macro and micro approach to CAt reading Comprehension

CAT Reading Comprehension: Macro and Micro Approach

Reading Comprehension is a big challenge for CAT aspirants with bad reading habit. In this article, I will discuss the macro and micro approach to reading comprehension. Understanding the macro and micro approach to reading comprehension will help the student focus on the right areas, at the right speed.

When to adopt the macro approach?

The macro approach must be adopted when you are reading a passage that has too many details. The intention should be on understanding the focus of a particular paragraph and the purpose of that paragraph in the wider context of the passage. In other words, whenever you come across a paragraph having too many details, you should skip those details, without letting your memory get too much burdened by finer details of a passage.

The paragraph below followed by its short summary illustrates the macro approach

“ The debate over the environmental crisis is not new; anxiety about industry’s impact on the environment has existed for over a century. What is new is the extreme polarization of views. Mounting evidence of humanity’s capacity to damage the environment irreversibly coupled with suspicions that government, industry, and even science might be impotent to prevent environmental destruction have provoked accusatory polemics on the part of environmentalists. In turn, these polemics have elicited a corresponding backlash from the industry. The sad effect of this polarization is that it is now even more difficult for the industry than it was a hundred years ago to respond appropriately to impact analyses that demand action. ”

So how to apply the macro approach in the above paragraph?

We have presented the paragraph again with some parts of it highlighted in yellow

“The debate over the environmental crisis is not new; anxiety about industry’s impact on the environment has existed for over a century. What is new is the extreme polarization of views. Mounting evidence of humanity’s capacity to damage the environment irreversibly coupled with suspicions that government, industry, and even science might be impotent to prevent environmental destruction have provoked accusatory polemics on the part of environmentalists. In turn, these polemics have elicited a corresponding backlash from industry. The sad effect of this polarization is that it is now even more difficult for industry than it was a hundred years ago to respond appropriately to impact analyses that demand action.”

The yellow parts are the critical elements of the paragraph. While reading the paragraph I realise that there are four to five critical players in the para: the environmental crisis, the environmentalists, the extreme polarization of views among them, and the difficulty for the industry to respond appropriately

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The macro idea of the para is that the extreme polarization of the views among environmentalists has made it difficult for the industry to respond appropriately.

Thus we see that macro reading is of great help, something that enables us to keep track of the main idea. This sort of reading also helps us relax and focus on those things that we understand. There will always be long and complicated sentences, but if you are having too much difficulty in understanding such sentences, you always have the choice of skipping the sentence and quickly move on to the next one. As a result of this, you would be devoting more time to what you understand and less time to what you don’t understand.

A student must spend 40% of his energy on the passage, and the rest 60% on the question. Wasting less time on the unnecessary details of the passage means giving more time to the questions and to eliminating the options of those questions. You must not forget that you score marks by marking the right option. So you should be ready to given more fight when you are eliminating the options, and here we come to the micro approach.

What do we mean by micro approach?

By micro approach, we mean focusing on the finer details of the questions, and the options that follow those questions. Sometimes the questions are subtly worded and the options have slight variations among them, variations so fine that it would be difficult to arrive at the answer in just one reading. So what must you do? Go deep into the options

For instance, let us take this question:

The author refers to the equilibrium model of ecology as an “ecological mystique” most likely in order to do which one of the following?

(A) underscore the fervour with which twentieth-century reformers adhere to the equilibrium model

(B) point out that the equilibrium model of ecology has recently been supported by empirical scientific research

(C) express appreciation for how plants and animals attain maximum diversity and stability when left alone

(D) indicate that the ideas of twentieth-century ecological reformers are often so theoretical as to be difficult to understand

(E) indicate how widespread support is for the equilibrium model of ecology in the scientific community

How does the micro approach work here?

We know that the question is about the equilibrium model and why does the author refer to it as an ‘ecological mystique’

We have to go to that part of the passage where the equilibrium model and the phrase ‘ecological mystique” has been discussed by the author. While reading we must keep in mind the options and carefully analyse whether he is highlighting the enthusiasm, or expressing support or suggesting that it is difficult to understand or expressing support of the scientific community.

What did we do in the above paragraph? We zeroed in on a specific part of the passage and tried to understand the context in which a particular phrase was used. Next, we carefully browsed the options and depending on the evidence from the passage, marked the choice that we thought was the best.

Thus the micro approach helps us understand the options and mark the right answer, keeping in mind the context in which the right option of that question has appeared in the passage.

The macro and micro approach are of great help. The macro approach helps us map the passage, understand what has come from where in the passage, and get a broad overview of the passage. The micro approach, on the other hand, helps us minutely look into the finer details of the questions and the options, and mark the right answer depending on what evidence we come across for that question in the passage.


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