IELTS Academic Reading Practice 71

 
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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 14-26.

Questions 14-18

The reading passage has six paragraphs labelled A-F.

Which paragraph contains the following information?

Write the correct letter A-F in boxes 14-18 on your answer sheet.

NB You may use any letter more than once.

14 An experiment where subjects are told to complete two different tasks at a time
15 Middle ground solutions to multitask at the workplace
16 A plausible explanation of why people tend to multimask
17 A demonstration of how our brains respond to concurrent visual inputs.
18 A description of a situation where multitasking is not needed
Questions 19-24

Look at the following Statements (Questions 19-24) and The list of scientists. below.

Match each statement with the correct scientist, A-E..

Write the correct number A-E in boxes Questions 19-24 on your answer sheet.

NB You may use any letter more than once.

The list of scientists.
  1. Thomas Lehman
  2. Earl Miller
  3. David Meyer
  4. Gloria Mark
  5. Edward Hallowell

19. Multitasking leads to inefficiency at the workplace
20. Most people can only focus on one visual stimulant at a time.
21. It is literally impossible for our brains to multitask.
22. Doing things simultaneously may not be better.
23. Longer time is spent doing two tasks at the same time than one at a time.
24. Multitasking is related to the size of prefrontal cortex
Questions 25-26

Answer the questions below.

Use NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS for each answer.

Write your answers in boxes 25-26 on your answer sheet.

25. What method can be used to reduce distraction and efficiently finish tasks one by one?

26. Which part of the brain appears to control multimasking?


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


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How Well Do We Concentrate?

A Do you read while listening to music? Do you like to watch TV while finishing your homework? People who have these kinds of habits are called multitaskers. Multitaskers are able to complete two tasks at the same time by dividing their focus. However, Thomas Lehman, a researcher in the field of psychology, believes people never really do multiple things simultaneously. Maybe a person is reading while listening to music, but in reality, the brain can only focus on one task. Reading the words in a book will cause you to ignore some of the words of the music. When people think they are accomplishing two different tasks efficiently, what they are really doing is dividing their focus. While listening to music, people become less able to focus on their surroundings. For example, there are times when we’re talking with friends and they don’t respond right away. Maybe they are listening to someone else talk, or maybe they are reading a text on their phone and don't hear what you are saying. Lehman called this phenomenon “email voice.”

B The world has been changed by computers and their mobile counterparts, such as smart-phones or tablets. Now that most individuals have a personal device, like a smart-phone or a laptop, they are frequently reading, watching or listening to virtual information. This raises the occurrence of multitasking in our day to day life. While you work, you may be typing on a keyboard, using your cellphone, and talking with some colleagues, all at the same time. In professional meetings, when one normally focuses and listens to one another, people are more likely to have a cell phone in their lap, reading or communicating silently with more people than ever, as inventions such as mobile phones have continued to increase levels multitasking. In the past, a traditional wall phone would ring, and whoever answered would have to stop any ongoing activities to answer it. In the modern era, our technology is convenient enough to not interrupt our daily tasks.

C Earl Miller, an expert at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, studied the prefrontal cortex, which controls the brain while a person is multitasking. According to his studies, the size of this cortex varies between species. He found that for humans, the size of this part constitutes one third of the brain, while it is only 4 to 5 percent in dogs, and about 15% in monkeys. Given that the prefrontal cortex is larger for humans, it allows us to be more flexible and accurate while multitasking. However, Miller wanted to look further into whether the cortex was truly processing information about two different tasks simultaneously. He designed an experiment where he presents visual stimulants to his subjects in a task that mimics multi-tasking. Miller then attached sensors to the patients heads to pick up the electric patterns of the brain. These sensors would show whether particles in the brain, called neurons, were truly processing two different tasks. What he found is that the brain neurons only lit up in singular areas one at a time, and never simultaneously.

D Davis Meyer, a professor of University of Michigan, studied young adults in a similar experiment. He instructed them to simultaneously do math problems and classify simple words into different categories. For this experiment. Meyer found that when you think you are doing several jobs at the same time, you are actually switching between jobs. Even though the people tried to do the tasks at the same time, and both tasks were eventually accomplished, overall, the task took more time than if the person focused on a single task one at a time.

E People sacrifice efficiency when multitasking, as Gloria Mark found with office workers as his subjects. He found that they were constantly multitasking. He observed that nearly every 11 minutes people at work were disrupted. He found that doing different jobs at the same time may actually save time. However, despite the fact that they are faster, it does not mean they are more efficient. And we are equally likely to self-interrupt as be interrupted by outside sources. He found that in office nearly every 12 minutes an employee would stop and with no reason at all, check a website on their computer, call someone or write an email. If they concentrated for more than 20 minutes, they would feel distressed. He suggested that the average person may suffer from a short concentration span. This short attention span might be natural, but others suggest that new technology may be the problem. With cellphones and computers at our sides at all times, people will never run out of distractions. The formats of media, such as advertisements, music, news articles and TV shows are also shortening, so people may be becoming used to paying attention to information for a very short time.

F So even though focusing on one single task is the most efficient way for our brains to work, it is not practical to use this method in real life. From what we know about human nature, people feel more comfortable and efficient in environments with a variety of tasks, Edward Hallowell said that people are losing a lot of efficiency in the workplace due to multitasking, outside distractions and self-distractions. As a matter of fact, the changes made to the workplace do not have to be dramatic. No one is suggesting we ban email or make employees focus on only one task. However, certain common workplace tasks, such as group meetings, would be more efficient if we banned cell-phones, a common distraction. A person can also apply these tips to prevent self-distraction. Instead of arriving to your office and checking all of your e-mails for new tasks, a common workplace ritual, a person could dedicate an hour to a single task first thing in the morning. Self-timing is a great way to reduce distraction and efficiently finish tasks one by one, instead of slowing ourselves down with multi-tasking.

Reading Passage Vocabulary
How Well Do We Concentrate?

A Do you read while listening to music? Do you like to watch TV while finishing your homework? People who have these kinds of habits are called multitaskers. Multitaskers are able to complete two tasks at the same time by dividing their focus. However, Thomas Lehman, a researcher in the field of psychology, believes people never really do multiple things simultaneously. Maybe a person is reading while listening to music, but in reality, the brain can only focus on one task. Reading the words in a book will cause you to ignore some of the words of the music. When people think they are accomplishing two different tasks efficiently, what they are really doing is dividing their focus. While listening to music, people become less able to focus on their surroundings. For example, there are times when we’re talking with friends and they don’t respond right away. Maybe they are listening to someone else talk, or maybe they are reading a text on their phone and don't hear what you are saying. Lehman called this phenomenon “email voice.”

B The world has been changed by computers and their mobile counterparts, such as smart-phones or tablets. Now that most individuals have a personal device, like a smart-phone or a laptop, they are frequently reading, watching or listening to virtual information. This raises the occurrence of multitasking in our day to day life. While you work, you may be typing on a keyboard, using your cellphone, and talking with some colleagues, all at the same time. In professional meetings, when one normally focuses and listens to one another, people are more likely to have a cell phone in their lap, reading or communicating silently with more people than ever, as inventions such as mobile phones have continued to increase levels multitasking. In the past, a traditional wall phone would ring, and whoever answered would have to stop any ongoing activities to answer it. In the modern era, our technology is convenient enough to not interrupt our daily tasks.

C Earl Miller, an expert at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, studied the prefrontal cortex, which controls the brain while a person is multitasking. According to his studies, the size of this cortex varies between species. He found that for humans, the size of this part constitutes one third of the brain, while it is only 4 to 5 percent in dogs, and about 15% in monkeys. Given that the prefrontal cortex is larger for humans, it allows us to be more flexible and accurate while multitasking. However, Miller wanted to look further into whether the cortex was truly processing information about two different tasks simultaneously. He designed an experiment where he presents visual stimulants to his subjects in a task that mimics multi-tasking. Miller then attached sensors to the patients heads to pick up the electric patterns of the brain. These sensors would show whether particles in the brain, called neurons, were truly processing two different tasks. What he found is that the brain neurons only lit up in singular areas one at a time, and never simultaneously.

D Davis Meyer, a professor of University of Michigan, studied young adults in a similar experiment. He instructed them to simultaneously do math problems and classify simple words into different categories. For this experiment. Meyer found that when you think you are doing several jobs at the same time, you are actually switching between jobs. Even though the people tried to do the tasks at the same time, and both tasks were eventually accomplished, overall, the task took more time than if the person focused on a single task one at a time.

E People sacrifice efficiency when multitasking, as Gloria Mark found with office workers as his subjects. He found that they were constantly multitasking. He observed that nearly every 11 minutes people at work were disrupted. He found that doing different jobs at the same time may actually save time. However, despite the fact that they are faster, it does not mean they are more efficient. And we are equally likely to self-interrupt as be interrupted by outside sources. He found that in office nearly every 12 minutes an employee would stop and with no reason at all, check a website on their computer, call someone or write an email. If they concentrated for more than 20 minutes, they would feel distressed. He suggested that the average person may suffer from a short concentration span. This short attention span might be natural, but others suggest that new technology may be the problem. With cellphones and computers at our sides at all times, people will never run out of distractions. The formats of media, such as advertisements, music, news articles and TV shows are also shortening, so people may be becoming used to paying attention to information for a very short time.

F So even though focusing on one single task is the most efficient way for our brains to work, it is not practical to use this method in real life. From what we know about human nature, people feel more comfortable and efficient in environments with a variety of tasks, Edward Hallowell said that people are losing a lot of efficiency in the workplace due to multitasking, outside distractions and self-distractions. As a matter of fact, the changes made to the workplace do not have to be dramatic. No one is suggesting we ban email or make employees focus on only one task. However, certain common workplace tasks, such as group meetings, would be more efficient if we banned cell-phones, a common distraction. A person can also apply these tips to prevent self-distraction. Instead of arriving to your office and checking all of your e-mails for new tasks, a common workplace ritual, a person could dedicate an hour to a single task first thing in the morning. Self-timing is a great way to reduce distraction and efficiently finish tasks one by one, instead of slowing ourselves down with multi-tasking.

 
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