What if I told you that Reading Comprehension in CAT is the single-most important thing that can make or break your Verbal Ability percentile in CAT? In this article I will be discussing the importance of Reading Comprehension for CAT and RC preparation tips on how to achieve a good score in CAT RC passages.

Within this article, I will also be sharing with you a list of suggested books for reading for all kinds of readers. I have handpicked this list along with my team of Verbal experts to help you give you a knack of the kinds of texts that you should read.

Reading Comprehension in CAT can rightly be called the most venerated topic of CAT as 70% of the VARC section is dominated with Reading Comprehension. Over the past few years this topic alone has carried 24 questions (72 marks) in CAT and is likely to remain same in CAT 2020.

The sectional breakup of Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension in CAT 2019 can be summarized as follows:

Topic No. of Qs Description and level of difficulty
Reading Comprehension 24 5 passages with word limit of ~550 for each. A student could have attempted 20-21 questions easily with more than
85% accuracy.
Verbal Ability- Parajumbles 4 Moderate-difficult
Verbal Ability- Summary 3 Difficult
Verbal Ability- Para Jumble (odd sentence out) 3 Moderate

Before you start solving Reading Comprehension exercises and practice RC sets, lets discuss the answer to one of the most important question. The question is How to Crack Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension section in CAT?

How to crack Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension in CAT 2020?

The answer to it is short and simple. Target Reading Comprehension!

Yes, it is something as simple as that. With 24 out of the 34 questions in the VARC section being Read Comprehension questions, doesn’t it make sense to you that maximizing your score in these 24 questions is equivalent to maximizing your score in the entire VARC section?

Your aim should be to focus more on RC passages in CAT. Not just focus, ensure that you attempt all the questions in Reading Comprehension in CAT.

How to prepare for Reading Comprehension (RC) for CAT 2020

With 24 questions i.e., ~72 marks assigned to RC, you should make this your strong suite and given that we still have around 7 months ahead of us, 1 hour daily should be earmarked for Reading Comprehension practice.

 Preparation plan for Reading Comprehension for CAT 2020

  • First things first – Start Reading while you still have the time to do so. Read Newspaper Editorials and Opinion blogs and articles
  • Summarize the passages that you read. The summary should cover all the key highlights of the passage but the length of the summary must not exceed 1/3rd of the passage
  • While you read to build your speed do not neglect the importance of grasping the meaning of the passage in your first reading itself. Because, CAT, is a test of your time management ability as well.
  • With 7 months still ahead of us for CAT you should also focus on building your vocabulary. While this will not help you in the questions directly, but will help you to easily grasp the meaning of passages. Meanwhile it would also be helpful in NMAT, XAT, SNAP and the other MBA exams where focus on vocabulary is a little higher that CAT. Ensure you learn at least 5 -10 words daily and boost your vocabulary
  • Build your understanding of different genres by through eclectic reading. Pick passages, articles or books from diverse topics to build your understanding of a large number of genres. The main genres which have contributed to CAT and Non-CAT reading comprehension passages are:
    • Philosophy, Psychology, Sociology, Science and Technology, Environmental studies, Cultural Studies, Social Science (History, Geography, Politics), Arts and Humanities, Current Affairs/Trend, Reviews, Business and Economics, Political Theory, Current Affairs, Abstract or inter-disciplinary subjects and so on… Even from these topics, Art, Sociology, philosophy and Economics are dominant topics in CAT.
  • Some sources for reading articles and passages online: Aeon, The Guardian, BBC, The New York Times, The Economist, The New Yorker, Time. CAT itself has picked articles from these sources time to time for its Reading Comprehension passages in CAT
  • Practice and solve latest previous year Reading Comprehension passages of CAT.
  • Enroll in a trusted CAT coaching program and a Test Series with latest mocks from a reputed institute.
  • Analyze and understand the types of questions asked in Reading Comprehension in CAT. Broad category of the types of questions asked in reading comprehension in CAT can be stated as:
Topic Questions Expected Question type
Inference based 10-12 What
can you infer from the passage? What is the underlying assumption in the
given statement? What can be inferred from the 2nd paragraph of
the passage? Summarize the passage?
Vocabulary based 1-2 in CAT (More weightage in
Fact Based 10-12 What is the tone of the passage? Which
is true/false as per the passage? With which of the statement is author most
likely to agree with?

Initially it will be a slow and tiring process for some but within a few weeks of sincere reading you would observe improvements in your reading speed, understanding the passage and the author’s motive of writing the passage.

And soon you will be able to answer the above-mentioned types of questions with ease.

Do you need to be good to do well in Reading Comprehension for CAT?

Here’s the thing, you don’t necessarily need to be great English to crack RCs. By following the above steps you can easily crack Reading Comprehension for CAT and other MBA entrance exams as well such as XAT/NMAT/SNAP/IIFT etc.

Target to read at least 2-3 passages every day so that by CAT you would have done many different passages! If you follow this routine sincerely then within 2-3 months you would have pocketed ~72 marks in CAT just from Reading Comprehension itself!

And, as I had promised in the beginning, here’s a list of suggested books for book lovers, non-book lovers and for those in the middle too!

Get your Reading List

Are you unsure what are the things that you should read in order to improve your performance in CAT? CL Verbal Experts have curated this list for you to give you a kickstart.


All the best
IIM Calcutta Alumnus