RC Practice with Explanation

Tips on how to approach CAT Reading Comprehension passages
  • Don’t get into the minor details of the passage; just focus on what each paragraph has to say
  • As you read, create a map of the passage; you must remember what thing is located where in the passage
  • Once you read the question, come back to the part of the passage that is likely to have the answer
  • Compare the options and eliminate the incorrect choices based on the evidence that you see in the passage
  • Choose the answer once you are convinced of the right choice

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Passage

In a society little dedicated to sustaining relationships, encouraging cooperation and community, recognizing the value of collaboration, or rewarding altruism rather than greed, women have historically defined, defended, and sustained a set of insights, values, and activities which, if never dominant, at least provided a counterweight and an alternative ideal to the anomie, disconnectedness, fragmentation, and commercialization of our culture.

Many of us saw women’s experiences and concerns as the source of a sorely needed transformative vision—a profound commitment to the emotional and physical activities, attitudes, and ethical comportment that help people grow and develop, that nurture and empower them, affirming their strengths and helping them cope with their weaknesses, vulnerabilities and life crises.

When America’s masculine-dominated, marketplace culture has not openly thwarted women’s hopes and dreams, it has often tried to co-opt women’s liberation. Thus, while many women have remained faithful to this vision and still struggle valiantly to make it a reality, it has been difficult for millions of others to resist a barrage of messages from corporate America and the media that define mastery and liberation in competitive, marketplace terms. Corporate America and the media have declared that feminism triumphs when women gain the opportunity to compete in what Abraham Lincoln once called the great “race of life.”

Following a classic pattern in which the victims of aggression identify with their aggressors, many prominent advocates within the highly competitive capitalist marketplace have themselves embraced this masculinized corruption. Placing competition above caring, work above love, power above empowerment, and personal wealth above human worth, corporate America has created a late-twentieth-century hybrid—a refashioned feminism that takes traditional American ideas about success and repackages them for the new female contestants in the masculine marketplace.

This hybrid is equal-opportunity feminism—an ideology that abandons transformation to adaptation, promoting male-female equality without questioning the values that define the very identity it seeks. From the equal-opportunity feminism first envisaged in The Feminine Mystique to that promoted today by Working Woman and Savvy magazines, and the dozens of primers that promote the dress-for-success philosophy that often pretends to speak for all of feminism, progress and liberation have been defined in male, market terms. While some equal-opportunity feminists pay lip service to the work of their more care-oriented sisters, claiming that they would support a broad agenda that addresses our caring needs, the overarching mission of many is to help women adapt to the realities of the masculine marketplace. In this environment, the goal of liberation is to be treated as a man’s equal in a man’s world. We had hoped that by going into the marketplace and taking our posts there as individuals, we would somehow subvert it.

It is, of course, true that a great many professional women are deeply concerned about the fate of personal, political and social life in modern America. They express great disenchantment but nonetheless seem caught in a gilded cage.

Many believed that our femininity would protect us, that the force of our feminism would make us invulnerable to the seductive logic of either patriarchy or capitalism. What we had not counted on was the ability of the marketplace to seduce and beguile the best and the brightest, its capacity to entrap us in its rules and entangle us in its imperatives. A few women have won great wealth and privilege. But, not unlike men in similar positions, many of them are unwilling to jeopardize what they’ve acquired in order to work for change. Some are so caught up in their own personal sagas that they have forgotten the women who have been left behind.


Question: In the context of the sentence “Following a classic pattern in which the victims of aggression identify with their aggressors, many prominent advocates within the highly competitive capitalist marketplace have themselves embraced this masculinized corruption,” (lines 27-31) the word “aggressors” refers to:
[A] corporate America and the media.
[B] equal-opportunity feminists.
[C] advocates of women’s liberation.
[D] male chauvinists.
Answer
Option (A)


Explanation
Go back to the passage to review the relevant phrase and the context surrounding it. The sentence refers to the victims of aggression as the women entering the “capitalist marketplace.” Therefore, the aggressors must have something to do with the marketplace. (A) alone fits.

Wrong answers:

(B): Faulty Use of Detail. Equal-opportunity feminism is portrayed as the product of aggression, rather than the aggression itself, in the next paragraph.

(C): Faulty Use of Detail. As above, women’s liberation is corrupted by the marketplace, rather than being the corruptor.

(D): Distortion. The author argues that a male-dominated marketplace is the problem, but doesn’t single out chauvinistic males particularly.


Question: Suppose an equal-opportunity feminist were to argue that the basic goal of feminism is to eliminate the barriers that keep women from competing with men on an equal basis. The author of the passage would most likely counter this stance by arguing that:
[A] many women have already been assimilated to the marketplace.
[B] the desire to compete is contrary to true feminist ideals.
[C] the greatest barrier is the dissension among the ranks of feminists.
[D] women should aim not for equality but for eventual dominance.
Answer
Option (B)


Explanation
An incorporation question. What is the author’s opinion of equal-opportunity feminism? 5 describes it as being corrupted by the marketplace and being little more than a reflection of the marketplace. The author would therefore respond negatively to the points in the question, arguing for a more caring model (as described in 2). (B) does just this.

Wrong answers:

(A): Faulty Use of Detail. While this is true, the author considers it part of the problem rather than a solution.

(C): Out of Scope. The author is less concerned with dissent than with the fact that equal-opportunity feminists have given up their original ideas.

(D): Opposite. This takes the author’s argument far too far and contradicts her ideal of caring rather than competing.


Question: Adopting the author’s views as presented in the passage would most likely mean acknowledging which of the following points?
[A] Feminism as a movement has lost touch with its roots.
[B] Attainment of personal success in the traditional sense is not the highest of ideals.
[C] Wealth and privilege have no intrinsic personal value.
[D] The marketplace is but one of the societal spheres that are male-dominated.
Answer
Option (B)


Explanation
An application question. What is the author’s main argument? Feminism should be based upon caring, rather than competition, and should not get sucked into the "masculine marketplace" which thrives on personal success. The final sentence of the passage criticizes women who are "caught up in their own personal sagas" and have forgotten what's more important – women and feminism.(B) summarizes all these key points.

Wrong answers:

(A): Distortion. A tricky answer choice to eliminate. A look at 5, where the author discusses feminist movements, will help. She argues that equal-opportunity feminism has lost touch with its roots, and that it pretends to speak for all of feminism when it actually doesn’t. This means that not all feminism has lost touch with its roots, only its most visible elements.

(C): Distortion. This takes the author’s argument about values far beyond what it in fact says.

(D): Out of Scope. This is outside the focus of the author’s argument.


Question: Which of the following would the author most readily accept as an explanation of the fact that many professional women do not speak out about the need to care?
[A] Women who are deemed troublesome are often passed over for promotion.
[B] The philosophy of caring has been shown to be detrimental to business practice.
[C] Professional women prefer to lead by example rather than through activism.
[D] Transformative feminism has completely replaced Equal-opportunity feminism.
Answer
Option (A)


Explanation
Where does the author mention women who value the need to care but don’t speak out about it? Quickly go back to the last paragraph. Women don’t speak out because they don’t want to jeopardize their position in the marketplace. Choice (A) would give a plausible reason why this fear exists.

Wrong answers:

(B): Out of Scope. This isn’t mentioned in the passage, but it’s likely that the author would dispute this anyhow.

(C): Opposite. The author argues that women aren’t leading by example in the marketplace, but have taken on the habits of the dominant culture.

(D): Opposite. The author disputes this in 5, arguing that equal-opportunity feminism has co-opted the movement as a whole.


Question: The author’s claim in the passage that “some [women] are so caught up in their own personal sagas that they have forgotten the women who have been left behind” (lines 71-73) is:
[A] supported by the personal experience of the author.
[B] supported by a comparison with the male experience of the marketplace.
[C] not supported by any specific evidence given in the passage.
[D] inconsistent with the assumptions and logical reasoning of the passage.
Answer
Option (C)


Explanation
Review the line and quickly paraphrase the meaning: some women are so involved with their own careers that they forget the overall impact of the marketplace on the feminist movement. A quick scan at the answer choices will show that this is an evaluation question asking you to consider the statement in the structure of the passage. The statement is made, but without any supporting evidence. It is, however, consistent with what the author is arguing, leaving only (C).

Wrong answers:

(A): Opposite. There’s no support for the statement in the passage.

(B): Opposite. As above.

(D): Distortion. While the statement isn’t supported by evidence, it fits with the author’s overall argument about women in the marketplace.

Strategy point: When evaluating whether something is or is not supported by evidence, look at is position in the passage and map. Often, statements at the end of a paragraph will have no supporting evidence. Use this strategy carefully, as evidence can come before or after a conclusion.


Question: Based on the information in the passage, which of the following opinions could most reasonably be ascribed to an equal-opportunity feminist?
[A] The woman has to play by traditional rules in order to be a successful professional.
[B] The commitment to caring is bankrupt as a feminist strategy.
[C] The marketplace will become more humane as more women gain positions of power.
[D] Women have finally attained equality with men in the marketplace.
Answer
Option (A)


Explanation
Review the description of equal-opportunity feminism in 5: it follows the dominant customs of the marketplace rather than preserving the goals of traditional feminism. This prediction immediately leads to its close paraphrase, choice (A).

Wrong answers:

(B): Distortion. While the author argues that this particular brand of feminism has abandoned its traditional ideas, there’s no indication that it’s repudiated those ideals.

(C): Faulty Use of Detail. This is a belief of the traditional, not equal-opportunity, feminists.

(D): Distortion. While this is the goal of the equal-opportunity feminists, there’s no indication that the goal has been reached.

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