Verbal Ability Section of CMAT


0
3 comments

CMAT Verbal Ability section is quite a mixed bag of questions – drawing from almost all question types familiar to students preparing for a competitive exam. The set of questions, 25 in all, intelligently blends the types that are intended to test a candidate’s proficiency in the language, and reading and reasoning skills. More than half the questions test the candidate’s reading and reasoning skills. The structured critical reasoning questions form the majority of the section. Eight or nine questions are of this type; five or six questions can be reading comprehension questions; other reasoning questions like paragraph jumbles, Fact –Inference- Judgment, and providing the missing sentence in a paragraph are one or two each. Even grammar can be single question in the form of identifying the wrong sentence.  Vocabulary is given equal importance as reasoning with six or seven questions. However format for all these questions are familiar to the students and are available in the study material of coaching classes or in the books for competitive examinations.

Advertisement

Reading Comprehension is somewhat a departure from the usual in format. The passages are short – a paragraph length – followed by a single question. These are the types found in the CSAT until a couple of years ago. The questions in Reading Comprehension in the CMAT are again of the familiar type – main idea, tone, inference questions etc. These are hardly distinguishable from the structured critical reasoning questions which ask you to alternatively draw a conclusion, weaken the argument, strengthen the argument etc. In short, though CMAT was taken by about 48,000 students (registrations, however, were about 70,000) the last time (September 2012), it is one of the most student friendly examinations and is a good benchmark for the candidate’s aptitude in the respective sections.  The test, however, has to gain in popularity. But if you consider the number of students who appeared for the CMAT in February 2012 as well, there were about one lakh thirty thousand registrations.

2013 CMAT for which online Registration will start on 01-11-2012 and close on 02-01-2013 is expected to draw around two lakh candidates.

Since critical reasoning questions form majority of the questions in the Verbal Section, it is dealt with in some detail here. The following is an extract from Verbal Ability for the CAT by the same author, published by Pearson.

Critical Reasoning

Critical Reasoning questions are short paragraphs – 4 or 5 lines long – called an Argument followed by a single question to be answered on the basis of the reasoning contained in that paragraph.

The question asks you to choose from the options,

  • the best conclusion/inference that follows,
  • or the assumption that makes the argument true,
  • or the statement that will strengthen the argument,
  • or the statement that will weaken the argument.

Majority of the questions in critical reasoning can be classified into the above 5 categories. The other types which are not very commonly seen include: resolve the paradox questions, and analogy questions. Resolve the paradox questions ask you to reconcile two apparently irreconcilable situations. Analogy questions ask you to either compare the structure of the argument with another or to choose an argument that has structurally the same flaw or error as the given argument.

EXAMPLE:

Directions: Read the short passage given below and answer the question that follows.

Three airlines – IA, JA  and SA – operate on the Delhi-Mumbai route. To increase the number of seats sold,  SA reduced its fares and this was emulated by IA and JA immediately. The general belief was that the volume of air travel between Delhi and Mumbai would increase as a result.

Which of the following, if true, would add credence to the general belief?

  1. Increase in profitability of the three airlines.
  2. Extension of the discount scheme to other routes.
  3. A study that shows that air travellers in India are price-conscious.
  4. A study that shows that as much as 80% of air travel in India is company-sponsored.

The above is an assumption question – an assumption that makes the argument true. The argument works like this: the airlines reduced their rates because they believed that this would increase the number of seats sold and the volume of traffic. To find the reason for the belief we need to find the relation between reduction in price and the volume of traffic. This relation is shown by option 3, that the reduction would encourage price conscious travelers to buy seats. Hence the answer is option 3.

HOW TO SOLVE

Understand the structure of Arguments

All arguments have a very simple structure. There are a few facts based on which a conclusion is arrived at. Facts need not be universally acceptable facts, but merely statements the speaker bases his conclusion on. For example, “SA reduced its fares and this was emulated by IA and JA immediately” is a fact in the above argument – in reality it may not be so; but in this argument this the fact on which the argument (conclusion) is based.   The conclusion in the above argument is, “the volume of air travel between Delhi and Mumbai would increase as a result.” This is the simple and basic structure of all arguments – in other words, the given paragraph.

The third element in the structure of arguments is an assumption; however, the assumption is never stated. If it is, it can appear to be another fact in the argument, or it can appear to be a conclusion drawn from the argument. Seen from the structure of the argument, an assumption has the characteristics both a fact and a conclusion. The assumption in the above argument was, “air travelers in India are price-conscious.”  Hence the above argument completes itself this way:

SA reduced its fares and this was emulated by IA and JA immediately – FACTS

Air travellers in India are price-conscious – ASSUMPTION

(Hence) The volume of air travel between Delhi and Mumbai would increase as a result – CONCLUSION

Words like, hence, therefore, as a result etc… in the argument will always signal a conclusion.  Words like because will signal facts if these words are used.

Also, notice that the assumption is what makes the conclusion true. If the assumption is not true the conclusion cannot be true.

An awareness of the structure will help you in solving difficult questions and in avoiding confusion while analyzing complex arguments.

The word argument is used with two meanings in critical reasoning questions. Depending on the way it is used, the word argument can refer to the whole paragraph or only to the conclusion. For example, if the question is phrased as, the above argument displays which of the following flaws? – It refers to the whole paragraph. If the question asks, what is the underlying assumption in the above argument? – it can mean both, the paragraph as well as the conclusion. But if the question is phrased, which of the following is the best way to weaken the argument? – it means the conclusion.

COCLUSION AND INFERENCE

The words conclusion and inference are used interchangeably in most situations. You, too, do not have to make the distinction always. However, there is technical difference between the two words, and there are questions that may require you to distinguish between them. Hence, it is better to know the difference.

A conclusion is something that follows from the data as a (logical) necessity. A conclusion cannot be proved false if the data is true. For example, if all X are Y, then some Y are X is a conclusion. This cannot be proved false if the data is true, or if someone stood first in her school in academics, she stood first in her class in academics is a conclusion which cannot be proved false; or if only graduates can be MBAs, an MBA is a graduate is a conclusion.

Inferences, on the other hand, are possibilities arising out of the data. However, a mere possibility is not an inference. The available data make the possibility (inference) appear almost as certain as a conclusion. To understand better, take the example of a candidate appearing for the CAT. The mere fact she is appearing for the CAT throws up the possibility that she may make it to IIMA. This is not an inference. However, if I have her background – she scored above 90% in all her academic exams; she was AIR 1 in IITJEE; she is the national swimming champion; she has got the Best Performer award in her workplace. With her CAT score in combination, if one examines the possibility of her making it to IIMA ‘she is likely to make it to IIMA’ is an inference (in the light of the given data) though not a conclusion. The available data strongly support inferences. Scientific truths are inferences (Carbon atoms have six electrons) because the available data prove it right, but remain still susceptible to be disproved.

We will now look at the different types of questions and how to solve each type.

CONCLUSION/INFERENCE QUESTION

Directions: Read the short passage given below and answer the question that follows.

According to McNeill, a Brahmin priest was expected to be able to recite at least one of the Vedas. The practice was essential for several centuries when the Vedas had not yet been written down. It must have had a selective effect, since priests would have been recruited from those able or willing to memorise long passages. It must have helped in the dissemination of the work, since a memorised passage can be duplicated many times.

Which of the following can be inferred from the above passage?

  1. Reciting the Vedas was a Brahmin’s obligation.
  2. The Vedic priest was like a recorded audio cassette.
  3. McNeill studied the behaviour of Brahmin priests.
  4. Vedic Hymns had not been scripted.

Note: It is always a good idea to read the question-stem before reading the paragraph in all critical reasoning questions. The advantage is that you can then understand what exactly you have to look for in the paragraph, because the question-stem will clearly define the task that you have to undertake. You should never be in a hurry in critical reasoning question. Work fast, but never be reckless.

The above question asks you to choose an inference. An inference is a reasoned judgment based on the data available. So bear in mind that you are given only facts in the paragraph and no conclusion/inference. The conclusion is given in the options. We also know that a conclusion/inference is completely supported by the facts. Hence, whenever it is an inference/conclusion question read the paragraph in order to clearly identify and understand the given facts. The better aware you are of the facts, the easier it becomes to identify the option that is supported by all the facts.

The facts in the above argument are:

… a Brahmin priest was expected to recite at least one of the Vedas.

… the Vedas had not yet been written down

… selective effect  – willing to memorise long passages

… helped the dissemination of the work

… memorized passage can be duplicated many times

  1. Reciting the Vedas was a Brahmin’s obligation.
  2. The Vedic priest was like a recorded audio cassette.
  3. McNeill studied the behaviour of Brahmin priests.
  4. Vedic Hymns had not been scripted.

Once you are clear that the above facts need to completely support the inference/conclusion that is given in the options, you can evaluate the options one by one. Option 1 states ‘obligation’ which is contrary to the passage as the passage says the priests were recruited from those willing to memorize the passages.  Option 2 compares the priests to ‘recorded audio cassettes.’ The aspects about dissemination of work and duplication completely support this comparison, at the same time it does not contradict the other facts. You can retain this option. Option 3 has no support for the word ‘behavior’ from the passage. McNeill studied the aspect of the dissemination of Vedas can be understood, but not whether he studied their ‘behavior.’ Option 3 can be eliminated. Option 4 is quite clearly stated in the passage. What is clearly stated is not an inference. It is a restatement. In some questions a conclusion can look like a restatement. An inference has to be derived from the facts and not merely repeat the facts. Hence option 4 is eliminated. The scoring option is option 2.

ASSUMPTION QUESTION

Directions: Read the short passage given below and answer the question that follows.

Three airlines – IA, JA  and SA – operate on the Delhi-Mumbai route. To increase the number of seats sold,  SA reduced its fares and this was emulated by IA and JA immediately. The general belief was that the volume of air travel between Delhi and Mumbai would increase as a result.

Which of the following, if true, would add credence to the general belief?

  1. Increase in profitability of the three airlines.
  2. Extension of the discount scheme to other routes.
  3. A study that shows that air travelers in India are price-conscious.
  4. A study that shows that as much as 80% of air travel in India is company-sponsored.

After reading the question-stem, we can understand that our task is to discover an additional premise. That means the given paragraph will have the following: certain facts and a conclusion derived from those facts. This recognition is very important in critical reasoning questions.

Since the question-stem reads, which of the following, if true, would add credence to the general belief?  the task is to find from the options an additional premise that will make the conclusion true.

If the given premises (facts) are not sufficient to arrive at the conclusion the additional premise that we are seeking will be an assumption. If the given premises (facts) already provide sufficient conditions to arrive at the given conclusion, the additional premise will merely help strengthen the conclusion. This is the difference between a pure assumption question, and questions in which assumptions are used to strengthen the conclusion. Bear this in mind, because later we will be looking at the strengthen/weaken the argument questions.  An assumption can make the conclusion true (when conditions are not sufficient) or strengthen the conclusion when the conditions are already sufficient.

Hence once you are clear that the task is to find the assumption, hence the paragraph will have facts and a conclusion, we understand that the given facts may not necessarily lead to the given conclusion.  The accuracy of your response will depend on whether you have clearly identified this lacuna (gap) in the argument or not. Try to first mentally bridge the gap logically, and then evaluate the options to fix the gap.

In the above argument:

SA reduced its fares and this was emulated by IA and JA immediately – FACT

The volume of air travel between Delhi and Mumbai would increase as a result – CONCLUSION

Is the fact that the airlines reduced the rates sufficient condition to lead to the conclusion that the volume of travel would increase? Not quite, unless something bridges the gap in this logic. That something is the assumption. Try to think of what would bridge this gap: that lower rates would attract fliers to these airlines, or reduced rates will increase the number of fliers in the country, that somehow more people would choose to fly by air etc.  Understand that in assumptions questions you need to make the conclusion true and not challenge it.

  1. Increase in profitability of the three airlines.
  2. Extension of the discount scheme to other routes.
  3. A study that shows that air travelers in India are price-conscious.
  4. A study that shows that as much as 80% of air travel in India is company-sponsored.

Since the issue is not at all related to profitability, option 1 is eliminated. Option 2 does not bridge the gap – is even irrelevant form the point of view of this argument (other routes). ‘company sponsored travel’ is also irrelevant to this question and for our task of bridging the gap. Option 2 bridges the gap. Option 2 is the answer.

SRENGHTEN/WEAKEN THE ARGUMET

Directions: Read the short passage given below and answer the question that follows.

Developed countries have made adequate provisions for social security for senior citizens. State insurers (as well as private ones) offer medicare and pension benefits to people who can no longer earn. In India, with the collapse of the joint family system, the traditional shelter of the elderly has disappeared. And the State faced with a financial crunch is not in a position to provide a social security. So, it is advisable that the working population give serious thought to building a financial base for itself.

 

Which one of the following, if it were to happen, weakens the conclusions drawn in the above passage the most?

  1. The investible income of the working population, as a proportion of its total income, will grow in the future.
  2. The insurance sector is underdeveloped and trends indicate that it will be extensively privatised in the future.
  3. India is on a path of development that will take it to a developed country status, with all its positive and negative implications.
  4. If the working population builds a stronger financial base, there will be a revival of the joint family system.

In order to weaken or strengthen a conclusion the first thing to do is: identify what you have to weaken or strengthen. In these (weaken/strengthen) questions, you must understand, the conclusion that you have to weaken is already stated explicitly in the passage. Hence, do not try to derive a conclusion to weaken it. You need to only identify it. Once it is identified, the work is easy – analyze its implications and think of some ways to prove it false (to weaken the argument), or to further support it (to strengthen the argument). After formulating in your mind how one can do this, look at the options to see which option does it the best.

In the above argument the conclusion that you have to weaken is: … it is advisable that the working population give serious thought to building a financial base for itself.

In order to weaken this we have to say (in effect) that working people DO NOT have to think seriously about building a financial base.

Now, you can evaluate the options to see which option accomplishes this task the best.

Option1.The investible income of the working population, as a proportion of its total income, will grow in the future – does not mean that working population does not have to build a financial base.

Option2. The insurance sector is underdeveloped and trends indicate that it will be extensively privatised in the future – does not mean that working population does not have to build a financial base.

Option3. India is on a path of development that will take it to a developed country status, with all its positive and negative implications – working population may not have to build a financial base.

Option4. If the working population builds a stronger financial base, there will be a revival of the joint family system – they have to build a financial base anyhow.

Similarly, in order to strengthen the argument, after identifying the argument to strengthen, look for the option that reinforces it.

Directions: Read the short passage given below and answer the question that follows.

 

Various studies have shown that our forested and hilly regions and, in general, areas where biodiversity – as reflected in the variety of flora – is high, are the places where poverty appears to be high. And these same areas are also the ones where educational performance seems to be poor. Therefore, it may be surmised that, even disregarding poverty status, richness in biodiversity goes hand in hand with educational backwardness.

Which one of the following statements, if true, can be said to best provide supporting evidence for the surmise mentioned in the passage?

  1. In regions where there is little variety in flora, educational performance is seen to be as good as in regions with high variety in flora, when poverty levels are high.
  2. Regions which show high biodiversity also exhibit poor education performance, at low levels of poverty.
  3. Regions which show high biodiversity reveal high levels of poverty and poor educational performance.
  4. In regions where there is low biodiversity, at all levels of poverty, educational performance is seen to be good.

The conclusion that we have to strengthen is: even disregarding poverty status (i.e., poverty is not a factor that determines educational performance) richness in biodiversity goes hand in hand with educational backwardness.

Whatever reinforces this conclusion should show that biodiversity and education are always related – and show the relationship (biodiversity and education have an inverse relationship – poverty levels do not influence this relationship) that the passage states.

Options 1, 2, and 3 take poverty into consideration, whereas the inverse relationship should be established without poverty coming into consideration. Only option 4 does this it says at all levels of poverty the biodiversity influences (inversely) educational performance; hence option 4 is the scoring choice.

 

Author – Sujit Kumar (Faculty – CPLC)

Advertisement
The following two tabs change content below.

Chitale's Personalised Learning Centre

CPLC caters for various national competitive examinations like MBA entrance examination including CAT, CET, XAT, NMAT, SNAP etc and International exams like GRE and GMAT. Our students know CPLC as an institute of quality, choice and personalised attention and value our honesty and integrity. CPLC combines the best teaching talent and the most efficient practice processes with constant updating of the content and solving every single doubt of the students to help the student in every possible manner.

Latest posts by Chitale's Personalised Learning Centre (see all)


Like it? Share with your friends!

0
3 comments
Chitale's Personalised Learning Centre
CPLC caters for various national competitive examinations like MBA entrance examination including CAT, CET, XAT, NMAT, SNAP etc and International exams like GRE and GMAT. Our students know CPLC as an institute of quality, choice and personalised attention and value our honesty and integrity. CPLC combines the best teaching talent and the most efficient practice processes with constant updating of the content and solving every single doubt of the students to help the student in every possible manner.

3 Comments

Ask Us On WhatsApp
Choose A Format
Personality quiz
Series of questions that intends to reveal something about the personality
Trivia quiz
Series of questions with right and wrong answers that intends to check knowledge
Poll
Voting to make decisions or determine opinions
Story
Formatted Text with Embeds and Visuals
List
The Classic Internet Listicles
Countdown
The Classic Internet Countdowns
Open List
Submit your own item and vote up for the best submission
Ranked List
Upvote or downvote to decide the best list item
Meme
Upload your own images to make custom memes
Video
Youtube, Vimeo or Vine Embeds
Audio
Soundcloud or Mixcloud Embeds
Image
Photo or GIF
Gif
GIF format