#1

Talk about a book you have read that was important to you for some reason. Explain why the book was important to you. Give specific details and examples to explain your answer.

#2

Some people believe that television has had a positive influence on society. Others believe it has had a negative influence on society. Which do you agree with and why? Use details and examples to explain your opinion.

#3

Centerville College is planning to purchase a new sculpture for its campus. A student wrote a letter to the campus newspaper opposing this plan. You will have 45 seconds to read the letter. Begin reading now.

Now listen to two students discussing the opinion expressed in the letter.

(man) Did you see Paul’s letter in the paper about the new sculpture?

(woman) Yeah, but it was totally unconvincing. His reasons for opposing the plan are just totally off. I am glad that we’ll finally have some nice art on campus. I’d like to shake the donor’s hand and say “thank you.”

(man) What do you mean the donor?

(woman) You didn’t know? An anonymous donor is paying the bill for most of the sculpture.

(man) Not the university?

(woman) No! His assumptions about who’s paying are all wrong!

(man) Still, I wonder if he has a point about the space it’ll take up?

(woman) Well, you know why Paul is upset. He and his friends are always out there on the lawn right where the sculpture will be, kicking around the soccer ball. Now they’ll just have to use another part of the campus to play.

(man) Oh! So he just doesn’t want to have to move.

(woman) Yeah! For him, it’s sculpture versus convenience.

Explain why the woman disagrees with the reasons expressed in the letter.

#4

Now read the passage about Groupthink. You will have 45 seconds to read the passage. Begin reading now.

Now listen to part of a lecture on this topic in a business management class.

(male professor)

So, let me tell you about my own experiences when I was working for a computer company a couple of years ago.

So, one day a co-worker and I suggested we should give our computers a design make-over: make them look more up-to-date. Market research was showing that new customers said they would be more interested in buying our computers if they looked cooler. Our technology was advanced but the outside design looked really old-fashioned.

At first, more than half the group supported us. There were a few senior managers there who didn’t support the design change. One of the senior managers said, “Our focus has always been on technology, changing the look is an unnecessary cost.” Almost immediately, some of our supporters changed their minds! Even my co-worker changed his mind! When I asked him why after the meeting, he told me he didn’t want to make a bad impression on the senior managers. He thought that disagreeing with them might jeopardize his chances of getting a promotion by not looking like a team-player.

What about me? I hate to admit it, but, after a few hours of discussion, I started wondering if it was worth everyone’s time to argue about this? As more people sided with the senior management, I started to feel that I was the only one holding up the vote. Everyone else seemed to think a change wasn’t necessary. I voted against my own idea in the end.

So we unanimously decided to stay with the current old-looking design. But this decision ended up costing us a lot of money. That same year, our competitor came out with a new design that attracted some of our customers and prevented us from profiting from new customers.

Explain groupthink and its effects. Using the example of the computer company.

#5

Now listen to a conversation between two students.

(man) Hey, Mary, how’s your volunteer work going? Are you still involved in that after-school program with the elementary kids?

(woman) Yeah, but I’ve got a problem. I am supposed to be driving a bunch of them to the zoo tomorrow.

(man) Yeah?

(woman) And I was supposed to rent a van for the trip. But I waited too long to call the rental agency to reserve one.

(man) Oh!

(woman) Now it turns out they don’t have any vans available for tomorrow. I don’t know what to do? These kids will be really disappointed if their trip gets canceled.

(man) Hmmm, well, doesn’t one of your friends on campus have a car? I mean, couldn’t you borrow it for the day?

(woman) Yeah, probably, but I’d need to borrow two cars or there wouldn’t be enough space for all the kids.

(man) Um, hum.

(woman) That’s why I was going to rent the van. And then I’d need to find somebody else to drive, too. I can’t drive two cars by myself.

(man) Yeah, that’s true. Well, I am sure you can probably find a volunteer or if you wanted to save yourself the trouble of hunting down a second driver, what about public transportation? Check the bus schedule, I think there’s a bus line that goes right past the zoo.

(woman) Yeah, that’s a possibility, but I don’t know, it might be a real challenge supervising the kids on the bus.

(man) Ha, ha…

(woman) Sometimes they are a handful when they get excited. It’s an option, though.

The speakers discuss two possible solutions to the woman’s problem. Briefly, summarize the problem than a state which solution you recommend and explain why.

#6

Now listen to part of a lecture in a psychology class. The professor is discussing the mathematical capabilities of babies.

(female professor)

Scientists have learned some interesting things about the intellectual abilities of babies. They say there’s evidence that babies as young as five months old can do basic arithmetic, that they can add. Scientists think babies know one plus one equals two and not one. The evidence is indirect because obviously, you can’t ask a five-month-old baby to add up some numbers for you.

So they devised an experiment where, um, in this experiment a baby is shown a doll on a table. Ok, so the baby looks at the doll. Then the researcher lowers a screen in front of the doll, so now the doll is hidden behind the screen. But the baby has already seen the doll and, so, knows it’s there.

Well, then the researcher takes the second doll and very obviously places it behind the screen with the first one. Ok, so now you have two dolls behind the screen, right? Well, no, cause what the researcher did was they secretly took away one of the dolls. And then when they raised the screen back up, the baby, well, it expects to see two dolls, right? But there’s only one there!

And guess what? The baby surprised! It expects two but it only sees one. How could the researchers tell that the baby surprised? Well, they recorded the baby’s eye movement on camera. And we know that when a baby is surprised by something, a loud noise or an unexpected flash of light maybe, it stares at where the noise or light is coming from.

And that’s what the babies in the experiment did. They stared, cause the babies know if you add one doll and one doll, you should have two dolls. So when it sees one doll, then it stares because it’s surprising.

Using the research described by the professor, explain what scientists have learned about the mathematical abilities of babies.