Verbal Ability for CAT


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Updated on
July 18, 2020

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Verbal Ability (VA) is an important part of CAT preparation for VARC section. CAT Verbal Ability questions will constitute 33% share in Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC) Section in the CAT 2020 exam.


The Verbal Ability for CAT questions are the Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension Questions which carry a weightage of 34 percent in the entire CAT exam. The Verbal Ability for CAT Questions are based on English Language, Grammar, Vocabulary, correct understanding of paragraph among other key topics.  

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The CAT toppers with varying back ground, studying in IIM Ahmedabad, Bangalore, FMS Delhi and other top MBA colleges found themselves less prepared for CAT Verbal Ability section when they started Verbal Ability Preparation for CAT, yet most of them ended up cracking the CAT Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension in CAT with 95+ percentile and above! So what is the mystery behind their preparation strategy of Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension Questions and cracking successfully the CAT Verbal Ability Questions in the exam with an ease?


Before going deep on how to prepare Verbal Ability for CAT;  how to ace CAT Verbal Ability; what should be the CAT Verbal Preparation Material and preparation strategy, the first thing we need to know is the composition and type of Verbal Ability Reading Comprehension section in the revised IIM CAT 2020 exam pattern. 

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Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension Questions: Section Composition
Right from 2015 when IIM Ahmedabad revamped CAT exam pattern, the Verbal Ability for CAT Syllabus has been changed. The revised order of sections also places CAT Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension as the first section in the Exam.


Full name of the Verbal Ability for CAT section is Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension. Verbal Ability questions in CAT have remained on the same pattern during 2017 and 2018 also. The composition of Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension for the CAT 2020 is also expected to remain on the same pattern as of last year as below:  

CAT Verbal Ability Questions Composition
Verbal Ability Reading Comprehension pattern
Section Name
Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension (VARC)
Total VARC Questions
Total Verbal Ability Questions
Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension Time to attempt the section
60 Minutes
Marks for Each Correct Answer
Negative Marks for Each Wrong Answer
Difficulty Level of Verbal Ability Questions
Moderate to High
No Negative Marking Questions in CAT Verbal Ability section

Important: Read more top articles on CAT 2020

Verbal Ability for CAT Questions: Meaning, Number & Type
What is Verbal Ability? How is the CAT Verbal Ability Test? What are the topics covered in the Verbal Ability for CAT Syllabus? What should be the CAT preparation time for Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension?  These are some of the queries which come up naturally before you come to know how to prepare for Verbal Ability. In fact Verbal Ability definition clarifies that the questions are based on the English Verbal Ability, so the CAT Verbal Ability Test is the test on coherent and flawless usage of English Language.


Instead of moving haphazardly and jumping into CAT Preparation for VARC without knowing how to prepare for Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension for CAT, it would be simply a fruitless adventure as the revamped CAT exam pattern has modified the Verbal Ability question pattern in CAT exam.

Verbal Ability Questions in CAT
Number of questions
Type of Questions
Para Summary
Non MCQ without Negative Marking
Jumbled Paragraph
No Negative Marking, Non-MCQ
Picking the Odd sentence out of Jumbled Paragraph
No Negative Marking, Non-MCQ

CAT Verbal Ability Questions: Non-MCQ
CAT preparation for VARC requires you to first understand the difference between type of questions and the process to answer them. So before starting your CAT preparation for VARC, know the following about Non-MCQs in CAT Verbal Ability Preparation:

  • Answer for Verbal Ability Non-MCQ is to be typed in the given space on computer screen
  • Answer choice for Non-MCQ may or may not be given
  • No Penalty of Negative marking will be imposed for wrong answer

CAT Verbal Ability Preparation
Following are the most important aspects giving guidance on how to prepare Verbal Ability for CAT Exam are:

  • Go through the Verbal Ability for CAT Syllabus 
  • Choose the Best books as per the Verbal Ability for CAT Syllabus
  • Get Updated CAT Verbal Preparation Material of Best Coaching Institutes
  • You can download some of the PDFs like Verbal Ability for CAT by Arun Sharma Pdf
  • Other CAT Verbal Preparation Material is also available online in PDF form. So download the available Verbal Ability for CAT PDF
  • Read the strategy for CAT Verbal Ability Preparation of past CAT toppers How to Ace CAT Verbal Ability
  • Collect as many CAT Verbal Ability Questions with Solutions and understand the approach and then  attempt CAT Verbal Ability questions with solutions, attempt mocks and analyse each one

Let us understand in detail the strategy for CAT Verbal Ability Preparation


Verbal Ability Syllabus for CAT
The CAT syllabus for Verbal Ability has changed during last 4-5 years. If you continue preparing as per the old pattern of Verbal Ability Syllabus for CAT, you may end up with negligible score in Verbal Ability section in CAT 2020.


While Grammar, vocabulary, English Language usage remain as the basics for Verbal Ability preparation, the areas and topics on which questions are prepared in CAT Verbal Ability Section have changed for the last 4 years. Although, you cannot rule out the recurrence of questions on forgotten topics in Verbal Ability, the priority of areas to prepare on Verbal Ability for CAT as per revised CAT syllabus on Verbal Ability should be focused on following topics:

Topics Covered in Verbal Ability Syllabus for CAT
Expected number of questions
Key features
Jumbled Paragraphs
5 Jumbled sentences to be arranged 
Summary/Inference of short paragraph
Small para of 4-5 sentences followed by 4 answer options
Picking the Out of Context sentence in a Jumbled Paragraph
5 Jumbled Sentences out of which one odd sentence to be picked out

CAT Verbal Ability Questions Pdf 
Other Expected Topics in Verbal Ability Syllabus for CAT 2020 are included in the CAT Verbal Ability Questions Pdf shared by IIMs a month before the CAT exam. Please note it is a full length CAT paper containing all sections including the CAT Verbal Ability questions Pdf. However, IIMs do not share CAT Verbal Ability Questions with Solutions in the question set.. Read More


Although no direct question on the following topics has been placed in recent past, they form an integral part of CAT syllabus and you may expect CAT Verbal Ability Questions on these topics: 

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

Read in detail the CAT Syllabus on Verbal Ability 


Best Verbal Ability Books for CAT Preparation
How important it is to choose the best books for Verbal Ability in CAT?  Most of the CAT toppers who were weak in Verbal Ability opted for self –preparation after making thorough search and raising the query how to improve Verbal Ability for the CAT. They not only prepared well in Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension for the CAT and tremendously improved on Verbal Ability but also were able to score high in Verbal Ability by reading the best book on CAT preparation.


In fact, CAT Verbal Ability preparation depends upon your choice of CAT Verbal Ability Books as it will be your companion till you crack CAT with high score. Now the question is- which is the best book for verbal ability for CAT. Out of 25-30 CAT preparation books on Verbal Ability, the CAT Verbal Ability Best Book, in opinion of the CAT toppers and experts is Arun Sharma Verbal Ability latest edition. Some of the good books for Verbal Ability 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: Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension by Ajay Singh

One of the USPs of the book on Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension by Arun Sharma is that it helps the CAT aspirant to prepare from basics and leads to the highest level of difficulty in Verbal Ability questions for CAT. However please note that while choosing the best book for Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension for the CAT, you should go for latest edition as CAT pattern of comprehension and Verbal Ability goes on changing. Read more about the CAT Preparation Books 


Best Verbal Ability Study Material for CAT
If you wish to prepare Verbal Ability 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 Verbal Ability Preparation, the Preparation Material of Best Coaching Institutes like TIME, CL, IMS could be very helpful to prepare Verbal Ability for CAT. The reason is that the study material on Verbal Ability of top coaching centres is updated as per the latest and expected changes in CAT exam pattern. Following Study material on Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension for the CAT by these coaching centres could prove quite helpful in your preparation on Verbal Ability for the CAT:


Verbal Booklets by TIME: Booklets on Verbal by TIME coaching Institute are good source to prepare for CAT Verbal Ability. While reading and practicing on them, you will be able to understand the type of VA questions in CAT and the approach to solve them.


Study Material by CL and IMS: The CL Test Gym, Sectionals and Application Builders from IMS are also very good study material for CAT preparation. Make sure that you read it well and solve all type of questions.


It will make you comfortable with the Verbal section especially on the latest Verbal Ability Question types in CAT exam on Odd Man Out, Parajumbles, para summary.


CAT Toppers Verbal Ability Preparation Strategy 
Most of the CAT toppers have shared that Verbal Ability was their weak area but they improved a lot in it with consistent preparation. So what made CAT toppers improve so much and how they could score so high in Verbal Ability in CAT? Sharing with, CAT toppers spoke about their preparation strategy for Verbal Ability and also shared advice to CAT aspirants:


CAT Topper Rohan Joshi (99.63 % in CAT 2017) on how he cracked Verbal Ability section
In an interview with, CAT Topper Rohan Joshi (99.63 % in CAT 2017) explained how he cracked Verbal Ability section. He said, “VARC was most challenging for me and my motive was to just clear the sectional cut off.” However, Rohan ended up with a sectional CAT score of 96.40 in Verbal Ability section. He achieved this high percentile by consistent study and taking all sectionals for Verbal.


CAT Topper Akhil Garg, IIM Ahmedabad  (99.73% in CAT 2016) on how he cracked Verbal Ability section
Sharing with, CAT topper Akhil Garg IIM Ahmedabad student of 2017-19 batch, said “I focused a lot on reading different articles and novels, conversing in English with friends and even watching English TV series and movies. I wrote down whatever new words I encountered after reading at least 5-6 newspaper articles every day.”


CAT Topper Gyayak Jain, IIM Ahmedabad  (100% in CAT 2016) on how he cracked Verbal Ability section
In an interview with, CAT topper with 100 percentile and IIM Ahmedabad student of 2017-19 batch, Gyayak Jain said, “I believe I was weak in VARC and therefore I started by looking into model answers given in the solutions and tried to understand if I associated with the logic given in the solution. If I was satisfied with the logic given in the solution, which was not always true, I tried to look problems from that point of view also in the next mock. When I was not convinced with the solution, I ignored the mistake and went ahead with my intuition/logic in next mocks too. If I find that same mistake is repeating, then I tried to find out situations where my logic will not work. I tried experimenting with various exam attempting strategies and realised I get fatigued if I do same kind of problems together in one go, so I mix-matched various types of questions.”


CAT Topper Rachit Gupta, IIM Lucknow  (99.83% in CAT 2016) on how he cracked Verbal Ability section
CAT topper with 99.83 percentile, Rachit Gupta, IIM Lucknow student of 2017-19 batch shared with, “I was very weak at the verbal section. The key reason was the slow reading speed. I took course material from TIME and my strategy was to emphasize more on my weakness which was the Verbal section.”


CAT Topper  Sai Praneeth Reddy (100% in CAT 2017) on how he cracked Verbal Ability section
Sai Praneeth Reddy felt that he needed hard work in VARC which he did in the last one month to CAT. Mocks helped him to improve a lot in CAT preparation.  His advice on Verbal Ability preparation for CAT is to learn from mistakes and don’t miss AIMCAT. To improve in VARC the best way, is to start reading novels and articles.


Attempt More VA Mocks for CAT
Mocks and sample tests could do wonders in verbal Ability preparation for CAT. This fact has been tested by the CAT toppers over a period of time. Taking more mocks on Verbal Ability will expose you to a vast variety of questions on Verbal Ability. More the number of Mocks, the more you will be skilful in Verbal Ability section.


All the CAT toppers are unanimous in their opinion that Mocks are the best source of preparation for CAT. But the most important is the post Mock analysis. You must analyse each mock attempted by you to check for your mistakes and understand them well. Ensure that the mistakes are not repeated. This will further strengthen your preparation.. Take CAT Mocks to improve your score


Reading Comprehension in CAT: Very Important Part
Reading Comprehension passages occupy the major part in VARC section of CAT. RC questions in CAT now have a different pattern. Comprehension and  Verbal Ability are not followed by the conventional type of questions. Instead, RC passages are followed by more questions of critical reasoning type. Read more on How to prepare Reading Comprehension for the CAT 


It is of utmost important to start your Verbal Ability preparation for CAT early, so that all the weak areas are strengthened. Apart from this consistency in preparation is also very much needed. The Verbal Ability preparation for CAT, in view of the experts should be a regular process and the basics of Grammar and Vocabulary contextual usage should be well prepared before the exam. 

Important: Read more top articles on CAT 2020

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