You should spend about 20 minutes on Questions 1-13, which are based on Reading Passage 1


A Diverging Media

Joe Swanberg makes films about the romantic lives of young urbanites. He shoots quickly with a digital camera and asks actors to wear their own clothes. His films, which tend to cost between $30,000 and $50,000 to make, are almost never shown in cinemas. Instead they are available on pay-television as video-on-demand, as downloads from iTunes (Apple's digital store) or as DVDs. By keeping his costs down and distributing digitally, Mr. Swanberg is making a living.
Technology was expected to help young artists like Mr. Swanberg. In 2006 Chris Anderson, the author of "The Long Tail", predicted that the internet would vastly increase the supply of niche media products and bring audiences to them. That has certainly happened. But so, has the opposite. In film, music, television and books, blockbusters are tightening their grip on audiences and advertisers. The growth of obscure products has come at the expense of things that are merely quite popular. The loser in a world of almost limitless entertainment choice is not the hit, but the near-miss.
There are several reasons for this. Some are as old as Charles Dickens (or perhaps even Homer). People still want to have something to talk about with their friends. Thus "American Idol" and "The X-Factor" do pretty much as well as TV hits did ten years ago, "New Moon" set a new record at the box office and bestselling books sell better than ever. Research shows that people enjoy hits more than they do obscure stuff, often because they are the only thing that many people try in that genre: lucky Dan Brown and Katie Price.
But some things are new. All that technology that has made niche content so much more accessible has also proved handy for pushing blockbusters. Missed "Twilight", the predecessor of "New Moon"? There will be other chances to catch it, in a wide variety of formats. Technology helps hits zip around the world, too-even in the art market.
Blockbusters are doing well not in spite of the fact that people have more choice in entertainment, but because of it. Imagine walking into a music shop containing 4m songs (the number available on We7, a free music-streaming service in Britain) or more than 10m (the choice on iTunes), all of them arranged alphabetically in plain boxes. The choice would be overwhelming. It is far easier to grab the thing everybody is talking about or that you heard on the radio that morning.
Is this increasing polarization into blockbusters and niches good or bad? It certainly makes life harder for media companies. In a world of growing entertainment options, it is more important than ever to make a splash. Miss the top of the chart, even by a little, and your product ends up fighting for attention along with thousands-perhaps millions-of other offerings. That prospect makes for jitters and, sometimes, conservatism. Broadcast television programmes must succeed quickly or they will be cancelled. It is becoming even harder to talk studio bosses into approving some kinds of film. Want to make a complicated political drama, based on an original screenplay, with expensive actors in exotic locations? Good luck with that.
Yet the challenge for the moguls is a boon to consumers. In the past firms made a lot of money supplying content that was not too objectionable to people who did not have much of a choice. In a world of hugely expanded options they cannot get away with this. These days there is rarely nothing good on television. So, media companies must raise their game.

Creative types who are accustomed to lavishing money on moderately appealing projects will have to do more with less. Or they must learn how to move between big-budget blockbusters and niche, small-budget fare, observing the different genre and budget constraints that apply in these worlds. A few forward-looking folks, such as Steven Soderbergh, a film-maker, are already doing this. Some will find shelter. Premium television channels such as HBO, which are built on passion more than popularity, offer some protection from chill market winds. So do state broadcasters like the BBC.
Thinking people naturally deplore the rise of lowest-common-denominator blockbusters, and wish that more money was available to produce the kind of music, films and television programmes they like. The problem is that everybody has different ideas about exactly what they want to see. Some may thrill to a documentary about Leica cameras; others may want to spend an hour being told how to cook a better bouillabaisse. But not many want to do either of these things, which explains why such programmes are niche products. There are only a few things that can be guaranteed to delight large numbers of people. They are known as blockbusters.
You should spend about 20 minutes all Questions 14-26, which are based on Reading Passage 2 below.

Mind-altering Media

Plenty of surveys and studies have linked poor media habits with rising violence, childhood depression, attention deficit disorders and declining educational standards. Yet we also hear entirely the opposite: IQ scores are rising, and have been since at least the 1950s, when television was becoming common in our homes. What's more, regular gamers seem to perform better at tests of visual attention and spatial awareness. So what are the effects of modern media on the brain - especially young, developing brains? Are TV and computers boosting our mental and social networking skills, or making us stupid, isolated and aggressive, with the attention spans of gnats?

One thing researchers concur on is that any technology we use will change the brain. There's nothing surprising or sinister about this, says Martin Westwell at the University of Oxford's Institute for the Future of the Mind. "You are who you are largely because of the way the brain cells wire up in response to the environment and the things you do," he says. "If you change the wiring you will change how we think." So how is the wiring changing?

Some say we're getting smarter. Steven Johnson, author of the book Everything Bad is Good for You, argues that the increasing complexity of media presentations and games, with their multiple plots and sophisticated layers, calls for more complex pre-planning and problem solving than ever. Far from dumbing us down, popular culture is stretching us, Johnson claims, and the rising IQ scores are a testament to that. There is some evidence to support such claims. Shawn Green and Daphne Bavelier of the University of Rochester in New York have shown that regular computer gamers have improved visual attention and can take in more information. They are better able to pay attention to things that are further apart or more rapidly changing, and can switch attention more quickly. Even short-term play produces immediate improvements.Jonathan Roberts of Virginia Polytechnic Institute found that women, who usually fare worse than men at spatial rotation tests, improve when exposed to 3D video games.

When it comes to TV, however, there's no getting away from the fact that the bad news outweighs the good. One of the biggest studies was done by Jeffrey Johnson and colleagues at Columbia University in New York, who followed more than 700 families for 17 years, recording their viewing habits, health, backgrounds and various behavioural tendencies. Their findings confirm those of previous, smaller studies showing that the amount of TV watched during childhood and teens correlates with changes in attention and sleep patterns, among other things. The group's latest analysis will be published next month, so Johnson can't reveal details yet, but says: "High levels of TV viewing may contribute to elevated risk for a type of syndrome which is often characterised by two or more of the following types of problems: elevated levels of verbal and physical aggression; difficulties with sleep; obesity and long-term risk for obesity-related health problems from a lack of physical exercise; and attention or learning difficulties."

One of the smaller studies, by Dimitri Christakis at the University of Washington in Seattle, found that young children watching double the average TV viewing hours (which were 2.2 per day at age 1 and 3.6 at age 3) were 25 per cent more likely to be diagnosed with attentional deficit hyperactivity disorder at age 7. Some research even hints at a link with autism, although this is very far from proven.

The overwhelming majority of studies about modern media and the mind, however, have focused on violence on and off the screen. Although there has been more than 50 years' worth of research, most people seem to have the idea that, while these studies suggest there might be a small link, the jury is still out. Wrong, says John Murray, a developmental psychologist from Kansas State University, one of the editors of the book Children and Television: Fifty years of research and author of US government-sponsored reports in 1972 and 1982. Murray is exasperated by this kind of ambivalence. He says it is impossible to conclude anything other than that violence on TV has raised the level of violence and aggression in our society - and while research on computer games has begun only recently, what there is suggests violent games have an even stronger effect. “Video games are more worrisome than TV because they are interactive," says Murray. “Children learn  best  by  demonstration  and  then  imitation,  with  rewards  for  getting  things  right.  That's exactly what video games do," he says. Not everyone is affected, and we are not all affected in same way, but overall, media violence does affect viewers' attitudes, values and behaviour, Murray says. Hundreds of studies demonstrate this, so why the doubt?

One reason is that media reports tend to give equal prominence to the naysayers. The debate also has its hired guns, with industry organisations such as the Motion Picture Association of America sponsoring prominent books arguing against any links. And whatever their motives, it is easy for critics to highlight the limitations of the science. The ideal experiment would be to divide a large number of children into groups, expose the different groups to different types or varying amounts of TV or computer games for several years while keeping all other experiences identical, and then to follow their progress for life. This will never be possible or ethical. Instead, researchers have to rely on long-term surveys that don't prove causality, and lab experiments that do not demonstrate long-term effects. Nevertheless, the results from all these different types of studies add up to a compelling case. 
You should spend about 20 minutes on Questions 27-40, which are based on reading Passage 3 below

Toy stories for grown-ups

THE increasingly stunning animation emerging from the United States (in films like “A Bug’s Life” and “Toy Story 2”) is, quite literally, child’s play alongside the full-length animated films that have been pouring out of Japan since the early 1980s. Nothing could be farther from the comforting world of Bambi, where formulaic characters and storylines are never allowed to frighten or offend, than Japan’s edgy, provocative, documentary-like “anime”. One is eye-candy for kids; the other a demanding rollercoaster of a ride for people of all ages willing to explore the outer limits of their fears and longings.
Until recently, anime (a Japanese abbreviation of the borrowed English word) had little more than a cult following outside Japan. However, animation epics such as Hayao Miyazaki’s “Nausicaa of the Valley of the Winds” (1984), Gisaburo Sugii’s “Night on the Galactic Railroad” (1985), and Katsuhiro Otomo’s “Akira” (1988) have been an inspiration for a younger generation of film makers in the West. Luc Besson, the influential French  director  of  “The  Big  Blue”,  ranks  Mr  Otomo’s  nervy  “Akira”  alongside  the  very  best live-action films from the legendary Japanese director Akira Kurosawa.
Recently, a wider audience has begun to appreciate the efforts of such groups as Studio Ghibli, Production
I.G. and others within Tokyo’s talented anime community. Much of the credit goes to Disney’s art-film unit, Miramax,  for  translating  Mr  Miyazaki’s  “Princess  Mononoke”  and  releasing  it  in  a  selected  number  of theatres in America last November. The film—which pits a medieval people with their greed and thoughtlessness against the forces of nature in an epic confrontation that leaves both sides in ruin—is the biggest domestic box-office success of all time in Japan.
In  America,  “Princess  Mononoke”  opened  to  rave  reviews  but  less-than-spectacular  receipts.  Families, expecting typical Disney fare, may well have been shocked by the film’s mature themes. Of all Mr Miyazaki’s work, this is his darkest and most disturbing film, with a generous  share  of  brutality,  death  and  even  sexuality, as well as a conclusion that seemingly resolves nothing. Disney has, to its credit, followed up with another of Mr Miyazaki’s masterpieces. His animated classic, “Laputa, Castle in the Sky” (1986), which is loosely based on a passage from “Gulliver’s Travels”, is expected to go on limited release this spring, though probably not at its original three-hour length.
Half a century ago, it was the rich imagery and psychological insights of Japan’s live-action cinema that astonished and captivated the West. Films such as Mr Kurosawa’s “Rashomon” (1951) and “Seven Samurai” (1954), and Yasujiro Ozu’s “Tokyo Story” (1953) set new standards for film makers everywhere. For the past couple  of  decades,  however,  Japan’s  mainstream  cinema  has  been  in  decline,  at  the  same  time  as  the country’s avant-garde animators have been reaching new artistic heights. “It appears that anime is taking centre stage in the Japanese film industry, pushing live-action movies to the wings,” says the author Kenji Sato.
Why should this be so? Cost is certainly part of the answer. Hollywood has raised the ante in live action to a point where no one else can match the sums that go into making films like “Titanic”. Though not cheap, animation offers a way of making stylish films without spending anything like as much.
Another factor is the help that anime has had from its close cousin, manga, the Japanese comic books that have become pervasive since the 1970s. A number of successful full-length animations, including Mr Miyazaki’s  “Nausicaa”,  have been  based  on  popular manga stories,  and  many  of  today’s  animators  honed their skills in publishing.
But is this enough to account for the Japanese partiality for animation over live action? Why should they feel more comfortable with a reality that is decidedly two-dimensional? Could it be—as Mr Sato wrote in a Japanese magazine, Echo, shortly after “Princess Mononoke” was released—that the Japanese moviegoers’ flight to anime is part of the ethnic abstinence that has suffused Japanese society, particularly since the end of the second world war?
Bent on achieving the twin goals of modernisation and westernisation, Mr Sato claims that “the Japanese have rejected their own history and traditions and sought to become Nihonjin-banare (de-Japanised)—a generally complimentary term implying that one looks and acts more like a westerner than the average.” As Mr Sato points out, an enduring feature of anime as well as manga is the way that the characters, the females especially,  are  drawn  with  a  blend  of  Japanese  and  Caucasian  features.  “In  short,”  says  Mr  Sato,  “the characters of anime show the Japanese as they would like to see themselves.”
This may be going too far. What is for sure, however, is that in their haste to catch up with and overtake the West, the Japanese have allowed their delicate framework for dramatic expression to disintegrate. Most people in Japan today find it perfectly normal for western actors to express emotions in a direct and forceful way. But if Japanese actors do the same, the result comes across as corny. Ironically, for many Japanese the thin, insubstantial reality of animated film may well appear more alive—more animated, literally—than the flesh-and-blood reality of their own live-action films.

Questions 1-5

Do the following statements agree with the information given in Reading Passage 1?

In boxes 1-5 on your answer sheet, write

TRUE                     if the statement agrees with the information
if the statement contradicts the information
NOT GIVEN        
if there is no information on this

 Joe Swanberg makes romantic films for the cinema. 
 Chris Anderson's prediction in 2006 proved to be incorrect. 
 Blockbusters are not suffering despite the range of entertainment now available. 

 We7 and iTunes are beginning to make the competition difficult for blockbusters. 
 Studio heads are less willing to make expensive films. 

Questions 6 - 13

Complete the summary with NO MORE THAN ONE WORD from the text.

Hitting the number two spot these days mean that your production has to compete with an abundance of   from other media companies. For this reason,  is the approach favoured by some publishers. This  for media bosses could however be a benefit for consumers. The choice now available to us means they must their standards.   people will need to be more flexible and able to work with a range of   Still people who make up the   markets will not be happy as many companies strive to produce something   to please the mass market.

Questions 14-19

Which paragraph contains the following information?

Write the correct letter A-G in boxes 14-19 on your answer sheet.
NB: You may use any letter more than once

 proof that playing media games has beneficial effects.  
 four worrying problems caused as a result of over-exposure to one form of media. 
 the perfect research design. 
 a summary of the pros and cons of new media. 
 an immoral suggestion. 
 a point that researchers agree on. 

Questions 20 - 26
Match each name to the sentences below.

A John Murray
B Jeffrey Johnson
C Shawn Green and Daphne Bavelier 
D Steven Johnson
E Dimitri Christakis 
F Jonathan Roberts 
G Martin Westwell

believes children learn by watching and copying. 
believes that media games require more planning and skills than previously. 
discovered that women could benefit from video games. 
found a link weight problems and TV viewing. 
believes there is a strong link between violent games and violent behaviour. 
explains briefly how our minds shape our personality. 
demonstrated that frequent gamers can absorb more information. 

Questions 27-32

Do the following statements agree with the claims of the writer in Reading Passage 3 ?

In boxes 27-32 on your answer sheet, write

YES                if the statement agrees with the writer's claims
NO                  if the statement contradicts the writer's claim.
NOT GIVEN   if it is impossible to say  what the  writer thinks about this

Luc Besson was inspired by some of Mr Otomo's work. 

"Princess Mononoke" was a huge hit in America after it had been translated. 

Kenji Sato believes that Japanese animation films can never replace live-action movies. 

The main reason Japanese animation has grown is because production costs are much lower. 

Kenji Sato thinks that the popularity of anime in Japan is connected to a self-denial which exists in Japanese culture. 

The term 'de-Japanised' is not considered derogatory in Japanese society. 

Questions 33-40
Complete the summary with the of words below.
Write the correct WORD in boxes 33-40 on your answer sheet.

actually, films, paradoxically, believe, cartoons, animate, characters, animation, combination, preference, understand, visualise, prefer, imagine, animate, understandably, cross, exciting

The manga comic books have of course had an influence on anime. In fact, some  artists perfected their trade in the comic book industry. However we probably have to look further than this to understand the  the Japanese seem to have for animation. Mr Sato believes that the anime  , which are usually a  between Caucasians and Japanese, help the Japanese to themselves in the way they  , live action films may seem less  than anime.

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