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The Scientific Method IELTS Reading Answers

Updated on 13 April, 2023

Mrinal Mandal

Mrinal Mandal

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IELTS Reading tests decide the band score candidates get in the exam. In a 60-minute exam, the applicants are required to show excellent comprehension and language proficiency. To achieve the best results in the reading tests, students must practice as many sample papers as required. Here's a reading passage on "The Scientific Method” for students to assess their preparation level with questions and appropriate explanations of the answers.

The Scientific Method


'Hypotheses,' said Medawar in 1964, 'are imaginative and inspirational in character'; they are 'adventures of the mind.' He was arguing in favor of the position taken by Karl Popper in The Logic of Scientific Discovery (1972, 3rd edition) that the nature of the scientific method is hypothetico-deductive and not, as is generally believed, inductive.


It is essential that you, as an intending researcher, understand the difference between these two interpretations of the research process so that you do not become discouraged or begin to suffer from a feeling of ‘cheating’ or not going about it the right way.


The myth of the scientific method is that it is inductive: that the formulation of scientific theory starts with the basic, raw evidence of the senses - simple, unbiased, unprejudiced observation. Out of these sensory data - commonly referred to as 'facts' — generalizations will form. The myth is that from a disorderly array of factual information, an orderly, relevant theory will somehow emerge. However, the starting point of induction is an impossible one.


There is no such thing as an unbiased observation. Every act of observation we make is a function of what we have seen or otherwise experienced in the past. All scientific work of an experimental or exploratory nature starts with some expectation about the outcome. This expectation is a hypothesis. Hypotheses provide the initiative and incentive for the inquiry and influence the method. It is in the light of an expectation that some observations are held to be relevant and some irrelevant, that one methodology is chosen, and others discarded, that some experiments are conducted and others are not. Where is, your naive, pure and objective researcher now?


Hypotheses arise by guesswork, or by inspiration, but having been formulated, they can and must be tested rigorously, using the appropriate methodology. If the predictions you make as a result of deducing certain consequences from your hypothesis are not shown to be correct then you discard or modify your hypothesis. If the predictions turn out to be correct, then your hypothesis has been supported and may be retained until such time as some further test shows it not to be correct. Once you have arrived at your hypothesis, which is a product of your imagination, you then proceed to a strictly logical and rigorous process, based upon deductive argument — hence the term 'hypothetico-deductive'.


So don’t worry if you have some idea of what your results will tell you before you even begin to collect data; there are no scientists in existence who really wait until they have all the evidence in front of them before they try to work out what it might possibly mean. The closest we ever get to this situation is when something happens by accident; but even then the researcher has to formulate a hypothesis to be tested before being sure that, for example, a mould might prove to be a successful antidote to bacterial infection.


The myth of the scientific method is not only that it is inductive (which we have seen is incorrect) but also that the hypothetico-deductive method proceeds in a step-by-step, inevitable fashion. The hypothetico-deductive method describes the logical approach to much research work, but it does not describe the psychological behaviour that brings it about. This is much more holistic — involving guesses, reworkings, corrections, blind alleys and above all inspiration, in the deductive as well as the hypothetic component -than is immediately apparent from reading the final thesis or published papers. These have been, quite properly, organized into a more serial, logical order so that the worth of the output may be evaluated independently of the behavioral processes by which it was obtained. It is the difference, for example, between the academic papers with which Crick and Watson demonstrated the structure of the DNA molecule and the fascinating book The Double Helix in which Watson (1968) described how they did it. From this point of view, the 'scientific method' may more usefully be thought of as a way of writing up research rather than as a way of carrying it out.

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Questions 1-5

The Scientific Method Reading Passage comprises seven paragraphs A-G.

Select the most suitable headings for paragraphs numbered C-G from the list of headings given below.

Choose the most suitable title from i-ix and write them in boxes 1-5 on the 'The Scientific Method' reading answers sheet.


List of Headings

iWatson and Crick’s research approaches
iiAntidotes to infections caused by bacteria
iiiThe correct way to test hypotheses
ivExplanation of the inductive research method
vForethought about results before data collection
viThe difference between conducting research and reporting
viiThe purpose of hypotheses in research
viiiDeduction about the results of hypotheses
ixKarl Popper’s claim of the hypothetico-deductive scientific research method
xThe unbiased researcher



Explanation: The paragraph C sheds light on the myth of the scientific method being inductive. It further explains about the constituents of the inductive method. Hence, iv is the most suitable heading for the same.


2viiExplanation: Paragraph D aims to delve into the rationale behind conducting research. It provides information about the expectation behind the conclusion with such research, forming a ground for creating hypotheses. That’s why, vii is the best heading
3iiiExplanation: Since hypotheses are a product of expectations and assumptions, they require to be verified through concrete proofs. Paragraph E talks about the same and hence, iii is the appropriate heading for it. 

Explanation: Paragraph F talks about the presence of some ideas in the researcher about the result of their hypothesis. The writer informs about its validity, which makes the heading v the right choice for the paragraph. 


5viExplanation: Option vi is the right choice because paragraph G elaborates on the scientific method of research as a way of conducting research. It is different from reporting about the events and processes in a step-by-step manner.

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Questions 6-7 

In which two paragraphs in A-G is the writer talking directly to the reader?

Pick the paragraphs using the letters (A—G) and write them down in boxes 6-7 on the answer sheet.


  1. B/F 
  2. B/F


Paragraphs B and F are the correct answers. In both paragraphs, the writer uses the second person to express themselves. In paragraph B, with the usage of 'It is essential that you, the author, are explaining the differences explicitly to the audience. Similarly, the mention of 'don't worry at the beginning of the paragraph hints at the writer's intention to communicate directly to the reader. 

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Questions 8 - 11

Do these statements clearly reflect the ideas of the writer in the Reading Passage 'The Scientific Method’?

Mention against boxes 8-11, YES, NO and Not GIVEN

YES if the mentioned statement is reflective of the writer's opinions

NO, if the statement doesn't align with the writer's opinion

NOT GIVEN if it's difficult to comprehend the writer's opinion


Answer 8: Yes


As clearly mentioned in paragraph A, Medavar is proposing arguments in favor of Popper. The essence of the argument presented by Popper was that the scientific method is hypothetical-deducive. The given statement in the question completely follows the idea explained in The Scientific Method paragraph. 

Answer 9: No 


The question statement doesn't hold true, as the writer's opinion is the opposite. According to the author, if the predictions for a hypothesis are correct, it only supports the hypothesis until further tests are presented. The logical deduction based on the available predictions makes the argument hypothetico-deductive while leaving scope for future changes. 

Answer 10: Not Given


The paragraphs in ‘The Scientific Method’ explain different methods of research and the role of their elements. Nowhere in the entire content has the writer mentioned that the preferred research method of people is wrong. At the same time, the author also sheds light on the relevance of the chosen methods with respect to the hypotheses. This presents an unclear idea about the author's opinion about the right approach for most researchers. 

Answer 11: Yes 


The statement reflects the writer's opinions. In paragraph G, the author mentions the logical order of presenting research elements to make the evaluation of the worth of output easy. With the same concept in mind, 'The Scientific Method' is about writing the research in the most detailed manner than conducting it.

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Question 12 

Carefully select the paragraph number from A-D and write it down in box 12 of The Scientific Method reading answers sheet

What is the main objective of the writer in The Scientific Method Reading Passage? 

  1. To suggest how to conduct research for the Ph.D. scholars 
  2. To involve guesswork and logical predictions in research 
  3. To shed light on the main reason behind the methods involved in research papers 
  4. To assist research students in understanding the types of research processes and their conceptions 

Answer: D


The correct answer is D. The writer explains in paragraph B that for every aspirational researcher, it's important to pinpoint the difference between research approaches. Doing this enables them to understand the purpose behind the method used and not feel discouraged by the complexity of following it. 

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