Types of Reading Comprehension Questions in CAT Exam

Common Admission Test 2024 ( CAT )

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Exam On: 24 Nov '24

Vipra Shrivastava
Senior Manager - Content
Updated on Jun 19, 2024 16:00 IST

Cracking the Reading Comprehension (RC) questions of CAT is not easy. You need to know how to approach which type of CAT RC question. Read this article to know types of Reading Comprehension questions in CAT exam.

MBA preparation: RC passages and questions

Reading Comprehension (RC) section of the CAT exam holds almost 3/4th of the sectional weightage. Out of 24 questions, 12-14 questions are based on RC passages. CAT RC passages are usually of 500 to 600 word-limit but what makes them a tough nut to crack is the difficulty level. The passages are long and dense, and often from rarely heard about topics. The Reading Comprehension section of CAT is considered the most difficult among all MBA entrance exams mainly because the passages are complicated and inference based. There are rarely fact based RC passages in the CAT. Close answers lead to further confusion in the minds of candidates. 

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Preparation of CAT Reading Comprehension is not the same as DILR or Quant. You can't start studying for CAT Reading Comprehension two months before the exam and crack it. You need to start much before. Reading Comprehension can be mastered only if you have strong English reading skills, as you are required to read long passages in less than a minute and solve at least four MCQs for each passage. So, more than anything, you need to be able to read fast and understand the passages as well as identify key arguments/facts given. 

Q:   What is the structure of CAT question paper?

The CAT question paper structure has remained unchanged since 2014 when there were only two sections. Quantitative Aptitude was clubbed with Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning was clubbed with Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension. In 2015, the Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning were clubbed together and Quantitative Aptitude and Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension made two individual sections. Since 2015, the sectional segregation has remained the same but the number of questions have come down from 100 to 66. The exam duration has also been reduced. Until 2019, the CAT exam was of 180 minutes and the total number of questions were 100. However, in 2020, the question paper structure was revised due to COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, the total number of questions came down to 76. In 2021 and 2022, the number of questions were further lowered to 66. For the last two years, CAT is conducted for 2 hours, and the number of questions is 66. The latest CAT question paper structure is: Total questions: 66 Number of sections: 3 Order of sections - 1. VARC 2. DILR 3. Quantitative Aptitude Sectional time limit: 40 minutes VARC questions: 24 DILR questions: 20 Quantitative Aptitude questions: 22.

Q:   Which CAT slot has the toughest question paper?

There is no pattern to which CAT question paper can be the toughest. The CAT question paper of every slot has unique questions. The examination body strives to maintain the same difficulty level of the paper across all slots but it may happen that a question can be more difficult from another. It is seen that, to keep the uniqueness of the question paper intact, the examination authority also changes the topic wise weightage a little bit across the exam slots. In most of the previous years, it is seen that the morning slot of the CAT exam is tougher than the rest two. However, candidates must not worry about the difficulty level of the slots as, the scores of all the candidates are normalised on a common scale to root out the possibility of advantage or disadvantage to any student due to difference in difficulty level. To know how the CAT scores are normalised, read this article: https://www.shiksha.com/mba/articles/understanding-cat-normalization-process-blogId-9386.

Q:   What are the benefits of solving CAT question papers?

Solving the CAT question paper is very important from preparation point of view. Since CAT is a speed based test where candidates have to read long passages, tables and charts, do multiple calculations and solve tricky puzzles, one needs to have prior practice of the same. The CAT mock tests serve this purpose. However, to know what type of passages and puzzles are there in the CAT exam, you need to solve previous years' question papers. Some of the benefits of solving previous years' CAT question paper are: 1. With the help of previous year's CAT question paper, you can understand the latest CAT exam pattern and marking scheme 2. Practicing CAT question papers improves speed and accuracy in solving the questions, which is critical to a speed based exam like CAT 3. Practicing CAT question papers improves time management skills as you would get to know which type of questions take how much time. 4. When you practice CAT question papers, you gain confidence that you can solve all types of CAT questions. This confidence helps in performing better in the exam.

Apart from having a reading habit, you also need practice. It is critical to practice sample papers and section mock tests for VARC for atleast two months. Another thing that you need for preparing Reading Comprehension for CAT 2024 is the knowledge of types of RC passages. In this article we have discussed different types of RC passages in CAT exam.

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Types of Reading Comprehension Passages in CAT Exam

There are mainly three types of Reading Comprehension passages in CAT exam:

  • Analytical
  • Descriptive
  • Data Driven

The topics on which CAT RC passages are based include business & economics, science, humanities, social sciences and current affairs. Take a look at the RC topics of CAT exam in the past five years.

CAT 2023 RC Topics

CAT Reading Comprehension passages in 2023 exam were of high difficulty level. There were four RC passages in every session, having 3-4 questions each. Check the CAT RC topics 2023 below:

CAT 2023 Slot 1

CAT 2023 Slot 2

CAT 2023 Slot 3

RC 1 Topic: Jungle and Economy, Hunter-Gatherers, Wolf Conservation

RC 2 Topic: Oceans and Territories

RC 3 Topic: Lifestyle Comparison of Old and New Generations

RC 4 Topic: Comparison of South and North Korea, with a focus on clothing differences

RC 1 Topic: Garments/ fashion Industry & Pollution- Easy to moderate

RC 2 Topic: Netflix Dubbing of titles for Europe - Good or Bad for Europe?

RC 3 Topic: Liberalism is Dying- Moderate to Difficult

RC 4 Topic: Facts & Interpretation in History

RC 1 Topic: Colonialism and Pollution 

RC 2 Topic: Rationalization

RC 3 Topic: Romanticism

RC 4 Topic: History

CAT 2022 RC Topics

CAT 2022 Reading Comprehension passages were moderately difficult. Given below are the CAT RC topics of all the three exam slots:

Q:   From where can I download CAT question papers?

CAT question papers are released within a week of the exam in the form of a PDF as a response sheet and answer key. Candidates who have appeared for the test are able to access the CAT question paper and answer key. The question paper of every slot is released on the same day along with candidate response sheet and official answer to all question. If any candidate needs previous year CAT question papers for preparation purpose, then they can download them from Shiksha website. We have hosted last five years' CAT question papers for aspirants to download and practice. These official CAT question papers are available for download free. You can download the CAT question paper PDFs at this link: https://www.shiksha.com/mba/cat-exam-question-papers Candidates must check and practice the latest CAT question paper to know the latest exam pattern and difficulty level.

Q:   How many RC questions does CAT have?


The CAT VARC section is dominated by RC questions. Out of 24 questions about 14-16 are based on Reading Comprehension passages and the rest of them are based on parajumbles, para completion, etc.

CAT has about 12-16 RC question. In CAT 2022, there were four RC passages each having four questions. The ideal attempt was estimated at 13. Since, it is not mandatory to solve all the questions, candidates can maximize their scores by leaving out the questions related to the passage they find the toughest. There is negative marking in CAT so candidates must ensure that they mark only the correct options or do not mark any option at all.

CAT 2022 Slot 1 CAT 2022 Slot 2 CAT 2022 Slot 3

Ghosts & their mysteries how we can’t find their history


Social reorganization increasing crime rate

Chinese Copy of articles 

Engineering technology

Software if more easy humans are not capable to get solutions)

Two levels of emotional thinking


Indian history

STOICS Philosophy American migration / urbanization increasing

CAT 2021 RC Topics

CAT 2021 was held in three shifts. Given below are the CAT RC topics of all the three exam slots:

CAT 2021 Slot 1

CAT 2021 Slot 2

CAT 2021 Slot 3

Mayan Civilization

Language/ Indigenous People



Utopia and Dystopia

Why Fiction Trumps Truth

Language Instinct

Marshmallow Experiment


Time Accuracy Entropy

Evolution of Tea as a Drink

Knowledge and Problems of Knowledge is a Scandal to Philosophy

Unconscious and Psychoanalysis

CAT 2020 RC Topics

CAT 2020 was also held in three shifts. Given below are the CAT RC topics of all the three exam slots:

CAT 2020 Slot 1

CAT 2020 Slot 2

CAT 2020 Slot 3


Investing in renewable energy technologies

Travel writing and feminism during colonial times

Migration of Northern Seals

Piracy in international trade

The need for economic literacy in the general population

Currency of Tang dynasty

Freudian models of aggression

Screen time and undercurrents of social class


A study of visualization

An analysis of human nature

CAT 2019 RC Topics

Check the table below for CAT RC topics of Slots 1 and 2 of CAT 2019 exam:

CAT 2019 Slot 1

CAT 2019 Slot 2

British folk music

Dense cities

Origin of story of Alladin

Google and archaeology


Distributing bureaucracy

Emperor penguins

Language & culture

Internet shopping and choice anxiety

Passage on British colonial policy

CAT 2018 RC Topics

Check the table below for CAT RC topics of slot 1 and 2 of CAT 2018 exam.

CAT 2018 Slot 1

CAT 2018 Slot 2


Grover snails

India’s view on its legacy of Second World War

Meritocracy and diversified teams

Plastic pollution

Use of technology in essential services

Elephant society

Rings of Saturn and their age

Consumer behaviour studies

Human resource and learning

Try this CAT Mock Test by Shiksha to assess your preparation level and time-management skill.

CAT_Mock_Test_Set 1 CAT_Mock_Test_Set_1_Solutions
CAT_Mock_Test_Set 2 CAT_Mock_Test_Set_2 Solutions

Types of Reading Comprehension Questions in CAT Exam

Coming to the types of questions asked on Reading Comprehension topics, one can expect a variety of questions in CAT 2024. Each passage carries three to five questions which can be of the following types based on the theme of the passage:

  • Questions based on Central Theme
  • Vocabulary based questions
  • Inference based questions
  • Facts based questions
  • Questions based on tone of the passage
  • Passage structure based questions
  • Title based questions

Let’s discuss each type of CAT RC questions individually.

Questions based on Central Theme:  In this type of RC questions, the test taker has to identify the central theme of the passage. The question could be: ‘Which of the following options sum up the theme of the passage?’ Or ‘What is the central idea of the topic?’

These are generally easy to crack and one can guess the right answer upon reading the passage properly.

Vocabulary based questions: These types of questions in Reading Comprehension for CAT are generally, based on word meaning or antonym/synonym. For example, meaning of a word appearing in the passage will be asked like, ‘What is the meaning of ?’ or ‘What is the synonym of?'

The only way to crack vocabulary-based questions in CAT is by having a strong vocabulary base.

Also Read:

Inference based questions: These are the toughest type of RC questions as the correct answer is completely dependent on ones understanding of the argument presented in the passage. The types of questions on these passages will be, 'What does the author mean by this?' or 'What do you infer from this?'

To solve inference-based questions in Reading Comprehension section for CAT, you need to read the passage very carefully and understand the central theme. Break down the sentences while reading the passage, understand the fundamental theme and if needed make notes.

Facts-based questions: These questions are easy to solve, provided you read the passage carefully and mark important points. Also, understand the question well before answering. Fact based questions are usually in the form of fill in the blanks or correct/incorrect statements.

Passage structure-based questions:  These types of questions ask candidates to arrange arguments presented in the passage in a logical manner. In CAT, you may also be asked to analyse the logic behind the paragraph. For example, ‘What does the last paragraph describe?’ or ‘What is the main argument in third paragraph?’

To crack CAT RC questions based on structure, read the passage in parts and try to get the gist of each paragraph. Pay attention on words such as ‘however’, ‘but’, ‘although’. Conjunctions can change the meaning of the statement.

Title-based questions: These refer to the questions in Reading Comprehension for CAT where candidates are asked to choose an appropriate title for the given passage. These are the types of questions where one will have to select not the right answer but the most apt option or the title closest to the theme of the passage. These type of questions can be tricky to answer if one hasn’t understood the passage well.

Questions-based on tone of the passage:  Tone-based question require application of critical thinking. The questions usually asked are, ‘What is the attitude of the author while saying this statement ?’ or ‘The tone of the author is best described as?’

To solve questions-based on tone of the passage, one needs to understand the nature of the passage - positive, negative or neutral.

CAT questions for practice with solutions - VARC

Get here free PDFs of CAT VARC practice questions with answers. The CAT practice questions are of the same difficulty level as CAT.

CAT Easy Test Set 1 CAT Easy Test Set 1 Solutions
CAT Medium Test Set 1 CAT Medium Test Set 1 Solutions
CAT Difficult Test Set 1 CAT Difficult Test Set 1 Solutions
CAT Easy Test Set 2 CAT Easy Test Set 2 Solutions
CAT Medium Test Set 2 CAT Medium Test Set 2 Solutions
CAT Difficult Test Set 2 CAT Difficult Test Set 2 Solutions
CAT Easy Test Set 3 CAT Easy Test Set 3 Solutions
CAT Medium Test Set 3 CAT Medium Test Set 3 Solutions
CAT Difficult Test Set 3 CAT Difficult Test Set 3 Solutions
CAT Easy Test Set 4 CAT Easy Test Set 4 Solutions
CAT Medium Test Set 4 CAT Medium Test Set 4 Solutions
CAT Difficult Test Set 4 CAT Difficult Test Set 4 Solutions
CAT Easy Test Set 5 CAT Easy Test Set 5 Solutions
CAT Medium Test Set 5 CAT Medium Test Set 5 Solutions
CAT Difficult Test Set 5 CAT Difficult Test Set 5 Solutions
CAT Easy Test Set 6 CAT Easy Test Set 6 Solutions
CAT Medium Test Set 6 CAT Medium Test Set 6 Solutions
CAT Difficult Test Set 6 CAT Difficult Test Set 6 Solutions

Also Read:

Check out CAT exam preparation tips in this video and solve Mock Test series and sample papers.

Read More:

CAT 2024 Dates

CAT 2024 Syllabus

CAT 2024 Exam Pattern

CAT Mock Test 2024

CAT 2024 Preparation

CAT Books for Preparation

CAT Question Papers

CAT 2024 Admit Card

CAT Cut Offs-Previous and Expected

About the Author
Vipra Shrivastava
Senior Manager - Content

Vipra is a massive Breaking Bad fan. When not watching crime drama series, she spends time in updating the list of places she wants to visit and people she wants to meet, but she is happiest in the company of dogs. ... Read Full Bio

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