CAT Verbal Questions - Para Summary

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Paragraph Summary questions often feature in the CAT. Given a paragraph and four choices, you are asked to choose the option that summarizes the paragraph best. Comprehending the paragraph is key to solving these. Let us look at some examples below.
  1. Totalitarianism and Intellectual Liberty

    Totalitarianism is not always operated by diktat. It can be insinuated by suggestion and replication. Dissent does not have to be banned if it is countered by orchestrated mass promo rallies and hypnotizing oratory. Despotic establishments do not need to turn Hitlerian; all they need to do is to let the Reich chemistry work. Self-regulation and self-censorship will click in. Then any dissident who wants to retain his intellectual liberty will find himself thwarted by the general drift of society rather than by active persecution.

    1. Totalitarianism is generally operated by undermining freedom of expression through active persecution and censorship.
    2. Hypnotizing oratory and promo rallies can effectively counter dissent and lead to persecution of the masses.
    3. Self-regulation and self-censorship in societies stifle freedom of expression.
    4. Intellectual liberty does not have to be repressed by authority if there are self-appointed vigilantes to bully it into silence.
  2. Violence and Apocalyptic Myths

    Modern history abounds with violence fueled by apocalyptic myths, not always explicitly religious in nature. The aim of the Jacobin terror in revolutionary France was the creation of a modern state. If the violent suppression of the peasant revolt in the Vendée is included, the casualties ran into the hundreds of thousands. The myths that possessed these anarchists in their campaigns of assassination were secular myths of social transformation. Lenin avowedly followed the Jacobin example when he used the Cheka to create a modern state in Russia. One of the factors that distinguished Nazism and fascism from conventional tyrannies was the belief that a new society could be fashioned by the systematic use of terror. Violent jihadism has more in common with these modern totalitarian movements than is commonly supposed.

    1. Violent jihadism is justified on the secular myth of social transformation, rather than the idea of religious apocalypse.
    2. The myth of social transformation has underpinned many totalitarian movements in modern history, and violent jihadism too exploits this.
    3. Although it is believed that violence is fueled by religion, the reality is that it is unleashed on the premise of the creation of a modern state.
    4. Modern history illustrates that it is a myth that societies can be transformed by the systematic use of terror.
  3. The Evolution of Telegraphic Languages

    When a language seems especially telegraphic (that is, requiring less to be actually said to put a sentence together), it is usually because enough adults learnt it at a certain stage in its history that, given the difficulty of learning a new language after childhood, it became a kind of stripped-down “schoolroom” version of itself. Because all languages, are, to some extent, busier than they need to be, this streamlining leaves the language thoroughly complex and nuanced, just lighter on the bric-a-brac that so many languages pant under. For example, Indonesian, one of the most economical languages in the world, is a first language to only one in four of its speakers; the language has been used for many centuries as a lingua franca in a vast region, imposed on speakers of several hundred languages. This means that while other languages can be like overgrown lawns, Indonesian’s grammar has been regularly mowed, such that especially the colloquial forms are tidier.

    1. When a language has been used for many centuries as the lingua franca in a vast region, it becomes especially telegraphic.
    2. Languages become less "busy" and more nuanced when imposed over long periods of time on new people, who learn it as adults.
    3. When more adults who are non-native speakers are forced, over time, to learn a language, its colloquial forms become cryptic.
    4. In languages that have been spoken for centuries over vast regions, time and repetition wear words out, and what wears away is often a nugget of meaning.
  4. Democracy and Liberal Values

    Nineteenth-century liberals recognized that democracy comes in various forms, and dreaded the version advocated by Rousseau, in which an inspired lawgiver interprets and implements the will of the people. Nowadays such fears are dismissed as elitist. But the old-fashioned liberals grasped a vital truth: popular government has no necessary connection with the freedom of individuals or minorities. Of course, liberals today will say this can be remedied by installing the rule of constitutional rights. Such systems are fragile, however, and count for nothing when large sections of society are indifferent or actively hostile to liberal values. Where this is the case, democracy means not much more than the tyranny of the majority.

    1. Inspired lawgivers in liberal democracies are better equipped to interpret and implement the will of the people than in illiberal democracies.
    2. Nineteenth-century liberals believed that democracy means not much more than the tyranny of the majority.
    3. Constitutional rights are fragile and ineffective in ensuring protection of the freedom of individuals in any democracy.
    4. Popular governments in illiberal democracies use the power of the majority to clamp down on the freedom of minorities.
  5. Studio-Era Movies and Artistic Authenticity

    Cheapness and its cinematic markers, such as hand-held camera work and low or high-contrast light, aren’t themselves guarantors of a tone of artistic authenticity. In fact, they’re often misused by filmmakers short of inspiration as badges of sincerity that take the place of actual artistry. The theatrical realism of many older, ostensibly classic movies have dated terribly and reflect the very exclusions and compromises of the system that produced them. Only the ingenious exertions and inventions of a slender minority of great filmmakers could circumvent and override them. Yet, critics fetishize the styles of studio-era movies and take them for an enduring and immutable aesthetic standard – as if, with an appreciation of Shakespeare came a comparable fixation on lesser Elizabethans and a disdain for latter-day dramatists for not writing in iambic pentameter.

    1. Nostalgia for movies as they were made in the past converges to nostalgic exaltation of their production methods.
    2. Rather than imitating the styles of studio-era movies in a bid to achieve artistic authenticity, filmmakers need to focus on inventive ideas and realistic themes.
    3. Only the brilliance and resourcefulness of small minority of great filmmakers could overcome the hurdles posed by budget constraints in studio-era movies.
    4. The veneration of the styles and production methods of low-budget movies of the studio-era as the ideal aesthetic standard is misguided.
  6. High-Level Mathematical Thinking

    A recent study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, has shown that high-level mathematical reasoning rests on a set of brain areas that do not overlap with the classical left-hemisphere regions involved in verbal semantics. Instead, all domains of mathematics tested (algebra, analysis, geometry, and topology) recruit a bilateral network, of prefrontal, parietal, and inferior temporal regions, which is also activated when mathematicians or non-mathematicians recognize and manipulate numbers mentally. These results suggest that high-level mathematical thinking makes minimal use of language areas and instead recruits circuits initially involved in space and number. This result may explain why knowledge of number and space, during early childhood, predicts mathematical achievement.

    1. High-level mathematical expertise and basic number sense share common roots in a non-linguistic brain circuit.
    2. Regardless of domain- algebra, analysis,geometry or topology- mathematicians recognize and manipulate numbers mentally.
    3. Classic left-hemisphere regions involved in verbal semantics are not as well developed in mathematicians as the brain areas involving number and space.
    4. The mathematical achievement of an individual can be predicted based on his knowledge of number, space and language during childhood.
  7. What Led to the Holocaust

    Since the Holocaust is an axial event of modern history, its misunderstanding turns our minds in the wrong direction. When the Holocaust is blamed on the modern state, the weakening of state authority appears salutary. On the political right, the erosion of state power by international capitalism seems natural; on the political left, rudderless revolutions portray themselves as virtuous. In the 21st century, anarchical protest movements join in a friendly tussle with global oligarchy, in which neither side can be hurt since both see the real enemy as the state. Both the left and the right tend to fear order rather than its destruction or absence.

    1. The Holocaust was a result of an all-powerful state, which forced order through fear and crushed dissent from both the political right and the political left.
    2. Following the Holocaust, the power of the state has been systematically eroded by international capitalism and rudderless revolutions, as both the right and the left fear order more than its absence.
    3. The weakened state is the fundamental reason for disorder in the world, be it anarchical uprisings, global oligarchy or the Holocaust.
    4. The Holocaust is not to be blamed on the modern state, but on the tussle between the political right and the political left.
  8. The Pursuit of Audience

    Journalism may never have been as public-spirited an enterprise as editors and writers liked to think it was. Yet the myth mattered. It pushed journalism to challenge power; it made journalists loath to bend to the whims of their audience; it provided a crucial sense of detachment. The new generation of media giants that dominates journalism today has no patience for the old ethos of detachment. It’s not that these companies don’t have aspirations toward journalistic greatness. BuzzFeed, Vice, and the Huffington Post invest in excellent reporting and employ first-rate journalists—and they have produced some of the most memorable pieces of investigative journalism in this century. But in the pursuit of audience, they have allowed the endless feedback loop of the web to shape their editorial sensibility and determine their editorial investments.

    1. The belief that editorial insight can be engineered with the help of audience feedback loops has eroded the very nature of journalism.
    2. The ethos of detachment and social-consciousness that marked journalism earlier has been progressively eroded by the relentless pursuit of the audience by media giants.
    3. By playing to the audience, media giants that have engulfed journalism today have shattered the myth of detachment and compromised editorial sensibility.
    4. The steady rise in the role of media giants in journalism and their strategic pursuit of the audience has had a damaging effect on the quality of journalism and its ethos.

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