IELTS® Academic Reading Practice 57

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The Baobab Tree

A The baobab tree is also sometimes known as the “tree of life,” is also the national tree in Madagascar. The Baobab Tree appears distinct from other kinds of trees; when looking at it, it seems that it has been planted upside down, as the branches have no leaves and look more like roots. That’s why the baobab tree may also be referred to as the “upside down” tree. Another peculiar nickname for the baobab tree is the “monkey bread” tree.

B Sometimes growing to heights as much as 100 feet, or trunks as wide as 36 feet in diameter, the baobab tree lives for hundreds, possibly thousands, of years. Over the trees’ lifespans, their trunks develop to become hollow and are then able to store as much as 26,000 gallons of water at a time, allowing them to survive long periods of drought. Baobab trees grow coconut-sized fruit, which is said to taste like sherbet when eaten. There is at least one known species of baobab tree whose leaves can be eaten like a vegetable, and some species’ seeds can be made into vegetable oil. Other useful products which can be made from baobab trees include fibers, dyes, and fuel.

C The white, luminous flowers of the baobab tree flowers bloom once the tree has reached about 20 years of age, usually at sunset in the middle of summer. With a strong musky smell, the large flowers also attract creatures such as fruit bats and insects. These pollinators help the trees to reproduce as they drift between the flowers. However, the flowers of the baobab tree don’t last long; they wilt and fall off the tree within hours of opening. The 6 – 8 inch long baobab tree fruits which come in hairy pods are also known as “monkey bread. They are rich in nutrition, and packed with vitamin C. The seeds found within the hairy pod are encased in a white pulp. After the pulp dries, it seems to resemble a powdery bread. Larger animals such as baboons, elephants, antelopes, and monkeys can be seen eating the seeds.

D Baobab trees are declining in numbers, such that their population has been of concern over the last decade. A recent study has also been cause of some alarm about the baobab tree’s future. The results of the study reveal two baobab tree species endemic to Africa are now at risk of losing most of their available habitat and becoming extinct within the coming years as a result of climate change and human activity. A total of nine species of baobab trees (Adansonia spp.) exist today. Eight are native to Africa, while one is native to Australia. Of these African species, two can also be found growing on the Arabian Peninsula, while six African species are found only on Madagascar. Of these nine, three of the Madagascan species (A. grandidieri, A. perrieri, and A. suarezensis) have been marked as “endangered” on the IUCN Red List.

E Presently, the A. perrieri species has the lowest population numbers of the three, with just 99 observed trees remaining. By 2080, estimations indicate that it will only have 30% of its current range left, posing an even greater threat to its continued survival. The A. suarezensis species’ population is considerably larger, with 15,000 trees observed, their distribution area is also much smaller at only 1,200 square kilometers. By the year 2050, it is estimated that only 17 square kilometers of this area will remain, almost certainly a death sentence for this species. On a more positive note, the largest and best known of all of Madagascar's six baobab species,  A. grandidieri, still has a population of one million trees with an expansive range which should allow their continued survival in the coming decades.

F The size of the baobab tree fruit and seeds is relatively large, therefore animals are the best ones to spread them around. Seeds which drop directly under their parent trees don’t stand much of a chance to survive as they compete for sunlight amongst the other mature trees nearby. Creatures, such as monkeys, who eat baobab fruit and seeds aid in dispersing the seeds as waste, carrying them to areas away from large trees, places where the seedlings are much more likely to grow to maturity.

G An interesting piece within this story is the role that giant tortoises play.  Two, now extinct, species of giant tortoises that were once native to Madagascar were the most likely to have been the main animals who dispersed baobab tree seeds. A recent study observed one species of giant tortoise (the Aldabra giant tortoise) which is alien to Madagascar in an experiment. The tortoise willingly ate the fruit from the baobab tree, and the seeds stay in the tortoise’s digestive tract as long as 23 days. In light of these findings, biologists today are attempting to bring Aldabra giant tortoises into the wild of Madagascar as an effort to help the baobab tree population.

H Climate change, habitat destruction from to human interference, and a lack of any living animals to act as seed dispersers are all factors which pose a risk the survival of some baobab tree species. However, by learning more about these threats, biologists can take steps towards stopping the trees from eventually going extinct. With more being understood about the environment, as well as growing appreciation for the need for biodiversity on our planet, we are closer to being able to make a difference for the better.




This reading practice simulates one part of the IELTS Academic Reading test. You should spend about twenty minutes on it. Read the passage and answer questions 27-40.
Questions 27-31
The reading passage has eight paragraphs labelled A-H.

Which paragraph contains the following information?

Write the correct letter A-H in boxes 27-31 on your answer sheet.

NB You may use any letter more than once.

27. Information regarding diverse objects growing on baobab trees

28. Status of some vulnerable and resilient species of the baobab tree

29. A description of physical characteristics of the baobab tree

30. An effect to restore baobab trees’ numbers by introducing non-native species

31. A reason why baobab trees need animals such as giant tortoises to help disperse their seeds.

Questions 32-36
Do the following statements agree with the information given in the reading passage? In boxes 32-36 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.

32. The baobab tree can live for lengthy periods of time without water

33. The seeds of the tree can be used to make fuel

34. There are more baobab trees in Madagascar now than there were 50 years ago

35. Half of baobab tree species endemic to Madagascar are considered as endangered species

36. The hollow trunk of the tree provides an important habitat for tortoises

Questions 37-40
Complete the sentences below.

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

Write your answers in 37-40 on your answer sheet.

During their the body of the tree becomes hollow.

The flowers of the tree have a smell which has been described as .

Bees and ants act as which assist the tree in reproducing.

The dried pulp starts to look like a .




Answer Sheet
1
N/A
2
N/A
3
N/A
4
N/A
5
N/A
6
N/A
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
28
29
30
31
32
33
34
35
36
37
38
39
40


Reading Passage Vocabulary
The Baobab Tree


A The baobab tree is also sometimes known as the “tree of life,” is also the national tree in Madagascar. The Baobab Tree appears distinct from other kinds of trees; when looking at it, it seems that it has been planted upside down, as the branches have no leaves and look more like roots. That’s why the baobab tree may also be referred to as the “upside down” tree. Another peculiar nickname for the baobab tree is the “monkey bread” tree.

B Sometimes growing to heights as much as 100 feet, or trunks as wide as 36 feet in diameter, the baobab tree lives for hundreds, possibly thousands, of years. Over the trees’ lifespans, their trunks develop to become hollow and are then able to store as much as 26,000 gallons of water at a time, allowing them to survive long periods of drought. Baobab trees grow coconut-sized fruit, which is said to taste like sherbet when eaten. There is at least one known species of baobab tree whose leaves can be eaten like a vegetable, and some species’ seeds can be made into vegetable oil. Other useful products which can be made from baobab trees include fibers, dyes, and fuel.

C The white, luminous flowers of the baobab tree flowers bloom once the tree has reached about 20 years of age, usually at sunset in the middle of summer. With a strong musky smell, the large flowers also attract creatures such as fruit bats and insects. These pollinators help the trees to reproduce as they drift between the flowers. However, the flowers of the baobab tree don’t last long; they wilt and fall off the tree within hours of opening. The 6 – 8 inch long baobab tree fruits which come in hairy pods are also known as “monkey bread. They are rich in nutrition, and packed with vitamin C. The seeds found within the hairy pod are encased in a white pulp. After the pulp dries, it seems to resemble a powdery bread. Larger animals such as baboons, elephants, antelopes, and monkeys can be seen eating the seeds.

D Baobab trees are declining in numbers, such that their population has been of concern over the last decade. A recent study has also been cause of some alarm about the baobab tree’s future. The results of the study reveal two baobab tree species endemic to Africa are now at risk of losing most of their available habitat and becoming extinct within the coming years as a result of climate change and human activity. A total of nine species of baobab trees (Adansonia spp.) exist today. Eight are native to Africa, while one is native to Australia. Of these African species, two can also be found growing on the Arabian Peninsula, while six African species are found only on Madagascar. Of these nine, three of the Madagascan species (A. grandidieri, A. perrieri, and A. suarezensis) have been marked as “endangered” on the IUCN Red List.

E Presently, the A. perrieri species has the lowest population numbers of the three, with just 99 observed trees remaining. By 2080, estimations indicate that it will only have 30% of its current range left, posing an even greater threat to its continued survival. The A. suarezensis species’ population is considerably larger, with 15,000 trees observed, their distribution area is also much smaller at only 1,200 square kilometers. By the year 2050, it is estimated that only 17 square kilometers of this area will remain, almost certainly a death sentence for this species. On a more positive note, the largest and best known of all of Madagascar's six baobab species,  A. grandidieri, still has a population of one million trees with an expansive range which should allow their continued survival in the coming decades.

F The size of the baobab tree fruit and seeds is relatively large, therefore animals are the best ones to spread them around. Seeds which drop directly under their parent trees don’t stand much of a chance to survive as they compete for sunlight amongst the other mature trees nearby. Creatures, such as monkeys, who eat baobab fruit and seeds aid in dispersing the seeds as waste, carrying them to areas away from large trees, places where the seedlings are much more likely to grow to maturity.

G An interesting piece within this story is the role that giant tortoises play.  Two, now extinct, species of giant tortoises that were once native to Madagascar were the most likely to have been the main animals who dispersed baobab tree seeds. A recent study observed one species of giant tortoise (the Aldabra giant tortoise) which is alien to Madagascar in an experiment. The tortoise willingly ate the fruit from the baobab tree, and the seeds stay in the tortoise’s digestive tract as long as 23 days. In light of these findings, biologists today are attempting to bring Aldabra giant tortoises into the wild of Madagascar as an effort to help the baobab tree population.

H Climate change, habitat destruction from to human interference, and a lack of any living animals to act as seed dispersers are all factors which pose a risk the survival of some baobab tree species. However, by learning more about these threats, biologists can take steps towards stopping the trees from eventually going extinct. With more being understood about the environment, as well as growing appreciation for the need for biodiversity on our planet, we are closer to being able to make a difference for the better.

 
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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