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In Praise of Amateurs: IELTS Reading Passage With Questions & Answers

Updated on 09 February, 2024

upGrad Abroad Team

upGrad Abroad Team

upGrad abroad Editorial Team


In an era where professional expertise is often celebrated, the value and contributions of amateurs can be overlooked. Yet, amateurs, driven by passion, curiosity, and a desire for discovery, have significantly impacted various fields, from astronomy to archaeology. This IELTS reading passage pays homage to these enthusiasts and examines their place in a world that increasingly venerates specialization.


In an increasingly specialized world, the term 'amateur' has often been unjustly synonymized with ineptitude and inexperience. Yet, history and contemporary times alike are replete with instances where amateur contributions have been not just valuable, but seminal. The word 'amateur' itself is rooted in the Latin word for 'love' — a testament to the fact that these individuals are driven by a love for their subject rather than financial gain or professional title.

The realms of science, art, and literature are sprinkled with the triumphs of amateurs. Gregor Mendel, an amateur geneticist, laid the foundation for the modern understanding of genetics with his pea plant experiments. In the realm of astronomy, amateurs continue to make significant contributions to the discovery of comets, asteroids, and even exoplanets. Their role in the world of ornithology is no less, with countless species being documented by those whose only credential is their passion for bird-watching.

In the arts, the influence of amateurs is equally potent. From the early beginnings of photography to the proliferation of digital platforms for art, amateurs have been both the documentarians of life and the innovators of artistic expression. Their work often encapsulates a rawness and authenticity that professional constraints sometimes overshadow.

The digital age has further blurred the lines between professionals and amateurs. Platforms like YouTube, blogging sites, and open-source communities have democratized the dissemination of knowledge and expertise. They have enabled amateurs to showcase their work, share their insights, and contribute to global dialogues without gatekeepers.

As we stand on the shoulders of these giants, it is crucial to acknowledge that being an amateur is not a mark of limitation but rather a different kind of engagement with the world — one that is as essential as it is enriching.

Questions & Answers:

Q1: What is the origin of the word 'amateur'?

A) Latin word for 'experience'

B) Latin word for 'love'

C) Greek word for 'specialist'

D) Greek word for 'enthusiast'

A1: B) Latin word for 'love'

Explanation: The passage states that the term 'amateur' comes from the Latin word for 'love,' indicating that the activities of an amateur are driven by passion.

Q2: Who is an example of an amateur who made significant contributions to genetics?

A) Charles Darwin

B) Gregor Mendel

C) Isaac Newton

D) Albert Einstein

A2: B) Gregor Mendel

Explanation: Gregor Mendel is mentioned in the passage as an amateur geneticist who laid the groundwork for modern genetics.

Q3: True or False: Amateurs have had very little impact on the field of ornithology.

A3: False

Explanation: The passage explicitly mentions that countless bird species have been documented by amateur ornithologists, indicating their significant impact.

Q4: Fill in the blank: The digital age has _______ the lines between professionals and amateurs.

A4: blurred

Explanation: The passage discusses how the advent of digital platforms has made it less clear where the line between amateur and professional lies.

Q5: What has the digital age democratized, according to the passage?

A) The distribution of wealth

B) The dissemination of knowledge

C) The creation of art

D) The pursuit of education

A5: B) The dissemination of knowledge

Explanation: The passage asserts that digital platforms have democratized the dissemination of knowledge, allowing anyone to share their insights and work.

Q6: Which of the following areas is NOT mentioned in the passage as being influenced by amateurs?

A) Genetics

B) Astronomy

C) Music production

D) Art

A6: C) Music production

Explanation: Music production is not discussed in the passage, whereas genetics, astronomy, and art are all mentioned as areas where amateurs have had an influence.

Q7: What characterizes the contributions of amateurs in the arts, as described in the passage?

A) Financial motivation

B) A desire for professional titles

C) Rawness and authenticity

D) Formal education

A7: C) Rawness and authenticity

Explanation: The passage describes the work of amateur artists as encapsulating a rawness and authenticity that sometimes professional work does not.

Q8: Fill in the blank: Amateurs are often driven by a _______ for their subject.

A8: love

Explanation: This reflects the passage's assertion that amateurs are motivated by their love for the subject matter rather than external rewards.

Q9: True or False: The passage suggests that the term 'amateur' implies a lack of skill.

A9: False

Explanation: The passage challenges the misconception that 'amateur' equates to a lack of skill, asserting instead that amateurs can make seminal contributions.

Q10: Fill in the blank: Platforms like YouTube have enabled amateurs to _______ without gatekeepers.

A10: showcase their work

Explanation: The passage mentions that digital platforms have allowed amateurs to share their work widely, bypassing traditional barriers.

Tips for Cracking the IELTS Reading Exam:

Tip 1: Focus on understanding the main idea and theme of each paragraph, which will help you answer questions more accurately.

Tip 2: Pay attention to keywords and phrases that are often repeated throughout the passage, as they are likely to be related to the questions.

Tip 3: Practice skimming and scanning techniques to quickly identify answers within the text without reading every word in detail.

Tip 4: Familiarize yourself with various question types, such as multiple-choice and true/false, and develop strategies for each.

Tip 5: Enhance your vocabulary by learning words in context and understanding how they contribute to the overall meaning of the passage.

This comprehensive approach to the IELTS reading section, particularly on the subject of amateurs, will provide test-takers with a nuanced understanding and strategic insights into tackling passages effectively.

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