in 1600 with business motive
C. hence,Quit India Movement of 1942 was mobilised to push back the Britishers
D. It spread its wings all over the country despite declaring its business intentions
E. Giving a serious thought on global situation our leaders found it the right moment to start nation wide movement
F. Second world war, that began in 1939 started to show its impact globally


You can very well decode it – BDAFC
Step-4 – You may find certain words which may be leading towards next para or concluding part – like, Summing up, in a nutshell, Nevertheless, therefore, However, hence, So, Simultaneously, Apart from etc. They denote change of thought process and transform para to next stage. Such words may be noted.

Step-5- Practice more to improve the reading skills and accuracy.
Picking the Out of Context sentence from jumbled paragraph


For the past 5 years CAT has been placing this new type of jumbled paragraph. It has jumbled sentences like a regular jumbled paragraph and one of the jumbled sentences in it, is an out of context sentence.


You need to pick out this ‘Out of context sentence’ from the jumbled sentences. There could be 2-3 questions of this type in CAT 2017. All the questions are expected to be of Non-MCQ type without any penalty of negative marking.
The strategy to solve such questions is same as that of regular jumbled paragraph. The only thing you must remember is to check and look for the sentence which would not fit coherently when you form a paragraph.

Direction- Out of the five sentences as given below and labelled A,B,C,D,E in the question, four, when arranged properly, will form a meaningful and coherent paragraph while one of the sentences is out of context. Choose the most appropriate order of sentences out of the given options with out of context sentence marked in brackets.

A) Legislating laws to prohibit marriage between races hurt the couples involved
B) and Often couples who had lived together for years had to separate
C) These laws prohibited intermarriage between people of different races
D) Which caused loneliness and bitterness because of ignorance and a desire to see themselves as better than people of other races
E) Up to the 1960s, miscegenation laws were still enforced in some parts of the United States

1. ABCD (E)
2. EDCA (B)
3. ADEB (C)
4. ECBA (D)

Ans. 4. ECBA (D) – Explanation – E-Chronology upto 1960 what was in force-C-what were they-so follows;B- pair to C; A-concludes the para. D-is out of context as it discusses the impact of separation and not of legislative laws, although indirectly they may be associated to the same. It should become a part of following para. Obviously ‘D’ breaks the coherence of the paragraph and stands alone and become a fragment to the paragraph.

Reading Comprehension
VARC section in CAT2017 will have 70% share of Reading Comprehension. There are expected to be 24 questions only on Reading Comprehension passages out of total 34 questions. All the questions on RC passages in CAT 2017 will be of MCQ type. The questions on RC passages in CAT 2017 will therefore carry 1/3rd negative marking for wrong answers. Accordingly Reading comprehension will be the most important part of VARC in CAT 2017.

Reading comprehension needs specific attention and without this it is not possible to build the castle of your preparation. To perform better and to score high in Reading Comprehension, you must improve the skills and efficiency to enhance the confidence level in usage of various distinctive parts of speech, correction of grammatical errors, application & use of vocabulary. While you are reading an article, passage, book – pick out the words which are of interest to you- find out their meaning-try to understand the context in which they are used and follow the structure of sentence. When you write, try to frame good sentences using the new words. This will give you ample opportunity to rectify the errors in sentences, improving the vocabulary, improving the speed and accuracy of reading and the skill to pick out the wrong sentences as well as how to complete the sentence or paragraph Although number of questions on RC Passages have been increased, the length of Reading comprehension passages have been reduced to 700-800 words from earlier 1200-1400 words.

CAT 2017 would contain 5 RC passages followed by 24 questions based on them, how important is this part, can be well understood. 2/3rd part of the VARC section is devoted to Reading Comprehension. Given the trend, one right answer awards a credit of 3 marks – if all the 24 are correct, it will bestow 72 marks and you may emerge as the topper only by marking correct the questions on RC passages in VARC section of CAT 2017.


Section 1: Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension

CAT 2017: Quiz 1

CAT 2017: Quiz 2

Section 2: Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning

CAT 2017: Quiz 1

CAT 2017: Quiz 2

Section 3: Quantitative Ability

CAT 2017: Quiz 1

CAT 2017: Quiz 2


Key tips to prepare on RC for CAT 2017

  1. Make it the regular practice to read the editorials, articles in the news paper.
  2. Underline the difficult words-search out their meanings and put them to use in writing, in conversation etc. Tests have shown that the number of unfamiliar words in a passage, if exceeds about one in twenty, the reader will lose track. If the proportion is lower, the reader may skip over the unfamiliar words and grasp, at least the general meaning.
  3. This procedure reinforces the parts that the reader half-knows. Then he or she can look up those new words that seem most interesting or important, to have proper understanding of the passage.
  4. Have a good book on grammar and reading comprehension with plenty of exercises. Get your concepts cleared and then attempt the exercises. At a later stage on line mock tests will enable you to have proper feel of examination hall and your level of preparation as well. So take on the challenge.
  5. Read the passage/article fairly quickly to get the general idea.
  6. Read again, if possible, a little slowly so as to understand the details.
  7. Write a summary in your own words neatly and precisely – with one third/fourth in length to the original length of the passage.
  8. Use complete sentences, Take care to understand.
  9. Make a chart on time consumed in reading and writing the summary of the passage. Check whether the time is getting reduced after a day or two.
  10. Go for versatile reading with different topics. Try to mark and note down the interesting/important words or sentences.


Example: RC for CAT 2017
Directions for Questions 1 to 5: The passage given below is followed by a set of five questions. Choose the most appropriate answer to each question.
To summarize the Classic Maya collapse, we can tentatively identify five strands. I acknowledge, however, that Maya archaeologists still disagree vigorously among themselves -in part, because the different strands evidently varied in importance among different parts of the Maya realm; because detailed archaeological studies are available for only some Maya sites; and because it remains puzzling why most of the Maya heartland remained nearly empty of population and failed to recover after the collapse and after re-growth of forests.

With those caveats, it appears to me that one strand consisted of population growth outstripping available resources: a dilemma similar to the one foreseen by Thomas Malthus in 1798 and being played out today in Rwanda , Haiti , and elsewhere. As the archaeologist David Webster succinctly puts it, Too many farmers grew too many crops on too much of the landscape. Compounding that mismatch between population and resources was the second strand: the effects of deforestation and hillside erosion, which caused a decrease in the amount of useable farmland at a time when more rather than less farmland was needed, and possibly exacerbated by an anthropogenic drought resulting from deforestation, by soil nutrient depletion and other soil problems, and by the struggle to prevent bracken ferns from overrunning the fields.

The third strand consisted of increased fighting, as more and more people fought over fewer resources. Maya warfare, already endemic, peaked just before the collapse. That is not surprising when one reflects that at least 5,000,000 people, perhaps many more, were crammed into an area smaller than the state of Colorado (104,000 square miles). That warfare would have decreased further the amount of land available for agriculture, by creating no-man’s lands between principalities where it was now unsafe to farm. Bringing matters to a head was the strand of climate change. The drought at the time of the Classic collapse was not the first drought that the Maya had lived through, but it was the most severe. At the time of previous droughts, there were still uninhabited parts of the Maya landscape, and people at a site affected by drought could save themselves by moving to another site. However, by the time of the Classic collapse the landscape was now full, there was no useful unoccupied land in the vicinity on which to begin anew, and the whole population could not be accommodated in the few areas that continued to have reliable water supplies.

As our fourth strand, we have to wonder why the kings and nobles failed to recognize and solve these seemingly obvious problems undermining their society. Their attention was evidently focused on their short-term concerns of enriching themselves, waging wars, erecting monuments, competing with each other, and extracting enough food from the peasants to support all those activities. Like most leaders throughout human history, the Maya kings and nobles did not heed long-term problems, insofar as they perceived them.

Finally, while we still have some other past societies to consider in this book before we switch our attention to the modern world, we must already be struck by some parallels between the Maya and the past societies . As on Easter Island, Mangareva, and among the Anasazi, Maya environmental and population problems led to increasing warfare and civil strife. As on Easter Island and at Chaco Canyon, Maya peak population numbers were followed swiftly by political and social collapse. Paralleling the eventual extension of agriculture from Easter Island’s coastal lowlands to its uplands, and from the Mimbres floodplain to the hills, Copan’s inhabitants also expanded from the floodplain to the more fragile hill slopes, leaving them with a larger population to feed when the agricultural boom in the hills went bust. Like Easter Island chiefs erecting ever larger statues, eventually crowned by pukao, and like Anasazi elite treating themselves to necklaces of 2,000 turquoise beads, Maya kings sought to outdo each other with more and more impressive temples, covered with thicker and thicker plaster- reminiscent in turn of the extravagant conspicuous consumption by modern American CEOs. The passivity of Easter chiefs and Maya kings in the face of the real big threats to their societies completes our list of disquieting parallels.


CAT 2017 Full MockTest CAT Previous Year Question Paper, Answer with solution 2008
CAT Previous Year Question Paper, Answer with solution 2007 CAT Previous Year Question Paper, Answer with Solution 2006
CAT Previous Year Question Paper, Answer with Solution 2005 CAT Previous Year Question Paper, Answer with Solution 2004

Q.1 According to the passage, which of the following best represents the factor that has been cited by the author in the context of Rwanda and Haiti?
A.Various ethnic groups competing for land and other resources.
B. Various ethnic groups competing for political power.
C. Various ethnic groups competing for limited land resources.
D. Various ethnic groups fighting with each other.
E. Various ethnic groups fighting for their identity.

1. A
2. B
3. C
4. D
5. E


Question-2 By an anthropogenic drought, the author means-
A. A drought caused by lack of rains.
B. A drought caused by failure to prevent bracken ferns from overrunning the fields.
C. A drought caused by climate changes.
D. A drought caused by actions of human beings.
E. A drought caused due to deforestation.

1. A
2. B
3. C
4. D
5. E


Question-3 - According to the passage, the drought at the time of Maya collapse had a different impact compared to the droughts earlier because
A. It happened when the Maya population had occupied all available land suited for agriculture.
B. It happened at the time of collapse of leadership among Mayas.
C. Irreversible environmental degradation led to this drought.
D. The Maya kings continue to be extravagant when common people were suffering.
E. It was followed by internecine warfare among Mayans.

1. A
2. B
3. C
4. D
5. E


Question – 4 - According to the author, why is it difficult to explain the reasons for Maya collapse?
A. Archaeological sites of Mayas do not provide any consistent evidence.
B. The constant deforestation and hillside erosion have wiped out all traces of the Maya kingdom.
C. Copan inhabitants destroyed all records of that period.
D. At least five million people were crammed into a small area.
E. It has not been possible to ascertain which of the factors best explains as to why the Maya civilization collapsed.


1. A
2. B
3. C
4. D
5. E


Question – 5- Which factor has not been cited as one of the factors causing the collapse of Maya society?
A. Environmental degradation due to excess population.
B. Climate change.
C. Social collapse due to excess population.
D. Obsession of Maya population with their own short-term concerns.
E. Increased warfare among Maya people.

1. A
2. B
3. C
4. D
5. E


Answers & Solution

Ans. Q.1- 1.A- it is clear in the beginning of second para of the passage.
Ans. Q. 2 – 4.D – explains the cause of drought – actions of human beings
Ans. Q-3 - 1. A – Answer is clearly stated with the third strand elaboration.
Ans. Q-4 – 5.E- All the five strands individually describe the factors causing the collapse; hence all the five factors are to be taken together one individual factor or strand may not be held responsible for the collapse.
Ans. Ques.5- 4.D- short term concerns are stated in terms of Maya kings but not of Maya population.


FAQs on VARC sectional preparation for CAT 2017


How many RC Passages are there in CAT 2017? What could be their expected length?
There are 5 RC passages in CAT 2017. 3 RC passages will be long with 800-900 words and 2 will be short with 500-600 words.


What is the expected level of difficulty of RC passages in CAT 2017?
Going by the past 2 year trends, RC passages in CAT may not be very difficult. The level of difficulty is moderate to difficult.


What are the type of questions asked on RC passages?
There is no fix rule on framing the questions based on Reading comprehension passage. Nevertheless the questions so far taken note of, are supposed to be any of following types


Question based on the information given in the passage
Probable type of RC questions in CAT 2017 and how to answer them

A passage contains four-five paragraphs with the details of rich information spread out in each of the paragraphs. Any question on such information can be asked that may be available in one, two, three or all the paragraphs taken together since they are interlinked.
Questions based on inference drawn- on the basis of items of information available in the passage can be asked and must be answered accurately as the options are sometimes, very close ones.


Questions based on the Central idea of the passage-can be asked with close options. One has to read the passage between the lines to answer this type of question.

Strategy to solve the RC- Reading between the lines
Reading comprehension exercise is a passage upon which questions are set to test the student’s ability to understand the content of the given text and to infer information and meanings from it.


Time Management-Not more than ten minutes should be given to thoroughly read and understand the passages besides marking the answers on the computer screen.
Passage of interest- If the passage is on some topic which is of interest to you, you will be more comfortable with it. So read and answer it accurately and quickly.
Concentrate on main/important words in the sentence and while you go on reading try to link their reference to other parts.
Central Idea of the passage, inference the various types of information, the tone – go on to cover all of them while you are reading the passage. This will help you to promptly answer the questions accurately.


Read the passage and then proceed to questions. Jumping to questions before thoroughly reading the paragraph might affect adversely.
Questions on certain words used in paragraph are something to test your vocabulary. Even if they are unfamiliar you may check for the general meaning of the part of the paragraph. This will enable you to understand the options and mark your answer.


Scientific, technical, biological words wherever used, may be unfamiliar, but are the parts of the sentence and paragraph which you have understood in general, so nothing to worry- you may check the options and the reference that you have made would be correct. But at least general meaning must be understood.

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