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Tips for tackling Reading Comprehension in CAT

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With the CAT examination less than a month away, it is natural for aspirants to feel anxious about the level of preparation.  It is crucial to develop a powerful strategy for tackling Reading Comprehension which accounted for 70 percent of questions last year.

First of all, let us identify the kind of questions asked in Reading Comprehension.

Broadly, there are two kinds of questions asked:

  • Perspective Questions: These questions are based on the entire essay as a whole and are not limited to a single paragraph of the essay. Questions like:

Suggest a title for the essay.

Identify the central theme of the passage

  • Specific Questions: These are comparatively easier to answer as they pertain to a specific paragraph in the essay. For example:

Why did Alexander not succeed in invading India?

Which of the following steps did India not take while pursuing green revolution?

Some of the common problems that students encounter in reading comprehension are:

  • Slow reading speed
  • Lack of concentration
  • Lack of retention ability
  • No familiarity with key terms
  • Poor vocabulary
  • Poor comprehension skills

Here are tips for tackling the ‘Reading Comprehension’ section in the CAT examination:


  • Practice previous years’ papers: Solve papers of previous years. For the convenience of students, I have classified them into three categories: i) Basic: CAT 1995-99 papers ii) Medium: CAT 2000-2008 papers iii) Advanced: Mock CAT of coaching institutes.To go to the mock papers of previous years,click here.
  • Read passages ‘actively’: One should practice ‘active reading’ of the passages. It denotes reading carefully taking into account the following in the passages: i)main ideas ii)central theme iii) key evidence iv) key inflexion points iv)style of the author.  Once you adopt this method the tendency of the  mind to waver on encountering difficult terms can be minimized.
  • Don’t over-emphasize on vocabulary: Building vocabulary is good but remember you are here to solve the passage rather than demonstrating your vocabulary. Learning about five to seven words from each passage should be enough.
  • Focus on subject knowledge: Pay attention to the knowledge of the subject. For example, if the passage is on economics, ensure that you are familiar with the key terminologies. Learn key terms of other subjects as well.
  • Read voraciously: The CAT exam requires you to read long passages. Incorporate reading in your routine. Develop the habit of reading at least three quality articles from newspapers or magazines. You can also start with fiction books and move on to non- fiction and difficult texts later. To know how to improve  your reading speed,click here.
  • Develop comprehension skills: Reading Comprehension test your analytical and comprehension skills. To develop them, it is essential that you read daily. List the central idea and make a summary of the passages that you have read. Mostly passages contain the central idea in the first paragraph itself.
  • Develop an ability to retain facts: Practice reading comprehension so you develop the habit of retaining key facts and central idea of the passage. You may use many tricks to achieve this goal. Mind-mapping and visualization are effective techniques to retain facts.
  • Read passage multiple times: In the first reading, just skim through the passage, i.e. just go through the keywords quickly. The second reading should be in-depth. Think over the central idea and note the tone of the author. Figure out the key idea underlined in the passage.

Instead of just reading this article, try to implement the strategy as underlined in the write-up. CAT requires one year of sustained preparation with the help of coaching. To know top coaching institutes for CAT, click here.If you are relying on self study for CAT preparation, click here to know useful books.Good Luck!





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