Read the following passage and complete the multiple choice exercise below it.
The Suzuki method is an internationally known music curriculum and teaching philosophy dating from the mid-20th century, created by Japanese violinist and pedagogue Shinichi Suzuki (1898–1998). The method aims to create an environment for learning music which parallels the linguistic environment of acquiring a native language. Suzuki believed that this environment would also help to foster good moral character.
As a skilled violinist but a beginner at the German language who struggled to learn it, Suzuki noticed that children pick up their native language quickly, and even dialects adults consider "difficult" to learn are spoken with ease by children at age five or six. He reasoned that if children have the skill to acquire their native language, they have the necessary ability to become proficient on a musical instrument.
Suzuki believed that every child, if properly taught, was capable of a high level of musical achievement. He also made it clear that the goal of such musical education was to raise generations of children with "noble hearts", as opposed to creating famous musical prodigies.
Which THREE of the following statements are correct?
A) Suzuki saw similarities between learning languages and music.
B) He learnt German using his own method.
C) He found it easy to learn German.
D) He believed that all children have musical potential.
E) His aims went deeper than simply teaching music.
F) He hoped to create the next generation of famous musicians.
There are various different ways to read a text. If you're just gathering information, you might scan several articles or books quickly; perhaps you might choose to quickly skim the beginning and end of an article if you only need to get a general idea of what it's about. When surfing the Internet, we skim, scan, click on hyperlinks, and jump around reading bits of text from here and there.
However, if your aim is to learn a new language, you'll need to slow down and do some 'deep' reading.
Here are some deep reading tips:
It's fine to do quick, 'superficial' reading too, but you should consider adding at least 15 minutes of focused, deliberate 'deep' reading to your daily study schedule.
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.
Read the following passage and answer the questions below it.
Microplastics are small pieces of plastic less than five millimetres in size. Some microplastics are manufactured, such as the microbeads added to health and beauty products, while others result from larger plastics gradually breaking down. These plastics are pervasive in marine environments, and they are known to harbour toxic substances such as heavy metals and phthalates.
Since many animals are known to eat microplastics, scientists are concerned about the toxic substances contained within them, as well as their capacity to accumulate within the animals and stop them from absorbing nutrients correctly.
Even the largest marine creatures are vulnerable to tiny fragments of plastic littering the world’s oceans. A new study has found whales and whale sharks – the largest fish in the world – are ingesting microplastics in alarming quantities. These creatures are filter feeders, meaning they consume large quantities of small prey by straining them out of the ocean water. In the process, they swallow hundreds to thousands of cubic meters of water daily, meaning there is the potential for them to take in substantial amounts of microplastic floating in the water.
Recently, plastic pollution has received a lot of attention for its effects on marine animals. In the UK, microbeads have been banned, and other plastic items such as water bottles and disposable coffee cups have also been in the firing line. However, while scientists agree that plastic pollution is a problem for marine animals, there is still a lot they do not know about the magnitude of its impact.
Are the following statements true, false or not given?
1) Harmful microplastics are widespread in the world’s oceans and seas.
2) Larger fish are the most likely to be harmed by these toxic plastics.
3) The only fish that ingest microplastics are those that swallow water.
4) Water bottles and disposable cups have been banned in the UK.
5) Scientists are yet to discover how serious the microplastic problem is.
Fill the gaps in the text using the 10 words below.
A _____ report says scientists are 95% certain that humans are the "dominant _____" of global warming since the 1950s. The report by the UN's climate panel details the physical _____ behind climate change. On the ground, in the air, in the oceans, global warming is "_____", it explained. The panel warns that continued _____ of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and changes in all aspects of the climate system. To contain these changes will require "substantial and sustained _____ of greenhouse gas emissions".
After a week of intense negotiations in the Swedish capital, the summary for policymakers on the physical science of global warming has finally been released. For the future, the report states that warming is _____ to continue under all _____. Prof Sir Brian Hoskins, from Imperial College London, told BBC News: "We are performing a very dangerous _____ with our planet, and I don't want my grandchildren to suffer the _____."
emissions, experiment, cause, unequivocal, landmark, consequences, reductions, scenarios, projected, evidence
Text adapted from BBC website
Read the following article and choose the best title from the list below.
A new survey reveals that a family sit-down at dinnertime may reduce a teenager’s risk of trying or using alcohol, cigarettes and drugs. The study surveyed more than 1,000 teens and found that those who dined with their families five to seven times a week were four times less likely to use alcohol, tobacco or marijuana than those who ate with their families fewer than three times a week.
A recent UK survey also found that dining together as a family is a key ingredient in ensuring a child's happiness. Children in the survey reported higher levels of happiness when they dined together with their families at least three times a week. "Contrary to the popular belief that children only want to spend time playing video games or watching TV," said researcher Dr. Maris Iacovou of the University of Essex, "we found that they were most happy when interacting with their parents or siblings."
A) Children's happiness
B) Why teenagers use alcohol, cigarettes and drugs
C) What teenagers really want
D) Why families should dine together
(article adapted from The Independent)
Read the following text and answer the multiple choice questions below.
In linguistics, a corpus (plural corpora) is a large and structured set of texts (now usually electronically stored and processed). A corpus may be used to help linguists to analyse a language, or for the purpose of dictionary writing or language teaching. The British National Corpus (BNC) is a 100-million-word text corpus of samples of written and spoken English from a wide range of sources. The corpus covers British English of the late twentieth century from a wide variety of genres with the intention that it be a representative sample of spoken and written British English of that time.
1. What is a corpus?
A) A type of large dictionary.
B) A single written text.
C) A tool for language analysis.
2. Why was the BNC compiled?
A) For the purpose of language teaching.
B) To document written and spoken English from a particular period in time.
C) To document the history of the English language.
I usually write something about New Year's resolutions on January 1st, so here's some useful advice from a recent article on the Psychology Today website:
How to Keep Your New Year's Resolutions
While New Year’s resolutions are popular – about 40 percent of people make them, according to one source – few people actually succeed at keeping their resolutions. Researchers were able to draw some conclusions about why some people are successful at keeping resolutions, while others aren’t.
The most important factor in predicting success was self-efficacy – the belief in one's ability to get the job done. That likely means that you have spent some time thinking about and planning how to achieve your resolution, and also whether your resolution is realistic.
There is one other important note: Researchers found that people who were successful at keeping their New Year’s resolutions slipped, or made mistakes. In fact, 71 percent of people who were successful in their resolutions slipped in the first month. Interestingly, people who were not successful slipped at the same rate. But the people who were successful didn’t quit after making a mistake. And in many cases, they doubled their efforts after the slip. This demonstrates that persistence is also key.
In short, the advice is to think about your goals, believe that you can achieve them, and keep trying, even if you slip or make a mistake. Good advice for IELTS preparation.
Happy New Year!
Read the following passage and complete the exercise below it.
The Major Oak is a large English oak tree in Sherwood Forest, Nottinghamshire. According to local folklore, Robin Hood and his Merry Men used the Major Oak as their hideout. The size of the tree and its mythical status have led it to become a popular tourist attraction.
The Major Oak weighs an estimated 23 tons, has a girth of 10 metres, a canopy of 28 metres, and is about 800 to 1000 years old. In a 2002 survey, it was voted ‘Britain's favourite tree’, and in 2014 it was voted ‘England's Tree of the Year' in a public poll by the Woodland Trust.
(Major Oak. Click on image to enlarge)
There are several theories concerning why the Major Oak became so huge and oddly shaped. One theory is that the Major Oak may be several trees that fused together as saplings. An alternative explanation is that the tree may have been pollarded. Pollarding is a pruning system that can cause a tree’s trunk and branches to grow large and thick. Due to their size and weight, the tree’s massive limbs require the partial support of an elaborate system of scaffolding, which was first put in place during the Victorian era.
Interestingly, in 2002, someone attempted to illegally sell acorns from the Major Oak on an internet-based auction website.
Fill the gaps using words from the box.
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.
There's a useful video lesson about these two types of question on my video course website.
It's frustrating to see students who rely on textbooks to teach them everything about the English language. Why read an article in an 'upper intermediate' textbook (that was probably written 10 years ago) when you could be reading 'real' articles in newspapers or on the Internet?
Read articles because you find them interesting, not because they have been written to demonstrate a particular grammar point.
A suggestion: if you've read anything interesting recently, put a link to it (and maybe a quick summary if you have time) in the comments area below this lesson.
Choose the correct heading for the paragraph from the list below.
A) The environmental impact of estuaries
B) The human impact on certain coastal areas
C) Why estuaries will disappear
An estuary is a partly enclosed coastal body of water with one or more rivers or streams flowing into it, and with a free connection to the open sea. Estuaries are amongst the most heavily populated areas throughout the world, with about 60% of the world’s population living along estuaries and the coast. As a result, estuaries are suffering degradation by many factors, including overgrazing and other poor farming practices; overfishing; drainage and filling of wetlands; pollutants from sewage inputs; and diking or damming for flood control or water diversion.
Many IELTS candidates fail to get to the end of the test; in other words, they don't reach question 40. My advice is to practise getting to the end with time to spare.
The key to getting to the end is to miss any difficult questions - as soon as you feel stuck on one question, miss it and move on quickly. You can return to the tricky questions later.
The advice above might seem obvious and easy. However, you'll need to practise this 'method' many times. See how quickly you can get to the end of a test, and count how many difficult questions you missed.
Read the following excerpt from an article about happiness.
The researchers who publish the annual World Happiness Report found that about three-quarters of human happiness is driven by six factors: strong economic growth, healthy life expectancy, quality social relationships, generosity, trust, and freedom to live the life that’s right for you. These factors don’t materialize by chance; they are intimately related to a country’s government and its cultural values. In other words the happiest places incubate happiness for their people.
To illustrate the power of place, John Helliwell, one of the report’s editors, analyzed 500,000 surveys completed by immigrants who’d moved to Canada from 100 countries over the previous 40 years, many from countries considerably less happy. Remarkably Helliwell and his colleagues discovered that, within a few years of arriving, immigrants who came from unhappy places began to report the increased happiness level of their adoptive home. Seemingly their environment alone accounted for their increased happiness.
(Source: National Geographic. Click here to read the full article)
Which TWO of the following statements are true according to the passage?
A) Personal autonomy was identified as one of the factors that lead to happiness.
B) No relationship between happiness and culture was found.
C) Canada is one of the world’s happiest countries.
D) Moving to live in a different country made some people happier.
E) Immigrants were found to be less happy than other individuals.
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.
Read the following excerpt from a passage about the benefits of exercise.
In a recent study published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, researchers looked at 10 pairs of male identical twins in their 30s. Each twin was similar to his brother in most ways, right down to their eating habits—except that one in each pair had stopped exercising regularly in adulthood.
Despite the fact that the less active twins had the exact same DNA as their fit brothers, after just three sedentary years, they had begun to develop insulin resistance (a precursor to diabetes), had more body fat and lower endurance—and, perhaps most notably, had less grey matter in the brain regions responsible for motor control and coordination. While the study was small, it is evidence that exercise may have as large an effect on your health as your genes do.
(Source: Time magazine)
Are the following statements true, false, or not given?
This week a student asked me for help with a common problem: what can you do if you keep getting the same score (for example 6.5)? Maybe you've followed my advice, tried all of the techniques, and done lots of practice, but nothing seems to work. You're stuck!
Before you can solve a problem, you need to diagnose what the problem is. Here are some steps that you could take to do this with regard to IELTS reading:
1. Get a copy of one of the Cambridge IELTS books, ideally the newest one.
2. Do the first reading test in the book in one hour, like a real exam.
3. Check your answers with the correct answers at the back of the book.
Now comes the important part.
4. Analyse the mistakes that you made very carefully, and ask yourself the following questions:
The aim of the four questions above is to diagnose whether your reading problems are related to time, finding answers, understanding vocabulary, or confusion between answers.
You might need to do several tests and a lot of careful analysis of your mistakes to really find out what's going wrong. But then you'll know what to work on.
Whenever you read something in English, it's a good idea to write useful vocabulary in a notebook. But don't just write individual words, write the related words too. For example, do you know which verb is usually used with the noun "commitment"?
As an example, read the following short text:
A New Year’s resolution is a commitment that an individual makes to a personal goal, project, or the reforming of a habit in the coming year. Some examples include resolutions to lose weight, learn something new, or give up a habit such as smoking.
Recent research shows that while 52% of participants in a resolution study were confident of success with their goals, only 12% actually achieved their goals. A separate study in 2007 at the University of Bristol showed that 78% of those who set New Year’s resolutions fail.
Men achieved their goal 22% more often when they engaged in goal setting, a system where small measurable goals are set, while women succeeded 10% more when they made their goals public and got support from their friends.
Here is some key vocabulary from the text:
Remember: understanding the meaning of a word is not the same as being able to use it correctly.
Here's another keyword table, showing vocabulary from the three most recent reading lessons here on the blog.
Did you notice that the word "weed" appears twice in this table? In the first row of the table, "weed" is a noun, but in the sixth row it becomes part of the phrasal verb "weed out", which means "eliminate" or "remove".
Read the following extract from an article in National Geographic magazine (September 2017 edition, page 26).
The Brazilian pepper tree, an invasive plant in the southern United States, is showing great potential in the fight against antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections. A team of scientists studied historical accounts of its use in traditional South American medicine from as early as 1648. Focusing their experiments on its fruits, which reportedly were used to treat wounds, they then produced an extract that’s able to disarm a virulent type of Staphylococcus bacterium.
Modern antibiotics are designed to kill bacteria. But some bacterial cells survive and pass on their resistance to their offspring, making it increasingly difficult for physicians to fight tenacious infections that threaten their patients’ lives. The Brazilian pepper tree extract deploys an unconventional tactic against infections. It prevents bacterial cells from communicating, which keeps them from ganging up to create tissue-destroying toxins. That, in turn, gives the body’s immune system a change to mount it’s own defence against the bacteria.
One of the four titles below is the real title of the article. Which do you think it is? Try to explain why.
A) A weed that busts bacteria
B) Traditional medicines make a comeback
C) The problem of resistant bacteria
D) New plant-based medicines are on the way
Let's look at some examples of paraphrasing, using the text below.
What is an 'elevator pitch'?
An “elevator pitch” is an overview of a product, service, person, group, organisation or project, and is often part of a fund-raising, marketing, brand or public relations program. The name "elevator pitch" reflects the idea that it should be possible to deliver a short but effective presentation in the time span of an elevator ride from the ground floor to the directors’ boardroom on the top floor of a building.
An elevator pitch is often used by an entrepreneur pitching an idea to an investor to receive funding. Venture capitalists often ask entrepreneurs to give an elevator pitch in order to quickly weed out bad ideas and weak teams. Other uses include job interviewing, dating and professional services. Proposals for books, screenplays, blogs and other forms of publishing are often delivered via an elevator pitch, which may be presented in oral, written or video formats.
Which words or phrases in the passage are similar to those below?
Read the following summary of a book called Deep Work.
“Deep work” is the ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task. It's a skill that allows you to quickly master complicated information and produce better results in less time. Deep work will make you better at what you do and provide the sense of true fulfilment that comes from craftsmanship. In short, deep work is like a super power in our increasingly competitive twenty-first century economy. And yet, most people have lost the ability to go deep, spending their days instead in a frantic blur of e-mail and social media, not even realising there's a better way.
In Deep Work, author and professor Cal Newport flips the narrative on impact in a connected age. Instead of arguing distraction is bad, he instead celebrates the power of its opposite. Dividing this book into two parts, he first makes the case that in almost any profession, cultivating a deep work ethic will produce massive benefits. He then presents a rigorous training regimen, presented as a series of four "rules," for transforming your mind and habits to support this skill. A mix of cultural criticism and actionable advice, Deep Work is an indispensable guide to anyone seeking focused success in a distracted world.
Choose the best answer to each of the questions below.
1. What is “deep work”?
A) a skill that takes a short time to master
B) a skill that few people develop nowadays
C) a skill that modern communication tools can enhance
2. What does the author of Deep Work aim to do in the first part of the book?
A) convince us that working deeply has great value
B) expose the negative effects of tools like social media
C) guide readers towards success in life
'Not having enough time' is the biggest problem for most people taking the reading test. Here are some tips for dealing with this problem:
When preparing for the reading test at home, try not to worry about time at first. Your first concern should be to get the score you need, even if it takes you 3 hours instead of 1 hour to do a full test.
Read the following passage and complete the task below it.
Cultivation theory examines the long-term effects of television. Its primary proposition is that the more time people spend 'living' in the television world, the more likely they are to believe social reality aligns with reality portrayed on television.
Cultivation theory suggests that exposure to television, over time, subtly "cultivates" viewers' perceptions of reality. Researchers George Gerbner and Larry Gross, the originators of this idea, assert: "Television is a medium of the socialisation of most people into standardised roles and behaviours. Its function is in a word, enculturation”.
Initial research on the theory establishes that concern regarding the effects of television on audiences stem from the unprecedented centrality of television in American culture. Gerbner posited that television as a mass medium of communication had formed into a common symbolic environment that bound diverse communities together, socialising people into standardised roles and behaviours. He thus compared the power of television to that of religion, stating that television was to modern society what religion once was in earlier times.
Which THREE of the following statements correctly describe cultivation theory?
1. It looks at the physical impact of watching too much television.
2. It proposes that television influences the way we see the world.
3. It suggests that the effects of television occur gradually.
4. It is an established theory that is widely accepted by researchers.
5. It refers to a uniquely American phenomenon.
6. It looks at the role of television in society.
The following excerpt comes from test 3 in Cambridge IELTS book 10.
The travel industry includes: hotels, motels and other types of accommodation; restaurants and other food services; transportation services and facilities; amusements, attractions and other leisure facilities; gift shops and a large number of other enterprises. Since many of these businesses also serve local residents, the impact of spending by visitors can easily be overlooked or underestimated. In addition, Meis (1992) points out that the tourism industry involves concepts that have remained amorphous to both analysts and decision makers. Moreover, in all nations this problem has made it difficult for the industry to develop any type of reliable or credible tourism information base in order to estimate the contribution it makes to regional, national and global economies.
Are the two statements below true, false, or not given?
Can you explain the meaning of the phrase "the tourism industry involves concepts that have remained amorphous to both analysts and decision makers"?
Read the following passage and answer the two questions below it.
Physicist Richard Feynman returned over and over to an idea that drove his groundbreaking discoveries. His approach was documented by his Caltech colleague David Goodstein in the book Feynman’s Lost Lecture about physics classes Feynman taught in the 1960s:
Once, I said to him, “Dick, explain to me, so that I can understand it, why spin one-half particles obey Fermi-Dirac statistics.” Sizing up his audience perfectly, Feynman said, “I’ll prepare a freshman lecture on it.” But he came back a few days later to say, “I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t reduce it to the freshman level. That means we don’t really understand it.”
Feynman didn’t mean all human knowledge must be distilled into an introductory college course. His point was that we need to build our grasp of science and technology from the ground up if we are to master it, not to mention reimagine how it works. Feynman was famous as a student for redoing many of physics’ early experiments himself to build a foundational understanding of the field. By mastering these first principles, Feynman often saw things that others did not in quantum mechanics, computing, and nuclear physics, earning him the Nobel Prize in 1965.
(Source: this article on qz.com)
1. When asked to explain a difficult concept, physicist Richard Feynman
A immediately replied that he could not
B replied that he had already prepared a lecture on it
C said that he did not understand the concept either
D promised to give his answer in an introductory lesson
2. Feynman believed that
A scientists should master basic scientific principles first
B early physics experiments need to be redone
C most science students do not have a good foundation in physics
D his knowledge of first principles earned him a Nobel Prize