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
PassageSuppose you are about to make a speech attempting to persuade your audience that more spending on education is necessary or that the budget deficit should be reduced through cuts in domestic spending. There are a few different ways you might approach your argument. When it comes down to it, though, you must find a way of presenting your material to your audience that is most effective. What factors make a one-sided argument so effective that they seem to be the tactic of choice for most modern propagandists?
If a communicator mentions the opposition’s arguments, it might indicate that he or she is an objective, fair-minded person; this could enhance the speaker’s trustworthiness and thus increase his or her effectiveness. On the other hand, if a communicator so much as mentions the arguments of the other side of the issue, it might suggest to the audience that the issue is a controversial one; this could make members of the audience vacillate.
With these possibilities in mind, it should not come as a surprise that there is no simple relation between one-sided arguments and the effectiveness of the communication. It depends to some extent upon how well informed the audience is and on the audience’s initial opinions on the issue. Citing research contrary to one’s thesis must be a measured risk. If the audience is not already aware of this research, they might be unduly swayed in the wrong direction. Research generally finds that the more well informed the members of the audience are, the less likely they are to be persuaded by a one-sided argument and the more likely they are to be persuaded by an argument that brings out the important opposing arguments and then attempts to refute them. We should underscore that the research does not favor the effectiveness of a simple two-sided argument: It favors the effectiveness of presenting both sides and pointing out the weaknesses in your opponent’s position.
This makes sense: A well-informed person is more likely to know some of the counterarguments; when the communicator avoids mentioning these, the knowledgeable members of the audience are likely to conclude that the communicator is either unfair or unable to refute such arguments. On the other hand, an uninformed person is less apt to know of the existence of opposing arguments. If the counterargument is ignored, the less well-informed members of the audience are persuaded; if the counterargument is presented, they might get confused.
The message-dense nature of the mass media often makes it difficult to respond intelligently to what we receive. It takes considerable mental effort to process effectively the stream of one short message after another. Advertisers have observed that consumers frequently find comparative advertising confusing; they mistake one brand for another, leading to a situation in which the advertiser is publicizing the competition. For this reason, comparative advertising is rarely used by the leading brand (why give an upstart free publicity?); it is used mostly by a challenger that might gain from being confused with the leader.
Another factor influencing the effectiveness of one- versus two-sided persuasion is the partisanship of the audience. As we might expect, if a member of the audience is already predisposed to believe the communicator’s argument, a one-sided presentation has a greater impact on his or her opinion than a two-sided presentation.
Question: Suppose that the President of the United States wants to persuade foreign policy experts in Congress to support the deployment of American troops overseas. The President should do which of the following to convince these experts to support troop deployment?
[A] Make a one-sided argument that addresses only the potential benefits of such a policy
[B] Make a one-sided argument that addresses only the potential costs of such a policy
[C] Make a two-sided argument that addresses both the potential benefits and potential costs of such a policy
[D] Make an argument that appeals to emotions rather than one that addresses the facts
Question: With respect to the sentence, “Advertisers have observed that consumers frequently find comparative advertising confusing; they mistake one brand for another, leading to a situation in which the advertiser is publicizing the competition,” which one of the following is an example of “comparative advertising?”
[A] The manufacturer of Brand V explains why consumers should prefer its product
[B] The manufacturer of Brand W explains why its product is superior to Brand X’s product
[C] The manufacturer of Brand Y explains why its product is the cheapest on the market
[D] The manufacturer of Brand Z explains why its product is better than those of unnamed competitors
Question: Implicit in the authors’ discussion of audience receptivity to messages is the assumption that:
[A] advertisements are an ineffective means to get people to buy consumer products.
[B] the mass media attempt to shape public opinion to suit their own interests.
[C] most people do not generally think carefully about what they are told by others.
[D] the less people know about an issue, the more likely they are to accept the opinion of others.
Question: Based on the arguments and information put forth by the author in the passage, which of the following statements is true?
[A] One-sided arguments are generally less effective than two-sided arguments when the message is being delivered to a knowledgeable audience.
[B] Comparative advertising is always an effective way for a company to sell more of its products.
[C] Highly educated people are more receptive to two-sided arguments than less highly educated people.
[D] Communicators who employ one-sided arguments are usually not fair-minded people.
Question: The existence of which of the following phenomena would challenge the information in the passage?
[A] I only
[B] III only
[C] I and II
[D] II and III
Question: If the claims made in the passage are correct, how would a communicator who is aware of these claims be expected to react to a knowledgeable, open-minded audience?
[A] The communicator would not try to make an argument.
[B] The communicator would present a one-sided argument.
[C] The communicator would present a two-sided argument.
[D] The communicator would appeal to the audience’s emotions.