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Tips for Paragraph Completion Questions in MBA Entrance Exams

Sep 5, 2013 10:30 IST

    Paragraph completion is a prominent question type in CAT exams. In case of para-completion questions, one needs to complete the sentence of the paragraph. When you say paragraph completion does not necessarily mean that one needs to find a conclusion of the paragraph. Paragraphs are typically picked up from larger articles. The question maker can join two or more paragraphs or could handover one previous paragraph and a test taker would need to supply the beginning of the next paragraph. Sounds difficult, but if one reads carefully, by gauging the tone and theme of a passage it is possible to understand what an author would want to say. We have already put into practice the methods of skimming and scanning in our RC sessions. Those concepts will help us to solve para-completion. Let us look at what tone and theme would mean and how we can apply them to solve para-completion.

    Tone represents the dominant emotion or mood of the author towards the topic. Tone can be gauged by paying attention to the adjectives used by the author. Passages are normally the author’s reaction to some issue. If one can perceive the emotion in this reaction one can get very close to the right one.

    A paragraph revolves around a theme. Hence the sentence which continues it has to continue the theme. If a choice is far away from the theme then it is said to be beyond the scope of the paragraph.

    Example CAT 2005:

    The audiences for crosswords and Sudoku, understandably, overlap greatly, but there are differences, too. A crossword attracts a more literary person, while Sudoku appeals to a keenly logical mind. Some crossword enthusiasts turn up their noses at Sudoku because they feel it lacks depth. A good crossword requires vocabulary, knowledge, mental flexibility and sometimes even a sense of humor to complete. It touches numerous areas of life and provides an "Aha!" or two along the way.

    a. Sudoku, on the other hand, is just a logical exercise, each one similar to the last.
    b. Sudoku, incidentally, is growing faster in popularity than crosswords, even among the literati.
    c. Sudoku, on the other hand, can be attempted and enjoyed even by children.
    d. Sudoku, however, is not exciting in any sense of the term.


    Let us solve this by elimination. B gets eliminated because of the idea of ‘popularity’ in it. This is a new idea and will require some reader intervention to support it. Reader intervention is not required in the last sentence of a paragraph. C gets eliminated because of ‘even by children’; we need to assume that children lack ‘vocabulary’ etc. mentioned in the paragraph. D contradicts the paragraph. The paragraph says it appeals to a logical mind. A effortlessly closes the paragraph. The comparison between Crossword and Sudoku is completed and the purpose of the paragraph is fulfilled.

    Hence, the correct answer is A.

    Other pints to be kept in mind while looking at the options is:

    Summing up: Many times the correct choice sums up the discussion in the paragraph.
    Pronoun antecedent: As seen in para-jumbles, pronoun antecedent linkage can also be used to crack these questions.
    Last sentence is important: Though the right choice should be related to the topic running in the paragraph, the last sentence before the blank is an important clue to the right choice.
    Creative end: Sometimes the correct choice turns out to be a short creative one which adds on/carries forward the second last line in an emphatic manner.
    Parajumble approach: Sometimes the choices can be logically rearranged like a para-jumble.

    When eliminating options one can check the flaws that exist in wrong options:

    Repetition: Many a times the option repeats what has been said in the paragraph.
    Abruptness: This happens when the choice moves from general to specific or vice-versa too fast.
    Beyond Scope: This happens when the choice is distanced from the theme beyond relevant boundaries.
    Opposite: This happens when the choice is opposite in theme or tone to the paragraph.

    Generally the wrong options have the following characteristics:

    Incomplete:  When one reads this option one gets a feeling that it is incomplete in summarizing the passage.
    Excessive information/ Verbosity (too lengthy): When one reads this choice one gets a feeling that the choice is long-winded and verbose.
    Wrong information / Misleading: This is very common. The choice seems to sum up the paragraph but one or two elements are deliberately twisted or distorted. Hence the option is misleading.
    Extra information/ beyond scope: In this the choice talks about things not mentioned in the paragraph.

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