Reading Comprehension Practice Test for CAT
Download important CAT Reading Comprehension Practice Test PDF based on previously asked questions in CAT exam. Reading Comprehension Practice Test for CAT exam.
The passage given below is followed by a set of three questions. Choose the most appropriate answer to each question.
Human Biology does nothing to structure human society. Age may enfeeble us all, but cultures vary considerably in the prestige and power they accord to the elderly. Giving birth is a necessary condition for being a mother, but it is not sufficient. We expect mothers to behave in maternal ways and to display appropriately maternal sentiments. We prescribe a clutch of norms or rules that govern the role of a mother. That the social role is independent of the biological base can be demonstrated by going back three sentences. Giving birth is certainly not sufficient to be a mother but, as adoption and fostering show, it is not even necessary!
The fine detail of what is expected of a mother or a father or a dutiful son differs from culture to culture, but everywhere behaviour is coordinated by the reciprocal nature of roles. Husbands and wives, parents and children, employers and employees, waiters and customers, teachers and pupils, warlords and followers; each makes sense only in its relation to the other. The term ‘role’ is an appropriate one, because the metaphor of an actor in a play neatly expresses the rule-governed nature or scripted nature of much of social life and the sense that society is a joint production. Social life occurs only because people play their parts (and that is as true for war and conflicts as for peace and love) and those parts make sense only in the context of the overall show. The drama metaphor also reminds us of the artistic licence available to the players. We can play a part straight or, as the following from J.P. Sartre conveys, we can ham it up.
Let us consider this waiter in the cafe. His movement is quick and forward, a little too precise, a little too rapid. He comes towards the patrons with a step a little too quick. He bends forward a little too eagerly; his voice, his eyes express an interest a little too solicitous for the order of the customer. Finally there he returns, trying to imitate in his walk the inflexible stiffness of some kind of automaton while carrying his tray with the recklessness of a tightrope-walker….All his behaviour seems to us a game….But what is he playing? We need not watch long before we can explain it: he is playing at being a waiter in a cafe.
The American sociologist Erving Goffman built an influential body of social analysis on elaborations of the metaphor of social life as drama. Perhaps his most telling point was that it is only through acting out a part that we express character. It is not enough to be evil or virtuous; we have to be seen to be evil or virtuous. There is distinction between the roles we play and some underlying self. Here we might note that some roles are more absorbing than others. We would not be surprised by the waitress who plays the part in such a way as to signal to us that she is much more than her occupation. We would be surprised and offended by the father who played his part ‘tongue in cheek’. Some roles are broader and more far-reaching than others. Describing someone as a clergyman or faith healer would say far more about that person than describing someone as a bus driver.
Question 1: What is the thematic highlight of this passage?
a) In the absence of strong biological linkages, reciprocal roles provide the mechanism for coordinating human behaviour.
b) In the absence of reciprocal roles, biological linkages provide the mechanism for coordinating human behaviour.
c) Human behaviour is independent of biological linkages and reciprocal roles.
d) Human behaviour depends on biological linkages and reciprocal roles.
e) Reciprocal roles determine normative human behavior in society.
Question 2: Which of the following would have been true if biological linkages structured human society?
a) The role of mother would have been defined through her reciprocal relationship with her children.
b) We would not have been offended by the father playing his role ‘tongue in cheek’.
c) Women would have adopted and fostered children rather than giving birth to them.
d) Even if warlords were physically weaker than their followers, they would still dominate them.
e) Waiters would have stronger motivation to serve their customers.
Question 3: It has been claimed in the passage that “some roles are more absorbing than others”. According to passage, which of the following seem(s) appropriate reason(s) for such a claim?
A. Some roles carry great expectations from the society preventing manifestation of the true self.
B. Society ascribes so much importance to some roles that the conception of self may get aligned with the roles being performed.
C. Some roles require development of skill and expertise leaving little time for manifestation of self.
a) A only
b) B only
c) C only
d) A & B
e) B & C
Recently I spent several hours sitting under a tree in my garden with the social anthropologist William Ury, a Harvard University professor who specializes in the art of negotiation and wrote the bestselling book, Getting to Yes. He captivated me with his theory that tribalism protects people from their fear of rapid change. He explained that the pillars of tribalism that humans rely on for security would always counter any significant cultural or social change. In this way, he said, change is never allowed to happen too fast. Technology, for example, is a pillar of society. Ury believes that every time technology moves in a new or radical direction, another pillar such as religion or nationalism will grow stronger in effect, the traditional and familiar will assume greater importance to compensate for the new and untested. In this manner, human tribes avoid rapid change that leaves people insecure and frightened.
But we have all heard that nothing is as permanent as change. Nothing is guaranteed. Pithy expressions, to be sure, but no more than cliches. As Ury says, people don’t live that way from day-to-day. On the contrary, they actively seek certainty and stability. They want to know they will be safe.
Even so we scare ourselves constantly with the idea of change. An IBM CEO once said: ‘We only re-structure for a good reason, and if we haven’t re-structured in a while, that’s a good reason.’ We are scared that competitors, technology and the consumer will put us Out of business — so we have to change all the time just to stay alive. But if we asked our fathers and grandfathers, would they have said that they lived in a period of little change? Structure may not have changed much. It may just be the speed with which we do things.
Change is over-rated, anyway, consider the automobile. It’s an especially valuable example, because the auto industry has spent tens of billions of dollars on research and product development in the last 100 years. Henry Ford’s first car had a metal chassis with an internal combustion, gasoline-powered engine, four wheels with rubber types, a foot operated clutch assembly and brake system, a steering wheel, and four seats, and it could safely do 1 8 miles per hour. A hundred years and tens of thousands of research hours later, we drive cars with a metal chassis with an internal combustion, gasoline-powered engine, four wheels with rubber tyres a foot operated clutch assembly and brake system, a steering wheel, four seats – and the average speed in London in 2001 was 17.5 miles per hour!
That’s not a hell of a lot of return for the money. Ford evidently doesn’t have much to teach us about change. The fact that they’re still manufacturing cars is not proof that Ford Motor Co. is a sound organization, just proof that it takes very large companies to make cars in great quantities — making for an almost impregnable entry barrier.
Fifty years after the development of the jet engine, planes are also little changed. They’ve grown bigger, wider and can carry more people. But those are incremental, largely cosmetic changes.
Taken together, this lack of real change has come to man that in travel — whether driving or flying — time and technology have not combined to make things much better. The safety and design have of course accompanied the times and the new volume of cars and flights, but nothing of any significance has changed in the basic assumptions of the final product.
At the same time, moving around in cars or aero-planes becomes less and less efficient all the time Not only has there been no great change, but also both forms of transport have deteriorated as more people clamour to use them. The same is true for telephones, which took over hundred years to become mobile or photographic film, which also required an entire century to change.
The only explanation for this is anthropological. Once established in calcified organizations, humans do two things: sabotage changes that might render people dispensable, and ensure industry-wide emulation. In the 960s, German auto companies developed plans to scrap the entire combustion engine for an electrical design. (The same existed in the 1970s in Japan, and in the 1980s in France.) So for 40 years we might have been free of the wasteful and ludicrous dependence on fossil fuels. Why didn’t it go anywhere? Because auto executives understood pistons and carburettors, and would be loath to cannibalize their expertise, along with most of their factories
Question 4: According to the above passage, which of the following statements is true?
a) Executives of automobile companies are inefficient and ludicrous.
b) The speed at which an automobile is driven in a city has not changed much in a century.
c) Anthropological factors have fostered innovation in automobiles by promoting use of new technologies.
d) Further innovation in jet engines has been more than incremental.
Question 5: Which of the following views does the author fully support in the passage?
a) Nothing is as permanent as change.
b) Change is always rapid.
c) More money spent on innovation leads to more rapid change.
d) Over decades, structural change has been incremental.
Question 6: Which of the following best describes one of the main ideas discussed in the passage?
a) Rapid change is usually welcomed in society.
b) Industry is not as innovative as it is made out to be.
c) We should have less change than what we have now.
d) Competition spurs companies into radical innovation.
Question 7: According to the passage, the reason why we continues to be dependent on fossil fuels is that:
a) Auto executives did not wish to change.
b) No alternative fuels were discovered.
c) Change in technology was not easily possible
d) German, Japanese and French companies could not come up with new technologies.
Democracy rests on a tension between two different principles. There is, on the one hand, the principle of equality before the law, or, more generally, of equality, and, on the other, what may be described as the leadership principle. The first gives priority to rules and the second to persons. No matter how skilfully we contrive out schemes, there is a point beyond which the one principle cannot be promoted without some sacrifice of the other.
Alexis do Tocqueville, the great 19th-century writer on democracy, maintained that the age of democracy, whose birth he was witnessing, would also be the age of mediocrity, in saying this he was thinking primarily of a regime of equality governed by impersonal rules. Despite his strong attachment to democracy, he took great pains to point out what he believed to be its negative side: a dead level plane of achievement in practically every sphere of life. The age of democracy would, in his view, be an unheroic age; there would not be room in it for either heroes or hero-worshippers.
But modern democracies have not been able to do without heroes: this too was foreseen, with much misgiving, by Tocqueville. Tocqueville viewed this with misgiving because he believed, rightly or wrongly, that unlike in aristocratic societies there was no proper place in a democracy for heroes and, hence, when they arose they would sooner or later turn into despots. Whether they require heroes or not, democracies certainly require leaders, and, in the contemporary age, breed them in great profusion; the problem is to know what to do with them.
In a world preoccupied with scientific rationality the advantages of a system based on an impersonal rule of law should be a recommendation with everybody. There is something orderly and predictable about such a system. When life is lived mainly in small, self-contained communities, men are able to take finer personal distinctions into account in dealing with their fellow men. They are unable to do this in a large and amorphous society, and organised living would be impossible here without a system of impersonal rules. Above all, such a system guarantees a kind of equality to the extent that everybody, no matter in what station of life, is bound by the same explicit, often written, rules and nobody is above them. But a system governed solely by impersonal rules can at best ensure order and stability; it cannot create any shining vision of a future in which mere formal equality will be replaced by real equality and fellowship. A world governed by impersonal rules cannot easily change itself, or when it does, the change is so gradual as to make the basic and fundamental feature of society appear unchanges. For any kind of basic or fundamental change, a push is needed from within, a kind of individual initiative which will create new rules, new terms and conditions of life.
The issue of leadership thus acquires crucial significance in the context of change. If the modern age is preoccupied with scientific rationality, it is no less preoccupied with change. To accept what exists on its own terms is traditional, not modern, and it may be all very well to appreciate tradition in music, dance and drama, but for society as a whole the choice has already been made in favour of modernisation and development. Moreover, in some countries the gap between ideal and reality has become so great that the argument for development and change is now irresistible.
In these countries no argument for development has greater appeal or urgency than the one which shows development to be the condition for the mitigation, if not the elimination, of inequality. There is something contradictory about the very presence of large inequalities in a society which profess to be democratic. It does not take people too long to realise that democracy by itself can guarantee only formal equality; beyond this, it can only whet people’s appetite for real or substantive equality. From this arises their continued preoccupation with plans and schemes that will help to bridge the gap between the ideal of equality and the reality which is so contrary to it.
When pre-existing rules give no clear directions of change, leadership comes into its own. Every democracy invests its leadership with a measure of charisma, and expects from it a corresponding measure of energy and vitality. Now, the greater the urge for change in a society the stronger the appeal of a dynamic leadership in it. A dynamic leadership seeks to free itself from the constraints of existing rules: in a sense that is the test of its dynamism. In this process it may take a turn at which it ceases to regard itself as being bound by these rules, placing itself above them. There is always a tension between ‘charisma’ and ‘discipline’ in the case of a democratic leadership, and when this leadership puts forward revolutionary claims, the tension tends to be resolved at the expense of discipline.
Characteristically, the legitimacy of such a leadership rests on its claim to be able to abolish or at least substantially reduce the existing inequalities in society. From the argument that formal equality or equality before the law is but a limited good, it is often one short step to the argument that it is a hindrance or an obstacle to the establishment of real or substantive equality. The conflict between a ‘progressive’ executive and a ‘conservative’ judiciary is but one aspect of this larger problem. This conflict naturally acquires added piquancy when the executive is elected and the judiciary appointed.
Question 8: Dynamic leaders are needed in democracies because
a) they have adopted the principles of ‘formal’ equality rather than ‘substantive’ equality.
b) ‘formal’ equality whets people’s appetite for ‘substantive’ equality.
c) systems that rely on the impersonal rules of ‘formal’ equality lose their ability to make large changes.
d) of the conflict between a ‘progressive’ executive and a ‘conservative’ judiciary.
Question 9: What possible factor would a dynamic leader consider a ‘hindrance’ in achieving the development goals of a nation?
a) Principle of equality before the law
b) Judicial activism
c) A conservative judiciary
d) Need for discipline
Question 10: Which of the following four statements can be inferred from the above passage?
A. Scientific rationality is an essential feature of modernity.
B. Scientific rationality results in the development of impersonal rules.
C. Modernisation and development have been chosen over traditional music, dance and drama.
D. Democracies aspire to achieve substantive equality.
a) A, B, D but not C
b) A, B but not C, D
c) A, D but not B, C
d) A, B, C but not D
Question 11: Tocqueville believed that the age of democracy would be an un-heroic age because
a) democractic principles do not encourage heroes.
b) there is no urgency for development in democratic countries.
c) heroes that emerged in democracies would become despots.
d) aristocratic society had a greater ability to produce heroes.
Question 12: A key argument the author is making is that
a) in the context of extreme inequality, the issue of leadership has limited significance.
b) democracy is incapable of eradicating inequality.
c) formal equality facilitates development and change.
d) impersonal rules are good for avoiding instability but fall short of achieving real equality.
Question 13: Which of the following four statements can be inferred from the above passage?
A. There is conflict between the pursuit of equality and individuality.
B. The disadvantages of impersonal rules can be overcome in small communities.
C. Despite limitations, impersonal rules are essential in large systems.
D. Inspired leadership, rather than plans and schemes, is more effective in bridging inequality.
a) B, D but not A, C
b) A, B but not C, D
c) A, D but not B, C
d) A, C but not B, D
A distinction should be made between work and occupation. Work implies necessity; it is something that must be done as contributing to the means of life in general and to one’s own subsistence in particular. Occupation absorbs time and energy so long as we choose to give them; it demands constant initiative, and it is its own reward. For the average person the element of necessity in work is valuable, for he is saved the mental stress involved in devising outlets for his energy. Work has for him obvious utility, and it bring the satisfaction of tangible rewards. Where as occupation is an end in itself, and we therefore demand that it shall be agreeable, work is usually the means to other ends . ends which present themselves to the mind as sufficiently important to compensate for any disagreeableness in the means. There are forms of work, of course, which since external compulsion is reduced to a minimum, are hardly to be differentiated from occupation. The artist, the imaginative writer, the scientist, the social worker, for instance, find their pleasure in the constant spontaneous exercise o creative energy and the essential reward of their work is in the doing of it. In all work performed by a suitable agent there must be a pleasurable element, and the greater the amount of pleasure that can be associated with work, the better. But for most people the pleasure of occupation needs the addition of the necessity provided in work. It is better for them to follow a path of employment marked out for them than to have to find their own.
When, therefore, we look ahead to the situation likely to be produced by the continued rapid extension of machine production, we should think not so much about providing occupation for leisure as about limiting the amount of leisure to that which can be profitably usedWe shall have to put the emphasis on the work . providing rather than the goods. providing aspect of the economic process. In the earlier and more ruthless days of capitalism the duty of the economic system to provide work was overlooked The purpose of competitive enterprise was to realize a profit. When profit ceased or was curtailed, production also ceased or was curtailed Thus the workers, who were regarded as units of labour forming part of the costs of production, were taken on when required and dismissed when not required They hardly thought of demanding work as a right. And so long as British manufacturers had their eyes mainly on the markets awaiting them abroad, they could conveniently neglect the fact that since workers are also consumers, unemployment at home means loss of trade. Moral considerations did not yet find a substitute in ordinary business prudence. The labour movements arose largely as a revolt against the conception of workers as commodities to be bought and sold without regard to their needs as human beings. In a socialist system it is assumed that they will be treated with genuine consideration, for, the making of profit not being essential, central planning will not only adjust the factors of production to the best advantage but will secure regularity of employment. But has the socialist thought about what he would do if owing to technological advance, the amount of human labour were catastrophically reduced? So far as I know, he has no plan beyond drastically lining the hours of work, and sharing out as much work as there may be. And, of course, he would grant monetary relief to those who were actually unemployed But has he considered what would be the moral effect of life imagined as possible in the highly mechanized state of future? Has he thought of the possibility of bands of unemployed and under-employed workers marching on the capital to demand not income (which they will have but work?
Question 14: Future, according to the passage, may find the workers
a) without money.
b) without work.
c) replacing machines.
d) without leisure.
Question 15: The main defect of socialism at present is that
a) it has not evolved a satisfactory system of making workers co-sharers in prosperity.
b) it has not made work less burdensome for the mass of workers.
c) it has not taken into consideration the possibility of an immense reduction of human labour in the wake of mechanization.
d) it is not concerned with improving and streamlining the method of production.
Question 16: The labour movement was the outcome of
a) an effort to increase productivity.
b) a move to make workers share in the prosperity of the capitalists.
c) a revolt against the conception of workers as commodities.
d) a move to avert mass unemployment because of the mechanization.
Question 17: The chief purpose of competitive enterprise is to
a) create more job opportunities.
b) produce as much as possible.
c) create more wealth in the country.
d) realize the maximum profit.
Question 18: In the situation created by the rapid extension of machine production, our object should be to
a) make work as light as possible.
b) provide increased opportunities for interesting occupation.
c) limit the amount of leisure to that which can be profitably used.
d) produce more and more goods.
Question 19: The activities of the artist, the writer, the scientist etc. may be considered to be occupations because
a) they often does not have any utilitarian value.
b) external compulsion is reduced to a minimum and they are agreeable and require quite a lot of initiative.
c) they occupies time and energy only so long as the workers choose to give them.
d) they care only for the pleasure which brings them without any consideration of reward.
Question 20: Which of the following statements is not true according to the information contained in the passage?
a) Work is something done as contributing to the means of life in general and to one.s own subsistence in particular.
b) Occupation is something that requires initiative and can be done at one.s will and pleasure and not as a task.
c) Work brings in tangible rewards while occupation is not utilitarian.
d) There is no form of work which shows approximation to occupation.
Answers & Solutions:
1) Answer (E)
The passage does not talk about “absence of strong biological linkages”. Hence, option A is wrong.
The statement in option 2 does not agree with the passage.Hence, option B is wrong.
Option 3 is contrary to the passage.
The passage never stated that human behavior depends on biological linkages. Hence, option D is wrong.
Option E correctly captures the theme of the passage.
2) Answer (B)
We must look for an option that we do not consider as normal.
Except option B, all the options are normal.
For example, it is absolutely fine with us if a waiter serves more than that is expected from him.
But we are offended when a father behaves in a tongue in cheek manner. If biological linkages structured human society, it should not matter to us how a father behaves. Hence, option B is the correct answer.
3) Answer (D)
Statement A has been discussed in the passage while giving the example of clergymen and waiter. Hence, it is correct.
By the example of the father, we can say that statement B is true.
In the passage, the author has not mentioned that development of skill may result in denial of the self. So, statement C is incorrect.
So, only statements A and B are correct. Option d) is the correct answer.
4) Answer (B)
In the fourth paragraph it is clearly mentioned that change is over-rated. Refer to the following lines:”Change is over-rated, anyway, consider the automobile. It’s an especially valuable example, because the auto industry has spent tens of billions of dollars on research and product development in the last 100 years.”
5) Answer (D)
Refer to the following lines of the paragraph:”But if we asked our fathers and grandfathers, would they have said that they lived in a period of little change? Structure may not have changed much. It may just be the speed with which we do things.”
6) Answer (B)
Clearly the second option is the main idea of the passage. In this passage the author talks about the over-exaggeration made by automobile industry and airplane industry while on the whole there are not many changes which have taken place.
7) Answer (A)
Refer to the following lines of the passage:”Why didn’t it go anywhere? Because auto executives understood pistons and carburettors, and would be loath to cannibalize their expertise, along with most of their factories”. This indicates that the auto executives do not want to change themselves.
8) Answer (C)
From the following text, which is picked up from passage ‘..as greater the urge for a change in society the stronger is the appeal for a dynamic leadership..’ Hence option C.
9) Answer (A)
We can infer from the passage that equality before law or formal equality is a hindrance to the establishment of real or substantive equality. . Refer to the lines in the last paragraph:”From the argument that formal equality or equality before the law is but a limited good, it is often one short step to the argument that it is a hindrance or an obstacle to the establishment of real or substantive equality.”This substantiates the answer.
10) Answer (A)
Following sentences from the passages are in line with the statements A,B and D. In statement A, if modern age is preoccupied with scientific rationality then it is also no less preoccupied with change. In B, a world preoccupied with scientific rationality have advantages system based on impersonal rule of laws should be recommendation with everybody. Statement D,states that democracy guarantees formal equality beyond this it can only what people’s appetite for substantive equality.
Option C is a broad statement. In the passage, it has been mentioned that tradition is preferred in music, dance and drama. But in society, modernisation and development have been chosen, instead of tradition. Thus, option C cannot be inferred. So option A is the correct answer.
11) Answer (A)
It can be inferred from the passage that tocqueville believed that unlike aristocratic societies there was no proper place in democracy for heroes and hence if they arose they would sooner or later turn to despots. Hence option A is the correct answer. Also refer to the following lines:”Tocqueville viewed this with misgiving because he believed, rightly or wrongly, that unlike in aristocratic societies there was no proper place in a democracy for heroes and, hence, when they arose they would sooner or later turn into despots.”
12) Answer (D)
It can be inferred from the passage that impersonal rules can ensure stability but it can’t create any shinning version of a future in formal equality. Hence option D.
13) Answer (C)
A can be inferred from 1st para and D can be inferred as continued preoccupation with plans schemes will help to bridge the gap between ideals of equality and reality. Hence only A and D can be inferred.
14) Answer (B)
Refer to the following lines:”But has he considered what would be the moral effect of life imagined as possible in the highly mechanized state of future? Has he thought of the possibility of bands of unemployed and under-employed workers marching on the capital to demand not income (which they will have but work?”
In this line, the author clearly states that the highly mechanized future may render many workers unemployed.
15) Answer (C)
Refer to the following lines: “But has the socialist thought about what he would do if owing to technological advance, the amount of human labour were catastrophically reduced? So far as I know, he has no plan beyond drastically lining the hours of work, and sharing out as much work as there may be.”
The author clearly mentions that the socialists have not taken into account the mechanization.
16) Answer (C)
Refer to the following lines:”The labour movements arose largely as a revolt against the conception of workers as commodities to be bought and sold without regard to their needs as human beings.”
Option C is clearly mentioned in these lines.
17) Answer (D)
Refer to the following lines:”In the earlier and more ruthless days of capitalism the duty of the economic system to provide work was overlooked The purpose of competitive enterprise was to realize a profit. When profit ceased or was curtailed, production also ceased or was curtailed”
Option D is clearly mentioned in these lines.
18) Answer (C)
Refer to the following lines:”When, therefore, we look ahead to the situation likely to be produced by the continued rapid extension of machine production, we should think not so much about providing occupation for leisure as about limiting the amount of leisure to that which can be profitably used.”
Option C is clearly stated in these lines.
19) Answer (B)
Refer to the following lines:”There are forms of work, of course, which since external compulsion is reduced to a minimum, are hardly to be differentiated from occupation. The artist, the imaginative writer, the scientist, the social worker, for instance, find their pleasure in the constant spontaneous exercise o creative energy and the essential reward of their work is in the doing of it. ” Option B is stated in these lines.
20) Answer (D)
Refer to the following lines:”There are forms of work, of course, which since external compulsion is reduced to a minimum, are hardly to be differentiated from occupation.”
Here the author clearly states that some works can be hardy differentiated from occupation which is contrary to what is mentioned in D.
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