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 poll conducted for a December 4, 1989 cover story in Time magazine entitled “Onward, Women!” the majority of women surveyed (fifty-eight percent) did not consider themselves feminists, though, conversely, a similar majority (sixty-two percent) felt that feminism had been helpful to women. In 1991, the issue of feminism resurfaced in the mainstream media on a broad scale, from the release of the film Thelma & Louise to the publication of such books as Naomi Wolf’s The Beauty Myth, Susan Faludi’s Backlash, and Gloria Steinem’s The Revolution Within: A Book of Self-Esteem, to the attention given to the issue of sexual harassment in the wake of the Anita Hill/Clarence Thomas hearings. Shortly after the Hill/Thomas hearings brought the issue of sexual harassment into the public eye, the music industry was rocked by the announcement of allegations of sexual harassment involving executives at three major record companies and an attorney at a leading L.A. law firm.

Even the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, established in the mid-’80s to recognize the contributions of those involved in the music business, has been criticized for overlooking women’s contributions to the industry. Mary Wilson noted this discrepancy in Supreme Faith when she wrote about the Supremes’ induction into the Hall of Fame in 1988, and her participation in the all-star jam that traditionally occurs after the ceremonies: “It seemed so symbolic of the record industry, and rock and roll in general, that the only two women on stage were Yoko Ono, there to accept her late husband John Lennon’s award [the Beatles were inducted into the Hall of Fame in the same year], and me.” Out of the nearly one-hundred performers, songwriters, label executives, and promoters now in the Hall of Fame, the only female inductees to date are Aretha Franklin and LaVern Baker, inducted as performers, Carole King (with Gerry Goffin), inducted as a non-performer, and Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey, inducted as “Forefathers.”

Though the battle over abortion rights caused women to recognize the underlying fragility of the gains the feminist movement had made, the media focus on other “women’s issues” further illuminated the struggles women continued to face in society. A November 3, 1991, story in the Los Angeles Times not only discussed the specific allegations mentioned above regarding sexual harassment, it also examined sexual harassment in the record industry as a whole, and revealed the “put up or shut up” bind women who experience harassment are placed in.

As a result, instead of going through the legal system, women working in the industry have been driven to create an informal grapevine to pass on information about companies deemed “safe havens” from sexual harassment and to warn each other about the “bimbo hounds” in different record company departments. Fred Goodman and Ira Robbins, after discussing the harassment allegations in a “Rockbeat” column in the Village Voice, offered a pungent summary of the lack of respect women receive in the music industry by wryly observing, “We’d be willing to bet a woman will be president of the United States before one runs Sony Music or Warner Bros. Records.”

Since then, the increasing threat to women’s reproductive freedom in the U.S. has mobilized growing number of women to reawaken from a state of “post-feminist” complacency. Attitudes toward a female presence in the workplace showed little signs of change in other areas of the music industry. An article in Billboard in March 2, 1991, noted that though almost half the sales positions in radio were held by women, there were far fewer women working in programming or on-air positions. Phyllis Stark, the article’s author, made the observation that “Many women say they simply are not taken seriously”—a perception that has a disturbingly familiar ring. In the same article, Lisa Lyons, a program director at Dayton, Ohio station WAZU, related a story about the necessity of “dressing down” (a tactic similar to the one Gail Colson had adopted when she was managing director at Charisma Records in the ‘70s) that also sounds depressingly familiar; “I always make it a point to look like a slob. It’s a little humiliating and degrading when an artist shakes your MD’s [music director’s] hand and asks you to sleep with him.”


Question: If given a chance to expand on the points made in the passage in an interview or on a news program, the author might possibly cite all of the following statements as evidence that discrimination towards women exists within the music industry EXCEPT:
[A] the lack of qualified female executives heading major record labels.
[B] the minimal effect the physical appearance of women has on their success in the music industry.
[C] the small percentage of female artists inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
[D] the secure job status of the executives and attorney charged in the sexual-harassment case.
Answer
Option (B)


Explanation
Look especially for an answer choice that runs counter to the overall theme of the passage: (B) does this. The author suggests throughout the passage that the physical appearance of women is a major factor in industry success (the WAZU description in the last paragraph is a prime example).

Wrong Answers:

(A): Opposite. The author discusses this in 5.

(C): Opposite. The author discusses this in 2.

(D): Opposite. If this is true, it would further reinforce the idea that women in the industry are subject to discrimination.


Question: For which of the following statements does the passage provide no support or substantiation?
[A] Fewer women than men work as radio personalities or music programmers.
[B] Several female executives have been denied promotion to leadership roles within the music industry.
[C] Only two female artists were represented at the 1988 Hall of Fame inductions.
[D] A majority of women feel that feminism has been helpful to women.
Answer
Option (B)


Explanation
Read carefully; you’re looking for a statement that provides no support. This is an identical task to An “All...EXCEPT” question. Three of the choices are supported in the passage, while one statement, (B), isn’t made at all. Though it seems a plausible situation, the author doesn’t specifically say that this has happened.

Wrong Answers:

(A): Opposite. The author discusses this in 5.

(C): Opposite. The author backs this claim in 2.

(D): Opposite. This claim is made and supported in 1.

Strategy Point: Don't draw your own conclusions! While (B) may seem like a plausible situation, the passage never mentions it.


Question: Based on the examples provided in the passage, with which of the following assertions is it most likely that the author would disagree?
[A] Working women face few pressures to maintain a physically attractive appearance.
[B] Women have often tied the success of the feminist movement to the fight over abortion.
[C] Women working in the music industry are subject to similar obstacles as working women in other fields.
[D] Women working in the music industry have not achieved status commensurate with their contribution to the art.
Answer
Option (A)


Explanation
Look for a choice that runs counter to the author’s main arguments about the barriers that women face. (A) immediately recommends itself: the author argues directly that women are pressured to maintain a certain physical appearance, which (A) denies.

Wrong Answers:

(B): Opposite. The author alludes to abortion in 2 when discussing the “fragility of gains” in advancement. Women therefore have at times tied the battle over abortion to the idea of overall gains in the feminist movement.

(C): Opposite. This can be inferred from the author’s discussion of broad barriers to advancement and the segue to a specific example, the record industry, in s1 and 3.

(D): Opposite. This follows from the author’s argument in 2 that women are underrepresented in the Hall of Fame.


Question: Each of the following is cited by the author in the passage as evidence of the reawakening of feminism EXCEPT:
[A] the release of the film Thelma & Louise.
[B] women’s response to the increasing threat of abortion rights.
[C] the induction of the first women into the Hall of Fame.
[D] the publication of Naomi Wolf’s The Beauty Myth.
Answer
Option (C)


Explanation
Look for a choice that isn’t used in the passage as an example of the “reawakening of feminism,” as cited in 1, keeping in mind the author’s main points about women’s advancement. While the three wrong answer choices are all predictably in the first paragraph, (C) is not only in the wrong paragraph but is also used as an example of barriers to feminist progress rather than as an example of its reawakening.

Wrong Answers:

(A): Opposite. The author supports the reawakening of feminism with this example in 1.

(B): Opposite. This is mentioned in 3 as a wake-up call to women over the “increasing fragility” of gains in women’s rights.

(D): Opposite. This is also mentioned in 1 in conjunction with feminism’s reawakening.


Question: Suppose the number of female executives within the music industry has not increased measurably within the past two decades. If this statement is true, what effect would it have on the author’s argument?
[A] It would support the argument that women already hold too many positions at the executive level.
[B] It would contradict the argument that men focus on women’s physical appearance.
[C] It would support the argument that the number of females inducted into the Hall of Fame will increase rapidly in the coming years.
[D] It would support the argument that women are not moving ahead in sectors such as the music industry.
Answer
Option (D)


Explanation
An incorporation question; evaluate the statement in the context of the passage. If the number of female record executives has remained the same, this would support the author’s contention that the music industry is stifling women’s progress. (D) fits perfectly.

Wrong Answers:

(A): Opposite. The author would argue that women hold too few positions.

(B): Out of Scope. The argument wouldn’t touch directly on the issue of appearance, though it could also be argued that if women are held back, it might be because men do focus too much on appearance. This would also run counter to the choice.

(C): Opposite. The author seems pessimistic about chances for improvement in women’s prospects in the record industry.

Strategy Point: don't over-think easy questions. Take the quick points and move on.


Question: Which of the following statements, if true, would most strengthen the author’s claims about sexual discrimination in the music industry?
[A] Several female candidates were passed over for the top job at Charisma Records in the 1970s.
[B] The executives charged with harassment in paragraph one were eventually found not liable for civil damages.
[C] Female artists are often included on ballots for induction into the Hall of Fame.
[D] The level of training and qualification is the same between men and women in the music industry.
Answer
Option (D)


Explanation
The author’s argument is that women are unfairly kept from advancing in the industry and are therefore discriminated against. Look for an answer choice that would strengthen this position. (D), if true, reinforces the idea that the lack of advancement is unfair and that discrimination therefore occurs.

Wrong Answers:

(A): Out of Scope. Though this would be an example of women who aren’t promoted, there’s no evidence that it’s unfair behavior, and therefore discrimination.

(B): Out of Scope. If the executives were found to be not liable for damages, that would weaken the idea that harassment took place. It would have no effect on the argument about discrimination however.

(C): Opposite. If female artists are often on the ballot, this would suggest that their lack of inclusion is not necessarily due to discrimination.


Question: The pointed inclusion in the passage of Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey as “Forefathers” indicates that the author believes that:
[A] women are slowly beginning to receive their due in the music industry.
[B] women have always had a large, if unacknowledged, role in music history.
[C] women artists are poorly recognized by even the music industry’s highest honors.
[D] women had a strong influence on the early development of popular music.
Answer
Option (C)


Explanation
Why would the author take particular note of the inclusion of women as “forefathers?” The name itself suggests that women are improperly recognized in the industry and are made to fit into a category that is technically worded in such a way as to exclude them. (C) summarizes this point.

Wrong Answers:

(A): Opposite. The author is making the opposite point: that when they are recognized, it’s in an improper fashion.

(B): Faulty Use of Detail. Though the author believes this, it doesn’t address why the author is miffed about the induction of these women as “forefathers.”

(D): Faulty Use of Detail. Though the author would certainly believe this also, it doesn’t address the issue discussed in the question.

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