TOEFL IBT Reading Practice Test 14 from Barron’s TOEFL iBT

Reading 3 “Social Readjustment Scales”

Holmes and Rahe developed the Social Readjustment Rating Scale (SRRS) to measure life change as a form of stress. [A] The scale assigns numerical values to 43 major life events that are supposed to reflect the magni¬tude of the readjustment required by each change. In responding to the scale, respondents are asked to indicate how often they experienced any of these 43 events during a certain time period (typically, the past year). The person then adds up the numbers associated with each event checked. [B]

The SRRS and similar scales have been used in thousands of studies by researchers all over the world. IS] Overall, these studies have shown that people with higher scores on the SRRS tend to be more vulnerable to many kinds of physical illness—and many types of psychological problems as well. O More recently, however, experts have criticized this research, citing problems with the methods used and raising questions about the meaning of the findings.

First, the assumption that the SRRS measures change exclusively has been shown to be inaccurate. We now have ample evidence that the desirability of events affects adaptational outcomes more than the amount of change that they require. Thus, it seems prudent to view the SRRS as a measure of diverse forms of stress, rather than as a measure of change-related stress.

Second, the SRRS fails to take into account differences among people in their subjective perception of how stressful an event is. For instance, while divorce may deserve a stress value of 73 for most people, a particular person’s divorce might generate much less stress and merit a value of only 25.

Third, many of the events listed on the SRRS and similar scales are highly ambiguous, leading people to be inconsistent as to which events they report experiencing. For instance, what qualifies as “trouble with the boss”? Should you check that because you’re sick and tired of your supervisor? What consti¬tutes a “change in living conditions”? Does your purchase of a great new sound system qualify? As you can see, the SRRS includes many “events” that are described inadequately, producing considerable ambiguity about the meaning of one’s response. Problems in recalling events over a period of a year also lead to inconsistent responding on stress scales, thus lowering their reliability.

Fourth, the SRRS does not sample from the domain of stressful events very thoroughly. Do the 43 events listed on the SRRS exhaust all the major stresses that people typically experience? Studies designed to explore that question have found many significant omissions.

Fifth, the correlation between SRRS scores and health outcomes may be inflated because subjects’ neuroticism affects both their responses to stress scales and their self-reports of health problems. Neurotic individuals have a tendency to recall more stress than others and to recall more symptoms of ill¬ness than others. These tendencies mean that some of the correlation between high stress and high illness may simply reflect the effects of subjects’ neuroti¬cism. The possible contaminating effects of neuroticism obscure the meaning of scores on the SRRS and similar measures of stress.

The Life Experiences Survey

In the light of these problems, a number of researchers have attempted to develop improved versions of the SRRS. For example, the Life Experiences Survey (LES), assembled by Irwin Sarason and colleagues, has become a widely used measure of stress in contemporary research. The LES revises and builds on the SRRS survey in a variety of ways that correct, at least in part, most of the problems just discussed.

Specifically, the LES recognizes that stress involves more than mere change and asks respondents to indicate whether events had a positive or negative impact on them. This strategy permits the computation of positive change, negative change, and total change scores, which helps researchers gain much more insight into which facets of stress are most crucial. The LES also takes into consideration differences among people in their appraisal of stress, by dropping the normative weights and replacing them with personally assigned weightings of the impact of relevant events. Ambiguity in items is decreased by providing more elaborate descriptions of many items to clarify their meaning.

The LES deals with the failure of the SRRS to sample the full domain of stressful events in several ways. First, some significant omissions from the SRRS have been added to the LES. Second, the LES allows the respondent to write in personally important events that are not included on the scale. Third, the LES has an extra section just for students. Sarason and colleagues suggest that special, tailored sections of this sort be added for specific populations whenever it is useful.

27. Based on the information in paragraph 1 and paragraph 2, what can be inferred about a person with a score of 30 on the SRRS?

A/ A person with a higher score will experience less stress than this person will.
B/ It is likely that this person has not suffered any major problems in the past year.
C/ The amount of positive change is greater than that of a person with a score of 40.
D/ This person has a greater probability to be ill than a person with a 20 score.

28. The word they in the passage refers to

A/ changes B/ measures C/ events D/ outcomes

29. The word diverse in the passage is closest in meaning to

A/ necessary B/ steady C/ limited D/ different

30. In paragraph 4, the author uses divorce as an example to show

A/ how most people respond to high stress situations in their lives

B/ the serious nature of a situation that is listed as a stressful event

C/ the subjective importance of a situation listed on the scale

D/ the numerical value for a stressful event on the SRRS

31. In paragraph 5, how does the author demonstrate that the response events on the SRRS are not consistent?

A/By asking questions that could be answered in more than one way

B/ By giving examples of responses that are confusing

C/ By comparing several ways to score the stress scales

D/ By suggesting that people do not respond carefully

32. According to paragraph 7, why is the SRRS inappropriate for people with neuroses?

A/ They are ill more often, which affects their scores on the scale.

B/ Their self-reporting on the scale is affected by their neuroses.
C/ They tend to suffer more stress than people without neuroses.
D/ Their response to stress will probably not be recorded on the scale.

33. The word assembled in the passage is closest in meaning to

A/ announced B/ influenced C/ arranged D/ distributed

34. The word relevant in the passage is closest in meaning to

A/ occasional


C/ related

D/ unusual

35. According to paragraph 9, why does the LES ask respondents to classify change as positive or negative?

A/ To analyze the long-term consequences of change

B/ To determine which aspects of change are personally significant

C/ To explain why some people handle stress better than others

D/ To introduce normative weighting of stress events

36. According to the passage, which of the following is true about the SRRS as compared with the LES?

A/ The SRRS includes a space to write in personal events that have not been listed.
B/ The SRRS features a section for specific populations such as students.

C/ The SRRS assigns numbers to calculate the stress associated with events.
D/ The SRRS has hints to help people recall events that happened over a year ago.

37. Which of the following statements most accurately reflects the author’s opinion of the SRRS? ,

A/ There are many problems associated with it.
B/ It is superior to the LES.
C/ It should be studied more carefully.
D/ The scale is most useful for students.

38. Look at the four squares [■] that show where the following sentence could be inserted in the passage.

This sum is an index of the amount of change-related stress the person has recently experienced.

Where could the sentence best be added?
Click on a square [■ ] to insert the sentence in the passage.

39. Directions: Complete the table by matching the phrases on the left with the headings on ‘ the right. Select the appropriate answer choices and drag them to the surveys to which they relate. TWO of the answer choices will NOT be used. This question is worth 4 point.

To delete an answer choice, click on it. To see the passage, click on View Text.

Answer Choices
A/ Limits the events to forty-three major life changes
B/ Calculates subscores for negative and positive changes
C/ Must be taken twice in one year for a reliable score
D/ incorporates a space to write in additional events
E/ Provides for subjective interpretation of the changes
F/ Is no longer being used by psychologists
G/ includes sections for specialized populations
H/ Consists of a scale developed in the 1960s
I/ Assigns a standard numerical value to events

Reading Passage 1  Reading Passage 2   Answer Keys & Explanation