Paragraph CompletionParagraph completion questions are among the more difficult questions one encounters in the verbal section in CAT. In these questions, a paragraph is given with the last sentence deleted. Among the 4/5 options given, one option has to be chosen which best fits the context of the passage. Here are a few pointers to solve such questions:

  1. Continue the train of thought

This is the most important thing to remember when solving questions of this type. Understand what the author wants to say and try and figure out the option which will logically carry on in the same way.

  1. No new idea

Remember that no new idea will be introduced in the last line of a paragraph and hence the answer option which says so can be easily ruled out.

  1. Parallel Structures/Contrasting structures

Sometimes there may be a parallel structure at the end of a paragraph with the author comparing or contrasting two things. The option which logically maintains the idea of the parallel structure is the answer.

  1. No repetition of earlier statements

Ignore the answer options which simply repeats a statement already mentioned in the paragraph.

  1. Eliminate options and select the answer

The easiest way to solve these questions is to eliminate the options which don’t fit and then choose the best option among the ones that remain.

 

Let’s solve a few examples:

Q.1. Mma Ramotswe had a detective agency in Africa, at the foot of Kgale Hill. These were its assets: a tiny white van, two desks, two chairs, a telephone, and an old typewriter. Then there was a teapot, in which Mma Ramotswe – the only private lady detective in Botswana – brewed red bush tea. And three mugs – one for herself, one for her secretary, and one for the client. What else does a detective agency really need? Detective agencies rely on human intuition and intelligence, both of which Mma Ramotswe had in abundance. _______

  1. But there was also the view, which again would appear on no inventory.
  2. No inventory would ever include those, of course.
  3. She had an intelligent secretary too.
  4. She was a good detective and a good woman.
  5. What she lacked in possessions was more than made up by a natural shrewdness.

Answer: Let’s check the options:

Option 1: Introduces a new idea (the view), which is irrelevant in the context of the paragraph.

Option 2: Could be the answer. The paragraph talks about the inventory which Mma Ramotswe has and then talks about her intelligence. This option links both the inventory and her intelligence.

Option 3: Again introduces a new idea (the secretary) which is irrelevant in the context of the paragraph.

Option 4: That Mma Ramotswe is a good woman is not mentioned anywhere in the paragraph and is also irrelevant.

Option 5: Could be the answer. Again links both possessions and shrewdness.

Thus, we have eliminated the options down to 2. It’s just a matter of picking the best one now. Among the 2, option 2 is clearly the better one as it fits the tone of the paragraph better by answering the question ‘What else does a detective agency really need?’

 

Q.2. I am sometimes attacked for imposing `rules‟. Nothing could be further from the truth: I hate
rules. All I do is report on how consumers react to different stimuli. I may say to a copywriter,
“Research shows that commercials with celebrities are below average in persuading people to buy
products. Are you sure you want to use a celebrity?” Call that a rule? Or I may say to an art director,
“Research suggests that if you set the copy in black type on a white background, more people will
read it than if you set it in white type on a black background.”____

  1. Guidance based on applied research can hardly qualify as `rules‟.
    2. Thus, all my so called `rules‟ are rooted in applied research. .
    3. A suggestion perhaps, but scarcely a rule.
    4. Such principles are unavoidable if one wants to be systematic about consumer behaviour.
    5. Fundamentally it is about consumer behaviour – not about celebrities or type settings.

Answer: This question is a clear example of the parallel structure I was talking about in point 3 above. The author asks a question and then refutes it. He asks another question. Clearly the statement following this should be a refutation.

Option 1: This could be the answer but notice the tone. In the first refutation, the author is direct in refuting the previous statement. In this option however, the statement is pretty mild and hence this cannot be the answer.

Option 2: The paragraph talks about how the author hates rule and not how they are based on applied research. Hence, this is incorrect.

Option 3: Clearly the answer. Provides the contrast and maintains the right tone at the same time.

Option 4: Brings in the point about consumer behavior which is irrelevant.

Option 5: Again talks about consumer behavior which is irrelevant.
Here are a few questions. Post your answer in the comments along with your thought process.

 

Q.1. Age has a curvilinear relationship with the exploitation of opportunity. Initially, age will increase the likelihood that a person will exploit an entrepreneurial opportunity because people gather much of the knowledge necessary to exploit opportunities over the course of their lives, and because age provides credibility in transmitting that information to others. However, as people become older, their willingness to bear risks declines, their opportunity costs rise, and they become less receptive to new information. ________

  1. As a result, people transmit more information rather than experiment with new ideas as they reach an advanced age.
  2. As a result, people are reluctant to experiment with new ideas as they reach an advanced age.
  3. As a result, only people with lower opportunity costs exploit opportunity when they reach an advanced age,
  4. As a result, people become reluctant to exploit entrepreneurial opportunities when they reach an advanced age.
  5. As a result, people depend on credibility rather than on novelty as they reach an advanced age.

 

Q.2. We can usefully think of theoretical models as maps, which help us navigate unfamiliar territory. The most accurate map that it is possible to construct would be of no practical use whatsoever, for it would be an exact replica, on exactly the same scale, of the place where we were. Good maps pull out the most important features and throw away a huge amount of much less valuable information. Of course, maps can be bad as well as good – witness the attempts by medieval Europe to produce a map of the world. In the same way, a bad theory, no matter how impressive it may seem in principle, does little or nothing to help us understand a problem.

  1. But good theories, just like good maps, are invaluable, even if they are simplified.
  2. But good theories, just like good maps, will never represent unfamiliar concepts in detail.
  3. But good theories, just like good maps, need to balance detail and feasibility of representation.
  4. But good theories, just like good maps, are accurate only at a certain level of abstraction.
  5. But good theories, just like good maps, are useful in the hands of a user who knows their limitations.

 

Q.3. The audiences for crosswords and sudoku, understandably, overlap greatly, but there are differences, too. A crossword attracts a more literary person, while sudoku appeals to a keenly logical mind. Some crossword enthusiasts turn up their noses at sudoku because they feel it lacks depth. A good crossword requires vocabulary, knowledge, mental flexibility and sometimes even a sense of humor to complete. It touches numerous areas of life and provides an “Aha!” or two along the way. _______________________

  1. Sudoku, on the other hand, is just a logical exercise, each one similar to the last.
  2. Sudoku, incidentally, is growing faster in popularity than crosswords, even among the literati.
  3. Sudoku, on the other hand, can be attempted and enjoyed even by children.
  4. Sudoku, however, is not exciting in any sense of the term.

 

Q.4. Most firms consider expert individuals to be too elitist, temperamental, egocentric, and difficult to work with. Force such people to collaborate on a high-stakes project and they just might come to fisticuffs. Even the very notion of managing such a group seems unimaginable. So most organizations fall into default mode, setting up project teams of people who get along nicely. _______________________

  1. The result, however, is disastrous.
  2. The result is mediocrity.
  3. The result is creation of experts who then become elitists.
  4. Naturally, they drive innovations.
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