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How to start your preparation for the CAT Verbal Ability section? PDF Download

How to start your preparation for the CAT Verbal Ability section? 

In this article, a specific target area for CAT Preparation has been chosen which is Verbal Ability. Here, you will learn some tips and tricks for the Verbal Ability or the English section of the CAT exam.

How to start your preparation for the CAT Verbal Ability section?

Verbal Aptitude for MBA Preparation - Study Material, MCQs

Includes54 docs,64 videos &146 tests

Part 1 - Verbal Skill Development: Reading

Reading is a very crucial part of CAT Preparation and especially when it comes Verbal Skill Development. Here are a few steps to help you get started with Reading and making it habitual after sometime.

Newspaper: A Must Read

AS a CAT aspirant it is expected that you should be reading the editorial of ‘The Hindu’ everyday. Specifically speaking, ‘The Hindu’ is one of the things that you should be reading. Better still, in this digital world, you should generally consume all your reading material online itself, and expose yourself to the best authors. In ‘The Hindu’, or as a matter of fact in other newspapers, the editorial page is not written keeping in mind a CAT aspirant. Reading the newspaper editorial helps but only till a certain level and the learning is never complete. 

Here is a quick guide on how to make the most of reading any newspaper:

  1. Pick-up articles (selectively) from The Hindu, Economic Times or The Times of India on a daily basis. The Sunday editions are always the best as they offer a quick re-cap of the week as well as interesting analysis. So you can give yourself extra time to read these.
  2. You should follow individual authors and definitely read them on a regular basis. The list of authors you could begin with include:
  • Bachi Karkaria (Times of India): Wit, humor and awesome vocabulary
  • Jug Suraiya  (Times of India): For the same reasons as Bachi Karkaria
  • SA Aiyar (Times of India/ET): Rigorous Economic Analysis
  • Hasan Suroor (The Hindu): International Flavor
  • P Sainath (The Hindu): In-depth exploration of India’s rural landscape.
  • Other that these, there are quite a few that you can follow.

Read Books for building Verbal Skills

Reading books for CAT is a religious activity and you should definitely read as many books as possible as they will help you in various stages of your preparation. 

Here are a few books that you can read and are sure to build an interest towards reading.

  1. Mediocre but Arrogant by Abhijit Bhaduri
  2. Tin Fish by Sudeep Chakravarti
  3. Love Story by Erich Segal
  4. The Diary of Anne Frank by Anne Frank
  5. Animal Farm by George Orwell
  6. Time Machine by HG Wells
  7. The War of the Worlds by HG Wells
  8. The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran
  9. Anthem by Ayn Rand
  10. We the Living by Ayn Rand

The common theme of these books is that these are all short books. The theme, content, narrative styles and level of difficulty of these books have not been considered to generate this list. These books will build a base for the heavy reading that you will have to do all throughout your preparation days. Read all or most of these books, get some reading confidence behind yourself, and prepare yourself for some heavy reading in the coming months.

Part 2 - Verbal Skill Development: Vocabulary

The second part of language development revolves around improving your vocabulary skills. This can be achieved only by reading more and more. When you read more, you discover more words, the more words you discover, the more words you learn. As simple as that. But beyond discovery of words, you should also look at making sure these words are embedded in your memory. What could you do for that?

Option 1: Use books

Refer to book such as ‘Word Power Made Easy’ and ‘Six weeks to words of power’. Both these books are pretty effective and are highly recommended. You can browse a sample of Word-Power’s method here, in our Word Power Blogs.

Option 2: Use Online Tools

This is where Wordpandit comes in. You can use these two tools, to go with our extensive Visual Vocabulary section,

1. Flashcards: An awesome way to learn words. In fact, you should buy a deck of cards, and build flashcard sets of your own.

2. Wordpandit App: Use our awesome App to build your vocabulary.

Part C of Verbal Skill Development: Grammar

This is a repetition of the last post. For Grammar, refer to Wren and Martin (High School Grammar and Composition). Go through its Parts of Speech section. Also, make sure you solve online exercises for all grammar topics you study. Basic exercises that probe you to identify nouns/pronouns/adjectives etc. go a long way in enhancing your learning.

These are the three simple things that you need to begin with. As CAT-2018 approaches, these tips would become more specific in nature. Go through this article, prepare a small plan of what you wish to do with Verbal Ability, and post it as comment here for review and feedback. Let’s make this an exercise in collaborative learning.

How Can I Crack The Verbal Section?

Cracking the Verbal Section

The short answer is this check-list:

1.    Don’t Prepare for Verbal like you would for Quants!

2.    Read, Read, Read!!!

3.    Evaluate the Answer Options Critically

4.    Don’t Worry About Grammar and Vocabulary

5.    Approach LR Systematically

I’ve elaborated on each of these points, and give you an idea on how you can prepare for the Verbal Section with just as much clarity as the Quants Section.

Note: This is a long post, as it gives an overall strategy for the verbal section.

Don’t Prepare For Verbal Like You Would For Quants!

Students have always, and will always struggle with preparing for Verbal Ability. This section isn’t so neatly classified into some thirty topics that you need to learn the theory for and practice to get faster. As a result, one feels that preparing for Quants is always more structured. For example, let’s take a Quants Topic like Number Theory.

A student would first learn the basic ideas in the topic like HCF, LCM, Prime Factorisation, Factorials, Base (n) math etc. Then, they would explore different patterns and templates that test these ideas. Finally, they would practice solving questions in these templates until they get faster and gain the confidence to tackle any question in Number Theory. This process repeats for all other topics like Geometry, Speed-Time-Distance, etc.

To a large extent, preparing for Data Interpretation, the other important segment in the Quants Section, is also straightforward – just get faster at calculating, get better at approximating, and get used to different types of tables and graphs, and you’re through.

But applying this process to the Verbal Section is almost impossible. A reasonable student might think – well, for DI, I need to calculate faster, so for Reading Comprehension, doesn’t it mean I have to read faster?


Speed reading is an easy way to fall into traps that examiners plant in RCs. Students spend a lot of time learning how to “skim” through the passage, when really, this offers no significant advantage in the CAT. So DI is not equal to RC.

Then the problem of the Paragraph Logic Questions – Sentence Rearrangement, Paragraph Completion, Sentence Elimination and Critical Reasoning. There is no theory for solving these questions that you can master – no hundreds of questions that you can solve to gain speed and confidence in different templates because each question is fundamentally different. You can’t “crack” the system of finding the right sequence of sentences in a para-jumble question by merely solving hundreds of Sentence Rearrangement Questions.

Does this mean that one shouldn’t practice questions for the Verbal Section?

Of course not. But the payoffs are much less significant than for Quants. You cannot prepare for the Verbal Segment like you would for Quants. So how should you prepare? This leads us to the next item in our checklist…


The CAT Verbal Section is all about testing Reading Ability. Fully one third of the Section is Reading Comprehension, with a total of 16 questions on this pattern alone. Apart from the 16 other questions from Logical Reasoning (more on this later), the other question patterns also focus on testing Reading Ability. But what is this Reading Ability?

Simply put, it is the measure of how well a candidate can relate to the ideas presented in the paragraph. That’s all. It doesn’t test how fast you finished reading the passage. It doesn’t test how deep your vocabulary is. It just wants to test whether you understood all the ideas in the passage or paragraph.

Have you ever had the experience of reading a bunch of sentences, extremely conscious and aware of the fact that you are reading, but have the words make no sense whatsoever? This happens for two reasons:

One, when the passage is on some abstract topic like metaphysics, and a lot of fancy words that never arise in common parlance appear just to frustrate us:

“An ontological catalogue is an attempt to list the fundamental constituents of reality. The question of whether or not existence is a predicate has been discussed since the Early Modern period, not least in relation to the ontological argument for the existence of God.”

I can safely say that not being able to get this is not going to stop you from getting a 99% in Verbal (I have no idea what this means, and I managed this percentile!)

Two, when we aren’t alert about what we’re reading, because we’re tired and reading takes up a lot of energy, or because we don’t have a habit of reading. Difficulty in 

the CAT is in the questions and closeness in the answer options, not in the passage. You will never find a passage in the CAT that is boring or difficult to read. So it is always the second problem that stands as a hurdle to cracking the CAT.

The exam has gotten longer, and you now have to read a lot more. Not being a habitual reader can be FATAL for your CAT attempt. Think about it this way: an athlete competing in a 100m race will have run many kilometres to get his stamina up before the event. The CAT is the same. You need to build your stamina for reading so that it doesn’t tire you out. The best way for the athlete is to run – the best way for us is to Read, Read and Read!

What are the advantages of being a regular reader?

One, you aren’t intimidated by the passage itself. So what if it’s on economics or politics – you’ve read articles on these topics before, and aren’t scared to tackle these ideas in the exam. I know of students who got back to me the day after CAT 2014 (3rd session, the same one that I wrote the CAT in), and told me they hadn’t read a couple of passages because of the topic. Ironically, these passages were the easier ones to handle. If only they were comfortable with different topics, they would have been able to knock off 5 to 6 more questions in RC!

Two, you have the stamina to keep going. To get a 99.5% in Verbal, you will need to get around 36 to 42 questions correct. This leaves very little wriggle room for leaving questions. If you have a good reading habit, you won’t have to fight so much with the passages, and may even end up enjoying the chance to sit back and read (trust me, this does happen in the CAT; the passages are usually pleasant to read). Instead of getting sapped by RC, you come out of it with energy and the momentum to demolish the Verbal Section.

Three, because your reading habit gives you an eye for detail, and because you aren’t relying on some gimmick like speed reading, questions that appear ambiguous and unsolvable to other candidates have clear solutions in your mind. A reading habit can give you clarity in the ideas presented, which in turn helps you evaluate the options critically. This is the next stop in our checklist:

Evaluate the Answer Options Critically

I can illustrate this best with an example. Read this short paragraph, and answer the single question that follows:

New actors with more versatile weapons have turned nuclear doctrine into guesswork. Even during the cold war, despite all that game theory and brainpower, the Soviet Union and America frequently misread what the other was up to. India and Pakistan, with little experience and less contact, have virtually nothing to guide them in a crisis but mistrust and paranoia. If weapons proliferate in the Middle East, as Iran and then Saudi Arabia and possibly Egypt join Israel in the ranks of nuclear powers, each will have to manage a bewildering four-dimensional stand-off.

Which of the following statements best reflects the views of the writer?

  • As more countries acquire nuclear weapons, there is an increasing possibility of nuclear war.
  • There is no value to nuclear doctrine as it rarely helps predict what a rival country will do.
  • There is increasing uncertainty about nuclear face-offs as more countries get the bomb.
  • Unlike the Cold-War which involved two parties, future nuclear stand offs may be complicated by the involvement of multiple parties.

This is not an easy question to solve, so take a few minutes to think about it. Scroll down for the answer when you’ve though it through. No peeking!!

The question asks for the statement that “best” reflects the views of the writer. Even if it didn’t have such a superlative as “best” you need to evaluate the answer options: it is not enough for an option to be correct, it needs to be “more correct” than all the other options.

In the paragraph, the following ideas reflect the essence of what the writer is trying to say:

“New actors … have turned nuclear doctrine into guesswork.”

Thus what strategists used to know about nuclear doctrine, whatever it might be, like mutually assured destruction or other theories to do with nuclear weapons (none of which we need to have a clue about), has become guesswork because of new actors entering the playing field. What they used to know as part of accepted theory has become no better than guessing and hoping for the best.

The comparison between the conflict between US and the Soviet Union on the one hand, and India and Pakistan on the other hand reflects the writer’s chief concern: With all the brain power and theory, the US or the Soviet Union could not predict what the other would do. India and Pakistan, which have less experience and more mistrust between them, are less likely to predict what the other would do – even worse, nobody else knows what they would do in a crisis. This relates back to the original idea of uncertainty and guesswork because of new actors.

Finally, in the last sentence: “each will have to manage a bewildering four-dimensional stand-off”; here the focus is on the powerful adjective ‘bewildering’ which means confusing and hard to understand – all this information points to the writer’s fundamental objective: to argue that the new players have made the game harder to understand. This should be captured in our answer option. Let’s go through the options:

In this question, the option that can be eliminated first is Option ‘A’. While it seems reasonable enough, the paragraph is not about the dangers of war, it is about increasing uncertainty.

Option ‘B’ can also be eliminated. There seems to be some evidence for this in the paragraph, as the writer mentions that the US and Soviet Union, even with their brains and game theory, could not predict what the rival was up to. However, the Option comes on very strongly, by saying that Nuclear Doctrine has NO value. This is not the essence of what the paragraph is trying to say. It is not an argument against the value of nuclear doctrine.

Options ‘C’ and ‘D’ are the toughest to evaluate vis-à-vis each other. This is when asking yourself why one option is better than the other becomes very useful. Both options talk about an increase in the number of countries which have the nuclear bomb. Both options also state that there is uncertainty because of this.

Ask yourself this: “Why is one option better than the other?”

Option ‘D’ goes a little further than Option ‘C’. It states that unlike the Cold-War which had two parties, the involvement of many countries complicates the issue further. Is this comparison the essence of the paragraph? Is this why the writer gave us the example of the conflict between US and Soviet Union?

The answer is an emphatic NO! The reason the example was given was to highlight the greater uncertainty given the lack of experience of India and Pakistan. The US and Soviet Union, with all their experience, already contended with an uncertain scenario, hence parties today with less experience will have to contend with even greater uncertainty. Option ‘D’ seems to indicate that the Cold-War did not have its share of uncertainty, which is not true.

Option ‘C’ states the essence of the paragraph neatly: There is greater uncertainty because more countries have nuclear weapons. This is the best answer option. By evaluating the answer options critically, we can argue with ourselves and convince ourselves why one option is better than all the others. This becomes easier with practice, but the greater advantage comes when one has a good reading habit.

Don’t Worry About Grammar and Vocabulary

I did warn you that this was going to be a large post! :)

Having a masterful command over the English Language and a commendable knowledge of words is no trivial thing. But it is not a determining factor for the CAT. Historically, the CAT has not tested vocabulary the way the GRE tests it, and memorising word after word is worse than a waste of time – it can jeopardise your preparation by making you think the Verbal Segment is tedious to prepare for. When the CAT did test vocabulary, it was always context-based and covered only simple every-day words like “lay” and “lie”, and had very little to do with knowledge of obscure words.

A piece of good news for candidates who have no patience for word lists (like me) is that the CAT did not carry a single vocab-based question in 2014. Even if this trend reverses, it is very unlikely that the CAT will reward those who memorised meanings of words, and penalise those that did not.

This same rule applies for Grammar. You do not need to memorise all kinds of Grammatical Rules and be a savant in English. The three questions that tested English were laughably simple to handle, and could have been solved by anyone with a reasonable reading habit.

In a nut-shell, all the vocabulary and grammar that you need to know can be picked up by reading as much as possible. By this, I mean reading from a reasonable source, not Mumbai Times or some local gossip magazine that does not review its English! Learning formal grammar will not hurt, if only to give you confidence in some “theory”, but most of what you need to know can be picked up if you just: Read, Read and Read!!!


Approach Lr Systematically

Try as you might, you are never going to be completely free from surprises in the CAT for Logical Reasoning. Of four puzzles, one will definitely be properly hard, two of middling difficulty, and one puzzle that most candidates can solve. Preparing for LR can be even harder than the rest of Verbal, but I find that taking enough mock CATs, and getting exposed to different types of puzzles is a huge advantage. Even if you are unable to solve a puzzle within the time limit, review the solution afterwards so you know what the “crack” in logic was that you should have made.

As for cracking LR, the single most important factor is to approach the puzzle systematically. If you have a grid puzzle that asks for who drives a Red Car and lives in Bangalore and works as a doctor (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, visit and solve a few puzzles), DO NOT TRY TO SOLVE THE PUZZLE BY GUESSING! Fill in the grid, and crack the puzzle the way it was meant to be cracked. Not only will practicing it this way help you find the links much faster in the actual exam, having a habit of guessing can be very dangerous in the CAT. You will be tempted, invariably, to guess and see if the grid works out, but this will not work 9 times out of 10 (and you will never be the one candidate for whom it works!), and you will just end up wasting precious time that could have been spent cracking the puzzle or dumping it for another one.


Remember, for cracking the Verbal Section (by cracking I mean getting a 99.5%) you need to attempt between 36 and 42 questions, depending on the difficulty of the paper. The easier it is, the more questions you need to knock off. And remember, you need to have an accuracy of more than 90%. Anything less and it’s no better than guesswork. This means you can leave between 8 to 14 questions – that is, very little free room to play with. You cannot go into the CAT saying: “Well, I am a quant strong person, and LR has been friendly to me. I will just do one passage, and skip three.” This means that there is immense pressure on you to crack the very hard LR puzzle too, which, let’s face it, is very hard to crack!

Not to mention the Sentence Elimination and Critical Reasoning questions which can also be very tough to crack. Have a balanced approach, and pick your questions wisely to get into that sweet range. More students habitually crack the Quants Section than the Verbal, which is why going all-out on the Verbal Section can be very rewarding!

The writer handles Verbal Classes for 2IIM, and scored 99.71% in the Verbal Section for CAT 2014.

Verbal Ability For CAT

January 9, 2018

Verbal ability for CAT along with reading comprehension is a separate section in the CAT exam. Every year 10 questions are included from the CAT verbal ability section. CAT verbal ability syllabus includes basic topics from grammar and vocabulary. Here, the details about CAT verbal ability with its syllabus is discussed in detail to help the CAT aspirants get acquainted with this section in a better way.

Verbal Ability For CAT: Overview  

Total CAT Verbal Ability Questions10
Total Marks in Verbal Ability For CAT Section30
Types of Question in CAT VA SectionMCQs and TITA
Total Non-MCQs (TITA) in Verbal Section6-8
Difficulty in Verbal Ability SectionModerately Easy
Marking Scheme in CAT Verbal Section+3 (For Correct Answer)
-1 (For Incorrect Answer)
0 (For Unmarked Answer)

CAT (Common Admission Test) is a computer-based test for admissions into different management courses. CAT is a national level exam conducted by IIMs every year on a rotational basis. Being a prerequisite for admissions in the IIMs and other B-Schools, the CAT has become extremely competitive with over 2.5 lakh registration every year. To ace it, it is important for the candidates to be thorough with all the sections including the verbal section.

The CAT syllabus and pattern is not a pre-defined one but it has remained unchanged for the past 2 years. Verbal Ability is also a section included in the CAT exam pattern and VA along with RC constitutes one-third of the total questions of the exam. CAT verbal ability questions are there to test a candidate’s command over the English language, how good is one at using the language in a logically appropriate and contextually correct manner. One of the advantages of Verbal questions is that the questions can be solved quickly without any requirement of formulae and calculations. 

How to start your preparation for the CAT Verbal Ability section?

This is easily one of the high-scoring parts of the exam as it generally relies on the grammatical and reading skills of the candidate. All questions come with optional answers and most of the students rely on their intuition to come to the answer early. However, it is advisable to not jump to the answer before understanding the question completely. To ensure high score in this section of the exam, it is good to further brush up the personal grammar and vocabulary skills.

CAT Verbal Ability Syllabus:

The Verbal Ability section constitutes three main topics as Vocabulary, Grammar and Verbal Reasoning.


Vocabulary questions test the candidate’s knowledge in English like primary meanings of words, idioms, and phrases, secondary shades of meaning, usage, associated words, antonyms, etc.


Grammar-based questions test the candidate’s capability to mark and correct grammatical errors. CAT tests the knowledge of high school level grammar and includes areas like use of articles, prepositions use of modifiers, subject-verb agreement, parallel construction, phrasal verbs, redundancy, etc.

Verbal Reasoning:

Verbal Reasoning questions are designed to test the candidate’s potential to identify relationships or patterns within sentences or group of words.

The candidates are suggested to visit the aforementioned links to know more about the Verbal ability sections and various preparation tips to prepare the section properly and solve the related questions with ease.

The format of CAT Verbal Ability Questions

The format of CAT has 34-36 questions in Verbal ability section from the aforementioned topics. These topics can be further classified as follows:

1-2 questions on error correction

3-4 questions on jumbled paragraphs

2-3 questions on facts, inference or judgment

3-4 questions on para summary

24 questions on reading comprehension

Error Correction:

This section tests a candidate’s command over the grammar of English language which includes articles, phrases, clauses, modifiers, prepositions, subject-verb agreement, sentence correction, conjunctions, parts of speech, pronouns, punctuation, usage of infinitives and gerunds in sentences, tenses, etc. These may include questions on identifying the error in a sentence or fill in the blank to complete the sentence.

Jumbled Paragraphs:

This section includes questions on random jumbled sentences and ‘out of context’ sentence to be picked out of jumbled sentences.

For random jumbled sentences, the candidates are given a group of sentences that have been jumbled up. The candidates have to place the sentences in the right sequence to get a contextually correct paragraph.

There will be another kind of questions like, where the candidates will be given a set of jumbled sentences which make sense when placed in the right sequence, but there will be a sentence in between them that will be completely out of the context as compared to rest of the sentences. Candidates have to find that incorrect sentence to get the correct answer.

Facts, Inference or Judgment:

There are four sequentially ordered statements in this section. Every statement provided in this section can be classified as either a fact, inference or a judgment. The question is followed by four options and the candidates have to pick the most appropriate option that best describes the sequence of these statements.

Para summary:

This section includes a small text and the candidates have to pick the option that summarizes the given text most appropriately.

Reading Comprehension:

The Verbal Ability (VA) along with the Reading Comprehension (RC) comprises of the total VARC section. The format of CAT is expected to have four reading comprehension passages with four questions for each passage. These four questions may be questions on statements made in the passage; true or false; assumptions; and other critical reasoning type based on comprehension passages. Visit reading comprehension to completely get acquainted with this sub-section, question types to be expected and various practice exercises.

The CAT verbal ability requires the candidates to be well acquainted with the basic grammar and compatible with reading comprehension to solve the related questions. The candidates are also required to get themselves well-versed with a wide variety of words to be able to answer the synonyms and antonyms easily.

Stay tuned with Edurev to know the proper CAT 2018 pattern along with various engaging video lessons to learn and prepare more effectively. The lessons are taught by the best CAT trainers in the country by implementing 3D visualizations and in-air projections to help the candidates learn more effectively. Download Edurev- the Learning App to experience an unmatched preparation experience.

Verbal Ability

by Editorial Team -
Verbal Ability

CAT 2018 Notification is OUT ! Registration Starts from 8th August 2018 and CAT Exam on 25th November 2018. 
Let's understand what sort of questions you can expect on Verbal Ability in CAT 2018.In Verbal Ability section, there are broadly five types of questions: 

How to start your preparation for the CAT Verbal Ability section?

  1. Critical Reasoning
  2. Paragraph Forming (Para Jumbled Questions)
  3. Grammar
  4. Vocabulary

Reading Comprehension

What is Critical Reasoning?

Critical Reasoning is an analytical way of thinking about issues for analyzing and evaluating information gathered from observation and experience in order to come to certain conclusions. Critical Reasoning clarifies goals, examines assumptions, discerns hidden values, evaluates evidence and assesses conclusions. ‘Critical’ as used in the expression ‘critical reasoning’ denotes the importance of thinking to an issue, question or problem of concern. ‘Critical’ in this context does not mean ‘disapproval’ or ‘negative’.

Why is CR important?

Critical thinking can occur whenever one judges, decides, or solves a problem; in general, whenever one must figure out what to believe or what to do, and do so in a reasonable and reflective way. In CAT 2018 examination, CR questions are important as they test the candidate’s ability to think in a rational manner. In the exam you generally face a hypothetical situation and the critical reasoning tests you on how well you understand what you are reading. The strength of your logical powers is tested through these questions. CR questions could play a significant role this year’s CAT with its VA+ LR mix.

How can one prepare oneself for CR questions?

Students should try and develop skills like observation, interpretation, analysis, inference, evaluation and explanation. A good way to prepare for the CR questions would be to get familiar with the different type of CR questions. They will be provided in this module in later parts.

Why should one get familiar with different types of CR questions?

Candidates, if familiar with CR questions, can saves time inside the examination hall. It also reduces errors as you become familiar with the various types of critical reasoning questions and are less likely to make careless mistakes.

How should one approach CR questions?

CR questions need to be tackled in a structured manner. The following steps can serve as a guide -

a) Identify arguments: In the context of CR -argument means a statement. It states certain observations based on premises and conclusions. Premises are those facts that help to support the conclusion in an argument. Sometimes there is a gap between the premises and the conclusions. This gap can be filled with an assumption.

Premises + Assumptions = Conclusions

The following words/phrases may be used to identify conclusions.

  • We can infer that…
  • So…
  • This shows that…
  • Therefore…
  • Hence…
  • It follows that…
  • This indicates that…
  • Consequently…

The following words/phrases may be used to identify Premises

  • The reason is that…
  • In view of…
  • Since…
  • Evidence…
  • Because…
  • It follows from…
  • We may infer from…
  • On the basis of…

b) Understand the different types of arguments – Deductive / Inductive:

Deductive Arguments - There is a strong connection between the premises and the conclusion. If the premises are true then the conclusion is true.

Inductive Arguments - These are based on experiences/experiments and here the connection between premise and conclusion may not be very strong – i.e. if the premise is true then there is a chance that the conclusion is true. Such types of arguments can be weakened or strengthened with additional data.

c) Rephrase the argument in your own words: All CR questions can be broken down into two parts

  1. The stimulus which provides the premises and conclusion, and
  2. The question stem which asks you to carry out a task.

When you finish reading the stimulus, try to summarize in your mind what the argument in the stimulus is about (premises, conclusions, and assumptions). When you put the argument in your own words, you can usually identify where the question is heading and what kind of queries could come. Once you put it into your own words, the question becomes much easier to understand.

Evaluate the strength/validity of an argument: Some of the following points could be used to check this validity.

  • Check for any circular reasoning. (Unproved assertion used to prove another unproved claim)
  • Check if the conclusion has been drawn from a sample that is not big enough to warrant the conclusion
  • Check if there is a faulty extension of an analogy. ( Because two things/people are alike in various ways, that it is likely they will share another quality)
  • Check if there is any ‘non-sequester‘reasoning. (Conclusion does not follow from the premise)

What are the different types of CR questions?

CR questions can come in many varied forms. The most common types of questions are described as follows -

  1. Questions that ask you to arrive at a conclusion/inference
  2. Questions that ask you to identify an assumption
  3. Questions that ask you to strengthen/ weaken an argument
  4. Questions that ask you to detect a flaw in the argument
  5. Questions that ask you to identify a paradox/contradiction/inconsistency
  6. Questions that ask you to identify a parallel situation

What are the techniques for tackling the above type of CR questions? What are the different forms in which these questions may be asked?

Questions that ask you to arrive at a conclusion/inference. These questions require you to choose the answer that is a summary of the argument. The summary is a logical ending of the chain of reasoning started in the stimulus argument. Thus, once you are able to form a logical chain using the premises to arrive at the conclusion, your task is accomplished.

The different forms in which these questions may be asked:

If the above statements are true, which of the following must be true?

Which of the following conclusions is best supported by the statements above?'

The statements above, if true, best support which of the following conclusions?

The author is arguing that

Which of the following conclusions can most properly be drawn from the information above?

Questions that ask you to identify an assumption. As we discussed earlier, sometimes there may be a gap between the premises and the conclusion. Your task is to fill this gap with the assumption and for this purpose you have to identify the correct assumption. The correct answer will provide the missing link.

The different forms in which these questions may be asked:

  • The conclusion logically depends on which of the following assumptions?
  • What additional premise is required to support the above conclusion?
  • The conclusion drawn in the first sentence depends on which of the following assumptions?
  • The conclusion of the above argument cannot be true unless which of the following is true?

Questions that ask you to strengthen/ weaken an argument. Identify the conclusion of the argument. Then identify the stated evidence. Next, look for missing links that must be completed in order to create a strong chain of reasoning. If you are looking for the choice that weakens the argument, you need an answer choice that makes that assumption less likely to be true. Conversely, if you are trying to strengthen the argument, you need a choice that makes the assumption more likely to be true.

The different forms in which these questions may be asked:

  • Which of the following, if true, would most seriously undermine the conclusion drawn in the passage?
  • Which of the following, if true, would most significantly strengthen the conclusion drawn?
  • Which of the following, if true, would cast the most doubt on the accuracy of the claim?
  • Which of the following, if true, would most support the claims above?
  • Which of the following, if it were discovered, would be pertinent evidence against the contentions above?
  • Each of the following, if true, weakens the conclusion above EXCEPT

Questions that ask you to detect a flaw in the argument. Another type of question that you will encounter asks you to identify a flaw in the stimulus argument. The question tells you that there is a problem with the logic of the argument. You just have to choose the answer that describes the flaw.

The different forms in which these questions may be asked:

  • Which of the following points to the most serious logical flaw in the author’s argument?
  • The argument is flawed in that it ignores the possibility that
  • Which of the following indicates a flaw in the reasoning above?

Questions that ask you to identify a paradox/contradiction/inconsistency. Sometimes there is a visible contradiction in the situation described in the question argument. Two assertions which both seem to be true but are in direct conflict with each other. You have to identify the source of this consistency or a reason which could have contributed to this paradox.

The different forms in which these questions may be asked:

  • Which of the following, if true, best reconciles the seeming discrepancy described above?
  • Which of the following, if true, most helps to resolve the apparent paradox?

Questions that ask you to identify a parallel situation. In this type of question you will be given a particular situation in the argument. You have to study the different aspects of the situation and from among the answer choices select the situation which can be described as a parallel to the problem situation. In other words you have to find the argument that is analogous to the given argument in that it includes the same relationship between the evidence presented and the conclusion.

The different forms in which these questions may be asked:

  • Which of the following arguments proceeds in the same way as the above argument?
  • Which of the following conclusions is supported in the same way as the above conclusion?
  • Which of the following has the most similar structure to the argument above?
  • Each of the following is similar in structure to the above EXCEPT


What are Para Jumbled Questions?

It consists of a group of sentences that have been jumbled up. The goal in these types of sentences is to rearrange the sentences in the original sequence. In para-jumble questions, you will be given a paragraph made of four to five sentences whose original sequence has been changed and you have a few minutes to figure out what that original sequence was.

Why are PJ questions important?

Para-jumbles are significant because they have been regularly appearing in the CAT and other MBA entrance tests. There is a good chance of three Para-jumble questions appearing in the 20 questions of the Verbal Ability (VA) section.

Secondly and more importantly — PJs are one of those questions of the CAT in which you can improve your skills dramatically within a short span of time. It is probably one of the few areas of CAT VA where the scope of ambiguity is limited.

Types of PJ questions

Para-jumbles broadly fall in three categories. In each category, the jumbled sentences are coded with an alphabet (usually A, B, C and D).

  1. 4/5 sentences are given in a random order and you have to unjumble all of them. Toughest of the lot.
  2. The opening sentence + 4/5 sentences are given and you have to rearrange the group of 4/5 sentences, having been given prior knowledge of the thought that starts off the flow of the discussion.
  3. 4/5 sentences + the closing sentence is given and you need to correctly sequence 4/5 sentences so that they flow into the last sentence.
  4. Opening sentence + 4/5 Sentences + Closing Sentence are given. Easiest of the lot. You know where the story starts and where it ends. You only have to figure out the screenplay in between.

The smartest approach

  1. The best approach to solving PJ questions is the ‘free fall’ one. That is, develop a high reading speed and scan all 4-5 sentences. Try to get a feel of what the passage is about.
  2. At this point you need to decide whether this particular paragraph is one which you are comfortable with or not.
  3. If you decide to go ahead, then scan the answer options. Are they of any help?

If, for example the options are,

a) BDAC  b) BCAD  c) CABD  d) CBDA

Then you know for sure that this paragraph has to start either with B or C. A quick look at B and C will tell you which one looks like a better opening sentence and already your choices will be halved.

Similarly, with options,

a) BDCA  b) CDBA  c) DCAB  d) ACDB

Then we know that it has to end with either B or A. So browse sentences A and B and see if any one of them look like a concluding sentence.

There might be other indicators to keep an eye out for. For example if three of the five options start with A and the other two with C/B/D there is a good probability that A is the starting sentence.

If, say, a link CB occurs in more than 2 options then it is something worth paying attention to.

PJ strategies to save time and increase accuracy

Approach 1:

Once upon a time long ago… / …and they lived happily after: Identify the opening/closing sentence using what we discussed above. Either the tone of the paragraph or the option elimination method.

Approach 2:

Where’s the interlock dude? Identify links between two sentences and try to see if that link exists in multiple answer options (a sure way to know that you are on the right track). A combination of 1 and 2 will take you home most of the time.

Place your magnifying glass on the following,

Approach 2a: Make it ‘personal’. Look out for personal pronouns (he, she, it, him, her, you, they). Personal pronouns always refer to a

person, place or thing. Therefore, if a sentence has a personal pronoun without mentioning the person, place or object it is referring to, mark it in your head and scan the paragraph for the original person, place or object that it refers to.

For example if you go back to the opening jumbled paragraph of this article, the third sentence starts with ‘it’. We now need to figure out what ‘it’ refers to and the sentence containing the original ‘it’ will come before this sentence.

Approach 2b: Look for ‘Poriborton’ (Change, in Mamata Banerjee’s tongue). Certain words called ‘transition words’ help the author to shift from one thought flow to another. In other words, they usher in change. Some transition words that appear regularly are — hence, besides, simultaneously, in conclusion, etc. While you practice PJs whenever you come across a transition word — note it down. Make a list!

Approach 2c: Demonstrate! Look for demonstrative pronouns — this, that, these, those, etc. Again, if you look at our opening paragraph, the first line starts with ‘for this’ — now we know that we need to figure out what ‘this’ refers to and the sentence containing the original ‘this’ will come before this sentence.

Approach 3:

Main samay hoon! Sometimes the events mentioned in the paragraph can be arranged in a chronological order making it easy for you to identify the sequence. Example,

  1. Alexander Bain, Scottish clockmaker, patented the electric clock.
  2. The next development in accuracy occurred after 1656 with the invention of the pendulum clock.
  3. Clocks have played an important role in man’s history.
  4. Spring-driven clocks appeared during the 15th century, although they are often erroneously credited to Nuremberg watchmaker Peter Henlen around 1511.

It is quite obvious by studying the chronology what the sequence should be.

Approach 4:

The Abbreviation Approach. Sometimes you will find that for some terms in the paragraph both the full form and the abbreviation have been used. For Example IMF — International Monetary Fund, Charles Dickens — Dickens, Dr Manmohan Singh — Dr Singh. In these cases where both the full form as well as the abbreviation is present in different sentences, then the sentence containing the full form will obviously come before the sentence containing the abbreviation.

Approach 5:

What an Idea Sirji! If there are two sentences, one containing an idea and another giving examples of the same idea then the sentence containing the idea should come before the sentence containing the examples. But they need not necessarily be exactly side by side. Example,

  1. Russia possesses the largest stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction in the world.
  2. 489 missiles carrying up to 1,788 warheads and 12 submarines carrying up to 609 warheads form a looming threat.

A will come before B in this case, even though there might be sentences in between.

Approach 6:

An article of faith. It is highly unlikely that the definite article ‘the’ will be part of an opening sentence. If ‘a/an’ and ‘the’ both are used for the same noun then the sentence containing ‘the’ will come after the sentence containing a/an.


Poor grammar makes for a poor impression! Thus, proficiency in this section becomes all the more critical. Grammar is a vast see which cannot be covered in any module. But students attempting CAT need not be grammar experts. What is required is that the aspirants develop ability in functional usage of words, idioms and phrases. This can be achieved by going through any book that gives a summary of the rules of grammar. Thompson and Martinet's 'A Practical English Grammar' would be a good starting point. Remember, however, that there is no shortcut to grammar.

Therefore we suggest the aspirants that the basic method to prepare grammar section would be to first complete the basics of grammar, and then start by practicing through attempting as many questions as possible.

Here we will provide some useful information on agreements between Subject and Verb, de-obfuscating commonly confused words, Phrasal Verbs, etc.

A frequently tested aspect of grammar in CAT Exam is - “Subject-Verb Agreement” (SVA).

The Basics

Subject: The part of a sentence that commonly indicates what it is about, or who or what performs a particular action. The simple subject consists of the specific noun or pronoun that is doing the action or whose state of being is being described.


The most hardworking student in my class never sleeps much.

The simple subject of the sentence is student because the student performs the action. The complete subject of the sentence includes the simple subject and all words that modify it: The most hardworking student in my class.

Verb: The part of speech that expresses existence, action, or occurrence. In other words the ‘doing word’. It may also express a state of being.


The most hardworking student in my class never sleeps much.

The verb ‘sleeps’ describes the action of the sentence.


Consequently, he is always fresh.

The verb ‘is’ describes the state of being of the subject, he.

Generic Rules

1. Agreement in Number: SVA implies that if the subject is plural (cats), then the verb needs to be plural (meow). If the subject is singular (cat) then the verb needs to be singular (meows).

Do remember that verbs do not form their plurals by adding an ‘S’ as nouns do. In order to determine which verb is singular and which one is plural, think of which verb you would use with he or she and which verb you would use with they.

runs, run

Which one is the singular form? Which word would you use with he? We say, “He runs.” Therefore, runs is singular. We say, “They run.” Therefore, run is plural.

2. Agreement in Person: Sentences are written in either first, second, or third person, based on the author’s viewpoint. If a sentence is written in first person, the writer is writing about herself/himself, using pronouns such as I and we. In a second-person sentence, the writer speaks directly to the reader, using the pronoun you. Third-person sentences generally refer to their subjects by name or with pronouns like he, she, it,or they.

Often, there will be a change in the form of the verb, depending on whether its subject is in first, second, or third person. For example, the singular first-person, second-person, and third-person forms of the verb are completely different from each other as seen below,

  • I am hungry. ( am – a first-person subject)
  • You are hungry. ( are – a second-person subject)
  • He is hungry. ( is – third-person subject)

There are some additional rules that will help you to maintain SVA in Sentence Correction questions of MBA entrance examinations.

Importance of Punctuation

Let's eat, Grandpa!

Let's eat Grandpa!

For example, when we write “each of my sons,” the verb must agree with the singular subject each instead of the plural noun sons. And the singular subject “everyone who knows my sons” should be followed by the singular “is impressed by them,” and not “are impressed by them.”

Note: There is one indefinite pronoun, none, that can be either singular or plural


  • A subject made up of two or more nouns or pronouns joined by and take a plural subject, unless that subject is intended to be singular. 
  • He and I run every day. (Plural)
  • Peanut butter and jelly is my favorite sandwich. (Singular)
  • When a subject is made up of nouns joined by or, the verb agrees with the last noun. 
  • He or I run every day.
  • Potatoes, pasta, or rice pairs well with grilled chicken.
  • Don’t get confused by the words that come between the subject and verb; they do not affect agreement. Connectives, phrases such as combined with, coupled with, accompanied by, added to, along with, together with, and as well as, do not change the number of the subject. These phrases are usually set off with commas 
  • The dog, who is barking noisily, is usually very well behaved.
  • The team captain, as well as his players, is disappointed.
  • When I is one of the two subjects connected by either/or or neither/nor, put it second and follow it with the singular verb am. 
  • Neither she nor I am going to the festival.
  • When a compound subject contains both a singular and a plural noun or pronoun joined by or/nor , the verb should agree with the part of the subject that is nearer the verb. 
  • The boy or his friends run every day.
  • His friends or the boy runs every day.
  • Words such as each, either, neither, anyone, everyone, someone, no one, nobody are always singular and, therefore, require singular verbs. 
  • None of you claims responsibility for this incident?
  • None of you claim responsibility for this incident?
  • Collective nouns (team, couple, staff, committee etc.) take either a singular or plural verb depending on whether the emphasis is on the individual units or on the group as whole. 
  • The committee was divided over the issue. [Tip: Think of it as — The committee (members) were divided over the issue.]
  • The cricket team is practicing for the World Cup.
  • With words that indicate portions — percent, fraction, part, majority, some, all, none, remainder and so forth — look at the noun in your of phrase (object of the preposition) to determine whether to use a singular or plural verb. If the object of the preposition is singular, use a singular verb. If the object of the preposition is plural, use a plural verb. 
  • 70% of the cake has been eaten
  • 70% of the cakes have been eaten


As in any other subject regular and continuous practice is the key to success. There is no magic wand! After every Grammar lesson – this what you should be doing,

  1. Refer to your grammar book and go to the related chapter. Solve the exercise problems given at the end of the chapter. More than just mugging the rules you should be focusing on these practice questions.
  2. Use online resources for additional practice
  3. If you are really diligent and serious about the CAT – while you are doing your online research – keep open a word doc into which you copy paste all the material that you come across on the particular topic. Save the word document with the relevant name e. g. -Subject Verb agreement and you have a ready-reckoner for revision when the CAT is just round the corner. CAT is not only about working hard but also about working smart!

For some time now CAT has been testing aspirants on a particular type of vocabulary question. These types of questions can be labeled as Commonly Confused Words. Like the difference between historic and historical, when to use accept and when to use except, Further and Farther, Sensual and Sensuous, etc.

Here we will discuss some utmost important points for the aspirants of CAT 2018.


Typically a sentence is given which has a blank. Two alternatives are provided for filling up the blank. The aspirant has to use his/her knowledge of English vocabulary to select the right word to fit into the blank. Of course this being the CAT – it does not stop at that – one has to solve 5 sentences like these to be able to arrive at one correct answer! This means you have to solve all the sentences very carefully. Even if you get one of the sentences wrong the correct answers in all the other sentences would not fetch any marks.

Sample question from CAT 2007


  1. Regrettably [A] / Regretfully [B] I have to decline your invitation.
  2. I am drawn to the poetic, sensual [A] / sensuous [B] quality of her paintings.
  3. He was besides [A] / beside [B] himself with rage when I told him what I had done.
  4. After brushing against a stationary [A] / stationery [B] truck my car turned turtle.
  5. As the water began to rise over [A] / above [B] the danger mark, the signs of an imminent flood were clear.

Answer Choices


As you can see in the above question you have to pick the right word for the blanks in Sentences 1-5 and the correct combination among the Answer Choices 1-5 has to be selected.

Accept and Except.

While they sound similar (or even identical), except is a preposition that means “apart from”, while accept is a verb that means “agree with”, “take in”, or “receive”. Except is also occasionally used as a verb, meaning to take out or to leave out.

  • Standard: We accept all major credit cards, except Diners Club.
  • Standard: Men are fools… present company excepted! (Which means, “present company excluded”)
  • Non-standard: I had trouble making friends with them; I never felt excepted.
  • Non-standard: We all went swimming, accept for Jack.

 Altar and Alter

Altar: a sacred table in a church

Alter: to change

Amoral and Immoral

Amoral: not concerned with right or wrong

Immoral: not following accepted moral standards

Appraise and Apprise

Appraise: to assess

Apprise: to inform someone

Assent and Ascent

Assent: agreement, approval

Ascent: the action of rising or climbing up

Aural and Oral

Aural: relating to the ears or hearing

Oral: relating to the mouth; spoken

Defuse and Diffuse

Defuse: Remove the fuse from an explosive device.

Diffuse: Spread over a wide area

Moot and Moor

Moot: Subject to debate; arguable

Moor: To make fast (a vessel, for example) by means of cables, anchors, or lines

Amended and Emended

Amended: To remove the faults or errors in; correct.

Emended: To improve by critical editing.

Ingenious and Igneous

Ingenious: Marked by inventive skill and imagination.

Igneous: Of, relating to, or characteristic of fire.

Prudent and Prudish
Prudent: Wise in handling practical matters; exercising good judgment or common sense.
 Prudish: Marked by or exhibiting the characteristics of a prude (One who is excessive).

Practice:  Book - Better English by Normal Lewis.
 Do you back up or back away or back down? Break away / Break down / Break up? Call back / call off/ call on?  Do you find it difficult to differentiate among them? Then, welcome to Phrasal Verbs! To start with, let’s find out the difference between ordinary usage and phrasal verbs,

  1. I got on the No. 8 bus at Banerjee Road. vs I boarded the No. 8 bus at Banerjee Road.
  2. I really need to get on with my paper! vs I really need to continue writing!
  3. We need to get on together to succeed. vs We need to understand each other to succeed.
  4. We’ll have to be getting on soon, or we’ll be late. vs We should leave soon, or we’ll be late.

As you can see the same meaning is conveyed by the pair of sentences but while one of them uses a single word, the other uses a phrasal verb.
 Definition – A Phrasal Verb is a combination of words in any of the following forms:


Very often the phrasal verb (PV) has a meaning which is quite different from the original verb. This makes it slightly difficult for the new learner because, even if he breaks down the phrasal verb into different words and looks up its meaning in the dictionary, he will not be able to understand the meaning of the phrasal verb itself. 

For example ‘look after’ as a PV means ‘take care of.’

However independently look would mean ‘see’ and ‘after’ means ‘next in order’.

Some Rules for Phrasal Verbs

Example:I ran into my teacher at the movies last night. So run + into = meet

Example:She suddenly showed up. ‘Show up’ cannot take an object

Example:We made up the story. So ‘story’ is the object of ‘make up.’

Example:I talked my mother into letting me borrow the car. Here, mother is the object for the verb

Example:I ran into an old friend yesterday.

  1. Verb + preposition / adverb
  2. Some phrasal verbs are intransitive. An intransitive verb cannot be followed by an object.
  3. Some phrasal verbs are transitive. A transitive verb can be followed by an object.
  4. Some transitive phrasal verbs are separable. The object is placed between the verb and the preposition.
  5. Some transitive phrasal verbs are inseparable. The object is placed after the preposition.

Some Phrasal Verbs are discussed below to illustrate how different meanings can be obtained from the same word


  • break down = fail to function
  • break in = interrupt a discussion; burgle
  • break off = discontinue (relationship etc.)
  • break out = escape from prison
  • break up = end a relationship


  • call back = return a phone call
  • call for = require
  • call off = cancel
  • call out = read names aloud
  • call on = request somebody to do something
  • call up = reach by phone


  • fall apart = fall into pieces
  • fall behind = fail to keep up pace
  • fall for = be in love with; deceived by
  • fall off = decrease
  • fall out with = quarrel with
  • fall through = fail, miscarry

What is the relevance of Phrasal Verbs in the CAT?

Phrasal Verbs are used quite frequently in everyday spoken English. That itself makes them very important! Apart from this, PV is tested in the CAT in the following form. A sample word is taken and four different sentences are constructed using the sample word. One has to identify which of the sentences has incorrect usage.


Sample Word: Hand

  1. I have my hand full I cannot do it today.
  2. The minister visited the jail to see the breach at first hand
  3. The situation is getting out of hand here.
  4. When the roof of my house was blown away, he was willing to lend me a hand.

The most frequently used phrasal verbs are formed with the following words: break, bring, call, carry, come, do, fall, get, go, keep, look, make, put, run, set, take, turn.

Make sure that you research the above phrasal verbs and thoroughly understand the different ways in which these phrasal verbs can be used.


For CAT, a good vocabulary is very essential, although CAT does not test candidates on their knowledge of difficult words directly. This is because the passages and answer options given in the Reading Comprehension section may have some difficult words. Not knowing their meaning could decrease the candidate’s ability to understand the passage. Also, consider what may happen if you do not know the meaning of a word contained in one of the options: your ability to make the correct answer choice may be seriously compromised.

An innovative way to remember the meanings of certain words is to know their origin. Quite a few words have an interesting origin, and there is a story, legend or myth associated with them. A number of words come to us from Roman or Greek mythology. Very often, we find that we remember the story more than the meaning per se-and that it helps us recall the meaning of the word itself.

Few useful tips for improving your vocabulary are as follows:

Make your base strong - You must commence with reading magazines and other reading materials as this will help you to come across more and more words that you can learn. To have a strong command over the language you must make your base strong. Read anything that comes your way as this will steadily aid you to gain knowledge about more words as well as the grammar.

Read a lot - You must read a lot in order to gain expertise. Remember, merely knowing new words will not help to score high marks. You must be well versed and know the right words. This can be facilitated by reading a lot of books, journals and other stuff. Also, you can browse the net to do value additions as the vocabulary section of will help you improve your vocabulary tremendously.

Practice what you read- It is not possible to memorize all the new words that you have learnt as it will be very difficult and time consuming. The best way is to practice these words in your everyday conversation. This could a smart way to learn the words as well as know their meaning.

Look at synonyms and Antonyms - Learning new words is of no use if you are do not remember their meaning. In order to simplify the process of learning the meaning of new words, look at the synonyms and try to relate the difficult word with the simple ones.

For instance, the word jeopardy means the same as danger, threat or hazard. Try to find more simple words and relate them as this will help you to know the meaning and remember them easily.

Similarly, antonyms or the opposite words will make you understand not only the word but also it’s usage and limitations.

Play crosswords and scrabble – Try to spend some time by indulging in activities like solving crosswords and playing scrabble as this will help you to learn more words and you can also learn from the other person who is playing with you.

Take vocabulary test - By taking up the vocabulary test you can know where you stand and what the room for improvement is. The more tests you take the more you learn.

Refer a dictionary - Always refer a dictionary and look for meaning of the words you don't know. Having a dictionary with will help you to know more words quickly as you have a help at hand ready with you.

You can make your learning fun filled by getting excited about every new word. You should be able to appreciate subtle differences between words. Learn to say what you really mean and discover the joys of being able to express yourself in writing. Your future can depend on how affluent your vocabulary is. It will also determine the quality of your communication. So, be in it for the long pull. Let building your vocabulary be a lifelong proposition. Remember: "In the beginning was the word." Until you have a word for something, it does not exist for you. Name it, and you have made your reality richer.


Reading Comprehension comprises two parts — Reading + Comprehension. A CAT aspirant should be able to read at a fairly good speed and also grasp the material presented in very little time. In a knowledge-based economy, reading and comprehension skills would be essential. You would need RC skills to analyze data, information and take good decisions. Information + RC = Knowledge.

You can become confident in RC by following the below mentioned tips:
Measure your Reading Speed:
You should start by calculating your reading speed and then working on improving it. Plenty of websites and software help you measure your reading speed. Begin by measuring your reading speed on screen using a website such as It will give you a quick estimate of your reading speed by asking you to read a small passage under a timer. As you work on improving your reading speed, monitor it using such a tool from time to time.

Improving your Reading Speed:

An average reading speed is in the range of 200 to 300 wpm (words per minute). Reading speeds vary depending on what you are reading and in what environment. Steps to improve your reading speed,

  1. Scanning: Learn to ‘scan’ the material you read — Headings, titles, chapters and any other relevant divisions that might serve to break the reading down into blocks.
  2. Adjustment: You should learn to adjust your reading speed as you read the passage. Slow down when you want to be sure about having comprehended a difficult section. Pump up your speed if you feel the need to skim through familiar sections.
  3. Ignore what is not important: You should focus on the key words in the sentences. A lot of time during reading is wasted on conjunctions, prepositions or articles. Eliminate these from the horizons of your focus.
  4. Read in blocks: While reading, try to read blocks of words together. You can boost your reading speed by absorbing several words in a line at one time, instead of reading each word or focusing on each letter of the word. Instead of reading each word as constituted of individual letters, store a pictorial image of the words in your mind so that whenever you encounter that word, its mere shape and visual structure leads you to identify it instantly, within fractions of a second. Without having actually ‘read’ that word!

Having said all the above, the CAT in its online avatar has not been featuring very large RC passages so the role played by reading speed has reduced to some extent. But in exchange, the role of comprehension has correspondingly increased!


Here is a suggested workflow to tackle and improve your comprehension.

Step 1 When you start attempting an RC passage, you need to quickly skim through it to understand

  • What the author is talking about.
  • What are the key words in the passage?
  • Is the piece about theology, geology, economics or something else?
  • Are you comfortable with it?

You have to make a decision here, whether you want to proceed with solving it or not? If you decide to continue, then jump directly to

Step 2 — else skip to the next RC passage. In the actual test, you have the right to choose your RC passages. You don’t have to even solve them in the same sequence they are in the paper.

Step 2 Take a very hard look at the first paragraph of the passage. Here, your task will be to mentally paraphrase or summarize it in your own words. If you find yourself able to do it, go ahead with that RC passage. Else skipping it is advised.

Step 3 Once you decide to solve an RC paragraph, take a look at the accompanying Questions (without looking at the answer options. That will confuse you). Identify the data points asked for in the Questions. This will put you on the lookout for those data points when you read the passage.

Step 4 Read the piece. Never graduate to the next paragraph until and unless you can summarize the current paragraph in your head. There are candidates who read entire passages and not have a clue about what the author is talking about.

Step 5 Now you come to the crux of the matter. Either while reading the passage itself or after completing the reading, you should be able to answer the questions.
Do not get into ego hassles over questions:This often happens when a person has read the full RC passage and managed to answer 3 or 4 questions out of the total 5 very quickly. I would suggest that it is time to move on. Don’t be under the impression that just because you have read the whole passage you HAVE to answer every single question. Some questions are there to just waste your time. They are called the ‘Speed Breakers’.
Answering by elimination:Sometimes, you can solve the RC questions by eliminating all the answer options until one answer option remains which seems to fit in and is your answer.
Dilemmas:If you come to a juncture where you think you have narrowed the options down to two by elimination but can’t seem to be sure thereafter, means that you have not successfully comprehended the passage. At this point, you can either opt to take a calculated guess (if you have attempted other sections very well) or just leave the question alone.

Practice with CAT Mock Test

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How to prepare for CAT VARC (Verbal and Reading Comprehension)

Related To: CAT

By: Ranjini Basu

Updated On: 30 Jul 2018 05:46 PM IST
How to prepare for CAT VARC - The preparation of CAT Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension is not a matter of 3 months or 6 months. Prospective test takers need a consistent habit of improving on their verbal skills pertaining to English language. The Reading comprehension plays a pivotal role not only in CAT but in most of the entrance examinations and it is imperative for all aspirants to score well in the English language section of the management entrance exams. Since CAT has a sectional weight age of 34 marks, candidates need to focus on how to prepare for CAT VARC section to bag a good overall percentile. 

How to start your preparation for the CAT Verbal Ability section?

Careers360, in this article of CAT 2018 preparation series brings forth a complete guide on ‘How to prepare for CAT VARC (Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension)’, where according to the CAT exam pattern test takers will have to answer a total of 34 questions (both MCQ and non-MCQs) within a sectional time limit of 60 minutes. The total marks allotted to Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension is 102 out of which Reading Comprehension has the lion share.

Candidates must note that they need to qualify not only the overall but the sectional CAT cutoff as well to get an IIM call, one must not lose the chance by compromising on any of the sectional performances. The CAT VARC section is the most scoring part, resulting in an improvised sectional as well as overall scores/percentiles. Hence it is important to know how to prepare for Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension section. 

How to prepare for CAT VARC 

The CAT preparation of VARC section must be strategically planned. It is advised that candidates should divide the section based on the topics and sub-topics; as each topic requires different techniques to learn and follow.  But before going into depth, it is important to understand the type and number of questions allotted in this section- 

VARC Topics and number of questions

AreaTopicNumber of Questions per topic
Reading Comprehension (16 Questions)4- 5 Reading Comprehension Passage16
English Usage (18 Questions)Jumble Paragraph4
Deductive Logics4
Sentence Correction3
Critical Reasoning4
Para Completion3

 VRC Topics

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Reading Comprehensions (RC) 

CAT 2017 Topper, Chhavi Gupta (currently pursuing MBA at IIM-A) says, “Selection of the questions was the first thing I indulged in and devoted five to seven minutes for doing the same. I had answered 24 questions in RC and spent 42-45 minutes as my accuracy level was very high. In general, the accuracy in VA questions was low, so for rest of the VA questions (Jumbled sentences and Fill in the Blanks), I spent nearly 15-20 minutes." RC (Reading Comprehension) is one of the important topics in this section. The passage can be from different areas of interest and the questions can be either factual or inferential. 

There are five passages each carrying around four questions to answer, which holds 45-60 per cent of the marks of the whole Verbal Ability part. This is the important section where more attention and detailed information are required. 

The foremost step to prepare for reading comprehension is to read on regular basis. Read newspapers, novels, magazines such as ‘The Economist’, India Today etc. To quote another CAT Topper 2017, Soumyajit Ghosh of IIM Bangalore when asked about preparation strategy, states, "The major part in RC section consists of the verbal part. I used to religiously practice Reading Comprehensions (RC) of various lengths every day." 

CAT 2017 Topper Avinash Iyer, IIT Bombay, who bagged 99.61 percentile at his very first attempt says, "To solve the CAT VARC section, I first took up all the reading comprehension, completed them as they take a substantial amount of time. Then I solved the fill in the blanks followed by jumbled paragraphs. 

A few suggested books for RC:

  • How to Prepare for the Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension for the CAT by Arun Sharma and Meenakshi Upadhyay (Tata McGraw-Hill) is a workbook with practice questions and tips based on previous CAT papers.
  • Norman Lewis’ Word Power Made Easy.

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FAQs on How to start your preparation for the CAT Verbal Ability section?

1. How can I start preparing for the CAT Verbal Ability section?
Ans. To start preparing for the CAT Verbal Ability section, you can follow these steps: 1. Understand the Exam Pattern: Familiarize yourself with the CAT exam pattern and syllabus. Understand the weightage given to the Verbal Ability section and the type of questions asked. 2. Improve Vocabulary: Enhance your vocabulary by reading extensively. Read books, newspapers, magazines, and online articles to expose yourself to different words and their usage. Make a habit of noting down unfamiliar words and their meanings. 3. Practice Reading Comprehension: Read a variety of passages and practice answering questions based on them. Focus on improving your reading speed, understanding the central idea, and identifying key details. 4. Enhance Grammar and Language Skills: Brush up on your grammar and language skills. Understand the rules of grammar, sentence formation, and usage of different parts of speech. Practice grammar exercises and solve questions related to sentence correction and completion. 5. Solve Mock Tests and Previous Year Papers: Take regular mock tests to assess your preparation level and identify areas of improvement. Solve previous year CAT Verbal Ability question papers to get an idea of the exam pattern and question types. Remember, consistent practice and a structured study plan are essential for success in the CAT Verbal Ability section.
2. How can I improve my vocabulary for the CAT Verbal Ability section?
Ans. Here are a few tips to improve your vocabulary for the CAT Verbal Ability section: 1. Read Widely: Read books, newspapers, magazines, and online articles to expose yourself to a wide range of vocabulary. Pay attention to the context in which words are used and try to understand their meanings through the text. 2. Use Flashcards: Create flashcards with new words and their meanings. Review these flashcards regularly to reinforce your learning. 3. Learn Word Roots: Many English words have Greek or Latin roots. Understanding these roots can help you decipher the meanings of unfamiliar words. Learn common word roots and their meanings to expand your vocabulary. 4. Use Vocabulary Apps: Install vocabulary-building apps on your smartphone or tablet. These apps provide word lists, quizzes, and games to make learning new words fun and engaging. 5. Practice with Word Games and Puzzles: Solve crossword puzzles, word search games, and other word-related puzzles to improve your vocabulary. These activities help you recall words and their meanings in a challenging yet enjoyable manner. Remember, building vocabulary takes time and consistent effort. Make it a habit to learn a few new words every day and revise the ones you have already learned.
3. How should I approach the Reading Comprehension section in CAT Verbal Ability?
Ans. To approach the Reading Comprehension section in CAT Verbal Ability, you can follow these steps: 1. Read the Passage Carefully: Take your time to read the passage thoroughly, understanding the central idea and the author's viewpoint. Pay attention to the tone and structure of the passage. 2. Identify Key Information: While reading, identify key information such as the main arguments, supporting evidence, and examples provided by the author. Highlight or underline important points to refer back to while answering the questions. 3. Analyze the Questions: Read the questions carefully and understand what is being asked. Identify the type of question, such as inference, main idea, tone, or vocabulary-based questions. 4. Scan for Answers: Go back to the passage and scan for relevant information to answer the questions. Avoid relying on your memory and always refer back to the passage for accurate answers. 5. Eliminate Options: Use the process of elimination to eliminate options that are clearly incorrect. Focus on finding evidence in the passage to support your chosen answer. 6. Practice Time Management: The CAT Verbal Ability section has a time constraint, so practice time management while solving Reading Comprehension passages. Allocate a fixed amount of time for each passage and try to stick to it. Remember, regular practice and familiarity with different types of passages will help you improve your speed and accuracy in the Reading Comprehension section.
4. How can I improve my grammar skills for the CAT Verbal Ability section?
Ans. Here are a few tips to improve your grammar skills for the CAT Verbal Ability section: 1. Study Grammar Rules: Understand the basic rules of grammar, including parts of speech, tenses, subject-verb agreement, pronouns, prepositions, and sentence structure. Refer to grammar books or online resources to learn and revise these rules. 2. Practice Grammar Exercises: Solve grammar exercises and worksheets to apply your knowledge of grammar rules. Focus on identifying and correcting errors in sentences, improving sentence structures, and using appropriate grammar in different contexts. 3. Read Grammar Books: Reading books specifically focused on grammar can help you understand grammar concepts in depth. Look for books written by renowned authors or recommended by experts for CAT preparation. 4. Take Online Grammar Courses: Enroll in online grammar courses or watch video tutorials to learn grammar concepts in a structured manner. These courses often provide practice exercises and quizzes to reinforce your learning. 5. Analyze Grammar in Context: While reading books or articles, pay attention to the grammar used by the authors. Analyze how different sentence structures, verb tenses, and grammar rules are applied in different contexts. This will help you understand grammar rules in real-life usage. 6. Solve Previous Year CAT Grammar Questions: Practice solving previous year CAT Verbal Ability section questions related to grammar. This will familiarize you with the type of grammar-based questions asked in the exam and help you identify common error patterns. Remember, improving grammar skills requires consistent practice and application of grammar rules in different contexts. Focus on understanding the concepts and their application rather than memorizing rules.
5. How important is regular practice in preparing for the CAT Verbal Ability section?
Ans. Regular practice is crucial for preparing for the CAT Verbal Ability section. Here's why: 1. Time Management: Regular practice helps you improve your speed and accuracy in solving Verbal Ability questions. It allows you to get familiar with the exam pattern and develop effective time management strategies. 2. Concept Reinforcement: Regular practice helps reinforce the concepts and strategies learned during your preparation. It allows you to apply these concepts in different question types and builds your confidence in tackling Verbal Ability questions. 3. Identifying Weak Areas: By practicing regularly, you can identify your weak areas in Verbal Ability. This helps you focus on specific topics or question types that require more attention and practice. 4. Building Exam Stamina: CAT is a lengthy exam, and regular practice helps you build the stamina required to stay focused and perform well throughout the Verbal Ability section. It trains your mind to handle the pressure of time constraints and long durations of continuous focus. 5. Familiarity with Question Types: Regular practice exposes you to a variety of Verbal Ability question types. It helps you understand the patterns and common traps in different question formats. This familiarity allows you to approach questions with a strategic mindset and make informed choices. 6. Confidence Boost: Regular practice boosts your confidence by making you comfortable with the Verbal Ability section. As you see improvement through practice, you gain confidence in your abilities, which is crucial for performing well in the actual exam. Remember, consistency is key when it comes to practice. Allocate dedicated time each day for Verbal Ability practice and aim to solve a mix of easy, moderate, and challenging questions to ensure comprehensive preparation.
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