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

Although genetic mutations in bacteria and viruses can lead to epidemics, some epidemics are caused by bacteria and viruses that have undergone no significant genetic change. In analyzing the latter, scientists have discovered the importance of social and ecological factors to epidemics. Poliomyelitis , for example, emerged as an epidemic in the United States in the twentieth century; by then , modern sanitation was able to delay exposure to polio until adolescence or adulthood, at which time polio infection produced paralysis. Previously, infection had occurred during infancy, when it typically provided lifelong immunity without paralysis. Thus, the hygiene that helped prevent typhoid epidemics indirectly fostered a paralytic polio epidemic. Another example is Lyme disease, which is caused by bacteria that are transmitted by deer ticks. It occurred only sporadically during the late nineteenth century but has recently become prevalent in parts of the United States, largely due to an increase in the deer population that occurred simultaneously with the growth of the suburbs and increased outdoor recreational activities in the deer’s habitat. Similarly, an outbreak of dengue hemorrhagic fever became an epidemic in Asia in the 1950’s because of ecological changes that caused Aedes aegypti, the mosquito that transmits the dengue virus, to proliferate. The stage is now set in the United States for a dengue epidemic because of the inadvertent introduction and wide dissemination of another mosquito, Aedes albopictus.

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Question: The passage suggests that a lack of modern sanitation would make which of the following most likely to occur?

An outbreak of Lyme disease
An outbreak of dengue hemorrhagic fever
An epidemic of typhoid
An epidemic of paralytic polio among infants
An epidemic of paralytic polio among adolescents and adults

Question: According to the passage, the outbreak of dengue hemorrhagic fever in the 1950’s occurred for which of the following reasons?

The mosquito Aedes aegypti was newly introduced into Asia.
The mosquito Aedes aegypti became more numerous.
The mosquito Aedes albopictus became infected with the dengue virus.
Individuals who would normally acquire immunity to the dengue virus as infants were not infected until later in life.
More people began to visit and inhabit areas in which mosquitoes live and breed.

Question: It can be inferred from the passage that Lyme disease has become prevalent in parts of the United States because of which of the following?

The inadvertent introduction of Lyme disease bacteria to the United States
The inability of modern sanitation methods to eradicate Lyme disease bacteria
A genetic mutation in Lyme disease bacteria that makes them more virulent
The spread of Lyme disease bacteria from infected humans to noninfected humans
An increase in the number of humans who encounter deer ticks

Question: Which of the following can most reasonably be concluded about the mosquito Aedes albopictus on the basis of information given in the passage?

It is native to the United States.
It can proliferate only in Asia.
It transmits the dengue virus.
It caused an epidemic of dengue hemorrhagic fever in the 1950’s.
It replaced Aedes aegypti in Asia when ecological changes altered Aedes aegypti’s habitat.

Question: Which of the following best describes the organization of the passage?

A paradox is stated, discussed and left unresolved.
Two opposing explanations are presented, argued, and reconciled.
A theory is proposed and is then followed by descriptions of three experiments that support the theory.
A generalization is stated and is then followed by three instances that support the generalization.
An argument is described and is then followed by three counterexamples that refute the argument.

Question: Which of the following, if true, would most strengthen the author’s assertion about the cause of the Lyme disease outbreak in the United States?

The deer population was smaller in the late nineteenth century than in the mid-twentieth century.
Interest in outdoor recreation began to grow in the late nineteenth century.
In recent years the suburbs have stopped growing.
Outdoor recreation enthusiasts routinely take measures to protect themselves against Lyme disease.
Scientists have not yet developed a vaccine that can prevent Lyme disease.

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