Reading Comprehension (RC) For CAT


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Updated on
July 18, 2020

Reading Comprehension (RC) For CAT 2020: RC Tips For CAT, RC Questions


Reading Comprehension is the most important topic in CAT exam. It commands highest sectional as well as overall weightage in CAT exam.  Section-1 in CAT exam consists of Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension (VARC) topics with 34 questions divided in MCQs and Non-MCQs. Out of it, 70% weightage goes to the 24 questions based on RC passages and 30% weightage is assigned to Verbal Ability topics. RC questions in overall CAT exam commands 24% overall weightage. 


Earlier Verbal Ability and Logical Reasoning section were clubbed together in CAT exams, but now they have been separated focusing oneself to solve only with the verbal bend of mind. CAT Reading Comprehension is a crucial section in CAT since around 70% of the questions in the VARC section is asked from these passages. Improving on RC is important because if you do well at RCs, you will do well in other related questions like Para-jumbles and Para-completion also. 

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Common Admission Test (CAT) conducted by IIMs has 100 questions, divided into three major sections now namely VARC, DILR and Quant. Prior to 2015, CAT had 60 questions divided into two sections VALR and QADI. The Logical Reasoning from Verbal Ability & Logical Reasoning (VALR) section is separated now resulting in the lion’s share for RC passage based questions in CAT exam. As such, Reading Comprehension (RC) is now the most important part that needs you to score high percentile in the exam. Your skilled and intelligent performance in answering RC based questions can get you higher chances for shortlisting by IIMs. 

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RC Questions in CAT: Composition, Details,Weightage
The revised pattern awards following weightage to Reading Comprehension questions in CAT exam:

Total Questions in CAT Exam
Weightage Awarded
Total Reading Comprehension Questions in CAT Exam
24% Overall Weightage for RC Questions in CAT   
Total Questions in VARC Section
70% Sectional Weigthage to RC based Questions (24 RC, 10 Others)
Number of Reading Comprehension passages in CAT Exam
3 Long RC Passages of 800-900 words followed by 6 questions each; 2 Short passages of 400-500 words followed by 3 questions each
Type of Reading Comprehension based questions
Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs)
All 24 RC based questions are of MCQ type, other 10 questions are Non-MCQ type
Scoring Pattern for Reading Comprehension questions in CAT
+3 for each correct answer
-1 for each wrong answer

Important: Read more top articles on CAT 2020

RC for CAT Exam: Look before you Leap
Before exploring on how to prepare Reading Comprehension for CAT, we should know what is Reading Comprehension, What is its composition and share in CAT 2020 Exam, what is the difficulty level, what type of questions are asked on RC Passages.

  • Please note that an RC passage in CAT can be based on English literature, current affairs, philosophy, scientific inventions, business, economy, sociology or psychological opinion, historical facts, socio-political point of view or any topic under the Sun.
  • The information contained in RC passage must be read with attention as the questions based on it are not direct and have to be answered after properly understanding the passage and contextual meaning of various phrases used in the passage
  • The set of 3-4 or 5-6 questions based on RC passages are MCQs which carry 1/3rd negative marking. So it is very important to understand each part of the RC passage well. Read More on RC Passages

Reading Comprehension for CAT Exam: Sectional Composition
The CAT exam now begins with the Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension as the first section instead of last section. The RC questions for CAT 2020 play an important role to achieve high sectional score as well as in improving the overall CAT percentile. The composition of Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension for the CAT 2020 is as below: 

RC Questions for CAT 2020
Sectional Composition
Section Name
Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension (VARC)
Total VARC Questions
Number of Reading Comprehension Passages for CAT
Type of RC Passages for CAT
3 Long RC Passages; 2 Short RC Passage
Total questions Based on Reading Comprehension passages for CAT
Bifurcation of RC Based Questions
6 Questions follow each Long RC passage (Total 18 questions);
3 questions follow each short RC passage (Total 6 questions)
Type of Questions Based on RC Passages in CAT
Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension Time to attempt the complete section
60 Minutes
Marks for Each Correct Answer
Negative Marks for Each Wrong Answer
Difficulty Level of RC passages
Moderate to tough Reading Comprehension Passages
Number of Reading Comprehension questions with No-Negative Marking

Reading Comprehension for CAT Exam: Key Highlights

  • Reading Comprehension for CAT exam 2020 has a lion’s share in the sectional composition of VARC
  • Share of RC questions for CAT in the VARC section has been increased to 70% from 45%
  • Total Number of RC Questions for CAT 2020 are 24 out of total 34 VARC questions
  • Most of the RC questions for CAT 2020 are of MCQ type and carry penalty of 1/3 negative marking
  • Although the length & size of RC for CAT exam has been reduced,  there are now tough Reading Comprehension Passages for CAT with rich vocabulary words

Reading Comprehension Questions and Answers
Sample RC Passages followed by questions and answers can help more to understand the question pattern and approach how to answer the RC based questions.

Reading Comprehension passages for CAT
Number of questions
Type of Questions
Long Passage-1 – Usually moderate based on facts
MCQs with 1/3 Negative Marking
Long passage-2 – Moderate to difficult with rich vocabulary – more literary and opinion based
MCQs with 1/3 Negative Marking
Long passage-3 – Difficult-based on abstract topic/opinion based/literature based, may contain too many unknown vocabulary words
MCQs with 1/3 Negative Marking
Short passage-1 – Moderate to difficult; business-economy/geography based
MCQs with 1/3 Negative Marking
Short passage-2- sometimes difficult with difficult words; based on historical facts, opinion, future plans
MCQs with 1/3 Negative Marking
Short Passage-3 – may be more difficult than other two; usually on Abstract topic
MCQs with 1/3 Negative Marking

Read More


How to Prepare Reading Comprehension for CAT?
Unlike Verbal Ability Reading Comprehension requires different preparation strategy. Accordingly following are the most important guiding points on how to prepare Reading Comprehension for CAT Exam:

  • Prepare as per latest trends on Reading Comprehension questions in CAT  
  • Read the Best books on Reading Comprehension for CAT
  • Get Updated CAT  Reading Comprehension Preparation Material of Best Coaching Institutes
  • Read CAT toppers’ Reading Comprehension Preparation Strategy
  • Take CAT Reading Comprehension Mocks and Analyse Each One.. Read More

RC for CAT Exam: 4 Steps to Crack
One thing should however be remembered that Reading comprehension exercises are only expanded form of the Unseen Passages that you used to solve in your matriculation standard.


Sharing the reading comprehension for CAT tips on how to prepare for Reading Comprehension questions, Experts and toppers suggest the four steps to crack the Reading Comprehension Test for CAT:

  • Understand the English vocabulary,
  • Continue with Consistent flow of thoughts in RC Passages,
  • Read between the lines to cracking the meaning
  • Arrive at the correct and decisive answer option for the questions based on Reading Comprehension passages for CAT

How to Solve the RC based Questions in CAT?
Before answering the RC passage based questions in CAT, the candidate should put himself/herself into author’s shoes and should understand the central idea what author wants to say. Therefore, you should take following steps while approaching the RC questions in CAT:

  • Understand what facts and arguments are given by author in the passage to strengthen his idea in the respective paragraph as well as in the complete passage
  • What is the tone of the author? Is he sarcastic, or making fun, or mocking, or angry on the events, or analysing? Each tone carries different meaning of the same phrase, so understand and then answer

Let us understand in detail the strategy how to prepare for Reading Comprehension:


Reading Comprehension Questions for CAT: Number & Type
While vocabulary, Phrases/idioms remain as the basics for CAT Reading Comprehension, the areas and topics on which Reading Comprehension questions for CAT are prepared as per the Changed type of RC pattern are as under:

CAT 2020 –Type of RC based questions
Expected number of questions
Key features
Reasoning type of questions
Statement, Assumption, True-False, Inference, Judgement 
Vocabulary based Questions
Explaining the similar meaning of the word/phrase used in the RC passage
Opposite Meaning questions
Picking out the answer option with the opposite meaning of the word/phrase as used in the passage
Thought based
Summarising the idea as expressed in the passage
Fact verification
Choosing the answer that agrees/disagrees with the idea expressed by the author

Read in detail the CAT Syllabus on Reading Comprehension


Reading Comprehension for CAT Books
If you are doing self-preparation for Reading Comprehension for CAT, you cannot deny the  importance of choosing the best Reading Comprehension for CAT books. Most of the CAT toppers who were weak in CAT Reading Comprehension opted for self –preparation after making thorough search on best books for Reading Comprehension. Some of the best books for Reading Comprehension for CAT are:

  • How to Prepare for Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension for CAT’- by Arun Sharma & Meenakshi Upadhyay
  • Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension for the CAT’ - by Nishit K Sinha

Arihant Book on Verbal Ability:

Read More


Best Study Material for Reading Comprehension for CAT
In case you are preparing Reading Comprehension for the CAT with the help of coaching centres, or wish to go for a mix of coaching supported preparation and self preparation to get the best of both in Reading Comprehension Preparation, alongwith the best book for Reading Comprehension for CAT you will be getting the best study material with more Reading Comprehension exercises for CAT.. Read More


CAT Toppers Reading Comprehension Preparation Strategy 
Many CAT toppers with 99 and 100 percentile have shared that they found Reading Comprehension was their weak area but they improved a lot in it with consistent preparation. What made CAT toppers improve so much and how they could score so high in Reading Comprehension in CAT? Sharing with, CAT toppers spoke about their preparation strategy for Reading Comprehension and also shared advice to CAT aspirants: Read More


Reading Comprehension for CAT Tips
According to CAT preparation experts and past toppers, you need to begin your preparation for VARC much earlier than for other sections. The Reading comprehension in VARC section has become more dominating during past few years. 


Key tips

  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.. Read More

FAQs on Reading Comprehension preparation for CAT 2020
The key Frequently answered questions on RC preparation for CAT are given here


Q. How many questions are based on Reading Comprehension in CAT exam?
A. RC based questions in CAT exam are 24 out of total 34 questions in VARC section


Q. What is the type of RC questions in the CAT exam?
A. Questions based on Reading Comprehension are of MCQ type


Q. Are there any non-MCQ or no penalty questions based on RC passages?
A. Usually No! Although there may not be any non-MCQ following the RC passage, there may be one or two MCQ without negative marking. In such case, Verbal part may consist of questions with negative marking 

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Read More: CAT 2020 - Exam Date, Registration, Syllabus, Preparation, Books 

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