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
Although many may argue with my stress on the continuity of the essential traits of American character and religion, few would question the thesis that our business institutions have reflected the constant emphasis in the American value system on individual achievement. From the earliest comments of foreign travelers down to the present, individuals have identified a strong materialistic bent as a characteristic American trait.
The worship of the dollar, the desire to make a profit, the effort to get ahead through the accumulation of possessions, all have been credited to the egalitarian character of the society. As Tocqueville noted in his discussion of the consequences of a democracy’s destruction of aristocracy: “They have swept away the privileges of some of their fellow creatures which stood in their way, but they have opened the door to universal competition.”
A study of the comments on American workers of various nineteenth-century foreign travelers reveals that most of these European writers, among whom were a number of socialists, concluded that social and economic democracy in America has an effect contrary to mitigating compensation for social status. American secular and religious values both have facilitated the “triumph of American capitalism,” and fostered status striving.
The focus on equalitarianism and individual opportunity has also prevented the emergence of class consciousness among the lower classes. The absence of a socialist or labor party, and the historic weakness of American trade-unionism, appear to attest to the strength of values which depreciated a concern with class.
Although the American labor movement is similar to others in many respects, it differs from those of other stable democracies in ideology, class solidarity, tactics, organizational structure, and patterns of leadership behavior. American unions are more conservative; they are more narrowly self-interested; their tactics are more militant; they are more decentralized in their collective bargaining; and they have more full-time salaried officials, who are on the whole much more highly paid. American unions have also organized a smaller proportion of the labor force than have unions in these other nations.
The growth of a large trade-union movement during the 1930s, together with the greater political involvement of labor organizations in the Democratic party, suggested to some that the day—long predicted by Marxists—was arriving in which the American working class would finally follow in the footsteps of its European brethren. Such changes in the structure of class relations seemed to these observers to reflect the decline of opportunity and the hardening of class lines. To them, such changes could not occur without modification in the traditional value system.
A close examination of the character of the American labor movement suggests that it, like American religious institutions, may be perceived as reflecting the basic values of the larger society. Although unions, like all other American institutions, have changed in various ways consistent with the growth of an urban industrial civilization, the essential traits of American trade unions, as of business corporations, may still be derived from key elements in the American value system.
Question: If the claims made in the passage about American and foreign labor unions are correct, how would the unions be expected to react during a strike against a corporation?
[A] American labor unions would be less likely than foreign unions to use violence against a corporation.
[B] American labor unions would be more likely than foreign unions to use violence against a corporation.
[C] American labor unions would be less likely than foreign unions to bargain with a corporation.
[D] American labor unions would be more likely than foreign unions to bargain with a corporation.
Question: If a critic of the author’s viewpoint brought up examples as a rebuttal to the passage, the existence of which of the following phenomena would most strongly challenge the information in the passage?
[A] American union leaders who are highly paid to negotiate on behalf of workers
[B] American labor organizations that avoid involvement in non-labor issues
[C] American workers with a weak sense of group solidarity
[D] American corporations that are more interested in helping people than in making a profit
Question: Based on the information given in the passage, which of the following is/are NOT true?
[A] American society emphasizes class solidarity over individual achievement.
[B] American unions are less interested in non-labor issues than unions in other democracies.
[C] American labor organizations and American religious institutions share some of the same values.
[A] I only
[B] II only
[C] II and III
[D] I, II and III
Question: Suppose that an American union decides that its members should take an active part in national politics. What effect would this information have on the author’s view of American unions?
[A] It would support that view.
[B] It would contradict that view.
[C] It would neither support nor contradict that view.
[D] It would support that view only if it could be shown that getting involved in politics was for society’s good.
Question: In the context of the passage, the phrase strong materialistic bent, as used in the sentence, “From the earliest comments of foreign travelers down to the present, individuals have identified a strong materialistic bent as being a characteristic American trait,” refers to:
[A] European socialists’ view of aristocrats.
[B] European travelers’ concern with democracy.
[C] American society’s emphasis on acquiring wealth.
[D] American religion’s criticism of secular values.
Question: According to the passage, all of the following have influenced the outlook of the American labor movement EXCEPT:
[A] secular values.
[B] religious values.
[C] urban industrial civilization.
[D] foreign labor movements.
Question: According to the passage, which of the following is a part of the “traditional value system”?
[A] Class solidarity
[B] Individual achievement
[C] Urban industrialization
[D] Marxist ideology