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CAT 2023 Reading Comprehension: Common Mistakes to Avoid in RC Questions

Tiyasa Khanra
Tiyasa KhanraUpdated On: September 15, 2023 04:39 pm IST

CAT RCs have a range of abstract topics followed by inferential questions and tests your abilities to the fullest. Read on to know the common mistakes to avoid in CAT 2023 reading comprehension and how to avoid them.

CAT 2023 Reading Comprehension

Common Mistakes to Avoid in CAT 2023 Reading Comprehension: 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%. IIM Lucknow will conduct the CAT 2023 exam on November 26, 2023. It released the CAT application form 2023 on August 2, 2023

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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 points 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.

Also Read: 

CAT 2023 Notification

CAT 2023 Registration

Most Common Mistakes Students Make in CAT RC Section 

CAT Reading Comprehension questions are 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 CAT Reading Comprehension questions 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)

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 CAT Reading Comprehension 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, making fun, 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 CAT Reading Comprehension 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 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 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. 

Also Read:Importance of CAT Mock Test During Preparation

Tips and Tricks to Excel in the Reading Comprehension Section in CAT

Read Extensively

It must be your goal for RC to read as much as your timetable will allow. Set a daily reading goal of at least an hour. You can read about any subject that appeals to you. For instance, philosophy, history, present-day news, politics, and technology. Examining the lines after reading them is also crucial. You may reread them as often as necessary. You will learn a lot of information that you missed the first time by rereading the same passage several times. As you continue to practice in this manner, you will learn and gain more knowledge in less time. Read the passage and then rewrite it using your own words. Write your thoughts about the writing style, word choice, and phrasing. You may attempt to criticize the author's viewpoint. It is sufficient even to simply rewrite the content on your own terms. You'll be able to gauge how much your reading comprehension has improved by observing the improvement for yourself.

Boost Your Vocabulary

Write down any unfamiliar words you come across while reading. Using a dictionary, write down the definition, so that you may refer back to it and read it again frequently. Make this vocabulary list in a notebook. You won't improve your vocabulary if you don't revise it. By just double-tapping a word when reading on a computer or smartphone, you may more easily find the definition. You may pick up hundreds of new words in only a few weeks, and by the time you're finished learning them all, you'll have an enormous vocabulary.

Take Small Steps

Divide and segregate your project into numerous smaller projects since smaller goals are simpler to achieve and help you stay motivated. Break up big topics into smaller ones, and devote a few days to each one. Divide each subject into a number of levels and daily exercises. For instance, sentence correction, critical reasoning, incomplete sentences, and reading comprehension. Make a study timetable for the CAT 2023. Invest some time each day in reading comprehension. Try two or three RCs each day. Keep reviewing the outcomes of your mock exams, and focus on the areas where you performed poorly.

Give Grammar and Math Equal Importance

In order to understand English grammar well, you can read a grammar manual like Wren and Martin. You can determine whether your communicative English is correct or incorrect by studying grammar rules. You will understand the small nuances of the language. Learn about some common basic grammar errors and you'll instantly improve in comparison to the majority of people. 

Attempt Mock Tests

In addition to practicing, mock exams also assist you in becoming accustomed to the exam environment. You have just 60 minutes to finish the full VARC for CAT in the new CAT format. Aim to answer 50–60% of the questions accurately. Before you decide to attempt additional questions, increase your correct percentage. You can establish a strong strategy for VARC in the CAT by taking mock examinations. Spend at least 3–4 minutes reviewing the paper and marking the questions you want to answer first. You should only attempt the remaining questions once you have some time left. As you continue to take mock exams, you will become more adept at choosing questions. You'll learn more about your strengths and weaknesses. In the early stages of preparation, it is advised to focus on your weak areas, but not if the CAT exam is approaching. At that time, focus on your areas of strength because finishing the entire CAT paper is not necessary. Spend no more than 2.5 minutes on a single issue because you will receive equal marks for each question.

Also Read: CAT 2023 Preparation Tips for Working Professionals

Candidates aspiring to take the CAT 2023 exam must analyze the text structure, and master visualization and summarization 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. 

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

Candidates must check out the links mentioned below to know more about CAT preparation.

Related Links:

CAT Preparation Tips 2023

CAT 2023 Admit Card

Best Books for CAT 2023

CAT 2023 Sample Papers

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.


How can I improve my time management skills during the CAT VARC section?

The Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension section of the CAT exam is one of the lengthiest sections of the test. The Reading Comprehension is known to be time-consuming and tedious if candidates take up more time than they can afford. Thus, time management is crucial to ace this part of the exam. In order to improve time management skills, candidates must follow the following tips:

  • For VARC, employ a two-step strategy. Think of the Reading Comprehensions (RC) as the first section, and the remaining material - grammar and logical reasoning—as the second. These two sections should be solved separately.
  • First, try to answer the verbal ability questions. Grammar and VA are simple and score well. After completing Verbal Ability and English Grammar, move on to RC passages.
  • Get into the habit of leaving questions if they are taking up too much time. Do not stick to particular question as it will lead to time wastage.

How to practice Reading Comprehension for CAT?

It is a well-known fact that reading is the best way to improve reading comprehension passages because it sharpens our focus and accuracy. The following areas are typically where the CAT Reading Comprehension passages are taken from:

  • Current Events
  • Humanities
  • Business and Economics
  • Social Sciences
  • Natural Sciences

Therefore, make reading comprehension for the CAT a priority in order to dissect the subject and essential details.


What are some of the best books for CAT VARC preparation?

Choosing the right books for CAT VARC preparation is just as important as investing ample amounts of time and effort to prepare for this section of the exam. If candidates end up studying sub-standard material, they are indirectly jeopardizing their CAT performance. Therefore, candidates should thoroughly research and select the best books possible for CAT VARC preparation. Some of the best books for CAT VARC preparation are as follows:

  • How To Prepare For Verbal Ability And Reading Comprehension For CAT by Arun Sharma and Meenakshi Upadhyay
  • The Pearson Guide to Verbal Ability for the CAT and Other MBA Entrance Examinations by Sujit Kumar
  • The Pearson Guide to Verbal Ability and Logical Reasoning for the CAT by Nishit K Sinha.

What are some of the issues aspirants face during CAT VARC preparation?

Preparing for the CAT VARC section can be tedious as a major part of the preparation is practice and gaining experience in the type of questions asked in this section. Some of the major issues faced during CAT VARC section are:

  • Having trouble focusing for the duration of the reading comprehension.
  • Organizing your time to answer the questions. Students frequently read the RC but are unable to respond to the questions because of time restrictions.
  • Often the answers that one assumes to be right are actually incorrect.
  • Confusion regarding whether to attempt the question or to leave it blank if two options have been ruled out.
  • The inability to link sentences together in the VA section.

What is the division of VARC questions in CAT?

An important part of the CAT VARC preparation is understanding the pattern of this section of the exam. The section is divided into two portions, Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension. The total number of questions in this section is 24 which includes both MCQ and Non-MCQ questions. There are a total of 21 MCQ questions and 3 Non-MCQ questions. Typically, 4 RC passages are included in this section with 4 questions for each. The rest of the questions are related to verbal ability and include topics like Parajumbles, summaries, facts, inferences, etc.

What are some important sources of preparation for CAT VARC apart from books?

One thing aspirants should remember is to not limit themselves to only learning and preparing for CAT VARC from books. Using different sources of preparation will help candidates improve their knowledge and experience. Some of the best sources of CAT VARC preparation are sample papers, previous year question papers, journals, newspapers, etc. Some of the best newspapers and journals for CAT VARC preparation are:

  • The Economist
  • The Hindu
  • Times of India
  • The Stateman
  • Business Week
  • The National Geography
  • Fortune
  • Business World
  • The Telegraph

How can I score well on the VARC section of CAT?

As we know, VARC is one of the more challenging CAT sections, which frequently presents problems for test-takers. Long-term planning is the secret to performing well in this section. Reading is the only available activity. It's essential to get into the habit of reading. This section of the CAT has about 18 questions on RC, so developing a habit of reading is crucial to crack this section.

What are the types of questions included in the CAT VARC section?

The VARC section usually consists of multiple-choice questions (MCQs) based on grammar concepts like tenses, articles, nouns and pronouns, conjunctions, and subject-verb agreement, as well as questions on word meaning, one-word substitution, fill-in-the-blanks, and para-jumbles. There are passage-based questions in the RC section.

What are the most important topics in the CAT VARC section?

During CAT VARC preparation, it is important to know the topics that will hold the most weightage during the exam. Preparing the most important topics from the CAT VARC section will help candidates score well and increase their overall percentile score. For the RC portion of the exam, candidates should read books on economy, astronomy, psychology, philosophy, fiction novels, auto-biographies, science, sociology, history, geography, art & culture, literature, and biographies. Important topics from the Verbal Ability portion include:

  • Para-jumbles
  • Sentence completion
  • Analogies
  • Error correction in a paragraph
  • Vocabulary usage
  • Critical reasoning
  • Out of context sentence in a paragraph

Are sample papers a good source of preparation for CAT VARC?

Since CAT is a timed test with only about a minute allotted for each question, it is essential to practice verbal ability and reading comprehension sample questions to get into the habit of solving as many questions as possible within a given period of time. By working through sample questions, candidates will gain experience in reading 600 word passages quickly, improve their speed and accuracy when answering questions, and learn how to decide which questions to answer and which ones to skip in order to avoid receiving a bad grade.

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