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

Desertification, the creation of desert-like conditions where none had existed before, is the result of the vagaries of weather and climate or the mismanagement of the land or, in most cases, some combination of both. Such ecological deterioration in the Sahel ) has been linked in several ways to the increased size of livestock herds. During the fifteen years preceding 1968, a period of extremely favorable rainfall, the pastoralists ) moved into the marginal regions in the north with relatively large herds. However, with the onset of a series of dry years beginning at the end of the rainy season in 1967, the pastoral populations found themselves overtaxing very marginal rangelands, with the result that the nomads viewed themselves as victims of a natural disaster. The mistaken idea that drought is an unexpected event has often been used to excuse the fact that long-range planning has failed to take rainfall variability into account. People blame the climate for agricultural failures in semiarid regions and make it a scapegoat for faulty population and agricultural policies.

Deterioration and ultimately desertification in the Sahel and in other ecosystems can be combated only if an ecologically realistic carrying capacity for the rangelands is determined. Although there appears to be widespread agreement that such a determination would be significant, there has been little agreement on how to make operational the concept of carrying capacity, defined as the amount of grazing stock that the pasture can support without deterioration of either the pasture or the stock. Should the carrying capacity be geared to the best, the average, or the poorest years? Which combination of statistical measures would be most meaningful for the planning of long-term development of rangelands? On which variables should such an assessment be based, vegetation, rainfall, soil, ground and surface water, or managerial capabilities? Such inconclusiveness within the scientific community, while understandable, creates confusion for the land managers, who often decide to take no action or who decide that all scientific suggestions are of equal weight and, therefore, indiscriminately choose any one of those suggested. Given the downward spiral of land deterioration, it becomes essential that an ecologically acceptable carrying capacity be established and enforced.

It will also be crucial that land managers know what statistical and quasi-statistical measures actually mean: no single number can adequately describe the climate regime of an arid or semiarid region. Land managers must supplement such terms as the “mean” with more informative statistical measures to characterize adequately the variability of the climate. The understanding of this high degree of variability will serve to remove one of the major obstacles to resolving the perennial problems of the Sahel and of other arid or semiarid regions.

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Question: The author is primarily concerned with

criticizing a social attitude
suggesting an approach to solving a problem
explaining the mechanics of a process
defending the theories of ecological scientists
establishing criteria for an experiment

Question: According to the passage, which of the following contributed to the desertification of the Sahel?(D)

I. The size of the livestock herds grazing on the land
II. The quality of the land in the Sahel
III. The amount of rainfall after 1967
I only
II only

Question: It can be inferred from the passage that the nomadic tribes who moved into the marginal regions of the Sahel did NOT

enlarge the size of their livestock herds
conserve water after the drought began
live in the Sahel after 1968
expect a drastic change in weather conditions
seek governmental aid in overcoming drought conditions

Question: It can be inferred from the passage that the concept of the carrying capacity of land is

still hypothetical rather than practical
basically political rather than ecological
independent of climatic conditions
relatively unknown among ecologists
generally misrepresented by ecologists

Question: Which of the following best states the author’s view concerning the relationship between the ecological scientist and the land manager?

The scientist has not provided the manager with clear guidelines that can be used in regulating the productivity of land.
The scientist has provided theories that are too detailed for the manager to use successfully.
The scientist and the manager, in attempting to regulate the use of semiarid land, have ignored the traditional behavior patterns of pastoral communities.
The manager has misunderstood and hence misapplied the suggestions of the scientist.
The manager has chosen from among the scientist’s suggestions those that are economically rather than ecologically safe.

Question: With which of the following statements concerning desertification would the author be most likely to agree?

It is the result of factors beyond the control of science.
It is a problem largely affecting arid regions.
It could be prevented if land managers understood statistics.
It is not always the result of drastic climate changes alone.
It is not attributable to faulty agricultural policies.

Question: According to the passage, a statistical description of the climate regime of an arid or semiarid region would probably be


Question: The tone of the passage can best be described as


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