Mock Test 13.3 | Academic Reading


You should spend about 20 minutes on Questions 27-40, which are based on Reading Passage 3 below.


Art-based training for engineers

An assessment of how effective an art-based program was in improving the communication skills of engineers.


The CONNECT Program in the Engineering School of The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art has served as a laboratory for testing the effectiveness of art-based learning for technical graduates. [Crack IELTS with Rob] Our underlying concept with CONNECT is that most communication breakdowns involving engineers happen because they know every aspect of their subject matter and assume that others do too. Engineers spend a great deal of time ensuring their work is accurate, and their solutions to engineering problems are workable, meet official requirements, are environmentally sound, and so on. They are persuaded by sound content. Others may not be.


Communicating with an audience is essentially a social skill with a behavioral basis. A fact that becomes all too apparent when one’s audience has a divergent set of assumptions. Failing to understand your audience opens up an ‘audience gap’. To give engineering graduates the skills to close this gap. CONNECT turned to the theatre. Performing artists specialize in the effective communication of any content- good, bad, or indifferent- through vocal, physical, and socially appropriate behaviors keyed to a particular audience. CONNECT applied stage movement analysis to interaction with clients, meetings with colleagues, and job interviews. It also made use of vocal and physical exercises and directing techniques, to equip technical personnel for the everyday communication challenges they face, as well as for formal talks.


Attending workshops based on the CONNECT model resulted in observably improved behaviors. Our data demonstrate that, while not every engineer is likely to become a great communicator, almost all are capable of becoming better communicators. [Crack IELTS with Rob] In a survey of corporate recruiters, potential employees who had taken one or more CONNECT workshops were rated higher overall in areas such as confidence and maturity than those who had not participated in CONNECT. Those who had taken a range of workshops, including one in advanced non-verbal behavior, were rated even higher. These results were achieved after mixed early assessment results led us to significantly refine our methods.


Just as important to the improvements we saw after the first year was an adjustment to how we approached the students themselves. We needed ti practice what we reached, and that meant understanding our own audience of young engineers. We needed to behave in ways that would get through to them. Too often in early workshops, our performer-facilitators assumed that a technical audience would respond to theatrical training material in the same positive way that performers did. However, we came to realize that technical audiences need to be approached differently if arts-based training is to achieve its full potential.


Adjusting our approach to achieve this was key to the improvement in results. Changing how we behaved toward our audience of young engineers required real sensitivity to what was happening in the workshops, and to how our facilitators related to the students. [Crack IELTS with Rob] What we learned during this process can be distilled into ‘rules’ for maximizing the effectiveness of performing-arts –based training in a technical field.


The first ‘rule’ is to customize on a continual basis, adapting a performance for a particular audience is second nature to performing artists. What works on Friday night may not work at the Sunday matinee. Similarly, what is effective in training chemical engineers may not work for their civil engineering or electrical engineering colleagues. And what works for engineers in general will certainly not work for each individual engineer. We have recognized the value of individualized attention and our facilitators send each participant away with something specific to his or her needs.


A second ‘rule’ is to avoid being ‘touchy feely’ unless the purpose is clear. Although actors do not think twice about standing in a circle and ‘passing a ball of energy’ from person to person, or closing their eyes and imaging themselves at a ‘favourite place’ the majority of engineers do not respond in quite the same way. In fact, the CONNECT participants often felt that this part of the workshop was a ‘waste of time’. And nothing- nothing- is more counterproductive when it comes to coaching technical trainees. [Crack IELTS with Rob] However, when the value of such activities is clearly related to the stated purpose of the workshop- to improve performance-few people will get the point more quickly than an engineer.


There are at least three approaches possible for facilitating a workshop, and the final’ rule’ is to incorporate these in the most appropriate way. The ‘prescriptive’ approach tells trainees what is necessary, the ‘experiential’ approach lets them personally experience what happens when a new element is added to a situation, and the ‘demonstrative’ approach requires them to observe certain ways of doing things. The prescriptive approach, although the engineers tended to expect it, was by far the least effective, while the experiential approach met resistance because the purpose of the exercise was not always immediately obvious. The demonstrative approach, on the other hand, mirrors the way technical objects are accomplished, which is to solve problems through testing and observation. The observation of effective and ineffective communication behaviors in others proved to be a good way of demonstrating the options available to everyone.


These ‘rules’ are, of course, only a starting point.  We have learned to apply them both rigorously and with flexibility. At the Engineering School of The Cooper Union, customization menat establishing a mini-conservatory. [Crack IELTS with Rob] We have learned that you can’t close someone else’s audiencegap without looking at things from their perspective. In another setting, playing to the technical audience might require a completely different sort of customization and a subtly differen set of training behaviors. What CONNECT has shown is that knowing one’s audience – and knowing it specifically rather than generally- is fundamental.


Questions 27 - 32

Complete the summary using the list of words, A-I, below.

Write the correct letter, A-I, in boxes 27-32 on your answer sheet.


List of words

A       presentations 

B       details

C       efficiencies

D       regulations

E       interruptions

F       expectations

G       failures

H       actions

I        tools


                                                  The CONNECT workshops


  • The concept behind the CONNECT program is that the (27)  in communication experienced by engineers,

  • are due to their tendency to concentrate on technical (28) ,

  • rather than adapt their approach to meet the (29)  of their audience.

  • This is mainly because engineers are used to focusing on the accuracy of their work and ensuring that it complies with (30) .

  • Thus, the program aimed to provide technical graduates with the (31)  they needed to bridge the resulting communication gap. 

  • Having developed an awareness of audience, the engineers would then be in a better position to give effective (32)  and communicate more appropriately in everyday situations.


Questions 33 - 36

Do the following statements agree with the claims of the writer in Reading Passage 3?

In boxes 33-36 on your answer sheet, write

YES                       if the statement agrees with 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


  • 33.  The study carried out by CONNECT indicates that any technical graduate has the ability to become an expert communicator.

  • 34.  Employers said that they were particularly keen to hire technical graduates who had attended sessions in time management.

  • 35.  Assessment results from the early workshops led to changes being made to the delivery of the CONNECT program.

  • 36.  It became apparent that some of the CONNECT particicpants were too young to appreciate the purpose of the workshops.


Questions 37 - 40

Choose the correct letter A, B, C or D.

Write the correct letter in boxes 37-40 on your answer sheet.

37. What is the writer doing in the fifth paragraph?

  • advising trainers on how they should incorporate the rules into workshops.
  • comparing how the young engineers reacted to the content of the workshops.
  • explaining the context in which the rules for effective training were arrived at.
  • describing how trainers assessed the performance of workshop particicpants.


38. In the seventh paragraph, what does the writer say about activities such as ‘passing a ball of energy’?

  • The timing had to be adapted to make them suitable for the engineers.
  • The point of them had to be explained to the engineers numerous times.
  • The engineers were initially unconvinced of their value.
  • The engineers misunderstood how they should be performed.


39. What does the writer attribute the success of the demonstrative approach to?

  • It complemented the way the technical graduates usually worked.
  • It was s highly innovative method of working.
  • It combined well with the two other approaches.
  • It met the participants’expectations about a workshop situation.


40. What is the writer’s main point in the final paragraph?

  • The differences between the facilitators and the trainees remained immense.
  • The facilitators had to put into practice what they were attempting to teach.
  • The program that has been developed is suitable for any technical audience.
  • The facilitators on the program acknowledged they had learnt very little.


Result: / Exit

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