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How to get a high IELTS academic-reading score

IELTS reading Practice: Free IELTS reading Samples

In this guide you will find free IELTS reading samples, IELTS reading practice questions, and IELTS reading exam tips. If you're looking for IELTS exam preparation and need a high IELTS reading score, this page contains everything you'll need to get started.

IELTS Academic Reading Exam Info

The IELTS Academic Reading Test consists of 3 passages. For each one, you will answer 10-14 questions. Passages are taken from books, journals, magazines, and newspapers covering a wide range of subjects such as anthropology, history, science, etc. The passages will sometimes include technical terms or even visual material such as charts and graphs.

The IELTS Academic Reading Test takes around 60 minutes to complete. You will be given a Question Booklet and an Answer Sheet. The Question Booklet is where you will see all the questions you need to answer. The Answer Sheet is where you will write your final answers for grading.

You can check out the IELTS official answer sheet pdf here or just look at the image below :)

KEEP IN MIND!

You will not be given extra time to transfer your answers from the booklet to the answer sheet, so add your answers into the answer sheet right away.

IELTS answer sheet

Free IELTS Reading Samples

Here are some free IELTS reading samples from the British Council (the makers of the IELTS exam). Try to answer the questions and see how you do!

Did you have difficulty with the free IELTS reading samples above? Or Maybe you haven't tried them yet. Either way, it will benefit you to learn about the 11 IELTS reading task types. The more you understand each task type, the less time it'll take you to understand the question resulting in a higher IELTS reading score.

11 IELTS Reading Task Types

Task Type 1 – Multiple Choice

On the IELTS academic reading exam, you will need to answer multiple choice questions. Each multiple choice question will vary in terms of how many answer choices you need to select and the type of question you'll be asked.

The different number of answer choices

  1. Choosing one answer out of four options (The most common)
  2. Choosing two answers out of five options
  3. Choosing three answers out of six options

The type of question

  1. Completing a sentence
  2. Answering a question

We've included a full IELTS reading sample passage and IELTS reading sample questions with answers for a more thorough understanding of the multiple choice questions.

Multiple Choice Question
Questions 10 – 12

Choose the appropriate letters A, B, C or D.

Write your answers in boxes 10-12 on your answer sheet.

10. Research completed in 1982 found that in the United States soil erosion
  1. reduced the productivity of farmland by 20 per cent.
  2. was almost as severe as in India and China.
  3. was causing significant damage to 20 per cent of farmland.
  4. could be reduced by converting cultivated land to meadow or forest.
11. By the mid-1980s, farmers in Denmark
  1. used 50 per cent less fertiliser than Dutch farmers.
  2. used twice as much fertiliser as they had in 1960.
  3. applied fertiliser much more frequently than in 1960.
  4. more than doubled the amount of pesticide they used in just 3 years.
12.Which one of the following increased in New Zealand after 1984?
  1. farm incomes
  2. use of fertiliser
  3. over-stocking
  4. farm diversification

Answer sheet
10
11
12

  • spellcheck Answers
    10. C
    11. B
    12. D
Reading Passage

All these activities may have damaging environmental impacts. For example, land clearing for agriculture is the largest single cause of deforestation; chemical fertilisers and pesticides may contaminate water supplies; more intensive farming and the abandonment of fallow periods tend to exacerbate soil erosion; and the spread of monoculture and use of high- yielding varieties of crops have been accompanied by the disappearance of old varieties of food plants which might have provided some insurance against pests or diseases in future. Soil erosion threatens the productivity of land in both rich and poor countries. The United States, where the most careful measurements have been done, discovered in 1982 that about one-fifth of its farmland was losing topsoil at a rate likely to diminish the soil's productivity. The country subsequently embarked upon a program to convert 11 per cent of its cropped land to meadow or forest. Topsoil in India and China is vanishing much faster than in America.

Government policies have frequently compounded the environmental damage that farming can cause. In the rich countries, subsidies for growing crops and price supports for farm output drive up the price of land. The annual value of these subsidies is immense: about $250 billion, or more than all World Bank lending in the 1980s. To increase the output of crops per acre, a farmer's easiest option is to use more of the most readily available inputs: fertilisers and pesticides. Fertiliser use doubled in Denmark in the period 1960-1985 and increased in The Netherlands by 150 per cent. The quantity of pesticides applied has risen too: by 69 per cent in 1975-1984 in Denmark, for example, with a rise of 115 per cent in the frequency of application in the three years from 1981.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s some efforts were made to reduce farm subsidies. The most dramatic example was that of New Zealand, which scrapped most farm support in 1984. A study of the environmental effects, conducted in 1993, found that the end of fertiliser subsidies had been followed by a fall in fertiliser use (a fall compounded by the decline in world commodity prices, which cut farm incomes). The removal of subsidies also stopped land-clearing and over-stocking, which in the past had been the principal causes of erosion. Farms began to diversify. The one kind of subsidy whose removal appeared to have been bad for the environment was the subsidy to manage soil erosion.

In less enlightened countries, and in the European Union, the trend has been to reduce rather than eliminate subsidies, and to introduce new payments to encourage farmers to treat their land in environmentally friendlier ways, or to leave it fallow. It may sound strange but such payments need to be higher than the existing incentives for farmers to grow food crops. Farmers, however, dislike being paid to do nothing. In several countries they have become interested in the possibility of using fuel produced from crop residues either as a replacement for petrol (as ethanol) or as fuel for power stations (as biomass). Such fuels produce far less carbon dioxide than coal or oil, and absorb carbon dioxide as they grow. They are therefore less likely to contribute to the greenhouse effect. But they are rarely competitive with fossil fuels unless subsidised - and growing them does no less environmental harm than other crops.

Task Type 2 – Identifying Information

In this question type, you'll be given statements relating to the passage and your job will be to answer whether or not the statement is true, false, or not given. Let's have a look at some sample identifying information questions.

Identifying Information Question
Questions 1 – 7

Do the following statements agree with the information given in Reading Passage 1? In boxes 1–7 on your answer sheet, write

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

  1. Chronobiology is the study of how living things have evolved over time.
  2. The rise and fall of sea levels affects how sea creatures behave.
  3. Most animals are active during the daytime.
  4. Circadian rhythms identify how we do different things on different days.
  5. A 'night person' can still have a healthy circadian rhythm.
  6. New therapies can permanently change circadian rhythms without causing harm.
  7. Naturally-produced vegetables have more nutritional value
Answer sheet

1
2
3
4
5
6
7

  • spellcheck Answers
    1. FALSE
    2. TRUE
    3. NOT GIVEN
    4. FALSE
    5. TRUE
    6. FALSE
    7. TRUE
Reading Passage 1

Chronobiology might sound a little futuristic – like something from a science fiction novel, perhaps – but it's actually a field of study that concerns one of the oldest processes life on this planet has ever known: short-term rhythms of time and their effect on flora and fauna.

This can take many forms. Marine life, for example, is influenced by tidal patterns. Animals tend to be active or inactive depending on the position of the sun or moon. Numerous creatures, humans included, are largely diurnal – that is, they like to come out during the hours of sunlight. Nocturnal animals, such as bats and possums, prefer to forage by night. A third group are known as crepuscular: they thrive in the lowlight of dawn and dusk and remain inactive at other hours.

When it comes to humans, chronobiologists are interested in what is known as the circadian rhythm. This is the complete cycle our bodies are naturally geared to undergo within the passage of a twenty-four hour day. Aside from sleeping at night and waking during the day, each cycle involves many other factors such as changes in blood pressure and body temperature. Not everyone has an identical circadian rhythm. 'Night people', for example, often describe how they find it very hard to operate during the morning, but become alert and focused by evening. This is a benign variation within circadian rhythms known as a chronotype.

Scientists have limited abilities to create durable modifications of chronobiological demands. Recent therapeutic developments for humans such as artificial light machines and melatonin administration can reset our circadian rhythms, for example, but our bodies can tell the difference and health suffers when we breach these natural rhythms for extended periods of time. Plants appear no more malleable in this respect; studies demonstrate that vegetables grown in season and ripened on the tree are far higher in essential nutrients than those grown in greenhouses and ripened by laser.

Knowledge of chronobiological patterns can have many pragmatic implications for our day-to-day lives. While contemporary living can sometimes appear to subjugate biology – after all, who needs circadian rhythms when we have caffeine pills, energy drinks, shift work and cities that never sleep? – keeping in synch with our body clock is important.

The average urban resident, for example, rouses at the eye-blearing time of 6.04 a.m., which researchers believe to be far too early. One study found that even rising at 7.00 a.m. has deleterious effects on health unless exercise is performed for 30 minutes afterward. The optimum moment has been whittled down to 7.22 a.m.; muscle aches, headaches and moodiness were reported to be lowest by participants in the study who awoke then.

Once you're up and ready to go, what then? If you're trying to shed some extra pounds, dieticians are adamant: never skip breakfast. This disorients your circadian rhythm and puts your body in starvation mode. The recommended course of action is to follow an intense workout with a carbohydrate-rich breakfast; the other way round and weight loss results are not as pronounced.

Morning is also great for breaking out the vitamins. Supplement absorption by the body is not temporal-dependent, but naturopath Pam Stone notes that the extra boost at breakfast helps us get energised for the day ahead. For improved absorption, Stone suggests pairing supplements with a food in which they are soluble and steering clear of caffeinated beverages. Finally, Stone warns to take care with storage; high potency is best for absorption, and warmth and humidity are known to deplete the potency of a supplement.

After-dinner espressos are becoming more of a tradition – we have the Italians to thank for that – but to prepare for a good night's sleep we are better off putting the brakes on caffeine consumption as early as 3 p.m. With a seven hour half-life, a cup of coffee containing 90 mg of caffeine taken at this hour could still leave 45 mg of caffeine in your nervous system at ten o'clock that evening. It is essential that, by the time you are ready to sleep, your body is rid of all traces.

Evenings are important for winding down before sleep; however, dietician Geraldine Georgeou warns that an after-five carbohydrate-fast is more cultural myth than chronobiological demand. This will deprive your body of vital energy needs. Overloading your gut could lead to indigestion, though. Our digestive tracts do not shut down for the night entirely, but their work slows to a crawl as our bodies prepare for sleep. Consuming a modest snack should be entirely sufficient.

Task Type 3 – Identifying Writer's Views/claims

In this type of question, you will be given a number of statements and asked: 'Do the following statements agree with the views/claims of the writer?' You are required to write 'yes', 'no' or 'not given' in the boxes on their answer sheet.

'No' means that the views or claims of the writer explicitly disagree with the statement.
'Not given' means that the view or claim is neither confirmed nor contradicted.

Identifying Writer's Views/claims Question
Questions 4 – 7

Do the following statements reflect the claims of the writer in the reading passage?

In boxes 4-7 on your answer sheet write

YES   if the statement reflects the claims of the writer
NO   if the statement contradicts the claims of the writer
NOT GIVEN   if it is impossible to say what the writer thinks about this
  1. Thirty per cent of deaths in the United States are caused by smoking-relateddiseases.
  2. If one partner in a marriage smokes, the other is likely to take up smoking
  3. Teenagers whose parents smoke are at risk of getting lung cancer at some time during their lives.
  4. Opponents of smoking financed the UCSF study.

Answer sheet
4
5
6
7

  • spellcheck Answers
    4. NO
    5. NOT GIVEN
    6. YES
    7. NOT GIVEN
Reading Passage

Discovered in the early 1800s and named 'nicotianine', the oily essence now called nicotine is the main active ingredient of tobacco. Nicotine, however, is only a small component of cigarette smoke, which contains more than 4,700 chemical compounds, including 43 cancer-causing substances. In recent times, scientific research has been providing evidence that years of cigarette smoking vastly increases the risk of developing fatal medical conditions.

In addition to being responsible for more than 85 per cent of lung cancers, smoking is associated with cancers of, amongst others, the mouth, stomach and kidneys, and is thought to cause about 14 per cent of leukemia and cervical cancers. In 1990, smoking caused more than 84,000 deaths, mainly resulting from such problems as pneumonia, bronchitis and influenza. Smoking, it is believed, is responsible for 30 per cent of all deaths from cancer and clearly represents the most important preventable cause of cancer in countries like the United States today.

Passive smoking, the breathing in of the side-stream smoke from the burning of tobacco between puffs or of the smoke exhaled by a smoker, also causes a serious health risk. A report published in 1992 by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) emphasized the health dangers, especially from side-stream smoke. This type of smoke contains more smaller particles and is therefore more likely to be deposited deep in the lungs. On the basis of this report, the EPA has classified environmental tobacco smoke in the highest risk category for causing cancer.

As an illustration of the health risks, in the case of a married couple where one partner is a smoker and one a non-smoker, the latter is believed to have a 30 per cent higher risk of death from heart disease because of passive smoking. The risk of lung cancer also increases over the years of exposure and the figure jumps to 80 per cent if the spouse has been smoking four packs a day for 20 years. It has been calculated that 17 per cent of cases of lung cancer can be attributed to high levels of exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke during childhood and adolescence.

A more recent study by researchers at the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF) has shown that second-hand cigarette smoke does more harm to non-smokers than to smokers. Leaving aside the philosophical question of whether anyone should have to breathe someone else's cigarette smoke, the report suggests that the smoke experienced by many people in their daily lives is enough to produce substantial adverse effects on a person's heart and lungs.

The report, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (AMA), was based on the researchers' own earlier research but also includes a review of studies over the past few years. The American Medical Association represents about half of all US doctors and is a strong opponent of smoking. The study suggests that people who smoke cigarettes are continually damaging their cardiovascular system, which adapts in order to compensate for the effects of smoking. It further states that people who do not smoke do not have the benefit of their system adapting to the smoke inhalation. Consequently, the effects of passive smoking are far greater on non-smokers than on smokers.

This report emphasizes that cancer is not caused by a single element in cigarette smoke; harmful effects to health are caused by many components. Carbon monoxide, for example, competes with oxygen in red blood cells and interferes with the blood's ability to deliver life-giving oxygen to the heart. Nicotine and other toxins in cigarette smoke activate small blood cells called platelets, which increases the likelihood of blood clots, thereby affecting blood circulation throughout the body.

The researchers criticize the practice of some scientific consultants who work with the tobacco industry for assuming that cigarette smoke has the same impact on smokers as it does on non-smokers. They argue that those scientists are underestimating the damage done by passive smoking and, in support of their recent findings, cite some previous research which points to passive smoking as the cause for between 30,000 and 60,000 deaths from heart attacks each year in the United States. This means that passive smoking is the third most preventable cause of death after active smoking and alcohol-related diseases

The study argues that the type of action needed against passive smoking should be similar to that being taken against illegal drugs and AIDS (SIDA). The UCSF researchers maintain that the simplest and most cost-effective action is to establish smoke-free work places, schools and public places.

Task Type 4 – Matching Information

In this type of question, you are asked to match statements to paragraphs in the reading text. You do not need to understand what the whole paragraph is about, just find specific information in the paragraph and match it to one of the statements. The answer will normally be contained in a whole phrase or sentence, rather than a single word.

Matching Information Question
Questions 14 – 19

Reading Passage 7 has eight paragraphs labelled A-H.

Which paragraphs contains the following information?

Write the correct letter A-H in boxes 14-19 on your answer sheet.

NB You may use any letter more than once.

  1. a comparison of past and present transportation methods
  2. how driving habits contribute to road problems
  3. the relative merits of cars and public transport
  4. the writer's prediction on future solutions
  5. the increasing use of motor vehicles
  6. the impact of the car on city development

Answer sheet
14
15
16
17
18
19

  • spellcheck Answers
    14 C
    15 F
    16 E
    17 H
    18 A
    19 D
Reading Passage 7

[A] There are now over 700 million motor vehicles in the world - and the number is rising by more than 40 million each year. The average distance driven by car users is growing too - from 8km a day per person in western Europe in 1965 to 25 km a day in 1995. This dependence on motor vehicles has given rise to major problems, including environmental pollution, depletion of oil resources, traffic congestion and safety.

[B] While emissions from new cars are far less harmful than they used to be, city streets and motorways are becoming more crowded than ever, often with older trucks, buses and taxis which emit excessive levels of smoke and fumes. This concentration of vehicles makes air quality in urban areas unpleasant and sometimes dangerous to breathe. Even Moscow has joined the list of capitals afflicted by congestion and traffic fumes. In Mexico City, vehicle pollution is a major health hazard.

[C] Until a hundred years ago, most journeys were in the 20km range, the distance conveniently accessible by horse. Heavy freight could only be carried by water or rail. Invention of the motor vehicle brought personal mobility to the masses and made rapid freight delivery possible over a much wider area. In the United Kingdom, about 90 per cent of inland freight is carried by road. The world cannot revert to the horse-drawn wagon. Can it avoid being locked into congested and polluting ways of transporting people and goods?

[D] In Europe most cities are still designed for the old modes of transport. Adaptation to the motor car has involved adding ring roads, one-way systems and parking lots. In the United States, more land is assigned to car use than to housing. Urban sprawl means that life without a car is next to impossible. Mass use of motor vehicles has also killed or injured millions of people. Other social effects have been blamed on the car such as alienation and aggressive human behaviour.

[E] A 1993 study by the European Federation for Transport and Environment found that car transport is seven times as costly as rail travel in terms of the external social costs it entails - congestion, accidents, pollution, loss of cropland and natural habitats, depletion of oil resources, and so on. Yet cars easily surpass trains or Academic Reading sample task – Matching information buses as a flexible and convenient mode of personal transport. It is unrealistic to expect people to give up private cars in favour of mass transit. Academic Reading sample task – Matching information

[F] Technical solutions can reduce the pollution problem and increase the fuelled efficiency of engines. But fuel consumption and exhaust emissions depend on which cars are preferred by customers and how they are driven. Many people buy larger cars than they need for daily purposes or waste fuel by driving aggressively. Besides, global car use is increasing at a faster rate than the improvement in emissions and fuel efficiency which technology is now making possible.

[G] Some argue that the only long-term solution is to design cities and neighbourhoods so that car journeys are not necessary - all essential services being located within walking distance or easily accessible by public transport. Not only would this save energy and cut carbon dioxide emissions, it would also enhance the quality of community life, putting the emphasis on people instead of cars. Good local government is already bringing this about in some places. But few democratic communities are blessed with the vision – and the capital – to make such profound changes in modern lifestyles.

[H] A more likely scenario seems to be a combination of mass transit systems for travel into and around cities, with small 'low emission' cars for urban use and larger hybrid or lean burn cars for use elsewhere. Electronically tolled highways might be used to ensure that drivers pay charges geared to actual road use. Better integration of transport systems is also highly desirable - and made more feasible by modern computers. But these are solutions for countries which can afford them. In most developing countries, old cars and old technologies continue to predominate Academic Reading sample task – Matching information

Task Type 5 – Matching Headings

This type of question tests your ability to understand the main idea of each paragraph. You will be given between 5 and 7 headings and you have to match each paragraph in the reading text to one heading. A heading is a short sentence that summarise the information in a paragraph. There are always more headings than paragraphs.

Matching Headings Question
Questions 1 – 5

Reading Passage 6 has six sections, A-F.

Choose the correct heading for sections A-D and F from the list of headings below.

Write the correct number i-ix in boxes 1-5 on your answer sheet.

List of Headings
  1. The probable effects of the new international trade agreement
  2. The environmental impact of modern farming
  3. Farming and soil erosion
  4. The effects of government policy in rich countries
  5. Governments and management of the environment
  6. The effects of government policy in poor countries
  7. Farming and food output
  8. The effects of government policy on food output
  9. The new prospects for world trade
  1. Section A
  2. Section B
  3. Section C
  4. Section D
  5. Section F

Answer sheet

1
2
3
4
5

  • spellcheck Answers
    1 v
    2 vii
    3 ii
    4 iv
    5 i
Reading Passage 6

Section A The role of governments in environmental management is difficult but inescapable. Sometimes, the state tries to manage the resources it owns, and does so badly. Often, however, governments act in an even more harmful way. They actually subsidise the exploitation and consumption of natural resources. A whole range of policies, from farm-price support to protection for coal-mining, do environmental damage and (often) make no economic sense. Scrapping them offers a two-fold bonus: a cleaner environment and a more efficient economy. Growth and environmentalism can actually go hand in hand, if politicians have the courage to confront the vested interest that subsidies create.

Section B No activity affects more of the earth's surface than farming. It shapes a third of the planet's land area, not counting Antarctica, and the proportion is rising. World food output per head has risen by 4 per cent between the 1970s and 1980s mainly as a result of increases in yields from land already in cultivation, but also because more land has been brought under the plough. Higher yields have been achieved by increased irrigation, better crop breeding, and a doubling in the use of pesticides and chemical fertilisers in the 1970s and 1980s.

Section C All these activities may have damaging environmental impacts. For example, land clearing for agriculture is the largest single cause of deforestation; chemical fertilisers and pesticides may contaminate water supplies; more intensive farming and the abandonment of fallow periods tend to exacerbate soil erosion; and the spread of monoculture and use of high-yielding varieties of crops have been accompanied by the disappearance of old varieties of food plants which might have provided some insurance against pests or diseases in future. Soil erosion threatens the productivity of land in both rich and poor countries. The United States, where the most careful measurements have been done, discovered in 1982 that about one-fifth of its farmland was losing topsoil at a rate likely to diminish the soil's productivity. The country subsequently embarked upon a program to convert 11 per cent of its cropped land to meadow or forest. Topsoil in India and China is vanishing much faster than in America.

Section D Government policies have frequently compounded the environmental damage that farming can cause. In the rich countries, subsidies for growing crops and price supports for farm output drive up the price of land. The annual value of these subsidies is immense: about $250 billion, or more than all World Bank lending in the 1980s. To increase the output of crops per acre, a farmer's easiest option is to use more of the most readily available inputs: fertilisers and pesticides. Fertiliser use doubled in Denmark in the period 1960-1985 and increased in The Netherlands by 150 per cent. The quantity of pesticides applied has risen too: by 69 per cent in 1975-1984 in Denmark, for example, with a rise of 115 per cent in the frequency of application in the three years from 1981.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s some efforts were made to reduce farm subsidies. The most dramatic example was that of New Zealand, which scrapped most farm support in 1984. A study of the environmental effects, conducted in 1993, found that the end of fertiliser subsidies had been followed by a fall in fertiliser use (a fall compounded by the decline in world commodity prices, which cut farm incomes). The removal of subsidies also stopped land- clearing and over-stocking, which in the past had been the principal causes of erosion. Farms began to diversify. The one kind of subsidy whose removal appeared to have been bad for the environment was the subsidy to manage soil erosion.

In less enlightened countries, and in the European Union, the trend has been to reduce rather than eliminate subsidies, and to introduce new payments to encourage farmers to treat their land in environmentally friendlier ways, or to leave it fallow. It may sound strange but such payments need to be higher than the existing incentives for farmers to grow food crops. Farmers, however, dislike being paid to do nothing. In several countries they have become interested in the possibility of using fuel produced from crop residues either as a replacement for petrol (as ethanol) or as fuel for power stations (as biomass). Such fuels produce far less carbon dioxide than coal or oil, and absorb carbon dioxide as they grow. They are therefore less likely to contribute to the greenhouse effect. But they are rarely competitive with fossil fuels unless subsidised - and growing them does no less environmental harm than other crops.

Section E In poor countries, governments aggravate other sorts of damage. Subsidies for pesticides and artificial fertilisers encourage farmers to use greater quantities than are needed to get the highest economic crop yield. A study by the International Rice Research Institute of pesticide use by farmers in South East Asia found that, with pest-resistant varieties of rice, even moderate applications of pesticide frequently cost farmers more than they saved. Such waste puts farmers on a chemical treadmill: bugs and weeds become resistant to poisons, so next year's poisons must be more lethal. One cost is to human health. Every year some 10,000 people die from pesticide poisoning, almost all of them in the developing countries, and another 400,000 become seriously ill. As for artificial fertilisers, their use world-wide increased by 40 per cent per unit of farmed land between the mid 1970s and late 1980s, mostly in the developing countries. Overuse of fertilisers may cause farmers to stop rotating crops or leaving their land fallow. That, in turn, may make soil erosion worse.

Section F A result of the Uruguay Round of world trade negotiations is likely to be a reduction of 36 per cent in the average levels of farm subsidies paid by the rich countries in 1986-1990. Some of the world's food production will move from Western Europe to regions where subsidies are lower or non-existent, such as the former communist countries and parts of the developing world. Some environmentalists worry about this outcome. It will undoubtedly mean more pressure to convert natural habitat into farmland. But it will also have many desirable environmental effects. The intensity of farming in the rich world should decline, and the use of chemical inputs will diminish. Crops are more likely to be grown in the environments to which they are naturally suited. And more farmers in poor countries will have the money and the incentive to manage their land in ways that are sustainable in the long run. That is important. To feed an increasingly hungry world, farmers need every incentive to use their soil and water effectively and efficiently.

Task Type 6 – Matching Features

In this test type, you are required to match a list of options to a set of statements. The options are a group of features from the text, and are identified by letters.

For example, you might match different research findings to a list of researchers, or characteristics to age groups, events to historical periods, etc. Note that it is possible that some options will not be used, and that others may be used more than once. The instructions will inform you if options may be used more than once.

Matching Features Question
Questions 7 – 10

Look at the following items (Questions 7-10) and the list of groups below.

Match each item with the group which first invented or used them.

Write the correct letter A-E in boxes 7-10 on your answer sheet.

NB You may use any letter more than once.

  1. black powder
  2. rocket-propelled arrows for fighting
  3. rockets as war weapons
  4. the rocket
First invented or used by

A  the Chinese
B  the Indians
C  the British
D  the Arabs
E  the Americans

Answer sheet
7
8
9
10

  • spellcheck Answers
    7 A
    8 A
    9 B
    10 E
Reading Passage

The invention of rockets is linked inextricably with the invention of 'black powder'. Most historians of technology credit the Chinese with its discovery. They base their belief on studies of Chinese writings or on the notebooks of early Europeans who settled in or made long visits to China to study its history and civilisation. It is probable that, some time in the tenth century, black powder was first compounded from its basic ingredients of saltpetre, charcoal and sulphur. But this does not mean that it was immediately used to propel rockets. By the thirteenth century, powder- propelled fire arrows had become rather common. The Chinese relied on this type of technological development to produce incendiary projectiles of many sorts, explosive grenades and possibly cannons to repel their enemies. One such weapon was the 'basket of fire' or, as directly translated from Chinese, the 'arrows like flying leopards'. The 0.7 metre-long arrows, each with a long tube of gunpowder attached near the point of each arrow, could be fired from a long, octagonal-shaped basket at the same time and had a range of 400 paces. Another weapon was the 'arrow as a flying sabre', which could be fired from crossbows. The rocket, placed in a similar position to other rocket-propelled arrows, was designed to increase the range. A small iron weight was attached to the 1.5m bamboo shaft, just below the feathers, to increase the arrow's stability by moving the centre of gravity to a position below the rocket. At a similar time, the Arabs had developed the 'egg which moves and burns'. This 'egg' was apparently full of gunpowder and stabilised by a 1.5m tail. It was fired using two rockets attached to either side of this tail.

It was not until the eighteenth century that Europe became seriously interested in the possibilities of using the rocket itself as a weapon of war and not just to propel other weapons. Prior to this, rockets were used only in pyrotechnic displays. The incentive for the more aggressive use of rockets came not from within the European continent but from far-away India, whose leaders had built up a corps of rocketeers and used rockets successfully against the British in the late eighteenth century. The Indian rockets used against the British were described by a British Captain serving in India as 'an iron envelope about 200 millimetres long and 40 millimetres in diameter with sharp points at the top and a 3m-long bamboo guiding stick'. In the early nineteenth century the British began to experiment with incendiary barrage rockets. The British rocket differed from the Indian version in that it was completely encased in a stout, iron cylinder, terminating in a conical head, measuring one metre in diameter and having a stick almost five metres long and constructed in such a way that it could be firmly attached to the body of the rocket. The Americans developed a rocket, complete with its own launcher, to use against the Mexicans in the mid-nineteenth century. A long cylindrical tube was propped up by two sticks and fastened to the top of the launcher, thereby allowing the rockets to be inserted and lit from the other end. However, the results were sometimes not that impressive as the behaviour of the rockets in flight was less than predictable.

Task Type 7 – Matching Sentence Endings

In this test type, you will be given a list of incomplete sentences with no endings and another list with possible endings. Your job is to match the incomplete sentences with the correct ending based on the reading text.

Matching Sentence Question
Questions 8 – 10

Complete each sentence with the correct ending A-J from the box below.

Write the correct letter A-J in boxes 8-10 on your answer sheet.

NB You may use any letter more than once.

  1. Passive smoking
  2. Compared with a non-smoker, a smoker
  3. The American Medical Association
  1. includes reviews of studies in its reports.
  2. argues for stronger action against smoking in public places.
  3. is one of the two most preventable causes of death.
  4. is more likely to be at risk from passive smoking diseases.
  5. is more harmful to non-smokers than to smokers.
  6. is less likely to be at risk of contracting lung cancer.
  7. is more likely to be at risk of contracting various cancers.
  8. opposes smoking and publishes research on the subject.
  9. is just as harmful to smokers as it is to non-smokers.
  10. reduces the quantity of blood flowing around the body.

Answer sheet

8
9
10

  • spellcheck Answers
    8. E
    9. G
    10. H
Reading Passage

Discovered in the early 1800s and named 'nicotianine', the oily essence now called nicotine is the main active ingredient of tobacco. Nicotine, however, is only a small component of cigarette smoke, which contains more than 4,700 chemical compounds, including 43 cancer-causing substances. In recent times, scientific research has been providing evidence that years of cigarette smoking vastly increases the risk of developing fatal medical conditions.

In addition to being responsible for more than 85 per cent of lung cancers, smoking is associated with cancers of, amongst others, the mouth, stomach and kidneys, and is thought to cause about 14 per cent of leukaemia and cervical cancers. In 1990, smoking caused more than 84,000 deaths, mainly resulting from such problems as pneumonia, bronchitis and influenza. Smoking, it is believed, is responsible for 30 per cent of all deaths from cancer and clearly represents the most important preventable cause of cancer in countries like the United States today.

Passive smoking, the breathing in of the side-stream smoke from the burning of tobacco between puffs or of the smoke exhaled by a smoker, also causes a serious health risk. A report published in 1992 by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) emphasized the health dangers, especially from sidestream smoke. This type of smoke contains more smaller particles and is therefore more likely to be deposited deep in the lungs. On the basis of this report, the EPA has classified environmental tobacco smoke in the highest risk category for causing cancer.

As an illustration of the health risks, in the case of a married couple where one partner is a smoker and one a non-smoker, the latter is believed to have a 30 per cent higher risk of death from heart disease because of passive smoking. The risk of lung cancer also increases over the years of exposure and the figure jumps to 80 per cent if the spouse has been smoking four packs a day for 20 years. It has been calculated that 17 per cent of cases of lung cancer can be attributed to high levels of exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke during childhood and adolescence.

A more recent study by researchers at the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF) has shown that second-hand cigarette smoke does more harm to non-smokers than to smokers. Leaving aside the philosophical question of whether anyone should have to breathe someone else's cigarette smoke, the report suggests that the smoke experienced by many people in their daily lives is enough to produce substantial adverse effects on a person's heart and lungs.

The report, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (AMA), was based on the researchers' own earlier research but also includes a review of studies over the past few years. The American Medical Association represents about half of all US doctors and is a strong opponent of smoking. The study suggests that people who smoke cigarettes are continually damaging their cardiovascular system, which adapts in order to compensate for the effects of smoking. It further states that people who do not smoke do not have the benefit of their system adapting to the smoke inhalation. Consequently, the effects of passive smoking are far greater on non-smokers than on smokers.

This report emphasizes that cancer is not caused by a single element in cigarette smoke; harmful effects to health are caused by many components. Carbon monoxide, for example, competes with oxygen in red blood cells and interferes with the blood's ability to deliver life-giving oxygen to the heart. Nicotine and other toxins in cigarette smoke activate small blood cells called platelets, which increases the likelihood of blood clots, thereby affecting blood circulation throughout the body.

The researchers criticize the practice of some scientific consultants who work with the tobacco industry for assuming that cigarette smoke has the same impact on smokers as it does on non-smokers. They argue that those scientists are underestimating the damage done by passive smoking and, in support of their recent findings, cite some previous research which points to passive smoking as the cause for between 30,000 and 60,000 deaths from heart attacks each year in the United States. This means that passive smoking is the third most preventable cause of death after active smoking and alcohol-related diseases.

The study argues that the type of action needed against passive smoking should be similar to that being taken against illegal drugs and AIDS (SIDA). The UCSF researchers maintain that the simplest and most cost-effective action is to establish smoke-free work places, schools and public places.

Task Type 8 – Sentence Completion

In this kind of question, you will be given a number of sentences with gaps in them and asked to complete the sentences with words from the reading text.

These questions are as much vocabulary tests as they are reading tests because they require you to be aware of paraphrasing (using different words to repeat a sentence so that it has the same meaning) and synonyms (words with the same or very similar meanings)

Sentence Completion Question
Questions 10 - 13

Complete the sentences below.

Choose NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS from the passage for each answer.

  1. ______would be a more effective target for government investment than micro-turbines.
  2. An indirect benefit of subsidising micro-turbines is the support it provides for ______
  3. Most spending has a _____effect on the environment
  4. If people buy a micro-turbine, they have less money to spend on things like foreign holidays and ____.

Answer sheet

10
11
12
13

  • spellcheck Answers
    10 offshore wind farms.
    11. developing technology
    12. negatived
    13. cars
Reading Passage

A In terms of micro-renewable energy sources suitable for private use, a 15-kilowatt (kW) turbine is at the biggest end of the spectrum. With a nine metre diameter and a pole as high as a four-storey house, this is the most efficient form of wind micro­turbine, and the sort of thing you could install only if you had plenty of space and money. According to one estimate, a 15-kW micro-turbine (that's one with the maximum output), costing £41,000 to purchase and a further £9,000 to install, is capable of delivering 25,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh)' of electricity each year if placed on a suitably windy site.

B I don't know of any credible studies of the greenhouse gas emissions involved in producing and installing turbines, so my estimates here are going to be even more broad than usual. However, it is worth trying. If turbine manufacture is about as carbon intensive per pound sterling of product as other generators and electrical motors, which seems a reasonable assumption, the carbon intensity of manufacture will be around 640 kilograms (kg) per £1,000 of value. Installation is probably about as carbon intensive as typical construction, at around 380 kg per £1,000. That makes the carbon footprint (the total amount of greenhouse gases that installing a turbine creates) 30 tonnes.

C The carbon savings from wind-powered electricity generation depend on the carbon intensity of the electricity that you're replacing. Let's assume that your generation replaces the coal-fuelled part of the country's energy mix. In other words, if you live in the UK, let's say that rather than replacing typical grid electricity, which comes from a mix of coal, gas, oil and renewable energy sources, the effect of your turbine is to reduce the use of coal-fired power stations. That's reasonable, because coal is the least preferable source in the electricity mix. In this case the carbon saving is roughly one kilogram per kWh, so you save 25 tonnes per year and pay back the embodied carbon in just 14 months - a great start.

D The UK government has recently introduced a subsidy for renewable energy that pays individual producers 24p per energy unit on top of all the money they save on their own fuel bill, and on selling surplus electricity back to the grid at approximately 5p per unit. With all this taken into account, individuals would get back £7,250 per year on their investment. That pays back the costs in about six years. It makes good financial sense and, for people who care about the carbon savings for their own sake, it looks like a fantastic move. The carbon investment pays back in just over a year, and every year after that is a 25-tonne carbon saving. (It's important to remember that all these sums rely on a wind turbine having a favourable location)

E So, at face value, the turbine looks like a great idea environmentally, and a fairly good long-term investment economically for the person installing it. However, there is a crucial perspective missing from the analysis so far. Has the government spent its money wisely? It has invested 24p per unit into each micro-turbine. That works out at a massive £250 per tonne of carbon saved. My calculations tell me that had the government invested its money in offshore wind farms, instead of subsidising smaller domestic turbines, they would have broken even after eight years. In other words, the micro-turbine works out as a good investment for individuals, but only because the government spends, and arguably wastes, so much money subsidising it. Carbon savings are far lower too.

F Nevertheless, although the micro-wind turbine subsidy doesn't look like the very best way of spending government resources on climate change mitigation, we are talking about investing only about 0.075 percent per year of the nation's GDP to get a one percent reduction in carbon emissions, which is a worthwhile benefit. In other words, it could be much better, but it could be worse. In addition, such investment helps to promote and sustain developing technology.

G There is one extra favourable way of looking at the micro-wind turbine, even if it is not the single best way of investing money in cutting carbon. Input- output modelling has told us that it is actually quite difficult to spend money without having a negative carbon impact. So if the subsidy encourages people to spend their money on a carbon-reducing technology such as a wind turbine, rather than on carbon-producing goods like cars, and services such as overseas holidays, then the reductions in emissions will be greater than my simple sums above have suggested.

Task Type 9 – Summary, Note, Table, Flow-chart Completion

In this task type, you are given a summary of a section of the text, and are required to complete it with information drawn from the text. The summary will usually be of only one part of the passage rather than the whole. There are two variations of this task type. You may be asked either to select words from the text or to select from a list of answers.

The given information may be in the form of:

  • several connected sentences of text (referred to as a summary)
  • several notes (referred to as notes)
  • a table with some of its cells empty or partially empty (referred to as a table)
  • a series of boxes or steps linked by arrows to show a sequence of events
  • with some of the boxes or steps empty or partially empty (referred to as a flow-chart).
Table Question
Question 9 – 13

Complete the table below.

Choose NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS from the passage for each answer.

Write your answers in boxes 9-13 on your answer sheet.
Species French Spanish South African ball
Preferred climate cool 9 _____ 12 _____
Complementary species Spanish 13 _____
Start of active period late spring 10 _____
Number of generations per year 1-2 11 _____

Answer sheet

9
10
11
12
13

  • spellcheck Answers
    9 temperate
    10 early spring
    11 two to five / 2-5
    12 sub-tropical
    13 South African tunneling/tunnelling
Reading Passage

Introducing dung1 beetles into a pasture is a simple process: approximately 1,500 beetles are released, a handful at a time, into fresh cow pats2 in the cow pasture. The beetles immediately disappear beneath the pats digging and tunnelling and, if they successfully adapt to their new environment, soon become a permanent, self-sustaining part of the local ecology. In time they multiply and within three or four years the benefits to the pasture are obvious.

Dung beetles work from the inside of the pat so they are sheltered from predators such as birds and foxes. Most species burrow into the soil and bury dung in tunnels directly underneath the pats, which are hollowed out from within. Some large species originating from France excavate tunnels to a depth of approximately 30 cm below the dung pat. These beetles make sausage-shaped brood chambers along the tunnels. The shallowest tunnels belong to a much smaller Spanish species that buries dung in chambers that hang like fruit from the branches of a pear tree. South African beetles dig narrow tunnels of approximately 20 cm below the surface of the pat. Some surface-dwelling beetles, including a South African species, cut perfectly-shaped balls from the pat, which are rolled away and attached to the bases of plants.

For maximum dung burial in spring, summer and autumn, farmers require a variety of species with overlapping periods of activity. In the cooler environments of the state of Victoria, the large French species (2.5 cms long), is matched with smaller (half this size), temperate-climate Spanish species. The former are slow to recover from the winter cold and produce only one or two generations of offspring from late spring until autumn. The latter, which multiply rapidly in early spring, produce two to five generations annually. The South African ball-rolling species, being a sub-tropical beetle, prefers the climate of northern and coastal New South Wales where it commonly works with the South African tunneling species. In warmer climates, many species are active for longer periods of the year.
Glossary
1. dung: the droppings or excreta of animals
2. cow pats: droppings of cows

Task Type 10 – Diagram Label Completion

This task type requires you to complete labels on a diagram, which relates to a description contained in the text. There are three kinds of diagrams you might get: a technical drawing of a machine or invention, something from the natural world, or a design or plan.

Diagram Label Completion Question
Questions 6 – 8

Label the tunnels on the diagram below using words from the box.

Write your answers in boxes 6-8 on your answer sheet.

IELTS reading sample question diagram


Answer sheet

6
7
8

  • spellcheck Answers
    6 South African
    7 French
    8 Spanish
Reading Passage

Introducing dung1 beetles into a pasture is a simple process: approximately 1,500 beetles are released, a handful at a time, into fresh cow pats2 in the cow pasture. The beetles immediately disappear beneath the pats digging and tunnelling and, if they successfully adapt to their new environment, soon become a permanent, self-sustaining part of the local ecology. In time they multiply and within three or four years the benefits to the pasture are obvious.

Dung beetles work from the inside of the pat so they are sheltered from predators such as birds and foxes. Most species burrow into the soil and bury dung in tunnels directly underneath the pats, which are hollowed out from within. Some large species originating from France excavate tunnels to a depth of approximately 30 cm below the dung pat. These beetles make sausage-shaped brood chambers along the tunnels. The shallowest tunnels belong to a much smaller Spanish species that buries dung in chambers that hang like fruit from the branches of a pear tree. South African beetles dig narrow tunnels of approximately 20 cm below the surface of the pat. Some surface-dwelling beetles, including a South African species, cut perfectly-shaped balls from the pat, which are rolled away and attached to the bases of plants.

For maximum dung burial in spring, summer and autumn, farmers require a variety of species with overlapping periods of activity. In the cooler environments of the state of Victoria, the large French species (2.5 cms long), is matched with smaller (half this size), temperate-climate Spanish species. The former are slow to recover from the winter cold and produce only one or two generations of offspring from late spring until autumn. The latter, which multiply rapidly in early spring, produce two to five generations annually. The South African ball-rolling species, being a sub-tropical beetle, prefers the climate of northern and coastal New South Wales where it commonly works with the South African tunneling species. In warmer climates, many species are active for longer periods of the year.

Glossary
1. dung: the droppings or excreta of animals
2. cow pats: droppings of cows

Task Type 11 – Short Answer Questions

In this task type, you have to write one, two or three words or a number as an answer. Questions usually relate to factual information about details in the text.

The instructions will make it clear how many words/numbers test takers should use in their answers, e.g. 'NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS AND/OR A NUMBER from the passage', 'ONE WORD ONLY' or 'NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS'. If test takers write more than the number of words asked for, they will lose the mark.
Numbers can be written using figures or words.

Short Answer Question
Questions 1 - 3

Answer the questions below using NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS for each answer.

Write your answers in boxes 1-3 on your answer sheet.

  1. In which year did the World Health Organisation define health in terms of mental, physical and social well-being
  2. Name the three broad areas which relate to people's health, according to the socio-ecological view of health.
  3. During which decade were lifestyle risks seen as the major contributors to poor health?

Answer sheet

1
2
3

  • spellcheck Answers
    1. 1946
    2. social, economic, environmental
    3. 1970's
Reading Passage

The concept of health holds different meanings for different people and groups. These meanings of health have also changed over time. This change is no more evident than in Western society today, when notions of health and health promotion are being challenged and expanded in new ways.

For much of recent Western history, health has been viewed in the physical sense only. That is, good health has been connected to the smooth mechanical operation of the body, while ill health has been attributed to a breakdown in this machine. Health in this sense has been defined as the absence of disease or illness and is seen in medical terms. According to this view, creating health for people means providing medical care to treat or prevent disease and illness. During this period, there was an emphasis on providing clean water, improved sanitation and housing.

In the late 1940s the World Health Organisation challenged this physically and medically oriented view of health. They stated that "health is a complete state of physical, mental and social well-being and is not merely the absence of disease" (WHO, 1946). Health and the person were seen more holistically (mind/body/spirit) and not just in physical terms.

The 1970s was a time of focusing on the prevention of disease and illness by emphasising the importance of the lifestyle and behaviour of the individual. Specific behaviours which were seen to increase risk of disease, such as smoking, lack of fitness and unhealthy eating habits, were targeted. Creating health meant providing not only medical health care, but health promotion programs and policies which would help people maintain healthy behaviours and lifestyles. While this individualistic healthy lifestyles approach to health worked for some (the wealthy members of society), people experiencing poverty, unemployment, underemployment or little control over the conditions of their daily lives benefited little from this approach. This was largely because both the healthy lifestyles approach and the medical approach to health largely ignored the social and environmental conditions affecting the health of people.

During the 1980s and 1990s there has been a growing swing away from seeing lifestyle risks as the root cause of poor health. While lifestyle factors still remain important, health is being viewed also in terms of the social, economic and environmental contexts in which people live. This broad approach to health is called the socio-ecological view of health. The broad socio-ecological view of health was endorsed at the first International Conference of Health Promotion held in 1986, Ottawa, Canada, where people from 38 countries agreed and declared that: "The fundamental conditions and resources for health are peace, shelter, education, food, a viable income, a stable eco-system, sustainable resources, social justice and equity. Improvement in health requires a secure foundation in these basic requirements." (WHO, 1986)

It is clear from this statement that the creation of health is about much more than encouraging healthy individual behaviours and lifestyles and providing appropriate medical care. Therefore, the creation of health must include addressing issues such as poverty, pollution, urbanisation, natural resource depletion, social alienation and poor working conditions. The social, economic and environmental contexts which contribute to the creation of heath do not operate separately or independently of each other. Rather, they are interacting and interdependent, and it is the complex interrelationships between them which determine the conditions that promote health. A broad socio-ecological view of health suggests that the promotion of health must include a strong social, economic and environmental focus.

At the Ottawa Conference in 1986, a charter was developed which outlined new directions for health promotion based on the socio-ecological view of health. This charter, known as the Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion, remains as the backbone of health action today. In exploring the scope of health promotion it states that:

Good health is a major resource for social, economic and personal development and an important dimension of quality of life. Political, economic, social, cultural, environmental, behavioural and biological factors can all favour health or be harmful to it. (WHO, 1986) The Ottawa Charter brings practical meaning and action to this broad notion of health promotion. It presents fundamental strategies and approaches in achieving health for all. The overall philosophy of health promotion which guides these fundamental strategies and approaches is one of "enabling people to increase control over and to improve their health" (WHO, 1986).

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