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CAT Questions | CAT VARC Questions: Paragraph Summary Questions

Paragraph summary questions are the most common topics under the Verbal Ability section in some of the MBA entrance exams like CATIIFTSNAP. Paragraph Summary questions require utmost reasoning skills and thus holds huge importance for any entrance exam.

Below are the details about the Paragraph Summary Questions in the VARC section for different competitive MBA exam is given:

CAT Morning slot: –

Para Summary
YearNo of QuestionsGood attemptDifficulty
202121Moderate

CAT Afternoon Slot: –

Para Summary
YearNo of QuestionsGood attemptDifficulty
202131-2Moderate-Difficult

List of Concepts in Paragraph Summary: -

VARC for CAT is one of the most scoring sections in the exam. It is important for a candidate to practice all of the Verbal Ability questions. 

How to summarize a passage?

• While solving a para summary for CAT, read the paragraph carefully; if the essence of the paragraph is not understood properly, then it will be difficult to arrive at the right answer

• Once the para is understood, one must look for nouns, verbs and other connecting words which can help in creating a logical relationship between the nouns

• With this logical link between the nouns, one must start comparing the options. The options must not distort the main idea of the paragraph

• Using the differences, one must look for the point of differences in different options and try to analyse the connection between the options and the paragraph

• After analysing the options, the elimination process can be used to arrive at the correct option

Some CAT Paragraph Topics from Previous Year Papers:

Below we have mentioned 4 different Paragraph Topics that have come in the CAT exam before. Along with them, we have also provided Summary paragraph example on how to solve these questions:

Q1) CAT 2020 (Slot 3)

A distinguishing feature of language is our ability to refer to absent things, known as a displaced reference. A speaker can bring distant referents to mind in the absence of any obvious stimuli. Thoughts, not limited to the here and now, can pop into our heads for unfathomable reasons. This ability to think about distant things necessarily precedes the ability to talk about them. 

Thought precedes meaningful referential communication. A prerequisite for the emergence of human-like meaningful symbols is that the mental categories they relate to can be invoked even in the absence of immediate stimuli.

1. Thoughts precede all speech acts and these thoughts pop up in our heads even in the absence of any stimulus. 

2. Displaced reference is particular to humans and thoughts pop into our heads for no real reason. 

3. Thoughts are essential to communication and only humans have the ability to think about objects not present in their surroundings. 

4. The ability to think about objects not present in our environment precedes the development of human communication 

A summary of the passage would read like the following: 

Displaced reference is the propensity to have thoughts about distant things without the absence of any obvious stimulus. Displaced reference or thoughts precede language or communication. Option 1 distorts the meaning of the paragraph by stating that thoughts precede all speech acts. This implies that we think of a particular subject before speaking about it. The passage mentions that thoughts occurred before communication or language in humans. The two interpretations are not compatible. Secondly, “all” speech acts are too strong an assumption to make. Therefore, option 1 is eliminated. The paragraph does not mention that displaced reference is unique to humans. Eliminate option 2. The paragraph does not mention that the ability to have thoughts not present in our surroundings is unique only to humans. Eliminate option 3. Option 4 summarizes the paragraph correctly. The ability to think precedes human communication (as mentioned at the top of the solution). Hence, the correct answer is option 4. 

 

Q2) CAT 2019 (Slot 1)

Physics is a pure science that seeks to understand the behaviour of matter without regard to whether it will afford any practical benefit. Engineering is the correlative applied science in which physical theories are put to some specific use, such as building a bridge or a nuclear reactor. Engineers obviously rely heavily on the discoveries of physicists, but an engineer’s knowledge of the world is not the same as the physicist’s knowledge. In fact, an engineer’s know-how will often depend on physical theories that, from the point of view of pure physics, are false. There are some reasons for this. First, theories that are false in the purest and strictest sense are still sometimes very good approximations to the true ones, and often have the added virtue of being much easier to work with. Second, sometimes the true theories apply only under highly idealized conditions which can only be created under controlled experimental situations. The engineer finds that in the real world, theories rejected by physicists yield more accurate predictions than the ones that they accept.

1. The relationship between pure and applied science is strictly linear, with the pure science directing applied science, and never the other way round. 

2. Though engineering draws heavily from pure science, it contributes to knowledge, by incorporating the constraints and conditions in the real world. 

3. The unique task of the engineer is to identify, understand, and interpret the design constraints to produce a successful result. 

Let us sum up the passage. The passage states that physics seeks to understand the behaviour of matter without regard to whether it will afford any practical benefit while engineering uses the theories of physics for some specific use. Secondly, in real-world situations, engineers often use theories from physics that have been rejected under controlled experimental situations. Option 1 is an assumption that is not borne out by the passage. The passage does state that theories of physics or pure sciences do direct applied sciences such as engineering but we do not know whether or not the reverse is true. Thus, option 1 is eliminated. Option 2 summarizes the paragraph succinctly. It restates the meanings given in summing up the passage. Though engineering uses a lot of theories of physics it also accepts a lot of theories rejected by physicists that have been created in controlled experimental situations because they happen to work in real-world situations. Option 3 erroneously refers to “design constraints” instead of the “acceptance and rejections of theories of pure science.” The paragraph does not mention “design constraints” at all but the fact that engineers frequently use theories of physics that have been rejected in controlled experimental situations. Thus, option 3 is eliminated. Option 4 distorts the meaning of the paragraph. Engineering and physics do not fundamentally differ on matters like building a bridge or a nuclear reactor. The paragraph states in sentence 2 that engineers use the theories of physics to build bridges and nuclear reactors. It is just that some theories of physics which have been rejected in controlled experimental situations are put into use by engineers in real-world situations but fundamentally engineers use the theories of physics and do not differ from them. Hence, the correct answer is option 2. 

Q3) CAT 2019 (Slot 2)

Vance Packard’s The Hidden Persuaders alerted the public to the psychoanalytical techniques used by the advertising industry. Its premise was that advertising agencies were using depth interviews to identify hidden consumer motivations, which were then used to entice consumers to buy goods. Critics and reporters often wrongly assumed that Packard was writing mainly about subliminal advertising. Packard never mentioned the word subliminal, however, and 

devoted very little space to discussions of “subthreshold” effects. Instead, his views largely aligned with the notion that individuals do not always have access to their conscious thoughts and can be persuaded by supraliminal messages without their knowledge. 

1. Packard held that advertising as a ‘hidden persuasion’ builds on peoples’ conscious thoughts and awareness, by understanding the hidden motivations of consumers and works at the subliminal level. 

2. Packard argued that advertising as a ‘hidden persuasion’ works at the supraliminal level, wherein the people targeted are aware of being persuaded, after understanding the hidden motivations of consumers and works. 

3. Packard argued that advertising as a ‘hidden persuasion’ understands the hidden motivations of consumers and works at the subliminal level, on the subconscious level of the awareness of the people targeted. 

4. Packard held that advertising as a ‘hidden persuasion’ understands the hidden motivations of consumers and works at the supraliminal level, though the people targeted have no awareness of being persuaded. 

What does the passage state? Vance Packard’s argument is clear. Advertising agencies use supraliminal messages, which individuals are not conscious of, to entice them to buy goods. Furthermore, individuals have no knowledge or awareness that supraliminal messages are being used to entice them. Now let us examine each option: Option 1 contradicts Packard’s assertion by stating that advertising or the ‘hidden persuasion’ builds on peoples’ conscious thoughts and awareness. The passage clearly states that advertisers use supraliminal messages which people are not conscious of. Secondly, option 1 states that advertising works at the subliminal level. Packard was clear that the hidden persuasion works at the supraliminal level. Therefore, option 1 can be eliminated. 

 

Option 2 is incorrect. While it is true that Packard believed that advertising works at the supraliminal level, option 2 states that people targeted are aware they are being persuaded. They are not aware that they are being persuaded. Therefore, option 2 can also be eliminated. Option 3 is also incorrect as the option states that advertising works at the subliminal level while Packard was of the view that it works at the supraliminal level. Therefore, option 3 can also be eliminated. Option 4 summarises the passage correctly and succinctly by stating the crux of the passage. Advertising understands the hidden motivations of consumers and works at the supraliminal level in which the consumers have no idea that they are being persuaded. Hence, the correct answer is option 4. 

 

Q 4) CAT 2018 (Slot 2)

Privacy-challenged office workers may find it hard to believe, but open-plan offices and cubicles were invented by architects and designers who thought that to break down the social walls that divide people, you had to break down the real walls, too. Modernist architects saw walls and rooms as downright fascist. The spaciousness and flexibility of an open plan would liberate homeowners and office dwellers from the confines of boxes. But companies took up their idea less out of a democratic ideology than a desire to pack in as many workers as they could. The typical open-plan office of the first half of the 20th century was a white-collar assembly line. Cubicles were interior designers’ attempt to put some soul back in. 

1. Wall-free office spaces did not quite work out the way their utopian inventors intended, as they became tools for the exploitation of labour. 

2. Wall-free office spaces could have worked out the way their utopian inventors intended had companies cared for workers’ satisfaction. 

3. Wall-free office spaces did not quite work out as companies don’t believe in democratic ideology. 

4. Wall-free office spaces did not quite work out as desired and therefore cubicles came into being 

The crux of the paragraph is: Wall-free offices were meant to break down social barriers but were instead used by companies to pack in as many workers as they could and thus exploit them. Options 2, 3 and 4 do not mention one important facet of the paragraph – that wall-free offices of companies were designed to pack as many workers as they could. Therefore, they were tools of exploitation by companies. They can therefore be eliminated. Option 1 is the correct summary as this factor has been mentioned. Hence, the correct answer is option 1. 

How to Deal with Paragraph Summary Preparation

Verbal Ability for CAT requires serious preparation, so here are 3 levels one should follow while preparing:

Level 1

• Students are supposed to have basic knowledge of the para summary questions for CAT, on how to comprehend the paragraph

• Candidates can read short articles and try summarizing the paragraph

• To score well in these questions, it is important to first understand the basics. For this, we recommend using the MBAP CAT E-Book (Concept Theory) study material. If you find difficulty understanding the concepts, use the MBAP Live Lecture Recording (Basic) on Basic Concepts

• To get better clarity on Paragraph Summary, use MBAP CAT E-Book (Practice Questions) and solve all the relevant practice questions. Also, solve the MBAP lecture assignment to complete the basics. In these E-books, you will find sample passages for summary writing that would further improve your abilities

Level 2

• Paragraph summary questions can be practised from Arun Sharma Verbal Ability LOD-2, which gives a fair idea on para summary questions

• It will be way easier for you to attempt the questions by solving previous year papers. They are all readily available if you use MBAP Topic Wise Previous Year CAT Questions

Level 3

• Candidates can practice extra problems from Arun Sharma LOD-3, to further build the concepts. Practising these problems will help in enhancing the reasoning to summarize

• For further advancement on this topic, use MBAP CAT Advance E-Books and solve the MBAP Previous Year CAT paper

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