CAT 2017 Reading Comprehension Questions and Answers CAT:
Download RC (Reading comprehension questions with solutions and detailed explanations asked in the CAT exam.
The passage below is accompanied by a set of six questions. Choose the best answer to each question.
Understanding where you are in the world is a basic survival skill, which is why we, like most species come hard-wired with specialised brain areas to create cognitive maps of our surroundings. Where humans are unique, though, with the possible exception of honeybees, is that we try to communicate this understanding of the world with others. We have a long history of doing this by drawing maps — the earliest versions yet discovered were scrawled on cave walls 14,000 years ago. Human cultures have been drawing them on stone tablets, papyrus, paper and now computer screens ever since.
Given such a long history of human map-making, it is perhaps surprising that it is only within the last few hundred years that north has been consistently considered to be at the top. In fact, for much of human history, north almost never appeared at the top, according to Jerry Brotton, a map historian… “North was rarely put at the top for the simple fact that north is where darkness comes from,” he says. “West is also very unlikely to be put at the top because west is where the sun disappears.”
Confusingly, early Chinese maps seem to buck this trend. But, Brotton, says, even though they did have compasses at the time, that isn’t the reason that they placed north at the top. Early Chinese compasses were actually oriented to point south, which was considered to be more desirable than deepest darkest north. But in Chinese maps, the Emperor, who lived in the north of the country was always put at the top of the map, with everyone else, his loyal subjects, looking up towards him. “In Chinese culture the Emperor looks south because it’s where the winds come from, it’s a good direction. North is not very good but you are in a position of subjection to the emperor, so you look up to him,” says Brotton.
Given that each culture has a very different idea of who, or what, they should look up to it’s perhaps not surprising that there is very little consistency in which way early maps pointed. In ancient Egyptian times the top of the world was east, the position of sunrise. Early Islamic maps favoured south at the top because most of the early Muslim cultures were north of Mecca, so they imagined looking up (south) towards it. Christian maps from the same era (called Mappa Mundi) put east at the top, towards the Garden of Eden and with Jerusalem in the centre.
So when did everyone get together and decide that north was the top? It’s tempting to put it down to European explorers like Christopher Columbus and Ferdinand Megellan, who were navigating by the North Star. But Brotton argues that these early explorers didn’t think of the world like that at all. “When Columbus describes the world it is in accordance with east being at the top, he says. “Columbus says he is going towards paradise, so his mentality is from a medieval mappa mundi.” We’ve got to remember, adds Brotton, that at the time, “no one knows what they are doing and where they are going.”
Which one of the following best describes what the passage is trying to do?
a) It questions an explanation about how maps are designed.
b) It corrects a misconception about the way maps are designed.
c) It critiques a methodology used to create maps.
d) It explores some myths about maps.
Early maps did NOT put north at the top for all the following reasons EXCEPT
a) North was the source of darkness.
b) South was favoured by some emperors.
c) East and south were more important for religious reasons for some civilisations.
d) East was considered by some civilisations to be a more positive direction.
According to the passage, early Chinese maps placed north at the top because
a) the Chinese invented the compass and were aware of magnetic north.
b) they wanted to show respect to the emperor.
c) the Chinese emperor appreciated the winds from the south.
d) north was considered the most desirable direction.
It can be inferred from the passage that European explorers like Columbus and Megellan
a) set the precedent for north-up maps
b) navigated by the compass
c) used an eastward orientation for religious reasons
d) navigated with the help of early maps
Which one of the following about the northern orientation of modern maps is asserted in the passage?
a) The biggest contributory factor was the understanding of magnetic north.
b) The biggest contributory factor was the role of European explorers.
c) The biggest contributory factor was the influence of Christian maps.
d) The biggest contributory factor is not stated in the passage.
The role of natural phenomena in influencing map-making conventions is seen most clearly in
a) early Egyptian maps
b) early Islamic maps
c) early Chinese maps
d) early Christian maps
Solutions (1 to 6)
1) Answer (b)
The author starts the passage by talking about the history of map making. The author then mentions how north was never put at the top in ancient times. He mentions that it was considered a bad direction. He says that north being put at the top is a fairly recent phenomenon. He then goes on to discuss why different people started putting north at the top. He mentions that the reasons for different people putting north at the top were different from what people think now. Hence, he is trying to clear certain misconceptions about why north is put at the top in the maps. Thus, option B is the most suitable answer.
2) Answer (b)
The passage mentions that the Chinese put North at the top of the map because the emperor would live in the North and he preferred to look towards South. Hence, the fact that South was preferred by some emperors is a reason why North was put at the top and not the other way around. Hence, option B is false. All other options are mentioned in the passage.
3) Answer (b)
We can straightaway eliminate options A and D. The passage states that the Chinese compasses pointed to magnetic south and that south was considered a more desirable direction. While option C is true, that is not the reason why North was placed at the top.
The passage states that the emperor lived in the north and hence maps depicted him as above his subjects. Thus, north was placed at the top of the map to show respect for the emperor. Thus, option B is correct
4) Answer (c)
We can straightaway eliminate option A. The author says that though one might think that the trend of north-up maps was set by these explorers, this is in fact not true. Options B and D are also incorrect. The passage says that the explorers navigated with the help of the North Star.
In the passage, it is given that “When Columbus describes the world it is in accordance with east being at the top, he says. “Columbus says he is going towards paradise, so his mentality is from a medieval mappa mundi.” Hence, we can infer that statement C is true.
5) Answer (d)
In the passage, the author discusses how North was traditionally not put on the top of early maps. The author explicitly refutes the role of the compass and of European explorers in placing North at the top of maps. Hence, we can eliminate options A and B. The author says that East was placed at the top of Christian maps. Hence, option C is also incorrect. Thought the author counters all known explanations as to why North was placed on the top, he does not offer any explanation of his own. Hence, option D is correct.
6) Answer (b)
According to the passage, early Egyptian maps placed the East at the top because that was the position of sunrise. Hence, we can say that natural phenomena dictated the map-making convention in this case. Thus, option A is correct.
Options B and D are incorrect as the conventions were decided by religious factors and not natural phenomena. Option C also can be eliminated as the orientation was a result of their desire to honour their emperor. Hence, the answer is option A.
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