CAT 2019 Reading Comprehension Questions with Solutions

Contemporary internet shopping conjures a perfect storm of choice anxiety. Research has consistently held that people who are presented with a few options make better, easier decisions than those presented with many. . . . Helping consumers figure out what to buy amid an endless sea of choice online has become a cottage industry unto itself. Many brands and retailers now wield marketing buzzwords such as curation, differentiation, and discovery as they attempt to sell an assortment of stuff targeted to their ideal customer. Companies find such shoppers through the data gold mine of digital advertising, which can catalog people by gender, income level, personal interests, and more. Since Americans have lost the ability to sort through the sheer volume of the consumer choices available to them, a ghost now has to be in the retail machine, whether it’s an algorithm, an influencer, or some snazzy ad tech to help a product follow you around the internet. Indeed, choice fatigue is one reason so many people gravitate toward lifestyle influencers on Instagram—the relentlessly chic young moms and perpetually vacationing 20-somethings—who present an aspirational worldview, and then recommend the products and services that help achieve it. . . .

For a relatively new class of consumer-products start-ups, there’s another method entirely. Instead of making sense of a sea of existing stuff, these companies claim to disrupt stuff as Americans know it. Casper (mattresses), Glossier (makeup), Away (suitcases), and many others have sprouted up to offer consumers freedom from choice: The companies have a few aesthetically pleasing and supposedly highly functional options, usually at mid-range prices. They’re selling nice things, but maybe more importantly, they’re selling a confidence in those things, and an ability to opt out of the stuff rat race. . . .

One-thousand-dollar mattresses and $300 suitcases might solve choice anxiety for a certain tier of consumer, but the companies that sell them, along with those that attempt to massage the larger stuff economy into something navigable, are still just working within a consumer market that’s broken in systemic ways. The presence of so much stuff in America might be more valuable if it were more evenly distributed, but stuff’s creators tend to focus their energy on those who already have plenty. As options have expanded for people with disposable income, the opportunity to buy even basic things such as fresh food or quality diapers has contracted for much of America’s lower classes.

For start-ups that promise accessible simplicity, their very structure still might eventually push them toward overwhelming variety. Most of these companies are based on hundreds of millions of dollars of venture capital, the investors of which tend to expect a steep growth rate that can’t be achieved by selling one great mattress or one great sneaker. Casper has expanded into bedroom furniture and bed linens. Glossier, after years of marketing itself as no-makeup makeup that requires little skill to apply, recently launched a full line of glittering color cosmetics. There may be no way to opt out of stuff by buying into the right thing.


Question 1:
Which one of the following best sums up the overall purpose of the examples of Casper and Glossier in the passage?

  1. They are facilitating a uniform distribution of commodities in the market.
  2. They might transform into what they were exceptions to.
  3. They are exceptions to a dominant trend in consumer markets.
  4. They are increasing the purchasing power of poor Americans.
Show Answer
OPTION: 2
We can correctly mark the answer by reading three different parts of the paragraphs and combine them together.

“Casper (mattresses), Glossier (makeup), Away (suitcases), and many others have sprouted up to offer consumers freedom from choice”

“For start-ups that promise accessible simplicity, their very structure still might eventually push them toward overwhelming variety.”

“Casper has expanded into bedroom furniture and bed linens. Glossier, after years of marketing itself as no-makeup makeup that requires little skill to apply, recently launched a full line of glittering color cosmetics.”

The two companies started by offering simplicity in choices, but they might eventually push to overwhelming variety…Casper and Glossier both have done that. Thus 2 is the right choice.


Question 2:
A new food brand plans to launch a series of products in the American market. Which of the following product plans is most likely to be supported by the author of the passage?

  1. A range of 25 products priced between $10 and $25.
  2. A range of 10 products priced between $5 and $10.
  3. A range of 10 products priced between $10 and $25.
  4. A range of 25 products priced between $5 and $10.
Show Answer
OPTION: 2
The author is in favour of two things: not too much variety, and mid-range pricing. Choice 2 and 3 provide less variety and out of the two only choice 2 provides mid-range pricing. Thus 2 is the right choice.

The companies have a few aesthetically pleasing and supposedly highly functional options, usually at mid-range prices”. The author has praised this in the passage.


Question 3:
Based on the passage, all of the following can be inferred about consumer behavior EXCEPT that:

  1. too many options have made it difficult for consumers to trust products.
  2. consumers tend to prefer products by start-ups over those by established companies.
  3. having too many product options can be overwhelming for consumers.
  4. consumers are susceptible to marketing images that they see on social media.
Show Answer
OPTION: 2
Since this is an inference question, we have to derive the answer from what is given.

The passage says:

“Casper (mattresses), Glossier (makeup), Away (suitcases), and many others have sprouted up to offer consumers freedom from choice: The companies have a few aesthetically pleasing and supposedly highly functional options, usually at mid-range prices.

They’re selling nice things, but maybe more importantly, they’re selling a confidence in those things, and an ability to opt out of the stuff rat race. . . .”

Thus we know that customers prefer fewer choices, and that in turn builds trust or confidence. Thus 1 and 3 can be inferred and will not be the right choice, as we have to pick the one that cannot be inferred.

“choice fatigue is one reason so many people gravitate toward lifestyle influencers on Instagram—the relentlessly chic young moms and perpetually vacationing 20-somethings—who present an aspirational worldview, and then recommend the products and services that help achieve it. . . .”

This extract from the passage suggests that customers are susceptible (influenced by) to marketing images on the social media (Instagram)

Choice 2 is the right answer because we have no evidence for it.


Question 4:
All of the following, IF TRUE, would weaken the author’s claims EXCEPT:

  1. product options increased market competition, bringing down the prices of commodities, which, in turn, increased purchasing power of the poor.
  2. the annual sales growth of companies with fewer product options were higher than that of companies which curated their products for target consumers.
  3. the empowerment felt by purchasers in buying a commodity were directly proportional to the number of options they could choose from.
  4. the annual sale of companies that hired lifestyle influencers on Instagram for marketing their products were 40% less than those that did not.
Show Answer
OPTION: 2
Option 2 definitely supports what the author has to say; right from the start he is in favour of offering limited choices to customers. This option shows that offering fewer product can bring positive results. Thus 2 is not weakening. It becomes the right choice.

Choice 4 goes out because people go to Instagram because they are overwhelmed with choices. If that fails (as the sales are 40 percent less) it will weaken the author’s argument.

Choice 1 too speaks in favour of giving greater product options to customers. Choice 3 too does the same thing.


Question 5:
Which of the following hypothetical statements would add the least depth to the author’s prediction of the fate of start-ups offering few product options?

  1. With Casper and Glossier venturing into new product ranges, their regular customers start losing trust in the companies and their products.
  2. Start-ups with few product options are no exception to the American consumer market that is deeply divided along class lines.
  3. An exponential surge in their sales enables start-ups to meet their desired profit goals without expanding their product catalogue.
  4. With the motive of promoting certain rival companies, the government decides to double the tax-rates for these start-ups.
Show Answer
OPTION: 3
The author says towards the end that start-ups have the pressure of revenue, and they too will start offering greater number of choices to customers, as Casper and Glossier have done.

Option 1 adds depth to that prediction. So it goes out.

Option 2 says start-ups are no exception, so there is nothing unique about them. They are bound to fail or will have to change.

Option 3 adds least depth because it brings out a point that will not lead start-ups to offer more product varieties, after all they are experiencing a surge in revenue without expanding their product catalogue.

Option 4 also predicts that start-ups are likely to fail, adding weight to author’s argument about their fate mentioned in the last para.


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