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CAT Exam | CAT Verbal Questions: History and Geography

Introduction

History and Geography: 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 CAT Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC) section. 4-5 questions need to be solved at the end of the passage. There are different genres in Reading Comprehension, such as science, history, geography, current affairs, economics, humanities, etc. In this section, we focus on Reading Comprehension based on History/Geography.

Importance Of Reading Comprehension

Every single entrance exam related to management has a Reading Comprehension section, be it CAT, GMAT, XAT, NMAT, CET or SNAP. And these RC based questions usually constitute 24% of the total marks – which is almost one-fourth of the entire paper. For example, in CAT, there are 16 questions of RCs out of 24 questions in VARC i.e. having 70% weightage. 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. 

Let’s see some more details of number of times History and Geography passages have featured in the table given below:

ExamYearNo. of RCsNo. of Rc
Questions
History/Geography
based RCs
No. of Questions in
History/Geography
based RCs
Level of Difficulty
CAT2020 Slot 141815Moderate
CAT2019 Slot 1524215Moderate
CAT2019 Slot 252428Difficult
CAT2018 Slot 152414Moderate
CAT2018 Slot 252400
CAT2017 Slot 152400
CAT2017 Slot 252410Moderate
XAT202041200
XAT201941200
XAT201841300
IIFT201941600
IIFT201851600
IIFT201741600
SNAP201821000

CAT Questions & other MBA entrance exams | CAT Verbal Questions: History and Geography:

The word ‘anarchy’ comes from the Greek anarkhia, meaning contrary to authority or without a ruler, and was used in a derogatory sense until 1840, when it was adopted by Pierre-Joseph Proudhon to describe his political and social ideology. Proudhon argued that organization without government was both possible and desirable. In the evolution of political ideas, anarchism can be seen as an ultimate projection of both liberalism and socialism, and the differing strands of anarchist thought can be related to their emphasis on one or the other of these. 

Historically, anarchism arose not only as an explanation of the gulf between the rich and the poor in any community, and of the reason why the poor have been obliged to fight for their share of a common inheritance, but as a radical answer to the question ‘What went wrong?’ that followed the ultimate outcome of the French Revolution. It had ended not only with a reign of terror and the emergence of a newly rich ruling caste, but with a new adored emperor, Napoleon Bonaparte, strutting through his conquered territories.

The anarchists and their precursors were unique on the political Left in affirming that workers and peasants, grasping the chance that arose to bring an end to centuries of exploitation and tyranny, were inevitably betrayed by the new class of politicians, whose first priority was to re-establish a centralized state power. After every revolutionary uprising, usually won at a heavy cost for ordinary populations, the new rulers had no hesitation in applying violence and terror, a secret police, and a professional army to maintain their control.

For anarchists the state itself is the enemy, and they have applied the same interpretation to the outcome of every revolution of the 19th and 20th centuries. This is not merely because every state keeps a watchful and sometimes punitive eye on its dissidents, but because every state protects the privileges of the powerful.

The mainstream of anarchist propaganda for more than a century has been anarchist-communism, which argues that property in land, natural resources, and the means of production should be held in mutual control by local communities, federating for innumerable joint purposes with other communes. It differs from state socialism in opposing the concept of any central authority. Some anarchists prefer to distinguish between anarchist-communism and collectivist anarchism in order to stress the obviously desirable freedom of an individual or family to possess the resources needed for living, while not implying the right to own the resources needed by others…

There are, unsurprisingly, several traditions of individualist anarchism, one of them deriving from the ‘conscious egoism’ of the German writer Max Stirner (1806–56), and another from a remarkable series of 19th-century American figures who argued that in protecting our own autonomy and associating with others for common advantages, we are promoting the good of all. These thinkers differed from free-market liberals in their absolute mistrust of American capitalism, and in their emphasis on mutualism. 

                                                                                                                                                                               [CAT 2020, Slot 1]
 
Q.1 Which one of the following best expresses the similarity between American individualist anarchists and free-market liberals as well as the difference between the former and the latter?
 
A. Both reject the regulatory power of the state; but the former favour a people’s state, while the latter favour state intervention in markets.
B. Both prioritise individual autonomy; but the former also emphasise mutual dependence, while the latter do not do so.
C. Both are sophisticated arguments for capitalism; but the former argue for a morally upright capitalism, while the latter argue that the market is the only morality.
D. Both are founded on the moral principles of altruism; but the latter conceive of the market as a force too mystical for the former to comprehend.
 
Answer:
 
1. Option B
Individualist anarchism, according to the last paragraph, involves “protecting our own
autonomy and associating with others for common advantages”. The last line of the passage states that these thinkers “differed from free-market liberals in their absolute mistrust of American
capitalism, and in their emphasis on mutualism.”In other words, while both individualist anarchists and free-market thinkers agreed on the importance of individual autonomy, individualist anarchists distrusted capitalism and put emphasis on mutualism while free-market thinkers did not.
All other options mention ideas like state intervention in markets, morally upright capitalism and altrusim which are not discussed in the passage.
Q.2 The author makes all of the following arguments in the passage, EXCEPT:
 
A. Individualist anarchism is actually constituted of many streams, all of which focus on the autonomy of the individual.
B. The popular perception of anarchism as espousing lawlessness and violence comes from a mainstream mistrust of collectivism.
C. For anarchists, the state is the enemy because all states apply violence and terror to maintain their control.
D. The failure of the French Revolution was because of its betrayal by the new class of politicians who emerged from it.
2. Option B
The passage makes no mention of the mainstream mistrust of collectivism.
In the last paragraph, the passage states that “there are, unsurprisingly, several traditions of individualist anarchism..”. So, option A is true.
Option C is true, based on paragraphs 3 and 4: “For anarchists the state itself is the enemy….because
every state keeps a watchful and sometimes punitive eye on its dissidents..”. Paragraph 3 talks about the “violence and terror” applied by centralised state power.
Option D is also true, based on paragraphs 2 and 3: French Revolution “had ended not only with a
reign of terror and the emergence of a newly rich ruling caste” and “workers and peasants, grasping the chance that arose to bring an end to centuries of exploitation and tyranny, were inevitably betrayed by the new class of politicians…”.
 
Q.3 According to the passage, what is the one idea that is common to all forms of anarchism?
 
A. There is no idea common to all forms of anarchism; that is why it is anarchic.
B. They all focus on the primacy of the power of the individual.
C. They all derive from the work of Pierre-Joseph Proudhon.
D. They are all opposed to the centralisation of power in the state.
3. Option D
The passage clearly states that “for anarchists the state itself is the enemy and they have applied the same interpretation to the outcome of every revolution of the 19th and 20th centuries.”.
Note that option B is incorrect because it talks of the ‘primacy’ of the individual while anarchism puts emphasis on mutualism.
 
 

Q.4 The author believes that the new ruling class of politicians betrayed the principles of the French Revolution, but does not specify in what way. In the context of the passage, which statement below is the likeliest explanation of that betrayal?
 
A. The new ruling class rode to power on the strength of the workers’ revolutionary anger, but then turned to oppress that very class.
B. The anarchists did not want a new ruling class, but were not politically strong enough to stop them.
C. The new ruling class was constituted mainly of anarchists who were against the destructive impact of the Revolution on the market.
D. The new ruling class struck a deal with the old ruling class to share power between them.
4. Option A
The passage discusses the French Revolution and goes on to state in paragraph 3 that “after every revolutionary uprising, usually won at a heavy cost for ordinary populations, the new rulers had no hesitation in applying violence and terror, a secret police, and a professional army to maintain their control.”So, option A is the correct choice.

List of Concepts in RC on History and Geography:

There are no specific concepts or written rules to answer the questions correctly for an RC passage. The most important skill is the candidates’ reading speed and understanding of the content. But still, we can use different strategies while practising 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: You can eliminate options if those are too narrow, too broad, factually incorrect (as per the passage), or are not at all related to the idea of the passage.

History/Geography:

Passages on History and Geography usually have a wide array of topics ranging from talking about ancient kings and certain anecdotes from the past to talking about certain region and how it has evolved geographically over some time. But sorts of history questions have been asked in Slot 1 in CAT 2020. The Reading Comprehension for CAT from the History and Geography topics are usually filled with either facts or numbers or sometimes, both.

It is always advisable to skim through the passage in the first chance to understand the basic story-line of the passage. One might skip the data and values given in this chance. The next reading, when one is comfortable with the passage length and basic idea, should be the in-depth one. 

Preparation Phase for RC on History and Geography:

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 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. Use MBAP CAT E-book (Concept theory) study material for practicing RCs on History and Geography.

Level 2

  • Once you have developed a reading habit, start reading topics specific to the ones that could be asked in the CAT paper. Watch MBAP live lecture Recording (Basic). Candidates can also find some examples in MBAP Previous year CAT question 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.

Level 3

  • Once the students cross above two levels, they are ready to solve the CAT question papers from the previous years.
  • Also, it is very important to solve different types of passages i.e. around different topics. Some passages would be of moderate difficulty and others might be extremely difficult. They can find out tough reading comprehension passages for CAT in the verbal ability and reading comprehension practice section from MBAP CAT E-book (Practice Questions).
  • Try using the elimination strategy as explained in the question above to go around the question and solve it effectively.

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