A Comprehensive VA-RC Preparation Strategy For CAT – Tips From A VA-RC 99.95 Percentiler

I shall start with my Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension performance in CAT 2018.

  • Number of questions – 34
  • RC – 24
  • Para-Jumble – 4
  • Odd one out – 3
  • Para summary – 3
  • No of question attempted – 32 , Correct – 29 , Incorrect – 3.
  • RC – 22 Correct and 2 incorrect
  • VA – 7 correct and 1 incorrect.
  • Accuracy – 90%
  • Score – 85, Scaled score – 87.62 and Percentile – 99.95.

My VARC Philosophy

  1. Reading speed at above 300 words per minute and only using the eyes, no lip imitation or having the voice inside the head.
  2. Comprehension ability- this is the ability to focus on the keywords in the sentence and to catch the essence of the author’s viewpoint.
  3. Set strategy tailored to oneself to tackle the crucial section on D-Day.

I decided to take CAT 18 on May 23 2018. First thing I did was to take a mock to assess where I stand and what needs to be done in the next 6 months to bell the CAT.

This was the result of the first test 38 marks with less than 50% accuracy. I decided on the very day that I will make this number 83+ and achieve 80%+ accuracy on D-Day.

I started to read everyday for 1.5 hours, 45 minutes while going to the office and 45 minutes before I slept. The websites I read from are as follows:

  1. The Economist – This magazine has a good mix of Economics, Political affairs, world affairs and editorials. The Economist – World News, Politics, Economics, Business & Finance
  2. Aeon- This website has a rich collection of topics from science, philosophy to technology and culture. Infact CAT 18 slot 2 had 2 RC’s from this website itself. Aeon | a world of ideas
  3. Arts & Letters Daily – This website comprises of Book reviews, literary articles, Essays and Opinions. It will help you understand the perspective of the author which is extremely crucial to tackle CAT RC’s as they are opinion and inference based. Arts & Letters Daily
  4. Economic times – To stay in touch with the finance world of India and the world. Business News Live, Share Market News – Read Latest Finance News, IPO, Mutual Funds News

One must read for 1.5–2 hours daily from these websites to tackle all kinds of RC’s and get used to uncommon topics. CAT will throw 5 RC’s with varied topics from economics to anthropology. One must be comfortable with all topics and maintain speed and comprehension ability.

Thanks to this exercise, in one month my scores improved.

Eventually, my scores stagnated at the 50 to 60 zone. I understood that this is the best my reading ability and comprehension can pull me to. Now, I had to focus on small things and start developing my strategy. I took a VA-RC sectional every second day and 2 mocks every weekend. After a mock, I would do the following analysis to understand my lacunae in the section handling ability:

1. I would solve each RC question individually. For the first 5 mocks, I made notes as to why one option was correct and why the other three were wrong. I did this irrespective of the fact that I got it right or wrong. After 5 mocks, I started to notice a pattern in how to tackle RC questions to bell the CAT. It was all about catching the authors intention in between the lines by locating the negation words such as But, however, nevertheless etc..

2. The second was to understand the question and the intention behind the question. Many a time we need to mark the answer we feel is being repeated from the passage and end up getting a -1 and also waste 1–2 minutes. We need to be really careful as to what the question is specifically asking ex.) X liked the pizza at this restaurant Y. The question asks about X’s choice of food. One option says X likes Pizza, you will have a high tendency to mark it but that’s incorrect, the para said he liked pizza in Y not necessarily in general.

3. I would check the time I took to solve each and every RC, which gave a clear picture regarding my comfort of the topic and question type. I would spend time that week to make myself better in these segments.

4. Understanding the central theme and word flow of all VA questions and analysing my mistakes.

5. Discuss my mock with peers like Jenil Shah ( CAT 18 – 99.61) and Rounak Majumdar ( CAT 18- 100).

This helped me move a step higher in the mark range:

Next came the last phase of Mental strategy and physical handling.

I came up with a method inspired by racehorses – I would cover my ears with my index finger and place the other three on the side of my eyes so that all I could see was the screen and wouldn’t be affected by any external noises. This helped tremendously to increase speed and concentration and took my score to the next level.

The last thing left was to utilise the mock given by IIM Calcutta, on the top right corner one can find the Question Paper mode, in that you can see the whole section in one go the advantage of that is you can read all the questions of the RC together instead of clicking on the next button each time. It saves time and gives you the complete picture much faster.

Plus, it helps you select which question to attempt first, like para 1 based question can be placed as the third one in the order while para 5 based question can be the first question of the RC this tends to break the flow.

GOLDEN RULE – Order of attempt

  1. RC.
  2. Para summary.
  3. Odd one out.
  4. Para Jumble.

This was the final outcome of 6 months of effort and planning.

P.S – Some aspirants are naturally talented and don’t need such intense planning they can manage such a score with lesser efforts too. Also please don’t follow this blindly make a plan of your own.


You may also be interested in reading – 

Best Resources To Prepare For VA-RC In CAT

Moinack Shaikh

Moinack is an Electronics engineer and aspiring investment banker. He loves to go trekking, run triathlons and cooking. FMS Delhi ( 2019-2021)




Thank you for sharing your journey with us. Could you also please share about LRDI since it can’t be predicted and needs practice as much as you can. Can you share how did you tackle this?

Shuvam Das

A great guide to VARC. One. thing I would like to ask how do you divide your time (45 mins) for reading the articles from various sources?