PSYCHOMETRICS | IELTS Academic Reading Sample Question

The passage contains the following question types from IELTS Reading Question Types:

  • Matching headings
  • Multiple Choice Question
  • Yes No Not Given


You should spend about 20 minutes on Questions 1-14, which are based on Reading Passage below.

A. Psychometrics involves psychological and educational assessment of the subject by way of measuring attitudes, personality, abilities and knowledge. The field has two primary focuses; the creation of measurement instruments and procedures and development and enhancement of existing methodology employed.

B. The concept of psychometric testing, introduced long before the establishment of IQ testing and other current methodologies, was first explored by Francis Galton who developed the first testing procedures supposedly related to intelligence; however, his measurement tools were in fact based upon physical and physiological benchmarks rather than testing of the mind itself. Measurements included the physical power, height and weight of subjects which were recorded and results used to estimate the intelligence of subjects. While the approach was not successful, the studies conducted by Galton were to influence the work of future researchers. Approaches to measurement of intelligence, which is defined as the mind’s relative ability to reason, think, conceptually plan, solve problems, understand and learn, were later developed by pioneers such as Charles Spearman. Significant contributions to its early development were also made by Wilhelm Wundt, L.L. Thurstone, Ernst Heinrich Weber and Gustav Fechner.

C. The most well-known traditional approach to development of psychometric instruments to measure intelligence is the Stanford-Binet IQ test, originally developed by French psychologist Alfred Binet. Researchers define intelligence as separate to other attributes such as personality, character, creativity and even knowledge and wisdom for the purpose of their assessment. Intelligence testing methods are not intended to determine a level of genetic intelligence separate from and unaffected by the environment to which the individual has been exposed to in life; rather to measure the intelligence of an individual apparent as a result of both nature and nurture. Psychometrics is today a useful and widely used tool used for measurement of abilities in academic areas such as reading, writing and mathematics.

D. IQ tests are commonly used to test intelligence, though some believe that this testing is unfair and not truly representative of the subject’s intellect as individuals may excel in different areas of reasoning. Psychologist Howard Gardner, working on this assumption, introduced the concept of an individual cognitive profile in 1983 in his book Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences. He holds that one child may perform excellently in one aspect, yet fail in another and that their overall performance in a number of intellectual areas should be considered. Gardner first identified seven different types of intelligence, these being; linguistic, logical-mathematical, spatial, bodily- kinesthetic, musical, interpersonal and intrapersonal. In 1999 after further research he added an 8th element to the equation; naturalistic intelligence, and at the time of writing is investigating the possibility of a 9th; this being existential intelligence.

E. The first intelligence as defined by Gardner in the Theory of Multiple Intelligences, linguistic intelligence, relates to an individual’s ability to process and communicate written and spoken words. Such people are said to excel at reading, writing, story-telling, learning a foreign language and the memorising of words and dates. The logical-mathematical category is related to a person’s ability to reason logically, think scientifically, make deductions and perform well in mathematic calculations. Spatial intelligence is related to vision and spatial judgement; such individuals have been observed to have a strong visual memory and the potential to excel in artistic subjects. Those exhibiting a leaning towards the third classification, bodily-kinesthetic intelligence, often learn best by physically practising an action rather than by reading or seeing.

F. Musical intelligence, as the name suggests, relates to ability in defining differences in rhythm and tones; individuals possessing musical intelligence are often able to sing, play musical instruments and compose music to a high standard. Since a high level of audio-related ability exists, many in this category are said to learn well in a lecture situation where they are required to listen attentively to information. Interpersonal intelligence relates to an individual’s ability to communicate and empathise with others; typically extrovert, they learn well through discussion, debate and interaction with others, The last of the 7 original categories identified by Gardner, intrapersonal intelligence, fits the opposite description of interpersonal intelligence; such individuals working best independently. According to Gardner they are capable of high levels of self reflection and are often perfectionists.

G. A number of psychometric experts, however, oppose Gardner’s view’s and have reservations about the validity of his theories. Firstly, some detractors disagree with the overall definition of intelligence used in Gardner’s theory. They hold that, in fact, some categories such as interpersonal or intrapersonal intelligence relate more to personality that cognitive performance. The more recently identified naturalistic intelligence, which relates to an affinity to the natural world and an ability to nurture and cultivate, has been dismissed completely by many as no more than a hobby. Doubts have been raised that others, such as musical intelligence, are in reality talents. A final criticism attached to the theory is that some believe that the intelligences cannot be treated as separate entities as some individuals may perform equally well in what could be considered diverse areas; linguistic and logical-mathematical for example. Gardner however maintains that his theories are sound, since an identifiable and separate part of the brain is responsible for controlling aspects related to each of the different types of intelligence,

H. Despite the criticism received from some of his contemporaries, Gardner’s theories are well respected and often applied in the world of education as a tool for identifying children’s differing abilities and potential career paths. For Instance, those showing linguistic capabilities are said to be ideal in roles including writing, politics and teaching; logical mathematical thinkers suited to careers in science, mathematics, law, medicine and philosophy. Those exhibiting spatial intelligence are said to be suited to a career such as art, engineering or architecture; while individuals with a leaning towards bodily- kinesthetic intelligence may excel in areas such as athletics, dancing or craft-making. Strengths in the area of musical intelligence are said to often lead to success as a singer, conductor or musician. Those displaying strong interpersonal skills have been recognised as often making effective politicians, managers, diplomats and social workers; while those showing a dominant intrapersonal intelligence are said to be better suited to professions involving more self reflection and lower levels of interaction with the outside world such as writing, philosophy or theology.

Questions 1 – 5

Reading Passage has eight paragraphs A-H. Which paragraph contains the following information?
Write the correct letter A-H in boxes 1-5 on your answer sheet.
NB. You may use any letter more than once.

1) Physiological evidence from Gardner that his intelligence theories are sound.
2) Aims of intelligence testing
3) Initial failure in successful measurement
4) How high level social skills are linked and classified as interpersonal intelligence.
5) Differences in opinions on what constitutes talent or intelligence

Questions 6 – 11

Do the following statements agree with the information given in Reading Passage 3?
In boxes 32-37 on your answer sheet write

TRUE                         if the statement agrees with the information
FALSE                       if the statement contradicts the information
NOT GIVEN              if there is no information about this

6) Early studies into intelligence were misguided and have had no impact on today’s methods.
7) Research into IQ is designed to determine the level of intelligence an individual is born with.
8) Howard Gardner has confirmed 9 different types of intelligence.
9) Spatial intelligence has been linked to creativity.
10) An individual may demonstrate high levels of intelligence in contradictory areas.
11) Those demonstrating intrapersonal intelligence always make bad managers.

Questions 12 – 14

Choose the correct letter A, B, C, or D.
Write your answers in boxes 12-14 on your answer sheet.

12) Some believe that IQ tests do not correctly estimate an individual’s intelligence because
A.         the tests are based on physical and physiological benchmarks.
B.         some people may perform badly on the day of the test.
C.         while people may have weaknesses in one area they may have strengths in others.
D.         the tests do not accurately assess the person’s ability to reason, think and solve problems.

13) The intelligence, as classified by Gardner, relating to an ability to memorise items seen is
A.         linguistic intelligence.
B.         logico-mathematica! intelligence.
C.         spatial intelligence.
D.         bodily-kinesthetic intelligence.

14 The harshest criticism of Gardner’s theory has been focussed towards
A.         interpersonal intelligence.
B.         intrapersonal intelligence.
C.         musical intelligence.
D.         naturalistic intelligence.

Answers for IELTS Reading Sample Question

1) G
Separate parts of the brain control different intelligence.

2) C
Combination of nature and nurture.

3) B
Physical and physiological testing.

4) F
Interpersonal Intelligence relates to an individual’s ability to communicate and empathise with others.

5) C
Doubts raised about musical intelligence (being, in fact, a hobby).

‘..were to influence work of future researchers.’

‘… not intended to measure genetic intelligence separate from environmental influence.’

‘Existential intelligence still under investigation.’

‘…such individuals excel in artistic subjects.’

10) TRUE
‘Individuals may perform equally well in diverse areas.’

They may be better suited to other areas but does not say they always make bad managers.

12) C
Paragraph D ‘…may excel in different areas.’

13) C
‘…strong visual memory.’

14) D
‘…dismissed completely.’

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