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CAT Reading Comprehension: Common Mistakes to Avoid in RC Questions

Tiyasa Khanra
Tiyasa KhanraUpdated On: July 07, 2022 03:43 pm IST

Reading Comprehensions form one of the trickiest portions of the CAT exam. This section has a range of abstract topics followed by inferential questions, and tests your abilities to the fullest. Read the article to know the common pitfalls of RC passages in the CAT exam and how to avoid them.

CAT Reading Comprehension: Common Mistakes to Avoid in RC Questions

Reading Comprehension is the most important topic in the CAT exam. RC questions in the CAT exam covering 24% of the overall weightage, command the highest sectional as well as overall weightage in the CAT exam. Also, the weightage of RC questions for CAT in the VARC section has been increased to 80% from 45%.

Out of the three sections in the CAT exam, the first section consists of Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension (VARC) topics. RC passages in CAT can be based on English literature, current affairs, philosophy, scientific inventions, business, economy, sociology or psychological opinion, historical facts, and socio-political point of view, among others.

Candidates are required to read the information contained in the RC passage with focus and attention as the questions based on it are not direct and have to be answered after properly understanding the passage and the contextual meaning of various phrases used in the passage. The set of 3-4 or 5-6 questions based on RC passages are MCQs and they carry a negative marking of ⅓ marks. Although the length & size of RC passages for the CAT exam has been reduced, they have become more difficult to read with rich vocabulary words. Hence, it is imperative for the candidates to understand each part of the RC passage well. To score well in the RC section for CAT, candidates must make it a regular practice to read the editorials and articles in the newspaper. Underlining the difficult words, searching out their meanings, and putting them to use in writing, in conversation, etc. also help in effective preparation. 

Most Common Mistakes Students make in CAT Reading Comprehension 

CAT Reading Comprehension is a tough nut to crack even for those students who often think that they are quite good with RCs. The mistakes that the test-takers make concerning the approach and attitude to solving RC passages have been summarized below:

  1. Memorizing: Since RC passages are designed to test the verbal and comprehending capabilities of the individual, memorizing lines, words or passages is never a good idea. 

  2. Not paying attention to grammar: One of the biggest mistakes made by students preparing for the CAT RC section is not focusing on structural grammar. One cannot become a good reader without having a good understanding of grammar.

  3. Reading the passage first: Another blunder made by the candidates is reading the passage first rather than checking the questions.

  4. Looking for tricks: Tricks do not work in RC passages. Candidates have the tendency to look for some secret code that they think might help them unlock the mysteries of RC passages. However, there is no such trick or code. Tricks might work in Quant, where candidates have a shortcut or a formula for almost everything.  

  5. Not prioritizing the RC passages: Students who excel in quant and LRDI, have a dislike for RC, and, as a result, they unconsciously start avoiding it. Thus, it becomes a weak point that remains unaddressed. 

Also Read:How to Prepare for CAT VARC (Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension) - Expert Advice, Tips

How to Perform Well in the Reading Comprehension Section of CAT?

Candidates must take into account the following points to avoid going into the common pitfalls:

  1. Do not give equal importance to all questions: Instead of solving RC passage questions in order, candidates must attempt those questions first that can be answered directly from the passage and are less time-consuming. After solving them, they can focus on the questions that require an evaluation of each statement. 

  2. Understand the English vocabulary: Vocabulary is key to reading comprehension. Readers cannot understand what they are reading without knowing what most of the words mean. Reading comprehension involves understanding, analyzing, and synthesizing words, sentences, and ideas, and vocabulary is the body of words a candidate knows. The breadth and depth of vocabulary knowledge have a greater impact on multiple-choice questions. 

  3. Read between the lines to crack the meaning: It helps to find meanings that are intended but that are not directly expressed in something said or written. Reading between the lines can greatly help you expand your perspective and knowledge base. When you start to look into things with more detail, you begin to understand the emotions and sometimes, the real meaning behind what people are trying to say.

  4. Understand the passage: It is important for the candidates to understand what facts and arguments are given by the author in the passage. They must understand the tone of the author if he is sarcastic, or making fun, or mocking, or angry at the events, or analyzing. Since each tone carries a different meaning of the same phrase, it is important to understand them and then answer. Candidates must continue with a consistent flow of thoughts in RC Passages. They must arrive at the correct and decisive answer option for the questions.

  5. Read the questions first and then the passage: In RC questions, it is important to check the questions first and then read the passage properly. By reading the questions first, one can easily analyze the important points in the passage and can give proper attention to such information. So, candidates must read the questions first and keep the key points in mind while reading the passage.

  6. Pay Attention To Details: Attention to detail is critical for accuracy. Most RC passages include certain information that is extremely crucial to deduce the passage’s main theme or subject. To confuse the candidates, question setters include questions from some contexts which might seem trivial. So, it is important for the candidates to read the entire passage thoroughly and understand every detail that it implies.

  7. Do not memorize: In order to comprehend what the candidates read, they have to be able to recognize letters and words, and also how the words in a sentence are put together. It is important for them to understand the flow, structure and the key points of the passage. They do not need to memorize every word given in the passage. In case they forget any event, they can always re-read the passage for factual or specific questions.

  8. Manage time well: Candidates must not waste a significant amount of time on a particular question. If candidates are struggling with a passage in the test that they cannot understand easily, they must avoid such a passage. First, they should concentrate on those passages they can understand and answer questions easily from. After this, they can go back to the tricky passage, if necessary.

  9. Make notes: Candidates must make it a habit to note the important markers for a ready reference while reading a passage that contains abstract or obscure sentences. Short notes may include the general flow, structure, paragraph flow, and other major points. Making short notes helps the candidates to keep focused and stay engaged while reading, keep a record of what they read so they can more easily locate it while answering the questions, and think critically about what they read. 

  10. Ask yourself questions while reading the passage: While reading the passage, it is important for the candidates to try to identify the possible areas from which questions can be asked. Candidates must be able to frame certain fundamental questions on the author's key point, his/her reason for composing the poem, how the writer decided to transmit his/her main point, etc. 

Candidates aspiring to take the CAT 2022 exam must analyse the text structure, and master visualisation and summarisation techniques to excel in the Reading Comprehension section. Candidates must learn to apply the elimination method. Hurrying through the grammar questions is not recommended. Improving vocabulary, coming up with questions about the text you are reading, using context clues, looking for the main idea, breaking up the reading into smaller sections, and eliminating distractions also lead to higher scores in the RC section. 

Also Read: List of BBA Entrance Exams 2022: Dates, Notification, Eligibility, Application Form

Please find one RC sample question below:


Read the statement or passage and then choose the best answer to the question. Answer the question on the basis of what is stated or implied in the statement or passage.

Discussions on drug addiction should also be concerned with the vast majority of people who are not addicts. Their homes and lives are insecure because our narcotics laws drive such people to crime. The drug addict is almost never dangerous when he is under the influence of drugs. What makes him dangerous is the desperate need for money to buy the next dose. Drugs are available only in an illegal black market. The costs are stupendous, and this is what drives the addict to steal, rob and even kill.

The author seems to criticize the narcotics laws for

  1. being too lenient
  2. being too complicated
  3. being ineffective
  4. driving addicts to crime

Addicts take to criminal acts because

  1. drugs make them lose self-control
  2. the habit of robbing and stealing is hard to break
  3. they need large sums of money to buy drugs
  4. law is powerless against them

The tone of the author of the passage can be all of the following except:

  1. Informative
  2. Critical
  3. Revealing
  4. Metaphorical

If you need admission-related assistance, you can either call on our toll-free number 1800-572-9877 or fill out our Common Application Form.


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