IELTS Academic Reading Practice Test 1 – Text 3


This text is from Psychology Today written by Allison Abrams

You should spend about 20 minutes on Questions 27-40, which are based on reading text 3.

Mental Health and the Effects of Social Media

Is Facebook making you depressed? If so, you’re not alone. According to a recent study by UK disability charity Scope, of 1500 Facebook and Twitter users surveyed, 62 percent reported feeling inadequate and 60 percent reported feelings of jealousy from comparing themselves to other users.

I’ve heard similar complaints from friends and I’ve felt it myself on a bad day. Most frequently, I hear such statements from those who are struggling with depression. It makes sense that if you are already in a low mood or not feeling good about yourself, having pictures of happy couples and smiling babies pop up on your screen on a consistent basis may make you feel worse. The same is true if you tend to generally have a negative outlook on life.

If Facebook posts depress you, the solution is simple. Here are four things you can do today to help you cope:

  1. Deactivate your Facebook account (you can always reactivate it later)
  2. Unfollow your most (seemingly) happy and successful, friends
  3. Remember that Facebook isn’t a representation of reality
  4. Turn off the computer and go make your own annoyingly happy moments

Should you really take the four actions above?

In a 2015 study on the effects of Facebook use on mental health, researchers at the University of Missouri discovered that regular use could lead to symptoms of depression if the site triggered feelings of envy in the user.

“If it is used as a way to size up one’s own accomplishments against others, it can have a negative effect,” said Professor Margaret Duffy, one of the professors who co-authored the research. She explains that if it’s used “to see how well an acquaintance is doing financially or how happy an old friend is in his relationship – things that cause envy among users – use of the site can lead to feelings of depression.”

However, those who use the site primarily to feel connected do not experience the negative effects. In fact, when not triggering feelings of envy, the study shows, Facebook could be a good resource and have positive effects on well-being.

Further studies have shown that the majority of social media users tend to edit and post only their most attractive pictures, or ‘put a rose-tinted gloss over their lives’ in an effort to idealise themselves and, researchers believe, to improve others’ impressions of them.

To avoid Facebook-induced depression, users should be aware of the risks of using the site as a tool for comparison. Furthermore, users should be aware that most people are presenting a biased, positive version of reality on social media. Finally, if you’re still feeling down, angry, or generally disillusioned because of the positive news shared by your Facebook friends, on or offline, you should question why you feel that way.

Barring clinical depression or a recent life setback, is it really such a bad thing to see another human being enjoying life, especially if it’s a friend- or at least someone you tolerate enough to accept as a Facebook friend?

With all of the suffering and pain in the world, wouldn’t it be a tragedy if people stopped sharing joyful events for fear of making someone else jealous? Imagine if people only discussed all of the negative things that surrounded them. Especially over this past year, don’t we have enough tragic posts appearing in our newsfeeds 24/7?

Given that there will always be someone who’s taller, richer, better-looking, who has more friends, a better job, etc., we can either allow ourselves to fall into the dangerous trap of comparison, or we can choose to remember that regardless of what others around you appear to have, everyone is grappling with their own struggles. For every promotion, a book deal and Tony nomination, chances are, the recipient has experienced equally or more significant life setbacks.

Also important to remember is that for every person that seems to have more, there is another with less. For each individual whose qualities you covet, there’s someone out there who wishes they had what you have. If we can’t change our outer circumstances, at least we can try to change our perspective and learn to be grateful for what we have. We can also learn to celebrate other’s successes. Sharing in other people’s joy can often lift our spirits.

“Be aware of what others are doing, applaud their efforts, acknowledge their successes, and encourage them in their pursuits. When we all help one another, everybody wins” – Jim Stovall

These suggestions may be difficult, especially if you’re struggling with low self-worth or depression. If that is the case, seek help from a friend or a professional. Whether it’s reaching out for support, practising gratitude or simply surrounding yourself with more of the positive, you owe it to yourself to make the best out of this life.

Stop torturing yourself by comparing your life with everyone else’s positively biased representations of theirs. Seek to improve your own life in a realistic manner. Choose to look at the positives and to celebrate your wins… as well as theirs.

Questions 27-32

Do the following statements agree with the claims of the writer in the text?

In boxes 27-32 on your answer sheet write

  • YES – if the statement agrees with the views or claims
  • NO – if the statement contradicts the views or claims
  • NOT GIVEN – it is impossible to say what the writer’s views/claims are

27. Social media makes many people unhappy

28. When people see photographs of others having fun it makes them feel really happy

29. There are steps you can take to lessen the effects of social media on your wellbeing

30. Research shows how certain aspects can make you feel good about yourself

31. Ask for help on Facebook and Twitter

32. Seek positivity in your own life and stop comparing yourself to others

Questions 33-40

Complete the summary below.

Choose NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS from the text for each answer.

Write your answers in boxes 33-40 on your answer sheet.

Mental Health And Social Media

There is a desire among most people to check their social media accounts obsessively with many people feeling 33. ……………………….. when they compare their lives to others. This is often felt by those suffering from depression or who have simply had a bad day. When looking through your newsfeed and seeing photographs of people having a great time, could make you feel 34. …………………………… There are steps that can be taken to reduce these feelings, including removing yourself from Facebook or other social media accounts. Another step is to leave the computer alone and go and do something you enjoy. Research has shown that looking at Facebook obsessively can point your mental health into the direction of 35 ………………………………….. When comparing your life to those that you see on social media feeds it can have a 36………………………………. effect. When people start to envy others on social media, it can lead to a person thinking badly about their own lives and themselves. Those people who use Facebook to keep in touch with friends and family experience more 37…………………………………. effects. Research also shows that most people who post photographs, heavily edit in an attempt to make others see them how they want to be seen. It is important to think about how everyone has their own problems in the world, glamorous people on Facebook included. For each person you see who inspires you to crave what they have, there are others who want what 38 ……………………………………… We should be happy for others good fortune and learn to be grateful for our own successes. If you feel like you are having difficulties with depression or low 39 …………………………………. ask for help. Even if you talk through it all with a good friend or colleague or envelop yourself in a more positive environment, small changes can make sure that you get 40 ………………………………. out of your life.

If you need help to answer these questions with extra practice please read the posts below >>

Answers >>

Questions 27-32

27 – Yes

28 – No

29 – Yes

30 – Not Given

31 – Not Given

32 – Yes

Questions 33-40

33. inadequate

34. worse

35. depression

36. negative

37. positive

38. you have

39. self-worth

40. the best

Part One of Academic Reading Test 1

Part Two of Academic Reading Test 1

Academic Reading Band Scores

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