FREE Reading Comprehension Practice Problems for CAT

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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Reading Comprehension Practice Passage

Researchers compared the number of tooth fractures in present-day carnivores with tooth fractures in carnivores that lived 36,000 to 10,000 years ago and that were preserved in the Rancho La Brea tar pits in Los Angeles. The breakage frequencies in the extinct species were strikingly higher than those in the present-day species.

In considering possible explanations for this finding, the researchers dismissed demographic bias because older individuals were not overrepresented in the fossil samples. They rejected preservational bias because a total absence of breakage in two extinct species demonstrated that the fractures were not the result of abrasion within the pits. They ruled out local bias because breakage data obtained from other Pleistocene sites were similar to the La Brea data. The explanation they consider most plausible is behavioral differences between extinct and present-day carnivores—in particular, more contact between the teeth of predators and the bones of prey due to more thorough consumption of carcasses by the extinct species. Such thorough carcass consumption implies to the researchers either that prey availability was low, at least seasonally, or that there was intense competition over kills and a high rate of carcass theft due to relatively high predator densities.

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Question: The primary purpose of the passage is to

present several explanations for a well-known fact
suggest alternative method of resolving a debate
argue in favor of a controversial theory
question the methodology used in a study
discuss the implications of a research finding

Question: The passage suggests that, compared with Pleistocene carnivores in other areas, Pleistocene carnivores in the La Brea area

included the same species, in approximately the same proportions
had a similar frequency of tooth fractures
populated the La Brea more densely
consumed their preys more thoroughly
found it harder to obtain sufficiency prey

Question: According to the passage, the researchers believes that the high frequency of tooth breakage in carnivores found at La Brea was caused primarily by

the aging process in individual carnivores
contact between the fossils in the pits
poor preservation of the fossils after they were removed from the pits
the impact of carnivores’ teeth against the bones of their prey
the impact of carnivores’ teeth against the bones of other carnivores during fights over kills

Question: The researchers’ conclusion concerning the absence of demographic bias would be most seriously undermined if it were found that

the older as individual carnivore is, the more likely it is to have a large number of tooth fractures
the average age at death of a present-day carnivores is greater than was the average age at death of a Pleistocene carnivore
in Pleistocene carnivore species, older individuals consumed carcasses as thoroughly as did younger individuals
the methods used to determine animals’ ages in fossil samples tend to misidentify many older individuals as younger individuals
data concerning the ages of fossil samples cannot provide reliable information about behavioral differences between extinct carnivores and present-day carnivores

Question: The passage suggests that if the researchers had not found that two extinct carnivore species were free of tooth breakage, the researchers would have concluded that

the difference in breakage frequencies could have been the result of damage to the fossil remains in the La Brea pits
the fossils in other Pleistocene sites could have higher breakage frequencies than do the fossils in the La Brea pits
Pleistocene carnivore species probably behaved very similarly to one another with respect to consumption of carcass
all Pleistocene carnivores species differed behaviorally from present-day carnivore species
predator densities during the Pleistocene era were extremely high

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