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

Reading Comprehension Practice Passage

Early models of the geography of the metropolis were unicellular: that is, they assumed that the entire urban district would normally be dominated by a single central district, around which the various economic functions of the community would be focused. This central business district is the source of so-called high-order goods and services, which can most efficiently be provided from a central location rather than from numerous widely dispersed locations. Thus, retailers of infrequently and irregularly purchased goods, such as fur coats, jewelry, and antique furniture, and specialized service outlets , such as theaters, advertising agencies, law firms, and government agencies, will generally be found in the CBD. By contrast, less costly, more frequently demanded goods, such as groceries and housewares, and low-order services, such as shoe repair and hairdressing, will be available at many small, widely scattered outlets throughout the metropolis.

Both the concentric-ring model of the metropolis, first developed in Chicago in the late nineteenth century, and the sector model, closely associated with the work of Homer Hoyt in the 1930s, make the CBD the focal point of the metropolis. The concentric-ring model assumes that the varying degrees of need for accessibility to the CBD of various kinds of economic entities will be the main determinant of their location. Thus, wholesale and manufacturing firms, which need easy accessibility to the specialized legal, financial, and governmental services provided in the CBD, will normally be located just outside the CBD itself. Residential areas will occupy the outer rings of the model, with low-income groups residing in the relatively crowded older housing close to the business zone and high-income groups occupying the outermost ring, in the more spacious, newer residential areas built up through urban expansion.

Homer Hoyt’s sector model is a modified version of the concentric-ring model. Recognizing the influence of early established patterns of geographic distribution on the later growth of the city, Hoyt developed the concept of directional inertia. According to Hoyt, custom and social pressures tend to perpetuate locational patterns within the city. Thus, if a particular part of the city becomes a common residential area for higher-income families, perhaps because of a particular topographical advantage such as a lake or other desirable feature, future expansion of the high-income segment of the population is likely to proceed in the same direction. In our example, as the metropolis expands, a wedge-shaped sector would develop on the east side of the city in which the higher-income residence would be clustered. Lower-income residences, along with manufacturing facilities, would be confined, therefore, to the western margins of the CBD.

Although Hoyt’s model undoubtedly represented an advance in sophistication over the simpler concentric-ring model, neither model fully accounts for the increasing importance of focal points other than the traditional CBD. Recent years have witnessed he establishment around older cities of secondary nuclei centered on suburban business districts. In other cases, particular kinds of goods, services, and manufacturing facilities have clustered in specialized centers away from the CBD, encouraging the development of particular housing patterns in the adjacent areas. A new multicellular model of metropolitan geography is needed to express these and other emerging trends of urban growth.


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Question: The primary purpose of the passage is to

explain the significance of Hoyt’s concept of directional inertia and its effect on patterns of urban growth
emphasize the inadequacy of past attempts to explain patterns of urban geography
analyze two varying theories concerning the distribution of residential areas within and around the metropolis
describe two models of metropolitan geography and suggest their limitations
show the importance of the central business district as a focus for urban growth

Question: It can be inferred from the passage that according to a unicellular urban model, law firms are commonly located near the center of a city mainly because

law firms benefit from the proximity to financial and governmental services that a center city location provides
the demand for legal services is too irregular to support many small law firms in the outer districts of the city
law firms require accessibility to the wholesale and retail businesses that provide a major share of their clientele
the high-income groups that make up the primary users of legal services demand easy access to the firms’ offices
the specialized service personnel required by a law firm are often interested in residing as close as possible to the city center

Question: According to the concentric-ring model, in which of the following orders would the areas of the typical city be arranged?

central business district, low-income housing, wholesale and manufacturing businesses, high-income housing
central business district, wholesale and manufacturing businesses, low-income housing, high-income housing
wholesale and manufacturing businesses, central business district, low-income housing, high-income housing
central business district, high-income housing, wholesale and manufacturing businesses, low-income housing
wholesale and manufacturing businesses, low-income housing, central business district, high-income housing

Question: According to the passage, the sector model differs from the concentric-ring model primarily in that it

stresses the role of topographic features in determining patterns of urban development
emphasizes the continuing expansion of the city as an influence on urban development
recognizes the importance of focal points of urban growth other than the traditional central business district
assumes that the need for access to the central business district is the main determinant of urban developmental patterns
takes into account the influence of certain social factors on urban geographical patterns

Question: The passage states that both the concentric-ring model and the sector model

inadequately represent the forms of urban development emerging in today’s cities
need to be considerably refined to be of real use to students of urban growth
have been superseded by more recently developed models of urban growth
represent older cities more accurately than they do newly founded metropolitan areas
fail to explain the rapid outward growth of cities that has occurred in recent years

Question: According to the passage, an updated model of urban geography would indicate the

phenomenal growth in population and area of suburban residential districts beyond the limits of the city itself
recent decline in the influence of business and industry over the geographical patterns of urban growth
growing importance of urban business and service centers located away from the central business district
clustering of business facilities in recently built areas, while older districts are turned into residential areas
gradual displacement of older urban centers by new, more highly specialized cities in geographically dispersed locations

Question: All of the following are examples of the emerging trends of urban growth described in the last paragraph of the passage EXCEPT

the construction in a suburban community of a large shopping mall where many of the local residents do most of their buying
the opening of an industrial park on the outskirts of a declining older city
the construction of hospital-medical school complex near a highway fifteen miles from a downtown business district
the building of a residential development near a suburban tool factory to house the factory workers and their families
the creation of a luxury housing development in a rural setting thirty miles from the center of a city

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

It summarizes the information presented in the first three paragraphs and draws some conclusions.
It outlines a new model, applies it to recent phenomena, and argues in favor of its adoption.
It introduces no evidence in support of an existing model.
It evaluates two models in the light of recent evidence and advocates the development of a third model.
It compares one model unfavorably with another and develops the comparison by citing examples.

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