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Writing a Comment — 1

Comment on the following extract.

Can Artificial Intelligence Replace the Real Human Intelligence?

They say   Artificial Intelligence (AI) will soon replace many blue collar and white collar jobs.  Artificial Intelligence   is exhibiting a slow but continuous influence on the value and availability of work  - in the form of wages and the number of adult workers with full-time jobs. The widespread disappearance of jobs would result in a social transformation unlike anything we’ve ever  imagined. We observe entirely a new phase in history, one characterized by a steady and inevitable decline of jobs. The newest industries  mostly related to computer software, and telecommunications and similar industries, are the most labor efficient and don’t require many people. If  we  run out of jobs, what will our society look like without universal work?

The next-generation manager will view intelligent machines as colleagues. The reason is that there will be need for high social intelligence to collaborate effectively in teams and networks to use digital technologies to tap into the knowledge and judgment of partners, customers, external stakeholders and role models in other industries. When technology enables many people to have more information about themselves and others, it’ll be  easier to take a clear and more mature view of the workplace. Self-assessment tools, particularly those that enable people to diagnose what they do and how they do it, can help employees pinpoint their own productivity issues. They have less need for the watchful eyes of a manager. One could easily imagine that the “the end of management” is in sight.

Источник (по ссылке загрузится .zip):

СПбГУ, финал 2017/18, 10–11 классы.

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Writing a Comment — 10

Answer the question and comment on the statement.

If now the computer already helps us to think, sometime it inevitably will start to think and act. What if created by hands and brains of the person the computer, really, unexpectedly will get out of control.

Источник (по ссылке загрузится .zip):

СПбГУ, финал 2018/19, 10–11 классы.

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Writing a Comment — 12

Comment on the following extract.

Koalas Aren’t Extinct, but Their Future Is in Danger, Experts Say.

Claims that koalas were “functionally extinct” spread widely online as fires raged in Australia. With large areas of their crucial habitat ravaged, it is unclear what the future holds for a species that was already under threat before this round of bush fires. Some koalas have been rescued, and with blazes still burning, it is hard to know how many have been killed.

The phrase “functionally extinct” has recently made the rounds in news articles and on social media. The term refers to a species that no longer plays a role in an ecosystem or that is on its way to extinction, possibly irremovably.

In fact, koalas are not extinct. And some scientists warned that exaggeration can hurt, rather than help, conservation efforts. “What is particularly frustrating about the term ‘ functional extinction’ is it indicates a population that is basically past the point of no return, so it means that nothing really can be done,” said Jacquelyn Gill, professor of Biology and Ecology.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List, says the koala population is declining and vulnerable — but not endangered. Estimates range wildly, and every region is different. In some places, scientists say, koalas’ numbers have declined by up to 80 percent. Koalas evolved to exist alongside wildfires, but the animals are facing new threats from human development, which has dislocated local populations and impaired their ability to survive fires, as well as climate change.

Источник (по ссылке загрузится .zip):

СПбГУ, финал 2019/20, 10–11 классы.

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Writing a Comment — 4

Babies are born able to produce all of the sounds of all the world languages and ready to speak any of them.

Write down your ideas on this statement.

Источник (по ссылке загрузится .zip):

Финал олимпиады СПбГУ 2017/18, 10–11 классы, вариант 1.

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Writing a Comment — 6

Comment on the following extract.

Is there necessarily a limit to human aging? The wish to extend the human lifespan has a long tradition in many cultures. Optimistic views of the possibility of achieving this goal through the latest developments in medicine feature increasingly in serious scientific and philosophical discussion. Focusing on interventions in biological ageing, one can distinguish between research that is first and foremost aimed at prolonging life by slowing or even arresting ageing processes and research that is directed at combating the diseases that seem to be intrinsically connected with biological ageing.

The papers nowadays don't argue that human lifespan is limitless. But they note that it's premature to accept that a maximum lifespan for humans exists. It's equally possible, they say, that humans will continu e to live longer, and therefore m ight survive beyond 115 years. It was reasonable that when everybody lived to 50 that the very long lived, for whatever reason—genetics or luck—would make it to 80. If people live on average to 80 or 90, like they do now, then the very long lived make it to 110 or 120. So , if the average lifespan keeps expanding, that would mean the long -lived would live even longer, beyond 115 years. But what happens if we all live to 100, 110, 120 or beyond? Society will obviously look very different and life may seem not too enjoyable.

Источник (по ссылке загрузится .zip):

СПбГУ, финал 2018/19, 10–11 классы.

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Writing a Description — 1

Task 1:

Describe the picture. Answer the following questions in your description:

  • What do you see in the picture below?
  • What might this picture illustrate?
  • What does the picture make you think of?
Write your answer in 100–120 words.

Additional tasks:

Task 2 (essay topics)

Imagine that the picture from task 1 is given to you as a visual prompt for an essay. Think of and write down 3 essay topics relevant to the picture.

Task 3 (finding mistakes)

Read the description below, which answers task 1. What are its weak points?

The picture shows a strange thing. This thing is white. It has three shadows. The shadows are on three walls: red, blue and yellow. The shadows are different, because the shape of the thing is strange.

The picture shows that if we look at something we see only one side, and if we look at another side, we see something else. It means that if we want to know what this something really looks like, we must look at it from different sides.

This picture makes me think that when we see or experience something, we should understand that we don't know what it really is and we must remember that it can be different from what we see.

Task 4 (improving your description)

Look again at the description you wrote for task 1. Does it have any weak points like the one in task 3? If it does, improve your description. The vocabulary below might be of help:

  • look at the problem from every aspect
  • angle of vision
  • scratch the surface of something
  • peculiar
  • bizarre
  • ray of light
  • spotlight
  • cast a shadow
  • resemble
  • represent
  • reflect
  • create / give an impression
  • make an accurate / balanced judgement
  • draw a false conclusion

Vocabulary exercises related to the topic:

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Writing a Description — 2

Task 1:

Describe the picture. Answer the following questions in your description:

  • What do you see in the picture below?
  • What might this picture illustrate?
  • What does the picture make you think of?
Write your answer in 100–120 words.

Task 2 (essay topics)

Imagine that the picture from task 1 is given to you as a visual prompt for an essay. Think of and write down 3 essay topics relevant to the picture.

Task 3 (caption)

Write a caption for the picture. Use no more than 8 words.

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Writing a Review — 2

Read the first half of the short story "Examination Day" and do the tasks that follow.

Examination Day

By Henry Seslar

The Jordans never spoke of the exam, not until their son, Dickie, was twelve years old. It was on his birthday that Mrs. Jordan first mentioned the subject in his presence, and the anxious manner of her speech caused her husband to answer sharply.

“Forget about it,” he said. “He’ll do all right.”

They were at breakfast table, and the boy looked up from his plate curiously. He was an alert-eyed youngster with flat blond hair and a quick, nervous manner. He didn’t understand what the sudden tension was about, but he did know that today was his birthday, and he wanted harmony above all. Somewhere in the little apartment there were wrapped, beribboned packages waiting to be opened, and in the tiny wall-kitchen something warm and sweet was being prepared in the automatic stove. He wanted the day to be happy, and the moistness of his mother’s eyes, the scowl on his father’s face, spoiled the mood of fluttering expectation with which he had greeted the morning.

“What exam?” he asked.

His mother looked at the tablecloth. “It’s just a sort of Government intelligence test they give children at the age of twelve. You’ll be taking it next week. It’s nothing to worry about.”

“You mean a test like in school?”

“Something like that,” his father said, getting up from the table. “Go and read your comics, Dickie.” The boy rose and wandered towards that part of the living room which had been “his” corner since infancy. He fingered the topmost comic of the stack, but seemed uninterested in the colourful squares of fast-paced action. He wandered towards the window, and peered gloomily at the veil of mist that shrouded the glass.

“Why did it have to rain today?” he said. “Why couldn’t it rain tomorrow?”

His father, now slumped into an armchair with the Government newspaper rattled the sheets in vexation. “Because it just did, that’s all. Rain makes the grass grow.”

“Why, Dad?”

“Because it does, that’s all.”

Dickie puckered his brow. “What makes it green, though? The grass?”

“Nobody knows,” his father snapped, then immediately regretted his abruptness.

Later in the day, it was birthday time again. His mother beamed as she handed over the gaily-coloured packages, and even his father managed a grin and a rumple-of-the-hair. He kissed his mother and shook hands gravely with his father. Then the birthday cake was brought forth, and the ceremonies concluded.

An hour later, seated by the window, he watched the sun force its way between the clouds.

“Dad,” he said, “how far away is the sun?”

“Five thousand miles,” his father said.

***

Dickie sat at the breakfast table and again saw moisture in his mother’s eyes. He didn’t connect her tears with the exam until his father suddenly brought the subject to light again.

“Well, Dickie,” he said, with a manly frown, “you’ve got an appointment today.”

“I know Dad. I hope —”

“Now, it’s nothing to worry about. Thousands of children take this test every day. The Government wants to know how smart you are, Dickie. That’s all there is to it.”

“I get good marks in school,” he said hesitantly.

“This is different. This is a — special kind of test. They give you this stuff to drink, you see, and then you go into a room where there’s a sort of machine —”

“What stuff to drink?” Dickie said.

“It’s nothing. It tastes like peppermint. It’s just to make sure you answer the questions truthfully. Not that the Government thinks you won’t tell the truth, but it makes sure.”

Dickie’s face showed puzzlement, and a touch of fright. He looked at his mother, and she composed her face into a misty smile.

“Everything will be all right,” she said.

“Of course it will,” his father agreed. “You’re a good boy, Dickie; you’ll make out fine. Then we’ll come home and celebrate. All right?”

“Yes sir,” Dickie said.

***

They entered the Government Educational Building fifteen minutes before the appointed hour. They crossed the marble floors of the great pillared lobby, passed beneath an archway and entered an automatic lift that brought them to the fourth floor.

There was a young man wearing an insignia-less tunic, seated at a polished desk in front of Room 404. He held a clipboard in his hand, and he checked the list down to the Js and permitted the Jordans to enter.

The room was as cold and official as a courtroom, with long benches flanking metal tables. There were several fathers and sons already there, and a thin-lipped woman with cropped black hair was passing out sheets of paper.

Mr. Jordan filled out the form, and returned it to the clerk. Then he told Dickie: “It won’t be long now. When they call your name, you just go through the doorway at the end of the room.” He indicated the portal with his finger.

A concealed loudspeaker crackled and called off the first name. Dickie saw a boy leave his father’s side reluctantly and walk slowly towards the door.

At five minutes to eleven, they called the name of Jordan.

“Good luck, son,” his father said, without looking at him. “I’ll call for you when the test is over.”

Dickie walked to the door and turned the knob. The room inside was dim, and he could barely make out the features of the grey-tunicked attendant who greeted him.

“Sit down,” the man said softly. He indicated a high stool beside his desk. “Your name’s Richard Jordan?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Your classification number is 600-115. Drink this, Richard.”

He lifted a plastic cup from the desk and handed it to the boy. The liquid inside had the consistency of buttermilk, tasted only vaguely of the promised peppermint. Dickie downed it, and handed the man the empty cup.

He sat in silence, feeling drowsy, while the man wrote busily on a sheet of paper. Then the attendant looked at his watch, and rose to stand only inches from Dickie’s face. He unclipped a penlike object from the pocket of his tunic, and flashed a tiny light into the boy’s eyes.

“All right,” he said. “Come with me, Richard.”

He led Dickie to the end of the room, where a single wooden armchair faced a multi-dialled computing machine. There was a microphone on the left arm of the chair, and when the boy sat down, he found its pinpoint head conveniently at his mouth.

“Now just relax, Richard. You’ll be asked some questions, and you think them over carefully. Then give your answers into the microphone. The machine will take care of the rest.”

“Yes, sir.”

“I’ll leave you alone now. Whenever you want to start, just say ‘ready’ into the microphone.”

“Yes, sir.”

The man squeezed his shoulder, and left.

Task 1 (answering questions)

  1. What year do you think the story takes place?
  2. In your opinion, what kind of an exam is the main character going to take?
  3. Why are the main character's parents worried?

Task 2 (writing the ending)

Write your own ending to the story in about 150–200 words.

Task 3 (the ending of the story)

Read the story to the end. Is it different from what you wrote in Task 2?

Dickie said, “Ready.”

Lights appeared on the machine, and a mechanism whirred. A voice said: “Complete this sequence. One, four, seven, ten, …”

***

Mr. and Mrs. Jordan were in the living room, not speaking, not even speculating.

It was almost four o’clock when the telephone rang. The woman tried to reach it first, but her husband was quicker.

“Mr. Jordan?”

The voice was clipped: a brisk, official voice.

“Yes, speaking.”

“This is the Government Educational Service. Your son, Richard M. Jordan, Classification 600-115 has completed the Government examination. We regret to inform you that his intelligence quotient has exceeded the Government regulation, according to Rule 84 Section 5 of the New Code.”

Across the room, the woman cried out, knowing nothing except the emotion she read on her husband’s face.

“You may specify by telephone,” the voice droned on, “whether you wish his body interred by the Government, or would you prefer a private burial place? The fee for Government burial is ten dollars.

Task 4 (review writing)

Write a review of the story in 200–250 words

In your review:

  • briefly describe the plot;
  • share your impression and comment on whether you find such a plot plausible; 
  • say if you advise reading this story.

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Writing an Article — 17

Imagine that you are writing a piece for a magazine whose audience is teenagers and young people. Read an extract from a psychological article and listen to an extract from The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams. Then write your article about the concept of being real.

In your article:

  • explain how the notion of being “real” can be interpreted;
  • include a summary of both given texts;
  • express your own understanding of the theme.

Use your own words, don't quote the given texts.

Write about 250–350 words.

The Velveteen Rabbit:

Are you living authentically? Here are five things to try on the road to being real:

Find out who you are: What do you like about yourself and what do you enjoy doing? Who do you like spending time with and what really lights up your world? Once you've captured all of this, ideally in words or pictures, spend some time being with that and see what it feels like to become that person.

Align heart and actions: Which direction is life taking you, is it aligned with your dreams and aspirations, which come from the heart or are you following a completely different path? It's not always easy to achieve congruence and sometimes you need to take small steps in that direction. But it can be amazing how things tend to fall into place once you make a start. 

Let go of the past: The past is just that, learn from it, move forward and practice being mindful - it's a great place to be with a host of benefits that can enhance your well-being and improve your future. 

Think for yourself and believe in yourself: Often, when you start to make positive changes, for yourself, it doesn't necessarily work for everyone else, sometimes jealousy and envy come in to play or perhaps people disagree because of practical reasons. Stand firm and remain true to yourself, after all this is your life, not somebody else's. 

Be you: Once you've really discovered who you are, accept yourself. Let go of comparing yourself to others and learn to love the real you.

Source

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Writing an Article — 5

Imagine that you are writing a piece for a linguistic magazine. Read an extract from Paul Shoebottom's article on euphemisms and listen to an extract from George Carlin's talk on the same topic.

Then write your own article.

In your article:

  • explain what euphemisms are and how they are used;
  • include a summary of both given texts;
  • express your attitude to euphemisms.

Use your own words, don't quote the given texts.

Write about 250–350 words.

George Carlin:

Paul Shoebottom:

A euphemism is a word or expression that is used when people want to find a polite or less direct way of talking about difficult or embarrassing topics. Most people, for example, would find it very difficult to say in plain language that they have arranged for their sick old dog to be killed. They would soften the pain by saying: We had Fido put down or We had Fido put to sleep. Many people prefer to call someone plain than ugly, or cuddly rather than fat. As such, euphemisms are an important part of every language.

Schools are full of euphemisms. Teachers rightly do not want to offend students or parents by being too blunt or direct, and usually choose a softer word or expression to convey the same message. For this reason, school reports often contain euphemisms such as: He is not working to his full potential or He has a rather relaxed attitude to his work (= he is lazy).

Typical of many recently-coined euphemisms are the words and expressions that try to avoid giving offence to various minority groups or unfortunate individuals. People who have severe learning difficulties are sometimes called intellectually-challenged, and those with a physical handicap are referred to as differently-abled. Poor people are called needy, underprivileged; disadvantaged or economically deprived. Poor countries have in turn been called underdeveloped, developing, emergent, Third World — all in an effort to retain the meaning without causing offence or being patronising.

Source of the text: Euphemisms by Paul Shoebottom

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Writing an Essay — 15

Comment on the following quotation.

"I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.".

Wayne Gretzky, ice hockey player

Write 200–250 words.

Use the following plan:.

  • explain how you understand the author's point of view;
  • express your personal opinion and give 2–3 reasons in its support;
  • give examples to illustrate your reasons, using your personal experience, literature or background knowledge;
  • make a conclusion.
Похожее по формату задание встречалось на Всероссийской олимпиаде школьников 2016/17, муниципальный этап, 9–11 классы.

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Writing an Essay — 16

Блок 2. Творческое задание

Task 4.Read a part of a haiku poem below. Write an essay (150–200 words) speculating on its meaning.

Do follow the plan of an opinion essay and include an introduction, a body and a conclusion into your work. Your correct answer gives you 30 points.

Courageous frog holds on tight

To the neck of a hungry heron

Trying to swallow him...

(Yuki: Courage)

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Writing an Essay — 17

Блок 2. Творческое задание

Task 4.Read a part of a haiku poem below. Write an essay (250–300 words) speculating on its meaning.

Do follow the plan of an opinion essay and include an introduction, a body and a conclusion into your work. Your correct answer gives you 30 points.

I wonder why

Large ears only listen

To; worthless gossip...

(Kiku: To listen)

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Writing an Essay — 18

Блок 2. Творческое задание

Task 4.Read a part of a haiku poem below. Write an essay (250–300 words) speculating on its meaning.

Do follow the plan of an opinion essay and include an introduction, a body and a conclusion into your work. Your correct answer gives you 30 points.

Today; few strangers see

The first step of friendship

Is mutual respect...

(Sonkei: Respect)

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Writing an Essay — 19

Блок 6.

Discuss the following question.

Should all kinds of arms and weapons be destroyed?

Provide an equal number of arguments for and against. Give reasons for your answer and include any relevant examples from your knowledge or experience.

Write your essay in 230–250 words.

Источник:
«Ломоносов» 2014/15, финал, 10–11 классы, вариант 1.
(по ссылке откроется архив .zip)

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Writing an Essay — 20

Блок 6.

Discuss the following question.

Does appearance influence a person’s character?

Provide an equal number of arguments for and against. Give reasons for your answer and include any relevant examples from your knowledge or experience.

Write your essay in 230–250 words.

Похожее по формату задание встречалось в финале олимпиады «Ломоносов» 2014/15 для 10–11 классов.

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Writing an Essay — 24

Read the following task and write an essay.

Provide the comparison and contrast of how two book characters view an important theme/issue.

Which two book characters represent opposing views on work?

Paragraph 1, the introduction, must contain brief information on the chosen characters and books, the literary movement and the epoch they belong to as well as the scope of aspects to be analyzed.

Paragraphs 2 and 3 must contain the analysis of the chosen characters’ views on the theme/issue under consideration. Each paragraph must start with the topic sentence (the main idea of the paragraph). Each paragraph must contain at least 2 examples/arguments supporting your analysis.

Paragraph 4, the conclusion, must contain your own perspective on the theme/issue.

Write at least 300 words.

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Writing an Essay — 25

Read the following task and write an essay.

Provide the comparison and contrast of how two writers/poets view an important theme/issue.

Which two writers/poets represent opposing views on success in life?

Paragraph 1, the introduction, must contain brief information on the chosen writers/poets, the literary movement and the epoch they belong to as well as the scope of aspects to be analyzed.

Paragraphs 2 and 3 must contain the analysis of the chosen writers’/poets’ views on the theme/issue under consideration. Each paragraph must start with the topic sentence (the main idea of the paragraph). Each paragraph must contain at least 2 examples/arguments supporting your analysis.

Paragraph 4, the conclusion, must contain your own perspective on the theme/issue.

Write at least 300 words.

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Writing an Essay — 26

Read the following task and write an essay.

Provide the comparison and contrast of how two writers/poets view an important theme/issue.

Which two writers/poets represent opposing views on nature?

Paragraph 1, the introduction, must contain brief information on the chosen writers/poets, the literary movement and the epoch they belong to as well as the scope of aspects to be analyzed.

Paragraphs 2 and 3 must contain the analysis of the chosen writers’/poets’ views on the theme/issue under consideration. Each paragraph must start with the topic sentence (the main idea of the paragraph). Each paragraph must contain at least 2 examples/arguments supporting your analysis.

Paragraph 4, the conclusion, must contain your own perspective on the theme/issue.

Write at least 300 words.

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Writing an Essay — 27

Read the following task and write an essay.

Provide the comparison and contrast of how two writers/poets view an important theme/issue.

Which two writers/poets represent opposing views on the Russian/British national character?

Paragraph 1, the introduction, must contain brief information on the chosen writers/poets, the literary movement and the epoch they belong to as well as the scope of aspects to be analyzed.

Paragraphs 2 and 3 must contain the analysis of the chosen writers’/poets’ views on the theme/issue under consideration. Each paragraph must start with the topic sentence (the main idea of the paragraph). Each paragraph must contain at least 2 examples/arguments supporting your analysis.

Paragraph 4, the conclusion, must contain your own perspective on the theme/issue.

Write at least 300 words.

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