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
PassageThose who opine lose their impunity when the circumstances in which they pontificate are such that generate from their expression a positive instigation of some mischievous act. An opinion that corn dealers are starvers of the poor, or that owning private property is robbery, ought to be unmolested when simply circulated through the press, but may justly incur punishment when delivered orally to an excited mob assembled before the house of a corn dealer, or when handed about among the same mob in the form of a placard. Acts, of whatever kind, which without justifiable cause do harm to others, may be, and in the more important cases are absolutely required to be, controlled by the unfavorable sentiments, and, when needful, by the active interference of mankind. The liberty of the individual must be thus far limited; he must not make himself a nuisance to other people. But if he refrains from molesting others in matters that concern them, and merely acts according to his own inclination and judgment in matters which concern himself he should be allowed, without molestation, to carry his opinions into practice at his own cost. As it is useful that while mankind are imperfect there should be different opinions, so it is that there should be different experiments of living, that free scope should be given to varieties of character, short of injury to others, and that the worth of different modes of life should be proved practically, when anyone thinks fit to try them. Where not the person’s own character but the traditions and customs of other people are the rule of conduct, there is wanting one of the principal ingredients of individual and social progress.
It would be absurd to pretend that people ought to live as if nothing whatever had been known in the world before they came into it; as if experience had as yet done nothing toward showing that one mode of existence, or of conduct, is preferable to another. Nobody denies that people should be so taught and trained in youth as to know and benefit by the ascertained results of human experience. But it is the privilege and proper condition of a human being, arrived at the maturity of his faculties, to use and interpret experience in his own way. It is for him to find out what part of recorded experience is properly applicable to his own circumstances and character. The traditions and customs of other people are, to a certain extent, evidence of what their experience has taught them—presumptive evidence, and as such, have a claim to his deference—but, in the first place, their experience may be too narrow, or they may have not interpreted it rightly. Secondly, their interpretation of experience may be correct, but unsuited to him. Customs are made for customary circumstances and customary characters, and his circumstances or his character may be uncustomary. Thirdly, though the customs be both good as customs and suitable to him, yet to conform to custom merely as custom does not educate him or develop in him any of the qualities which are the distinctive endowments of a human being. He gains no practice either in discerning or desiring what is best.
Question: Based on information in the passage, with which of the following statements about opinions would the author most likely NOT disagree?
[A] Different opinions exist because people are imperfect.
[B] An opinion can be relatively harmless in one context and dangerous in another.
[C] Opinions directed specifically against fellow human beings should be punished.
[D] All expressions of opinion should really be considered actions
Question: Implicit in the passage’s discussion of the circumstances under which “those who opine lose their immunity” is the assumption that:
[A] ownership of private property discriminates against the poor.
[B] an excited mob is likely to attack someone expressing an unpopular opinion.
[C] corn dealers refuse to make charitable gifts of corn to the needy.
[D] opinions circulated through the press will not instigate mischievous acts.
Question: Based on the information in the passage, of which of the following would the author NOT approve?
[A] Scolding a young boy for continually teasing a classmate
[B] Defending an accused murderer on the grounds that he acted in self-defense
[C] Taking cigarettes away from a teenager to prevent her from smoking
[D] Publishing an editorial that decries domestic violence
Question: In order to apply to specific situations the general view that “the liberty of the individual must be...[to a certain degree] limited,” (lines 15-16) it would be most helpful to know:
[A] how to determine whether a harmful act was justifiable.
[B] how long criminals should be incarcerated.
[C] whether the author would want his own liberty to be limited.
[D] why the author felt compelled to write about the subject of individual liberty.
Question: Based on the arguments and opinions set forth in the passage, the author probably believes that acting in accordance with a custom observed by people in the past is:
[A] always good.
[B] always bad.
[C] sometimes good and sometimes bad.
[D] lacking in intrinsic value.
Question: The author holds that one should not necessarily defer to the traditions and customs of other people. The author supports his position by arguing that:
[A] II only
[B] III only
[C] I and III only
[D] II and III only
Question: The passage suggests that even customs based on correctly-interpreted experiences may not be helpful as guides for action because:
[A] customs cannot be applied to unusual situations or people.
[B] the number of possible experiences is nearly infinite.
[C] it is unlikely that the same experiences will be repeated.
[D] customs vary from one culture to the next.
Question: The existence of which of the following phenomena would most strongly challenge the author’s argument about “conforming to custom merely as custom”?
[A] A class in morality taught at a parochial high school
[B] An important discovery made by a researcher who uses unconventional methods
[C] A culture in which it is traditional to let children make their own decisions
[D] A custom that involves celebrating a noteworthy historical event