5 Tips to improve Reading Comprehension in CAT VARC

Tips to improve in RCs
Tips to improve in RCs

5 Tips to improve Reading Comprehension in CAT VARC

When it comes to the CAT exam, Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC) is often considered as the nemesis for many. Whether it is the difficulty in understanding a given passage or answering the dreadful follow-up questions, many students simply shun the thought of dealing with this section. The RCs account for about 75% of the VARC section in CAT, so performing well in the RC questions is crucial to cracking CAT. In this article, let us discuss 5 excellent tips on how to prepare for and improve in the reading comprehension section for CAT, in detail.

Check out the previous year papers of CAT to know about the level of questions and the type of passages that appear in this section. Also, taking a Free CAT mock test will help the candidates in gauging their strengths and weaknesses, and can signifucantly help in understanding how to approach RC questions.

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The following video will also help you understand the important tips and tricks needed to ace this section:


How prepare for Reading Comprehension in CAT VARC? Tips to improve in RCs

The following tips will help you improve in Reading Comprehension section of VARC:

Develop a reading habit

As discussed earlier, many students simply shun the thought of dealing with this section.   The only worthwhile antidote: READ! Read as much and as frequently as possible. If you have your hand’s full, try to read at least for an hour every day alongside your usual CAT preparation. A proper reading habit will strengthen your vocabulary and rapidly develop your comprehension capability.

The performance of a candidate in the VARC section depends a lot on his/her ability to comprehend the passages given. Therefore, one should understand the crux of the passage well to answer the questions. A reading habit can help aspirants to retain their focus while reading the passage. Therefore, develop a habit of reading and allocate at least 30 minutes to one hour every day to reading.

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What to read?

Start reading topics that suit your tastes: For instance, if you are a sports enthusiast, you can begin by reading sports journals or articles. Similarly, if you are fascinated by fiction, you can dive into a genre of novels matching your interest. It is crucial that you persistently maintain your initial reading streak and let it form into a routine. Once you have carved out a time to read regularly, you can then familiarise yourself with a diverse spectrum of topics.

Start reading articles from various genres and do not limit yourself to a particular style of writing. This will enable you to get comfortable with various writing styles and improve your temperament for dealing with varied RCs during an actual exam scenario. For a diverse range of articles, you could turn to websites such as Aeon, The Atlantic, Smithsonian, The Guardian, Washington Post, The Indian Express, Scientific American, Economic times, and so on.

It takes time

If you’re a beginner, bear in mind – it takes a considerable amount of time and effort to improve one’s score in the VARC section. Afterall, Rome wasn’t built in a day!

Therefore, aspirants should ensure that they try to develop a sustainable reading habit without looking for quick-fixes. A reading habit will help a great deal in improving the scores of a candidate in the VARC section.

Write the Summary

After reading an article, try to summarize what the article intends to convey in your own words. Also, after reading each paragraph, try to note down the purpose the paragraph serves in the passages. Analyze why the author has included the paragraph in the passage and how the paragraph is linked to the central idea of the RC passage. Doing so will help you to understand how passages are built and this, in turn, can help you while answering questions such as the central idea, primary purpose of the passage, purpose of a particular paragraph, etc.

Analyze your mistakes

Take sectional tests and mock tests at regular intervals. After taking a test, analyze the RC passages thoroughly. Go through your mistakes, analyze why you were wrong in selecting the option you did. Read the explanation provided to understand the reasoning behind the correct answer, and also why an option is wrong.

Eliminating the incorrect options can also help to arrive at the right answer in RC questions. More often than not, the incorrect option will have something in it that disqualifies it from being correct. There might be some extreme terms in the option or the option might convey something which might be true but has not been given in the passage.

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Avoid these mistakes:

Vocabulary: As stated earlier, a student with good comprehension skills does sufficiently well in this domain. So, it is recommended NOT to spend Too much time on Vocabulary. A proper reading habit will strengthen your vocabulary and rapidly develop your comprehension capability. You can always work out the contextual meaning of a word to get the gist of any discussion. It would be best if you refrained from going through tonnes of material to memorise words. Instead, take sectional mocks and topic tests regularly to measure your improvement and solidify your ability to identify and approach such questions.  Having a decent vocabulary is helpful in cracking the exam. CAT has refrained from asking the meaning of words out of the blue for a good reason.

Reading speed: When you are in the initial stages of developing a reading habit, do not read under time pressure. Take a sufficient amount of time to comprehend the chosen article and thoroughly dissect the meaning of each paragraph. Write down the main points, word meanings, or any other required information and then analyse the passage (on the contrary, while giving mock/sectional tests, try to retain the main points by forming a mental map and answering the questions by eliminating the incorrect options.) After repeated practise, this will substantially improve your accuracy and allow you to maximise your attempts eventually. In fact, you would be pretty surprised to see your scores improve considerably after simply spending some quality time reading and following the aforementioned mechanisms.

Also, the length of the passages has gone down over the years. The subject matter too is not dense. The time available is sufficient to read the passages irrespective of your reading speed. Your ability to comprehend the passage matters a lot more in RC than the speed at which you read the passage.

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Reading the questions first: Many of the questions that appear in RCs are inference-based by nature. Reading the questions first might help in factual RCs. However, the questions that appear in CAT require a thorough understanding of the passage and hence, reading the questions first will not be a good idea. Read the passage first and assimilate the information provided before moving on to the questions.

Maintain objectivity: Do not let your knowledge of a topic interfere with the information provided in the passage. Stick to what that has been given in the passage while answering the RC questions and avoid making conclusions based on your knowledge of the subject discussed. Also, if the author argues for a point you are personally opposed to, avoid letting your personal biases creep into the passage, during the exam.

The next step is to practice a lot of questions on reading comprehension. Taking a lot of Mocks for CAT and Sectional tests will help you to get a hold on the concepts, which you can use to fine tune your test taking strategies. Also, take Free CAT Daily targets, for a rigorous practice on a daily basis.

We hope that this article helped you to know the important tips to improve reading comprehension, and how to prepare for reading comprehension for CAT VARC. For more useful articles, try going through Central idea and tone of the passage and CAT verbal ability PDF.

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