Reading Comprehension for CAT – Different types of Questions

Thursday, March 5th, 2020

Reading Comprehension for CAT - Different types of Questions

After you have learn about the different types of RC passages, the next step should be to familiarize yourself with the kind of questions that are asked from these passages. Out of 34 questions in CAT Verbal Ability, more than 20 questions are based on RCs. Well, that makes for a good amount of weight-age. But why is there a need to know the types of questions when you feel pretty confident after investing sufficient amount of time in reading and practicing?

Once you have understood the passage and the crux of it, you need to apply this understanding in answering various questions. If you can identify one question type from another, you definitely have time to save as well as attain accuracy. How? Since you will approach each question as per its type. So, let’s explore the kind of questions and how to handle them.

Generally, the RC questions are of following types:

  1. Main Idea questions
  2. Title questions
  3. Tone/Attitude questions
  4. Structure/Organization based questions
  5. Inference questions
  6. Fact-based/Direct questions
  7. Agree/Disagree questions
  8. Vocabulary questions

Now, let’s see what these questions are and how to tackle them in a right way.


Starting with the most commonly asked RC question, what do you think can be the purpose of main idea questions? Just like every movie is based on some theme or idea it wants to convey, a passage also revolves around a subject. These questions basically check your overall understanding of the passage. They may feature in the following forms:

  • What is the central idea of the passage?
  • What is the main purpose/idea of the passage?
  • Which of the options implies the gist of the passage?
  • Summarize the passage in one line.

Strategy for main idea questions: If you see carefully, most of the RC passages convey their main idea in the first or concluding paragraph. While considering the options, avoid choosing the ones which are too general or too specific. In other words, be careful of scope trap. A good way to identify the main idea is to look at the passage from author’s point of view. This way, you will be able to figure out the option that captures all the main elements discussed in the passage.


Close to the main idea questions are the title-based questions. As the name states itself, in these questions, you need to choose a suitable title for the given passage. Once you have identified the main idea and context of the passage, you need to choose the option that seems closest to the main idea.

Strategy for title questions: Select the option that gives a hint of the central idea in a very few words. Some of the options may include idioms and seem tricky. In such a case, understand what do they convey in an indirect manner and choose your answer accordingly.


Another important type of RC question is the one that requires you to identify the tone of the passage. You need to judge the attitude of the author with respect to the discussed topic. In other words, find out the emotion/sentiment with which the author has written about the subject.

Strategy for tone/attitude questions: While the author’s attitude may be positive, negative or neutral, the tone may vary from humorous, sarcastic to cynical or harsh. It is similar to the way you treat or talk to people you like or dislike. A great idea would be to broaden your vocabulary base to help you identify the right tone from the given options.


The next type of RC questions inquires about the structure/organization of the passage. The structure of the passage basically refers to the logical flow or organization of the ideas in the passage. As you must have observed, each paragraph conveys a certain point or emphasizes on a particular idea/aspect of the subject. Such questions may be asked in the following forms:

  • The organization of the fourth paragraph/passage can be best described as:
  • The second paragraph criticizes:
  • The function of the third paragraph is:

Strategy for Structure/Organization based questions: A good idea would be to pay attention to transition words like: ironically, although, but, etc. These words shape the organization of various ideas in the passage. This is similar to the way you encounter various turning points in a movie directing the flow of story plot. Try to understand why the author has introduced a particular argument, counterargument or anecdote in a particular paragraph or at a particular point of the RC. You will need to read the mind of author so as to comprehend the development of the passage.

By now, you are acquainted with the four types of Big Picture questions, as discussed above. Let’s move on to the detail-oriented or specific kind of RC questions:


One of the most important and tricky questions asked from RCs are based on inferences. The purpose of inference questions is to check your ability to read between the lines. Inferences may refer to a restatement or conclusion or consequences that author tries to state indirectly. Such questions generally feature in the following forms:

  • It can be inferred from the passage that:
  • It cannot be inferred from the passage that:
  • What can be inferred when the author states_____?”
  • The sentence, ‘_____’, implies that
  • What does the author mean by the line “____”?
  • What can be inferred from the sentence- “____”?

Other words that are used in inference questions are: deduce, surmise, arrive at, etc.

Strategy for inference-based questions: Once you get to know the line from which inference is asked, read the lines before and after it. This will help you co-relate the ideas and arrive at the correct option.


Another type of specific kind of questions is fact-based or direct questions. As you could guess from the name itself, such questions require you to identify the correct and incorrect facts as per the passage. These questions are asked in the following forms:

  • The passage states that:
  • The authors mentions the following except:
  • According to the passage, which of the following statement is correct/ incorrect?

So, the questions must be appearing quite easy to you.

Strategy for fact-based/direct questions: Facts and examples are mostly used to support the main ideas of the passage. Remember that these are not the central ideas. Sometimes, you may need to re-read some parts of passage or do some minor calculations to identify the right option. Basically, such questions check your awareness level. It’s more like reading a news article and recollecting the factual part of it. All you need to do is spot the information/facts stated explicitly.


An interesting type of questions asked from RCs are the agree/disagree questions. You can also call them extended application questions. What do think these questions can be? Well, such questions are asked as follows:

  • The author would most likely agree with:

  • The author would most likely disagree with:

  • The author would least likely agree with:
  • The target audience of the passage is most likely:
  • How would the author most likely respond to the assertion that:

Strategy for Agree/Disagree questions: As you can see from the questions, you are expected to answer from the author’s perspective. Considering the ideas and author’s attitude, you need to think how the author will react to the situation in question. Such questions are not really difficult even though they are not too direct. Just ensure that your answer resonates with the ideas stated in the passage. Also, such questions may refer to some particular paragraph instead of the whole passage. All you are required to do is to figure out the logical conclusion or deduction of the given paragraph/passage.


Coming to the last question type, you must have noticed that RC questions inquire about synonyms/antonyms of some particular words that appear in the passage. These are vocabulary-based questions. Such questions are frequently asked in RC section.

Strategy for vocabulary questions: The only good way to ace vocabulary questions is to build up a strong vocabulary base. An important thing to keep in mind is to pay special attention to the contextual meaning of the given words. Apart from the words, you may be asked the meaning of phrases that feature in the RC.

So, now, you know the various kinds of questions that accompany CAT RCs. In case the questions seem too complex, try the ‘elimination’ strategy with the least likely options. For a good understanding, you need to read the passage carefully and look for cues of main points as well as implied ideas. On the whole, make sure the answers do not deviate from the main idea of the topic discussed. Knowledge of different writing styles, various tones of the passage and type of questions plays a crucial role in improving your accuracy and score in CAT RC section.

Further, invest a good amount of time in practicing RC sets from previous papers and mock tests. Along with that, keep broadening your knowledge base with diverse reading. These are the only ways to increase your reading speed and enhance your understanding.

You can also see Reading Comprehension Tips – Writing Styles of Passages in CAT Exam

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