BEST IELTS Academic Reading Test – 9

BEST IELTS Academic Reading Test – 9

BEST IELTS Academic Reading Test - 9
BEST IELTS Academic Reading Test – 9

BEST IELTS Academic Reading Test – 9

Reading Passage – 1

Hello Happiness!

A. Ask 100 people what would make them happy, and a sizeable majority would say “winning the lottery.” Yet if they won a vast fortune, within a year they would be back to their previous level of happiness. The fact is that money has many uses, but more money does not mean more happiness. Surveys carried out in recent years by leading psychologists and sociologists all confirm that while individuals may increase their material wealth during the course of their lifetime, this has no bearing on their well-being. And what is true for individuals can be applied on a large scale to the world population. Statistically wealthier nations do not achieve higher scores on the happiness-o meter than developing or underdeveloped nations. Once the basic criteria of adequate shelter and nutrition are satisfied, increased wealth plays no significant role. So why the obsession with getting rich? The answer, say researchers, is simple. Call it jealousy, competitiveness, or just keeping up with the Joneses, however well we are doing, there is always someone else who is going better. Just as we acquire a new $25,000 car, our neighbour parks his brand spanking new $40,000 set of wheels in his drive, causing us much consternation, but fuelling us with new aspirations in the process. And so the cycle continues. Money, or material wealth, may be a prime mover, but it is not the foundation of our well-being.

If money isn’t the key to happiness, then, what is? In all 44 countries surveyed by a prominent research centre, family life provided the greatest source of satisfaction. Married people live on average three years longer and enjoy greater physical and psychological health than the unmarried and, surprisingly, couples in a cohabitation relationship. Having a family enhances well-being, and spending more time with one’s family helps even more. Social interaction among families, neighbours, workplaces, communities and religious groups correlates strongly with subjective well-bring. In fact, the degree of individuals’ social connections is the best benchmark of their happiness.

Friendship is another major factor. Indeed, to return tot he dollar-equals-happiness equation, in one survey, having a friend converted into $50,000 worth of happiness, and confirms the well-known phenomenon that loneliness can lead to depression. Work is another area central to well-being, and certain features correlate highly with happiness. These include autonomy over how, where and at what pace work is done, trust between employer and employee, fair treatment, and active participation in the making of decisions. Occupationally, happiness tends to be more common among professionals and managers, that is, people who are in control of the work they do, rather than subservient to their bosses. Inequality implies less control for those who are in the weaker position, although there are more risks of losing their privileges for those in the stronger position.

Control of one’s life in general is also key. Happiness is clearly correlated with the presence of favourable events such as promotion or marriage, and the absence of troubles or bad luck such as accidents being laid off or conflicts. These events on their own signal the success or failure to reach one’s goals, and therefore the control one has. On a national level, the more that governments recognise individual preferences, the happier their citizens will be. Choice, and citizens’ belief that they can affect the political process, increase subjective well-being. Furthermore, evidence exists for an association between unhappiness and poor health: people from the former Soviet Union are among the unhappiest in the world, and their life expectancy has been falling steadily. People are more satisfied in societies which minimally restrict their freedom of action, in other words, where they are in control rather than being controlled. Happy people are characterised by the belief that they are able to control their situation, whereas unhappy people tend to believe that they are a victim of fate. Happy people are also more psychologically, assertive and open to experience.

But how good is the evidence for this alternative viewpoint then – that happiness, and not financial status, contributes to good health and long life? A study of nuns, spanning seven decades, supports this theory. Autobiographies written by the nuns in their early 1920s were scored for positive and negative emotions. Nuns expressing the most positive emotions lived on average ten years longer than those expressing the least positive emotions. Happy people, it seems, are much less likely to fall ill and die than unhappy people.

But what must we do to be happy? Experts cite the old maxim “be happy with what you’ve got.” Look around you, they say, and identify the positive factors in your life. Concentrating on the negative aspects of one’s life is a no-no, and so is worrying. Worrying is a negative thinking habit that is nearly always about something that lies in the future. It seems, apparently, from our cave-dwelling days, when we had to think on a day-to-day basis about how and where to find food and warmth, for example. But in the modern world, worrying simply undermines our ability to enjoy life in the present. More often than not, the things we worry about never come to pass anyway. Just as important is not to dwell on the past – past mistakes, bad experiences, missed opportunities and so on.

What else can we do? Well, engage in a loving relationship with another adult, and work hard to sustain it. Try to plan frequent interactions with your family, friends and neighbours (in that order). Make sure you’re not working so hard that you’ve no time left for personal relationships and leisure. If you are, leave your job voluntarily to become self-employed, but don’t get sacked – that’s more damaging to well-being than the loss of a spouse, and its effects last longer. In your spare time, join a club, volunteer for community service, or take up religion.

If none of the above works, then vote for a political party with the same agenda as the King of Bhutan, who announced that his nation’s objective is national happiness.

Questions 1-3

Choose THREE letters A-H.

Circle the correct letters, A-H, below

NB  Your answers may be given in any order.

Which THREE of the following statements are true, according to the text?

A.   Money can bring misery.
B.   Wealthier nations place more emphasis on happiness than poorer ones.
C.   Securing a place to live is a basic human need.
D.   The desire for social status is a global phenomenon.
E.   An unmarried couple living together are less likely to be happy than a married couple.
F.   The less responsibility one has, the happier one is.
G.   Involvement in policy making can increase well-being.
H.   Our prehistoric ancestors were happier than we are.

Questions 4-7

Complete the summary using the list of words, A-I, below.

Write the correct letter, A-I, in boxes 4-7 on your answer sheet.

Money can buy you just about anything, but not, it seems happiness. Whether on a personal or national 4……………………………, your bank balance won’t make you happier. Once the basic criteria of a roof over your head and food on the table have been met, money ceases to play a part. One of the most important factors in achieving happiness is the extent of our social 5…………………………… – our relationships with family, friends, colleagues and so on. Equally important is the amount of 6…………………………….. we have, either in our personal life, working life, or even in our ability to influence the political 7…………………………. that our country embarks on.

A.  episode               
B.  interaction             
C.  cooperation
D.  control               
E.  number             
F.  level
G. course 
H. conflict
I. limit

Questions 8-13

Do the following statements agree with the information given in Reading Passage 1?

In boxes 8-13 on your answer sheet, write

TRUE – if the statement agrees with the information
FALSE – if the statement contradicts the information
NOT GIVEN – if there is no information on this

8. People from underdeveloped nations try to attain the same standard of living as those from developed nations.
9. Seeing what others have makes people want to have it too. ………………….
10. The larger the family is, the happier the parents will probably be. …………………..
11. One’s attitude to life has no influence on one’s health. ………………………….
12. Instinct can be a barrier to happiness. ……………………

13. Family and friends rank equally as sources of happiness. ………………..

Reading Passage – 2

You should spend about 20 minutes on Questions 14-26, which are based on Reading Passage 1 on the following pages.

The Pearl

A. Throughout history, pearls have held a unique presence within the wealthy and powerful. For instance, the pearl was the favored gem of the wealthy during the Roman Empire. This gift from the sea had been brought back from the orient by the Roman conquests. Roman women wore pearls to bed so they could be reminded of their wealth immediately upon waking up. Before jewelers learned to cut gems, the pearl was of greater value than the diamond. In the Orient and Persia Empire, pearls were ground into powders to cure anything from heart disease to epilepsy, with possible aphrodisiac uses as well Pearls were once considered an exclusive privilege for royalty. A law in 1612 drawn up by the Duke of Saxony prohibited the wearing of pearls by nobility, professors, doctors or their wives in an effort to further distinguish royal appearance. American Indians also used freshwater pearls from the Mississippi River as decorations and jewelry.

B. There are essentially three types of pearls: natural, cultured and imitation. A natural pearl (often called an Oriental pearl) forms when an irritant, such as a piece of sand, works its way into a particular species of oyster, mussel, or clam. As a defense mechanism, the mollusk secretes a fluid to coat the irritant. Layer upon layer of this coating is deposited on the irritant until a lustrous pearl is formed.

C. The only difference natural pearls and cultured pearls is that the irritant is a surgically implanted bead or piece of shell called Mother of Pearl. Often, these shells are ground oyster shells that are worth significant amounts of money in their own right as irritant catalysts for quality pearls. The resulting core is, therefore, much larger than in a natural pearl. Yet, as long as there are enough layers of nacre (the secreted fluid covering the irritant) to result in a beautiful, gem-quality pearl, the size of the nucleus is of no consequence to beauty or durability.

D. Pearls can come from either salt or freshwater sources. Typically, saltwater pearls tend to be higher quality, although there are several types of freshwater pearls that are considered high in quality as well. Freshwater pearls tend to be very irregular in shape, with a puffed rice appearance the most prevalent. Nevertheless, it is each individual pearls merits that determines value more than the source of the pearl. Saltwater pearl oysters are usually cultivated in protected lagoons or volcanic atolls. However, most freshwater cultured pearls sold today come from China. Cultured pearls are the response of the shell to a tissue implant. A tiny piece of mantle tissue from a donor shell is transplanted into a recipient shell. This graft will form a pearl sac and the tissue will precipitate calcium carbonate into this pocket. There are a number of options for producing cultured pearls: use freshwater or seawater shells, transplant the graft into the mantle or into the gonad, add a spherical bead or do it non -beaded. The majority of saltwater cultured pearls are grown with beads.

E. Regardless of the method used to acquire a pearl, the process usually takes several years. Mussels must reach a mature age, which can take up to 3 years, and then be implanted or naturally receive an irritant. Once the irritant is in place, it can take up to another 3 years for the pearl to reach its full size. Often, the irritant may be rejected, the pearl will be terrifically misshapen, or the oyster may simply die from disease or countless other complications. By the end of a 5 to 10 year cycle, only 50% of the oysters will have survived. And of the pearls produced, only approximately 5% are of substantial quality for top jewelry makers. From the outset, a pearl farmer can figure on spending over $100 for every oyster that is farmed, of which many will produce nothing or die.

F. Imitation pearls are a different story altogether. In most cases, a glass bead is dipped into a solution made from fish scales. This coating is thin and may eventually wear off. One can usually tell an imitation by biting on it. Fake pearls glide across your teeth, while the layers of nacre on real pearls feel gritty. The Island of Mallorca (in Spain) is known for its imitation pearl industry. Quality natural pearls are very rare jewels. The actual value of a natural pearl is determined in the same way as it would be for other “precious” gems. The valuation factors include size, shape, and color, quality of surface, orient and luster. In general, cultured pearls are less valuable than natural pearls, whereas imitation peals almost have no value. One way that jewelers can determine whether a pearl is cultured or natural is to have a gem lab perform an x-ray of the pearl If the x-ray reveals a nucleus, the pearl is likely a bead-nucleated saltwater pearl. If no nucleus is present, but irregular and small dark inner spots indicating a cavity are visible, combined with concentric rings of organic substance, the pearl is likely a cultured freshwater. Cultured freshwater pearls can often be confused for natural pearls which present as homogeneous pictures which continuously darken toward the surface of the pearl. Natural pearls will often show larger cavities where organic matter has dried out and decomposed. Although imitation pearls look the part, they do not have the same weight or smoothness as real pearls, and their luster will also dim greatly. Among cultured pearls, Akoya pearls from Japan are some of the most lustrous. A good quality necklace of 40 Akoya pearls measuring 7mm in diameter sells for about $1,500, while a super- high quality strand sells for about $4,500. Size on the other hand, has to do with the age of the oyster that created the pearl (the more mature oysters produce larger pearls) and the location in which the pearl was cultured. The South Sea waters of Australia tend to produce the larger pearls; probably because the water along the coast line is supplied with rich nutrients from the ocean floor. Also, the type of mussel common to the area seems to possess a predilection for producing comparatively large pearls

G. Historically, the world’s best pearls came from the Persian Gulf, especially around what is now Bahrain. The pearls of the Persian Gulf were natural created and collected by breath-hold divers. The secret to the special luster of Gulf pearls probably derived from the unique mixture of sweet and salt water around the island. Unfortunately, the natural pearl industry of the Persian Gulf ended abruptly in the early 1930’s with the discovery of large deposits of oil. Those who once dove for pearls sought prosperity in the economic boom ushered in by the oil industry. The water pollution resulting from spilled oil and indiscriminate over-fishing of oysters essentially ruined the once pristine pearl producing waters of the Gulf. Today, pearl diving is practiced only as a hobby. Still, Bahrain remains one of the foremost trading centers for high quality pearls. In fact, cultured pearls are banned from the Bahrain pearl market, in an effort to preserve the location’s heritage. Nowadays, the largest stock of natural pearls probably resides in India. Ironically, much of India’s stock of natural pearls came originally from Bahrain. Unlike Bahrain, which has essentially lost its pearl resource, traditional pearl fishing is still practiced on a small scale in India.

Questions 14-17

Reading Passage 1 has seven paragraphs, A-G. Which paragraph contains the following information? Write the correct letter A-G in boxes 1-4 on your answer sheet.

14. ancient stories around the pearl and customers
15. Difficulties in cultivating process.
16. Factors can decide the value of natural pearls.
17. Different growth mechanisms that distinguish the cultured pearls from natural ones.

Questions 18-23

Complete the summary below
Choose letter from A-K for each answer. Write them in boxes 5-10 on your answer sheet.

In ancient history, pearls have great importance within the rich and rulers, which was treated as gem for women in 18………………… pearls were even used as medicine and sex drug for people in 19……………….. There are essentially three types of pearls: natural, cultured and imitation. Most freshwater cultured pearls sold today come from China while the 20………………… is famous for its imitation pearl industry. The country 21………………… Usually manufactures some of the glitteriest cultured ones while the nation such as 22……………….. produces the larger sized pearl due to the favorable environment along the coast line. In the past, one country of 23…………………… in Gulf produced the world’s best pearls. Nowadays, the major remaining suppliers of the natural pearls belongs to India.

A. America
B. Ancient Rome
C. Australia
D. Bahrain
E. China
F. Japan
G. India
H. Korea
I. Mexico
J. Persia
K. Spain

Questions 24-27

Do the following statements agree with the information given in the Reading Passage 1? In boxes 11-14 on your answer sheet write…

TRUE – if the statement is true
FALSE – if the statement is false
NOT GIVEN – if the information is not given in the passage

24. Often cultured pearl’s centre is significantly larger than in a natural pearl.
25. Cultivated cultured pearls are generally valued the same much as natural ones.
26. The size of pearls produced in Japan is usually of smaller size than those came from Australia.
27. Akoya pearls from Japan Glows more deeply than the South Sea pearls of Australia.

Reading Passage – 3

Multitasking Debate
Can you do them at the same time?

A. Talking on the phone while driving isn’t the only situation where we’re worse at multitasking than we might like to think we are. New studies have identified a bottleneck in our brains that some say means we are fundamentally incapable of true multitasking If experimental findings reflect real-world performance, people who think they are multitasking are probably just underperforming in all – or at best, all but one of their parallel pursuits. Practice might improve your performance, but you will never be as good as when focusing on one task at a time.

B. The problem, according to Rene Marois, a psychologist at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, is that there’s a sticking point in the brain. To demonstrate this, Marois devised an experiment to locate it. Volunteers watch a screen and when a particular image appears, a red circle, say, they have to press a key with their index finger Different coloured circles require presses from different fingers. Typical response time is about half a second, and the volunteers quickly reach their peak performance. Then they learn to listen to different recordings and respond by making a specific sound. For instance, when they hear a bird chirp, they have to say “ba”, an electronic sound should elicit a “ko”, and so on. Again, no problem. A normal person can do that in about half a second, with almost no effort.

C. The trouble comes when Marois shows the volunteers an image, and then almost immediately plays them a sound. Now they’re flummoxed. “If you show an image and play a sound at the same time, one task is postponed, ” he says. In fact, if the second task is introduced within the half-second or so it takes process and react to the first, it will simply be delayed until the first one is done. The largest dual-task delays occur when the two tasks are presented simultaneously; delays progressively shorten as the interval between presenting the tasks lengthens.

D. There are at least three points where we seem to get stuck, says Marois. The first is in simply identifying what I we’re looking at. This can take a few tenths of a second, during which time we are not able to see and recognise second item. This limitation is known the “‘attentional blink”: experiments have shown that if you’re watching out fora particular event and a second one shows up unexpectedly any time within this crucial window of concentration, it may register in your visual cortex but you will be unable to act upon it. Interestingly, if you don’t expect the first event, you have no trouble responding to the second. What exactly causes the attentional blink is still a matter for debate.

E. A second limitation is in our short-term visual memory. It’s estimated that we can keep track of about four items at a time, fewer if they are complex. This capacity shortage is thought to explain, in part, our astonishing inability to detect even huge changes in scenes that are otherwise identical, so-called “change blindness”. Show people pairs of near-identical photos say, aircraft engines in one picture have disappeared in the other – and they will fail to spot the differences. Here again, though, there is disagreement about what the essential limiting factor really is. Does it come down to a dearth of storage capacity, or is it about how much attention a viewer is paying?

F. A third limitation is that choosing a response to a stimulus – braking when you see an child in the road, for instance, or replying when your mother tells you over the phone that she’ s thinking of leaving your dad – also takes brainpower. Selecting a response to one of these things will delay by some tenths of a second your ability to respond to the other. This is called the “response selection bottleneck” theory, first proposed in 1952.

G. But David Meyer, a psychologist at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, doesn’t buy the bottleneck idea. He thinks dual-task interference is just evidence of a strategy used by the brain to prioritise multiple activities. Meyer is known as something of an optimist by his peers. He has written papers with titles like “Virtually perfect time-sharing in dual task performance: Uncorking the central cognitive bottleneck”. His experiments have shown that with enough practice at least 2000 tries – some people can execute two tasks simultaneously as competently as if they were doing them one after the other. He suggests that there is a central cognitive processor that coordinates all this and, what’s more, he thinks it uses discretion sometimes it chooses to delay one task while Completing another.

H. Marois agrees that practice can sometimes erase interference effects. He has found that with just 1 hour of practice each day for two weeks, volunteers show a huge improvement at managing both his tasks at once. Where he disagrees with Meyer is in what the brain is doing to achieve this. Marois speculates that practice might give us the chance to find less congested circuits to execute a task -rather like finding trusty back streets to avoid heavy traffic on main roads -effectively making our response to the task subconscious. After all, there are plenty of examples of subconscious multitasking that most of us routinely manage: walking and talking, eating and reading, watching TV and folding the laundry.

I. It probably comes as no surprise that, generally speaking, we get worse at multitasking as we age. According to Art Kramer at the University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign, who studies how ageing affects our cognitive abilities, we peak in our 20s. Though the decline is slow through our 30s and on into our 50s, it is there; and after 55, it becomes more precipitous. In one study, he and his colleagues had both young and old participants do a simulated driving task while carrying on a conversation. He found that while young drivers tended to miss background changes, older drivers failed to notice things that were highly relevant. Likewise, older subjects had more trouble paying attention to the more important parts of a scene than young drivers.

J. It’s not all bad news for over-55s, though. Kramer also found that older people can benefit from practice. Not only did they learn to perform better, brain scans showed that underlying that improvement was a change in the way their brains become active. While it’s clear that ractice can often make a difference, especially as we age, the basic facts remain sobering. “We have this impression of an almighty complex brain,” says Marois, “and yet we have very humbling and crippling limits.” For most of our history, we probably never needed to do more than one thing at a time, he says, and so we haven’t evolved to be able to. Perhaps we will in future, though. We might yet look back one day on people like Debbie and Alun as ancestors of a new breed of true multitasker.

Questions 28-32

The reading Passage has ten paragraphs A-J
Which paragraph contains the following information?

Write the correct letter in boxes 28-32 on your answer sheet.

33. Which one is correct about experiment conducted by Ren6 Marois?
A. participants performed poorly on listening task solely
B volunteers press different key on different color
C participants need use different fingers on different colored object
D they did a better job on Mixed image and sound information

34. Which statement is correct about the first limitation of Marois’s experiment?
A “attentional blink” takes about ten seconds
B lag occurs if we concentrate on one object while second one appears
C we always have trouble in reacting the second one
D first limitation can be avoid by certain measures

35. Which one is NOT correct about Meyer’s experiments and statements?
A just after failure in several attempts can people execute dual-task
B Practice can overcome dual-task interference
C Meyer holds a different opinion on Marois’s theory
D an existing processor decides whether delay another task or not

Questions 36-40

Do the following statements agree with the information given in Reading Passage 3? In boxes 36-40 on your answer sheet, write

YES if the statement is true
NO if the statement is false
NOT GIVEN if the information is not given in the passage

36. Longer gap between two presenting tasks means shorter delay toward the second
37. Incapable in human memory cause people sometimes miss the differences when presented two similar images
38. Marois has different opinion on the claim that training removes bottleneck effect.
39. Art Kramer proved there is a correlation between multitasking performance and genders
40. The author doesn’t believe that effect of practice could bring any variation.


1. C

2. E

3. G

4. F

5. B

6. D

7. G





12. TRUE


14. A

15. E

16. F

17. C

18. B

19. J

20. K

21. F

22. C

23. D

24. TRUE


26. TRUE


28. F

29. I

30. C

31. B

32. G

33. C

34. B

35. A

36. YES

37. YES

38. NO


40. NO

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