Main Idea/Central Theme Questions for CAT RC


To counter the selective reading approach ( the universal and ultimate approach of
applicants globally while solving comprehension based questions ) main idea based
questions are asked. The requirements and purpose of this question type is very
explicit: Intense reading and profound comprehension of the whole passage. To
cater this the passages are built by accumulating a number of unique and loosely
disconnected ideas weaved around a central idea , that is what is required to grasp.
The questions are usually formed using the following phrases
The author’s primary purpose in this passage is . . .
The passage is mainly concerned with . . .
The most appropriate heading for this passage would be . . .
Which of the following most completely and accurately describes the passage?
The author’s description of … is primarily intended to explain . . .

Strategies to be adopted

 Rigorous skimming of the Passage.
It is required to be aggressive reader with the sense of urgency considering the
demanding time management. The sole purpose should be to find the main idea,
determine the main flow and structure of a passage, and understand the author’s
tone and purpose. It will be of great help if you literally practice how to stay out of
the details which seem to be relevant yet proves just to be traps. Making short
notes is helpful in linking and scrutinizing details while skimming.

 Subject should be identified to eliminate distracting options
Identifying the core subject around which the whole passage revolves helps you to
eliminate and discard given trap options. Once you the subject , the correct option
must accommodate this. Many a time there is tendency of promoting trivial fact
which is required to be ignored.

 Look for the larger picture ; avoid the narrow features
I wont be exaggerating when I announce that no other skill can be as precise and
result oriented as these, particularly for central theme or paragraph title questions.
One of the major hurdles of such questions is that given options are usually too
identical as well as too precise to be eliminated therefore this consideration plays a
vital role that though they aren’t incorrect or irrelevant yet they describe or relate
to only a negligible/ minor element.

 Practice and master the ability to Summarize

This is the another effective tool required to handle main idea as well as paragraph
heading questions, where one is bound to know what to keep and what to discard.
Without mastering this skill, it is not feasible to skim the whole passage of
hundreds of words ,yet short listing only which is genuinely required. Here comes in
picture the role of author’s tone and attitude. The less ambiguous the tone, the
easier it becomes to skim and finally, the inferred viewpoint.
 Be aware of the following Traps
1. Either Too Narrow or Too Broad
2. Supported by extreme Language
3. Distorting the Passage
4. Unsupported or New
5. Unjustified viewpoint
6. False assumptions
7. Hypothetical arguments

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