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In Praise of Amateurs Reading Answers

Updated on 13 April, 2023

Mrinal Mandal

Mrinal Mandal

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The best way to practice for the IELTS reading answers essay section is to read multiple topics. This way, examinees can evaluate their preparation and understand the types of questions in this section.

So, this sample titled, ‘in praise of amateurs,’ can prove a suitable preparatory material. Read the essay and answer all the questions to understand the approach to pursue this section.

In Praise of Amateurs Reading Answers IELTS Sample


The 17th-century scientific revolution was mainly limited to amateur scientists who explored natural philosophy for their augmentation of knowledge. These non-specialized individuals utilized their own means and received personal enlightenment. Hence, the absence of professional scientists was a major feature of this era. As time progressed, amateurs could make a living by contributing to the research domain. So, in praise of amateurs, it is crucial to understand their role in the development of scientific research. In fact, amateurs played a vital part in building modern science. In today’s age, science is a segmented and specialized subject that involves crucial contributions from various experts. Some of these scientists understand that research is becoming a team work and put forth their opinions in praise of amateurs.

Recently, a poll by Dr. Richard Fienberg, an astronomer at the American Association for Advancement of Science, revealed another interesting fact that is a testament in praise of amateurs. In this poll, the astronomer concluded that amateurs take an active part in fields like horticulture, hydrology, paleontology, acoustics, ornithology, and meteorology. Many professionals rely on the cooperation of amateur scientists, making the latter an integral part of scientific discoveries and research. However, amateurs have certain limitations. They do not have the level of expertise to handle costly equipment. So, they cannot explore every scientific domain.

Dr. Fienberg jokes about amateur chemists and comments that they have blown themselves or are locked up in the laboratory. On a serious note, there is always a case in praise of amateurs. These folks can potentially make invaluable contributions to a wide array of fields. In fact, the advent of the internet enables amateurs to accumulate data and information easily. As a result, these laypersons can help professionals working in the fields of rocketry to paleontology. There is no clear data or statistics about the domain that benefitted a lot from the contributions of amateurs. However, Dr. Fienberg feels that astronomy might be one such scientific field.

According to him, professional skywatchers and amateur scientists have a fruitful history of collaboration. In praise of amateurs, he mentions that several asteroids and comets were, in fact, the discovery of amateurs. In addition, Uranus was another prominent finding of amateurs. Fast forward to today, amateur observers carry out observational activities to find novae and supernovae in the Milky Way and other galaxies. Especially in astronomy, amateurs offer two unique benefits. First, they outnumber professional skywatchers. Second, they are present all over the world in different locations. These two aspects make ‘special’ observations a practical possibility. For instance, recording the time when an asteroid eclipse a star from different locations can help determine factors like the shape and size of such elements. 

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Paleontology is another scientific field that makes a case in praise of amateurs. The opinion of Adrian Hunt, who works at the Mesa Technical College as a paleontologist, is fairly positive towards laypersons. According to Mr. Hunt, amateurs contribute significantly to this scientific field. He believes that the human eyes are the best sensors to find fossils. Notably, there is no mandatory requirement for hi-tech equipment for this purpose. Since most people are fascinated with dinosaurs, it becomes easy to hire new volunteers. Hunt feels that most amateurs indulge in learning about science, and help him in his research. He terms this process ‘recreational education.’             

Another person talking in praise of amateurs is Rick Bonney. He works at Cornell’s Laboratory of Ornithology in New York. According to him, there are over 60 million birdwatchers in the United States of America. He hires thousands of such individuals to utilize their geographical coverage for his research activities. Notably, the observations of such amateurs have led to various findings in aspects like the migration of birds and the decline in the breeding population of migratory birds. This information proved pivotal for initiating a habitat conservation program. One can notice how amateur scientists and observers facilitate the study process in different fields.

In reality, the collaboration between amateurs and experts is not always fluent. Some individuals do not prefer the term ‘amateur.’ Also, according to Mr. Bonney, the word ‘volunteer’ seems quite disapproving. So, he came up with ‘citizen scientist,’ a title that could justify the fervor and contribution of interested people. On the same lines, professionals need to acknowledge the work put in by amateurs. Dr. Fienberg observes amateur astronomers who do not feel they receive proper remuneration even to cover their out-of-the-pocket costs. Some amateur astronomers do not feature in a published research paper as co-author. In addition, amateur paleontologists feel disappointed when they do not receive permission to take the findings back with them.      

Merely highlighting the contribution in praise of amateurs is insufficient. The collaboration between professionals and amateurs should flourish to offer suitable rewards to the former group. A prime example in this regard is the work of Dr. S Carlson. He is an integral founding member of the Society of Amateur Scientists. Notably, he won USD 290,000 for promoting the cooperation between amateurs and professionals. According to Dr. Carlson, this reward is a challenge to scientists, and he believes that science should not be an exclusive reserve for the experts. This society has plans like establishing a network of amateur observers for a cutting-edge rocket design project. These observers will contribute by finding proof of a connection between earthquakes and low-frequency radiation.

Dr. Carlson talks in praise of amateurs and believes that such individuals offer an enthusiastic approach and new skills. Combined with the experts that provide guidance, the combination of the two can definitely lead to paramount scientific discoveries. Hence, the role of amateurs in science can never go unnoticed.  

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Choose one to two words in the reading answers IELTS sample to answer each question.

1. Before the 19th century, _____ were non-existent, and research was limited to amateurs

2. Today, _____ is a specialized field that has an association with the contribution of experts

3. Amateurs play an important role and take an active part in at least seven _____

4. Many scientific professionals depend on the _____ of amateurs

5. In astronomy and related fields, amateurs can make unique _____ and assist the professional astronomers

6. In paleontology, it is easy to hire volunteers due to their fascination towards _____

7. The contribution of amateur birdwatchers has been significant for _____

8. As long as experts and scientists _____ the role of amateurs, both these groups can work in a healthy collaborative environment

The essay, ‘in praise of amateurs,’ mentions four different scientists. This section contains opinions in random order. Read the passage and identify which scientist made a particular statement.

Notably, candidates need to answer the questions in the form of alphabets. Here’s the association of each letter with the scientist:

A: Dr. Fienberg

B: Dr. Carlson

C: Adrian Hunt

D: Rick Bonney

9. The involvement of amateurs can be an educational pastime

10. Amateurs are highly prone to laboratory accidents

11. Science is not the private property of professional scientists

12. In some aspects, people are more valuable than technology

13. It is necessary to give a proper designation to amateurs

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QuestionAnswers & Explanations

A) professional scientists


The fourth line of the first paragraph mentions the absence of professional scientists. The connected sentences also describe the role of amateurs in scientific discoveries and studies. Hence, one should carefully examine the ‘in praise of amateurs’ essay to choose the two words.



A) science


The answer to complete this sentence is available in the seventh line of the first paragraph. According to the writer, amateurs play a crucial role in accelerating modern science research. However, this domain requires the contribution of several experts. This line provides a direct answer to the candidate. It is thus essential to read the passage thoroughly.


A) fields


The second paragraph mentions a poll by Dr. Richard Fienberg, an astronomer. Examinees can read from lines one to five and note that in addition to astronomy, there are six other fields to which amateurs contribute their efforts. Hence, a total of seven fields depend on the role of amateur scientists and researchers.


A) cooperation


One can quickly locate the answer to this question in the fifth line of the second paragraph. The writer emphasizes the crucial role of amateurs in scientific research and discoveries. In fact, professionals require the assistance of these individuals to make breakthrough studies and findings. So, this paragraph contains the missing word to complete the sentence accurately.



A) observations


The answer to this sentence lies in the fourth paragraph. From the sixth line onwards, one can understand the practical benefits that amateurs provide to fields like astronomy. They outnumber professional skywatchers and reside in different geographical locations. As a result, they can make special observations and assist the experts in studying various facets of the sky and universe. So, ‘observations’ is the correct word for this reading answers IELTS sample question.



A) dinosaurs


Locate this answer around the sixth line of the fifth paragraph. This section mentions the opinions of Adrian Hunt, who makes several statements in praise of amateurs. According to Mr. Hunt, most people have a special intrigue in dinosaurs. Thus, it becomes easier to hire such individuals as amateur volunteers. So, finding this word in the essay is straightforward.



A) conservation program


The sixth paragraph of this reading answers IELTS sample and mentions the views of Rick Bonney. Since he is an ornithologist, readers must quickly understand that the solution will most likely lie in this paragraph. Read lines four to seven of this section carefully. They mention how observations from amateurs helped in studying aspects like bird migration. Also, the writer clearly states that the information proved vital to start a habitat conservation program.



A) acknowledge


In this reading answers IELTS sample, the writer talks about the collaborative aspect of the two groups in the seventh paragraph. One can easily find the answer in the fifth line, where there is a clear mention of the significance of acknowledgment. In this case, the writer used the term, ‘professionals.’ Hence, examinees should use their logic and understand the essay's context. This question tests logical thinking ability.


A) Option C


In paragraph five, the last line contains Mr. Hunt’s definition of ‘recreational education.’ According to him, most amateurs indulge in learning about science. In this section, examinees should look for synonyms and identify the meaning of a paragraph or sentence. Here, the pastime is equivalent to recreation. So, the correct answer is ‘C.’



A) Option A


In the opening of the third paragraph, the writer puts forth a joke from Dr. Fienberg on amateurs. He states that these individuals have ‘blown themselves’ or ‘locked-up in the laboratory.’ So, the meaning of these lines implies being prone to laboratory accidents.



A) Option B


In paragraph eight, there is a mention of Dr. S Carlson, who was the founder of the Society of Amateur Scientists. Read the fifth line of this paragraph. The words, ‘science should not be an exclusive reserve for the experts,’ portray the literal meaning of the question’s statement.



A) Option C


In paragraph five, the fourth line states that the human eyes are the top sensors for finding fossils. This was the opinion of Mr. Hunt, who was talking in praise of amateurs. Mainly, the meaning of this line implies that people can provide an edge over technology.



A) Option D


In the seventh paragraph, Mr. Bonney’s opinions state that some individuals do not prefer being called ‘amateurs.’ Also, ‘volunteer’ is another term that some people disapprove of. So, he suggested the designation ‘citizen scientist.’ All these lines point to the fact that he has the opinion that amateurs should have proper designations.  

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