IELTS Academic Reading Sample 66: The creation myth


The creation myth

You should spend about 20 minutes on Questions 1-15, which are based on Reading Passage below.

Questions 1-5

Reading Passage 1 below has 5 paragraphs (A-E). Which paragraph focuses on the Information below? Write the appropriate letters (A-E) in Boxes 1-5 on your answer sheet.

NB. Write only ONE letter for each answer.

  1. The way parameters in the mind help people to be creative
  2. The need to learn rules in order to break them
  3. How habits restrict us and limit creativity
  4. How to train the mind to be creative
  5. How the mind is trapped by the desire for order

A. It is a myth that creative people arc born with their talents: gifts from God or nature. Creative genius is, in fact, latent within many of us, without our realising, But how far do we need to travel to find the path to creativity? For many people, a long way, In our everyday lives, we have to perform many acts out of habit to survive, like opening the door, shaving, getting dressed, walking to work, and so on. If this were not the case, we would, in all probability, become mentally unhinged. So strongly ingrained are our habits, though this varies from person to person, that, sometimes, when a conscious effort is made to be creative, automatic response takes over. We may try, for example, to walk to work following a different route, but end up on our usual path. By then it is too late to go back and change our minds. Another day, perhaps. The same applies to all other areas of our lives. When we arc solving problems, for example, we may seek different answers, but, often as not, find ourselves walking along the same well-trodden paths.

B. So, for many people, their actions and behaviour arc set in immovable blocks, their minds clogged with the cholesterol of habitual actions, preventing them from operating freely, and thereby stifling creation. Unfortunately, mankind’s very struggle for survival has become a tyranny – the obsessive desire to give order to the world is a case in point. Witness people’s attitude to time, social customs and the panoply of rules and regulations by which the human mind is now circumscribed.

C. The groundwork for keeping Creative ability in check begins at school. School, later university and then work teach us to regulate our lives, imposing a continuous process of restrictions, which is increasing exponentially with the advancement of technology. Is it surprising then that creative ability appears to be so rare? It is trapped in the prison that we have erected. Yet, even here in this hostile environment, the foundations for creativity arc being laid; because setting off on the creative path is also partly about using rules and regulations, Such limitations are needed so that once they arc learnt, they can be broken.

D. The truly creative mind is often seen as totally free and unfettered. But a better image is of a mind, which can be free when it wants, and one that recognises that rules and regulations arc parameters, or barriers, to be raised and dropped again at will. An example of how the human mind can be trained to be creative might help here. People’s minds arc just like tense muscles that need to be freed up and the potential unlocked. One strategy is to erect artificial barriers or hurdles in solving a problem, As a form of stimulation, the participants in the task can be forbidden to use particular solutions or to follow certain lines of thought to solve a problem. In this way, they arc obliged to explore unfamiliar territory, which may lead to some startling discoveries. Unfortunately, the difficulty in this exercise, and with creation itself, is convincing people that creation is possible, shrouded as It is in so much myth and legend. There is also an element of fear involved, however subliminal, as deviating from the safety of one’s own thought patterns is very much akin to madness. But, open Pandora’s box, and a whole new world unfolds before your very eyes.

E. Lifting barriers into place also plays a major part in helping the mind to control ideas rather than letting them collide at random. Parameters act as containers for ideas, and thus help the mind to fix on them. When the mind is thinking laterally, and two ideas from different areas of the brain come or are brought together, they form a new idea, just like atoms floating around and then forming a molecule. Once the idea has been formed, it needs to be contained or it will fly away, so fleeting is its passage. The mind needs to hold it in place for a time so that it can recognise it or call on it again. And then the parameters can act as channels along which the ideas can flow, developing and expanding. When the mind has brought the idea to fruition by thinking it through to its final conclusion, the parameters can be brought down and the idea allowed to float off and come in contact with other ideas.

Questions 6-10

Choose the appropriate letters A-D and write them in Boxes 6-10 on your answer sheet.

  1. According to the writer, creative people

A. are usually born with their talents

B. are born with their talents

C. are not born with their talents

D. are geniuses

  1. According to the writer, creativity is …

A. a gift from God or nature

B. an automatic response

C. difficult for many people to achieve

D. a well-trodden path

  1. According to the writer, …

A. the human race’s fight to live is becoming a tyranny

B. the human brain is blocked with cholesterol

C. the human race is now circumscribed by talents

D. the human race’s light to survive stifles creative ability

  1. Advancing technology …

A. holds creativity in check

B. improves creativity

C. enhances creativity

D. is a tyranny

  1. According to the author, creativity

A. is common

B. is increasingly common

C. is becoming rarer and rarer

D. is a rare commodity

Questions 11-15

Do the statements below agree with the Information in Reading Passage 1?

In Boxes 11-15, write:

Yes if the statement agrees with the information in the passage

No  if the statement contradicts the information in the passage

Not Given if there is no information about the statement in the passage

Example: In some people, habits are more strongly Ingrained than in others,

Answer: Yes

  1. Rules and regulations arc examples of parameters.
  2. The truly creative mind is associated with the need for free speech and a totally free society.
  3. One problem with creativity is that people think it is impossible.
  4. The act of creation is linked to madness.
  5. Parameters help the mind by holding ideas and helping them to develop.


  1. E. (The paragraph is about the fact that parameters help our minds to be creative.)
  2. C. (the key phrases: … keeping creative ability in check (in the first sentence) and Such limitations are needed so that once they are learnt, they can be broken (the last sentence of the paragraph). The focus sentence is a combination of these two ideas. Note how the word yet divides the paragraph. It indicates the focus of the paragraph against the background in the first part. It also marks the division of Information In the whole passage.)
  3. A. (The writer wrote the paragraph to show that habits limit our creativity and the habits we need to survive play a role in this limitation.)
  4. D. (The theme of the paragraph is how creativity works.)
  5. B, (The paragraph deals with how parameters help the mind to be creative.)
  6. C. (in the first line of the passage: It is a myth that creative people are born with their talents. Here, it is a myth = are not.)
  7. C, (paragraph A. The actual words are not in the paragraph, but the meaning is clear. A is not correct, because this is a myth; B is not correct, because the passage states that when we try to be creative, our automatic response takes over. D is not correct, because the well-trodden paths prevent creativity. Compare number 13 below.)
  8. D. (paragraph B: Unfortunately, mankind’s very struggle for survival has become a tyranny. The answer paraphrases this statement. A is not correct, because the passage says the struggle has become, i.e. is a tyranny, not that it is becoming so; B is not correct, because cholesterol is not mentioned in relationship to the brain, but the mind, C is incorrect, because it is the mind which is circumscribed.)
  9. A, (paragraph C: a continuous process of restrictions, which is increasing exponentially with the advancement of technology. The statement Is a paraphrase of this section. Note B and C are basically the same; it is, therefore, not possible to have either of these two alternatives as your answer. Watch out for this feature In multiple choice questions.)
  10. D. (paragraph C: Is it surprising then that creative ability appears to be so rare. This is a question and has the same meaning as the statement given, i.e. It is not surprising. Note C is not possible, because the passage doesn’t indicate whether the rarity is increasing or decreasing.)
  11. Yes. (at the beginning of paragraph D: … and one that recognises that rules and regulations are parameters….)
  12. Not Given. There is no reference to this statement in the passage.
  13. Yes. (paragraph D: The difficulty in this exercise and with creation itself, is convincing people that creation is possible. The answer is a paraphrase of this part of the text. Compare number 7 above)
  14. Yes. (at the end of paragraph D: leaving the safety of one’s own thought patterns is very much akin to madness; akin to – like.)
  15. Yes. (in the latter half of paragraph E.)