This lesson has two purposes. In it you will find a short exercise to test your True/False/Not Given skills and an explanation of how to deal with more difficult words in IELTS reading texts.
The skill of reading closely
The text is designed to be slightly harder than the average IELTS text as it contains quite a high proportion of unexpected words and long sentences. The idea is to focus you on the skill of reading closely. The idea is that you need to try and read the text closely before you decide on your answer.
This is especially important in T/F/NG questions which require you to understand the writer’s meaning and not just to see whether you can find a particular word in the text. If you simply match the words in the question with the words in the text, you will very likely go wrong with this text.
Dealing with harder words
The first point to note is that you should not panic if you find a word you cannot understand:
- it may not be important to understanding of the passage and /or finding the answer
you may be able to guess its general meaning from context (the words around it)
This text contains three words that may well be new to you:
You should be able to guess their general meaning by simply reading on. You don’t need a dictionary definition – just a good idea about what the words mean. The tip is to pay close attention to relative clauses (and disguised relative clauses with -ing forms):
utopias which paint a picture of an ideal society
dystopias in which the world is a much less desirable and often frightening place
a political manifesto proposing a form of government
From this you should see that a utopia is something good (“ideal”), dystopia something bad (“less desirable and frightening”) while manifesto is to do with politics and proposes.
Visions of the future – True False Not Given reading
Humans have always speculated about what society may or should look like in the future and there is a long and honourable tradition of writers who have described their vision of the world in a future age. One possible division of these books is into utopias which paint a picture of an ideal society and dystopias in which the world is a much less desirable and often frightening place. Perhaps the most famous utopia remains Plato’s Republic, written around two and half thousand years ago, which is also partly a political manifesto proposing a form of government where philosophers kings rule in the interests of the many. In its day, this most undemocratic proposal was less controversial than it would be today, as there was a strong body of opinion in Athens that democracy was not a model form of government. While many today may find Plato’s vision unpleasant, his intention was otherwise and the book has the optimistic goal of showing how the ills of society could be cured. This optimism stands in stark contrast to George Orwell’s dystopian nightmare 1984. That book too presents a version of what society may look like in the future, but it has a quite different purpose: the aim of the book is to serve as a warning. The reader is meant to be shocked and horrified by the world of deception and tyranny it portrays, a world where the state authorities, in the form of Big Brother, have absolute control of every aspect of individuals’ lives and where truth is lost.