If At First You Don’t Succeed Reading Ielts Answers and Questions

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  • IELTS Reading Notes Completion

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IELTS reading passage – If At First You Don’t Succeed

If At First You Don’t Succeed 

Broadly speaking, there are two kinds of smokers; smokers who smoke for pleasure and smokers who draw when stressed. The former use cigarettes when they feel good; for simulation and relaxation. The latter use cigarettes as a coping mechanism to deal with stress, anger, tiredness, anxiety and so on. Pleasure smokers typically smoke fewer cigarettes a day and may go for extended periods without smoking at all, only having a puff when they are in a place (the bar, for example) they associate with the habit. Smokers who use their habit as a coping mechanism tend to be far more reliant on cigarettes though, smoking regularly throughout the day, and larger quantities overall than pleasure smokers. Their overdependence on cigarettes makes the task of quitting much harder to look for a substitute stimulant, smokers who use their habit as a coping mechanism must solve the underlying problems that compel them to want to smoke as much as they must kick the habit itself.

That said, quitting is possible so long as the smoke is at least in contemplation mode. There are six different modes smokers can find themselves in. The first, pre-contemplation, is typically the most difficult point from which to start quitting. This person has never really thought about quitting before, nor sensed any necessity or urgency to quit. He or she is likely going to be poorly motivated and willpower is a major hurdle that may prove too much to overcome with such low motivation levels. These smokers tend only to say that they will try to quit when pressured to do so by a loved one, but really they have no desire whatsoever to give up. Such individuals are unlikely to be affected by public health warnings and they rarely listen to the negative publicity smoking receives in the media or place any importance on the wider and their habit. They are relatively content and the prospect of success in their quitting, long-term, is low, unless they have some direct personal experience of the ill effects of smoking like, for example, a close-family bereavement or a smoking-related health scare they (or someone close to them) have had, as only this sort of fright will give them the motivation to genuinely want to change their attitude and quit.

Someone who genuinely wants to quit is in what we term contemplation mode. These people, the contemplators, are of a mind to quit but still lack the motivation to try. They are constantly saying that they will quit, and often set vague far-off dates for when the act of quitting is likely to occur. A husband might say to his wife, for example: ‘when we have our first child, I will stop smoking’. Part of him means it, and, to even acknowledge the need to stop and the implication that smoking would have adverse effects on his children’s health is a step in the right direction. However, in reality, while the smoker knows he should quit, his motivation to do so is still not high and he seriously doubts his own willpower which is why he draws attention to a time when, as he perceives it, his willpower will have increased – such as after the birth of his firstborn.

Really, the only way to ever successfully give up smoking is to just get on with it. Don’t put it off until tomorrow; the task starts now. Each time we allow ourselves another excuse to have even just one more cigarette. Our willpower has folded and we have succumbed to our nicotine cravings.

The action mode, then, is the one all current smokers must try to place themselves in. here, they really are trying to quit and not just talking about it. People have different approaches to action mode; some change brands initially, some cut down on the amount they smoke, others wear patches or take other nicotine substitutes and a few try to go cold turkey, a practice that does not actually have a very high success rate. The key thing that everyone in the action mode has in common is the will to try. Likely though it may be that this will be broken at some point or another, the smoker that is resolute in his determination to keep trying to quit will, statistically, succeed. For example, more than 70 per cent of ex-smokers (in legal speak that is smokers who have been off cigarettes for in excess of one year) tried and failed to give up once before they were successful. Almost one fifth of all ex-smokers fall into the tried-and-failed-between-two-and-four-times category. There is one clear message to be got from this; keep trying!

When you get to the maintenance phase, the phase in which you have stopped smoking completely, but are still within that first year of having quit, there is a tendency to assume that you are out of the woods. Sadly, this is where many people are let down by their overconfidence. Phrases such as “I” just have one – sure I don’t need them anymore’ are not uncommon at this point, and all the hard work it took to quit is undone in a moment or two of madness where one cigarette quickly becomes two, two, become three and before you know it, you are a fully-fledged addict again. It is important, therefore, to be conscious of the possibility of reverting to type during the first year, and to be on your guard. That said, failure is not the end, so despair not; you have simply entered another phase – relapse.

Relapse is a return to daily smoking after a period of non-smoking. Almost three quarters of smokers will find themselves here the first time they try to quit. There is, however, a danger of giving up on trying to quit at this stage, which is the wrong attitude to take. Failing in the quitting smoking stakes actually makes you less likely to fail the next time you try – practice really makes perfect in this game.

Pluck up the courage to try again and you will find yourself in a very familiar place to smokers: renewed-action mode. In this mode, you are as determined as ever to quit, but you have an edge – you can learn from your past mistakes and keep your expectations realistic.

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Questions 1-5

Look at the following smoker modes and the list of the statements below.Match each mode with the correct statement, A-G. Write the correct letter, A-G.

  1. Precontemplation Mode_____________.
  2. Contemplation Mode _______________.
  3. Action Mode ________________.
  4. Relapse Mode ________________.
  5. Renewed-action Mode ________________.
  6. You are statistically most likely to be successful in your efforts to quit smoking in the position you find yourself in now due to previous experiences.
  7. You are contemplating whether or not you should switch to a weaker-strength cigarette and are actively trying to reduce the number of cigarettes you smoke in a day for the first time.
  8. You have, after much deliberation over a period of time, finally succumbed to the part of you that wanted to have a cigarette.
  9. You are not particularly content to be labelled a smoker; but you doubt whether you would be capable of removing cigarettes from your life, despite giving those around you assurances that the end of your days as a smoker is in sight.
  10. You are aware of the negative perception of smoking that exists among the wider public, but it does not affect you in the slightest, and you are content to be labelled a smoker.
  11. You often contemplate running to smoking but you realise the folly of such an action.
  12. Significant life events, such as bereavement, may impede quitting smoking.

Questions 6-13

Complete the Notes below. Choose NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS from the passage for each answer.


  • 6.  ____________ is only likely to be a goal if the smoker is in what is termed contemplation mode (or any of the subsequent modes which result from this initial state of mind). Smokers in contemplation mode have good intentions, but their targets are often
    7. _________________or distant. Their 8.  _______________is still lacking somewhat. 
  • Action mode is the state of mind in which the smoker decides that he will make a real effort to quit. It doesn’t have to involve grand gestures. Simply switching
    9. _________________ to a weaker-type of cigarette is a move in the right direction. Surprisingly though, giving up smoking completely straight away has a low 10. _____________________.
  • Most people who try to quit will have a 11. _______________ and start smoking regularly again at some point. This is not a reason to stop trying though; most ex-smokers will have 12. __________________ in their efforts to quit at least once before managing to kick the habit.
  • The push to try to quit again is known as renewed-action mode. People in this mode set 13. __________________ targets for themselves, having learned from their past mistakes. It is the mode which is most conducive to success.

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Answers for If At First You Don’t Succeed

1. Answer: E
2. Answer: D
3. Answer: B
4. Answer: C
5. Answer: A
6. Answer: Quitting (Smoking)
7. Answer: Vague
8. Answer: Motivation
9. Answer: Brands
10. Answer: Success Rate
 11. Answer: Relapse
12. Answer: Failed
13. Answer: Realistic


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