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CAT Questions | CAT Reading Comprehension | Natural Science

Natural Science in Reading comprehension has always been considered to be one of the most important sections of the CAT exam. It is one of the key areas of Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension of CAT(VARC) section. These RC passage for CAT consist of 2-3 paragraphs with a word limit of 500-900 words depending upon the management entrance exam. 4 to 5 questions will be given at the end based on the passage and candidate needs to solve them based on how they understand the passage. There are different genres in RCs, such as science, history, geography, current affairs, economics, humanities, etc. In this section, we focus on RCs based on Natural Science. That means, topics related to the sciences in the physical world, e.g. physics, chemistry, geology, biology.

Importance of Natural Science in Reading Comprehension

Every entrance examination has the section of Reading comprehension, Be it CAT, GMAT, XAT, NMAT, CET or SNAP or any other MBA entrance exam. CAT exam has a weightage for reading comprehension of 66%, i.e.,16 questions out of 24 questions. in CAT exam belongs to Reading comprehension.  Although the level of difficulty of the passages and the questions thereof vary from one exam to another – RC importance to a candidates’ overall performance in any management exam cannot be underestimated. Hence, the aspirants need to prepare well for this section as it takes time and constant practice to develop speed reading, understanding the context, and then correctly answer RC questions for CAT. 

Let’s see some more details in the table given below:

 

ExamYearNo. of RCsNo. of Rc
Questions
Natural Science
based RCs
No. of Questions in
Natural Science
based RCs
Level of Difficulty
CAT2020 Slot 152415Difficult
CAT2019 Slot 152415Moderate
CAT2019 Slot 2524210Moderate
CAT2018 Slot 1524210Difficult
CAT2018 Slot 252429Moderate
CAT2017 Slot 152416Difficult
CAT2017 Slot 252400
XAT202041200
XAT201941200
XAT201841300
IIFT201941600
IIFT201851600
IIFT201741600
SNAP201821000

Basic Concepts of Natural Science in Reading Comprehension

There are no specific concepts or written rules to answer the questions correctly for an RC passage for CAT. The most important skill is the candidates’ reading speed and understanding of the content. But still, we can use different strategies while practicing and check which one works.

  • Active Reading: Reading with concentration helps the reader engage with the content and understand it better
  • Speed of reading: We all read at our own pace. But in competitive exams, time is one of the factors we need to beat. Reading more will eventually help in increasing your reading speed
  • Skimming: This is a reading technique that can be very useful if used correctly. In the first read, it is usually advisable to skim through the passage, especially the numbers mentioned
  • Elimination method: Once you are done reading the passage, it’s time to deal with the questions. The questions can have 4 or 5 options depending upon the exam. You can eliminate options if those are too narrow, too broad, factually incorrect (as p’/er the passage), or are not at all related to the idea of the passage
  • Natural Science: Passages on natural science can include topics related to physics, chemistry, biology, or zoology (zoology related topic was asked in CAT 2019 Slot 1) among many other physical sciences. 

CAT Questions | CAT Reading Comprehension questions on Natural Science

Q1. In the late 1960s, while studying the northern-elephant-seal population along the coasts of Mexico and California, Burney Le Boeuf and his colleagues couldn’t help but notice that the threat calls of males at some sites sounded different from those of males at other sites. That was the first time dialects were documented in a nonhuman mammal. All the northern elephant seals that exist today are descendants of the small herd that survived on Isla Guadalupe [after the near extinction of the species in the nineteenth century]. As that tiny population grew, northern elephant seals started to recolonize former breeding locations. It was precisely on the more recently colonized islands where Le Boeuf found that the tempos of the male vocal displays showed stronger differences to the ones from Isla Guadalupe, the founder colony. In order to test the reliability of these dialects over time, Le Boeuf and other researchers visited Año Nuevo Island in California —the island where males showed the slowest pulse rates in their calls—every winter from 1968 to 1972. “What we found is that the pulse rate increased, but it still remained relatively slow compared to the other colonies we had measured in the past” Le Boeuf told me. At the individual level, the pulse of the calls stayed the same: A male would maintain his vocal signature throughout his lifetime. But the average pulse rate was changing. Immigration could have been responsible for this increase, as in the early 1970s, 43 percent of the males on Año Nuevo had come from southern rookeries that had a faster pulse rate. This led Le Boeuf and his collaborator, Lewis Petrinovich, to deduce that the dialects were, perhaps, a result of isolation over time, after the breeding sites had been recolonized. For instance, the first settlers of Año Nuevo could have had, by chance, calls with low pulse rates. At other sites, where the scientists found faster pulse rates, the opposite would have happened—seals with faster rates would have happened to arrive first. As the population continued to expand and the islands kept on receiving immigrants from the original population, the calls in all locations would have eventually regressed to the average pulse rate of the founder colony. In the decades that followed, scientists noticed that the geographical variations reported in 1969 were not obvious anymore.     In the early 2010s, while studying northern elephant seals on Año Nuevo Island, [researcher Caroline] Casey noticed, too, that what Le Boeuf had heard decades ago was not what she heard now.     By performing more sophisticated statistical analyses on both sets of data, [Casey and Le Boeuf] confirmed that dialects existed back then but had vanished. Yet there are other differences between the males from the late 1960s and their great-great-grandsons: Modern males exhibit more individual diversity, and their calls are more complex. While 50 years ago the drumming pattern was quite simple and the dialects denoted just a change in tempo, Casey explained, the calls recorded today have more complex structures, sometimes featuring doublets or triplets.  [CAT 2020] Q 1: All of the following can be inferred from Le Boeuf’s study as described in the passage EXCEPT that: A. male northern elephant seals might not have exhibited dialects had they not become nearly extinct in the nineteenth century. B. the average call pulse rate of male northern elephant seals at Año Nuevo Island increased from the early 1970s till the disappearance of dialects. C. changes in population and migration had no effect on the call pulse rate of individual male northern elephant seals. D. the influx of new northern elephant seals into Año Nuevo Island would have soon made the call pulse rate of its male seals exceed that of those at Isla Guadalupe.. Q 2: Which one of the following conditions, if true, could have ensured that male northern elephant seal dialects did not disappear? A. Besides Isla Guadalupe, there was one more surviving colony with the same average male call tempo from which no migration took place. B. The call tempo of individual immigrant male seals changed to match the average tempo of resident male seals in the host colony. C. Besides Isla Guadalupe, there was one more founder colony with the same average male call tempo from which male seals migrated to various other colonies. D. The call tempo of individual male seals in host colonies changed to match the average call tempo of immigrant male seals. Q 3: Which one of the following best sums up the overall history of transformation of male northern elephant seal calls? A. The calls have transformed from exhibiting simple composition, less individual variety, and great regional variety to complex composition, great individual variety, and less regional variety. B. Owing to migrations in the aftermath of near species extinction, the calls have transformed from exhibiting complex composition, less individual variety, and great regional variety to simple composition, less individual variety, and great regional variety. C. The calls have transformed from exhibiting simple composition, great individual variety, and less regional variety to complex composition, less individual variety, and great regional variety. D. Owing to migrations in the aftermath of near species extinction, the average call pulse rates in the recolonised breeding locations exhibited a gradual increase until they matched the tempo at the founding colony. Q 4: From the passage it can be inferred that the call pulse rate of male northern elephant seals in the southern rookeries was faster because: A. a large number of male northern elephant seals migrated from the southern rookeries to Año Nuevo Island in the early 1970s B. a large number of male northern elephant seals from Año Nuevo Island might have migrated to the southern rookeries to recolonise them. C. the male northern elephant seals of Isla Guadalupe with faster call pulse rates might have been the original settlers of the southern rookeries. D. the calls of male northern elephant seals in the southern rookeries have more sophisticated structures, containing doublets and triplets

1. According to the passage, over time, with migrations, the calls regressed to the average pulse rate of the founder colony in Isla Guadalupe. The passage does not indicate that the influx of new northern elephant seals into Año Nuevo Island would have made the call pulse rate of its male seals exceed that of those at Isla Guadalupe.

All other options can be inferred:

Option A: “At the individual level, the pulse of the calls stayed the same: A male would maintain his vocal signature throughout his lifetime.”

Option C: “This led Le Boeufvand his collaborator, Lewis Petrinovich, to deduce that the dialects were, perhaps, a result of isolation over time, after the breeding sites had been recolonized.”

Option D: “In the decades that followed, scientists noticed that the geographical variations reported in 1969 were not obvious anymore.”

The question is “All of the following can be inferred from Le Boeuf’s study as described in the passage EXCEPT that:”

Hence, the answer is, “the influx of new northern elephant seals into Año Nuevo Island would have soon made the call pulse rate of its male seals exceed that of those at Isla Guadalupe.”

2. According to the passage, the possible reason for dialects disappearing is that “as the population continued to expand and the islands kept on receiving immigrants from the original population, the calls in all locations would have eventually regressed to the average pulse rate of the founder colony”. If, instead, the call tempo of the immigrant seals changed to match that of the host colony (each of which has a different dialect), then dialects would be different.

Option A is incorrect as it is the immigrant male seals that change the average call tempo. Option B states exactly what happened, resulting in the diappearance of dialects. The scenario in option C would not change the outcome in any way.

The question is “Which one of the following conditions, if true, could have ensured that male northern elephant seal dialects did not disappear?”

Hence, the answer is, “The call tempo of individual immigrant male seals changed to match the average tempo of resident male seals in the host colony.”

3. The last few lines of the passage have the answer: “Modern males exhibit more individual diversity, and their calls are more complex. While 50 years ago the drumming pattern was quite simple and the dialects denoted just a change in tempo, Casey explained, the calls recorded today have more complex structures”.

The question is “Which one of the following best sums up the overall history of transformation of male northern elephant seal calls?”

Hence, the answer is, “The calls have transformed from exhibiting simple composition, less individual variety, and great regional variety to complex composition, great individual variety, and less regional variety.”

4. Note the observation in paragraph 4: “At other sites, where the scientists found faster pulse rates, the opposite would have happened—seals with faster rates would have happened to arrive first.”

The question is “From the passage it can be inferred that the call pulse rate of male northern elephant seals in the southern rookeries was faster because:”

Hence, the answer is, “the male northern elephant seals of Isla Guadalupe with faster call pulse rates might have been the original settlers of the southern rookeries.

Q.2. In a low-carbon world, renewable energy technologies are hot business. For investors looking to redirect funds, wind turbines and solar panels, among other technologies, seem a straightforward choice. But renewables need to be further scrutinized before being championed as forging a path toward a low-carbon future. Both the direct and indirect impacts of renewable energy must be examined to ensure that a climate-smart future does not intensify social and environmental harm. As renewable energy production requires land, water, and labor, among other inputs, it imposes costs on people and the environment. Hydropower projects, for instance, have led to community dispossession and exclusion . . .Renewable energy supply chains are also intertwined with mining, and their technologies contribute to growing levels of electronic waste . . . Furthermore, although renewable energy can be produced and distributed through small-scale, local systems, such an approach might not generate the high returns on investment needed to attract capital.

 

Although an emerging sector, renewables are enmeshed in long-standing resource extraction through their dependence on minerals and metals . . . Scholars document the negative consequences of mining . . . even for mining operations that commit to socially responsible practices[:] “many of the world’s largest reservoirs of minerals like cobalt, copper, lithium,[and] rare earth minerals”—the ones needed for renewable technologies—“are found in fragile states and under communities of marginalized peoples in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. ”Since the demand for metals and minerals will increase substantially in a renewable- powered future . . . this intensification could exacerbate the existing consequences of extractive activities.

 

Among the connections between climate change and waste, O’Neill . . . highlights that “devices developed to reduce our carbon footprint, such as lithium batteries for hybrid and electric cars or solar panels[,] become potentially dangerous electronic waste at the end of their productive life.” The disposal of toxic waste has long perpetuated social injustice through the flows of waste to the Global South and to marginalized communities in the Global North . ..

 

While renewable energy is a more recent addition to financial portfolios, investments in the sector must be considered in light of our understanding of capital accumulation. As agricultural finance reveals, the concentration of control of corporate activity facilitates profit generation. For some climate activists, the promise of renewables rests on their ability not only to reduce emissions but also to provide distributed, democratized access to energy . . .But Burke and Stephens . . . caution that “renewable energy systems offer a possibility but nota certainty for more democratic energy futures.” Small-scale, distributed forms of energy are only highly profitable to institutional investors if control is consolidated somewhere in the financial chain. Renewable energy can be produced at the household or neighborhood level. However, such small-scale, localized production is unlikely to generate high returns for investors. For financial growth to be sustained and expanded by the renewable sector, production and trade in renewable energy technologies will need to be highly concentrated, and large asset management firms will likely drive those developments. [CAT 2020]

 

Q 5: Which one of the following statements, if false, could be seen as best supporting the arguments in the passage?

A) Renewable energy systems have little or no environmental impact.

B) Renewable energy systems are as expensive as non-renewable energy systems.

C) Renewable energy systems are not as profitable as non-renewable energy systems.

D) The production and distribution of renewable energy through small-scale, local systems is not economically sustainable.

 

Q 6: All of the following statements, if true, could be seen as supporting the arguments in the passage, EXCEPT:

A) One reason for the perpetuation of social injustice lies in the problem of the disposal of toxic waste.

B) Marginalised people in Africa, Asia and Latin America have often been the main sufferers of corporate mineral extraction projects.

C) The example of agricultural finance helps us to see how to concentrate corporate activity in the renewable energy sector.

D)The possible negative impacts of renewable energy

 

 

Q 7: Which one of the following statements, if true, could be an accurate inference from the first paragraph of the passage?

A) The author has reservations about the consequences of non-renewable energy systems.

B) The author does not think renewable energy systems can be as efficient as non-renewable energy systems

C) The author’s only reservation is about the profitability of renewable energy systems.

D) The author has reservations about the consequences of renewable energy systems.

 

Q 8: Which one of the following statements best captures the main argument of the last paragraph of the passage?

A) Renewable energy systems are not democratic unless they are corporate-controlled.

B) The development of the renewable energy sector is a double-edged sword.

C) Renewable energy produced at the household or neighbourhood level is more efficient than mass-produced forms of energy.

D) Most forms of renewable energy are not profitable investments for institutional investors.

 

Q 9: Based on the passage, we can infer that the author would be most supportive of which one of the following practices?

A) The study of the coexistence of marginalised people with their environments.

B) Encouragement for the development of more environment-friendly carbon-based fuels.

C) More stringent global policies and regulations to ensure a more just system of toxic waste disposal.

D) The localised, small-scale development of renewable energy systems

 

5. Trickily worded question. The statement that, if false, supports the arguments in the passage is the one that, if true, does not support the arguments in the passage.

Clearly, statement D goes against one of the key ideas in the passage.

All other statements are based on ideas in the passage.

The question is “Which one of the following statements, if false, could be seen as best supporting the arguments in the passage?”

Hence, the answer is, “Renewable energy systems have little or no environmental impact.”

6. Statements A and C, if true, support the argument in the passage that the “disposal of toxic waste has long perpetuated social injustice through the flows of waste to the Global South and to marginalized communities in the Global North”.

According to the passage, “agricultural finance reveals the concentration of control of corporate activity facilitates profit generation”. Statement B is based on the same idea.

Statement D, however, is different from the arguments in the passage. According to the passage, though investment in renewable energy is a “straightforward choice”, further scrutiny is needed before declaring that it will lead to a low-carbon future.

The question is “All of the following statements, if true, could be seen as supporting the arguments in the passage, EXCEPT:”

Hence, the answer is, “The possible negative impacts of renewable energy need to be studied before it can be offered as a financial investment opportunity.”

7. “For investors looking to redirect funds, wind turbines and solar panels, among other technologies, seem a straightforward choice. But renewables need to be further scrutinized before being championed as forging a path toward a low-carbon future.” Clearly, the author has reservations about the consequences of renewable energy systems.

The question is “Which one of the following statements, if true, could be an accurate inference from the first paragraph of the passage?”

Hence, the answer is, “The author has reservations about the consequences of renewable energy systems.”

8. Option C is the main idea of the passage. All other options can be easily eliminated.

Option A is clearly incorrect, as it implies corporate control ensures democratic access. The last paragraph states the exact opposite of options B and C.

The question is “Which one of the following statements best captures the main argument of the last paragraph of the passage?”

Hence, the answer is, “The development of the renewable energy sector is a double-edged sword.

9. The author discusses the social injustice perpetuated through the disposal of toxic waste in the passage. He is hence likely to be supportive of more stringent global policies and regulations to ensure a more just system of toxic waste disposal.

The study of the coexistence of marginalized people with their environments is not related to the main idea of the passage. The author clearly states that small-scale renewable energy systems do not produce high returns. The author does not broach upon the idea of more environment-friendly carbon-based fuels in the passage.

The question is “Based on the passage, we can infer that the author would be most supportive of which one of the following practices?”

Hence, the answer is, “More stringent global policies and regulations to ensure a more just system of toxic waste disposal.

How to prepare for Natural Science Questions

Level 1

  • The basic step towards mastering RC is reading. Read as much as you can. You can start by reading something that you are interested in. It can be a newspaper, novel, non-fiction, magazine, etc.
  • After reading, start forming a summary of it and try understanding the idea behind what you have read
  • Make a habit of reading and summarizing 1-2 RC passages for CAT a day. The more you read, your ability to skim through unimportant or lengthy descriptions will increase and you will concentrate more and more on the facts relevant to answering the questions
  • Take help of live lectures and lecture notes. Go through MBAP CAT E Book (Concept Theory) study material and MBAP CAT E Book (Practice Questions).

Level 2

  • Once you have developed a reading habit, start reading topics specific to the ones that could be asked in the CAT paper
  • Reading the editorials of the newspapers can help the student to familiarize with the concepts on which the passages could be based
  • Students should also time themselves to check how many words they can read per minute. A score of 300 words per minute is good but understanding while reading is also of prime importance and should not be neglected. Start practicing from MBAP Topic wise CAT previous year question paper

Level 3

 

  • Once the students cross above two levels, they are ready to solve the CAT previous year question paper
  • Also, it is very important to solve different types of passages i.e. around different topics from MBAP CAT Advance E books. Some passages would be of moderate difficulty and others might be extremely difficult. Hence, the more a student practices, the more will be his chances of scoring high
  • Try using the elimination strategy as explained in the question above to go around the question and solve it effectively

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