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Literacy In Freedonia's Prisons IELTS Reading Answer

Updated on 08 September, 2023

Mrinal Mandal

Mrinal Mandal

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The best way to ace the IELTS reading examinations is to solve as many sample passages as possible. Practice Literacy in Freedonia's Prisons reading answers to develop your comprehension skills and prepare for the exam.

‘Literacy in Freedonia's Prisons’

1

In 1993, the Government of Freedonia's National Prisons Directorate (ND) carried out a research project to investigate the extent of literacy in Freedonia's prison population.

2

The notion that prisoners are poor readers and writers seems to be questioned very little by the public despite the lack of hard evidence to support such a view. The media, in particular, continue to portray prisoners as illiterate and generally poorly educated. Freedonia's leading daily newspaper, The Freedonian, for example, frequently makes such statements as 'Freedonia's jails are full of people who can't read!' (4 May, 1992). But the media are not the only ones who are critical. Research into attitudes of prison officials shows that they, too, hold that prisoners are poor readers (McDonnell, 1989). Overseas studies have also been influential in strengthening this view. For example, a survey of Canadian prisoners by Kohl in 1987 revealed a literacy rate ranging from 15% to 55%, while an Australian study of the same year showed similar results.

3

To add to the general criticism, Freedonia's criminologists are beginning to suggest that crime is a product of illiteracy (Bass, 1988; Katz & Wallport, 1989). The NPD commissioned its study to compare prisoner literacy with that of the general public to see how Freedonian prisoners actually conform to these perceptions.

4

The study, carried out by the Literacy Institute of the Freedonian National University, took as samples 200 male prisoners from Yaxchilan Men's Correctional Institute and 150 female prisoners from Monambak Women's Prison. The prisoners were each made to work through a series of activities designed to assess performance in three separate literacy areas. The three areas included what the study termed 'X-literacy', which is the ability to correctly fill out forms or follow written directions; 'Y-literacy', the comprehension of reading passages; and 'Z-literacy', which calls for correct interpretation of text that is primarily number-based. This latter skill often includes some calculation. All activities were identical to those used in a national adult literacy survey carried out in 1990.

5

It was found that the prison population did, in fact, have a lower rate of X-literacy than the general population, but that the overall difference was slight. In an activity which had the prisoners complete mock job applications, for example, just 62% of female and 60% of male prisoners could correctly fill out the applications compared with 66% in the national adult sample (see figure 1). Similar differences were found between general and prison populations in completing insurance applications, although it should be mentioned that individual differences in this task were great.

6 

There were activities in which prisoners did more noticeably worse, however. In one activity, the proportion of male prisoners who could correctly identify the main and secondary points of newspaper articles was 54%, compared with 64% of the general public. Interestingly, female prisoners, with 61%, were much closer to the national average for this activity. Prisoners, again more noticeably males, also did significantly worse in keeping a running total of a bank account, a quantitative task of relative complexity. But, importantly, both male and female prisoners outperformed the national adult sample in other activities; in one, far fewer general adults than prisoners could correctly interpret train timetables, while in identifying directions on medical prescriptions, both male and female prisoners were marginally better than their counterparts on the other side of the prison fence.


 

image

The order of bars for each activity in the chart(left to right): Yaxchilan > Monambac > National

7

The results show that prisoners and the general adult population, seen from an overall perspective, are on an equivalent literacy level. Certainly, prisoners appear to display weaknesses in particular literacy areas, but if the results accurately reflect the prison population as a whole, it would be inaccurate and hence inappropriate to conclude that prisoners are the worse readers and writers. The study should not be taken to suggest that there are no literacy problems among prisoners, however, because while prisoners may be no worse off than the general adult public, the general adult public cannot be said to perform very well in any of the literacy tasks. Indeed, in commenting on the results of the NPD study, Wallport (1994) wrote, 'It seems our initial assessment of literacy among prisoners was not incorrect. Where we were mistaken was in how we viewed the skill levels of the general public.'

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Questions 1-3

The writer mentions several influences on how prisoner literacy is generally viewed. 

One of these influences is 'Freedonia's criminologists'. 

Identify THREE other influences. Using NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS for each answer, write the three influences separately in boxes 1-3 on your answer sheet.

Guidelines/Tip for Answering These Types of Questions: Candidates need to read through the text and answer in no more than two words.

QuestionsAnswersExplanations
1MediaParagraph 2 of the reading passage Literacy in Freedonia's Prisons states that prisoners are often portrayed by the media as illiterates or poorly educated.
2Prison officialsParagraph 2 also shows that the attitude of prison officials who view prisoners as poor readers is another such influence (McDonnell, 1989). 
3Overseas studiesParagraph 2 reveals that overseas studies are another important influence. For example, a survey conducted by Kohl in 1987 showed that the literacy rate of Canadian prisoners ranged from 15% to 55%. An Australian study, also conducted in 1987, showed similar results.


 

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Questions 4-8

Below is a list of the materials used in assessing the three literacy areas in the NPD study. 

Complete the list. 

Choose ONE or TWO WORDS from the passage for each answer. 

Write your answers in boxes 4-8 on your answer sheet.

Guidelines/Tip for Answering These Types of Questions: Candidates need to read through the text and answer in no more than two words.

.

MATERIALS USED IN:

X-literacy activities 

  • 4 .....
  • 5.....

Example: medical prescriptions

Y-literacy activities

  • 6.....

Z-literacy activities

  •  7.....
  • 8.....
QuestionsAnswersExplanations
4Job applicationsWe see in paragraph 5, one X-literacy activity involved the prisoners completing mock job applications.
5Insurance applicationsIn paragraph 5 of Literacy in Freedonia's Prisons, we also see the mention of insurance applications.
6Newspaper articlesParagraph 6 observes that prisoners were asked to highlight the main and secondary points of newspaper articles.
7Train timetablesIn paragraph 6 there is the mention of the interpretation of train timetables as one of the literacy activities.
8Bank account

Paragraph 6 also mentions keeping a running total of a bank account, which again is an activity involving reading and interpretation of the number-based text.


 

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Questions 9-11

Complete the partial summary below.

Choose your answers A-F from the list below the summary and write them in boxes 9-11 on your answer sheet. 

NB: There are more phrases than spaces so you will not use them all. You may use any of the phrases more than once. 

Guidelines/Tip for Answering These Types of Questions: Candidates need to read through the text and then choose the correct answer.

In comparing the NPD study's findings with that of a similar study of the general adult population in 1990, it was shown that the general adult population was most proficient at correctly... E... (Example). 

The largest percentage-point difference between female prisoners and male prisoners was found in 9...... Male prisoners scored higher than their female counterparts in 10...... and ranked between female prisoners and the general public in 11...... 

A. completing an employment application 

B. completing an insurance application 

C. following medical prescription directions 

D. comprehending newspaper articles 

E. balancing bank accounts 

F.  using train timetables 

QuestionsAnswersExplanations
9EParagraph 6 contains the diagram that exhibits the highest difference in calculating bank balances. 
10FIn paragraph 6, the diagram demonstrates that female prisoners' scores were lower than male prisoners when it comes to using train timetables.
11CIn paragraph 6 of the reading passage, the diagram shows that male prisoners ranked between female prisoners and the general public in identifying the directions provided on medical prescriptions. 

Questions 12-13 

In analysing the results of the study, the Literacy Institute determined that, due to the sample sizes, differences in scores of 3 percentage points or lower could not be considered significant. 

Write the correct numbers in boxes 12 and 13 on your answer sheet. 

Guidelines/Tip for Answering These Types of Questions: Candidates need to read through the text and write the correct answer.

12. How many of the literacy activities in the NPD study showed a difference between male and female prisoners that was significant? 

13. How many of the literacy activities showed a difference between female prisoners in the NPD study and the general adult public in the national adult study that was NOT significant? 

QuestionsAnswersExplanations
122The diagram in paragraph 6 of the reading passage Literacy in Freedonia's Prisons illustrates that there were differences in the manner the male and female prisoners calculated bank balances and used newspaper articles. 
131Paragraph 6 of the reading passage states that there was a difference in the literary activities between female prisoners in the NPD study and the general adult public in the national adult study that was not significant in understanding newspaper articles.


 

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Questions 14-15 

Guidelines/Tip for Answering These Types of Questions: Candidates need to read through the text carefully and then choose the correct answer.

14. In setting up its study, the NPD wished to... 

A. see if prisoner illiteracy matched public perceptions. 

B. show that prisoner literacy levels are not lower than those of the general adult   public. 

C. identify areas in which prisoners need literacy training. 

D. show that popular perceptions of prisoner literacy are not correct. 

15. The NPD study suggests that... 

A. it is inaccurate to say prisoners have a low literacy level. 

B. prisoners compare favorably with the general adult population. 

C. neither prisoner literacy nor general adult literacy is very satisfactory. 

D. prisoners are worse readers and writers than general adults.

QuestionsAnswersExplanations
14A

Paragraph 3 of the reading passage states that the NPD’s study was aimed to compare prisoner literacy with that of the general public. They aimed to see how Freedonian prisoners conform to these viewpoints.


 

15C

Paragraph 7 of the reading passage Literacy in Freedonia's Prisons states that Wallport (1994) wrote about how their first evaluation of literacy among prisoners was correct. The mistake lied in how they viewed the skill levels of the general population.


 

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