PROBLEMS - 1 

Ready for your first try? Remember the instructions: read at a consciously accelerated rate, intent on extracting the essence of the piece quickly and with no lost motion.

 

Direction Q1 to Q5:

Each paragraph is followed by four statements. Select the statement that best expresses the main idea.

 

Bologna, Italy, is a city with 26 miles of covered walkways dating from the 1200s. The atmosphere of this beautiful city and its residents envelope you like a warm hug. In the center piazza of the city are two leaning towers, forming the most notable landmarks. Around the corner is the famous Roxy coffee bar, a hangout for many of the young university students who are studying medicine and political science. The nearby open marketplace bustles with color and excitement. Listening closely, you can hear many languages spoken by the tourists who visit each year.

Q1: In the paragraph above, which of the following best states the main idea of the passage?

  1. Bologna is an old city.
  2. University students love Bologna.
  3. Bologna is an interesting place to visit.
  4. Bologna has two leaning towers.

 

“Best Title” Questions 

Another kind of main idea question will ask you to choose the best title for the paragraph. The best title is the one that best expresses the main idea of the paragraph as a whole. Here is the question.

Visiting New York City and taking in a Broadway musical has always been a dream of Kevin’s, but he knew a visit to the big city would be very expensive. He wanted to plan a short vacation to the city over a holiday weekend. Could he visit the city on a limited budget? Searching the Internet, he found opportunities for reduced-price hotels, half-price Broadway play tickets, and a special on train transportation. He was ecstatic as he started to pack his bags.

Q2: For the paragraph above, which of the following is the best title?

  1. New York—An Expensive City
  2. Kevin’s Budget
  3. Finding Cheap Tickets
  4. Kevin Goes to the Big City

 

Author’s Purpose Questions 

Another kind of main idea question will ask you to identify the author’s purpose in writing the paragraph. Authors write for a variety of purposes: to describe, to raise issues or concerns, to move readers to action, to persuade readers to think in a particular way, to frighten, to give directions, to describe steps or procedures, to compare and contrast, or to entertain. Here is a question of this kind.

Global warming is an increasingly serious environmental problem. It is caused by “greenhouse gases,” which are created by things we do to the environment every day. But there are many little things people can do to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

You can do your part by carpooling to save gasoline. Four people can ride to school or work in a carpool instead of each person taking a car and driving alone. Save electricity by turning off the lights, the television, and the computer when you are through with them. Save energy by taking the bus or by riding your bicycle to school or to run errands. Walk to where you want to go. Recycle your cans, bottles, plastic bags, and newspapers. If you care about the future of this planet, help protect the environment! Get with the program!

Q3: In the paragraph above, what is the author’s purpose?

  1.  To entertain readers
  2.  To describe global warming
  3.  To offer directions
  4.  To move readers to action

 

Finding the Theme

A more advanced skill is the ability to read several paragraphs and relate them to one general theme or main idea. The procedure involves careful reading of the entire passage and deciding which idea is the central or main one. We can tell the right idea when it is more frequent and most important, or when every sentence relates to it. Let us answer for such question given below.

Organizations are institutions in which members complete for status and power. They compete for resource of the organization, for example finance to expand their own departments, for career advancement and for power to control the activities of others. In pursuit of these aims, grouped are formed and sectional interests emerge. As a result, policy decisions may serve the ends of political and career systems rather than those of the concern. In this way, the goals of the organization may be displaced in favor of sectional interests and individual ambition. These preoccupations sometimes prevent the emergence of organic systems. Many of the electronic firms in the study had recently created research and development departments employing highly qualified and well paid scientists and technicians. Their high pay and expert knowledge were sometimes seen as a threat to the established order of rank, power and privilege. Many senior managers had little knowledge of technicality and possibilities of new developments and electronics. Some felt that close cooperation with the experts in an organic system would reveal their ignorance and show their experience was now redundant.

Q4: The theme of the passage is

  1. Groupism in organizations
  2. Individual ambitions in organizations
  3. Frustration of senior managers
  4. Emergence of sectional interests in organizations.

 

The Summary of Main Idea

When we are asked to summarize the main idea. The opening and closing sentences are key sentences to read. Author typically provides readers with a sentence that expresses a paragraph’s main idea succinctly. So, readers should take up complete reading of the paragraph.

Here is the kind of question.

India’s baffling array of state and national labor laws date to the 1940s: one provides for the type and number of spittoons in a factory. Another says an enterprise with more than 100 workers needs government permission to scale back or close. Many Indian businesses stay small in order to remain beyond the reach of the laws. Big firms use temporary workers to avoid them. Less than 15% of Indian workers have legal job security. The new government can sidestep the difficult politics of curbing privileges by establishing a new, simpler labor contract that gives basic protection to workers but makes lay-offs less costly to firms. It would apply only to new hires; the small proportion of existing workers with gold-star protections would keep them.

Q5: Which of the following options best summarizes the main idea of the paragraph?

  1. More Indian workers can get permanent jobs and legal job security if existing labor laws are reformed.
  2. Effective labor law reform can encourage many Indian businesses to grow to more than 100 workers.
  3. Outdated Indian labor laws need to be simplified to provide basic protection to workers and curb privileges.
  4. The difficult politics of curbing privileges can be avoided if the changes in the labor law only apply to the new hires.

 

Topic Sentence

Often in a paragraph there will be one sentence that sums up the main idea of the paragraph as a whole. The question may ask you to choose which sentence that is. A sentence that sums up the main idea of a paragraph is called the topic sentence. In the following example, the sentences are numbered. As you read, try to pick out the topic sentence.

(1) It was 6 p.m. on a cloudy, frigid day in the forest. (2) It had been sleeting the entire afternoon. (3) Simone was worried because her son hadn’t returned home, as he usually did by this time. (4) Todd was always punctual, but tonight was different. (5) Todd had a basketball game after school, and a friend was supposed to drive him home. (6) Simone waited by the window in hopes of seeing Todd’s smiling face as he came up the stairs.

Q6: Which of the following sentences best reflects the main idea of the paragraph?

  1.  1
  2.  3
  3.  4
  4.  5

 

Conclusion: Even at the risk of being tediously repetitious, that our dominating aim in reading these selections is to cut rapidly through the words, sentences, and details to find and follow the author’s main idea.

Perhaps we think that every word has to be chewed and digested before we can go on to the next one or that is every sentence has to be mulled over or that every thought has to be studied before we can really understand it; believe me, this is not so. All the words, all the sentences, all the thoughts in any selection add up to a final point, a final effect, a dominant and central idea. Get into the next selection, get that central idea, and get out. If we have any success in putting these instructions into practice, both over-all understanding and increase in rate will surprise us.

 

Apart from main idea, many times in placement tests we are asked to find the supporting sentence for the main idea. So, here let us take the effort of learning the supporting idea.


Practice Section

Paragraph One

Robots are being used in sumo wrestling contests. Sumo wrestling is a sport that started in Japan. It takes place in a ring. Two players try to score points by holding each other down or pushing each other out of the ring. Robot sumo uses robots instead of humans. The robot that scores the most points wins.

Q1: Which of the following is a supporting detail of this paragraph?

  1. Robots are being used in sumo wrestling contests.
  2. Robot sumo contests are better than human sumo contests.
  3. Robot sumo uses robots instead of humans.
  4. Watching robot sumo is boring.

 Note

  1. Incorrect. This is the main idea of the paragraph.
  2. Incorrect. This is an opinion about robot sumo contests and not a supporting detail.
  3. Correct! This supporting detail gives more information about what robot sumo entails.
  4. Incorrect. This is an opinion about robot sumo contests and not a supporting detail.

 

Q2: What is the main idea of this paragraph?

  1. Sumo wrestling is a sport that started in Japan.
  2. Sumo wrestling takes place in a ring.
  3. The robot that scores the most points wins.
  4. Robots are being used in sumo wrestling contests.

 Note

  1. Incorrect. This supporting detail gives more information about sumo wrestling’s starting place.
  2. Incorrect. This supporting detail gives more information about where a sumo wrestling match takes place.
  3. Incorrect. This supporting detail gives more information about the scoring rules of sumo.
  4. Correct! This paragraph is mainly about robots being used in sumo wrestling contests.

 

Paragraph Two

Students compete in robot sumo contests. They learn how to build their own robots. They compete against their classmates and students from other schools. To win, students must be creative. They must have a good plan for defeating other robots.

Q1: What is the main idea of this paragraph?

  1. Students need a good plan for defeating other robots.
  2. Students compete against their classmates and students from other schools. C. Students compete in robot sumo contests.
  3. Students must be creative to win.

Note

  1. Incorrect. This supporting detail gives more information on how a student could win in a robot sumo contest.
  2. Incorrect. This supporting detail gives more information about who the students compete against in robot sumo contests.
  3. Correct! This paragraph is mainly about students competing in robot sumo contests.
  4. Incorrect. This supporting detail gives more information about what a student needs to be in order to win a robot sumo contest.

 

Q2: Which of the following is a supporting detail of this paragraph?

  1. Students like building sumo robots.
  2. Students compete in robot sumo contests.
  3. They use excellent strategies to defeat other robots.
  4. They must have a good plan for defeating other robots.

 Note

  1. Incorrect. This is an opinion about the students and not a supporting detail.
  2. Incorrect. This is the main idea of the paragraph.
  3. Incorrect. This is an opinion about the students’ strategies and not a supporting detail.
  4. Correct! This supporting detail gives more information about competing in robot sumo contests.

 

Conclusion: Each selection as we study the analysis is to sharpen our sense of the structure of material, to develop our skill in differentiating subordinate elements from main ideas. The more practiced we become in recognizing how details are used to introduce, bolster, pound home, clarify, or illustrate main ideas, the more rapidly and successfully will be able to pull these ideas out of our reading, and the clearer will be our grasp of the final meaning of what an author is saying to us.

Now, it is time to test our learning.


Problems - 2

Directions (Questions1-6):

Each of the following questions contains a small paragraph followed by a question on it. Read each paragraph carefully and answer the question given below it.

Due to enormous profits involved in smuggling, hundreds of persons have been attracted towards this anti-national activity. Some of them became millionaires overnight. India has a vast coastline both on the Eastern and Western Coast. It has been a heaven for smugglers who have been carrying on their activities with great impunity. There is no doubt, that from time to time certain seizures were made by the enforcement authorities, during raids and ambush but even allowing these losses the smugglers made huge profits.

Q1: The passage best supports the statement that

  1. Smuggling hampers the economic development of a nation.
  2. Smuggling ought to be curbed.
  3. Authorities are taking strict measures to curb smuggling.
  4. Smuggling is fast increasing in our country owing to the quick profit it entails.

 

Industrial exhibitions play a major role in a country’s economy. Such exhibitions, now regularly held in Delhi, enable us to measure the extent of our own less advanced industrial progress and the mighty industrial power and progress of countries like the U.K., U.S.A. and Russia whose pavilions are the centers of the greatest attention and attractions.

Q2: The passage best supports the statement that industrial exhibitions

  1. Greatly tax the poor economies.
  2. Are more useful for the developed countries like U.S.A. whose products stand out superior to those of the developing countries.
  3. Are not of much use to the countries that are industrially backward.
  4. Boost up production qualitatively and quantitatively by analytical comparison of a country’s products with those of the developed countries.

 

It is up to our government and planners to devise ways and means for the mobilization of about ten crore workers whose families total up about forty crore men, women and children. Our agriculture is over-manned. A lesser number of agriculturists would mean more purchasing or spending power to every agriculturist. This will result in the shortage of man-power for many commodities to be produced for which there will be a new demand from a prosperous agrarian class. This shortage will be removed by surplus man-power released from agriculture as suggested above.

Q3: The passage best supports the statement that:

  1. Employment in production is more fruitful than employment in agriculture. B. Indian economy is in a poor shape basically due to improper mobilization of manpower.
  2. A shift of labour from agricultural sector to the industrial sector would uplift the living standard.
  3. The industrial sector is labour-deficient while the agricultural sector is over-manned in our country.

 

The only true education comes through the stimulation of the child’s powers by the demands of the social situations in which he finds himself. Through these demands he is stimulated to act as a member of a unity, to emerge from his original narrowness of action and feeling, and to conceive himself from the standpoint of the welfare of the group to which he belongs.

Q4: The passage best supports the statement that real education –

  1. Will take place if the children imbibe action and feeling.
  2. Will take place if the children are physically strong.
  3. Is not provided in our schools today.
  4. Comes through the interaction with social situations

 

The virtue of art does not allow the work to be interfered with or immediately ruled by anything other than itself. It insists that it alone shall touch the work in order to bring it into being. Art requires that nothing shall attain the work except through art itself.

Q5: This passage best supports the statement that:

  1. Art is governed by external rules and conditions.
  2. Art is for the sake of art and life.
  3. Art is for the sake of art alone.
  4. Artist realizes his dreams through his artistic creation.

 

The attainment of individual and organizational goals is mutually interdependent and linked by a common denominator – employee work motivation. Organizational members are motivated to satisfy their personal goals, and they contribute their efforts to the attainment of organizational objectives as means of achieving these personal goals.

Q6: The passage best supports the statement that motivation –

  1. Encourages an individual to give priority to personal goals over organizational goals.
  2. Is crucial for the survival of an individual and organization.
  3. Is the product of an individual’s physical and mental energy?
  4. Is the external force which induces an individual to contribute his efforts?

 

Directions (Questions 7-15):

The following section consists of two passages followed by set of questions. Read the passage thoroughly and answer the set of questions given below the passage.

Q(7 – 11)

In the world today we make health and end in itself. We have forgotten that health is really means to enable a person to do his work and do it well. A lot of modern medicine and this includes many patients as well as many physicians pays very little attention to health but very much attention to those who imagine that they are ill. Our great concern with health is shown by the medical columns in newspapers. The health articles in popular magazines and the popularity of television programmers and all those books on medicine. We talk about health all the time. Yet for the most part the only result is more people with imaginary illness. The healthy man should not be wasting time talking about health: he should be using health for work. The work does the work that good health possible.

Q7. Modern medicine is primarily concerned with

  1. promotion of good health
  2. people suffering from imaginary illness
  3. people suffering from real illness
  4. increased efficiency in work

 

Q8. The passage suggests that

  1. health is an end in itself
  2. health is blessing
  3. health is only means to an end
  4. we should not talk about health

 

Q9. Talking about the health all time makes people

  1. always suffer from imaginary illness
  2. sometimes suffer from imaginary illness
  3. rarely suffer from imaginary illness
  4. often suffer from imaginary illness

 

Q10. The passage tells us

  1. how medicine should be manufactured
  2. what healthy man should or should not do
  3. what television programmers should be about
  4. how best to imagine illness

 

Q11. A healthy man should be concerned with

  1. his work which good health makes possible
  2. looking after his health
  3. his health which makes work possible
  4. talking about health

 

Q(12-15)

Organizations are institutions in which members compete for status and power. They compete for resource of the organization, for example finance to expand their own departments, for career advancement and for power to control the activities of others. In pursuit of these aims, grouped are formed and sectional interests emerge. As a result, policy decisions may serve the ends of political and career systems rather than those of the concern. In this way, the goals of the organization may be displaced in favor of sectional interests and individual ambition. These preoccupations sometimes prevent the emergence of organic systems. Many of the electronic firms in the study had recently created research and development departments employing highly qualified and well paid scientists and technicians. Their high pay and expert knowledge were sometimes seen as a threat to the established order of rank, power and privilege. Many senior managers had little knowledge of technicality and possibilities of new developments and electronics. Some felt that close cooperation with the experts in an organic system would reveal their ignorance and show their experience was now redundant.

Q12. “Organic system” as related to the organization implies its

  1. growth with the help of expert knowledge
  2. growth with input from science and technology
  3. steady all around development
  4. natural and unimpeded growth

 

Q13. Policy decision in organization would involve

  1. cooperation at all levels in the organization
  2. modernization of the organization
  3. attracting highly qualified personnel
  4. keeping in view the larger objectives of the organizations

 

Q14. The author makes out a case for

  1. organic system
  2. Research and Development in organizations
  3. an understanding between senior and middle level executives
  4. a refresher course for senior managers

 

Q15. The author tends to the senior managers as

  1. ignorant and incompetent
  2. a little out of step with their work environment
  3. jealous of their younger colleagues
  4. robbed of their rank, power and privilege

Answers

Answer 1 Clearly, choice 3 is the best and correct answer. The main idea is that Bologna is an interesting and vibrant city that attracts visitors from many places. The other answers may be true, but they do not sum up the gist of the entire passage.

Answer 2 Of the options, choice 4 is the best and correct answer. You don’t know about Kevin’s actual budget, so choice 2 is not correct. You do know that New York City is expensive to visit, but that is not the major point of the paragraph. Finding cheap tickets is part of the process, but it is not by any means the major thrust of the paragraph. Kevin’s dream and all its parts is the most important theme of the paragraph. Note that there are a number of other possible good titles for this paragraph. A few include Kevin Goes to the Big City, New York City on a Budget, and Kevin’s Dream Comes True. Each of these titles conveys the main idea of the paragraph and would make a possible correct answer choice.

Answer 3 The best answer is choice 4. The purpose of the paragraph is to move you to act to protect the environment. The paragraph makes no attempt to entertain readers (choice 1), nor does it really describe what global warming is (choice 2). It does give suggestions for fixing global warming, but these are not really directions, so choice 3 is also incorrect.

Answer 4 Emergence of sectional interests in organizations.

Option 1, 2, and 3 is not reason behind cooperation with the experts in an organic. In pursuit of these aims, grouped are formed and sectional interests emerge.

Answer 5 This paragraph is about dated Indian labor laws. It cites some examples highlighting how some aspects of the laws are irrelevant today, how these are affecting both firms and people they employ and suggests a possible solution to the “difficult politics of curbing privileges”.

In summary, the labor laws in India are dated and need to be reformed. A simpler labor contract that gives basic protection to workers while restricting the privileges for new hires and making layoffs less costly to firms is needed.

The question reads which of the options best summarizes the paragraph.

Let’s consider the options:

Option 1- More Indian workers can get permanent jobs and legal job security if existing labor laws are reformed.
The paragraph states that big firms use temporary workers to avoid laws that are applicable for enterprises with over 100 workers. Thus, only a small percentage of Indian workers have legal job security. From the above, we cannot however conclude that if labor laws are reformed, more workers can get permanent jobs. There could be other factors influencing whether workers are taken in as temporary or permanent. Also, the above is not the main idea of the paragraph. Temporary workers are one aspect of the impact of outdated labor laws discussed by the paragraph; it does not summarize the paragraph.

Option 2- Effective labor law reform can encourage many Indian businesses to grow to more than 100 workers. The paragraph does argue that outdated labor laws mean that most businesses stay small to avoid them. So the above is a reasonable conclusion that can be drawn from the paragraph. However, it is not the main idea of the paragraph, and does not summarize it.

Option 4- The difficult politics of curbing privileges can be avoided if the changes in the labor law only apply to the new hires.

Again, this is stated in the paragraph. However, does it summarize the paragraph? This option only touches upon one aspect of labor law reform suggested. Hence this is not the correct choice of answer.

Option 3- Outdated Indian labor laws need to be simplified to provide basic protection to workers and curb privileges.
We can see that this option touches upon the main points of the paragraph- outdated labor laws, need for reform to simplify, basic protection for workers and curbing privileges.
This is hence the option that best summarizes the paragraph.
Correct Answer: Choice (3)

Answer 6 The best and correct answer is choice 2. In most paragraphs, the topic sentence is the first sentence. But in this case, as you might have noticed, it is not. Of the six sentences, sentence 3 best conveys the meaning of the entire paragraph. It tells you that for some reason, Todd was supposed to be home and wasn’t, and that Simone was worried. Sentence 3 is the topic sentence. Sentences 1 and 2 just give an indication of the setting. Sentences 4 and 5 tell us that Todd was usually on time and that this day he had a basketball game. These sentences don’t reflect the basic idea of the paragraph: that Simone was worried and why she was worried. Sentence 6 conveys no sense that there was any kind of problem or reason for worry, only that Simone was looking out the window hoping to see Todd.

 

Problems – 2 

Directions (Questions1-6): Each of the following questions contains a small paragraph followed by a question on it. Read each paragraph carefully and answer the question given below it

  1. Ans: 4
  2. Ans: 4
  3. Ans: 2
  4. Ans: 4
  5. Ans: 3
  6. Ans: 1

 

Directions (Questions 7-15): The following section consists of two passages followed by set of questions. Read the passage thoroughly and answer the set of questions given below the passage.

  1. Ans: 2
  2. Ans: 3
  3. Ans: 4
  4. Ans: 2
  5. Ans: 1
  6. Ans: 2
  7. Ans: 3
  8. Ans: 1
  9. Ans: 1