CAT Verbal Questions - Critical Reasoning

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Critical Reasoning questions that appear in the verbal section of CAT test reading ability, comprehension and reasoning. Have a look at some examples below.
  1. Indian Labor Laws

    India’s baffling array of state and national labor laws date to the 1940s: one provides for the type and number of spittoons in a factory. Another says an enterprise with more than 100 workers needs government permission to scale back or close. Many Indian businesses stay small in order to remain beyond the reach of the laws. Big firms use temporary workers to avoid them. Less than 15% of Indian workers have legal job security. The new government can sidestep the difficult politics of curbing privileges by establishing a new, simpler labor contract that gives basic protection to workers but makes lay-offs less costly to firms. It would apply only to new hires; the small proportion of existing workers with gold-star protections would keep them.

    Which of the following options best summarizes the main idea of the paragraph?

    1. More Indian workers can get permanent jobs and legal job security if existing labor laws are reformed.
    2. Effective labor law reform can encourage many Indian businesses to grow to more than 100 workers.
    3. Outdated Indian labor laws need to be simplified to provide basic protection to workers and curb privileges.
    4. The difficult politics of curbing privileges can be avoided if the changes in the labor law only apply to the new hires.
  2. Tax Morality

    A study published in 2006 by Friedrich Schneider on the world’s shadow economies dealt briefly with the “tax morality” of Germans. According to the study, two-thirds of the Germans surveyed regarded tax evasion as a “trivial offence,” while only one-third judged stealing a newspaper this way. Indian tax morality is similar, but it makes a distinction between expatriate illicit money, which is viewed as a serious crime perpetrated by the very corrupt, and money held within India, which is perceived as a practical measure.

    Which of the following conclusions can be drawn from the above?
    (i) Two-thirds of the Germans evade tax and consider it only a trivial offence.
    (ii) Stealing a newspaper is a bigger crime in Germany than tax evasion.
    (iii) As long as the money is held in India, illicit money is accepted as practical by Indians.
    (iv) Indians regard tax evasion, especially holding illicit money abroad, as a serious crime.

    1. i, ii, iv
    2. i and iv
    3. only iii
    4. iii and iv
  3. Reinforcing War Planes

    Data on planes returning from bombing missions was used to study of the vulnerability of airplanes to enemy fire. Analyzing the pattern and frequency of hits from enemy gunfire, it was seen that some parts of planes were hit disproportionately more often than other parts. How could these planes be optimally reinforced with armor plating? There were tradeoffs to consider. Every addition of plating added to the weight of the plane, decreasing its performance. Therefore, reinforcements needed to be added only to the most vulnerable areas of the planes.

    Which of the following can be concluded from the above?

    1. The parts hit disproportionately more than the others have to be reinforced as those received the maximum amount of damage.
    2. No conclusion can be drawn as the data set is incomplete. There is no data on the planes shot down.
    3. The parts with the least damage have to be reinforced, as the returning planes have survived attacks to the most damaged areas.
    4. Reinforcements have to be added to all areas of the plane.
  4. The Causes of Famine

    Oklahoma is not perceived as overpopulated because, in spite of a horrendous drought, it is not facing famine. Famine in Oklahoma is inconceivable because it receives a fair price for its exports, it has not leased its land to foreign countries, the poorest of the poor receive a helping hand from the government, and farmers and ranchers receive federal assistance in times of droughts. It is a lack of these factors in Horn of Africa, plus political insecurity in Somalia, which explain the famine – not overpopulation.

    Which of the following options best summarizes the main idea of the paragraph?

    1. Hunger is caused by too many people pressing against finite resources.
    2. In spite of drought and overpopulation, there is no famine in Oklahoma.
    3. Overpopulation and famine are not causally related in the Horn of Africa.
    4. Famine in the Horn of Africa is not only due to overpopulation but, more importantly, due to the lack of government assistance and political insecurity.
  5. Survey on Guns in America

    In Dec 2014, the Pew Research Center conducted a survey, asking 1507 people spread among all 50 states and the District of Columbia , “What do you think is more important – to protect the right of Americans to own guns or to control gun ownership?” For the first time in more than two decades, a higher percentage (52%) said it was more important to protect the right of Americans to own guns than to control gun ownership (46%). The researchers used 1993 as a reference point because it's seen as the height of gun violence in America; they also noted that gun-related violence fell sharply in the 1990s and more gradually in later years. But Pew also noted that many Americans didn't seem to agree with the numbers. A survey found that only 12 percent of respondents thought the gun crime rate was lower than it was in 1993 — and 56 percent thought it was higher.

    It can be concluded from this survey result that:

    1. Though gun crime is thought to be rising, a majority of people are against stricter background checks on gun purchases.
    2. Most people are not in favor of proposals to restrict gun sales as gun-related violence is falling.
    3. More Americans believe the right to own a gun should be protected, despite perceived increase in gun crime.
    4. With falling gun crime, fewer Americans support controls on gun ownership.
  6. Objectivity in Writing

    Championing objectivity in writing—and, more precisely, decrying solipsism, narcissism, and self-absorption—can of course have legitimate uses. In the era of Twitter and Facebook, when we are given an infinite supply of blank fields to fill with our thoughts, we are all encouraged to think we are more interesting than we actually are. And yet there is a compelling argument to be made, more generally, that journalism’s putative standards of objectivity are sometimes wielded to check not subjectivity, per se, but unwanted subjectivities. The method of testing information – the approach to evidence- is meant to be objective, not the journalist. The key is in the discipline of the craft, not the aim.

    Which of the following is the writer least likely to agree with?

    1. By not taking sides in an argument a journalist can strive to be objective, a worthwhile aspiration even if it is not perfectly achieved.
    2. Objective journalism is not one that is without bias, but one in which bias has to stand up to evidence and results.
    3. All journalism has a point of view and a set of interests it advances.
    4. Objectivity in writing is about making the story more than just about the writer.
  7. Darwin's Theory of Evolution

    Contrary to popular belief, the idea of evolution didn’t originate with Darwin, but was around for decades before he came along. His accomplishment was to come up with a workable scheme by which it likely occurred. Darwin, it must be said, had unusual exposure to the enormous diversity of life on earth for a man living in his time, through his voyage on the Beagle. However, his eureka moment came not through studying biology, but by reading the paper of an economist, Thomas Malthus, which showed that populations grow faster than the resources to sustain them. It was then that Darwin realized that only those best adapted to their environment would survive and pass on their traits to offspring.

    What is the main idea of this paragraph?

    1. It is impossible to come up with big insights without crossing domains.
    2. The idea of evolution did not originate with Darwin.
    3. It is Malthus, not Darwin, who should be given credit for the theory of evolution.
    4. It was the connections that Darwin uncovered more than the facts themselves that made his work important.
  8. The Poverty Debate

    It has been argued by behavioral economists in all earnestness that poverty shapes mindsets. From here, it is a hop, skip, and jump to holding that the poor are poor because their poverty prevents them from thinking and acting in ways that can take them out of poverty. When behaviorist economics speaks of poverty as a “cognitive tax”, it writes ‘action’ — the political agency of the poor — out of the equation. In such a case, the focus as well as the onus of poverty-alleviation would shift from the state — from macroeconomic policy, from having to provide employment, health and education — to changing the behavior of the poor. The structural causes of poverty — rising inequality and unemployment — as well as the behavior of the owners of capital are evicted from the poverty debate, and no longer need be the focus of public policy.

    Which of these options best summarizes the given paragraph?

    1. Where decisions of the poor tend to be flawed from an economic point of view, behavioral economists believe that governments can intervene with policies aimed at nudging the poor towards the right decision.
    2. By shifting the burden of poverty alleviation from the state onto the poor themselves, behavioral economists are ignoring both the structural causes of poverty as well as the behavior of the wealthy.
    3. Given that poverty diminishes political agency and shapes mindsets, insights into how poverty affects behavior could have implications in public policy.
    4. The focus of public policy ought to be in providing employment, health and education, rather than addressing rising inequality and changing the behavior of the poor.
  9. The Mind of the Genius

    Many scientific studies have found links between genius and mental illness, particularly bipolar disorder in which patients have violent mood swings between elation and depression. In one interesting Swedish study, 700,000 Swedes had intelligence tests at age 16 and again 10 years later. Those who scored well were four times more likely than the others to have developed bipolar disorder. The US neurologist James Fallon came up with a convincing argument based on his own findings in the field: the brain area involved in mood swings is the same area where creativity is born. This may explain why some people can draw previously unseen connections among ideas, images, shapes and the like.

    Which of the following is inferred from the above?

    1. Those with bipolar disorder are likely to be highly intelligent.
    2. Most people who excel in creativity are likely suffering from a mental problem.
    3. Often there is a correlation between mental illness and genius.
    4. Mental disorders give birth to genius.
  10. Photojournalism

    Any reporter worthy of the name would no sooner fiddle with direct quotes than a reputable photojournalist would alter his or her picture. News photographs are the equivalent of direct quotations and therefore are sacrosanct. To be sure, just as a writer can, in the interest of brevity or impact, choose which quotes to use in a story, so can a news photographer or picture editor crop out dead space in a news photo, or use the electronic equivalent of dodging or burning in to make a picture reproduce better. In this, I am reminded of what a Washington Times shooter once told me. On a computer outside the paper's darkroom, she said, there was plastered this flat admonition and warning: "If you can't do it in the darkroom, don't do it here".

    Which of the following is the author least likely to agree with?

    1. In photojournalism, editing news photographs by truncating dead space is licit.
    2. The key elements of a news photograph, like the key words in a direct quote, are off limits to manipulation.
    3. Journalists of repute choose amongst, but do not distort direct quotations.
    4. It is permissible for a photojournalist to alter a news photo in the interest of brevity or impact.
  11. The Right to Privacy

    A holistic reading of the current state of our constitutional jurisprudence would demonstrate that the right to privacy is firmly embedded in our constitutional scheme as a non-negotiable imperative that owes no apology to a myopic view of our republican charter. Indeed, considering the fundamental principles of the nation as “not rules for the passing hour, but principles for an expanding future”, the apex court, as the ultimate arbiter of constitutional conscience, has given fundamental rights their meaning in new settings consistent with the aspirations of our people. This is so that we may have a ‘living constitution’ which can protect, preserve and defend sacrosanct libertarian values that remain the bedrock of the Republic and constitute the core of the Constitution. Rather than deny us our constitutional right , the Union Government ought to enact a privacy legislation to clearly define the rights of citizens consistent with the promise of the Constitution.

    Which of the following is the author most likely to agree with?

    1. Our republican charter has a myopic view of the right to privacy
    2. The Supreme Court has been rigid in its interpretation of the Constitution
    3. The right to privacy is rooted in our constitutional scheme.
    4. A new privacy legislation has to be defined as the right to privacy is not dealt with in the Constitution.
  12. Good Writing

    In an attempt to encourage “livelier” writing, some teachers want children to stop using words like ‘said’, which doesn’t have any emotion. The assumption here is that emotion is a desirable quality in every word of a sentence, and that a rich word is always more appropriate than a plain one. You don’t have to invoke Hemingway, who made a fetish of plain words, to recognize that successful writing modulates the lavishness of its diction for effect, rather than cranking the dial all the way to maximum floridity and leaving it there.

    What is the main idea of this paragraph?

    1. Successful writers use only plain, unemotional words.
    2. Emotion is not a desirable quality in every sentence.
    3. Avoiding words like “said” helps children improve their writing.
    4. Good writers use rich words in moderation, for effect.
  13. Euphemisms

    Euphemisms in use seem to change every generation or so – a tendency towards which we often roll our eyes. But the fact is that a word is always redolent of various associations and metaphorical extensions beyond its core meaning. Indeed, a word is like a bell tone, with a central pitch seasoned by overtones. As the tone fades away, the overtones can hang in the air. Words then bias as equivalents to the overtones. As we move on the euphemism treadmill then, from ‘crippled’ to ‘handicapped’ to ‘disabled’ to ‘differently abled’, we acknowledge the eternal gulf between language and opinion. In a linguistically mature society, we should expect that the terms we introduce to help us kick off new ways of thinking will require periodic replacement, like tyres.

    What is the main idea of this paragraph?

    1. All words wear out with use, like tyres, and need to be replaced periodically with more meaningful equivalents.
    2. The eternal quest for euphemisms to bridge the gap between language and opinion is tedious.
    3. We must accept the euphemism treadmill as an essential part of linguistic life in a civilized society.
    4. Euphemisms help us avoid the trap of thinking too much into the meanings of words.
  14. Process and Substance

    Many students, especially those who are poor, intuitively know what the schools do for them. They school them to confuse process and substance. Once these become blurred, a new logic is assumed: the more treatment there is, the better are the results; or, escalation leads to success. The pupil is thereby schooled to confuse teaching with learning, grade advancement with education, a diploma with competence, and fluency with the ability to say something new. His imagination is schooled to accept service in place of value. Medical treatment is mistaken for health care, social work for the improvement of community life, police protection for safety, military poise for national security, the rat race for productive work. Health, learning, dignity, independence, and creative endeavor are defined as little more than the performance of the institutions which claim to serve these ends, and their improvement is made to depend on allocating more resources to the management of hospitals, schools, and other agencies in question.

    What is the main idea of this paragraph?

    1. Allocating more resources to health, learning, dignity, independence, and creative endeavor is not likely to increase their quality.
    2. Schooling doctors thinking by teaching students to identify the process with the results.
    3. As a society we often mistake grades and diplomas for competence, medical treatment for healthcare, police protection for safety and the rat race for productive work.
    4. When it comes to schooling, less is more: the less the treatment there is, better the results

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