IELTS® Academic Reading Practice 30

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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.

This is FALSE because it is the opposite of what is said in the sentence which is to limit re-offending.
This is NOT GIVEN because the information is about social science, so the claim about medicine could be TRUE or FALSE, therefore, NOT GIVEN is the answer.
This neither confirms or denies the claim from this question. NOT GIVEN is the answer.
Testing is not how policies are qualified. Throughout this paragraph, it is stated several times that reviewing studies and gathering quality information is how policymakers can make the best decisions on which policy to implement.



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 28-40.
Questions 28-34
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 28-34 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

28. Section A

29. Section B

30. Section C

31. Section D

32. Section E

33. Section F

34. Section G

Questions 35-39
Do the following statements agree with the information given in the reading passage? In boxes 35-39 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.

35. Social sciences are generally regarded as less credible than natural sciences

36. Some criminals in England are agreeing to take part in a trial designed to help increase their chances of re-offending

37. There was more use of randomized trials in medicine than in social sciences after 1940s.

38. Rigorous testing is currently required before implementing any related policy

39. More research funding is provided for natural sciences than for social sciences

Question 40
Complete the short answers below.

Choose NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS from the passage for each answer.

Write your answers in 40-40 on your answer sheet.

40. What is the approach in which one of the responses to a crime is to organize a meeting between the victim and the offender?




Answer Sheet
1
N/A
2
N/A
3
N/A
4
N/A
5
N/A
6
N/A
7
N/A
8
N/A
9
N/A
10
N/A
11
N/A
12
N/A
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
29
30
31
32
33
34
35
36
37
38
39
40


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.

This is FALSE because it is the opposite of what is said in the sentence which is to limit re-offending.
This is NOT GIVEN because the information is about social science, so the claim about medicine could be TRUE or FALSE, therefore, NOT GIVEN is the answer.
This neither confirms or denies the claim from this question. NOT GIVEN is the answer.
Testing is not how policies are qualified. Throughout this paragraph, it is stated several times that reviewing studies and gathering quality information is how policymakers can make the best decisions on which policy to implement.
 
IELTS Academic Reading Tips for Success
These are general tips that will appear on all reading questions.

Tips to improve your reading speed
To get a high score on the IELTS reading section, you need to have a fast reading speed. To have a fast reading speed, you need to improve your vocabulary and practice dissecting sentences. One strategy to dissect a sentence is to look for the subject and verb of the sentence. Finding the subject and verb will help you better understand the main idea of said sentence. Keep in mind, a common feature of a IELTS reading passage is to join strings of ideas to form long compound sentences. This produces large chunks that students have a hard time absorbing. Do not get overwhelmed by its length, just look for the subject and verb, the rest of the ideas will flow.


Keep in mind, having a slow reading speed makes skimming or scanning a reading passage more difficult. The process of quickly skimming through a reading passage for specific keywords or main ideas is a requirement for you to employ successful reading strategies to improve your IELTS reading score. In other words, skimming and scanning are critical skills to ensure you complete all questions in the allotted time frame.
IELTS Reading Strategies
Once you can read and comprehend a passage with a rate of, at least, 220 words per minute, you'll be ready to start implementing our strategies. All too often, students spend too much time reading the passages and not enough time answering the questions. Here is a step by step guide for tackling the reading section.

  1. Step 1: Read questions first

    One of the most common mistakes that candidates make when approaching the reading exam is reading every single word of the passages. Although you can practice for the exam by reading for pleasure, "reading blindly" (reading without any sense of what the questions will ask) will not do you any favors in the exam. Instead, it will hurt your chances for effectively managing your time and getting the best score.

    The main reason to read the questions first is because the type of question may determine what you read in the passage or how you read it. For example, some question types will call for the "skimming" technique, while others may call for the "scanning" technique.

    It is important to answer a set of questions that are of the same question type. You'll need to determine which question type you want to tackle first. A good strategy would be to start with the easier question type and move on to more difficult question types later. The Easiest question types are the ones where you spend less time reading. For example, the Matching Heading question type is an easier one because you only need to find the heading that best describes the main idea of a paragraph. An example of a difficult question type would be Identifying Information. For this question type, you'll need to read each paragraph to find out if each statement is TRUE, FALSE, or NOT GIVEN according to the passage.

    Here is a table that lists the difficulty levels for each question type. Use this table as a reference when choosing which question type you want to tackle first.


    Difficulty level Question Type
    Easy Sentence Completion
    Short answer
    Medium Matching Features
    Multiple choice
    Matching Headings
    Summary, Table, Flow-Chart Completion
    Difficult Matching Sentence Endings
    Matching Information
    Identifying Information (TRUE/FALSE/NOT GIVEN)
    Identifying Viewer's claims (YES/NO/NOT GIVEN)

  2. Step 2: Read for an objective

    After you've read the questions for the passage, you will be able to read for an objective. What does this mean? For example, if you come across a question that includes the year "1896", you can make a note of when this year comes up in the text, using it to answer the question later on. There are two reading techniques that will help you stay on track with reading for an objective. The first one, skimming, is best defined as reading fast in order to get the "gist", or general idea, or a passage. With this technique, you are not stopping for any unfamiliar words or looking for specific details. The second technique, scanning, is best defined as reading for specific information. With this technique, you are not reading for the overall gist, but rather, specific information. Notice how each of these techniques has a specific objective in mind. This will help you find information more quickly.

  3. Step 3: Take notes

    As you're reading for an objective, you should also be making notes on the margins of the passage, placing stars next to key information, or underlining things that you believe will help you answer the various questions. This will make it easier for you to check back when you are asked certain things in the questions. Choose whichever note-taking system is right for you - just make sure you do it!

  4. Step 4: Answer wisely

    After you've read the questions, read the passage, and have taken any appropriate notes, you you should have located the part of the text where you where you need to read carefully. Then just read carefully and think critically to determine the correct answer.

IELTS Reading Question Types
 
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