Tricks and Tips for CAT RC Main Idea Questions: Your guide to master the art of problem solving

Effectively, this is the most generic Reading Comprehension (RC) question type. Based on the overall theme and content of the passage, this question type demands an overall understanding of the passage and requires you to understand the central argument of the author.

Types of CAT RC Main Idea Questions

This question type can be put to you in multiple ways such as:
1. What is the main idea/point of the passage?
2. What is the central idea/point of the passage?
3. Identify the central theme of the passage.
4. Identify the apt summary of the passage.

Each of the above is a variation of the main idea question and effectively asks you to accomplish the same task: to identify the central point around which the passage is built. Almost all passages consist of multiple ideas based on a single subject or idea. You need to be able to identify this central grain of thought, which may or may not be directly stated.

Important points for CAT RC Main Idea Questions

  1. Identify the subject

The first step to identify the answer is to identify the subject of the passage. Once you identify the subject (the passage might be based on global warming, demonetization, or for that matter, Shahrukh Khan), you essentially have outlined the scope of the passage. You have drawn a line in the sand and now know you need to operate within this parameter. As a simple thumb rule: your answer should contain or refer to the main subject of the passage.

Remember, there will always be secondary subjects in the passage. You need to be extremely careful and make sure you focus on the main one in the passage.

  1. Main idea question is about the main idea of the passage

The above heading does sound a little silly but is there for a purpose: these questions often contain an answer option that a direct point from the passage. This answer option is very tempting in nature as you read it in the passage but this is where you need to be extremely careful: you need to select the main idea of the passage and not an important point in the passage. Remember, never forget the question and the overall perspective it demands.

  1. Each paragraph contributes to the main idea

Remember, the overall passage is nothing else but a sum-total of the given paragraphs. You need to make sure you identify the key point/s in every paragraph and prepare a rough mental sketch or road map for the passage. This roadmap will help you tremendously in developing an overall understanding of the passage.

  1. Main idea questions cannot contain new information

Remember, this question type is directly based on the essence of the passage, and this means that it cannot introduce new information. The correct answer choice has to be derived from the given context and has to be based on the given information itself.

  1. Be prepared for scope-trap and information distortion

One common trick used by examiners it to alter the scope of the paragraph and introduce elements in the answer options which are not present in the passage. For example, the passage might be about increasing temperatures in India and one of the answer options might talk about global warming. The answer option might tempt you, but you need to watch out carefully and question yourself: does this violate the scope of the passage?

  1. If you running short of time, depend on the first and the last paragraph

This is a desperate measure. In case you are short on time, then you can focus on the first and last paragraph of the passage. Mostly, authors set-up and conclude their discussions here and provide most of the clues you need to answer this question. You can use this as a shortcut in case you do not have time to read the full passage.

This completes this article on this important RC question type. Make sure you put into practice the tips mentioned above and improve your RC accuracy.