IELTS Academic Reading Practice 30

 
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This reading practice simulates one part of the IELTS Academic Reading test. You should spend about twenty minutes on it. Read the passage and answer questions 29-40.

Questions 29-35

The reading passage has seven sections, A-G.

Choose the correct heading for sections A-G from the list of headings below.

Write the correct number i-xi in boxes 29-35 on your answer sheet.

List of Headings
  1. Groups working towards systematic review of studies
  2. Why some early social science methods lost popularity
  3. US National Reading Panel
  4. Randomized trials in medicine
  5. Early social experiments producing little evidence of positive outcomes
  6. The changing nature of medical trials
  7. A low regard for the social sciences
  8. An example of lack of rigorous testing
  9. An investigative study that may lead to a new system
  10. A new policy in criminal justice
  11. The amount and effects of randomized trials in social sciences

29. Section A
30. Section B
31. Section C
32. Section D
33. Section E
34. Section F
35. Section G
Questions 36-40

Do the following statements agree with the information given in the reading passage? In boxes 36-40 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

36. Social sciences are generally regarded as less credible than natural sciences
37. Some criminals in England are agreeing to take part in a trial designed to help increase their chances of re-offending
38. There was more use of randomized trials in medicine than in social sciences after 1940s.
39. Rigorous testing is currently required before implementing any related policy
40. More research funding is provided for natural sciences than for social sciences

Answer Sheet
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
N/A
14
N/A
15
N/A
16
N/A
17
N/A
18
N/A
19
N/A
20
N/A
21
N/A
22
N/A
23
N/A
24
N/A
25
N/A
26
N/A
27
N/A
28
N/A
29
N/A
30
N/A
31
N/A
32
N/A
33
N/A
34
N/A
35
N/A
36
N/A
37
N/A
38
N/A
39
N/A
40
N/A


  • help Learn how to HIGHLIGHT & ADD NOTES
    1. HOLD LEFT CLICK
    2. DRAG MOUSE OVER TEXT
    3. RIGHT CLICK SELECTED TEXT

Social Sciences

Section A

In the scientific hierarchy, social scientists are often looked down on by their peers in the natural sciences. Natural scientists do experiments to test their theories, and if they cannot, they try to look for natural phenomena that can replace actual experiments. Social scientists, it is widely believed, do not subject their own hypotheses to any such rigorous treatment. Worse, they peddle their untested hypotheses to governments and try to get them turned into policies.

Section B

Most governments require those selling medicines to demonstrate evidence their safety and effectiveness. The accepted gold standard of evidence is a randomized control trial, in which a new drug is compared with the best existing therapy (or with a placebo, if no treatment is available). Patients are assigned to one group or the other of such a study at random, ensuring that the only difference between the two groups is the new treatment. The best studies also ensure that neither patient nor physician knows which patient receives which therapy. Drug trials must also include enough patients to make it unlikely that chance alone may determine the result.

Section C

But few education programmes or social initiatives are evaluated in carefully conducted studies prior to their introduction. A case in point is the “whole-language” approach to reading, which swept much of the English-speaking world in the 1970s and 1980s. The whole-language theory holds that children learn to read best by absorbing contextual clues from texts, not by breaking individual words into their component parts and reassembling them (a method is known as phonics). Unfortunately, the educational theorists who pushed the whole-language notion so successfully did not wait for evidence from controlled randomized trials before advancing their claims. Had they done so, they might have concluded, as did an analysis of 52 randomized studies carried out by the US National Reading Panel in 2000, that effective reading instruction requires phonics.

Section D  

To avoid the widespread adoption of misguided ideas, the sensible thing to do is to experiment first and make policy later. This is the idea behind a trial of restorative justice which is taking place in the English courts. The experiment will include criminals who plead guilty to robbery. Those who agree to participate will be assigned randomly either to sentencing as normal or to participation in a conference in which the offender comes face-to-face with his victim and discusses how he may make emotional and material restitution. The purpose of the trial is to assess whether such restorative justice limits re-offending. If it does, it might be adopted more widely.

Section E

The idea of experimental evidence is not quite as new to the social sciences as some skeptical natural scientists might believe. In fact, randomized trials and systematic reviews of evidence were introduced into the social sciences long before they became common in medicine. An apparent example of random allocation is a study carried out in 1927 of how to persuade people to vote in elections. And randomized trials in social work were begun in the 1930s and 1940s. But enthusiasm over them later waned. This loss of interest can be attributed, at least in part, to the fact that early experiments produced little evidence of positive outcomes. Others suggest that much of the opposition to experimental evaluation stems from a common philosophical malaise among social scientists, who doubt the validity of the natural sciences and therefore reject the potential of knowledge derived from controlled experiments. A more pragmatic factor limiting the growth of evidence-based education and social services may be limitations on the funds available for research.

Section F

Nevertheless, there exist some 11,000 experimental studies within the social sciences (compared with over 250,000 in the medical literature). Randomised trials have been used to evaluate the effectiveness of driver-education programmes, job¬training schemes, classroom sizes, psychological counseling for post-traumatic stress disorder and increased investments in public housing. And where the trials are carried out, they seem to have a healthy effect on the communities which they impact.

Section G

The problem for policymakers is often not the lack of data, but what to make of multiple and conflicting studies. This is where a group called the Campbell Collaboration comes into play. This independent non-profit organization is designed to evaluate existing studies, in a process known as a systematic review. This means attempting to identify every relevant trial of a given question (including studies that have never been published), choosing the best ones using clearly defined criteria for quality, and combining the results in a statistically valid way. An equivalent group, the Cochrane Collaboration, has produced more than 1,004 such reviews in medical fields. The hope is that rigorous review standards will allow Campbell, like Cochrane, to become a trusted and authoritative source of information.

Reading Passage Vocabulary
Social Sciences

Section A

In the scientific hierarchy, social scientists are often looked down on by their peers in the natural sciences. Natural scientists do experiments to test their theories, and if they cannot, they try to look for natural phenomena that can replace actual experiments. Social scientists, it is widely believed, do not subject their own hypotheses to any such rigorous treatment. Worse, they peddle their untested hypotheses to governments and try to get them turned into policies.

Section B

Most governments require those selling medicines to demonstrate evidence their safety and effectiveness. The accepted gold standard of evidence is a randomized control trial, in which a new drug is compared with the best existing therapy (or with a placebo, if no treatment is available). Patients are assigned to one group or the other of such a study at random, ensuring that the only difference between the two groups is the new treatment. The best studies also ensure that neither patient nor physician knows which patient receives which therapy. Drug trials must also include enough patients to make it unlikely that chance alone may determine the result.

Section C

But few education programmes or social initiatives are evaluated in carefully conducted studies prior to their introduction. A case in point is the “whole-language” approach to reading, which swept much of the English-speaking world in the 1970s and 1980s. The whole-language theory holds that children learn to read best by absorbing contextual clues from texts, not by breaking individual words into their component parts and reassembling them (a method is known as phonics). Unfortunately, the educational theorists who pushed the whole-language notion so successfully did not wait for evidence from controlled randomized trials before advancing their claims. Had they done so, they might have concluded, as did an analysis of 52 randomized studies carried out by the US National Reading Panel in 2000, that effective reading instruction requires phonics.

Section D  

To avoid the widespread adoption of misguided ideas, the sensible thing to do is to experiment first and make policy later. This is the idea behind a trial of restorative justice which is taking place in the English courts. The experiment will include criminals who plead guilty to robbery. Those who agree to participate will be assigned randomly either to sentencing as normal or to participation in a conference in which the offender comes face-to-face with his victim and discusses how he may make emotional and material restitution. The purpose of the trial is to assess whether such restorative justice limits re-offending. If it does, it might be adopted more widely.

Section E

The idea of experimental evidence is not quite as new to the social sciences as some skeptical natural scientists might believe. In fact, randomized trials and systematic reviews of evidence were introduced into the social sciences long before they became common in medicine. An apparent example of random allocation is a study carried out in 1927 of how to persuade people to vote in elections. And randomized trials in social work were begun in the 1930s and 1940s. But enthusiasm over them later waned. This loss of interest can be attributed, at least in part, to the fact that early experiments produced little evidence of positive outcomes. Others suggest that much of the opposition to experimental evaluation stems from a common philosophical malaise among social scientists, who doubt the validity of the natural sciences and therefore reject the potential of knowledge derived from controlled experiments. A more pragmatic factor limiting the growth of evidence-based education and social services may be limitations on the funds available for research.

Section F

Nevertheless, there exist some 11,000 experimental studies within the social sciences (compared with over 250,000 in the medical literature). Randomised trials have been used to evaluate the effectiveness of driver-education programmes, job¬training schemes, classroom sizes, psychological counseling for post-traumatic stress disorder and increased investments in public housing. And where the trials are carried out, they seem to have a healthy effect on the communities which they impact.

Section G

The problem for policymakers is often not the lack of data, but what to make of multiple and conflicting studies. This is where a group called the Campbell Collaboration comes into play. This independent non-profit organization is designed to evaluate existing studies, in a process known as a systematic review. This means attempting to identify every relevant trial of a given question (including studies that have never been published), choosing the best ones using clearly defined criteria for quality, and combining the results in a statistically valid way. An equivalent group, the Cochrane Collaboration, has produced more than 1,004 such reviews in medical fields. The hope is that rigorous review standards will allow Campbell, like Cochrane, to become a trusted and authoritative source of information.

 
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