IELTS® Academic Reading Practice 49

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Psychology and Personality Assessment

Section A

Our daily lives are largely made up of contact we have with other people. In these interactions, we are constantly making judgments of their personalities and accommodating our behavior to them in accordance with these judgments. A casual meeting of neighbors on the street, an employer giving instructions to an employee, a mother telling her children how to behave, a journey on a train where strangers eye one another without exchanging a word – all these involve mutual interpretations of personal qualities.

Section B

Success in many vocations largely depends on our skill in making judgements about others. It is important not only to such professionals as the clinical psychologist, the psychiatrist or the social worker, but also to the doctor or lawyer in dealing with their clients, the businessman trying to outwit his rivals, the salesman with potential customers, the teacher with his pupils, not to speak of the pupils judging their teacher. Social life, indeed, would be impossible if we did not. to some extent, understand, and react to the motives and qualities of those we meet; and clearly, we are sufficiently accurate for most practical purposes, although we also recognize that misinterpretations easily arise – particularly on the part of others who judge us!

Section C

Errors can often be corrected as we go along. But whenever we are pinned down to a definite decision about a person, which cannot easily be revised through any feedback, the inadequacies of our judgments become apparent. The hostess who wrongly thinks that the Smiths and the Joneses will get on well together can do little to retrieve the success of her party. A school or a business may be saddled for years with an undesirable member of staff because the selection committee which interviewed him for a quarter of an hour misjudged his personality.

Section D

Owing to this process being so familiar to us, often to the point of being taken for granted, it has been of little scientific curiosity until recently. Dramatists, writers, and artists throughout the centuries have excelled in their portrayals of human characters, but have seldom stopped to ask how they, or we, get to know people, or how accurate is our knowledge. However, the popularity of such unscientific systems as Lavater’s physiognomy in the eighteenth century, Gall’s phrenology in the nineteenth, and of handwriting interpretations by graphologists, or palm-readings by Gypsies, show that people are aware of weaknesses in their judgments and wish to have better methods of diagnosis. It is natural that they should turn to psychology for help, in the belief that psychologists are specialists in what we call human nature.

Section E

This belief is hardly justified, for the primary aim of psychology had long been to establish the general laws and principles underlying behavior and thinking, rather than to apply these to concrete problems of the individual person. A great many professional psychologists still regard it as their main function to study the nature of learning, perception, and motivation in the abstracted or average human being, or in lower organisms and consider it premature to put so young a science to practical uses. They would not claim to have any superior skills in judging their fellow men. Indeed, they are more aware of the difficulties in making judgements than a non-psychologist would be, and therefore may be more reluctant to commit themselves to definite predictions or decisions about other people. Nevertheless, to an increasing extent psychologists are moving into educational, occupational, clinical and other applied fields, where they are called upon to use their expertise for such purposes as fitting educational assignments or jobs to children or adults. Thus, a considerable proportion of their activities consists of personality assessment.

Section F

The success of psychologists in personality assessment has been limited, in comparison with what they have achieved in the fields of abilities and training. The result seems to be that most people continue to rely on unscientific methods of assessment. In recent times, there has been a tremendous amount of work on personality tests and on carefully controlled experimental studies of personality. Investigations of personality by Freudian and other ‘depth’ psychologists have an even longer history. And yet psychology seems to be no nearer to providing society with practicable techniques which are sufficiently reliable and accurate to win general acceptance. The soundness of the methods of psychologists in the field of personality assessment and the value of their work is under constant fire from other psychologists, and it is far from easy to prove their worth.

Section G

The growth of psychology has probably helped responsible members of society to become more aware of the difficulties of assessment. But it is not much use telling employers, educationists, and judges how inaccurately they diagnose the personalities that they encounter unless psychologists are sure that they can provide something better. Even when university psychologists themselves appoint a new member of staff, they almost always resort to the traditional techniques of assessing the candidates through interviews, past records, and testimonials, and probably make at least as many bad appointments as other employers do. However, a large amount of experimental development of better methods has been carried out since 1940 by groups of psychologists in the Armed Services and in the Civil Service, and by such organizations as the (British) National Institute of Industrial Psychology and the American Institute of Research.

Various ‘unscientific systems’ are mentioned here. The writer says that these have become popular because people want to get better at assessing personality, but he does not say whether or not any of them have actually been of some use.
We know that ‘misinterpretations easily arise’ (it is easy for people to make inaccurate personality assessments), and we feel that this happens particularly when other people judge us (rather than when we judge others).



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 1-14.
Questions 1-3
Choose three letters A-F.

Write your answers in boxes 1-3 on your answer sheet.

Which THREE of the following are stated about psychologists involved in personality assessment?
  1. Those who practice ‘depth’ psychology methods are more successful at personality assessment.
  2. The majority of psychologists change their methods when they do not produce reliable results.
  3. They are criticized by other branches of psychology.
  4. Their work can provide insight into the difficult realities for personality assessments.
  5. Their failures have helped the field learn what to avoid more than their successes have helped.
  6. They are inconsistent within their methods.

1

2

3

Questions 4-10
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-x in boxes 4-10 on your answer sheet.

List of Headings
  1. The benefits of making personality assessments naturally
  2. Many incorrectly assume psychologists are the best to assess personality
  3. When judgements go wrong, results can be problematic
  4. Different ways psychologists successfully assess personality
  5. The overall failure of psychological personality assessment is still helpful in away
  6. Judgements on others’ personalities’ are constantly happening around us
  7. Groups other than psychology have claimed to be able to assess personality
  8. Not much progress has been made to find an acceptable method of personality assessment
  9. In different environments, judgements on others’ personalities can affect our success
  10. Future methods to help psychologists make personality assessments even more effectively

4. Section A

5. Section B

6. Section C

7. Section D

8. Section E

9. Section F

10. Section G

Questions 11-14
Do the following statements agree with the information given in the reading passage? In boxes 11-14 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.

11. People often feel that they have been wrongly assessed.

12. Unscientific systems of personality assessment have been of some use.

13. People make false assumptions about the expertise of psychologists.

14. It is likely that some psychologists are no better than anyone else at assessing personality.




Answer Sheet
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
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


Reading Passage Vocabulary
Psychology and Personality Assessment


Section A

Our daily lives are largely made up of contact we have with other people. In these interactions, we are constantly making judgments of their personalities and accommodating our behavior to them in accordance with these judgments. A casual meeting of neighbors on the street, an employer giving instructions to an employee, a mother telling her children how to behave, a journey on a train where strangers eye one another without exchanging a word – all these involve mutual interpretations of personal qualities.

Section B

Success in many vocations largely depends on our skill in making judgements about others. It is important not only to such professionals as the clinical psychologist, the psychiatrist or the social worker, but also to the doctor or lawyer in dealing with their clients, the businessman trying to outwit his rivals, the salesman with potential customers, the teacher with his pupils, not to speak of the pupils judging their teacher. Social life, indeed, would be impossible if we did not. to some extent, understand, and react to the motives and qualities of those we meet; and clearly, we are sufficiently accurate for most practical purposes, although we also recognize that misinterpretations easily arise – particularly on the part of others who judge us!

Section C

Errors can often be corrected as we go along. But whenever we are pinned down to a definite decision about a person, which cannot easily be revised through any feedback, the inadequacies of our judgments become apparent. The hostess who wrongly thinks that the Smiths and the Joneses will get on well together can do little to retrieve the success of her party. A school or a business may be saddled for years with an undesirable member of staff because the selection committee which interviewed him for a quarter of an hour misjudged his personality.

Section D

Owing to this process being so familiar to us, often to the point of being taken for granted, it has been of little scientific curiosity until recently. Dramatists, writers, and artists throughout the centuries have excelled in their portrayals of human characters, but have seldom stopped to ask how they, or we, get to know people, or how accurate is our knowledge. However, the popularity of such unscientific systems as Lavater’s physiognomy in the eighteenth century, Gall’s phrenology in the nineteenth, and of handwriting interpretations by graphologists, or palm-readings by Gypsies, show that people are aware of weaknesses in their judgments and wish to have better methods of diagnosis. It is natural that they should turn to psychology for help, in the belief that psychologists are specialists in what we call human nature.

Section E

This belief is hardly justified, for the primary aim of psychology had long been to establish the general laws and principles underlying behavior and thinking, rather than to apply these to concrete problems of the individual person. A great many professional psychologists still regard it as their main function to study the nature of learning, perception, and motivation in the abstracted or average human being, or in lower organisms and consider it premature to put so young a science to practical uses. They would not claim to have any superior skills in judging their fellow men. Indeed, they are more aware of the difficulties in making judgements than a non-psychologist would be, and therefore may be more reluctant to commit themselves to definite predictions or decisions about other people. Nevertheless, to an increasing extent psychologists are moving into educational, occupational, clinical and other applied fields, where they are called upon to use their expertise for such purposes as fitting educational assignments or jobs to children or adults. Thus, a considerable proportion of their activities consists of personality assessment.

Section F

The success of psychologists in personality assessment has been limited, in comparison with what they have achieved in the fields of abilities and training. The result seems to be that most people continue to rely on unscientific methods of assessment. In recent times, there has been a tremendous amount of work on personality tests and on carefully controlled experimental studies of personality. Investigations of personality by Freudian and other ‘depth’ psychologists have an even longer history. And yet psychology seems to be no nearer to providing society with practicable techniques which are sufficiently reliable and accurate to win general acceptance. The soundness of the methods of psychologists in the field of personality assessment and the value of their work is under constant fire from other psychologists, and it is far from easy to prove their worth.

Section G

The growth of psychology has probably helped responsible members of society to become more aware of the difficulties of assessment. But it is not much use telling employers, educationists, and judges how inaccurately they diagnose the personalities that they encounter unless psychologists are sure that they can provide something better. Even when university psychologists themselves appoint a new member of staff, they almost always resort to the traditional techniques of assessing the candidates through interviews, past records, and testimonials, and probably make at least as many bad appointments as other employers do. However, a large amount of experimental development of better methods has been carried out since 1940 by groups of psychologists in the Armed Services and in the Civil Service, and by such organizations as the (British) National Institute of Industrial Psychology and the American Institute of Research.

Various ‘unscientific systems’ are mentioned here. The writer says that these have become popular because people want to get better at assessing personality, but he does not say whether or not any of them have actually been of some use.
We know that ‘misinterpretations easily arise’ (it is easy for people to make inaccurate personality assessments), and we feel that this happens particularly when other people judge us (rather than when we judge others).
 
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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