Reading Practice Test 2
Reading Passage 1
You should spend about 20 minutes on Questions 1-13, which are based on
Reading Passage 1 below.
Why Risks Can Go Wrong
Human intuition is a bad guide to handling risk
A. People make terrible decisions about the future. The evidence is all around,
from their investments in the stock markets to the way they run their
businesses. In fact, people are consistently bad at dealing with uncertainty,
underestimating some kinds of risk and overestimating others. Surely there
must be a better way than using intuition?
B. In the 1960s a young American research psychologist, Daniel Kahneman,
became interested in people's inability to make logical decisions. That
launched him on a career to show just how irrationally people behave in
practice. When Kahneman and his colleagues first started work, the idea of
applying psychological insights to economics and business decisions was seen
as rather bizarre. But in the past decade the fields of behavioural finance and
behavioural economics have blossomed, and in 2002 Kahneman shared a
Nobel prize in economics for his work. Today he is in demand by business
organizations and international banking companies. But, he says, there are
plenty of institutions that still fail to understand the roots of their poor
decisions. He claims that, far from being random, these mistakes are
systematic and predictable.
C. One common cause of problems in decision-making is over-optimism. Ask
most people about the future, and they will see too much blue sky ahead, even
if past experience suggests otherwise. Surveys have shown that people's
forecasts of future stock market movements are far more optimistic than past
long-term returns would justify. The same goes for their hopes of ever-rising
prices for their homes or doing well in games of chance. Such optimism can be
useful for managers or sportsmen, and sometimes turns into a self-fulfilling
prophecy. But most of the time it results in wasted effort and dashed
hopes. Kahneman's work points to three types of over-confidence. First, people
tend to exaggerate their own skill and prowess; in polls, far fewer than half the
respondents admit to having below-average skills in, say, driving. Second, they
overestimate the amount of control they have over the future, forgetting about
luck and chalking up success solely to skill. And third, in competitive pursuits
such as dealing on shares, they forget that they have to judge their skills
against those of the competition.
D. Another source of wrong decisions is related to the decisive effect of the
initial meeting, particularly in negotiations over money. This is referred to as
the 'anchor effect'. Once a figure has been mentioned, it takes a strange hold
over the human mind. The asking price quoted in a house sale, for example,
tends to become accepted by all parties as the 'anchor' around which
negotiations take place. Much the same goes for salary negotiations or mergers
and acquisitions. If nobody has much information to go on, a figure can provide
comfort - even though it may lead to a terrible mistake.
E. In addition, mistakes may arise due to stubbornness. No one likes to
abandon a cherished belief, and the earlier a decision has been taken, the
harder it is to abandon it. Drug companies must decide early to cancel a failing
research project to avoid wasting money, but may find it difficult to admit they
have made a mistake. In the same way, analysts may have become wedded
early to a single explanation that coloured their perception. A fresh eye always
F. People also tend to put a lot of emphasis on things they have seen and
experienced themselves, which may not be the best guide to decision-making.
For example, somebody may buy an overvalued share because a relative has
made thousands on it, only to get his fingers burned. In finance, too much
emphasis on information close at hand helps to explain the tendency by most
investors to invest only within the country they live in. Even though they know
that diversification is good for their portfolio, a large majority of both
Americans and Europeans invest far too heavily in the shares of their home
countries. They would be much better off spreading their risks more widely.
G. More information is helpful in making any decision but, says Kahneman,
people spend proportionally too much time on small decisions and not enough
on big ones. They need to adjust the balance. During the boom years, some
companies put as much effort into planning their office party as into
considering strategic mergers.
H. Finally, crying over spilled milk is not just a waste of time; it also often
colours people's perceptions of the future. Some stock market investors trade
far too frequently because they are chasing the returns on shares they wish
they had bought earlier.
I. Kahneman reckons that some types of businesses are much better than
others at dealing with risk. Pharmaceutical companies, which are accustomed
to many failures and a few big successes in their drug-discovery programmes,
are fairly rational about their risk-taking. But banks, he says, have a long way
to go. They may take big risks on a few huge loans, but are extremely cautious
about their much more numerous loans to small businesses, many of which
may be less risky than the big ones. And the research has implications for
governments too. They face a whole range of sometimes conflicting political
pressures, which means they are even more likely to take irrational decisions.
Reading Passage 1 has nine paragraphs A-I.
Choose the correct heading for Paragraphs B and D-H from the list of
Write the correct number (i-xi) in boxes 1-6 on your answer sheet.
1 Paragraph B
List of headings
i Not identifying the correct
ii A solution for the long term
iii The difficulty of changing your
iv Why looking back is unhelpful
v Strengthening inner resources
vi A successful approach to the
study of decision-making
vii The danger of trusting a global
viii Reluctance to go beyond the
ix The power of the first number
x The need for more effective risk
xi Underestimating the difficultiesahead
Choose the correct answer A, B, C or D
Write your answers in boxes 7-10 on your answer sheet.
7 People initially found Kahneman's work unusual because he
8 The writer mentions house-owners attitudes towards the value of their
homes to illustrate that
9 Stubbornness and inflexibility can cause problems when people
10 Why do many Americans and Europeans fail to spread their financial
risks when investing?
C saw mistakes as following predictable patterns.
was unaware of behavioural approaches.
dealt with irrational types of practice.
applied psychology to finance and economics
past failures may destroy an optimistic attitude.
people tend to exaggerate their chances of success.
optimism may be justified in certain circumstances.
people are influenced by the success of others.
think their financial difficulties are just due to bad luck.
avoid seeking advice from experts and analysts.
refuse to invest in the early stages of a project.
are unwilling to give up unsuccessful activities or beliefs.
They feel safer dealing in a context which is close to home.
They do not understand the benefits of diversification.
They are over-influenced by the successes of their relatives.
DThey do not have sufficient knowledge of one another’s
Answer the questions below, using NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS for
Write your answers in boxes 11-13 on your answer sheet.
Which two occupations may benefit from being over-optimistic? 11
Which practical skill are many people over-confident about? 12
Which type of business has a generally good attitude to dealing with
Reading Passage 2
You should spend about 20 minutes on Questions 14-26, which are based on
Reading Passage 2 on the following pages.
There has always been a sense in which America and Europe owned film. They
invented it at the end of the nineteenth century in unfashionable places like
New Jersey, Leeds and the suburbs of Lyons. At first, they saw their clumsy new
camera-projectors merely as more profitable versions of Victorian lantern
shows, mechanical curiosities which might have a use as a sideshow at a
funfair. Then the best of the pioneers looked beyond the fairground properties
of their invention. A few directors, now mostly forgotten, saw that the flickering
new medium was more than just a diversion. This crass commercial invention
gradually began to evolve as an art. D W Griffith in California glimpsed its
grace, German directors used it as an analogue to the human mind and the
modernising city, Soviets emphasised its agitational and intellectual properties,
and the Italians reconfigured it on an operatic scale.
So heady were these first decades of cinema that America and Europe can be
forgiven for assuming that they were the only game in town. In less than
twenty years western cinema had grown out of all recognition; its unknowns
became the most famous people in the world; it made millions. It never
occurred to its financial backers that another continent might borrow their
magic box and make it its own. But film industries were emerging in Shanghai,
Bombay and Tokyo, some of which would outgrow those in the west.
Between 1930 and 1935, China produced more than 500 films, mostly
conventionally made in studios in Shanghai, without soundtracks. China's best
directors - Bu Wancang and Yuan Muzhi - introduced elements of realism to
their stories. The Peach Girl (1931) and Street Angel (1937) are regularly voted
among the best ever made in the country.
India followed a different course. In the west, the arrival of talkies gave birth to
a new genre - the musical - but in India, every one of the 5000 films made
between 1931 and the mid-1950s had musical interludes. The films were
stylistically more wide ranging than the western musical, encompassing
realism and escapist dance within individual sequences, and they were often
three hours long rather than Hollywood's 90 minutes. The cost of such
productions resulted in a distinctive national style of cinema. They were often
made in Bombay, the centre of what is now known as 'Bollywood'. Performed in
Hindi (rather than any of the numerous regional languages), they addressed
social and peasant themes in an optimistic and romantic way and found
markets in the Middle East, Africa and the Soviet Union.
In Japan, the film industry did not rival India's in size but was unusual in other
ways. Whereas in Hollywood the producer was the central figure, in Tokyo the
director chose the stories and hired the producer and actors. The model was
that of an artist and his studio of apprentices. Employed by a studio as an
assistant, a future director worked with senior figures, learned his craft, gained
authority, until promoted to director with the power to select screenplays and
performers. In the 1930s and 40s, this freedom of the director led to the
production of some of Asia's finest films.
The films of Kenji Mizoguchi were among the greatest of
these. Mizoguchi's films were usually set in the nineteenth century and
analysed the way in which the lives of the female characters whom he chose as
his focus were constrained by the society of the time. From Osaka Elegy (1936)
to Ugetsu Monogatari (1953) and beyond, he evolved a sinuous way of moving
his camera in and around a scene, advancing towards significant details but
often retreating at moments of confrontation or strong feeling. No one had
used the camera with such finesse before.
Even more important for film history, however, is the work of the great Ozu.
Where Hollywood cranked up drama, Ozu avoided it. His camera seldom
moved. It nestled at seated height, framing people square on, listening quietly
to their words. Ozu rejected the conventions of editing, cutting not on action, as
is usually done in the west, but for visual balance. Even more
strikingly, Ozu regularly cut away from his action to a shot of a tree or a kettle
or clouds, not to establish a new location but as a moment of repose. Many
historians now compare such 'pillow shots' to the Buddhist idea that mu -
empty space or nothing - is itself an element of composition.
As the art form most swayed by money and market, cinema would appear to
be too busy to bother with questions of philosophy. The Asian nations proved
and are still proving that this is not the case. Just as deep ideas about
individual freedom have led to the aspirational cinema of Hollywood, so it is the
beliefs which underlie cultures such as those of China and Japan that explain
the distinctiveness of Asian cinema at its best. Yes, these films are visually
striking, but it is their different sense of what a person is, and what space and
action are, which makes them new to western eye.
Do the following statements agree with the information given in
Reading Passage 2?
In boxes 14-18 on your answer sheet write
TRUE if the statement agrees with the
FALSE if the statement contradicts the
NOT GIVEN If there is no information on this
The inventors of cinema regarded it as a minor
Some directors were aware of cinema's artistic
possibilities from the very beginning.
The development of cinema's artistic potential
depended on technology.
Cinema's possibilities were developed in varied
ways in different western countries.
Western businessmen were concerned about the
emergence of film industries in other parts of the world.
Complete the notes below using the list of words (A-K) from the box
Write the correct letters in boxes 19-25 on your answer sheet.
large number of 19
films produced in 1930s
some early films still generally regarded as 20
films included musical interludes
films avoided 21
Japanese cinema unusual because film director was very 22
two important directors:
Mizoguchi - focused on the 23
- camera movement related to 24
Ozu - 25
26 Which of the following is the most suitable title for Reading Passage 2?
D Blind to change: how is it that the west has ignored Asian
cinema for so long?
A different basis: how has the cinema of Asian countries been
shaped by their cultures and beliefs?
Outside Asia: how did the origins of cinema affect its
Two cultures: how has western cinema tried to come to terms
with the challenge of the Asian market?
Reading Passage 3
You should spend about 20 minutes on Questions 27-40, which are based on
Reading Passage 3 below.
Quiet roads ahead
The roar of passing vehicles could soon be a thing of the past
A. The noise produced by busy roads is a growing problem. While vehicle
designers have worked hard to quieten engines, they have been less
successful elsewhere. The sound created by the tyres on the surface of the
road now accounts for more than half the noise that vehicles create, and as
road building and car sales continue to boom - particularly in Asia and the US -
this is turning into a global issue.
B. According to the World Health Organization, exposure to noise from road
traffic over long periods can lead to stress-related health problems. And where
traffic noise exceeds a certain threshold, road builders have to spend money
erecting sound barriers and installing double glazing in blighted homes.
Houses become harder to sell where environmental noise is high, and people
are not as efficient or productive at work.
C. Already, researchers in the Netherlands - one of the most densely populated
countries in the world - are working to develop techniques for silencing the
roads. In the next five years the Dutch government aims to have reduced noise
levels from the country's road surfaces by six decibels overall. Dutch
mechanical engineer Ard Kuijpers has come up with one of the most promising,
and radical, ideas. He set out to tackle the three most important factors:
surface texture, hardness and ability to absorb sound.
D. The rougher the surface, the more likely it is that a tyre will vibrate and
create noise. Road builders usually eliminate bumps on freshly laid asphalt
with heavy rollers, but Kuijpers has developed a method of road building that
he thinks can create the ultimate quiet road. His secret is a special mould 3
metres wide and 50 metres long. Hot asphalt, mixed with small stones, is
spread into the mould by a railmounted machine which flattens the asphalt mix
with a roller. When it sets, the 10-millimetre-thick sheet has a surface
smoother than anything that can be achieved by conventional methods.
E. To optimise the performance of his road surface - to make it hard wearing
yet soft enough to snuff out vibrations - he then adds another layer below the
asphalt. This consists of a 30-millimetre-thick layer of rubber, mixed with
stones which are larger than those in the layer above. 'It's like a giant mouse
mat, making the road softer,' says Kuijpers.
F. The size of the stones used in the two layers is important, since they create
pores of a specific size in the road surface. Those used in the top layer are just
4 or 5 millimetres across, while the ones below are approximately twice that
size - about 9 millimetres. Kuijpers says the surface can absorb any air that is
passing through a tyre's tread (the indentations or ridges on the surface of a
tyre), damping oscillations that would otherwise create noise. And in addition
they make it easier for the water to drain away, which can make the road safer
in wet weather.
G. Compared with the complex manufacturing process, laying the surface is
quite simple. It emerges from the factory rolled, like a carpet, onto a drum 1.5
metres in diameter. On site, it is unrolled and stuck onto its foundation with
bitumen. Even the white lines are applied in the factory.
H. The foundation itself uses an even more sophisticated technique to reduce
noise further. It consists of a sound-absorbing concrete base containing flask-
shaped slots up to 10 millimetres wide and 30 millimetres deep that are open
at the top and sealed at the lower end. These cavities act
like Helmholtz resonators - when sound waves of specific frequencies enter the
top of a flask, they set up resonances inside and the energy of the sound
dissipates into the concrete as heat. The cavities play another important role:
they help to drain water that seeps through from the upper surface. This flow
will help flush out waste material and keep the pores in the outer layers clear.
I. Kuijpers can even control the sounds that his resonators absorb, simply by
altering their dimensions. This could prove especially useful since different
vehicles produce noise at different frequencies. Car tyres peak at around 1000
hertz, for example, but trucks generate lower-frequency noise at around 600
hertz. By varying the size of the Kuijpers resonators, it is possible to control
which frequencies the concrete absorbs. On large highways, trucks tend to use
the inside lane, so resonators here could be tuned to absorb sounds at around
600 hertz while those in other lanes could deal with higher frequency noise
J. Kuijpers believes he can cut noise by five decibels compared to the quietest
of today's roads. He has already tested a l00-metre-long section of his road on
a motorway near Apeldoorn, and Dutch construction company Heijmans is
discussing the location of the next roll-out road with the country's government.
The success of Kuijpers' design will depend on how much it eventually costs.
But for those affected by traffic noise there is hope of quieter times ahead.
Reading Passage 3 has ten paragraphs labelled A-J
Which paragraph contains the following information?
Write the correct letter A-J in boxes 27-32 on your answer sheet.
a description of the form in which Kuijpers' road surface
is taken to its destination
an explanation of how Kuijpers makes a smooth road
something that has to be considered when
evaluating Kuijpers' proposal
various economic reasons for reducing road noise
a generalisation about the patterns of use of vehicles on
a summary of the different things affecting levels of
noise on roads
Label the diagram below.
Choose NO MORE THAN ONE WORD AND/OR A NUMBER from the
passage for each answer.
Write your answers in boxes 33-35 on your answer sheet.
Cross section of Kuijpers’ proposed noise-reducing road
Complete the table below using the list of words ( A-K) from the box below.
Write the correct letters in boxes 36-40 on your answer sheet.
Kuijpers’ noise-reducing road: components and functionLayer ComponentFunction
reduce oscillations caused by 36
create pores which help 37
• help to remove 39
can be adapted to absorb different
B the engine
E air flow
G sound energy
9D 10 A
11managers and sportsmen 12driving
13Pharmaceutical (companies) 14TRUE
15FALSE 16NOT GIVEN
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