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How to start your Preparation for CAT Verbal Section
April 19 2024

How to prepare for CAT Verbal Section:

One section dreaded by most MBA Aspirants, especially engineers or those from a technical background, is the Verbal section. Students find it hard to score in this section even after a lot of practice and cannot comprehend why that happens. I have come across soo many students who ace DILR and Quants, but just can't wrap their heads around VARC! That's why we are bringing your this article, to get you started with VARC with the right approach. Let’s get started with how to prepare for CAT verbal section. We shall go through each type of question asked in this section and see how to prepare for each of them. Click here to prepare for CAT through this course created by IIM Alumni

You might want to start by watching this video on how to Crack CAT Verbal Ability

PART A - Verbal Skill Development: Reading

One huge problem area for students id the Reading Comprehension (RCs). Most of them are not able to read the passages quickly and even comprehend them. This is primarily because you don't have a habit of reading, and importantly, reading the right way. Let's start with what you should be reading to enhance your reading ability.

The first reading choice you have: Newspapers

Ask your coaching center trainer the same question and most would reply that you should be reading the editorial of ‘The Hindu’ every day. The advice is pretty genuine but not quite up to mark. ‘The Hindu’ is just one of the things that you should be reading. Better still, in this digital world, you should generally consume all your reading material online itself and expose yourself to the best authors. The problem with ‘The Hindu’, as with other papers, is that the editorial page is not written keeping in mind a CAT aspirant. So just sticking to one option is not ideal. What is the solution?  I have two possible solutions for you: Option 1  Pick-up articles (selectively) from The Hindu, Economic Times or The Times of India on a daily basis. The Sunday editions are always the best as they offer a quick re-cap of the week as well as interesting analysis. So, you can give yourself extra time to read these. Option 2 Follow individual authors and read them online. The list of authors you could begin with include:

  1. Bachi Karkaria (Times of India): Wit, humor and awesome vocabulary b. Jug Suraiya  (Times of India): For the same reasons as Bachi Karkaria c. SA Aiyar (Times of India/ET): Rigorous Economic Analysis d. Hasan Suroor (The Hindu): International Flavor e. P Sainath (The Hindu): In-depth exploration of India’s rural landscape.

The above are just five from a long list of authors and bloggers you should be following. Tips: You can also follow our Telegram Vocabulary group for daily top picks of editorials, which can help make your life easier. Also read: Importance of reading newspapers for Verbal section

The second reading choice you have: Books

Reading books for CAT is a religious activity, and trust me, treat it as one if you want to do well on the exam. The question again that you are faced with is what should you begin with? Well, a simple list of 15 books for you to browse through (arranged approximately in the order of difficulty, though subjective evaluation applies here):

  1. Five Point Someone by Chetan Bhagat
  2. Mediocre but Arrogant by Abhijit Bhaduri
  3. Tin Fish by Sudeep Chakravarti
  4. Love Story by Erich Segal
  5. Oliver’s Story by Erish Segal
  6. Bridges of Madison Country by Robert James Waller
  7. To Sir with Love by ER Braithwaite
  8. Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom
  9. The Diary of Anne Frank by Anne Frank
  10. Animal Farm by George Orwell
  11. Time Machine by HG Wells
  12. The War of the Worlds by HG Wells
  13. The Prophet by Khalil Gibran
  14. Anthem by Ayn Rand
  15. We the Living by Ayn Rand

How many from this list have you read? I expect at least 1 would be answered. In case you are just beginning, pick books from this list and dig into them. The common theme of these books is that these are all short books. Yup, you heard me right. The theme, content, narrative styles, and level of difficulty of these books have not been considered to generate this list. My criterion for selection was a simple one: suggest thin books which in themselves become easy targets to achieve. Read all or most of these books, get some reading confidence behind yourself, and prepare yourself for some heavy reading in the coming months. The above forms a fairly huge amount of reading material. If you already are an avid reader and want more book suggestions, you can jump to higher-level books like Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead and Atla's Shrugged, Hermann Hesse's Narcissus and Goldmund, The Great Gatsby, to name a few.

 Part B of Verbal Skill Development: Vocabulary

The second part of how to prepare for the CAT Verbal ability section is Vocabulary. Any language development revolves around improving your vocabulary skills. How do you do that? In part, by reading more and more. When you read more, you discover more words, the more words you discover, the more words you learn. As simple as that. But beyond the discovery of words, you should also look at making sure these words are embedded in your memory. What could you do for that?

Option 1: Use books

Refer to book such as ‘Word Power Made Easy’ and ‘Six weeks to words of power’. Both of these books are pretty effective and are highly recommended. You can browse a sample of Word-Power’s method here, in our Word Power Blogs.

 Option 2: Use Online Tools

There are many reading tools and apps available which could help in the preparation of vocabulary and also there are some sites which especially host articles that are nicely collected from newspapers and various other sources. Also read: How to improve your vocabulary Tip 1: Maintain a Notebook:  TRy to build a practice of maintaining a small flipbook with the words you learn every day. You can try to learn at least 5 words and write them in this book for easy reference. get into the habit of going through these every day so that you don't forget the older words. You can also carry these around when you travel and refer back to them when you have any free time at hand. Believe me, this hack will save you time and energy when it comes to vocab.

Watch this video to understand how to effectively study words from Norman Lewis

Part C of Verbal Skill Development: Grammar

If you are looking for Grammar books, you can refer to Wren and Martin, which is the holy grail for grammar. Understand that grammar is the base of it all, whether you want to solve para jumbles or understand the tone of the passage, all of these require that you have a stronghold on grammar. This is why if you aren't that strong on your grammatical skills, start with the basics, learn the basic rules, and incorporate them in your life. This is often neglected by most students when they prepare for CAT Verbal ability section. Here are some basic tips which can help you to learn and improve your English grammar.


Make it a commitment that you want to learn and use correct grammar and keep yourself motivated. Students generally find grammar uninteresting and even before start learning it end up quitting. Hence, motivation plays a crucial role in keeping you focused on.

2.Understand the logic

Always remember that there is always logic behind any grammar rule. Keep making notes of all the rules that you have learned and try to understand how it has been used in a particular sentence. Once you got the logic right, you would never make that mistake again.

3.Read, read, read

Reading is one of the best ways to improve grammar skills. Reading helps you to see how the grammar works. When you read, you reinforce correct grammar in your mind. Reading out loud can be much more helpful, as the combination of seeing, saying, and hearing assists in getting more clarity about what you have learned.

4.Keep a grammar book with you

Having a reference book nearby can help you out while you are learning grammar and also will help you in improving and rectifying your mistakes. In case there is any doubt regarding grammar, you can quickly refer to the book to obtain the answer.

5.Keep your basics strong

It is crucial to spend more time on learning the basics and timely reviewing them. You can also do some sort of research to understand what are the common mistakes that a person makes in terms of grammar. This will help you to avoid those grammatical mistakes in future.

6.Everyday Practice

One of the best ways to improve English grammar is to solve as many exercises as possible. Keep taking notes of whatever you learn and analyze your mocks to understand where you went wrong and why.


Listen to your tutor or mentor very carefully while they are teaching you English Grammar. Keep on asking for the feedback so that you get the proper understanding of where are you lacking.

8.Try to communicate more in English

This will help you to start thinking in English and then speak in English only. The more time you spend on practicing conversational English, you will get a better understanding of grammar rules. Do try following all the tips mentioned above and you should definitely observe a change in yourself.   That's all covered for now! I hope you found this article on how to prepare for CAT Verbal section useful. These are the three simple things that you need to begin with. As CAT-2020 season starts, these tips would become more specific in nature. Prepare a small plan of what you wish to do with Verbal Ability and start your preparation on the go. Let’s make this an exercise in collaborative learning. Click here to enroll in our courses curated by IIM & SPJain alumni

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Anisha Mukhija

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