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The Pursuit of Happiness - IELTS Reading Passage with Questions and Answers

Updated on 11 December, 2023

upGrad Abroad Team

upGrad Abroad Team

upGrad abroad Editorial Team


The quest for happiness is a universal theme that resonates across cultures and epochs. As we explore "The Pursuit of Happiness," this IELTS reading passage will offer learners a chance to delve into the philosophical and practical aspects of this timeless pursuit. Accompanied by a series of questions and answers, this passage is an invaluable tool for those preparing for the IELTS reading test.

Passage: The Pursuit of Happiness

Happiness – a term that conjures up myriad images and emotions. Philosophers, poets, and scientists have long grappled with the definition of happiness and the means to achieve it. Is it a state of mind, a set of circumstances, or a fleeting emotion? The pursuit of happiness has been a central theme in human history, influencing art, literature, and public policy.

Studies in positive psychology show that happiness is not merely the absence of sadness but a positive state that involves a sense of well-being and contentment. The ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle described it as ‘eudaimonia’ – a state of flourishing based on virtue and excellence. In contrast, modern interpretations often link happiness to material success and personal achievements.

However, the pursuit of happiness often eludes many. Societal pressures, personal challenges, and the very complexity of human nature make this pursuit a labyrinthine endeavor. The disparity between the ideal and reality of happiness prompts an ongoing debate: Is the pursuit of happiness an inalienable right, as suggested by some political doctrines, or a never-ending quest fraught with existential angst?

Questions and Answers:

Q1: According to the passage, happiness is not just the absence of sadness but also includes a sense of ________.

A) Achievement

B) Well-being

C) Wealth

D) Power

A1: B) Well-being.

The passage states that happiness involves a positive state beyond just the lack of sadness. It includes a sense of well-being and contentment, aligning with studies in positive psychology.

Q2: What did Aristotle refer to happiness as?

A) Eudaimonia

B) Success

C) Pleasure

D) Wealth

A2: A) Eudaimonia.

Aristotle described happiness as ‘eudaimonia,’ which he defined as a state of flourishing based on virtue and excellence.

Q3: True or False: Modern interpretations commonly associate happiness with material success.



A3: True.

The passage notes that modern interpretations often link happiness to material success and personal achievements, contrasting with Aristotle's concept of eudaimonia.

Q4: Fill in the blank: The pursuit of happiness is often seen as a _________ endeavor.

A) Simple

B) Labyrinthine

C) Unimportant

D) Straightforward

A4: B) Labyrinthine.

The passage describes the pursuit of happiness as a labyrinthine endeavor, indicating its complex and challenging nature.

Tips for IELTS Reading Test:

T1: Skim the Passage First: Before attempting the questions, quickly skim through the passage to get a general understanding of its content and tone.

T2: Focus on Keywords: Pay attention to specific keywords in both the questions and the passage, as they are often crucial for finding the correct answers.

T3: Practice Different Question Types: Familiarize yourself with various question formats like multiple choice, true/false, and fill in the blanks to improve your adaptability during the test.

T4: Time Management: Allocate your time wisely. Spend no more than a minute per question in the first read-through.

T5: Improve Vocabulary: A wide range of vocabulary can greatly assist in understanding complex passages and deciphering tricky questions.

T6: Read Extensively: Regularly read a variety of texts to improve your reading speed and comprehension skills.

T7: Stay Calm and Focused: Maintain a calm demeanor during the test to ensure optimal performance.


"The Pursuit of Happiness" is a thought-provoking topic that offers deep insights into human nature and societal norms. This IELTS reading passage, along with the questions and answers, is designed to challenge and enhance your reading skills, preparing you for the nuances of the IELTS test. By applying the tips provided and engaging with a variety of reading materials, you can refine your skills and approach the IELTS reading test with

upGrad Abroad Team

upGrad abroad Editorial Team

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The above tips are the Author's experiences. upGrad does not guarantee scores or admissions.