Enhancing CAT Scores through Cultivated Reading

Table of Contents

First published: 07/05/2023 - Updated on: 07/05/2023

The Common Admission Test (CAT) is a highly competitive examination that serves as a gateway to the premier business schools in India. Mastery of this test can open doors to career opportunities and business education of the highest caliber. Among the most critical yet overlooked skills in achieving success in this exam is the habit of consistent and effective reading.

This article explores the instrumental role that a well-established reading habit plays in boosting a candidate’s CAT scores. We delve into the cognitive benefits of regular reading, the specific reading components of the CAT exam, and how you can cultivate an effective reading routine. Moreover, we address how to enhance reading speed and comprehension – skills directly tied to successful CAT performance.

The Importance of Developing a Reading Habit

Developing a reading habit is more than a leisurely pursuit; it’s an intellectual endeavor that sharpens the mind and shapes the path towards academic success. For CAT aspirants, the ability to read quickly, understand complex information, and apply knowledge is integral.

Cognitive Benefits of Regular Reading

Regular reading habit stimulates intellectual curiosity, improves focus and concentration, expands vocabulary, and enhances language proficiency – all of which are fundamental in answering the challenging questions of the CAT exam. It also allows you to understand and process large amounts of information, a valuable skill in the data interpretation and logical reasoning sections.

Reading and Comprehension: Key CAT Skills

CAT’s Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC) section directly tests a candidate’s reading and comprehension skills. Your ability to comprehend dense and complex passages under time pressure significantly affects your VARC score. A consistent reading habit trains your mind to perform under these conditions, extracting key information and identifying logical inferences.

Time Management: Reading Faster, Scoring Higher

Reading is an exercise in time management. The faster you read and comprehend, the more questions you can answer correctly within the given time frame. With reading practice, you improve not only your reading speed but also your ability to decide quickly what is essential, optimizing the time you spend on each question.

In the subsequent sections, we will provide practical tips on developing an effective reading habit and illustrate how this simple routine can dramatically improve your CAT performance.

The Reading Components of the CAT Exam

The CAT exam presents candidates with a series of challenges that evaluate a range of skills. Reading, however, permeates each section, forming the backbone of the assessment. Understanding the role of reading in each segment can help you leverage your reading skills to maximize your score.

Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension (VARC) Overview

This section is explicitly designed to assess your reading abilities. It consists of several passages followed by questions that require deep understanding and critical analysis. Regular reading can significantly improve performance in this section by increasing vocabulary, boosting comprehension, and sharpening analytical thinking.

Reading-Related Questions in Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR)

While not directly about reading, the DILR section relies heavily on your ability to read and interpret data. Your reading habit can enable you to quickly understand the given scenarios or data sets, making you more efficient in solving problems and drawing accurate conclusions.

Reading-Related Questions in Quantitative Ability (QA)

The QA section tests your mathematical and analytical prowess. However, the ability to read and understand complex problem statements swiftly is also paramount. A strong reading habit can allow you to decode and comprehend these questions more effectively, thereby helping you find the correct solutions.

Establishing a Productive Reading Routine

As with any skill, regular practice is key to developing and maintaining a robust reading habit. Here are some tips to help you establish a productive reading routine.

Setting Reading Goals

Start by setting achievable reading goals. You might decide to read a specific number of pages each day or devote a set amount of time to reading. As your reading speed and endurance improve, gradually increase these goals.

Choosing the Right Material

Diversify your reading material. Read from a variety of sources – books, newspapers, magazines, and online articles – and on various subjects to expose yourself to different writing styles and expand your vocabulary.

Fitting Reading into Your Daily Schedule

Integrating reading into your daily routine is crucial. Find a time of day when you are most alert and focused – maybe early morning or late evening. This consistency will help you develop your reading habit and maximize its benefits for your CAT preparation.

In the following sections, we will delve into strategies to improve your reading speed and comprehension and provide a list of recommended reading materials that can help in your CAT preparation.

Improving Reading Speed and Comprehension

Mere reading does not guarantee success in CAT. You need to be able to read quickly without compromising comprehension. Here’s how you can strike the right balance.

Strategies for Faster Reading

Chunking text, minimizing subvocalization, and avoiding regression can all contribute to faster reading. Regular practice with these techniques can help you increase your reading speed over time. Also, use tools like speed reading apps and online courses to monitor and enhance your progress.

Techniques for Improved Comprehension

Active reading techniques such as annotating, summarizing, and questioning the text can boost comprehension. Additionally, visualizing the material or drawing mind maps can help you understand and retain complex ideas. Make it a habit to reflect on what you’ve read, evaluating its implications and connections to other concepts you know.

Practice Tests: Simulating the CAT Experience

Take plenty of practice tests to apply your reading skills in a realistic exam environment. These tests will help you get a feel for the time constraints of the CAT exam and enable you to gauge your reading speed and comprehension under pressure. Use the results to identify areas for improvement and refine your strategies accordingly.

Recommended Reading Materials for CAT Preparation

Incorporating diverse reading materials into your study routine will expose you to a range of vocabulary, ideas, and writing styles. Here are some recommendations that align with the CAT syllabus and can enhance your preparation.


Novels, business books, and non-fiction can help improve your language skills and broaden your perspective. Some recommended books include “The White Tiger” by Aravind Adiga, “The Black Swan” by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, and “Thinking, Fast and Slow” by Daniel Kahneman.


Regularly reading newspapers like The Hindu, The Indian Express, and The Economic Times can enhance your comprehension skills and keep you informed about current affairs, often a topic in group discussions and personal interviews during the selection process.


Academic journals like the Harvard Business Review can familiarize you with complex language and ideas. They also provide insights into business and management, which can be beneficial for the CAT and your future MBA journey.

Online Resources

Websites like Aeon, Project Gutenberg, and Arts & Letters Daily offer a wealth of articles, essays, and e-books covering a wide range of topics. These resources can help you diversify your reading material and adapt to different writing styles.

In the next section, we will look at case studies of high-scoring CAT takers and examine how a solid reading habit has impacted their scores.

Transforming Reading into Results: Success Stories

To further underscore the significance of reading habits in CAT success, let’s delve into some real-life examples of high-scoring CAT takers.

Case Study: High-Scoring CAT Takers

One notable example is Ravi, a 99+ percentiler, who credited much of his success to his daily reading habit. Starting a year before his CAT exam, he read a diverse selection of materials, including newspapers, novels, and academic articles. This reading habit not only improved his VARC score but also helped him decipher complex problems in DILR and QA more efficiently.

Similarly, Anjali, another CAT topper, mentioned how her habit of reading for at least two hours a day played a vital role in her scoring well. She found that consistent reading improved her comprehension and analysis skills, enabling her to answer VARC questions faster and more accurately.

Impact of Reading Habits on CAT Scores

These cases provide valuable insights into how a consistent reading habit can significantly impact CAT scores. The cognitive benefits accrued from regular reading can boost performance across all sections of the CAT exam. By transforming reading into results, these candidates have underscored the importance of incorporating this skill into the CAT preparation process.


The evidence clearly points towards the crucial role of an established reading habit in optimizing CAT scores. From improving reading speed and comprehension to facilitating better understanding and analysis of complex problems, regular reading is instrumental in shaping CAT success.

Final Tips for CAT Candidates

For CAT aspirants, it is advisable to start developing a reading habit as early as possible. Diversify your reading materials, set realistic reading goals, and consistently incorporate reading into your daily routine. As you enhance your reading skills, monitor your progress by regularly taking practice tests. Remember, every step you take towards cultivating a reading habit is a step closer to acing the CAT.

Keep in mind that the journey to CAT success is a marathon, not a sprint. A slow, steady, and consistent approach will lead you to your goal. As the adage goes, “Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.” So keep reading, keep exercising your mind, and witness the transformative power of reading in your CAT journey.

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