Tips and Tricks to solve Para Summary Questions in CAT
The Verbal Ability Section of the CAT exam consists of the Reading Comprehensions and other verbal ability topics. One of those topics is Para Summary Questions for CAT. As the name suggests, it involves the writing or identifying the summary of a given paragraph. Para Summary Questions for CAT Exam require an ability to understand the text well properly and have good reasoning skills. Whatever the type of text is given, we have to sum it up in a concise manner. In Para Summary Questions, a paragraph is given and among the four options given with the question, one has to identify an option that best summarizes the given paragraph in the CAT exam. In this article, we will be learning some awesome Tips and Tricks to solve Para Summary Questions in CAT.
Skills needed for Para Summary questions for CAT:
1. Ability to summarize well:
The paragraph given in the Para Summary type questions in the CAT Exam may contain more than one theme. Your task is to recognize the main or the central idea of the passage. Opt-out the non-essential or irrelevant facts in the paragraph. The summary of the paragraph should contain all the important and pertinent facts. The facts discussed in the summary should be in chronological order. The summary should be short and precise without any abruptness in the sentences. In order to enhance the skill of summarizing, make a habit of reading newspapers or magazines daily and try to find the main idea of the articles given.
2. Pre – Thinking:
If the paragraph consists of more than one idea, try to club all the ideas together into one. It would be a good idea to summarize the para in your own words before pondering upon the options given. This will make the option choosing process easy comparatively.
Vocabulary is one common aspect in all the questions of the VARC section of the CAT exam. The broader the vocabulary, the easier it is to reach an accurate answer. The best way to improve your vocabulary base is to practice a habit of reading on a daily basis.
4. Evaluation Skills:
This is a very important skill. The options for the answer to a Para Summary Question can be very tricky and confusing. Most of them may seem right. So you need to have an eye for the right option. You can find an option that is quite similar to the summary written by you. If you have been unable to identify the main theme of the passage then you can use the ‘elimination strategy’. The best way to solve this is to peruse the previous years’ question papers and practice mock tests.
CAT Previous Year Papers in the Mock Test Format are available for FREE on FundaMakers Student Portal. Log in on the portal and take actual CAT Past Year Papers in Mock Format for better practice.
Stepwise approach to solving Para Summary questions for CAT:
1. Identify the Main Subject –
The given paragraph could belong to any category of the subject – philosophy, political science, history, etc. and you could not be familiar with each subject. So firstly, you need to treat the para summary type question as a Reading Comprehension and note down the key points or ideas. By doing this you will be able to identify the central idea or the main subject of the paragraph. Identifying the main idea or the theme of the paragraph given in the Para Summary questions in CAT is the first step towards solving such questions.
2. Linking the Key Ideas –
Get a mental picture of all the ideas presented in the paragraph and then try to link them to each other. Try to find out what the author is conveying through the paragraph by thinking from his point of view. This way you are also combining all the ideas into one. Linking the Key Ideas ensures that no main point is missing from our final answer.
3. Write the Summary –
You have already noted down the main ideas discussed in the paragraph. Now is the time to summarize all those points. But remember to include only the relevant points. The paragraph also includes some unimportant points which have to be ignored while summarizing the paragraph. The summary should be concise, short, and accurate. Ensure that your summary presents the central idea correctly.
4. Select the Relevant Answer Option –
This is the goal you have been trying to reach through the past three steps. You already have your own written summary so you just need to match it with the given answer options. Find out which of the options resembles your written answer. Use the ‘elimination strategy’ to eliminate the other irrelevant answer options. The meaning of the chosen option should remain the same.
Using the above four points strategically will help you in getting the correct answer for the Para Summary Questions that will be asked in the CAT Exam.
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How to Eliminate Options from Para Summary Questions for CAT?
There are four best possible ways to identify and eliminate the incorrect options that are given in the Para Summary Questions:
1. Out – of – Scope answer options –
These types of questions may seem to be totally worthy of rejection. But mostly, these options also relate to the main subject matter in the paragraph. That is why they make the questions complicated. You should focus on what is actually discussed in the passage and not about what.
2. Narrow/ Partial Scope answer options –
Such answer options present some ideas given in the paragraph but leave out the main important ideas in it. Such options are correct to an extent in the sense that they cover all the relevant facts but still do not cover the whole passage. So these options are only partially true. The required correct answer has a wider scope.
Example: If a passage describes the political and economic conditions of British India, the answer option cannot indicate the political aspect only.
3. Extreme answer options –
Some options overstate or understate the facts that are presented in the paragraph. Sometimes, they even present totally unrelated incorrect or opposite facts to those given in the passage. The folly of choosing this option mostly happens when the author uses a critical tone while discussing a subject.
4. New Idea/ Inconsistent answer options –
Some answer options convey the main idea but also present some new additional information. This new information may not be related to the passage at all. So be careful of these options and do not let your personal opinion mislead you to choose an incorrect option.
Must read: Last Week CAT Preparation Do’s & Don’ts by CAT Toppers
Para Summary Question Practice for CAT | CAT Preparation
Example- 1: The following passage is followed by four alternative summaries. Choose the one that best captures the author’s position.
Composers like Beethoven seem to have been very moved by birdsongs. Beethoven, in fact, may have been such a fan that he plagiarised a motif from a contemporary feathered composer. Baptista plays the suspicious phrases, which form the lilting opening to the rondo of Beethoven’s ‘Violin Concerto in D, Opus 61’. A birder noted in 1953 that a European blackbird, a relative of U.S. robins, had come up with the same theme. Almost 30 years later, another sharp listener reported the same blackbird song. Both he and Baptista noted that generations of blackbirds seem to have preserved that tune, so perhaps it dated back to a time when Beethoven himself heard and borrowed it.
A) Composers like Beethoven have taken their inspiration from birdsong. The striking similarity between the song of the European blackbird and part of his ‘Violin Concerto in D, Opus 61’ proves this theory.
B) Beethoven, a composer, may have been inspired by birdsongs, especially the European blackbird’s tune in his ‘Violin Concerto in D, Opus 61’. Many people endorse this view after observing the latter’s similarity to blackbird tunes spanning many generations.
C) Over the years, people have noticed that Beethoven’s ‘Violin Concerto in D, Opus 61’ sounds very like the European Blackbird’s song, so it is likely that Beethoven was inspired by this bird.
D) Beethoven has been accused of plagiarising tunes from birdsongs. Birders have noted that a portion of his ‘Violin Concerto in D, Opus 61’ sounds similar to the European blackbird’s song, which seems to have been preserved through the generations from Beethoven’s time.
Correct Answer: B
A is incorrect, as the passage talks only of possibilities, not certainties. C is incomplete as it does not state that Beethoven was a composer. D is wrong because even though the word ‘plagiarising’ has been used in the passage, the latter’s tone is not as accusatory as the former. But B covers all the points while maintaining the tone of the passage. Hence, B is the correct option.
Example- 2: The following passage is followed by four alternative summaries. Choose the one that best captures the author’s position.
Do people know what their religious concepts are? This may seem an absurd question, but it is in fact an important question in the psychology of religion, and whose true answer is probably in the negative. In most domains of mental activity, only a small part of what goes on in our brains is accessible to conscious inspection. For instance, we constantly produce grammatical sentences in our native tongue with impeccable pronunciation, often without any idea how this is done. Or we perceive the world around us as made up of three-dimensional objects, but we are certainly not aware of the ways in which our visual cortex transforms two retinal images into this rich impression of solid objects out there.
A) Just as we do not know how mental activities like vision and language functions actually take place in the brain, we do not know what our religious concepts are.
B) People may not know what their religious concepts are, though this is an important point in the psychology of religion. In most areas of mental activity – e.g. language or vision – we are conscious of only a small portion of the actual processes going on in our brain.
C) It seems absurd to ask if people are aware of their own religious concepts. But psychology has shown that in many mental processes, such as language and vision, we are consciously aware of only part of what actually goes on in our brains. The same may apply to religion.
D) People rarely know what their religious concepts are, though this is necessary to learn psychology of religion. Similarly, people have no idea about the processes in the brain that enable the functions of vision and language.
Correct Option: B
Option A changes the meaning – it implies that we have no objective knowledge of the workings of the brain, as opposed to the subjective type of knowledge implied in the passage. C is too verbose to be an adequate summary. D is wrong because nowhere is it mentioned in the passage that one must know one’s religious concepts to understand the psychology of religion. But B covers all the points concisely. Hence, B is the correct option.
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