IELTS® Academic Reading Practice 84

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William Henry Perkin (“Identifying Information” Strategy Video Included)

William Henry Perkin was born on March 12,1838, in London, England. As a boy, Perkin's curiosity prompted early interests in the arts, sciences, photography, and engineering. But it was a chance stumbling upon a run-downt, yet functional, laboratory in his late grandfather's home that solidified the young man's enthusiasm for chemistry.

As a student at the City of London School, Perkin became immersed in the study of chemistry. His talent and devotion to the subject were perceived by his teacher, Thomas Hall, who encouraged him to attend a series of lectures given by the eminent scientist Michael Faraday at the Royal Institution. Those speeches fired the young chemist's enthusiasm further, and he later went on to attend the Royal College of Chemistry, which he succeeded in entering in 1853, at the age of 15.

At the time of Perkin's enrolment, the Royal College of Chemistry was headed by the noted German chemist August Wilhelm Hofmann. Perkin's scientific gifts soon caught Hofmann's attention and, within two years, he became Hofmann's youngest assistant. Not long after that, Perkin made the scientific breakthrough that would bring him both fame and fortune.

At the time, quinine was the only viable medical treatment for malaria. The drug is derived from the bark of the cinchona tree, native to South America, and by 1856 demand for the drug was surpassing the available supply. Thus, when Hofmann made some passing comments about the desirability of a synthetic substitute for quinine, it was unsurprising that his star pupil was moved to take up the challenge.

During his vacation in 1856, Perkin spent his time in the laboratory on the top floor of his family's house. He was attempting to manufacture quinine from aniline, an inexpensive and readily available coal tar waste product. Despite his best efforts, however, he did not end up with quinine. Instead, he produced a mysterious dark sludge. Luckily, Perkin's scientific training and nature prompted him to investigate the substance further. Incorporating potassium dichromate and alcohol into the aniline at various stages of the experimental process, he finally produced a deep purple solution. And, proving the truth of the famous scientist Louis Pasteur's words 'chance favours only the prepared mind', Perkin saw the potential of his unexpected find.

Historically, textile dyes were made from such natural sources as plants and animal excretions. Some of these, such as the glandular mucus of snails, were difficult to obtain and outrageously expensive. Indeed, the purple colour extracted from a snail was once so costly that in society at the time only the rich could afford it. Further, natural dyes tended to be muddy in hue and fade quickly. It was against this backdrop that Perkin's discovery was made.

Perkin quickly grasped that his purple solution could be used to colour fabric, thus making it the world's first synthetic dye. Realising the importance of this breakthrough, he lost no time in patenting it. But perhaps the most fascinating of all Perkin's reactions to his find was his nearly instant recognition that the new dye had commercial possibilities.

Perkin originally named his dye Tyrian Purple, but it later became commonly known as mauve (from the French for the plant used to make the colour violet). He asked advice from Scottish dye works owner Robert Pullar, who assured him that manufacturing the dye would be well worth it if the colour remained fast (i.e. would not fade) and the cost was relatively low. So, over the fierce objections of his mentor Hofmann, he left college to give birth to the modern chemical industry.

With the help of his father and brother, Perkin set up a factory not far from London. Utilising the cheap and plentiful coal tar that was an almost unlimited byproduct of London's gas street lighting, the dye works began producing the world's first synthetically dyed material in 1857. The company received a commercial boost from the Empress Eugenie of France when she decided the new colour flattered her. Very soon, mauve was the necessary shade for all the fashionable ladies in that country. Not to be outdone, England's Queen Victoria also appeared in public wearing a mauve gown, thus making it all the rage in England as well. The dye was bold and fast, and the public clamoured for more. Perkin went back to the drawing board.

Although Perkin's fame was achieved and fortune assured by his first discovery, the chemist continued his research. Among other dyes he developed and introduced were aniline red (1859) and aniline black (1863) and, in the late 1860s, Perkin's green. It is important to note that Perkin's synthetic dye discoveries had outcomes far beyond the merely decorative. The dyes also became vital to medical research in many ways. For instance, they were used to stain previously invisible microbes and bacteria, allowing researchers to identify such bacilli as tuberculosis, cholera, and anthrax. Artificial dyes continue to play a crucial role today. And, in what would have been particularly pleasing to Perkin, their current use is in the search for a vaccine against malaria.

 
1. FALSE – In the second paragraph, the sentence “His talent and devotion to the subject were perceived by his teacher, Thomas Hall, who encouraged him to attend a series of lectures given by the eminent scientist Michael Faraday at the Royal Institution.” Therefore, Thomas Hall was the first person to recognize Perkin's ability as a student of chemistry, not Michael Faraday. Therefore, this is False.
 
2. NOT GIVEN – In the second paragraph, the sentence “Those speeches fired the young chemist's enthusiasm further, and he later went on to attend the Royal College of Chemistry, which he succeeded in entering in 1853, at the age of 15.” It does not state that Michael Faraday suggested Perkin should enroll in the Royal College of Chemistry, nor does it state that someone else suggested Perkin should enroll in the Royal College of Chemistry. Therefore, the information is Not Given.
 
3. FALSE – In the third paragraph, the sentence “Perkin's scientific gifts soon caught Hofmann's attention and, within two years, he became Hoffmann's youngest assistant.” This is clearly the opposite of the statement question, and is therefore False.
 
4. TRUE – In the following sentence in the third paragraph, it states “Not long after that, Perkin made the scientific breakthrough that would bring him both fame and fortune.” Therefore, the statement question is True.
 
5. NOT GIVEN – In the fourth paragraph, the sentence “The drug is derived from the bark of the cinchona tree, native to South America...”. While it states that the tree is native to South America, nothing states that the tree is found only in South America. Keep in mind that “native” and “grow only in” are not similar. Therefore, this information is Not Given.
 
6. TRUE – In the fifth paragraph, the sentence “He was attempting to manufacture quinine from aniline, an inexpensive and readily available coal tar waste product.” Therefore, it is clear that Perkin was hoping to manufacture a drug (quinine) from the coal tar waste product, and the answer is True.
 
7. NOT GIVEN – Louis Pasteur is mentioned at the end of the fifth paragraph, but it simply states “...proving the truth of the famous scientist Louis Pasteur's words...Perkin saw the potential of his unexpected find.” Nothing in the paragraph states or disproves the fact that Pasteur was the source of inspiration for Perkin's discoveries. Therefore, the answer is Not Given.



This reading practice simulates the Identifying Information question type of the IELTS Academic Reading test. Read the passage and answer questions 1-7.
Questions 1-7
Do the following statements agree with the information given in the reading passage? 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. Michael Faraday was the first person to recognise Perkin's ability as a student of chemistry.

2. Michael Faraday suggested Perkin should enrol in the Royal College of Chemistry.

3. Perkin employed August Wilhelm Hofmann as his assistant.

4. Perkin was still young when he made the discovery that made him rich and famous.

5. The trees from which quinine is derived grow only in South America.

6. Perkin hoped to manufacture a drug from a coal tar waste product.

7. Perkin was inspired by the discoveries of the famous scientist Louis Pasteur.




Answer Sheet
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
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
William Henry Perkin (“Identifying Information” Strategy Video Included)


William Henry Perkin was born on March 12,1838, in London, England. As a boy, Perkin's curiosity prompted early interests in the arts, sciences, photography, and engineering. But it was a chance stumbling upon a run-downt, yet functional, laboratory in his late grandfather's home that solidified the young man's enthusiasm for chemistry.

As a student at the City of London School, Perkin became immersed in the study of chemistry. His talent and devotion to the subject were perceived by his teacher, Thomas Hall, who encouraged him to attend a series of lectures given by the eminent scientist Michael Faraday at the Royal Institution. Those speeches fired the young chemist's enthusiasm further, and he later went on to attend the Royal College of Chemistry, which he succeeded in entering in 1853, at the age of 15.

At the time of Perkin's enrolment, the Royal College of Chemistry was headed by the noted German chemist August Wilhelm Hofmann. Perkin's scientific gifts soon caught Hofmann's attention and, within two years, he became Hofmann's youngest assistant. Not long after that, Perkin made the scientific breakthrough that would bring him both fame and fortune.

At the time, quinine was the only viable medical treatment for malaria. The drug is derived from the bark of the cinchona tree, native to South America, and by 1856 demand for the drug was surpassing the available supply. Thus, when Hofmann made some passing comments about the desirability of a synthetic substitute for quinine, it was unsurprising that his star pupil was moved to take up the challenge.

During his vacation in 1856, Perkin spent his time in the laboratory on the top floor of his family's house. He was attempting to manufacture quinine from aniline, an inexpensive and readily available coal tar waste product. Despite his best efforts, however, he did not end up with quinine. Instead, he produced a mysterious dark sludge. Luckily, Perkin's scientific training and nature prompted him to investigate the substance further. Incorporating potassium dichromate and alcohol into the aniline at various stages of the experimental process, he finally produced a deep purple solution. And, proving the truth of the famous scientist Louis Pasteur's words 'chance favours only the prepared mind', Perkin saw the potential of his unexpected find.

Historically, textile dyes were made from such natural sources as plants and animal excretions. Some of these, such as the glandular mucus of snails, were difficult to obtain and outrageously expensive. Indeed, the purple colour extracted from a snail was once so costly that in society at the time only the rich could afford it. Further, natural dyes tended to be muddy in hue and fade quickly. It was against this backdrop that Perkin's discovery was made.

Perkin quickly grasped that his purple solution could be used to colour fabric, thus making it the world's first synthetic dye. Realising the importance of this breakthrough, he lost no time in patenting it. But perhaps the most fascinating of all Perkin's reactions to his find was his nearly instant recognition that the new dye had commercial possibilities.

Perkin originally named his dye Tyrian Purple, but it later became commonly known as mauve (from the French for the plant used to make the colour violet). He asked advice from Scottish dye works owner Robert Pullar, who assured him that manufacturing the dye would be well worth it if the colour remained fast (i.e. would not fade) and the cost was relatively low. So, over the fierce objections of his mentor Hofmann, he left college to give birth to the modern chemical industry.

With the help of his father and brother, Perkin set up a factory not far from London. Utilising the cheap and plentiful coal tar that was an almost unlimited byproduct of London's gas street lighting, the dye works began producing the world's first synthetically dyed material in 1857. The company received a commercial boost from the Empress Eugenie of France when she decided the new colour flattered her. Very soon, mauve was the necessary shade for all the fashionable ladies in that country. Not to be outdone, England's Queen Victoria also appeared in public wearing a mauve gown, thus making it all the rage in England as well. The dye was bold and fast, and the public clamoured for more. Perkin went back to the drawing board.

Although Perkin's fame was achieved and fortune assured by his first discovery, the chemist continued his research. Among other dyes he developed and introduced were aniline red (1859) and aniline black (1863) and, in the late 1860s, Perkin's green. It is important to note that Perkin's synthetic dye discoveries had outcomes far beyond the merely decorative. The dyes also became vital to medical research in many ways. For instance, they were used to stain previously invisible microbes and bacteria, allowing researchers to identify such bacilli as tuberculosis, cholera, and anthrax. Artificial dyes continue to play a crucial role today. And, in what would have been particularly pleasing to Perkin, their current use is in the search for a vaccine against malaria.

 
1. FALSE – In the second paragraph, the sentence “His talent and devotion to the subject were perceived by his teacher, Thomas Hall, who encouraged him to attend a series of lectures given by the eminent scientist Michael Faraday at the Royal Institution.” Therefore, Thomas Hall was the first person to recognize Perkin's ability as a student of chemistry, not Michael Faraday. Therefore, this is False.
 
2. NOT GIVEN – In the second paragraph, the sentence “Those speeches fired the young chemist's enthusiasm further, and he later went on to attend the Royal College of Chemistry, which he succeeded in entering in 1853, at the age of 15.” It does not state that Michael Faraday suggested Perkin should enroll in the Royal College of Chemistry, nor does it state that someone else suggested Perkin should enroll in the Royal College of Chemistry. Therefore, the information is Not Given.
 
3. FALSE – In the third paragraph, the sentence “Perkin's scientific gifts soon caught Hofmann's attention and, within two years, he became Hoffmann's youngest assistant.” This is clearly the opposite of the statement question, and is therefore False.
 
4. TRUE – In the following sentence in the third paragraph, it states “Not long after that, Perkin made the scientific breakthrough that would bring him both fame and fortune.” Therefore, the statement question is True.
 
5. NOT GIVEN – In the fourth paragraph, the sentence “The drug is derived from the bark of the cinchona tree, native to South America...”. While it states that the tree is native to South America, nothing states that the tree is found only in South America. Keep in mind that “native” and “grow only in” are not similar. Therefore, this information is Not Given.
 
6. TRUE – In the fifth paragraph, the sentence “He was attempting to manufacture quinine from aniline, an inexpensive and readily available coal tar waste product.” Therefore, it is clear that Perkin was hoping to manufacture a drug (quinine) from the coal tar waste product, and the answer is True.
 
7. NOT GIVEN – Louis Pasteur is mentioned at the end of the fifth paragraph, but it simply states “...proving the truth of the famous scientist Louis Pasteur's words...Perkin saw the potential of his unexpected find.” Nothing in the paragraph states or disproves the fact that Pasteur was the source of inspiration for Perkin's discoveries. Therefore, the answer is Not Given.
 
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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