Thursday, June 7th, 2018
No other question in the CAT is as deceptively simple as Paragraph Completion questions. Superficially, they do not require us to know or remember any rules. They, in fact, require us to do something far more difficult – to think like the writer.
Since the last week’s post on Parajumbles, I have been thinking hard over an appropriate parallel to explain the process of solving Paragraph Completion question. And all my thoughts end once again at the same point – Sherlock Holmes. Indeed, picking up the scattered clues, and building them into a clear chain of reasoning for anticipation are as inseparable as Sherlock and Watson.
Apart from his otherworldly observation skills, Sherlock possesses one quality that even the best at Scotland Yard (or pretty much anywhere else) do not. He can THINK LIKE a criminal. Following the flimsiest of clues – for example, Irene’s pulse – he can predict what the criminal will do next. And therefore, he is always one step AHEAD of his quarry.
Let us see how Sherlock would approach the Paragraph Completion questions in the CAT:
“Sentiment is a chemical defect found in the losing side.” – From A Scandal in Belgravia
While answering Paragraph Completion questions, the most important thing to remember is not to approach the answer option subjectively.
Sherlock often puts himself in the criminal’s shoes. He is able to keep his emotions, and more importantly his own perspective, out of the equation. He picks up clues from the observed behavior of his target and foresees the next step the criminal would take – however unlikely that step may seem.
Similarly, it is not about what in my opinion, or yours, should be the ending of the paragraph. It is for both of us to objectively follow the train of the writer’s thought, pick up the clues that exist in the paragraph, and reach the intended conclusion.
This conclusion must achieve the following:
a) It must be a value addition to the given Paragraph
b) It must preserve the unity of thought and structure
c) It must be consistent in tone with the given Paragraph
This does not seem very difficult. Yet, we may unconsciously depart from the criteria while looking at the answer options. If we do not lose sight of the above objectives, the rest is usually a simple process of observing the standard patterns.
“From a drop of water a logician could infer the possibility of an Atlantic or a Niagara without having seen or heard of one or the other.” – from A Study in Scarlet
Do not wait till the clues present themselves. Read the paragraph with utmost involvement. Imagine that you are listening to the writer. Try to foresee what is coming, and pick up clues that may present a hint of any of the following patterns.
“How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?” – From The Sign of Four
Elimination can often be as effective a strategy as selection. The following kind of answer options are usually the wrong ones.
Solving Paragraph Completion questions requires a combination of observation, deduction, empathy, and most importantly instinct. A Paragraph Completion question of even moderate difficulty requires us to take a bit of risk. Do not hesitate to take your chances, for the only way to learn what to do is to first learn what not to.
“Any truth is better than indefinite doubt” – from The Yellow Face
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All questions from CAT Exam Verbal Reasoning
Verbal Reasoning – Summary
Q1: To me, a “classic” means precisely the opposite of what my predecessors understood
Q2: A translator of literary works needs a secure hold upon the two languages involved, supported by a good measure of familiarity with the two cultures.
Q3: For each of the past three years, temperatures have hit peaks not seen since the birth of meteorology, and probably not for more than 110,000 years.
Q4: North American walnut sphinx moth caterpillars (Amorpha juglandis) look like easy meals for birds
Q5: Both Socrates and Bacon were very good at asking useful questions.
Q6: A fundamental property of language is that it is slippery and messy and more liquid than solid, a gelatinous mass
Verbal Reasoning – Parajumbles
Q1: The process of handing down implies not a passive transfer, but some contestation in defining what exactly is to be handed down.
Q2: Scientists have for the first time managed to edit genes in a human embryo to repair a genetic mutation
Q3: The study suggests that the disease did not spread with such intensity, but that it may have driven human
Q4: This visual turn in social media has merely accentuated this announcing instinct of ours
Q5: The implications of retelling of Indian stories, hence, takes on new meaning in a modern India.
Q6: Before plants can take life from atmosphere, nitrogen must undergo transformations similar to ones that food
Q7: This has huge implications for the health care system as it operates today
Q8: Johnson treated English very practically, as a living language, with many different shades of meaning
Verbal Reasoning – Odd One Out
Q1: People who study children’s language spend a lot of time watching how babies react to the speech they hear
Q2: Neuroscientists have just begun studying exercise’s impact within brain cells — on the genes themselves.
Q3: The water that made up ancient lakes and perhaps an ocean was lost.
Q4: Although we are born with the gift of language, research shows that we are surprisingly unskilled when it comes to communicating with others.
Q5: Over the past fortnight, one of its finest champions managed to pull off a similar impression.
Q6: Those geometric symbols and aerodynamic swooshes are more than just skin deep.
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