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Posts tagged ‘Medium/Hard’


Unit 27 – The Fascination of What’s Difficult

Difficulty: Medium/Hard

Time: 3 minutes


The Fascination of What’s Difficult
by W. B. Yeats


The fascination of what’s difficult
Has dried the sap out of my veins, and rent
Spontaneous joy and natural content
Out of my heart. There’s something ails our colt
That must, as if it had not holy blood
Nor on Olympus leaped from cloud to cloud,
Shiver under the lash, strain, sweat and jolt
As though it dragged road metal. My curse on plays
That have to be set up in fifty ways,
On the day’s war with every knave and dolt*,
Theatre business, management of men.
I swear before the dawn comes round again
I’ll find the stable and pull out the bolt

*dolt: a stupid person


Unit 23 – Indicator Processes and Fisherian Mating Advantages

Difficulty: medium/hard

Time: 6 minutes

The following passage has been adapted from Essays in Animal Behaviour, by Jeffrey R. Lucas and Leigh W. Simmons

In addition to indicators, Fisher (1915, 1930) suggested another major mechanism of sexual selection by female choice, which is now associated with his name. Males with traits preferred by females will have a mating advantage. This advantage is inherited by sons of females with the preference. As genes for preference and trait become associated in offspring, the male trait favoured by female choice will carry the female preference with it. A self-reinforcing positive feedback loop, Fisher’s “runaway process,” can therefore develop, bringing trait and preference to more extreme values (Lande 1981). Although they have sometimes been treated as incompatible alternatives, Fisherian mating advantages (“sexy sons”) and viability-based indicator processes are likely to occur together.

The usefulness of the distinction between Fisherian (sexy sons) and indicator mechanisms was recently questioned (Kokko 2001, Kokko et al., 2002, 2003). The critics suggested that it is a false dichotomy, and that the two processes are opposite endpoints along a continuum, without any qualitative difference between them. A conceptual distinction is useful if it helps us better understand some interesting aspect of the world that might otherwise go unnoticed, unexplained, or misunderstood. Does the distinction between sexy sons and indicator mechanisms provide such help? I think it does, in several ways. Genetic indicator processes may be driven by advantages derived from overall genetic condition, such as relative freedom from deleterious mutations; that is, by genetic mechanisms that involve other and much larger parts of the genome than do Fisherian mating advantages. The latter can be based on genes that, in essence, influence only mating preferences and preferred traits. Genetic indicator processes on the other hand can work without any sexy sons mating advantage. This has been shown in genetic models by using strict monogamy mating rules (Andersson 1986), and by preventing build-up of gametic disequilibrium between genes for male display and female choice (Houle & Kondrashov 2001), which is a crucial component of the Fisherian runaway process. The two mechanisms are qualitatively different also in that indicator mechanisms can maintain female choice in the face of direct costs of choice, whereas Fisherian mating advantages cannot do so.


Unit 21 – Imports & Exports Data Interpretation

Difficulty: Medium/Hard
Time: 4 minutes 30 seconds


Two companies, A and B, import raw materials and manufacture them into products. These products are then immediately exported to a wholesale distribution company. Below is a graph of the ratio of the value (measured in money) of Exports to Imports.

Graph of Companies A & B, ratio of exports to imports


Unit 1.8 – Marketing Budgets in 2011

Difficulty: Medium/Hard

Time: 3 minutes


During the final quarter of 2010 a number of business owners were surveyed and asked one question: whether or not they anticipated increasing or decreasing their marketing budgets in 2011 for each of a (below) list of marketing activities.


A graph produced by MarketingSherpa indicating projected spending on various marketing tactics by businesses



Unit 1.3 – Le French Art

REMEMBER: Calculators are no longer permitted on the exam!

Difficulty: Medium / Hard

Time:   7 minutes 30 seconds


The passage below has been adapted from “But is it Art?” by Cynthia Freeland


A modern-day tourist to France can make short train trips from Paris to visit medieval Chartres on one day and Versailles the next. Having done this tour, I would be hard-pressed to say which place had greater impact. Chartres is fascinating. You catch picturesque glimpses of the cathedral’s mismatched towers from the city’s narrow medieval streets. By comparison, Versailles dazzles by sheer scale and spectacle. The palace is extraordinary, as is its setting amid parks, fountains waterways and gardens. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, gardens were recognised as high artistic achievements. In 1770 Horace Walpole listed gardening along with poetry and painting as the ‘three sisters or graces’. Designers or ‘gardenists’ like Capability Brown in England earned fame and fortune. Andre Le Notre was from a family of gardeners called upon by Louis XIV to design a garden grand enough to fit his image as ‘The Sun King’. Le Notre spent 50 years of his life (beginning in the 1660s) upon the magnificent gardens of Versailles. Designed around the theme of Apollo the sun god (to honour Louis), Versailles’ gardens drew upon Greek mythology: its fountains and statues depicted Apollo’s mother Latona, his sister Diana, etc. The scale was enormous, both in years expended and in hard labour spent transforming the landscape, which started out as a swampy hunting lodge. The Versailles official Web site says that the garden covers 2,000 acres, with 200,000 trees, 210,000 flowers, 50 fountains, 620 fountain nozzles, and 3,600 cubic metres per hour consumed during the annual ‘Full Play of the Fountains’. Water was as much a part of the original design as trees and plants; fountains and waterways had their own designs, with adjustable nozzles to create splashing sculptural effects. Sometimes gondoliers and sailors in costume were hired to ply the waters of the Grand Canal while musicians played on shore. The classical allusions everywhere at work in Versailles would require an educated audience to appreciate them. Like the chateau, the garden served a social, political, and cultural function during the period of absolute monarchy. The garden signified the king’s dominance. But there is also an aesthetic sensibility at work in the garden’s complex geometrically ordered plan, which included broad alleys, low gardens or parterres with embroidery designs, the huge mile-long Grand Canal, and small enclosed wooded alcoves or bosquets, each with its own theme, enhanced by fountains. Gardens did not count as the highest form of art for Immanuel Kant (1724 – 1804), but he took them seriously. Kant’s great work in aesthetics, his Critique of Judgement was published a century after Le Notre began his work. Kant never visited Versailles, though he probably saw engravings of it and knew of gardens emulating it. We remember that Kant emphasised formal features and the idea of ‘purposiveness without a purpose’. Versailles, as a garden aiming at Beauty, did not serve the lowly purpose of growing fruits and vegetables.