PTE Reading: Fill in the Blanks (R)

Teenage daughter
Your teenage daughter gets top marks in school, captains the debate team, and volunteers at a shelter for homeless people. But while driving the family car, she text-messages her best friend and rear-ends another
vehicle. How can teens be so clever, accomplished, and responsible-and reckless at the same time? Easily, according to two physicians at Children’s Hospital Boston and Harvard Medical School (HMS) who have been exploring the unique structure and chemistry of the adolescent brain. “The teenage brain is not just an adult brain with fewer miles on it,” says Frances E. Jensen, a professor of neurology. “It’s a paradoxical time of development. These are people with very sharp brains, but they’re not quite sure what to do with them.”

Now that doesn’t mean that plainness is the only good style, or that you should become a slave to spare, unadorned writing. Formality and ornateness have their place, and in competent hands complexity can carry us on a dizzying, breathtaking journey. But most students, most of the time, should strive to be sensibly simple, and to develop a baseline style of short words, active verbs, and relatively simple sentences conveying clear
actions or identities. It’s faster, it makes arguments easier to follow, it increases the chances a busy reader will bother to pay attention, and it lets you focus more attention on your moments of rhetorical flourish, which I do not advise abandoning altogether.

University Science
University science is now in real crisis – particularly the non-telegenic, non-ology bits of it such as chemistry. Since 1996, 28 universities have stopped offering chemistry degrees, according to the Royal Society of Chemistry. The society predicts that as few as six departments (those at Durham, Cambridge, Imperial, UCL, Bristol and Oxford) could remain open by 2014. Most recently, Exeter University closed down its chemistry department,
blaming it on “market forces”, and Bristol took in some of the refugees. The closures have been blamed on a fall in student applications, but money is a factor: chemistry degrees are expensive to provide – compared with English, for example – and some scientists say that the way the government concentrates research funding on a small number of top departments, such as Bristol, exacerbates the problem.

Sportswomen’s records are important and need to be preserved. And if the paper records don’t exist, we need to get out and start interviewing people, not to put too fine a point on it, while we still have a chance. After all,
if the records aren’t kept in some form or another, then the stories are lost too.

Almost all public spaces nowadays have advertisements in sight, and all forms of media, from newspapers to the cinema to the Internet, are filled with adverts. This all-pervasive presence reflects the value of advertising to us. Without it, businesses of all types and sizes would struggle to inform potential customers about the products or services they provide, and consumers would be unable to make informed assessments when
looking for products to buy and services to use. Without advertising, the promotion of products and practices that contribute to our physical and psychological well-being-medicines to treat minor ailments, insurance
schemes to protect us, clothes and cosmetics to make us look and feel better- would be infinitely more problematic than it is. And without advertisements and the aspirations represented in them, the world would be a far duller place.

Surely, the reality is what we think it is; reality is revealed to us by our experiences. To one extent or another, this view of reality is one many of us hold, if only implicitly. I certainly find myself thinking this way in day-today life; it’s easy to be seduced by the face nature reveals directly to our senses. Yet, in the decades since the first encountering Camus’ Text, I’ve learned that modern science tells a very different story.

More than simply putting flowers in a container, ikebana is a disciplined art form in which nature and humanity are brought together. Contrary to the idea of a particolored or multicolored arrangement of blossoms, ikebana often emphasizes other areas of the plant, such as its stems and leaves, and puts emphasis on shape, line, and form. Though ikebana is an expression of creativity, certain rules govern its form. The artist’s intention behind each arrangement is shown through a piece’s color combinations, natural shapes, graceful lines, and the implied meaning of the arrangement.

Two decades ago, Kashmiri houseboat-owners rubbed their hands every spring at the prospect of the annual influx of tourists. From May to October, the hyacinth-choked waters of Dal Lake saw flotillas of vividly painted Shikaras carrying Indian families, boho westerners, young travelers and wide-eyed Japanese. Carpet-sellers honed their skills, as did purveyors of anything remotely embroidered while the house boats initiated by the British Raj provided unusual accommodation. Then, in 1989, separatists and Islamist militancy attacked and everything changed. Hindus and countless Kashmiri business people bolted, at least 35,000 people were killed in a decade, the lake stagnated, and the houseboats rotted. Any foreigners venturing there risked their lives, proved in 1995 when five young Europeans were kidnapped and murdered.

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