For today's quick exercise, you'll need to click here and look at an article on the National Geographic website.
Answer each question using a maximum of THREE words from the article.
Over the weekend I ran an IELTS preparation course here in Manchester. We did some good work on 'paragraph headings' questions, and one of the exercises that we used was test 2, passage 1 in Cambridge IELTS book 10.
Here are the keywords from the 'paragraph headings' section in that test:
Note: I always recommend doing paragraph matching questions last. They are much easier if you are already familiar with the passage, having done other question sections first.
The Paper Clip
According to the Early Office Museum, the first patent for a bent wire paper clip was awarded in the United States to Samuel B. Fay, in 1867. This clip was originally intended primarily for attaching tickets to fabric, although the patent recognized that it could be used to attach papers together. Although functional and practical, Fay's design along with the 50 other designs patented prior to 1899 are not considered reminiscent of the modern paper clip design known today.
The most common type of wire paper clip still in use, the Gem paper clip, was never patented, but it was most likely in production in Britain in the early 1870s by "The Gem Manufacturing Company", according to the American expert on technological innovations, Professor Henry J. Petroski.
Are the following statements true, false, or not given in the text?
Reading is probably the best way to expand your knowledge of English vocabulary. And if you want to make faster progress, I recommend keeping a notebook for useful words and phrases that you find.
For example, I came across this interesting article the other day. Have a look at the article, and note down any useful words or phrases that you find. Feel free to share your notes in the 'comments' area below.
Here's a keyword table for test 2 in Cambridge IELTS book 9:
Even if you don't have a copy of the book, I think you can still learn something from this table. Look at the use of synonyms and similar words (e.g. worldwide / international, regulations / standards, current / modern).
Also, did you know the meanings of words like vulnerable, auditory and impairment? Look these words up in a dictionary, and see if you can use them in your own sentences.
This week I'm making a video lesson about 'short answer' questions. These questions are quite rare and I think they are fairly easy, but it's still a good idea to be ready for them.
Read the following passage about humour.
Many theories exist about what humour is and what social function it serves. The prevailing types of theories attempting to account for the existence of humour include psychological theories, the vast majority of which consider humour-induced behaviour to be very healthy; spiritual theories, which may, for instance, consider humour to be a "gift from God"; and theories which consider humour to be an unexplainable mystery, very much like a mystical experience.
Answer the question below using ONE word only.
Which group of theories about humour describe it as being good for us?
I've published this lesson before, but I think it's worth repeating it for people who have been asking me for reading tips. Here's my list of advice and techniques for IELTS reading:
Look at the following question (from Cambridge IELTS 5) and the section of text that contains the answer. I've underlined the key words.
The writer suggests that newspapers print items that are intended to
A) educate readers
B) meet their readers' expectations
C) encourage feedback from readers
D) mislead readers
A third source of confusion is the attitude of the media. People are clearly more curious about bad news than good. Newspapers and broadcasters are there to provide what the public wants. That, however, can lead to significant distortions of perception.
Which keywords in the passage match the keywords in the question? What is the correct answer? Why?
Choose the best title for the following passage from the list below it.
How we deal with the most challenging children remains rooted in B.F. Skinner's mid-20th-century philosophy that human behaviour is determined by consequences, and that bad behaviour must be punished. During the 2011-12 school year, the US Department of Education counted 130,000 expulsions and roughly 7 million suspensions among 49 million primary and secondary students - one for every seven children. Furthermore, it is estimated that there are a quarter of a million instances of corporal punishment in US schools every year.
But contemporary psychological studies suggest that, far from resolving children's behaviour problems, these standard disciplinary methods often exacerbate them. They sacrifice long-term goals (student behaviour improving definitively) for the short-term gain of momentary peace in the classroom.
Choose one title from the following list:
A) Behaviour management in US schools may do more harm than good.
B) How to improve behaviour in schools.
C) The US education system in crisis.
D) The long-term goals of discipline in schools.
I've now published my latest video lesson for IELTS reading. It's the last lesson at the bottom of my video course webpage.
I've also made a 'single payment' option for all of the reading videos. Next week I'll publish a free video lesson to finish the reading part of the course.
Read the following passage, and choose the best title from the list.
Using a laser scan of Bourges cathedral in France, a team led by John Ochsendorf of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have 3D-printed thousands of bricks and are building an exact 1:50 replica. The researchers hope to use the mock-up to devise a way to gauge the stability, and thus safety, of historical buildings built of brick and stone.
Building the replica is painstaking work, but Ochsendorf thinks the process itself may be as valuable as the mechanics uncovered. For students of architecture and structural engineering, hands-on experience has largely given way to computer modelling. Techniques like 3D printing could be a way of reconnecting them with the craft behind the science, he says.
(New Scientist, 14.2 14.)
A) 3D printing a historical structure.
B) The benefits of 3D printing.
C) Computer modelling or hands-on experience?
D) A damaged cathedral is rebuilt.
Try this 'paragraph headings' question from Cambridge IELTS 7, page 48-50.
Choose the correct heading for the paragraph below.
It would have been easy to criticise the MIRTP for using in the early phases a 'top-down' approach, in which decisions were made by experts and officials before being handed down to communities, but it was necessary to start the process from the level of the governmental authorities of the district. It would have been difficult to respond to the requests of villagers and other rural inhabitants without the support and understanding of district authorities.
Is it true that the answer is always in the first sentence of the paragraph?
You can't get a high score in the IELTS reading test without learning a lot of vocabulary.
For example, here are some words and phrases that my students needed to know for a reading test that we did:
Write the new words and phrases that you read or hear in a notebook - that's the best way to improve your vocabulary knowledge.
Read the following text about universities.
Religion was central to the curriculum of early European universities. However, its role became less significant during the 19th century, and by the end of the 1800s, the German university model, based on more liberal values, had spread around the world. Universities concentrated on science in the 19th and 20th centuries, and became increasingly accessible to the masses. In Britain, the move from industrial revolution to modernity saw the arrival of new civic universities with an emphasis on science and engineering.
The funding and organisation of universities vary widely between different countries around the world. In some countries, universities are predominantly funded by the state, while in others, funding may come from donors or from fees which students attending the university must pay.
Complete the sentences below with NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS from the passage.
1. The German university model, which became popular in the 19th century, promoted ______.
2. Over the last 200 years, a university education has become ______ the general public.
3. Depending on the country, universities may be funded by the state, by donors, or by fee-paying ______.
This week I'm making a video lesson about multiple choice questions in the reading test. To give you an idea of how confusing these questions can be, let's look at an example from the Official IELTS Practice Materials book.
I've underlined keywords in the question, choices and passage. Notice that words from all four choices are mentioned in the passage. But which choice is correct?
The Library of Congress offers and opportunity to
A) borrow from their collection of Dutch maps
B) learn how to restore ancient and fragile maps
C) enjoy the atmosphere of the reading room
D) create individual computer maps to order
Excerpt from passage:
The world’s largest collection of maps resides in the basement of the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. The collection, consisting of up to 4.6 million map sheets and 63,000 atlases, includes magnificent bound collections of elaborate maps - the pride of the golden age of Dutch cartography. In the reading room scholars, wearing thin cotton gloves to protect the fragile sheets, examine ancient maps with magnifying glasses. Across the room people sit at their computer screens, studying the latest maps. With their prodigious memories, computers are able to store data about people, places and environments - the stuff of maps - and almost instantly information is displayed on the screen in the desired geographic context, and at the click of a button, a print-out of the map appears.
IELTS reading is really a test of 2 things:
You need to be able to find the right part of the text quickly. I practise this a lot with my students: we decide which words in the question we need to search for, then we try to locate those words (or words with the same meaning) in the text.
When you have found where the answer is, you need to read that part of the text carefully. Read the sentences before and after the keywords that you found. Then it becomes a test of your vocabulary knowledge: if you don't understand the words that you are reading, it will be difficult to get the right answer.
I've just published a video lesson on this website. The lesson contains techniques for 'which paragraph contains?' questions in the reading test, as well as an example test to demonstrate how the techniques work.
I've now done video lessons for both types of 'paragraph matching' question ('paragraph headings' was the other type). Most people find these questions difficult, but a few simple techniques can make them a lot easier.
When practising with the Cambridge IELTS books, try this study technique:
1. Choose a reading passage.
2. Go to the back of the book and get the correct answers.
3. Study the passage with the aim of proving why those answers are correct.
4. Make a keyword table.
When you know what the answers are, you can focus on exam technique: searching for keywords, then reading the relevant part of the passage carefully. You might find this helps you more than simply testing yourself would.
Match the correct headings with the paragraphs below.
1. The causes of stress among employers and employees
2. The increase in work-related stress
3. The increase in visits to physicians
4. Stress has wide-ranging effects on the body and on behaviour
A) The number of stress-related disability claims by American employees has doubled according to the Employee Assistance Professionals Association in Arlington, Virginia. Seventy-five to ninety percent of physician visits are related to stress and, according to the American Institute of Stress, the cost to industry has been estimated at $200 billion-$300 billion a year.
B) It is clear that problems caused by stress have become a major concern to both employers and employees. Symptoms of stress are manifested both physiologically and psychologically. Persistent stress can result in cardiovascular disease, a weaker immune system and frequent headaches, stiff muscles, or backache. It can also result in poor coping skills, irritability, jumpiness, insecurity, exhaustion, and difficulty concentrating. Stress may also perpetuate or lead to binge eating, smoking, and alcohol consumption.
I've said before that IELTS Reading is a vocabulary test. If you don't understand the words that you read in the questions or passage, you probably won't get the right answer. Here's an example from my latest video lesson:
Is the following statement true, false or not given?
Some sewage networks built by the Romans in the UK were made out of wood.
Relevant part of the passage:
Roman towns and garrisons in the United Kingdom between 46 BC and 400 AD had complex sewer networks sometimes constructed out of hollowed-out elm logs.
- What answer would you give (T, F or NG)?
- Which 'keywords' would you underline in the question and passage?
- Which words do you need to understand in order to get the answer?
Is there a difference between "true, false, not given" questions and "yes, no, not given" questions?
Yes, there is a small difference. When the questions are about facts in the passage, you'll be asked to decide whether the information is "true, false or not given". When the passage is about opinions rather than facts, you will be asked whether each statement agrees with the views given by the writer, and you'll have to answer "yes, no or not given".
Note: In terms of exam technique, this small difference doesn't really matter.
I approach both question types in the same way. I look for keywords, and decide whether the information in the question is correct, incorrect or not given.
I'll publish a video lesson about these two question types later this week.
I've nearly finished my first video lesson for IELTS Reading. I'll start by looking at 'gap-fill' questions, and the lesson will cover various types of gap-fill task:
If you haven't practised these four types of gap-fill question, don't worry. The task is basically the same, and the method that I suggest for finding the answers is also the same for each type. If you've followed my reading lessons here on the blog, you can probably guess which method I'll be using!
The video lesson should be ready later today or early tomorrow.
The table below shows keywords for the paragraph headings exercise on page 14 of the book called Official IELTS Practice Materials 2. If you can find a copy of this passage (about 'Seaweeds of New Zealand'), it's a good one to try.