CAT Questions | Paragraph Summary

Paragraph summary questions are the most common topics under the Logical reasoning section in some of the MBA entrance exams like CAT, IIFT, SNAP. The questions based on this topic requires candidates to assess reasoning skills. 

Below, the details about the number system for different competitive MBA exam is given:

CAT Morning slot: –

Para Summary
YearNo of QuestionsGood attemptDifficulty
201932Moderate

CAT Afternoon Slot: –

Para Summary
YearNo of QuestionsGood attemptDifficulty
201932Moderate-Difficult

List of Concepts in Para Summary: -

Some of the steps which can be followed to tackle the para summary questions are as follows: –

  • 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 Questions from Previous Papers

Q1) 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.  (CAT-19)

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) 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. (CAT-19)

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) 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) 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. 

Q 5) Social movement organizations often struggle to mobilize supporters from allied movements in their efforts to achieve critical mass. Organizations with hybrid identities—those whose organizational identities span the boundaries of two or more social movements, issues, or identities—are vital to mobilizing these constituencies. Studies of the post-9/11 U.S. antiwar movement show that individuals with past involvement in non-anti-war movements are more likely to join hybrid organizations than are individuals without involvement in non-anti-war movements. In addition, they show that organizations with hybrid identities occupy relatively more central positions in inter-organizational contact networks within the antiwar movement and thus recruit significantly more participants in demonstrations than do nonhybrid organizations. 

1. Post 9/11 studies show that people who are involved in non-anti-war movements are likely to join hybrid organizations. 

2. Organizations with hybrid identities are able to mobilize individuals with different points of view. 

3. Movements that work towards social change often find it difficult to mobilize a critical mass of supporters. 

4. Hybrid organizations attract individuals that are deeply involved in anti-war movements. 

The crux of the paragraph is: Social movement organizations often struggle to mobilize supporters from allied movements in their efforts to achieve critical mass. However, hybrid organizations – those whose organizational identities span the boundaries of two or more social movements, issues, or identities – can recruit significantly more participants in demonstrations than do non-hybrid organizations. Options 1, 3 and 4 miss out on the crucial point of hybrid organizations being able to mobilize more people than non-hybrid organizations. Only option 2 includes this critical piece of information from the paragraph. 

Q 6) The passage given below is followed by four summaries. Choose the option that best captures the author’s position. 

Production and legitimation of scientific knowledge can be approached from some perspectives. To study knowledge production from the sociology of professions perspective would mean a focus on the institutionalization of a body of knowledge. The professions- approach informed earlier research on managerial occupation, business schools and management knowledge. It, however, tends to reify institutional power structures in its understanding of the links between knowledge and authority. Knowledge production is restricted in the perspective to the selected members of the professional community, most notably to the university faculties and professional colleges. Power is understood as a negative mechanism, which prevents the non–professional actors from offering their ideas and information as legitimate knowledge.  (CAT-18)

1. Professions-approach aims at the institutionalization of knowledge but restricts knowledge production as a function of a select few. 

2. The study of knowledge production can be done through many perspectives. 

3. Professions-approach focuses on the creation of institutions of higher education and disciplines to promote knowledge production 

4. The professions-approach has been one of the most relied upon a perspective in the study of management knowledge production. 

This question, though it looks a little challenging, is quite simple. You must read the passage twice to get some basic understanding of it. The first sentence says that scientific knowledge can be approached from several perspectives. Studying something from the perspective of a particular profession would lead to the institutionalization of that knowledge. Though it helps, it restricts knowledge production to a domain of few, which results in power centred in the hands of few, preventing the non-professional actors from offering their ideas. The above simplification helps us arrive at option 1 as the right choice. Options 3 and 4 are against the author’s stand in the passage. Option 2 is not the core message, but an inference that can be derived from the above passage.

Q 7) Artificial embryo twinning is a relatively low-tech way to make clones. As the name suggests, this technique mimics the natural process that creates identical twins. In nature, twins form very early in development when the embryo splits in two. Twinning happens in the first days after egg and sperm join, while the embryo is made of just a small number of unspecialized cells. Each half of the embryo continues dividing on its own, ultimately developing into separate, complete individuals. Since they developed from the same fertilized egg, the resulting individuals are genetically identical. (CAT-18)

1. Artificial embryo twinning is low-tech and mimetic of the natural development of genetically identical twins from the embryo after fertilization. 

2. Artificial embryo twinning is low-tech unlike the natural development of identical twins from the embryo after fertilization. 

3. Artificial embryo twinning is just like the natural development of twins, where during fertilization twins are formed. 

4. Artificial embryo twinning is low-tech and is close to the natural development of twins where the embryo splits into two identical twins. 

This is a slightly tricky question in which we have to pick the options after carefully comparing them with the others. The first sentence says that artificial embryo twinning is low-tech. The second sentence says that it mimics the natural process that creates identical twins. Option 1 very much captures the key ideas. In option 2, the word ‘unlike’ shows dissimilarity, but the passage focuses on similarity, not dissimilarity. Option 2 goes out. Option 3 says twins are formed during fertilization, but the passage says that the twins are formed after fertilization. 

Option 4 is close to 1 but does not specify the exact time when the embryo splits into two. Moreover, the passage says mimics, while option 4 says ‘close to’, which is a slight distortion of the facts as given in the passage.

 

Q 8) The conceptualization of landscape as a geometric object first occurred in Europe and is historically related to the European conceptualization of the organism, particularly the human body, as a geometric object with parts having a rational, three-dimensional organization and integration. The European idea of the landscape appeared before the science of landscape emerged, and it is no coincidence that Renaissance artists such as Leonardo da Vinci, who studied the structure of the human body, also facilitated an understanding of the structure of the landscape. 

A landscape which had been a subordinate background to religious or historical narratives became an independent genre or subject of art by the end of the sixteenth century or the beginning of the seventeenth century. (CAT-18)

1. Landscape became a major subject of art at the turn of the sixteenth century. 

2. The three-dimensional understanding of the organism in Europe led to a similar approach towards the understanding of landscape. 

3. The study of landscape as an independent genre was aided by the Renaissance artists. 

4. The Renaissance artists were responsible for the study of landscape as a subject of art 

Both options 2 and 3 are very close. Option a goes out because the paragraph says that landscape became an independent genre of art of form, while the option says it became a major subject of art. This is a distortion of the fact given in the passage. 

Option 2 too has some distortions; while the passage says that conceptualization of landscape as a geometric object is related to the European conceptualization of the organism as a geometric object, the option says that three-dimensional understanding of the organism led to a similar approach…. It should be a geometric understanding of the organism.

Option 3 best captures the author’s position, which in the passage is visible as “Renaissance artists also facilitated an understanding of the structure of landscape”. 

Option 4 is incorrect because it distorts the fact by saying the Renaissance artists were responsible, while the passage says that they facilitated.

 

Q 9) The early optimism about sport’s deterrent effects on delinquency was premature as researchers failed to find any consistent relationships between sports participation and deviance. As the initial studies were based upon cross-sectional data and the effects captured were short-term, it was problematic to test and verify the temporal sequencing of events suggested by the deterrence theory. The correlation between sport and delinquency could not be disentangled from class and cultural variables known. Choosing individuals to play sports in the first place was problematic, which became more acute in the subsequent decades as researchers began to document just how closely sports participation was linked to social class indicators. (CAT-18)

1. Sports participation is linked to class and cultural variables such as education, income, and social capital. 

2. Contradicting the previous optimism, latter researchers have proved that there is no consistent relationship between sports participation and deviance. 

3. Statistical and empirical weaknesses stand in the way of inferring any relationship between sports participation and deviance. 

4. There is a direct relationship between sport participation and delinquency but it needs more empirical evidence. 

Q 10) A Japanese government panel announced that it recommends regulating only genetically modified organisms that have had foreign genes permanently introduced into their genomes and not those whose endogenous genes have been edited. The only stipulation is that researchers and businesses will have to register their modifications to plants or animals with the government, except for microbes cultured in contained environments. Reactions to the decision are mixed. While lauding the potential benefits of genome editing, and editorial opposes across-the-board permission. Unforeseen risks in gene editing cannot be ruled out. All genetically modified products must go through the same safety and labelling processes regardless of method. (CAT-18)

1. A government panel in Japan says transgenic modification and genome editing are not the same. 

2. Excepting microbes cultured in contained environments from the regulations of genome editing is premature. 

3. Exempting from regulations the editing of endogenous genes is not desirable as this procedure might be risk-prone. 

4. Creating categories within genetically modified products in terms of transgenic modification and genome editing advances science but defies laws. 

How to Deal with The Topic Preparation: -

Level 1 

  • Students are supposed to have basic knowledge of the para summary questions, on how to comprehend the paragraph
  • Candidates can read short articles and try summarizing the paragraph

Level 2 

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

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