Name and Date

by Clara Otto

Clara Otto is a queer Canadian writer living on the ancestral and unceded lands of the hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ and Sḵwx̱wú7mesh speaking peoples. Currently, she is an MFA student at the University of British Columbia. Her work has been published in Plenitude Magazine, The Waking, The Maynard, and Aesthetica’s Creative Writing Anthology.

Writing: Task 1

You should spend about 20 minutes on this task.

The graph below shows what two tourists visiting a Caribbean Island did on three different days between August 21st and September 3rd 2018. As with many vacations, this was the straw that broke the camel’s back[1]. Two young people set off with dreams of weak margaritas sipped by a pool. One of them went so far as to believe that enough sunlight could mend what had been broken. Summarize the information by selecting and reporting the main features and make comparisons where relevant.

Write at least 150 words.


Reading: Task 1

You should spend about 10 minutes on Questions 1-6, which are based on the reading passage below.

THE LIZARD BRAIN

Please keep in mind what a lizard is. Oxford Languages defines it as “a reptile that typically has a long body and tail, four legs, movable eyelids and rough scaly skin.” Which of these features fascinate you the most?  For many, it is the eyelids. They are so delicate. Thin as paper, soft as peach skin.

First came the reptilian cortex, the “lizard brain.” The reptilian cortex is responsible for the way you jump when someone rounds a corner you were expecting to be empty. It can offer you no more than the following: aggression, mating and territorial defence.

Now forget the lizard and think of that orca whale who swam with the corpse of her calf for more than two weeks. That is the limbic system. Assuming you are not a psychopath, this is why you develop social bonds. It is why your heart lurched reading about that orca. It is why you will feel a rush of dopamine when I tell you that she has a new baby and that they are both doing well.

Next is the neocortex. This is the part of the brain which allows you to think of abstract ideas and make vague plans for the future—such as, but not limited to, asking your girlfriend to marry you in late Spring, but calling the whole thing off before the first frost. 

Classify the following as typical of:

          A. The reptilian cortex
          B. The limbic system
          C. The neocortex

1. Seeing clothes drying on a rack through an open window and feeling acutely alone ____

2. Turning down a side street, having come upon a dead end and being overcome by a hot flash of grief ____

3. A memory or a prediction: on a rowboat, your calves burning from exertion, looking over at the woman you love and thinking this is it ____

4. Basked in the orange glow of a science fiction movie, holding a stranger’s hand; “moving on” ____

 

Questions 5-6

Do the following statements agree with the information given in the passage?

TRUE

if the statement agrees with the information

FALSE

if the statement contradicts the information

NOT GIVEN

if there is no information on this

 

5. You can know everything you need to know about a person by the way they brush your hair out of your face in front of their family ____

6. The best place to break someone’s heart is in a crowded coffee shop so when you walk away and they are left crying, there will be someone there to comfort them ____


You can know everything you need to know about a person by the way they brush your hair out of your face in front of their family …


Reading: Task 2

You should spend about 10 minutes on Questions 7-12, which are based on the reading passage below.

What can Urban Engineers Learn from High School Drama Students?

A

Now imagine that heart-breaking woman walking out of the coffee shop—feeling unburdened and returning to her office. She is free and her head is swimming with bike lanes, roundabouts and walking trails. She is thinking about how travelling through a city is not only the mundane task of getting from point A to point B, but also how a city unfolds. She thinks that even if one has not been to a particular city, one can probably imagine who might choose to live there. All it takes is to utter an imagined city’s name and one’s mind will spring forth with ideas—some correct, some incorrect—about the people that animate the crowded and insufferably hip coffee shops on Saturday mornings.

B

It is the task of an urban engineer to think about this sort of movement and to imagine ways to manage it. Roundabouts and timed crosswalks did not simply fall out of the sky.  

C

I would like to propose that urban engineers go undercover as high school students and enrol in drama classes. The woman we’ve been discussing is a prime example of why they must study the human desire to be seen. Recall, if you can, the drama class you took—whether it was elective or required. Think of the humiliation and slinking in corners. Remember those who beamed bright as they took centre stage; the way the other teenagers lingered around them, drew close, laughed a little too loud or wrote terribly contrived scenes about adult problems they could not imagine—mothers mourning the untimely death of their children, men who have spent the better part of their lives wrongfully imprisoned. I can already hear the urban engineers complaining, but I feel this return is imperative for the integrity of their profession. After all, if that woman can walk out of that coffee shop so nonchalantly, then what they have designed has failed her. The streets that should make her feel human have hardened her.

D

There is an idea, perpetuated through popular culture, that being a dentist is the most miserable career path. I want to put forth that it is actually the person who spends her spare moments thinking about traffic jams.

Write the correct letter, A-D, next to each statement

7. reference to the flaws of the writer’s now ex-fiancé___

8. an example of why one might believe that the writer has lost her mind ___

9. a mention of a simpler time and/or a mention of a time before heartbreak ___

10. reference to something heard at a party where the object of the writer’s affection got too drunk and spent the night flirting with a woman from accounting ___

11. why some people never grow up; a high school hero/real-life zero___

12. a rationalization ___


Listening: Task 1           

You should spend roughly seven minutes on questions 13-22. You will hear a phone conversation between two women of roughly the same age and socioeconomic background. Their voices will sound similar. They are not sisters nor are they cousins. They are in love, but are unable to sustain their relationship. This is just how things go sometimes. You might learn this or you might not. I hope for the latter. This conversation takes place at roughly 10:30 p.m. on a Thursday night, late December. One of the women is standing outside a bar. You will hear sounds of revelry in the background. The other woman is at her home, admiring a cactus that has survived her near constant neglect. The audio will only play once.

A: I am sorry.  

B: Yeah. I know.

A: I wish it was different.

B: Me too. Anyway.

*Indistinct muttering, unclear who is speaking*

A: Yeah.

B: I already ordered…

A: Keep it.

B: But I don’t want it.

A: Give it to someone else.

B: Fine. 

Questions 13–22

Please fill in the answer sheet with ONE WORD ONLY.

She wanted (13) ________ from her partner. Her partner was unable to offer her (14) _______, so instead offered her (15) ______. This was (16) _________ so they (17) ___________. Under what circumstances could this situation have been avoided? (18) _________. Have you ever had to leave someone you loved? (19) _________________. If so, what was the reason? (20) _____. Whose heart broke more? (21) ______.

 


Listening: Task 2

You should spend four minutes on questions 23-25. You are going to hear a woman dial a phone number, but not press the “call” button. PLEASE WRITE IN FULL SENTENCES. SPELLING IS IMPORTAMT!

23. Did this sound more like a glass bottle dropped on a hot summer night or wind rustling through starched sheets on a cold fall day?

________________________________________________________________________

24. Have you ever thrown your phone across the room and had the screen shatter? If so, did it still work after?

________________________________________________________________________

25. How many problems can be solved with a compromise?

________________________________________________________________________


Speaking: Task 1

Time: 4-5 minutes

Now, I am going to ask you some questions about yourself.

          • Are you the sort of person who says their dog is well-trained when clearly it is not? Who turns their head away when it tracks mud all over your friend’s white pants?

          • Have you ever read a novel about someone so incredibly different than you, facing hardships you could never conceivably encounter, that it made you yearn to turn back time? To misspend your youth in a different way? Do you believe that this sort of longing ever fully dissipates? Or does each person carry it around with them quietly?

          • Do you think it is important to mean it every time when you say you love someone? Why? Why not?

Great. Now let us talk about films.

          • When you watch a movie do you find yourself rooting for the couple that is already together or for the couple that could be formed?

          • Tell me about the first good film you watched—maybe one that changed you[2]. If a film has not changed you, perhaps you should not be taking this test. 


Do you think it is important to mean it every time when you say you love someone?


Speaking: Task 2

Time: 3-4 minutes

I am going to give you a topic and I would like you to speak about it for one to two minutes. Before you speak, you will have one minute to think about what you are going to say and you can make notes if you wish. Do you understand?

I would like you to imagine one of the women swimming in the ocean. It does not matter which one you choose. It is near the end of summer. There are many people in the water, but she has swum out a little farther than them. She can hear the sounds of children playing in the shallows. When she holds her breath and submerges herself underwater, she looks up and opens her eyes even though it stings. What is she looking for?


When she holds her breath and submerges herself underwater, she looks up and opens her eyes even though it stings.


Speaking: Task 3

Time: 4-5 minutes

You are going to hear a recording of a woman driving toward her family home many years after the phone call you heard earlier. She is, perhaps, driving a little too fast. She is listening to the album she played on repeat after that breakup, but now it no longer reminds her of that old love. Based on this audio answer the questions. PLEASE ANSWER IN SONG LYRICS. THREE WORDS ONLY. BONUS POINTS WILL BE GIVEN TO THOSE WHO CAN SING IN THE CORRECT KEY.

          • Do you believe in life after love?

          ­­­­­­­­­• Did anybody say it was going to be easy?

          • What does every good girl want to hear?

Thank you. This is the end of the test. If you would like to check your answers, please consume a shot of gin and call someone you have wronged.


ENDNOTES 

[1] An idiom that describes a minor occurrence which causes a large change of circumstance. The phrase “the last straw” or “the final straw” is derived from this saying.

[2] Marks will be deducted from candidates whose favourite film was written in English. Additional marks will be deducted if the film was made from 2000-2010. Nothing good came of that decade. Yes, this includes Donnie Darko.



Clara Otto is a queer Canadian writer living on the ancestral and unceded lands of the hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ and Sḵwx̱wú7mesh speaking peoples. Currently, she is an MFA student at the University of British Columbia. Her work has been published in Plenitude Magazine, The Waking, The Maynard, and Aesthetica’s Creative Writing Anthology.

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