IELTS READING – Second nature S17AT2

IELTS SIMULATOR ONLINE IELTS READING EASY DEMO - Second nature Psychologists have long held that a person's character cannot undergo a transformation


Second nature

A Psychologists have long held that a person’s character cannot undergo a Q1 transformation in any meaningful way and that the key traits of personality are determined at a very Q2 young age. However, researchers have begun looking more closely at ways we can change.

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Positive psychologists have identified 24 qualities we admire, such as loyalty and kindness, and are studying them to find out why they come so naturally to some people. What they’re discovering is that many of these qualities amount to habitual behaviour that determines the way we respond to the world. The good news is that all this can be learned.

Some qualities are less challenging to develop than others, optimism being one of them. However, developing qualities requires mastering a range of Q4 skills which are diverse and sometimes surprising. For example, to bring more joy and passion into your life, you must be open to experiencing Q5 negative emotions. Cultivating such qualities will help you realise your full potential.

B ‘The evidence is good that most personality traits can be altered,’ says Christopher Peterson, professor of psychology at the University of Michigan, who cites himself as an example. Inherently introverted, he realised early on that as an academic, his reticence would prove disastrous in the lecture hall. Q9 So he learned to be more outgoing and to entertain his classes. ‘Now my extroverted behaviour is spontaneous,’ he says.

C David Fajgenbaum had to make a similar transition. He was preparing for university, when he had an accident that put an end to his sports career. On campus, he quickly found that beyond ordinary counselling, the university had no services for students who were undergoing physical rehabilitation and suffering from depression like him. He therefore launched a support group to help others in similar situations. Q11 He took action despite his own pain – a typical response of an optimist.

D Suzanne Segerstrom, professor of psychology at the University of Kentucky, believes that the key to increasing Q3 optimism is through cultivating optimistic behaviour, rather than positive thinking. Q7 She recommends you train yourself to pay attention to good fortune by writing down three positive things that come about each day. This will help you convince yourself that favourable outcomes actually happen all the time, making it easier to begin taking action.

E You can recognise a person who is passionate about a pursuit by the way they are so strongly involved in it. Tanya Streeter’s passion is freediving – the sport of plunging deep into the water without tanks or other breathing equipment. Beginning in 1998, she set nine world records and can hold her breath for six minutes. Q10 The physical stamina required for this sport is intense but the psychological demands are even more overwhelming. Streeter learned to untangle her fears from her judgment of what her body and mind could do. ‘In my career as a competitive freediver, there was a limit to what I could do – but it wasn’t anywhere near what I thought it was/ she says.

F Finding a pursuit that excites you can improve anyone’s life. The secret about consuming passions, though, according to psychologist Paul Silvia of the University of North Carolina, is that ‘they require discipline, hard work and ability, which is why they are so rewarding.’ Psychologist Todd Kashdan has this advice for those people taking up a new passion: ‘Q6 As a newcomer, you also have to tolerate and laugh at your own ignorance. You must be willing to accept the negative feelings that come your way,’ he says.

G In 2004, physician-scientist Mauro Zappaterra began his PhD research at Harvard Medical School. Unfortunately, he was miserable as his research wasn’t compatible with his curiosity about healing. He finally took a break and during eight months in Santa Fe, Zappaterra learned about alternative healing techniques not taught at Harvard. Q12 When he got back, he switched labs to study how cerebrospinal fluid nourishes the developing nervous system. He also vowed to look for the joy in everything, including failure, as this could help him learn about his research and himself.

One thing that can hold joy back is a person’s concentration on avoiding failure rather than their looking forward to doing something well. ‘Focusing on being safe might get in the way of your reaching your goals,’ explains Kashdan. For example, are you hoping to get through a business lunch without embarrassing yourself, or are you thinking about how fascinating the conversation might be?

H Usually, we think of courage in physical terms but ordinary life demands something else. For marketing executive Kenneth Pedeleose, it meant speaking out against something he thought was ethically wrong. The new manager was intimidating staff so Q13 Pedeleose carefully recorded each instance of bullying and eventually took the evidence to a senior director, knowing his own job security would be threatened. Eventually the manager was the one to go. According to Cynthia Pury, a psychologist at Clemson University, Pedeleose’s story proves the point that Q8 courage is not motivated by fearlessness, but by moral obligation. Pury also believes that people can acquire courage. Many of her students said that faced with a risky situation, they first tried to calm themselves down, then looked for a way to mitigate the danger, just as Pedeleose did by documenting his allegations.

Over the long term, picking up a new character trait may help you move toward being the person you want to be. And in the short term, the effort itself could be surprisingly rewarding, a kind of internal adventure.

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IELTS READING – The Megafires of California S17AT1

IELTS SIMULATOR ONLINE IELTS READING EASY DEMO - The Megafires of California Wildfires are becoming an increasing menace in the western United States


The Megafires of California

Wildfires are becoming an increasing menace in the western United States, with Southern California being the hardest hit area. There’s a reason fire squads battling more frequent blazes in Southern California are having such difficulty containing the flames, despite better preparedness than ever and decades of experience fighting fires fanned by the ‘Santa Ana Winds’.

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The wildfires themselves, experts say, are generally hotter, faster, and Q1 spread more erratically than in the past.

Megafires, also called ‘siege fires’, are the increasingly frequent blazes that burn 500,000 acres or more – Q2 10 times the size of the average forest fire of 20 years ago. Some recent wildfires are among the biggest ever in California in terms of acreage burned, according to state figures and news reports.

One explanation for the trend to more super hot fires is that the region, which usually has dry summers, has had significantly Q3 below normal precipitation in many recent years. Another reason, experts say, is related to the century- long policy of the US Forest Service to stop wildfires as quickly as possible.

The unintentional consequence has been to halt the natural eradication of underbrush, now the primary Q4 fuel for Megafires.

Three other factors contribute to the trend, they add. First is climate change, marked by a 1-degree Fahrenheit rise in average yearly temperature across the western states. Second is fire Q5 seasons that on average are 78 days longer than they were 20 years ago. Third is increased construction of Q6 homes in wooded areas.

‘We are increasingly building our homes in fire-prone ecosystems,’ says Dominik Kulakowski, adjunct professor of biology at Clark University Graduate School of Geography in Worcester, Massachusetts. ‘Doing that in many of the forests of the western US is like building homes on the side of an active volcano.’

In California, where population growth has averaged more than 600,000 a year for at least a decade, more residential housing is being built. ‘Q7 What once was open space is now residential homes providing fuel to make fires burn with greater intensity,’ says Terry McHale of the California Department of Forestry firefighters’ union. ‘With so much dryness, so many communities to catch fire, so many fronts to fight, it becomes an almost incredible job.’

That said, Q8 many experts give California high marks for making progress on preparedness in recent years, after some of the largest fires in state history scorched thousands of acres, burned thousands of homes, and killed numerous people. Stung in the past by Q9 criticism of bungling that allowed fires to spread when they might have been contained, personnel are meeting the peculiar challenges of neighborhood – and canyon- hopping fires better than previously, observers say.

Q10 State promises to provide more up-to-date engines, planes, and helicopters to fight fires have been fulfilled. Firefighters’ unions that in the past complained of dilapidated equipment, old fire engines, and insufficient blueprints for fire safety are now praising the state’s commitment, noting that funding for firefighting has increased, despite huge cuts in many other programs. ‘We are pleased that the current state administration has been very proactive in its support of us, and [has] come through with budgetary support of the infrastructure needs we have long sought,’ says Mr. McHale of the firefighters’ union.

Besides providing money to upgrade the fire engines that must traverse the mammoth state and wind along serpentine canyon roads, the state has invested in better command-and-control facilities as well as in the strategies to run them. ‘In the fire sieges of earlier years, we found that other jurisdictions and states were willing to offer mutual-aid help, but we were not able to communicate adequately with them,’ says Kim Zagaris, chief of the state’s Office of Emergency Services Fire and Rescue Branch.

After a commission examined and revamped communications procedures, the statewide response ‘has become far more professional and responsive,’ he says. Q12 There is a sense among both government officials and residents that the speed, dedication, and coordination of firefighters from several states and jurisdictions are resulting in greater efficiency than in past ‘siege fire’ situations.

In recent years, the Southern California region has improved building codes, evacuation procedures, and procurement of new technology. ‘I am extraordinarily impressed by the improvements we have witnessed,’ says Randy Jacobs, a Southern California- based lawyer who has had to evacuate both his home and business to escape wildfires. ‘Q13 Notwithstanding all the damage that will continue to be caused by wildfires, we will no longer suffer the loss of life endured in the past because of the fire prevention and firefighting measures that have been put in place,’ he says.

Q11 More firefighters have been hired to improve fire-fighting capacity. NOT GIVEN

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IELTS WRITING – It is Important to keep your Home and your Workplace Tidy S16GT2

IELTS SIMULATOR ONLINE IELTS WRITING It is Important to keep your Home and your Workplace Tidy, with everything organised and in the correct place

It is Important to keep your Home and your Workplace Tidy

Type about the following topic :

Some people say it is important to keep your home and your workplace tidy, with everything organised and in the correct place.

What is your opinion about this?

Give reasons for your answer and include any relevant examples from your own knowledge or experience.

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IELTS READING – Tuning up your leadership skills S16GT5



Tuning up your leadership skills

Does jazz music offer lessons for today’s leaders?

A. Ever since management expert Q34 Peter Drucker compared the job of Chief Executive Officer to that of an orchestra conductor, Q32 the business world has been exploring comparisons and inspirations from the world of music.

Now Warwick Business School Professors Deniz Ucbasaran and Andy Lockett are hitting all the right notes with their study of famous jazz musicians, Leading Entrepreneurial Teams: Insights From Jazz, providing some essential insights for entrepreneurial team leaders.

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Ucbasaran and Lockett (together with Durham Business School Professor Michael Humphries) chose jazz for a number of reasons. For a start, jazz bands are synonymous with creativity, improvisation and innovation, all essential ingredients for entrepreneurship. Jazz groups and their members often operate in uncertain and dynamic environments, characterised by rapid change. Yet through collective endeavour many jazz bands find their own structure and harmony and become profitable enterprises – both creatively and commercially.

B. Q30 The authors decided to focus on three of the best known names in jazz – Duke Ellington, Miles Davis and Art Blakey. American composer Duke Ellington was a pioneering jazz orchestra leader from the 1920s through to the 1970s. Trumpet player Miles Davis was instrumental in the development of a number of new jazz styles, including bebop and jazz fusion. Jazz drummer Arthur ‘Art’ Blakey became famous as the leader of his band the Jazz Messengers.

Q36 Q28 The research focused on the way that these jazz greats created and ran their musical enterprises. In particular, Ucbasaran and Lockett focused on three specific areas of leadership activity: team formation, team coordination and team turnover.

There were strong similarities in the processes Q37 the band leaders used to assemble their diverse teams of talent.In particular, they looked for musicians with a different sound or way of playing, one that was unique to that band member and would improve the overall sound of the band. That feature was as much bound up with the personality of the individual musician as it was to do with their technical proficiency.

C. But disparate teams, many different personalities, and high levels of creativity are a recipe for group conflict. And, sure enough, there was plenty of dysfunctional conflict and disruptive clashes of egos and personalities evident in the jazz ensembles. Traditional team leadership theory suggests that to get the best team performance the leader should foster conflict that is productive in its effects, while minimising destructive conflict. But this is difficult when the sources of productive and destructive conflict are the same; that is, differences in personality and thinking. Q38 So how do leaders deal with destructive conflict? It didn’t seem to bother the likes of Ellington, Davis and Blakey. Their attitude was ‘the music comes first’. The moments of musical genius when everything came together excused minor problems such as if individuals occasionally turned up late for practice, or stepped out of a performance for a quick snack.

D. Teams must coordinate their behaviour and action to achieve an outcome. The team leader can assume a number of different roles when helping the team achieve its objectives. Some leaders are very directive, detailing what tasks they want team members to perform, and how they want them to go about those tasks.

But that was not the approach Ellington, Davis and Blakey adopted. Instead, Q33 these leaders acted more as facilitators, empowering the musicians to collectively coordinate their behaviour and action to produce the desired outcome. As Ucbasaran and Lockett note, Q31 Miles Davis discouraged band members from rehearsing in case it led to musical cliches from over-practice. Similarly, he often asked his musicians to play a piece in an unusual key, so they did not rely on learned fingering patterns. The performers were not left entirely to their own devices though. Q39 All three leaders created a general framework within which team members could work, providing guidance but also the freedom to explore, express and make mistakes.

E. Q35 The third aspect of leadership behaviour that Ucbasaran and her colleagues looked at was managing team turnover – people joining and leaving the team. In the jazz ensembles studied, musicians joined and left on a regular basis. Q40 Yet the high turnover of team members, despite the resulting loss of knowledge and skills, was seen in a positive light. That was partly because of the advantages of getting a fresh shot of knowledge, ideas and creativity when new members joined.

A common reason for the jazz musicians leaving was that they felt sufficiently qualified to go and run another band. The three band leaders were understanding about this, particularly as it was a process they had also been through. In some cases, Q29 in particular with Art Blakey, they actively encouraged and coached team members to become leaders. As the jazz icons Ellington, Davis and Blakey would no doubt agree, there is no magic score that if followed note by note will make you a great leader of creative talent. However, take an entrepreneur, a few cues from the aforementioned jazz trio, mix in a little improvisation, and you are more likely to hear the sweet sound of success. As Louis Armstrong once sang: ‘Now that’s jazz’.

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