Reading Comprehension (RC) Passages

Questions based on Reading Comprehension (RC) Passages in CAT exam occupy 70% share in Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC) Section and 24% share in overall CAT exam. As such a high score in the RC based questions can get you through the CAT 2019 exam with a high percentile.


RC Passages: Important in all Exams
English Comprehension passages with questions and answer options following them constitute highest weightage from 20% to 70% in all the MBA entrance exams including CAT, XAT, SNAP, NMAT, IIFT, CMAT, MH CET, MAT, ATMA among others.


The RC Passage section in all the class-1 and class-2 officers’ grade competitive exams also consists of unseen passages or English Reading Comprehension questions based on RC Passages. To get expertise in it, one needs to attempt as many English Reading Comprehension passages with questions and answers so that a clear understanding is built up on how to approach the questions and answer them for different types of English RC Passages.

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RC Passages in CAT: High Score is Must 
One of the key tips to crack CAT 2019 is how to crack English Reading comprehension questions in CAT? Since there are only English Reading Comprehension passages or RC passages with questions in CAT, many students who have not well practiced variety of English Reading Comprehension passages with questions and answers find it difficult to infer the correct answers to RC based questions. These English Reading Comprehension Passages command 24% share in overall CAT exam and 70% share in VARC section.


Your mission to crack CAT 2019 should be to focus more on RC Passages in CAT. Past CAT toppers with 100 and 99 percentile share following tips to accomplish your Mission CAT 2019:

  • Read English Newspaper Editorials and Articles. It will help you get clarity on English Reading Comprehension passages with questions and answers that you should give to the questions. 
  • Choose an English RC passage book like that of Arun Sharma that contains variety of English Reading Comprehension passages with questions and answers and practice on variety of questions.
  • After going through the English Reading Comprehension passage with questions visualize the answers.
  • Make a summary of the English RC Passage with questions and answer them deploying your best efforts. Check your answers and match them with model answers. Please note that your RC Passage summary should be one third of the passage size
  • Check that all the key points are covered in the summary of RC passage
  • Frame on your own the English RC passage based questions and answer them
  • Improve your reading speed for English Reading Comprehension passages with questions and answers also
  • Since 2017, IIMs have started releasing CAT exam papers with answer keys, attempt the 10 RC passages from actual CAT test papers and answer questions on them
  • Monitor your time to attempt the CAT RC passages. One RC passage followed by 5-6 questions should not take more than 15 minutes to answer 

Type of Questions on English RC Passages
Different MBA entrance exams or other competitive exams ask different type of questions on Reading Comprehension (RC). Besides, the size and number of questions based on RC passages in prominent exams like CAT, XAT, SNAP, IIFT, NMAT, CMAT, ATMA, MAT, IBSAT vary. The questions on RC passages may be of MCQ type or non-MCQ type; they may carry penalty of negative marking or no penalty of negative marking.


For example, the current structure of CAT exam has 5 English RC passages followed by two types of questions based on Reading Comprehension: 

Type of Questions
Total RC Based Questions
Marks for each correct answer
Negative Marks for wrong answer

In contrast, there are other exams which prefer only short Reading Comprehension passages. While the RC passages are followed by most indirect questions in CAT, other exams place direct questions, the answers to which can be directly inferred from the contents of the passages.


Cracking the RC Passages require a bit of time to understand what are the skills needed to crack Reading Comprehension based questions and how can I improve my RC Reading skills.  In fact, the Reading Comprehension exercises in exams and tests depend upon the type of exam and difficulty level of it. For example, MBA Reading Comprehension Passages in CAT and XAT are considered bit more difficult than the MBA Reading Comprehension for NMAT, MAT or ATMA.


What is the definition of Reading Comprehension (RC) Passages?
We have been comprehending the Reading right from the beginning. If we define the Reading Comprehension (RC) in simple words, it is an Unseen Passage which you should read to understand its meaning and then integrate it to what is already known.


5 basic skills required to answer questions and score high in RC passage are:

  • Good Vocabulary to know the meaning of words
  • Ability to know and understand meaning of a word relevant to the context in Reading Comprehension passage
  • Understand How the Reading Comprehension passage is organized and Identify antecedents and references in the RC Passage
  • Ability to draw inferences from the RC passage about its contents and understand and identify the Central Idea (Main Thought) of RC passage
  • Understand the Questions based on RC passage and recognize the directly or indirectly used answer in the RC Passage after identifying the Tone, situations mood, Purpose of the Reading Comprehension Passage

Reading Comprehension (RC) Passages with Q&A test not only your English Language skills but they also test your knowledge of vocabulary, accuracy and flow of thought in deriving the inferences, logical understanding of ideas and your skill of connecting the split ideas expressed in the Reading Comprehension passage while checking the Reading Comprehension Passages with Questions and Answers.     


Apart from Comprehension Passages for practice available in hard copy, free Reading Comprehension Practice Tests are available online. Comprehension Passages with solutions or Reading Comprehension exercises with Answers help you to understand how to approach the Comprehension Passages with Questions and Answers.


Since the size and difficulty level varies from easy to difficult depending upon the MBA entrance exam, Comprehension passages with solutions are a good source to understand how to improve Reading Comprehension skills.


Reading Comprehension in Different Exams
Reading Comprehension Exercises with answers to them could be inferred either direct from the RC passage or it could be indirect and difficult to be derived from the passage. To help you understand about the size, weightage and difficulty level of Reading comprehension questions in different exams, experts share below the facts on constitution of Reading Comprehension passages in important MBA entrance tests:

Entrance Exam
RC Passage Size (In words) & Difficulty Level
RC Questions Weigthage Sectional & Overall
800; Moderate to Difficult
Sectional: 70%
Overall: 24%
Reading Comprehension Passages in NMAT by GMAC
500; Moderate
Sectional: 25%
Overall: 7%
Reading Comprehension Passages in SNAP
500 to 1000; Moderate
Sectional: 20%
Reading Comprehension Passages in XAT
500; Moderate to Difficult
Sectional: 60%
Overall: 15%
Reading Comprehension Passages in IIFT
1000; Moderate to Difficult
Sectional: 100% (Separate Section)
Overall: 14%
Reading Comprehension Passages in CMAT
400; Moderate
Reading Comprehension Passages in ATMA
200-300; Easy to Moderate
Sectional: 28%
Overall: 10%
Reading Comprehension Passages in MAT
500; Easy
Sectional: 50%
Overall: 10%

All Exams Have Only English RC Passages
As regards the role of Reading Comprehension questions in all the exams, please note the following:

  • Please note that in every exam there are only English Reading Comprehension passages with questions and answers to them have to be given in English only
  • None of the competitive exams give you a choice of RC passages in vernacular language
  • To prepare for RC passages, the best way is to solve as many as English Reading Comprehension passages with questions and answers to know the right approach to score high
  • All the English RC passage based exercises with answers can give you a fair idea how to attempt these unseen passages in CAT.
  • To guide you on different types of English Reading comprehension passages and question sets expected in different entrance exams, some of the Sample Reading Comprehension exercises with answers are shared below:


English Reading Comprehension (RC) Passages with Questions & Answers


Sample RC Passage-1

Directions for questions 1 to 5- Read the short passage below and answer the questions that follow:   

(You should check your answers after attempting the questions)   

A sanctuary may be defined as a place where Man is passive and the rest of  Nature active. Till quite recently Nature had her own sanctuaries, where man either did not go at all or only as a tool-using animal in comparatively small numbers. But now, in this machinery age, there is no place left where man cannot go with overwhelming forces at his command. He can strangle to death all the nobler wild life in the world to-day. To-morrow he certainly will have done so, unless he exercises due foresight and self-control in the mean time.


There is not the slightest doubt that birds and mammals are now being killed off much faster than they can breed. And it is always the largest and noblest forms of life that suffer most. The whales and elephants, lions and eagles, go. The rats and flies, and all mean parasites, remain. This is inevitable in certain cases. But it is wanton killing off that I am speaking of to-night. Civilized man begins by destroying the very forms of wild life he learns to appreciate most when

he becomes still more civilized. The obvious remedy is to begin conservation at an earlier stage, when it is easier and better in every way, by enforcing laws for close seasons, game preserves, the selective protection of certain species, and sanctuaries.


I have just defined a sanctuary as a place where man is passive and the rest of Nature active. But this general definition is too absolute for any special case. The mere fact that man has to protect a sanctuary does away with his purely passive attitude. Then, he can be beneficially active by destroying pests and parasites, like bot-flies or mosquitoes, and by finding antidotes for diseases like the epidemic which periodically kills off the rabbits and thus starves many of the carnivora to death. But, except in cases where experiment has proved his intervention to be beneficial, the less he upsets the balance of Nature the better, even when he tries to be an earthly Providence.


Q.1. The author implies that his first definition of a sanctuary is

 A. Totally wrong

 B. Somewhat idealistic

 C. unhelpful

 D. indefensible

 E. immutable


Your Answer Options:

  1. A   2.B   3.C   4.D   5.E


Q.2. The author’s argument that destroying bot-flies and mosquitoes would be a beneficial action is most weakened by all of the following except

 A. parasites have an important role to play in the regulation of populations

 B. the elimination of any species can have unpredictable effects on the balance of nature

 C. the pests themselves are part of the food chain

 D. these insects have been introduced to the area by human activities

 E. elimination of these insects would require the use of insecticides that kill a wide range of insects


Your Answer Options

1.B    2.C&D     3.A      4.D       5. E


Q.3. It can be inferred that the passage is

A. part of an article in a scientific journal

B. extracted from the minutes of a nature club

C. part of a speech delivered to an educated audience

D. a speech delivered in a court of law

E. from a polemical article published in a magazine


Your Answer Options

  1. D&E   2.A   3.C   4. B    5.D


Q.4. What should be the most appropriate central idea of this passage

 A. Author argues that man kills big animals but saves mosquitoes & other parasites.

 B. Man is selfish by nature so he is up against the wild life which is harmful for his survival

 C. Ecological balance, if not maintained by man will be harmful in long run.

 D. Author proposes a programme for not disturbing the balance of nature as it is beneficial for mankind.

 E. In view of the author man should not intervene in natural environments.


Your Answer Options

1.A    2.D   3.C   4.E   5.B


Q.5 – Tone of the Author as expressed in the passage can be best described

A. Descriptive to analytical

B. Sarcastically humorous

C. Objective to narrative

D. Sarcastically critical to suggestive

E. Ironically sarcastic to negative


Your Answer Options

1. B&C   2.A     3.D    4.E    5.C


Check Your Answers

Ans for Q.1: 2. B. The author says in sentence two that his previous definition was “too absolute”. Yet he admits that the less man “upsets the balance of Nature” the better. Hence his definition is not entirely right (because it is too idealistic) but it is not entirely wrong either. It is now easy to eliminate answers A, C, D, and E because they are strongly negative.


Ans for Q.2: 4. D. In “except” questions find the true statements first. In this case find four statements that weaken the idea that destroying pests is beneficial. That means finding statements that show that it is not a good idea to destroy the pests. Answers A, B, C, and E give reasons why destroying these insects might be a mistake. D, however, is the right answer because it suggests that eliminating these insects might not be wrong, since they are not even natural inhabitants of the area.


Ans Q.3: 3.C. From the words “I am speaking of tonight” we can infer that the words were delivered orally, and not during the day time. The only possible answer is C.


Ans. Q.4: 3. C.  The author in his last paragraph warns the man against his attitude and suggests not to create disturbance in ecological system and should have foresight for his own benefit.


Ans Q.5: 3.D. Very first paragraph determines the tone which goes on to criticise the human activities against nature sarcastically yet issues a suggestive warning to exercise due foresight and self-control. Entire passage revolves around this tone and concludes with the suggestion not to disturb the ecological balance.


Sample RC-2: with Answers-2

Direction for Questions 1 - 10: In the following passage there are blanks, each of which has been numbered. These numbers are printed below the passage and against each, five words are suggested, one of which fits the blank appropriately. Find out the appropriate word in each case.


(You should check your answers after attempting all questions)


Not a …(1)… passes without a controversy …(2)… over the national sports awards. The …(3)… that arises every year following the announcement of the Khel Ratna, Arjuna and Dronacharya awards often …(4)… to accusations of bias, regionalism and …(5)… . Representations to the Sports Minister, interventions …(6)… Chief Ministers, Union Ministers and politicians have all …(7)… part of the game, though the rules stipulate that any form of “canvassing” could lead to disqualification of an …(8)… . In practice, no such disqualification takes …(69)… and aspiring candidates readily plead their cases with the Sports Minister even after the recommendations of the awards panel become public …(10).


1.    ---------- (1)?


         A)    distance

         B)    year

         C)    right

         D)    second


2.    ------------ (2) ?

         A)    harming

         B)    developing

         C)    surrounding

         D)    erupting


3.    ------------- (3) ?

         A)    debate

         B)    understanding

         C)    struggle

         D)    discussion


4.    ------------- (4) ?

         A)    permits

         B)    allows

         C)    leads

         D)    results


5.    ------------- (5) ?

         A)    honesty

         B)    complexity

         C)    encourage

         D)    manipulation


6.    ------------- (6) ?

         A)    for

         B)    by

         C)    from

         D)    with


7.    ------------- (7) ?

         A)    become

         B)    crossed

         C)    affected

         D)    lasted


8.    ------------- (8) ?

         A)    award

         B)    game

         C)    entry

         D)    theory


9.    ------------- (9) ?

         A)    part

         B)    toll

         C)    role

         D)    place


10.    ------------- (10) ?

        A)  Choice
        B)  Fury
        C)  Property
        D)  Knowledge



Check Your Answers to RC Questions    

Q No.


Sample Reading Comprehension (RC) Exercise with Answers -3


Directions for questions 1 to 6- Read the short passage below and answer the questions that follow:  


(You should check your answers after attempting all questions)


Marie was born in 1867 in Warsaw, Poland, where her father was a Professor of Physics. At an early age, she displayed a brilliant mind and a blithe personality. Her great exuberance for learning prompted her to continue with her studies after high school. She became disgruntled, however, when she learned that the university in Warsaw was closed to women. Determined to receive a higher education, she defiantly left Poland and in 1891 entered the Sorbonne, a French university, where she earned her master's degree and doctorate in physics.


Marie was fortunate to have studied at the Sorbonne with some of the greatest scientists of her day, one of whom was Pierre Curie. Marie and Pierre were married in 1895 and spent many productive years working together in the physics laboratory. A short time after they discovered radium, Pierre was killed by a horse-drawn wagon in 1906. Marie was stunned by this horrible misfortune and endured heartbreaking anguish. Despondently she recalled their close relationship and the joy that they had shared in scientific research. The fact that she had two young daughters to raise by herself greatly increased her distress.


Curie's feeling of desolation finally began to fade when she was asked to succeed her husband as a physics professor at the Sorbonne. She was the first woman to be given a professorship at the world-famous university. In 1911 she received the Nobel Prize in chemistry for isolating radium. Although Marie Curie eventually suffered a fatal illness from her long exposure to radium, she never became disillusioned about her work. Regardless of the consequences, she had dedicated herself to science and to revealing the mysteries of the physical world.


Q.1. Marie had a bright mind and a          personality.

(A) Strong     (B) lighthearted (C) Humorous       (D) Strange

Q.2. When she learned that she could not attend the university in Warsaw, she felt      .

(A) Hopeless  (B) Annoyed    (C) Depressed      (D) Worried

Q.3.  Marie         by leaving Poland and travelling to France to enter the Sorbonne.

(A)   Challenged authority  (B) Showed intelligence

(C)   Behaved                 (D) Was distressed

Q.4  _____she remembered their joy together.

(A)   Dejectedly       (B) Worried          (C) Tearfully          (D) Happily


Q.5  Her                   began to fade when she returned to the Sorbonne to succeed her husband.

(A) Misfortune       (B) Anger        (C) Wretchedness       (D) Disappointment

Q.6 Even though she became fatally ill from working with radium, Marie Curie was never    ___.

(A) Troubled          (B) Worried     (C) Disappointed        (D) Sorrowful



Sample Reading Comprehension (RC) Exercise with Answers - 4


Directions for questions 1 to 4- Read the short passages below and answer the questions 


(You should check your answers after attempting all the questions)


Care should be taken when submitting manuscripts to book publishers. A suitable publisher should be chosen, by a study of his list of publications or an examination in the bookshops of the type of books in which he specializes. It is a waste of time and money to send the typescript of a novel to a publisher who publishes no fiction, or poetry to one who publishes no verse, though all too often this is done. A preliminary letter is appreciated by most publishers, and this should outline the nature and extent of the typescript and enquire whether the publisher would be prepared to read it (writers have been known to send out such letters of enquiry in duplicated form, an approach not calculated to stimulate a publisher’s interest). It is desirable to enclose the cost of return postage when submitting the typescript and finally it must be understood that although every reasonable care is taken of material in the Publishers’ possession, responsibility cannot be accepted for any loss or damage thereto.


Authors are strongly advised not to pay for the publication of their work. If a MS. Is worth publishing, a reputable publisher will undertake its publication at his own expense, except possibly for works of an academic nature. In this connection attention is called to the paragraphs on Self-publishing and vanity publishing, at the end of this section.


Q.1.  In view of the writer –

1.a)  The publisher will stick to his line of publication only.

2.b) The publisher who does not publish the other books, may not understand the ingredients and pattern of publication.

3.c) Publisher will not devote time to the Editing and reading the material which is not of its line of publication.

4.d) Any publisher, not publishing the stuff of other type will not be able to do justice with the manuscript.


Q.2.  As per the passage

1.a)  Introductory letter, as it helps in publication, must be invariably sent.

2.b) The letters must have the contents in detail, to make the publisher read the same while devoting sufficient time.

3.c) A well worded & concise letter must be sent with manuscript to enable the publisher to have a glimpse of the manuscript.

4.d) More than one copy of the Preliminary/introductory letter must be submitted.


Q.3.  According to the writer

1.a) Paying for the publication expenses will help in publication of the manuscript.

2.b) Although the publisher would pay for the return expenses, no publication expenses will be borne by the publisher.

3.c) Reputed publisher would publish the manuscript on its own expenses.

4.d) Good publishers sometimes defer the publication according to the demand.


Q.4. Give the suitable Central idea of the passage

1.a)  Manuscripts when sent for publication must have preliminary letter in more than one copy with cost of publication.

2.b) Manuscripts must be submitted to reputed publisher, who publishes the material of that kind with a brief letter and cost of return expenses.

3.c) The manuscripts before submission, must be personally discussed with the publishers, alongwith a letter and making it clear with him that only a part of publication expenses  will be borne by the writer.

4.d) While submitting the manuscripts for publication, all the details are to be made abundantly clear with the publisher in writing alongwith the share of expenses.  Any reputed publisher can be selected who may publish the manuscript.   





Sample Reading Comprehension (RC) Exercise with Answers-5


Directions for questions 1 to 3- Read the short passage below and answer the questions


(You should check your answers after attempting all the questions)


The first and most important rule of legitimate or popular government, that is to say, of government whose object is the good of the people, is therefore, as I have observed, to follow in everything the general will. But to follow this will it is necessary to know it, and above all to distinguish it from the particular will, beginning with one's self: this distinction is always very difficult to make, and only the most sublime virtue can afford sufficient illumination for it. As, in order to will, it is necessary to be free, a difficulty no less great than the former arises — that of preserving at once the public liberty and the authority of government. Look into the motives which have induced men, once united by their common needs in a general society, to unite themselves still more intimately by means of civil societies: you will find no other motive than that of assuring the property, life and liberty of each member by the protection of all. But can men be forced to defend the liberty of any one among them, without trespassing on that of others? And how can they provide for the public needs, without alienating the individual property of those who are forced to contribute to them? With whatever sophistry all this may be covered over, it is certain that if any constraint can be laid on my will, I am no longer free, and that I am no longer master of my own property, if anyone else can lay a hand on it. This difficulty, which would have seemed insurmountable, has been removed, like the first, by the most sublime of all human institutions, or rather by a divine inspiration, which teaches mankind to imitate here below the  unchangeable decrees of the Deity. By what inconceivable art has a means been found of making men free by making them subject; of using in the service of the State the properties, the persons and even the lives of all its members, without constraining and without  consulting them; of confining their will by their own admission; of  overcoming their refusal by that consent, and forcing them to punish themselves, when they act against their own will? How can it be that  all should obey, yet nobody take upon him to command, and that all  should serve, and yet have no masters, but be the more free, as, in apparent subjection, each loses no part of his liberty but what might be hurtful to that of another? These wonders are the work of law. It is to law alone that men owe justice and liberty. It is this salutary organ of the will of all which establishes, in civil right, the  natural equality between men. It is this celestial voice which dictates to each citizen the precepts of public reason, and teaches him to act according to the rules of his own judgment, and not to behave inconsistently with himself. It is with this voice alone that political rulers should speak when they command; for no sooner does  one man, setting aside the law, claim to subject another to his  private will, than he departs from the state of civil society, and confronts him face to face in the pure state of nature, in which obedience is prescribed solely by necessity.


Q.1 The paradox is resolved according to the author when an individual

A. submits to the rule of law and thus is at liberty to do anything that does not harm another person 

B. behaves according to the natural rights of man and not according to imposed rules 

C. agrees to follow the rule of law even when it is against his best interests 

D. belongs to a society which guarantees individual liberty at all times 

E. follows the will of the majority


Your Answer Options

1. A     2.B    3.C    4.D    5.E


Q.2. The Author’s attitude to Law in this passage is best conveyed as

A. respect for its inalienable authority 
B. extolling its importance as a human institution 
C. resignation to the need for its imposition on the majority 
D. acceptance of its restrictions 
E. praise for its divine origin

Your Answer Options

1.A   2.B   3.C    4.D   5.E


Q.3. The author would agree with all of the following except

  1. government must maintain its authority without unduly compromising personal liberty 
  2. individual freedom is threatened in the absence of law 
  3.  justice cannot be ensured in the absence of law 
  4. political leaders should use the law as their guide to correct leadership
  5. the law recognizes that all men are capable of recognizing what is in the general interest

Your Answer Options

1.A     2.B     3.C      4.D     5.E



Ans Q.1: 1.A. All the paradoxes in this section of the extract are resolved in the sentence, “These wonders are the work of law.” But the law is such that “each loses no part of his liberty but what might be hurtful to that of another”, making A the best answer


 Ans Q.2: 2.B. The author uses words such as sublime, and celestial which indicate his tendency to glorify the institution of law, making praise or extolling possible choices. He clearly refers to the law as a human institution.


Ans Q.3: 5. E. In “except” questions, find the four true statements first. A, B, C and D are true. Answer E is not true (and therefore the correct answer) because the author clearly states in sentence two that it is difficult to recognize the general will and to distinguish it from the personal. He states that only the “most sublime virtue” can make this distinction, and hence the word ‘all’ in answer E is sufficient to identify the answer as wrong


How to approach Reading Comprehension (RC) Questions

Whether you are weak or strong in Reading Comprehension, there is one common thing required to approach the Reading comprehension questions sets and that is to plan and execute the RC preparation strategy. To get guidance on how to approach and crack Reading Comprehension questions, read How to Prepare for Reading Comprehension ;Which are the Best Books to Prepare for RC

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