IELTS® Academic Reading Practice 88

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Meteor Strikes (“Table Completion” Strategy Video Included)

On 15 February 2013, just after dawn the sleepy Russian city of Chelyabinsk was woken by the biggest meteor strike on Earth in over l00 years. Several people videoed the meteor as it crashed through Earth's atmosphere, passing close above the city and giving scientists vital clues as to where it had come from and how it had travelled to Earth. To the people of Chelyabinsk, the meteor shone 30 times brighter than the sun and had 20-30 times more energy than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. The meteor did not hit the ground, but due to its enormous speed exploded 29.7 kilometres above the ground, producing a bright flash, a cloud of hot dust and gas, many smaller fragments of meteor and a powerful shock wave. The latter was so strong that it knocked people off their feet and blew out the windows of homes, shops and factories. 1,500 people went to hospital with injuries indirectly caused by the strike, but matters could have been far worse if the meteor had made contact with the Earth.

The meteor was not an uncommon rock. From studying videos of the meteor's flight, scientists have concluded that it originated in the asteroid belt located between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. At the time it entered Earth's atmosphere, it weighed between 12,000 and 13,000 metric tonnes and was I0 metres in diameter. It crashed through the upper atmosphere at around 19 kilometres a second-above 50 times the speed of sound, facturing at an altitude of between 45 and 50 kilometres such events happen on average every I0 or so years, mainly over oceans or unpopulated areas. This time the strike was over a city and observed by many people, reminding us how common these occurrences are.

A meteor strike has several phases. Moving through space, a meteor's temperature can be around -100 C. It travels around 5 kilometres per second until Earth's gravity accelerates it to 1 7 kilometres a second. It begins to encounter the atmosphere 140 kilometres above the Earth but there is little air resistance until about three seconds later, when it reaches 100 kilometres above the ground. At this point the air becomes dense, causing the meteor to glow as the material on its surface melts. The mix of burning gas and dust creates a fireball as the meteor loses 3 to 6 millimeters of surface mass per second as it is heated to over 1800 C. The rate of loss of material through heat is so rapid that the core temperature of the meteor is still very low while at the same time a tail of vaporised dust and gas becomes visible. These tails can often be seen for up to 45 minutes and may be followed by a sonic boom as the meteor crashes through the sound barrier. During its flight to the Earth, the meteor slows down by 70 per cent and it is during this period that it may fracture and split. At this point some meteors explode in a violent airburst while others enter dark flight - the period when the meteor slows down so much that it stops burning and it falls to the ground as a cold rock.

The Chelyabinsk airburst left only a few large pieces of the meteor: one rock was recovered near the town of Timiyazevskiy, another fell on a house in Deputatskiy, and the largest piece was found by divers at the bottom of Lake Chebarkul. The meteor was the largest to crash to Earth since I908, when a meteor exploded over an area near the Tunguska River in Siberia. Although information about the event is scarce, the theory most scientists share is that an asteroid around 36.5 metres in diameter and travelling at 54,000 kilometres per hour entered the atmosphere above Russia. It exploded in an airburst at 28,000 feet, releasing energy equal to about 185 Hiroshima atomic bombs and flattening trees across an area of 800 square miles. Airbursts the size of Tunguska are estimated to occur every 1,200 years on average. But following the Chelyabinsk meteor, scientists now think the risk of similar objects hitting our planet may be ten times greater than thought previously.

 
1. 50 (fifty) – After scanning for “Chelyabinsk Meteor Strike” and then skimming, you will find the following statement: “It crashed through the upper atmosphere at around 19 kilometres a second – above 50 times the speed of sound.” Therefore, 50 is the answer.
 
2. 29.7 kilometres/kilometers - After scanning for “Chelyabinsk Meteor Strike” and then skimming, you will find the following statement in the beginning of the passage: “The meteor did not hit the ground, but due to its enormous speed exploded 29.7 kilometres above the ground…” Therefore, 29.7 kilometres is the answer.
 
3. 20 to 30 / 20-30 - After scanning for “Chelyabinsk Meteor Strike” and then skimming, you will find the following statement: “To the people of Chelyabinsk, the meteor shone 30 times brighter than the sun and had 20-30 times more energy than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima.” Therefore, 20 to 30 OR 20-30 is the answer.
 
4. 36.5 - After scanning for “Tunguska Meteor Strike” and then skimming, you will find the following statement at the end of the passage: “Although information about the event is scarce, the theory most scientists share is that an asteroid around 36.5 metres in diameter…” Therefore, 36.5 is the answer.
 
5. 54,000 kilometres/kilometers - After scanning for “Tunguska Meteor Strike” and then skimming, you will find the following statement at the end of the passage: Although information about the event is scarce, the theory most scientists share is that an asteroid around 36.5 metres in diameter and travelling at 54,000 kilometres per hour entered the atmosphere above Russia.” Therefore, 54,000 kilometres is the answer.
 
6. 1,200  - After scanning for “Tunguska Meteor Strike” and then skimming, you will find the following statement: “Airbursts the size of Tunguska are estimated to occur every 1,200 years on average.” Therefore, 1,200 is the answer.



This reading practice simulates the Table Completion question type of the IELTS Academic Reading test. Read the passage and answer questions 1-6.
Questions 1-6
Complete the table below.

Choose NO MORE THAN TWO NUMBERS AND ONE WORD from the passage for each answer.

Write your answers in 1-6 on your answer sheet.
The Chelyabinsk meteor strike The Tunguska meteor strike
The meteor was 10 metres in diameter. The meteor was metres in diameter.
It travelled times faster than the speed of sound. It entered the atmosphere above Russia at about per hour.
It exploded above the Earth's surface. It exploded 28,000 feet above the earth's surface.
It released times more energy than the Hiroshima atomic bomb. It released 185 times more energy than the Hiroshima atomic bomb.
Meteor strikes of this kind occur on average every 10 years. Meteor strikes of this kind occur on average every years.



Answer Sheet
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
N/A
8
N/A
9
N/A
10
N/A
11
N/A
12
N/A
13
N/A
14
N/A
15
N/A
16
N/A
17
N/A
18
N/A
19
N/A
20
N/A
21
N/A
22
N/A
23
N/A
24
N/A
25
N/A
26
N/A
27
N/A
28
N/A
29
N/A
30
N/A
31
N/A
32
N/A
33
N/A
34
N/A
35
N/A
36
N/A
37
N/A
38
N/A
39
N/A
40
N/A


Reading Passage Vocabulary
Meteor Strikes (“Table Completion” Strategy Video Included)


On 15 February 2013, just after dawn the sleepy Russian city of Chelyabinsk was woken by the biggest meteor strike on Earth in over l00 years. Several people videoed the meteor as it crashed through Earth's atmosphere, passing close above the city and giving scientists vital clues as to where it had come from and how it had travelled to Earth. To the people of Chelyabinsk, the meteor shone 30 times brighter than the sun and had 20-30 times more energy than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. The meteor did not hit the ground, but due to its enormous speed exploded 29.7 kilometres above the ground, producing a bright flash, a cloud of hot dust and gas, many smaller fragments of meteor and a powerful shock wave. The latter was so strong that it knocked people off their feet and blew out the windows of homes, shops and factories. 1,500 people went to hospital with injuries indirectly caused by the strike, but matters could have been far worse if the meteor had made contact with the Earth.

The meteor was not an uncommon rock. From studying videos of the meteor's flight, scientists have concluded that it originated in the asteroid belt located between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. At the time it entered Earth's atmosphere, it weighed between 12,000 and 13,000 metric tonnes and was I0 metres in diameter. It crashed through the upper atmosphere at around 19 kilometres a second-above 50 times the speed of sound, facturing at an altitude of between 45 and 50 kilometres such events happen on average every I0 or so years, mainly over oceans or unpopulated areas. This time the strike was over a city and observed by many people, reminding us how common these occurrences are.

A meteor strike has several phases. Moving through space, a meteor's temperature can be around -100 C. It travels around 5 kilometres per second until Earth's gravity accelerates it to 1 7 kilometres a second. It begins to encounter the atmosphere 140 kilometres above the Earth but there is little air resistance until about three seconds later, when it reaches 100 kilometres above the ground. At this point the air becomes dense, causing the meteor to glow as the material on its surface melts. The mix of burning gas and dust creates a fireball as the meteor loses 3 to 6 millimeters of surface mass per second as it is heated to over 1800 C. The rate of loss of material through heat is so rapid that the core temperature of the meteor is still very low while at the same time a tail of vaporised dust and gas becomes visible. These tails can often be seen for up to 45 minutes and may be followed by a sonic boom as the meteor crashes through the sound barrier. During its flight to the Earth, the meteor slows down by 70 per cent and it is during this period that it may fracture and split. At this point some meteors explode in a violent airburst while others enter dark flight - the period when the meteor slows down so much that it stops burning and it falls to the ground as a cold rock.

The Chelyabinsk airburst left only a few large pieces of the meteor: one rock was recovered near the town of Timiyazevskiy, another fell on a house in Deputatskiy, and the largest piece was found by divers at the bottom of Lake Chebarkul. The meteor was the largest to crash to Earth since I908, when a meteor exploded over an area near the Tunguska River in Siberia. Although information about the event is scarce, the theory most scientists share is that an asteroid around 36.5 metres in diameter and travelling at 54,000 kilometres per hour entered the atmosphere above Russia. It exploded in an airburst at 28,000 feet, releasing energy equal to about 185 Hiroshima atomic bombs and flattening trees across an area of 800 square miles. Airbursts the size of Tunguska are estimated to occur every 1,200 years on average. But following the Chelyabinsk meteor, scientists now think the risk of similar objects hitting our planet may be ten times greater than thought previously.

 
1. 50 (fifty) – After scanning for “Chelyabinsk Meteor Strike” and then skimming, you will find the following statement: “It crashed through the upper atmosphere at around 19 kilometres a second – above 50 times the speed of sound.” Therefore, 50 is the answer.
 
2. 29.7 kilometres/kilometers - After scanning for “Chelyabinsk Meteor Strike” and then skimming, you will find the following statement in the beginning of the passage: “The meteor did not hit the ground, but due to its enormous speed exploded 29.7 kilometres above the ground…” Therefore, 29.7 kilometres is the answer.
 
3. 20 to 30 / 20-30 - After scanning for “Chelyabinsk Meteor Strike” and then skimming, you will find the following statement: “To the people of Chelyabinsk, the meteor shone 30 times brighter than the sun and had 20-30 times more energy than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima.” Therefore, 20 to 30 OR 20-30 is the answer.
 
4. 36.5 - After scanning for “Tunguska Meteor Strike” and then skimming, you will find the following statement at the end of the passage: “Although information about the event is scarce, the theory most scientists share is that an asteroid around 36.5 metres in diameter…” Therefore, 36.5 is the answer.
 
5. 54,000 kilometres/kilometers - After scanning for “Tunguska Meteor Strike” and then skimming, you will find the following statement at the end of the passage: Although information about the event is scarce, the theory most scientists share is that an asteroid around 36.5 metres in diameter and travelling at 54,000 kilometres per hour entered the atmosphere above Russia.” Therefore, 54,000 kilometres is the answer.
 
6. 1,200  - After scanning for “Tunguska Meteor Strike” and then skimming, you will find the following statement: “Airbursts the size of Tunguska are estimated to occur every 1,200 years on average.” Therefore, 1,200 is the answer.
 
Video Answer Explanation

IELTS Academic Reading Tips for Success
These are general tips that will appear on all reading questions.

Tips to improve your reading speed
To get a high score on the IELTS reading section, you need to have a fast reading speed. To have a fast reading speed, you need to improve your vocabulary and practice dissecting sentences. One strategy to dissect a sentence is to look for the subject and verb of the sentence. Finding the subject and verb will help you better understand the main idea of said sentence. Keep in mind, a common feature of a IELTS reading passage is to join strings of ideas to form long compound sentences. This produces large chunks that students have a hard time absorbing. Do not get overwhelmed by its length, just look for the subject and verb, the rest of the ideas will flow.


Keep in mind, having a slow reading speed makes skimming or scanning a reading passage more difficult. The process of quickly skimming through a reading passage for specific keywords or main ideas is a requirement for you to employ successful reading strategies to improve your IELTS reading score. In other words, skimming and scanning are critical skills to ensure you complete all questions in the allotted time frame.
IELTS Reading Strategies
Once you can read and comprehend a passage with a rate of, at least, 220 words per minute, you'll be ready to start implementing our strategies. All too often, students spend too much time reading the passages and not enough time answering the questions. Here is a step by step guide for tackling the reading section.

  1. Step 1: Read questions first

    One of the most common mistakes that candidates make when approaching the reading exam is reading every single word of the passages. Although you can practice for the exam by reading for pleasure, "reading blindly" (reading without any sense of what the questions will ask) will not do you any favors in the exam. Instead, it will hurt your chances for effectively managing your time and getting the best score.

    The main reason to read the questions first is because the type of question may determine what you read in the passage or how you read it. For example, some question types will call for the "skimming" technique, while others may call for the "scanning" technique.

    It is important to answer a set of questions that are of the same question type. You'll need to determine which question type you want to tackle first. A good strategy would be to start with the easier question type and move on to more difficult question types later. The Easiest question types are the ones where you spend less time reading. For example, the Matching Heading question type is an easier one because you only need to find the heading that best describes the main idea of a paragraph. An example of a difficult question type would be Identifying Information. For this question type, you'll need to read each paragraph to find out if each statement is TRUE, FALSE, or NOT GIVEN according to the passage.

    Here is a table that lists the difficulty levels for each question type. Use this table as a reference when choosing which question type you want to tackle first.


    Difficulty level Question Type
    Easy Sentence Completion
    Short answer
    Medium Matching Features
    Multiple choice
    Matching Headings
    Summary, Table, Flow-Chart Completion
    Difficult Matching Sentence Endings
    Matching Information
    Identifying Information (TRUE/FALSE/NOT GIVEN)
    Identifying Viewer's claims (YES/NO/NOT GIVEN)

  2. Step 2: Read for an objective

    After you've read the questions for the passage, you will be able to read for an objective. What does this mean? For example, if you come across a question that includes the year "1896", you can make a note of when this year comes up in the text, using it to answer the question later on. There are two reading techniques that will help you stay on track with reading for an objective. The first one, skimming, is best defined as reading fast in order to get the "gist", or general idea, or a passage. With this technique, you are not stopping for any unfamiliar words or looking for specific details. The second technique, scanning, is best defined as reading for specific information. With this technique, you are not reading for the overall gist, but rather, specific information. Notice how each of these techniques has a specific objective in mind. This will help you find information more quickly.

  3. Step 3: Take notes

    As you're reading for an objective, you should also be making notes on the margins of the passage, placing stars next to key information, or underlining things that you believe will help you answer the various questions. This will make it easier for you to check back when you are asked certain things in the questions. Choose whichever note-taking system is right for you - just make sure you do it!

  4. Step 4: Answer wisely

    After you've read the questions, read the passage, and have taken any appropriate notes, you you should have located the part of the text where you where you need to read carefully. Then just read carefully and think critically to determine the correct answer.

IELTS Reading Question Types
 
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