IELTS Academic Reading Sample 83 – Leisure time


Leisure time

A. A raft of forecasts has been made in the recent decade, predicting the decline in the number of working hours coupled with a consequent increase in leisure time. It was estimated that the leisure revolution would take place by the turn of the last cent my with hours devoted to work railing to 25-30 per week, This reduction hits failed to materialise, but the revolu­tion has, nonetheless, arrived.

B. Over the past 30 to 41 years, spending on leisure has witnessed a strong increase, Accord­ing to the annual family expenditure survey published in 1935 by the Office for National Statistics, the average household in the United Kingdom spent more on leisure than food, housing and transport for the very first time, and the trend is also set to continue up­wards well into the present century.

C. The survey, based on a sample of 6,500 households showed, that the days are long gone when the average family struggled to buy basic foods. As recently as 1969, family spending on food was approximately one third compared to 17% now. Twelve years later, there was a noticeable shift towards leisure with the percentage of household spending on leisure increasing to 9%, and that on food declining to 26%.

D. The average household income in the UK in 1999 was £460 per week before tax, and average spending was £352.20. Of the latter sum, £59.70 was spent on leisure and £58.90 on food. On holidays alone, family expenditure was 6%, while in 1969 the proportion spent on holidays was just 2%. And whereas the richest 10% lashed out 20% of their income in 1999 on leisure, the poorest spent 12%.

E. Among the professional and managerial classes, working hours have increased and, overall in the economy, record numbers of people are in employment. As people work more, the appetite for leisure activities has grown to compensate for the greater stress in life. The past 5 years alone have seen the leisure business expand by 25% with a change in emphasis to short domestic weekend breaks and long-haul short breaks to exotic destinations in place of long holidays. In the future, it is expected that people will jump from one leisure activity to another in complexes catering for everyone’s needs with gyms, cinemas, cafes, restaurants, bars and internet facilities all under one roof. The leisure complexes of today will expand to house all the leisure facilities required for the leisure age.

F. Other factors fueling demand for leisure activities are rising prosperity, increasing longevity and a more active elderly population. Hence, at the forefront of leisure spending are not just young or professional classes. The 1999 family expenditure survey showed that the 64 to 75-year-old group spend a higher proportion of their income on leisure than any other age group. The strength of the “grey pound” now means that elderly people are able to command more respect and, thus, attention in the leisure market.

G. And the future? It is anticipated that, in the years to come, leisure spending will account for between a third to a half of all household spending. Whilst it is difficult to give exact figures, the leisure industry will certainly experience a long period of sustained growth. Working hours are not expected to decrease, partly because the 24-hour society will need to be serviced; and secondly, because more people will be needed to keep the service/leisure industries running.

H. In the coming decades, the pace of change will accelerate, generating greater wealth at a faster rate than ever before. Surveys show that this is already happening in many parts of Europe. The south-east of England, for example, is now supposedly the richest area in the EEC. The “leisure pound” is one of the driving forces behind this surge. But, sadly, it does not look as if we will have the long leisure hours that we had all been promised.

Questions 29-35

Reading Passage 3 has 8 paragraphs (A-H).

Choose the most suitable heading for each paragraph from the list of headings below.

Write the appropriate numbers (i-xiv) in Boxes 29-35 on your answer sheet.

One of the headings has been done for you as an example.

You may use any heading more than once.

There are more headings than paragraphs, so you will not use all of them,

29. Paragraph A

30. Paragraph B

31. Paragraph C

Example: Paragraph D         Answer: iv

32. Paragraph E

33. Paragraph F

34. Paragraph G

35. Paragraph H

List of headings

i. Leisure spending goes up strongly

ii. Decreasing unemployment

iii. False forecasts

iv. Spending trends – leisure v food

v. More affordable food

vi. Leisure as an answer to stress

vii. Looking forward

viii. The leisure revolution – working hours reduced to 25

ix. The “grey pound” soars

x. Rising expenditure

xi. The elderly leisure market

xii. National Statisticians

xiii. Work, stress, and leisure all on the up

xiv. Money yes, leisure time no

Questions 36-40

Do the statements below agree with the information in Reading Passage 3? In Boxes 36-40, 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 recent decades, an increase in working hours was predicted.

Answer: No.

36. At the turn of the last century, weekly work hours dropped to 25.

37. Spending on leisure has gone up over the past three decades.

38. Long holidays have taken the place of long-haul short breaks.

39. In future, people will pay less for the leisure facilities they use than they do today.

40. 24-hour society will have a negative effect on people’s attitudes to work.


29. Answer: iii. The predictions made did not happen, i.e. … failed to materialise. The answer is not heading viii, as the text does not say that working hours have been reduced to 25 hours – it was an estimate of 25 to 30 hours.

30. Answer: i. The first sentence is the topic sentence and the rest of the paragraph expands the theme. Note heading iv is not the answer. The focus of the paragraph is on the increase in leisure spending. The writer compares it briefly to other areas, i.e. food, housing and transport, but this is not part of the main focus of the paragraph. In any case, the heading would have to include housing and transport as well as food. Note that this paragraph contains general information about leisure in relation to the more specific comparison in the next two paragraphs. Note also the word strongly in heading i.

31. Answer: iv. The paragraph explains that spending on food has decreased, while that for leisure has increased. Heading x is not the correct answer as this is too general. Nor is heading possible. See the explanation for 30 above. Some students may be tempted to put heading v as the answer, but this relates only to the first part of the paragraph and does not cover the contrast between leisure and food.

The correct heading here is the same as that for the next paragraph, i.e. the example. Read the instructions at the beginning of the exercise.

32. Answer: xiii. The paragraph talks about all three going up and gives an example of leisure in the future. Heading vi is not correct as this relates only to part of the paragraph.

33. Answer: xi. Heading ix is not the answer as the text does not say whether the “grey pound” is becoming stronger or not.

34. Answer: vii. The first sentence is the topic sentence. The answer is not iii as the paragraph does not say that the forecasts are false.

35. Answer: xiv. The paragraph deals with the two aspects, wealth and leisure hours.

Questions 36 – 40

36. Answer: No. The answer is in paragraph A. The predicted reduction in working hours did not happen.

37. Answer: Yes. The answer is in the first sentence of paragraph B.

38. Answer: No. The answer is in the middle of paragraph E, the opposite is true.

39. Answer: Not Given. It does not mention this anywhere in the passage. You just have to look at the sections of the text relating to the future, i.e. the end of paragraph E and all of G.

40. Answer: Not Given. The answer is in paragraph G. The writer does not say whether the 24-hour society will affect people’s attitudes.

Source: IELTS Material