Reading Comprehension [RC] Questions in CAT 2023, Types & Category
In this article, we explain how to deal with the different types of reading comprehension questions in CAT. With the help of a structured approach, this article explains every question type relevant to CAT. Along with a description of the question type, we also explore the appropriate tips and tricks you need to keep in mind to solve RC questions.
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Let's get started then with our deep dive for CAT RC Questions.
Primary Classification for Types of Reading Comprehension Questions in CAT
You face two broad categories of question types in CAT RCs.
CATEGORY 1: BIG PICTURE QUESTIONS
The first type of questions you encounter in CAT is the BIG PICTURE QUESTIONS. As the name suggests, these questions are based on the overall content and ideas of the passage. Rather than referring to any specific detail, they refer to the main ideas, tone, and purpose of the author of the passage. For this question category, you need to focus on the overall understanding of the passage and ensure that you identify the critical aspects of the passage. The various question types that fall under this category are:
- Main Idea Questions
- Primary Purpose Questions
- Tone Questions
- Structure and Organisation Questions
- Author Profession Questions
- Title Questions
We will take up each question type and understand the approach for the same.
CATEGORY 2: SPECIFIC DETAILS QUESTIONS
The second question you encounter in CAT is the SPECIFIC DETAIL QUESTIONS. As the name suggests, these questions are based on specific ideas and parts of the passage. These question types revolve around specific contexts and portions of the passage. The key thing for such questions is the retention of information and the ability to break down the passage into as many simple ideas as possible. The various question types that fall under this category are:
- Inference based questions
- Author agreement/disagreement questions
- Paraphrase and meaning identification questions
- 'Must be true' questions
- Fact-based questions
- Vocabulary based questions
The above represents the broad classification for the different question types that are probed in CAT reading comprehensions. Let's now pick up these question types one by one and highlight the appropriate approach for each.
Question Type 1: RC Main Idea Questions
This question type revolves around the one thing it explicitly mentions: the passage's main idea. It can be framed in a variety of ways, such as:
- What is the main idea of the passage?
- What is the main point of the passage?
- What is the central idea of the passage?
- What is the central point of the passage?
- Summarise the passage in one line.
- Identify the gist of the passage.
In some cases, this question type employs a simple trick of vaguely preserving the passage's main point but changing the subject. The answer options might be too general or too specific regarding their approach and choice of topics. This common trick is known as the SCOPE TRAP, and you should be careful when solving RC main idea questions. It's essential to be careful not to stray from the scope of the given passage. Remember: always stay within the confines of what was written and focus on retaining the main point of that text.
Question Type 2: RC Primary Purpose Questions
As the name suggests, this question type asks you to identify the purpose of the author of the passage. If the RC main idea question is about the WHAT OF THE PASSAGE, then the RC primary purpose question is about the WHY OF THE AUTHOR/PASSAGE. This question type essentially asks you to identify the purpose behind writing the particular passage. Let's look at some of the different purposes that authors can adopt in this question type:
- The author might try to convince the reader about something
- The author might try to defy or deny something
- The author might try to explain something
- The author might try to educate the reader about something
- The author might try to debate an issue
- The author might try to support or object to a point of view or position
- The author might simply be trying to share his or her own experiences
As you can see, all of the above represent some or the other purpose for writing the passage. There are infinite such reasons that can exist while writing a passage. As a good preparation tool, you should always ask yourself why the author has written this and what he is trying to achieve while reading articles. Also, try to list as many reasons as possible to write articles and use your observation skills to the fullest. Gradually, over time, you will begin to understand the different reasons for writing articles and be able to identify relevant patterns for this question type.
Question Type 3: RC Tone Questions
Questions about tone and attitude depend on the author's approach and style. These questions are mainly about identifying the type and nature of the passage and then co-relating that with the sentiment expressed by the author of the passage.
Broadly speaking, each passage has three possible natures:
- Positive: something or someone is described positively.
- Neutral: something or someone is described in a neutral way.
- Negative: something or someone is described negatively.
Once you've identified the type of passage, you can link it to the answer options, which will help you find the answer. As a good practice exercise and method to prepare for this question, list down the words which are commonly used as answer choices for this question type. This list will help you understand the meanings of words and identify the correct answer easily.
Question Type 4: RC Structure and Organisation Questions
The phrasing of this question type is straightforward. The examiner asks you to identify the correct organisation/structure of the passage. You need to figure out how the passage's content has been structured for this particular question type. Here, the examiner aims to evaluate your skills in identifying the organisational/structural elements used by the author of the passage. To help you understand what we are talking about, some examples of the kind of answer options you see in this question type are listed below:
- A concept is highlighted, its key variables explained, and its outcomes highlighted
- An experience is shared, the underlying idea is exposed, and the scope of the idea is explained.
- An experiment is explained and detailed; its outcomes in the present time are explained.
- An experience is shared, the underlying activity is exposed, and the scope of the activity is explained.
- A distinction/divergence in approach for a certain topic is explained, and the method to resolve this divergence is explained.
- A possible way of approaching a topic is questioned, possible schools of thought are explained, and further explanation is provided.
- A debate is highlighted, and then its resolutions are provided.
- A topic is highlighted, possible positions on the same are brought forward and then a limitation of our approach to the topic is explained.
As you can see from the above, this question type is not about the information, but the structural elements used to present that information. The best way to perfect this question type is to be aware of the different structural elements being used by the author and continuously try to put these into categories such as: facts, opinions, conclusions, examples, analogies, concepts, theories, experiences, topics, debates, etc. Once you begin to do this, you begin to develop a grasp of this question type.
Question Type 5: RC Author Profession Questions
This is a peculiar question where you are asked to identify the suitable/probable profession of the author. The first thing that needs to be kept in mind for this question type is that question asks you to identify the probable/suitable profession of the author. Remember, as a caveat, anyone can write on any subject. But the most probable logical relation we can make is between the subject/area of the passage and the author's profession. The author's profession is likely linked to the topics talked about in the passage. For example:
- A neuroscientist is likely to write about subjects related to our nervous system, functions, and disorders.
- A political journalist is likely to talk about political events.
- A United Nations diplomat is likely to talk about global events.
- A central bank governor is likely to talk about economics.
This is how the profession of the author is mapped with the content of the passage. As a starting point for this question type, make sure you read the author description/bio every time you read an article. This will help you intrinsically understand the different authors professions and how they relate to written text.
Question Type 6: RC Title Questions
The RC title question revolves around the passage's main idea, and you are supposed to identify the most likely title. Here, the best answer is the title that best represents the passage's main idea and is closest in expressing the maximum number of dimensions of the passage. Let us look at some of the recent titles that have been featured in newspapers and publications:
- The great jobs hunt: Too few Indians are seeking work and mostly among those working quality of employment isn't great
- Big Bangalore theory: Why keep banging on about its mess?
- The importance of work-life balance and how to cultivate it effectively
- Nothing is more difficult than being successful
- What explains India slipping in Global Hunger Index rankings?
- How the world's harshest lockdown hit India's millions of migrant workers
- Thriving on Mars
- Geopolitics is for losers
- Why did consciousness evolve?
- Why making if-then connections might be the key to consciousness
- Moral mathematics
We can see from the titles above that some are directly based on the content and some are indirect. By observing these titles, and co-relating them with the articles, you can improve your grasp for this question type.
Question Type 7: RC Inference-Based Questions
These are the complicated ones and pose the greatest challenge to students. Also, the last few years have seen this question type being probed in multiple ways in the exam. The various ways in which this question type has been phrased in the exam is as follows:
- Which one of the following can be inferred from the passage?
- Which one of the following cannot be inferred from the passage?
- All of the following can be inferred from the passage except:
- All of the following cannot be inferred from the passage except:
As you can see from the above, the multiple ways of phrasing this question type have added to the complexity levels and made it difficult for students in the exam.
There are two types of inference questions in the CAT:
- Actual inference questions: these are questions in which inference is something that is not specified and is derived from the context provided.
- Reframing the facts: Several questions in this area are based simply on repeating the facts of the passage. All that is done is to reaffirm the facts mentioned in the passage is alternate words.
You should keep an eye on these questions and find out what kind of questions they are. Also, try to identify the source of the inference in the passage and focus on the relative context (two lines above and below the specified context). They usually contain an indication of the answer given. The critical ability to reach the right conclusion is also to understand the passage's context and key ideas. Once you've done that, you'll be able to identify the correct answer.
Question Type 8: RC Author agreement/disagreement Questions
This is another type of difficult question that frequently appears on the CAT exam. This question is generally phrased as:
- According to the information given in the passage/according to the author of the passage, which one of the following would the author agree with?
- According to the information given in the passage/according to the author of the passage, which one of the following would the author disagree with?
What do you consider in this question? To identify the agreement or disagreement of the author of the passage, you must identify the key ideas of the passage, and you need to focus on the different points discussed in the passage. By reading the passage carefully, note any crucial points that come up. These will help guide your analysis while answering questions about the author's opinions.
Remember that choices in this question type might contain:
- Distortions of content which are very similar to the information given within the passage. These can be difficult to identify and pose a challenge in the exam.
- Overgeneralise the given context or situation and thus, in the process, become irrelevant in the given context.
Question Type 9: RC Paraphrase and meaning identification Questions
This is a question type where you are asked to identify the correct meaning of a specific extract from the passage. Generally, you are provided one to two lines in this question type and then are supposed to find the option that explains these lines' meaning. The fundamental trick for this question type is that along with the specific lines probed, the context of these lines (a few lines above and a few lines below the specific content) is essential in identifying the correct answer. The correct answer is generally connected to this context.
Question Type 10: RC Author 'Must be true' Questions
This question type is generally phrased in the following ways:
- According to the information given in the passage/according to the author of the passage, which one of the must be true?
- According to the information given in the passage/according to the author of the passage, which one of the must be false?
In this question type, you are essentially checking the factual relevance of content and whether the particular sentiment/fact/piece of information mentioned in the question has been mentioned in the same way in the passage or not. This question type demands content retention primarily, and as an approach, you will do well to list important points from each paragraph reading the passage. This will help you locate and connect the information with the answer choices.
Question Type 11: RC Fact-based Questions
This is the easiest question type that features in the CAT exam. Here, you are simply asked to identify the correct statement or fact from the given options. Once again, this question type is essentially about retaining information and quickly verifying the information in the answer choices with the information in the question statement.
Question Type 12: RC Vocabulary based Questions
The last RC question type is based on vocabulary. Here, you can be asked to identify the correct meanings of words or phrases. This question type is essentially driven by your knowledge of vocabulary and your ability to identify the meaning of words contextually. A good reading habit goes a long way in improving the skills required for this question type.
With this, we complete this exhaustive guide dealing with various RC question types. With the help of this guide, you should be able to solve CAT reading comprehensions a lot better and also should be able to refine your preparation approach for CAT reading comprehensions.
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