The phrases below come from Cambridge IELTS 5 (test 3, passage 1). Match the similar phrases from the two lists, and look up any new vocabulary in a dictionary.
1) a cross-section of socio-economic status
2) positive outcomes
3) supplied support and training
4) insufficient funding
5) scored highly in listening and speaking
6) bore little or no relationship to
A) too little money was invested
B) had nothing to do with
C) a variety of poor and wealthy families
D) the results were phenomenal
E) guidance was provided
F) were more advanced in language development
Read the following passage about 'mindsets' and success.
According to Carol Dweck, individuals can be placed on a continuum according to their implicit views of where ability comes from. Some believe their success is based on innate ability; these are said to have a "fixed" theory of intelligence (fixed mindset). Others, who believe their success is based on having opposite mindset, which involves hard work, learning, training and doggedness are said to have a "growth" or an "incremental" theory of intelligence (growth mindset).
Individuals may not necessarily be aware of their own mindset, but their mindset can still be discerned based on their behaviour. It is especially evident in their reaction to failure. Fixed-mindset individuals dread failure because it is a negative statement on their basic abilities, while growth mindset individuals do not mind or fear failure as much because they realise their performance can be improved and learning comes from failure. These two mindsets play an important role in all aspects of a person's life. Dweck argues that the growth mindset will allow a person to live a less stressful and more successful life.
Which TWO of the following statements agree with the ideas of the writer?
A) Dweck believes that success depends on inherited intelligence.
B) Dweck classifies people according to their beliefs about ability and success.
C) We do not always realise which mindset we have.
D) Fixed-mindset individuals fail more often than those who have a growth mindset.
Read the following passage about the extinction of species.
There are a variety of factors that can contribute directly or indirectly to the extinction of a species. Extinction may come suddenly when an otherwise healthy species is wiped out completely, such as when toxic pollution renders its entire habitat unlivable, or it may occur gradually over thousands or millions of years, such as when a species gradually loses out in competition for food to better adapted competitors. Extinction may occur a long time after the events that set it in motion, a phenomenon known as extinction debt.
Currently, environmental groups and some governments are concerned with the extinction of species caused by humanity, and they try to prevent further extinctions through a variety of conservation programmes. Humans can cause extinction of a species through over-harvesting, pollution, habitat destruction, introduction of invasive species (such as new predators and food competitors), and over-hunting.
Are the following statements true, false, or not given?
Students often ask how many correct answers they need (out of 40) to get a band score of 7 in the reading and listening tests.
According to official IELTS guidelines:
The score needed for each band can change depending on the difficulty of each test. If you have a really difficult test, the score needed for band 7 might be 28 or 29. If the test is easier, you might need to score 31 or 32 to get a 7. Click here to see the banding guide on the official IELTS website.
Here's my keyword table for a general reading test section in Cambridge IELTS book 5 (page 121-122).
IELTS reading is really a vocabulary test.
For example, if you know that 'communal bathrooms' means 'shared bathrooms', you'll be able to match that with 'do not have your own bathroom'. If you don't know the meaning of 'communal', it will be difficult to get the right answer.
People often ask about extra reading practice: Is it a good idea to read newspapers or magazines, and which ones are the best for IELTS practice?
Two good places to find articles are The Economist and National Geographic. Try to spend a few minutes every day reading something from one of these sites. Make a note of some new words or phrases, and gradually your reading will improve.
Note: I recommend doing the exercises for both academic and general. Although there are differences between these two tests, the techniques that you'll use to find the answers are the same (especially the keyword technique).
Read the passage and choose the best answers to the questions below.
Ecotourism is a form of tourism where tourists visit fragile, pristine, and relatively undisturbed natural areas. Its purpose may be to educate the traveller, to provide funds for ecological conservation, to directly benefit the economic development and political empowerment of local communities, or to foster respect for different cultures and for human rights.
However, ecotourism operations occasionally fail to live up to conservation ideals. Even a modest increase in population puts extra pressure on the local environment and necessitates the development of additional infrastructure. The construction of water treatment plants, sanitation facilities, and lodges come with the exploitation of non-renewable energy sources and the utilisation of already limited local resources. The environment may suffer because local communities are unable to meet these infrastructure demands.
1. One aim of ecotourism is to
A) allow people to visit areas that were previously restricted.
B) educate local communities in fragile areas.
C) raise money for environmental projects in natural areas.
2. However, ecotourism can cause problems when
A) the local population does not welcome visitors.
B) extra facilities and amenities are required to cope with a population increase.
C) communities do not have the funds to improve local facilities.
Here are 3 study tips to help you improve your reading:
A student asked me about the following passage and questions from Cambridge IELTS 8. The answer to both questions is "true", but the student asked me to explain why. Can you help?
Part of the passage:
The nineteenth century saw considerable interest in the nature of genius, and produced not a few studies of famous prodigies... However, the difficulty with the evidence produced by these studies, fascinating as they are in collecting together anecdotes and apparent similarities and exceptions, is that they are not what we would today call norm-referenced. In other words, when, for instance, information is collated about early illnesses, methods of upbringing, schooling, etc., we must also take into account information from other historical sources about how common or exceptional these were at the time. For instance, infant mortality was high and life expectancy much shorter than today, home tutoring was common in the families of the nobility and wealthy, bullying and corporal punishment were common at the best independent schools and, for the most part, the cases studied were members of the privileged classes. It was only with the growth of paediatrics and psychology in the twentieth century that studies could be carried out on a more objective, if still not always very scientific, basis.
Questions (true, false or not given):
Read the following passage and choose the best title from the list below.
The attitude of the scientific community towards the unconscious mind has shifted dramatically in recent years. While once viewed as a lazy reservoir of memories and non-task oriented behaviour, the unconscious is now regarded as an active and essential component in the processes of decision making.
Historically, the unconscious mind was considered to be the source of dreams and implicit memory (which allows people to walk or ride a bicycle without consciously thinking about the activity), as well as the storing place for memories of past experiences. But recent research reveals that the unconscious brain might also be an active player in decision making, problem solving, creativity and critical thinking. One familiar example of the operation of the unconscious in problem solving is the well-known phenomenon of the "eureka moment", when a solution to a problem presents itself without the involvement of active thinking.
A) Scientists present new findings about the unconscious mind
B) Our growing understanding of the role of the unconscious
C) How humans solve problems
D) What is a “eureka moment”?
Here are my top 4 tips for how to answer 'paragraph headings' questions:
1. Do these questions last
'Paragraph headings' questions are difficult, especially because the answers will not be in order in the text. For most other types of question, the answers will be in order in the text. So, do the other questions first, then you will be familiar with the text when you return to the 'paragraph headings' questions. You might even find that you are able to match some of the paragraphs really quickly because you remember what they were about.
2. Start with the shortest paragraphs
Instead of starting with the first paragraph, why not start with the shortest paragraph? If there is a really short paragraph, it should be easier to match it to a heading. Then you will have fewer headings to choose from for the longer paragraphs.
3. Look for similar words
As with most types of IELTS reading question, you should be able to find words in the paragraph that are similar to words in the heading.
4. Move on if you are spending too much time
'Paragraph headings' questions often take a long time. Don't allow yourself to use more than 20 minutes for each reading passage. If you haven't finished after 20 minutes, move on to the next passage.
In all IELTS reading tests you'll find good vocabulary. When you read a good word or phrase, do you notice it, write it down, and try to use it?
Here's some good vocabulary from last week's reading exercise:
This is the kind of "less common vocabulary" that could help you to get a band 7 or higher in the writing and speaking tests. Can you use these words and phrases in your own sentences?
Read the following passage about a study into 'sitting'.
The ease of our modern workday could come at the expense of our longevity. A new study of older women in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine finds that sitting for long stretches of time increases the odds of an untimely death. The more hours women in the study spent sitting at work, driving, lying on the couch watching TV, or engaged in other leisurely pursuits, the greater their odds of dying early from all causes, including heart disease and cancer.
Even women who exercised regularly risked shortening their lifespan if most of their daily hours were sedentary ones. “Even if you are doing the recommended amount of moderate to vigorous exercise, you will still have a higher risk of mortality if you’re spending too many hours sitting,” says Dr. JoAnn Manson, one of the study’s authors.
How much sitting can you safely do in a day? In the study, women who were inactive for 11 or more hours a day fared the worst, facing a 12% increase in premature death, but even lesser amounts of inactive time can cause problems. “Once you’re sitting for more than 6 to 8 hours a day, that’s not likely to be good for you,” Dr. Manson says. You want to avoid prolonged sitting and increase the amount of moderate or vigorous exercise you do each day, she adds.
Are the following statements true, false or not given?
1. The study looked at the effects of sitting on elderly women only.
2. A link was found between hours spent sitting and serious health problems.
3. The warnings about sitting do not apply to people who exercise regularly.
4. Less than 6 hours a day is a safe amount of sitting.
(Source: Harvard Medical School)
Read the following passage about the meaning of 'genius'.
A genius is a person who displays exceptional intellectual ability, creativity, or originality, typically to a degree that is associated with the achievement of an unprecedented leap of insight. Various philosophers have proposed definitions of what genius is.
In the philosophy of David Hume, a genius is seen by others as a person disconnected from society, who works remotely, away from the rest of the world. For Immanuel Kant, genius is the ability to independently arrive at and understand concepts that would normally have to be taught by another person. Arthur Schopenhauer defined a genius as someone in whom intellect predominates over "will". According to Bertrand Russell, a genius possesses unique qualities and talents that make him or her especially valuable to society.
Match each of the following statements to one of the philosophers below.
1. A genius is someone who does not require instruction.
2. We tend to regard geniuses as solitary figures.
3. A genius has the ability to make an exceptional contribution to society.
How can you improve your reading? Here are 6 tips:
I'm sure you can think of other suggestions. Be creative with your reading practice, try to enjoy the learning process, and trust that you will improve if you persist.
If you want to improve your IELTS reading score, the most important thing to work on is your knowledge of vocabulary. Exam techniques are of little use if you don't understand the words that you are reading.
I tell my students to keep a vocabulary notebook, and to use a dictionary to find meanings and examples of usage. Here are some words and phrases that we noted in an IELTS reading lesson that I taught last week:
To help my students, I tried to explain the meanings and to give some example sentences. Can you write your own sentences to show that you can use the vocabulary above?
Read the following paragraph about 'minority languages'.
Minority languages are occasionally marginalised within nations for a number of reasons. These include the small number of speakers, the decline in the number of speakers, and their occasional consideration as uncultured, primitive, or simple dialects when compared to the dominant language. Support for minority languages is sometimes viewed as supporting separatism. Immigrant minority languages are often also seen as a threat and as indicative of the non-integration of these communities. Both of these perceived threats are based on the notion of the exclusion of the majority language speakers. Often this is added to by political systems which do not provide support (such as education and policing) in these languages.
Are the following statements true, false or not given?
Read the following text about bad behaviour in schools.
The misbehaviour of children is common in all schools, although most schools manage to maintain tolerable standards of discipline. Low levels of indiscipline can result in a detrimental working environment for children, while poor disciplinary management within a school can cause a more general breakdown in order.
Problems with school discipline have also led to a reduction in the number of people willing to become teachers, especially in schools regarded as difficult. Student misbehaviour and rudeness is the leading cause of teacher resignations. In some areas and countries, this has led to a severe teacher shortage, with classes either not taught, or taught by an unqualified person. In some schools, a class may have up to a dozen different teachers in a single year, as the replacements decide to leave rather than deal with student behaviour. Many countries are now trying to offer incentives to new teachers to remain in such schools, but with very limited success.
Find words or phrases in the text that are similar to those in the list below.
1. sufficient levels
3. resulted in
4. main reason for
6. as many as twelve
Whenever you practise doing an IELTS reading test, you should treat it as an opportunity to improve your vocabulary knowledge. Look carefully at the phrases used, and the way ideas are expressed.
For example, did you notice this vocabulary in last week's lesson?
Try making your own sentences to practise using some of these phrases.
Read the following passage and choose the best heading.
The environmental challenges posed by agriculture are huge, and they’ll only become more pressing as we try to meet the growing need for food worldwide. We’ll likely have two billion more mouths to feed by mid-century - more than nine billion people. But sheer population growth isn’t the only reason we’ll need more food. The spread of prosperity across the world, especially in India and China, is driving an increased demand for meat, eggs and dairy, boosting pressure to grow more corn and soybeans to feed more cattle, pigs and chickens. If these trends continue, the double whammy of population growth and richer diets will require us to roughly double the amount of crops we grow by 2050.
(Source: National Geographic, May 2014)
A) Two key trends driving the demand for food worldwide.
B) The impact of agriculture on the natural world.
C) Growing populations and their need for food.
Here's an interesting way to use reading tests from the Cambridge IELTS books:
This technique forces you to stop testing yourself. Instead, it makes you focus on finding key vocabulary and understanding the reason for each answer. You might be surprised at the improvements you make if you regularly practise in this way.
The following exercise comes from a 'match the headings' question in Cambridge IELTS book 5. I have given you the correct heading for each description, but can you find the 'keywords' that prove why the two answers are correct?
This book describes the creativity of Aboriginal people living in the driest parts of Australia. Stunning reproductions of paintings, beautiful photography and informative text.
Guide to the Art of the Australian Desert
Graphic artists have worked with researchers and scientists to illustrate how these prehistoric animals lived and died on the Australian continent.
A Pictorial History of the Dinosaur in Australia
Try following these steps when doing multiple choice questions:
From my experience practising IELTS reading with students, skimming and scanning are techniques that don't usually help. When students try to skim or scan, they often miss the answers completely.
For example, if you are scanning for the word "buy" but the passage contains the synonym "purchase", you probably won't find the answer.
So what is the solution? Instead of skimming or scanning, I tell my students to read at normal speed. Only scan quickly if you are searching for a name or a number.