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Exploring Tricky Sums and Psychology: IELTS Reading Passage with Questions & Answers

Updated on 07 February, 2024

upGrad Abroad Team

upGrad Abroad Team

upGrad abroad Editorial Team

Tricky Sums and Psychology Reading Passage:

The intersection of mathematics and psychology often yields fascinating insights into human behavior and cognition. It's an area where numbers meet the mind, leading to what can be termed as 'tricky sums'. This concept isn't about complex equations or elaborate computations; rather, it's about understanding how individuals perceive and process mathematical information. The psychology behind tricky sums reveals much about problem-solving strategies, decision-making processes, and cognitive biases.

Mathematics is a universal language with its own set of rules and truths. Yet, the way people engage with mathematical concepts varies widely. Psychological factors such as anxiety, confidence, and motivation play significant roles in how individuals approach math problems. For instance, math anxiety can hinder a person's ability to perform even simple calculations under pressure, while a high level of confidence can enhance their capacity to tackle complex sums.

Furthermore, the cognitive biases that influence how we make decisions are also at play in mathematical thinking. Confirmation bias, for example, can lead individuals to favor information that supports their preconceived notions about a math problem, while neglecting data that contradicts it. Similarly, the anchoring effect can cause someone to rely too heavily on the first piece of information encountered—like an initial estimate—when making subsequent mathematical judgments.

Understanding the psychology behind tricky sums is crucial not just for educational purposes but also for everyday decision-making. Whether it's managing personal finances, interpreting statistics in the news, or making informed business decisions, a clear grasp of both the numbers and the psychological factors at play can lead to better outcomes.


Q1. What does the concept of 'tricky sums' primarily involve?

A) Complex equations

B) Cognitive biases in mathematical thinking

C) Elaborate computations

D) The history of mathematics

Q2. Fill in the blank: Math anxiety can _________ a person's ability to perform calculations.

A) improve

B) hinder

C) have no effect on

D) predict

Q3. True or False: High levels of confidence have no impact on an individual's ability to solve math problems.

Q4. What is confirmation bias?

A) A preference for challenging math problems

B) A bias against confirming solutions

C) A tendency to favor information that confirms one's beliefs

D) An interest in confirming mathematical rules

Q5. Fill in the blank: The anchoring effect can cause individuals to rely too heavily on _________.

A) emotional responses

B) expert opinions

C) the first piece of information encountered

D) mathematical constants

Q6. True or False: Cognitive biases only affect mathematical thinking and do not influence other areas of decision-making.

Q7. What role does motivation play in engaging with mathematical concepts?

Q8. Fill in the blank: Understanding the psychology behind tricky sums is crucial for _________.

A) only professional mathematicians

B) everyday decision-making

C) historical research

D) mathematical competitions

Q9. True or False: The rules of mathematics vary depending on an individual's perception.

Q10. How can a clear grasp of numbers and psychological factors lead to better outcomes?

Answers with Explanations:

A1. B) Cognitive biases in mathematical thinking

The passage discusses how psychological factors affect the way people process mathematical information.

A2. B) hinder

Math anxiety can negatively affect a person's ability to perform calculations, especially under pressure.

A3. False

The passage states that a high level of confidence can enhance the capacity to tackle complex sums.

A4. C) A tendency to favor information that confirms one's beliefs

Confirmation bias leads individuals to favor information that supports their existing beliefs, affecting their problem-solving strategies.

A5. C) the first piece of information encountered

The anchoring effect causes an individual to give too much weight to the first piece of information they receive.

A6. False

Cognitive biases influence decision-making processes in general, not just mathematical thinking.

A7. Motivation plays a significant role in how individuals approach math problems, affecting their engagement and persistence.

A8. B) everyday decision-making

Understanding the interplay between math and psychology is essential for making informed decisions in daily life.

A9. False

Mathematics is described as a universal language with set rules and truths, indicating that it does not vary based on perception.

A10. A clear understanding of both numbers and the psychological aspects of decision-making can lead to more informed and effective choices, benefiting personal and professional areas of life.

These questions and answers are designed to test and reinforce a student's understanding of the reading passage. By considering both the details and the broader concepts discussed, learners can better prepare for the kind of analytical thinking required in the IELTS exam.

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