READING PASSAGE 1
You should spend about 20 minutes on Questions 1-13 which are based on Reading Passage 1 below.
The working day has just started at the head office of Barclays Bank in London. Seventeen staff are helping themselves to a buffet breakfast as young psychologist Sebastian Bailey enters the room to begin the morning’s training session. But this is no ordinary training session. He’s not here to sharpen their finance or management skills. He’s here to exercise their brains.
Today’s workout, organised by a company called the Mind Gym in London, is entitled “having presence”. What follows is an intense 90-minute session in which this rather abstract concept is gradually broken down into a concrete set of feelings, mental tricks and behaviours. At one point the bankers are instructed to shut their eyes and visualise themselves filling the room and then the building. They finish up by walking around the room acting out various levels of presence, from low-key to over the top.
It’s easy to poke fun. Yet similar mental workouts are happening in corporate seminar rooms around the globe. The Mind Gym alone offers some 70 different sessions, including ones on mental stamina, creativity for logical thinkers and “zoom learning”. Other outfits draw more directly on the exercise analogy, offering “neurobics” courses with names like “brain sets” and “cerebral fitness”. Then there are books with titles like Pumping Ions, full of brainteasers that claim to “flex your mind”, and software packages offering memory and spatial-awareness games.
But whatever the style, the companies’ sales pitch is invariably the same—follow our routines to shape and sculpt your brain or mind, just as you might tone and train your body. And, of course, they nearly all claim that their mental workouts draw on serious scientific research and thinking into how the brain works.
One outfit, Brainergy of Cambridge, Massachusetts (motto: “Because your grey matter matters”) puts it like this: “Studies have shown that mental exercise can cause changes in brain anatomy and brain chemistry which promote increased mental efficiency and clarity. The neuroscience is cutting-edge.” And on its website, Mind Gym trades on a quote from Susan Greenfield, one of Britain’s best known neuroscientists: “It’s a bit like going to the gym, if you exercise your brain it will grow.”
Indeed, the Mind Gym originally planned to hold its sessions in a local health club, until its founders realised where the real money was to be made. Modern companies need flexible, bright thinkers and will seize on anything that claims to create them, especially if it looks like a quick fix backed by science. But are neurobic workouts really backed by science? And do we need them?
Nor is there anything remotely high-tech about what Lawrence Katz, co-author of Keep Your Brain Alive, recommends. Katz, a neurobiologist at Duke University Medical School in North Carolina, argues that just as many of us fail to get enough physical exercise, so we also lack sufficient mental stimulation to keep our brains in trim. Sure we are busy with jobs, family and housework. But most of this activity is a repetitive routine. And any leisure time is spent slumped in front of the TV.
So, read a book upside down. Write or brush your teeth with your wrong hand. Feel your way around the room with your eyes shut. Sniff vanilla essence while listening intently to orchestral music. Anything, says Katz, to break your normal mental routine. It will help invigorate your brain, encouraging its cells to make new connections and pump out neurotrophins, substances that feed and sustain brain circuits.
Well, up to a point it will. “What I’m really talking about is brain maintenance rather than bulking up your IQ,” Katz adds. Neurobics, in other words, is about letting your brain fulfil its potential. It cannot create super-brains. Can it achieve even that much, though? Certainly, the brain is an organ that can adapt to the demands placed on it. Tests on animal brain tissue, for example, have repeatedly shown that electrically stimulating the synapses that connect nerve cells thought to be crucial to learning and reasoning, makes them stronger and more responsive. Brain scans suggest we use a lot more of our grey matter when carrying out new or strange tasks than when we’re doing well-rehearsed ones. Rats raised in bright cages with toys sprout more neural connections than rats raised in bare cages- suggesting perhaps that novelty and variety could be crucial to a developing brain. Katz, And neurologists have proved time and again that people who lose brain cells suddenly during a stroke often sprout new connections to compensate for the loss—especially if they undergo extensive therapy to overcome any paralysis.
Guy Claxton, an educational psychologist at the University of Bristol, dismisses most of the neurological approaches as “neuro-babble”. Nevertheless, there are specific mental skills we can learn, he contends. Desirable attributes such as creativity, mental flexibility, and even motivation, are not the fixed faculties that most of us think. They are thought habits that can be learned. The problem, says Claxton, is that most of us never get proper training in these skills. We develop our own private set of mental strategies for tackling tasks and never learn anything explicitly. Worse still, because any learned skill- even driving a car or brushing our teeth-quickly sinks out of consciousness, we can no longer see the very thought habits we’re relying upon. Our mental tools become invisible to us.
Claxton is the academic adviser to the Mind Gym. So not surprisingly, the company espouses his solution-that we must return our thought patterns to a conscious level, becoming aware of the details of how we usually think. Only then can we start to practise better thought patterns, until eventually these become our new habits. Switching metaphors, picture not gym classes, but tennis or football coaching.
In practice, the training can seem quite mundane. For example, in one of the eight different creativity workouts offered by the Mind Gym entitled “creativity for logical thinkers” one of the mental strategies taught is to make a sensible suggestion, then immediately pose its opposite. So, asked to spend five minutes inventing a new pizza, a group soon comes up with no topping, sweet topping, cold topping, price based on time of day, flat-rate prices and so on.
Bailey agrees that the trick is simple. But it is surprising how few such tricks people have to call upon when they are suddenly asked to be creative: “They tend to just label themselves as uncreative, not realising that there are techniques that every creative person employs.” Bailey says the aim is to introduce people to half a dozen or so such strategies in a session so that what at first seems like a dauntingly abstract mental task becomes a set of concrete, learnable behaviours. He admits this is not a shortcut to genius. Neurologically, some people do start with quicker circuits or greater handling capacity. However, with the right kind of training he thinks we can dramatically increase how efficiently we use it.
It is hard to prove that the training itself is effective. How do you measure a change in an employee’s creativity levels, or memory skills? But staff certainly report feeling that such classes have opened their eyes. So, neurological boosting or psychological training? At the moment you can pay your money and take your choice. Claxton for one believes there is no reason why schools and universities shouldn’t spend more time teaching basic thinking skills, rather than trying to stuff heads with facts and hoping that effective thought habits are somehow absorbed by osmosis.
Do the following statements agree with the information given in Reading Passage
In boxes 1-5 on your answer sheet, write
YES if the statement agrees with the writer
NO if the statement does not agree with the writer
NOT GIVEN if there is no information about this in the passage
1 Mind Gym coach instructed employees to imagine that they are the building
2 Mind Gym uses the similar marketing theory that is used all round
3 Susan Greenfield is the founder of Mind Gym.
4 All businesses and industries are using Mind Gym’s sessions globally.
5 According to Mind Gym, extensive scientific background supports their mental training sessions.
Use the information in the passage to match the people (listed A-D) with opinions or deeds below.
Write the appropriate letters A-D in boxes 6-13 on your answer sheet.
NB You may use any letter more than once
A Guy Claxton
B Sebastian Bailey
C Susan Greenfield
D Lawrence Katz
6 We do not have enough inspiration to keep our brain fit.
7 The more you exercise your brain like exercise in the gym, the more brain will grow.
8 Exercise can keep your brain healthy instead of improving someone’s IQ.
9 It is valuable for schools to teach students about creative skills besides basic knowledge.
10 We can develop new neuraon connections when we lose old connections via certain treatments.
11 People usually mark themselves as not creative before figuring out there are approaches for each person.
12 An instructor in Mind Gym who guided the employees to exercise.
13 Majority of people don’t have appropriate skills-training for brain.
READING PASSAGE 2
You should spend about 20 minutes on Questions 14-26 which are based on Reading Passage 2 below.
Wealth in A Cold Climate
Latitude is crucial to a nation’s economic strength.
Dr William Masters was reading a book about mosquitoes when inspiration struck. “There was this anecdote about the great yellow fever epidemic that hit Philadelphia in 1793,” Masters recalls. “This epidemic decimated the city until the first frost came.” The inclement weather froze out the insects, allowing Philadelphia to recover.
If weather could be the key to a city’s fortunes, Masters thought, then why not to the historical fortunes of nations? And could frost lie at the heart of one of the most enduring economic mysteries of all—why are almost all the wealthy, industrialised nations to be found at latitudes above 40 degrees? After two years of research, he thinks that he has found a piece of the puzzle. Masters, an agricultural economist from Purdue University in Indiana, and Margaret McMillan at Tufts University, Boston, show that annual frosts are among the factors that distinguish rich nations from poor ones. Their study is published this month in the Journal of Economic Growth. The pair speculate that cold snaps have two main benefits – they freeze pests that would otherwise destroy crops, and also freeze organisms, such as mosquitoes, that carry disease. The result is agricultural abundance and a big workforce.
The academics took two sets of information. The first was average income for countries, the second climate data from the University of East Anglia. They found a curious tally between the sets. Countries having five or more frosty days a month are uniformly rich, those with fewer than five are impoverished. The authors speculate that the five-day figure is important; it could be the minimum time needed to kill pests in the soil. Masters says: “For example, Finland is a small country that is growing quickly, but Bolivia is a small country that isn’t growing at all. Perhaps climate has something to do with that.” In fact, limited frosts bring huge benefits to farmers. The chills kill insects or render them inactive; cold weather slows the break-up of plant and animal material in the soil, allowing it to become richer; and frosts ensure a build-up of moisture in the ground for spring, reducing dependence on seasonal rains. There are exceptions to the “cold equals rich” argument. There are well-heeled tropical places such as Hong Kong and Singapore, a result of their superior trading positions. Like-wise, not all European countries are moneyed in the former communist colonies, economic potential was crushed by politics.
Masters stresses that climate will never be the overriding factor – the wealth of nations is too complicated to be attributable to just one factor. Climate, he feels, somehow combines with other factors such as the presence of institutions, including governments, and access to trading routes to determine whether a country will do well. Traditionally, Masters says, economists thought that institutions had the biggest effect on the economy, because they brought order to a country in the form of, for example, laws and property rights. With order, so the thinking went, came affluence. “But there are some problems that even countries with institutions have not been able to get around,” he says. “My feeling is that, as countries get richer, they get better institutions. And the accumulation of wealth and improvement in governing institutions are both helped by a favourable environment, including climate.”
This does not mean, he insists, that tropical countries are beyond economic help and destined to remain penniless. Instead, richer countries should change the way in which foreign aid is given. Instead of aid being geared towards improving governance, it should be spent on technology to improve agriculture and to combat disease. Masters cites one example: “There are regions in India that have been provided with irrigation, agricultural productivity has gone up and there has been an improvement in health.” Supplying vaccines against tropical diseases and developing crop varieties that can grow in the tropics would break the poverty cycle.
Other minds have applied themselves to the split between poor and rich nations, citing anthropological, climatic and zoological reasons for why temperate nations are the most affluent. In 350 BC, Aristotle observed that “those who live in a cold climate…are full of spirit”. Jared Diamond, from the University of California at Los Angeles, pointed out in his book Guns, Germs and Steel that Eurasia is broadly aligned east-west, while Africa and the Americas are aligned north-south. So, in Europe, crops can spread quickly across latitudes because climates are similar. One of the first domesticated crops, einkorn wheat, spread quickly from the Middle East into Europe; it took twice as long for corn to spread from Mexico to what is now the eastern United States. This easy movement along similar latitudes in Eurasia would also have meant a faster dissemination of other technologies such as the wheel and writing, Diamond speculates. The region also boasted domesticated livestock, which could provide meat, wool and motive power in the fields. Blessed with such natural advantages, Eurasia was bound to take off economically.
John Gallup and Jeffrey Sachs, two US economists, have also pointed out striking correlations between the geographical location of countries and their wealth. They note that tropical countries between 23.45 degrees north and south of the equator are nearly all poor. In an article for the Harvard International Review, they concluded that “development surely seems to favour the temperate-zone economies, especially those in the northern hemisphere, and those that have managed to avoid both socialism and the ravages of war”. But Masters cautions against geographical determinism, the idea that tropical countries are beyond hope: “Human health and agriculture can be made better through scientific and technological research,” he says, “so we shouldn’t be writing off these countries. Take Singapore: without air conditioning, it wouldn’t be rich.”
Reading Passage 2 has seven paragraphs, A-G.
Choose the most suitable heading for paragraphs A-G from the list of headings below.
Write the appropriate number, i-x, in boxes 14-20 on your answer sheet.
List of Headings
i The positive correlation between climate and wealth
ii Other factors besides climate that influence wealth
iii Inspiration from reading a book
iv Other researchers’ results do not rule out exceptional cases
v Different attributes between Eurasia and Africa
vi Low temperature benefits people and crops
vii The importance of institution in traditional views
viii The spread of crops in Europe, Asia and other places
ix The best way to use aid
x Confusions and exceptions
14 Paragraph A
15 Paragraph B
16 Paragraph C
17 Paragraph D
18 Paragraph E
19 Paragraph F
20 Paragraph G
Complete the summary below,
Choose NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS from the passage for each answer.
Write your answers in boxes 21-26 on your answer sheet.
Dr William Masters read a book saying that a(an) 21 _________ epidemic which struck an American city hundreds of years ago was terminated by a cold frost. And academics found that there is a connection between climate and country’s wealth as in the rich but small country of 22 _________. Yet besides excellent surroundings and climate, one country still needs to improve their 23 _________ to achieve long prosperity.
Thanks to resembling weather conditions across latitude in the continent of 24 _________, crops such as 25 _________ is bound to spread faster than from South America to the North. Other researchers also noted that even though geographical factors are important, tropical country such as 26 _________ still became rich due to scientific advancement.
READING PASSAGE 3
You should spend about 20 minutes on Questions 27-40 which are based on Reading Passage 3 below.
Internal Market: Selling the inside
When you think of marketing, you more than likely think of marketing to your customers: How can you persuade more people to buy what you sell? But another “market” is just as important: your employees, the very people who can make the brand come alive for your customers. Yet in our work helping executives develop and carry out branding campaigns, my colleagues and I have found that companies very often ignore this critical constituency.
Why is internal marketing so important? First, because it’s the best way to help employees make a powerful emotional connection to the products and services you sell. Without that connection, employees are likely to undermine the expectations set by your advertising. In some cases, this is because they simply don’t understand what you have promised the public, so they end up working at cross-purposes. In other cases, it may be they don’t actually believe in the brand and feel disengaged or, worse, hostile toward the company. We’ve found that when people care about and believe in the brand, they’re motivated to work harder and their loyalty to the company increases. Employees are united and inspired by a common sense of purpose and identity.
Unfortunately, in most companies, internal marketing is done poorly, if at all. While executives recognise the need to keep people informed about the company’s strategy and direction, few understand the need to convince employees of the brand’s power—they take it as a given.
Employees need to hear the same messages that you send out to the marketplace. At most companies, however, internal and external communications are often mismatched. This can be very confusing, and it threatens employees’ perceptions of the company’s integrity: They are told one thing by management but observe that a different message is being sent to the public. One health insurance company, for instance, advertised that the welfare of patients was the company’s number one priority, while employees were told that their main goal was to increase the value of their stock options through cost reductions. And one major financial services institution told customers that it was making a major shift in focus from being a financial retailer to a financial adviser, but, a year later, research showed that the customer experience with the company had not changed. It turned out that company leaders had not made an effort to sell the change internally, so employees were still churning out transactions and hadn’t changed their behavior to match their new adviser role.
Enabling employees to deliver on customer expectations is important, of course, but it’s not the only reason a company needs to match internal and external messages. Another reason is to help push the company to achieve goals that might otherwise be out of reach. In 1997, when IBM launched its e-business campaign (which is widely credited for turning around the company’s image), it chose to ignore research that suggested consumers were unprepared to embrace IBM as a leader in e-business. Although to the outside world this looked like an external marketing effort, IBM was also using the campaign to align employees around the idea of the Internet as the future of technology. The internal campaign changed the way employees thought about everything they did, from how they named products to how they organised staff to how they approached selling. The campaign was successful largely because it gave employees a sense of direction and purpose, which in turn restored their confidence in IBM’s ability to predict the future and lead the technology industry. Today, research shows that people are four times more likely to associate the term “e-business” with IBM than with its nearest competitor.
Perhaps even more important, by taking employees into account, a company can avoid creating a message that doesn’t resonate with staff or, worse, one that builds resentment. In 1996, United Airlines shelved its “Come Fly the Friendly Skies” slogan when presented with a survey that revealed the depth of customer resentment toward the airline industry. In an effort to own up to the industry’s shortcomings, United launched a new campaign, “Rising,” in which it sought to differentiate itself by acknowledging poor service and promising incremental improvements such as better meals. While this was a logical premise for the campaign given the tenor of the times, a campaign focusing on customers’ distaste for flying was deeply discouraging to the staff. Employee resentment, ultimately made it impossible for United to deliver the improvements it was promising, which in turn undermined the “Rising” pledge. Three years later, United decided employee opposition was undermining its success and pulled the campaign. It has since moved to a more inclusive brand message with the line “United,” which both audiences can embrace. Here, a fundamental principle of advertising— find and address a customer concern—failed United because it did not consider the internal market.
When it comes to execution, the most common and effective way to link internal and external marketing campaigns is to create external advertising that targets both audiences. IBM used this tactic very effectively when it launched its e-business campaign, It took out an eight-page ad in the Wall Street Journal declaring its new vision, a message directed at both customers and internal stakeholders. This is an expensive way to capture attention, but if used sparingly, it is the most powerful form of communication; in fact, you need do it only once for everyone in the company to read it. There’s a symbolic advantage as well. Such a tactic signals that the company is taking its pledge very seriously; it also signals transparency—the same message going out to both audiences.
Advertising isn’t the only way to link internal and external marketing. At Nike, a number of senior executives now hold the additional title of “Corporate Storyteller.” They deliberately avoid stories of financial successes and concentrate on parables of “just doing it,” reflecting and reinforcing the company’s ad campaigns. One tale, for example, recalls how legendary coach and Nike cofounder Bill Bowerman, in an effort to build a better shoe for his team, poured rubber into the family waffle iron, giving birth to the prototype of Nike’s famous Waffle Sole. By talking about such inventive moves, the company hopes to keep the spirit of innovation that characterises its ad campaigns alive and well within the company.
But while their messages must be aligned, companies must also keep external promises a little ahead of internal realities. Such promises provide incentives for employees and give them something to live up to. In the 1980s, Ford turned “Quality Is Job 1” from an internal rallying cry into a consumer slogan in response to the threat from cheaper, more reliable Japanese cars. It did so before the claim was fully justified, but by placing it in the public arena, it gave employees an incentive to match the Japanese. If the promise is pushed too far ahead, however, it loses credibility. When a beleaguered British Rail launched a campaign announcing service improvements under the banner “We’re Getting There,” it did so prematurely. By drawing attention to the gap between the promise and the reality, it prompted destructive press coverage. This, in turn, demoralised staff, who had been legitimately proud of the service advances they had made.
Complete each sentence with the correct ending, A-E, below.
Write the correct letter, A-E, in boxes 27-32 on your answer sheet.
NB You can use any letter more than once.
27 A health company
28 A financial institution
29 A computer company
30 An airline
31 A sport shoe company
32 A railway company
A alienated its employees by its apologetic branding campaign.
B attracted negative publicity through its advertising campaign.
C produced conflicting image between its employees and the general public.
D successfully used an advertising campaign to inspire employees
E draws on the legends of the company spirit.
Do the following statements agree with the claims of the writer in Reading Passage 3?
In boxes 33-40 on your answer sheet, write
YES if the statement agrees with the views of the writer
NO if the statement contradicts the views of the writer
NOT GIVEN if it is impossible to say what the writer thinks about this
33 A strong conviction in the brand can contribute to higher job performance.
34 It is common for companies to overlook the necessity for internal communication.
35 Consumers were ready to view IBM as a leader in e-business before the advertising campaign.
36 United Airlines’ failure in its branding campaign was due to the bad advice of an advertisement agency.
37 United Airlines eventually abolished its campaign to boost image as the result of a market research.
38 It is an expensive mistake for IBM to launch its new e-business campaign.
39 Nike employees claimed that they were inspired by their company tales.
40 A slight difference between internal and external promises can create a sense of purpose.