IELTS® Academic Reading Practice 52

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Iconoclast 

In light of a few recent scientific discoveries, it seems that the very decisions we make are directly connected with the neurons in certain parts of our brains. It is from these very discoveries that a field known as neuroeconomics was born. Neuroeconomics delves into the ways that success in an economic environment can be affected by our brains in terms of being innovative and creative. Findings in the field of neuroeconomics show that brains which are able to do this well are “iconoclastic,” meaning that they tend to question or challenge the status quo. An iconoclast can be defined as a person who defies the expectations of others.

This definition suggests that iconoclasts are not the same as other individuals. However, a more accurate way of putting it is that their brains are diverse in three particular ways: perception, fear response, and social intelligence. Every one of these three capacities requires alternative brain circuitry. Critics may claim that the ability to think in a unique, or progressive way is more a matter of identity, and can’t simply be boiled down to the way that our brains are wired. In any case, the field of neuroeconomics was conceived out of the acknowledgment that the physicalities of our brains may actually put restrictions on our decision-making processes. When we start to understand these limitations, we can then also start to comprehend why some of us are distinctly different in the ways that we think. 

It’s important to realize that the brain is only working with finite resources. Almost the same as a 40 watt light bulb, the brain has a limited budget for the amount of energy it can spend. This limitation has led the brain to evolve to work as efficiently as possible, and this is exactly what prevents the vast majority of people from being an iconoclast. For instance, when overwhelmed with information input, our brains will attempt to process this information as quickly as possible. In these kinds of situations, the brain uses both past experiences as well as any other information which is readily available to interpret the stimulus. 

The brain is constantly choosing its favorite shortcuts without us ever knowing. Though we may think our impression of the world is genuine, it seems it may instead be a collection of electrical impulses within our brains. Recognition isn't just a result of what the eyes or ears transmit to our brains. Rather than taking in the physical reality of photons or sound waves, our perceptions depend on reactions happening within our brains.

Iconoclasm requires perception above all else, and iconoclasts don’t necessarily see what others around them see. In areas where the average person’s brain might be inclined to stumble or get stuck, an iconoclast efficient brain will not. Whether iconoclasts’ brains can take shortcuts  inherently from birth or through learning is not yet known. While we are awake, our brains are constantly processing physical stimuli from the senses. All that we see, hear, or touch could be interpreted in many different ways, and the brain must then select which option it thinks is best to make sense of the stimuli. In fact, the statistical likelihood of the brain selecting one interpretation in particular depends on both past experience and what other people say, the latter being especially important for possible iconoclasts.

The most ideal approach to see things differently than others is overwhelming our brains with new things to experience. With no previous experience to draw from, the brain is then empowered to make novel judgments, and this remarkable tolerance to fresh experience is a telltale sign of iconoclasm. When an iconoclast reacts, they do so by accepting what is unfamiliar rather than trying to avoid it

However, fear is a natural response to the unknown, and so many people might experience fear in new situations. Fear itself can be what stops people from iconoclastic-thinking or risk-taking. There are many types of fear, but the two that are perhaps most challenging, and may even stop us from thinking thinking iconoclastically are fear of uncertainty and fear of public ridicule. Although these two might seem like minor issues, they are certainly widespread. For example, one-third of the population reports suffering from fear of public speaking. This reaction of fear to public speaking must, then, be one expression of human nature, as it is too common to be considered a mental disorder. But iconoclasts, on the other hand, do not allow these types of trivial fears to stop them.

Last of all, a successful iconoclast has to be able to pitch their ideas to those around them, and in this area in particular, social intelligence is essential. The abilities to both understand and manage other people in a business setting are examples of social intelligence. Within the last ten years, more information on the social brain and how the brain works when groups work together to make decisions has become available. The brain circuits which control our understanding what other people think, empathy, fairness, and social identity are better understood through developments in neuroscience. Whether we are able to effectively persuade others is directly related to these particular brain regions. In social cognition, our perceptions are of great importance. The way we perceive those around us can make all the difference, such as noticing someone’s level of enthusiasm, or social status. When we make sense of how perception and social decision are related, it becomes clear why iconoclasts are so rare.

Iconoclasts seize and generate their own novel experiences in areas such as artistic expression, technology, or business. Their levels of creativity and innovation are not necessarily able to be imitated by groups. Iconoclasts do not consider rules to be of great importance. They also come up against being singled out socially, or labeled as a failure. All things considered, iconoclasts have quite a bit to offer all kinds of organizations. Unlocking the secrets of an iconoclastic mind could prove essential in almost any field. 




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 1-5
Choose the correct letter, A, B, C or D.

Write your answers in boxes 1-5 on your answer sheet.

1. Which best describes one goal of neuroeconomics as a field of study?

2. Which of the following best supports the notion that the brain has evolved to be efficient?

3. How does the passage describe the perception?

4. According to the passage, iconoclasts can be identified by which of the following?

5. According to the passage, which of the following does an iconoclastic brain do?

Questions 6-11
Do the following statements agree with the information given in the reading passage? In boxes 6-11 on your answer sheet, write

YES   if the statement reflects the claims of the writer
NO   if the statement contradicts the claims of the writer
NOT GIVEN   if it is impossible to say what the writer thinks about this

6. Iconoclasts are special because their brains function differently.

7. The brain works efficiently because it relies on previous events.

8. Novelty releases the perceptual process from the chains of past experience and forces the brain not to make new judgments

9. 30% of the general population claims to avoid activities which are unfamiliar.

10. Fear is proportionally related to risk levels for potential danger.

11. Irrational fears, such as fear of public-speaking, are classifiable as mental disorders.

Questions 12-14
Complete each sentence with the correct ending A-G from the box below.

Write the correct letter A-G in boxes 12-14 on your answer sheet.

NB You may use any letter more than once.

  1. be simultaneously perceptive and socially intelligent
  2. try to challenge the status quo by rebelling against the system
  3. react appropriately to certain social cues from others, like someone’s level of enthusiasm
  4. criticize and reject others who do not perform adequately
  5. try new things and have novel experiences
  6. works in many fields, both artistic and scientific.
  7. leaves one open to criticism and rejection

12. To think like an iconoclast, it is necessary for the brain to

13. The social brain benefits iconoclasts by allowing them to

14. Iconoclasts are generally an asset because their way of thinking




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
Iconoclast 


In light of a few recent scientific discoveries, it seems that the very decisions we make are directly connected with the neurons in certain parts of our brains. It is from these very discoveries that a field known as neuroeconomics was born. Neuroeconomics delves into the ways that success in an economic environment can be affected by our brains in terms of being innovative and creative. Findings in the field of neuroeconomics show that brains which are able to do this well are “iconoclastic,” meaning that they tend to question or challenge the status quo. An iconoclast can be defined as a person who defies the expectations of others.

This definition suggests that iconoclasts are not the same as other individuals. However, a more accurate way of putting it is that their brains are diverse in three particular ways: perception, fear response, and social intelligence. Every one of these three capacities requires alternative brain circuitry. Critics may claim that the ability to think in a unique, or progressive way is more a matter of identity, and can’t simply be boiled down to the way that our brains are wired. In any case, the field of neuroeconomics was conceived out of the acknowledgment that the physicalities of our brains may actually put restrictions on our decision-making processes. When we start to understand these limitations, we can then also start to comprehend why some of us are distinctly different in the ways that we think. 

It’s important to realize that the brain is only working with finite resources. Almost the same as a 40 watt light bulb, the brain has a limited budget for the amount of energy it can spend. This limitation has led the brain to evolve to work as efficiently as possible, and this is exactly what prevents the vast majority of people from being an iconoclast. For instance, when overwhelmed with information input, our brains will attempt to process this information as quickly as possible. In these kinds of situations, the brain uses both past experiences as well as any other information which is readily available to interpret the stimulus. 

The brain is constantly choosing its favorite shortcuts without us ever knowing. Though we may think our impression of the world is genuine, it seems it may instead be a collection of electrical impulses within our brains. Recognition isn't just a result of what the eyes or ears transmit to our brains. Rather than taking in the physical reality of photons or sound waves, our perceptions depend on reactions happening within our brains.

Iconoclasm requires perception above all else, and iconoclasts don’t necessarily see what others around them see. In areas where the average person’s brain might be inclined to stumble or get stuck, an iconoclast efficient brain will not. Whether iconoclasts’ brains can take shortcuts  inherently from birth or through learning is not yet known. While we are awake, our brains are constantly processing physical stimuli from the senses. All that we see, hear, or touch could be interpreted in many different ways, and the brain must then select which option it thinks is best to make sense of the stimuli. In fact, the statistical likelihood of the brain selecting one interpretation in particular depends on both past experience and what other people say, the latter being especially important for possible iconoclasts.

The most ideal approach to see things differently than others is overwhelming our brains with new things to experience. With no previous experience to draw from, the brain is then empowered to make novel judgments, and this remarkable tolerance to fresh experience is a telltale sign of iconoclasm. When an iconoclast reacts, they do so by accepting what is unfamiliar rather than trying to avoid it

However, fear is a natural response to the unknown, and so many people might experience fear in new situations. Fear itself can be what stops people from iconoclastic-thinking or risk-taking. There are many types of fear, but the two that are perhaps most challenging, and may even stop us from thinking thinking iconoclastically are fear of uncertainty and fear of public ridicule. Although these two might seem like minor issues, they are certainly widespread. For example, one-third of the population reports suffering from fear of public speaking. This reaction of fear to public speaking must, then, be one expression of human nature, as it is too common to be considered a mental disorder. But iconoclasts, on the other hand, do not allow these types of trivial fears to stop them.

Last of all, a successful iconoclast has to be able to pitch their ideas to those around them, and in this area in particular, social intelligence is essential. The abilities to both understand and manage other people in a business setting are examples of social intelligence. Within the last ten years, more information on the social brain and how the brain works when groups work together to make decisions has become available. The brain circuits which control our understanding what other people think, empathy, fairness, and social identity are better understood through developments in neuroscience. Whether we are able to effectively persuade others is directly related to these particular brain regions. In social cognition, our perceptions are of great importance. The way we perceive those around us can make all the difference, such as noticing someone’s level of enthusiasm, or social status. When we make sense of how perception and social decision are related, it becomes clear why iconoclasts are so rare.

Iconoclasts seize and generate their own novel experiences in areas such as artistic expression, technology, or business. Their levels of creativity and innovation are not necessarily able to be imitated by groups. Iconoclasts do not consider rules to be of great importance. They also come up against being singled out socially, or labeled as a failure. All things considered, iconoclasts have quite a bit to offer all kinds of organizations. Unlocking the secrets of an iconoclastic mind could prove essential in almost any field. 

 
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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