IELTS Reading Test 56


Networking as a concept has acquired what is in all truth an unjustified air of modernity. It is considered in the corporate world as an essential tool for the modern businessperson, as they trot round the globe drumming up business for themselves or a corporation. The concept is worn like a badge of distinction, and not just in the business world.

People can be divided basically into those who keep knowledge and their personal contacts to themselves, and those who are prepared to share what they know and indeed their friends with others. A person who is insecure, for example someone who finds it difficult to share information with others and who is unable to bring people, including friends, together does not make a good networker. The classic networker is someone who is strong enough within themselves to connect different people including close friends with each other. For example, a businessman or an academic may meet someone who is likely to be a valuable contact in the future, but at the moment that person may benefit from meeting another associate or friend.

It takes quite a secure person to bring these people together and allow a relationship to develop independently of himself. From the non-networker’s point of view such a development may be intolerable, especially if it is happening outside their control. The unfortunate thing here is that the initiator of the contact, if he did but know it, would be the one to benefit most. And why?

Because all things being equal, people move within circles and that person has the potential of being sucked into ever growing spheres of new contacts. It is said that, if you know eight people, you are in touch with everyone in the world. It does not take much common sense to realize the potential for any kind of venture as one is able to draw on the experience of more and more people.

Unfortunately, making new contacts, business or otherwise, while it brings success, does cause problems. It enlarges the individual’s world. This is in truth not altogether a bad thing, but it puts more pressure on the networker through his having to maintain an ever larger circle of people. The most convenient way out is, perhaps, to cull old contacts, but this would be anathema to our networker as it would defeat the whole purpose of networking. Another problem is the reaction of friends and associates. Spreading oneself thinly gives one less time for others who were perhaps closer to one in the past. In the workplace, this can cause tension with jealous colleagues, and even with superiors who might be tempted to rein in a more successful inferior. Jealousy and envy can prove to be very detrimental if one is faced with a very insecure manager, as this person may seek to stifle someone’s career or even block it completely.

The answer here is to let one’s superiors share in the glory; to throw them a few crumbs of comfort. It is called leadership from the bottom. In the present business climate, companies and enterprises need to co-operate with each other in order to expand. As globalization grows apace, companies need to be able to span not just countries but continents. Whilst people may rail against this development it is for the moment here to stay. Without co-operation and contacts, specialist companies will not survive for long. Computer components, for example, need to be compatible with the various machines on the market and to achieve this, firms need to work in conjunction with others. No business or institution can afford to be an island in today’s environment. In the not very distant past, it was possible for companies to go it alone, but it is now more difficult to do so.

The same applies in the academic world, where ideas have been jealously guarded. The opening-up of universities and colleges to the outside world in recent years has been of enormous benefit to industry and educational institutions. The stereotypical academic is one who moves in a rarefied atmosphere living a life of sometimes splendid isolation, a prisoner of their own genius. This sort of person does not fit easily into the mould of the modern networker. Yet even this insular world is changing. The ivory towers are being left ever more frequently as educational experts forge links with other bodies; sometimes to stunning effect as in Silicon Valley in America and around Cambridge in England, which now has one of the most concentrated clusters of high tech companies in Europe.

It is the networkers, the wheeler-dealers, the movers and shakers, call them what you will, that carry the world along. The world of the Neanderthals was shaken between 35,000 and 40,000 BC; they were superseded by Homo Sapiens with the very ‘networking’ skills that separate us from other animals: understanding, thought abstraction and culture, which are inextricably linked to planning survival and productivity in humans. It is said the meek will inherit the earth. But will they?

Questions 1-5

Do the following statements agree with the information given in Reading Passage 1?

In boxes 11-13 on your answer sheet, write

YES                           if the statement agrees with the writer’s claims
NO                             if the statement contradicts the writer’s claims
NOT GIVEN          if there is impossible to say what the writer thinks about this

1 Networking is not a modern idea.
2 Networking is worn like a badge exclusively in the business world.
3 People fall into two basic categories.
4 A person who shares knowledge and friends makes a better networker than one who does not.
5 The classic networker is physically strong and generally in good health.

Questions 6-10

Using NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS from the passage, complete the sentences below.

6 Making new acquaintances …………………………………. but also has its disadvantages.
7 At work, problems can be caused if the manager is …………………………………. .
8 A manager can suppress, or even totally …………………………………. the career of an employee.
9 In business today, working together is necessary in order for …………………………………. to grow.
10 Businesses that specialize will not last for long without …………………………………. .

Questions 11-15

Using NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS from the passage, complete the sentences below.

11 In which sphere of life have ideas been protected jealously? ………………………………….
12 Which type of individual does not easily become a modern networker? ………………………………….
13 Where is one of the greatest concentrations of high tech companies in Europe? ………………………………….
14 Who replaced the Neanderthals? ………………………………….
15 What, as well as understanding and thought abstraction, sets us apart from other animals? ………………………………….


A There is a legend that St Augustine in the fourth century AD was the first individual to be seen reading silently rather than aloud, or semi-aloud, as had been the practice hitherto. Reading has come a long way since Augustine’s day. There was a time when it was a menial job of scribes and priests, not the mark of civilization it became in Europe during the Renaissance when it was seen as one of the attributes of the civilized individual.

B Modern nations are now seriously affected by their levels of literacy. While the Western world has seen a noticeable decline in these areas, other less developed countries have advanced and, in some cases, overtaken the West. India, for example, now has a large pool of educated workers. So European countries can no longer rest on their laurels as they have done for far too long; otherwise, they are in danger of falling even further behind economically.

C It is difficult in the modern world to do anything other than a basic job without being able to read. Reading as a skill is the key to an educated workforce, which in turn is the bedrock of economic advancement, particularly in the present technological age. Studies have shown that by increasing the literacy and numeracy skills of primary school children in the UK, the benefit to the economy generally is in billions of pounds. The skill of reading is now no more just an intellectual or leisure activity, but rather a fully-fledged economic force.

D Part of the problem with reading is that it is a skill which is not appreciated in most developed societies. This is an attitude that has condemned large swathes of the population in most Western nations to illiteracy. It might surprise people in countries outside the West to learn that in the United Kingdom, and indeed in some other European countries, the literacy rate has fallen to below that of so-called less developed countries.

E There are also forces conspiring against reading in our modern society. It is not seen as cool among a younger generation more at home with computer screens or a Walkman. The solitude of reading is not very appealing. Students at school, college or university who read a lot are called bookworms. The term indicates the contempt in which reading and learning are held in certain circles or subcultures. It is a criticism, like all such attacks, driven by the insecurity of those who are not literate or are semi-literate. Criticism is also a means, like all bullying, of keeping peers in place so that they do not step out of line. Peer pressure among young people is so powerful that it often kills any attempts to change attitudes to habits like reading.

F But the negative connotations apart, is modern Western society standing Canute-like against an uncontrollable spiral of decline? I think not.

G How should people be encouraged to read more? It can easily be done by increasing basic reading skills at an early age and encouraging young people to borrow books from schools. Some schools have classroom libraries as well as school libraries. It is no good waiting until pupils are in their secondary school to encourage an interest in books; it needs to be pushed at an early age. Reading comics, magazines and low brow publications like Mills and Boon is frowned upon. But surely what people, whether they be adults or children, read is of little import. What is significant is the fact that they are reading. Someone who reads a comic today may have the courage to pick up a more substantial tome later on.

H But perhaps the best idea would be to stop the negative attitudes to reading from forming in the first place. Taking children to local libraries brings them into contact with an environment where they can become relaxed among books. If primary school children were also taken in groups into bookshops, this might also entice them to want their own books. A local bookshop, like some local libraries, could perhaps arrange book readings for children which, being away from the classroom, would make the reading activity more of an adventure. On a more general note, most countries have writers of national importance. By increasing the standing of national writers in the eyes of the public, through local and national writing competitions, people would be drawn more to the printed word. Catch them young and, perhaps, they just might then all become bookworms.

Questions 16-22

Reading Passage 2 has eight paragraphs labelled A-H.
Choose the most suitable heading for each paragraph from the list of headings below.
Write the appropriate numbers (i-xii) in boxes 16-22 on your answer sheet.

List of Headings
i Reading not taken for granted
ii Taking children to libraries
iii Reading: the mark of civilization
iv Reading in St Augustine’s day
v A large pool of educated workers in India
vi Literacy rates in developed countries have declined because of people’s attitude
vii Persuading people to read
viii Literacy influences the economies of countries in today’s world
xi Reading benefits the economy by billions of pounds
x The attitude to reading amongst the young
xi Reading becomes an economic force
xii The writer’s attitude to the decline in reading

16 Paragraph A
17 Paragraph B
18 Paragraph C
19 Paragraph D
20 Paragraph E
21 Paragraph F
22 Paragraph G

Questions 23-27

Do the following statements agree with the information given in Reading Passage 2?

In boxes 23-27 on your answer sheet, write

YES                              if the statement agrees with the writer’s claims
NO                               if the statement contradicts the writer’s claims
NOT GIVEN             if there is impossible to say what the writer thinks about this

23 European countries have been satisfied with past achievements for too long and have allowed other countries to overtake them in certain areas.
24 Reading is an economic force.
25 The literacy rate in less developed nations is considerably higher than in all European countries.
26 If you encourage children to read when they are young the negative attitude to reading that grows in some subcultures will be eliminated.
27 People should be discouraged from reading comics and magazines.

Variations on a theme: the sonnet form in English poetry

A The form of lyric poetry known as ‘the sonnet’, or ‘little song’, was introduced into the English poetic corpus by Sir Thomas Wyatt the Elder and his contemporary Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, during the first half of the sixteenth century. It originated, however, in Italy three centuries earlier, with the earliest examples known being those of Giacomo da Lentini, ‘The Notary’ in the Sicilian court of the Emperor Frederick II, dating from the third decade of the thirteenth century. The Sicilian sonneteers are relatively obscure, but the form was taken up by the two most famous poets of the Italian Renaissance, Dante and Petrarch, and indeed the latter is regarded as the master of the form.

B The Petrarchan sonnet form, the first to be introduced into English poetry, is a complex poetic structure. It comprises fourteen lines written in a rhyming metrical pattern of iambic pentameter, that is to say each line is ten syllables long, divided into five ‘feet’ or pairs of syllables (hence ‘pentameter’), with a stress pattern where the first syllable of each foot is unstressed and the second stressed (an iambic foot). This can be seen if we look at the first line of one of Wordsworth’s sonnets, ‘After- Thought’: ‘I thought of thee my partner and my guide’. If we break down this line into its constituent syllabic parts, we can see the five feet and the stress pattern (in this example each stressed syllable is underlined), thus: ‘I thought/ of thee/ my part/ner and/ my guide’.

C The rhyme scheme for the Petrarchan sonnet is equally as rigid. The poem is generally divided into two parts, the octave (8 lines) and the sestet (6 lines), which is demonstrated through rhyme rather than an actual space between each section. The octave is usually rhymed abbaabba with the first, fourth, fifth and eighth lines rhyming with each other, and the second, third, sixth and seventh also rhyming. The sestet is more varied: it can follow the patterns cdecde, cdccdc,or cdedce. Perhaps the best interpretation of this division in the Petrarchan sonnet is by Charles Gayley, who wrote: ‘The octave bears the burden; a doubt, a problem, a reflection, a query, an historical statement, a cry of indignation or desire, a vision of the ideal. The sestet eases the load, resolves the problem or doubt, answers the query or doubt, solaces the yearning, realizes the vision’. Thus, we can see that the rhyme scheme demonstrates a twofold division in the poem, providing a structure for development of themes and ideas.

D Early on, however, English poets began to vary and experiment with this structure. The first major development was made by Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, altogether an indifferent poet, but was taken up and perfected by William Shakespeare, and is named after him. The Shakespearean sonnet also has fourteen lines in iambic pentameter, but rather than the division into octave and sestet, the poem is divided into four parts: three quatrains and a final rhyming couplet. Each quatrain has its own internal rhyme scheme, thus a typical Shakespearean sonnet would rhyme abab cdcd efef gg. Such a structure naturally allows greater flexibility for the author and it would be hard, if not impossible, to enumerate the different ways in which it has been employed, by Shakespeare and others. For example, an idea might be introduced in the first quatrain, complicated in the second, further complicated in the third, and resolved in the final couplet – indeed, the couplet is almost always used as a resolution to the poem, though often in a surprising way.

E These, then, are the two standard forms of the sonnet in English poetry, but it should be recognized that poets rarely follow rules precisely and a number of other sonnet types have been developed, playing with the structural elements. Edmund Spenser, for example, more famous for his verse epic ‘The Faerie Queene’, invented a variation on the Shakespearean form by interlocking the rhyme schemes between the quatrains, thus: abab bcbc cdcd ee, while in the twentieth century Rupert Brooke reversed his sonnet, beginning with the couplet. John Milton, the seventeenth-century poet, was unsatisfied with the fourteen-line format and wrote a number of ‘Caudate’ sonnets, or sonnets with the regular fourteen lines (on the Petrarchan model) with a ‘coda’ or ‘tail’ of a further six lines. A similar notion informs George Meredith’s sonnet sequence ‘Modern Love’, where most sonnets in the cycle have sixteen lines.

F Perhaps the most radical of innovators, however, has been Gerard Manley Hopkins, who developed what he called the ‘Curtal’ sonnet. This form varies the length of the poem, reducing it in effect to eleven and a half lines, the rhyme scheme and the number of feet per line. Modulating the Petrarchan form, instead of two quatrains in the octave, he has two tercets rhyming abc abc, and in place of the sestet he has four and a half lines, with a rhyme scheme dcbdc. As if this is not enough, the tercets are no longer in iambic pentameter, but have six stresses instead of five, as does the final quatrain, with the exception of the last line, which has three. Many critics, however, are sceptical as to whether such a major variation can indeed be classified as a sonnet, but as verse forms and structures become freer, and poets less satisfied with convention, it is likely that even more experimental forms will out.

Questions 28-32

Reading Passage 3 has eight paragraphs labelled A-H.
Choose the most suitable heading for each paragraph from the list of headings below.
Write the appropriate numbers (i-xiii) in boxes 28-32 on your answer sheet.

List of Headings
i Octave develops sestet
ii The Faerie Queene and Modern Love
iii The origins of the sonnet
iv The Shakespearean sonnet form
v The structure of the Petrarchan sonnet form
vi A real sonnet?
vii Rhyme scheme provides structure developing themes and ideas
viii Dissatisfaction with format
xi The Sicilian sonneteers
x Howard v. Shakespeare
xi Wordsworth’s sonnet form
xii Future breaks with convention
xiii The sonnet form: variations and additions

Example      Paragraph A          iii

28 Paragraph B
29 Paragraph C
30 Paragraph D
31 Paragraph E
32 Paragraph F

Questions 33-37

Using NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS from the passage, complete the sentences below.

33 Sir Thomas Wyatt the Elder and Henry Howard were …………………………………. .
34 It was in the third decade of the thirteenth century that the …………………………………. was introduced.
35 Among poets of the Italian Renaissance …………………………………. was considered to be the better sonneteer.
36 The Petrarchan sonnet form consists of …………………………………. .
37 In comparison with the octave, the rhyming scheme of the sestet is …………………………………. varied.

Questions 38-40
Choose the correct letters A-D and write them in boxes 38-40 on your answer sheet.

38 According to Charles Gayley,
A the octave is longer than the sestet.
B the octave develops themes and ideas.
C the sestet provides answers and solutions.
D the sestet demonstrates a twofold division.

39 The Shakespearean sonnet is
A an indifferent development.
B more developed than the Petrarchan sonnet.
C more flexible than the Petrarchan sonnet.
D enumerated in different ways.

40 According to the passage, whose sonnet types are similar?
A Spenser and Brooke
B Brooke and Milton
C Hopkins and Spenser
D Milton and Meredith

Show answers

1. yes
2. no
3. yes
4. yes
5. not given
6. bring success
7. insecure/ jealous
8. block
9. companies and enterprises
10. cooperation and contacts
11. academic world
12. stereotypical academic
13. cambridge
14. homo sapiens
15. culture
16. iii
17. viii
18. xi
19. vi
20. x
21. xii
22. vii
23. yes
24. yes
25. not given
26. yes
27. no
28. v
29. vii
30. iv
31. xiii
32. vi
33. contemporaries
34. sonnet/ little song
35. petrarch
36. fourteen lines
37. more
38. C
39. C
40. D

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