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DOMINIC COLE

IELST READING
TECHNIQUES, TRAP-AVOIDING,
PROBLEM-SOLVING AND TIPS
ACADEMIC MODULE

Collected and re-edited by TR N M NH TRUNG


HONG DUC UNIVERSITY

2016
IELTS READING
TECHNIQUES AND TIPS
Written by DOMINIC COLE
Collected and edited by Tran Manh Trung – Hong Duc University - 2016

PART 01:

IELTS READING TECHNIQUES AND TIPS

I. IELTS multiple choice reading questions


The multiple choice question should be familiar to most candidates. That doesn’t make it
easy though. In many ways the skills needed for this question are the same as for the
True/False/Not Given type – only here you get 4 options and not 3. So, in a sense, it’s harder.

A. The primary reading skill


As with the True/False question type, IELTS multiple choice reading questions require
very close reading of one or two paragraphs of the text. Very frequently the difficult part is
reading the question carefully too. At least 3 of the 4 possible answers may look ok until you read
them closely.

B. The two types of question – fact and opinion


It’s very important to recognise that there are 2 types of question those that:

- ask you for the writer’s opinion


- ask you to find factual information
Let me explain why this distinction matters with this easy example:

Different people read for different reasons. For example, the attraction of reading detective
fiction can be in the intellectual challenge of finding out who did it, in an autobiography we can
eavesdrop on the conversations of the great and good or we can laugh at folly in the celebrity
magazine. For many children it is a magic gateway to some other world. Sadly, that is one of the
greatest mistakes they can make.
According to the author, the attraction of reading for young people is:

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1. they find out about other countries
2. different from other generations
3. escaping into another world
4. foolish
Without the words highlighted in red, the answer must be 3., with those words it becomes 4.

Tip 01: don’t stop reading too soon. An answer may seem right but if the next word is
something like “but” the meaning changes completely.

C. The traps and how to avoid them


It helps to know how the examiners try and trap you. The way they do this is fairly
predictable. Let’s look at another example:

What were the findings of the research in Scotland:

1. anti-smoking legislation was more effective in the USA


2. advertising of tobacco products had less effect on old than on young people
3. the legislation was unpopular with the print media
4. almost a third of young people stopped smoking after the legislation
These conclusions are the result of extensive research carried out over the past 20 years around
various countries into the effect of banning tobacco advertising. In Scotland it was found that the
incidence of smoking fell by 30% in the 18-24 age group after legislation prohibiting the
advertising of tobacco products in all print media was introduced. A separate piece of research
in the United States of America found that when tobacco advertising was banned in 34 states,
this reduced the level of smoking by 50%.

1. In the text but doesn’t answer the question


Answer 1 above is wrong because it doesn’t answer the question. This was not the
findings of the research in Scotland It’s easy to fall for this trap as the information is correct.

Tip 02: always go back and re-read the question before you answer
2. Probably true but you’re guessing information
Answer 2 is wrong because we don’t have the information in the text. We might be able
to guess that this is true, but if it doesn’t say so in the text the answer is not correct.

Tip 03: always make sure you look at all answers, don’t guess too soon. You may find a
better answer later.

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3. You’re word matching – read the context
This one contains most words from the text so there is an obvious temptation to say
“yes”. There is in fact no evidence for this in the text at all. A very typical mistake is to match
words in the question and text. You need to read the context for meaning to avoid this mistake.

Tip 04: always refocus on the exact wording of the question before giving the answer.
Be suspicious of answers that contain almost the same language as the text

4. Correct – you match meanings –


“almost a third” = “30%” and “18-24 age group” matches “young people”

D. Suggested procedure

1. Look at the questions first to see what topics you need to look for – be aware you may need
to look for synonyms
2. Concentrate on the stem of the question when you are looking for the right part of the text
3. Skim the text to identify the correct paragraphs to read: the questions will go in order so
question 5 will come between 4 and 6
4. Read the the correct part of the paragraph carefully and then re-read the question – looking at
each option in turn
5. Ask yourself if you are looking for fact or opinion
6. Delete the answers you know to be incorrect
7. Underline the words in the text that give you the answer

II. True / False / Not given Questions


Perhaps the question type that gives most pain to most IELTS candidates is the
True/False/Not given question type. Here are some pointers to help you improve your IELTS
band score with a link to some specific practice on this type of question.

A. The question types


In fact there are two question types here:

1. True/False/Not given: fact based


2. Yes/No/Not given: opinion based
In each case you need to decide if the information in the text agrees with the information in the
question. You should note that in the “Yes/No/Not given” questions, you are normally asked to
look for the writer’s opinions rather than facts.

B. Note the key skill


The key skill here is to understand that you are interpreting the text and the question.
This means that you need to read very closely and pay attention to what the writer means. Don’t

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think of it just as a skimming question, rather a question where you need to read parts of the text
and the whole question closely and decide what the writer means.

C. How to get the answers right


True/Yes
There is information in the text that agrees exactly with the statement in the question.
Note that you will almost certainly need to look for synonyms here and match meaning and not
words.

False/No
There is information in the text that is directly opposite to or contradicts the statement in
the question. Again note that you will also need to think about meaning here. You should pay
careful attention to “little” words that qualify or change meaning such as: some , all, often,
occasionally
Not Given
This is the one that normally causes the most problems. Something is not given if there is
no information about it in the text. Do not spend ages looking for Not Given answers because
you will waste time.

D. Guessing intelligently
This is probably the hardest question type. Don’t despair though you have a good chance
of guessing correctly. In fact the questions are hard because you have a one in three chance of
guessing! Here is my suggestion

1. if you find information in the text about the statement in the question:
guess True or False but remember to read the whole question and not just match words in it
2. if you find no information in the text about the statement guess Not Given – don’t waste
time. Typically, answer are Not Given when they match just one or two words in the question
3. if you have no idea, then guess Not Given. You have a one in three chance of being right
and you may have no idea because it isn’t there!

E. Some examples of how the questions work


Macallan is one of the four top selling brands of malt whisky in the world. It is made in barrels
made of Spanish oak that have previously been used for sherry because this adds sweetness to its
flavour.
True
Macallan is globally successful.

This is true because top selling brands of malt whisky in the world matches globally successful.

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False
Macallan is made in metal containers.

This is false because the text says it us made in barrels of Spanish oak. Because oak is a wood
this contradicts the words int he question metal containers. Note that you need to think about
meaning
Not Given
Macallan is made in Spain.

There is no information about where it is made. Be careful of the trap of seeing the
words Spanish and made in the text. Usually with Not Given answers you will find some words
in the text that match words int he question without matching the meaning of the whole
question.

F. A difficulty – Not Given


The “Not Given” variation is probably what makes this type of question so difficult. How can
you deal with this problem? You need to understand that:

 “Not given” does not mean no words in the question are used in the text. Typically, you
will find some of words from the question in the text – they simply don’t answer the whole
question
 You cannot add information that is probably true: you can only use the information given
in the text

G. Some practical tips


1. Read the whole question. Do NOT focus on key words. Think about the meaning of the
question.
2. Be especially careful with words such as “often” and “some”. They can change the
meaning of the question dramatically.
3. Be careful with questions beginning “The writer says”: here you need to think about the
writer’s opinions and not about facts.
4. The questions will follow the order of the text: if you can’t find answer 12, you know it
must be somewhere between 11 and 13.
5. Do not spend too long on any one question. If the answer is “Not Given”, there may be
nothing for you to find.
6. One possibility is to mark all the “True” answers and all the “False” answers and then
guess “Not Given” for the others.

H. A suggested procedure
Here is my suggested procedure:

1. Read the instructions carefully and note whether you are being asked to look for facts or
opinions.

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2. Look at all the questions and see what topics they ask about. You may note key words
here, but only to identify the correct part of the text to read.
3. Skim the text to identify which paragraphs you need to read more closely. Note that the
questions will follow the order of the text and so the answer to question 10 will follow the answer
to question 11
4. Mark on the question paper which paragraphs relate to which question: eg, write 11
against paragraph E
5. Refocus on the question and read the whole question: be careful with tricky words like
“usually”
6. Underline the words in the text that give you the answer. This helps you concentrate and
also allows you to change your mind, if you find a better answer later.
A variation is to mark the “True” answers first as they tend to be the easiest and then go back to
the “False” and “Not given” later.

I. True False Not Given – some tips and an


exercise
This lesson reminds you of some tips on the True False Not Given question type in
IELTS reading. There are two main points to focus on when you are answering the question:
firstly, to think about meaning and not just words, and secondly to focus on the question as much
as the text itself. There is also an interactive quiz at the bottom for you to test your skills.

A. Tip one – Underline the part of the text that shows the answer
A forgotten reading skill is to learning how to read intensively when you are looking for the
answer itself. Forget “key words” – they only show where to find the answer. Once you have
found the right part of the text, read very carefully – you want to find something that says:

1. This agrees with the information in the question – True


2. This contradicts the informnation in the question – False
Do NOT read generally at this point. You want to find something you can underline. If you
cannot find anything specific that you can underline, then the answer is likely to be Not Given.

B. Tip two – Refer back to the whole question and think about its
meaning
IELTS reading is designed how well you understand reading passages. This means you
always want to focus on meaning when you are looking for the answer. Once you have found the
right part of the text, forget key words. It’s quite possible to find words in the text that match
words in the question, but the overall meaning is quite different.

1. Go back to the question and re-read it carefully – focus on the little words
too (some, never, generally etc), these can change the meanings of questions dramatically. Ask
yourself if you are looking for something absolutely true or something that is qualified in some
ay.

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2. Re-read the text. Does it mean the same as the question? Make sure you check the
text and question against each other – that they mean the same thing.

C. Some practice questions


The majority of professional players on the ATP and the WTA tours now use polyester
strings made by Luxilon, a company that specialised in the past in manufacturing fibres for
female undergarments. The trend was started by the then little-known Brazilian player Gustavo
Kuerten who more or less by chance discovered that this string was almost completely “dead” –
meaning that the players are able to swing much harder at the ball and impart much more spin on
it without it flying off uncontrollably as it would do with a traditional gut string. Kuerten of
course went on to achieve much success and, in the clay court game at least, is regarded as one of
the modern greats. His most lasting legacy though may not be his titles, rather it may be that his
use of a material primarily made for women’s bras allowed him and successive champions to
change how the tennis ball flew. Players were able to find completely new angles on the court
because, in the hands of a master, a shot hit with a luxilon string that might look as if it were
heading way out of court would suddenly drop like a stone, describing an almost perfect
parabola. This technological innovation has revolutionised the way in which the game is now
played. For example, Roger Federer, a man who many regard as the greatest player of all time,
may have begun his career as an attacking all-court player, but in latter years he has been forced
become a much more defensively orientated player who chooses his time to attack more
carefully. Indeed, he is on record as saying that new string technology has changed the face of the
game and that he has had to adapt his game to counter players who stand behind the baseline and
produce winning shots from almost nowhere.

True/False/Not Given – Luxilon

Question 1
Roger Federer uses luxilon to string his tennis racket.

A True

B False

C Not Given
Question 2
The use of luxilon allowed players to hit new types of shots.

A True

B False

C Not Given

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Question 3
Roger Federer has always played an attacking game of tennis.

A True

B False

C Not Given

Question 1 Explanation:
We know that “The majority of professional players on the ATP and the WTA tours now use
polyester strings made by Luxilon” and that Federer believes”new string technology has
changed the face of the game”. You might assume therefore that he uses the string. There is,
however, no information in the text about what type of string Federer uses – he may be part
of the majority, he may be part of the minority, we simply don’t know.
Question 2 Explanation:
We find the answer in “ the players are able to swing much harder at the ball and impart
much more spin on it without it flying off uncontrollably” and “Players were able to find
completely new angles on the court because, in the hands of a master, a shot hit with a
luxilon string that might look as if it were heading way out of court would suddenly drop like
a stone, describing an almost perfect parabola.”
Question 3 Explanation:
We have enough information in the text from “Roger Federer, a man who many regard as the
greatest player of all time, may have begun his career as an attacking all-court player, but in
latter years he has been forced become a more defensively orientated player who chooses his
time to attack more carefully.” This is a “trick question” if you look only at the words
“Federer” and “attacking”, you may want to say True. If, however, you read the whole
question including the word “always”, then the answer must be False. The idea is that
Federer has changed the way he plays into a more defensive style

D. True False Not Given reading practice


This lesson has two purposes. In it you will find a short exercise to test your
True/False/Not Given skills and an explanation of how to deal with more difficult words in
IELTS reading texts.

1. The skill of reading closely


The text is designed to be slightly harder than the average IELTS text as it contains quite
a high proportion of unexpected words and long sentences. The idea is to focus you on the skill

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of reading closely. The idea is that you need to try and read the text closely before you decide on
your answer.

This is especially important in T/F/NG questions which require you to understand the
writer’s meaning and not just to see whether you can find a particular word in the text. If you
simply match the words in the question with the words in the text, you will very likely go wrong
with this text.

2. Dealing with harder words


The first point to note is that you should not panic if you find a word you cannot understand:

 it may not be important to understanding of the passage and /or finding the answer
you may be able to guess its general meaning from context (the words around it)
This text contains three words that may well be new to you:

utopia

dystopia

manifesto

You should be able to guess their general meaning by simply reading on. You don’t need a
dictionary definition – just a good idea about what the words mean. The tip is to pay close
attention to relative clauses (and disguised relative clauses with -ing forms):

utopias which paint a picture of an ideal society


dystopias in which the world is a much less desirable and often frightening place
a political manifesto proposing a form of government

From this you should see that a utopia is something good (“ideal”), dystopia something
bad (“less desirable and frightening”) while manifesto is to do with politics and proposes.

3. Visions of the future – True False Not Given reading


Humans have always speculated about what society may or should look like in the future
and there is a long and honourable tradition of writers who have described their vision of the
world in a future age. One possible division of these books is into utopias which paint a picture
of an ideal society and dystopias in which the world is a much less desirable and often
frightening place. Perhaps the most famous utopia remains Plato’s Republic, written around two
and half thousand years ago, which is also partly a political manifesto proposing a form of
government where philosophers kings rule in the interests of the many. In its day, this most

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undemocratic proposal was less controversial than it would be today, as there was a strong body
of opinion in Athens that democracy was not a model form of government. While many today may
find Plato’s vision unpleasant, his intention was otherwise and the book has the optimistic goal
of showing how the ills of society could be cured. This optimism stands in stark contrast to
George Orwell’s dystopian nightmare 1984. That book too presents a version of what society
may look like in the future, but it has a quite different purpose: the aim of the book is to serve as
a warning. The reader is meant to be shocked and horrified by the world of deception and
tyranny it portrays, a world where the state authorities, in the form of Big Brother, have absolute
control of every aspect of individuals’ lives and where truth is lost.

Test yourself trt


Question 1
The society proposed by Plato in The Republic is democratic.

A True

B False

C Not Given

Question 2
George Orwell wrote 1984 as a warning against communism.

A True

B False

C Not Given

Question 3
1984 presents a pessimistic view of the future.

A True

B False

C Not Given

Question 1 Explanation:
Don't be caught out by the word "proposed" in the question and match it to "proposal" in the
text. The idea is "undemocratic"

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Question 2 Explanation:
In life this is in fact true, but there is nothing in the text about communism. We have no
information on the topic, so the answer is Not Given
Question 3 Explanation:
"This optimism stands in stark contrast to George Orwell’s dystopian nightmare 1984." The
opposite of optimism is pessimism and you need to see that 1984 contrasts to the optimism of
The Republic. You can also understand this from the word "nightmare", even if you do not
understand "dystopian".

4. True/ false/ not given reading practice


This is a little quick practice on the most hated type of reading question. Before you
tackle it remember:

True means that there is something in the text that agrees with the question
False means that there is something in the text that contradicts the question
Not given means that there is nothing in the text that answers the question one way or another,
You need to look for meanings and not just words. In most cases you get the answer right
by interpreting the meanings of phrases/sentences. You should also be careful with your key
word strategy. This is one type of question where you need to pay attention to all the words in the
question before you answer it – the key words only tell where to look not what the answer is.

a. The reading practice


CLOCK - WATCHES
The first timepieces that were worn are the so-called clock-watches of the mid 16th
century. They were quite different from the modern day wristwatch in several respects. They
were made almost completely from brass and were not round but cylindrical in shape with a
hinged metal cover instead of a glass face. This was in the form of a grill so that the hour hand –
there was no minute hand or second hand – could be seen without opening it. Another difference
was that these clock-watches were almost entirely decorative in purpose and were worn in the
same way as a necklace or a brooch, typically being attached to the clothing or hung around the
neck. Part of the reason for this is that the many of the first watch makers were jewellers by trade,
men who had to find a new form of work after Calvin banned the wearing of jewellery in 1547.
So they brought the skills of ornamentation to their new craft. So while the most famous clock-
watches were the plain Nuremburg Eggs made by Peter Henlein, who is sometimes credited with
the invention of the watch, the designs rapidly became increasingly ornate and included shapes
such as flowers, stars and animals. Indeed, the nobility, who were the only people able to afford
these timepieces, bought them almost exclusively for their appearance and not for timekeeping

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purposes for the simple reason that they would often gain or lose several hours in the course of a
day.

Clock-watches readingSt

Question 1
Clock watches only had one hand

A True

B False

C Not Given
Question 2
Peter Henlein first worked as a jeweller

A True

B False

C Not Given
Question 3
All the first clock-watches were ornate.

A True

B False

C Not Given

Once you are finished, click the button below. Any items you have not completed will
be marked incorrect.

Question 1 Explanation:
Fairly simple I hope. You look for the word "hand" to see where to get the answer
and then you read this: "the hour hand - there was no minute hand or second hand - could be
seen without opening it". That should tell you there was only one hand,
Question 2 Explanation:
This may be the trick question. You do have information about Peter Henlein but
there is nothing about his FIRST job. Don't be fooled by seeing this "many of the first watch
makers were jewellers by trade". This does not mean that he was one. We just don't know.

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Question 3 Explanation:
Another question where you need to read for meaning and pay close attention to the
question. In some ways the key word is ALL. Read this "So while the most famous clock-
watches were the plain Nuremburg Eggs made by Peter Henlein, who is sometimes credited
with the invention of the watch, the designs rapidly became increasingly ornate". That means
that some clock-watches were plain and not ornate.

III. IELTS paragraphs and headings


A. The IELTS paragraphs and headings task

1. The task is to match between 5 and 7 headings to paragraphs in the text.


2. There are always more headings than paragraphs
3. You may need to read the whole text or only a part of it
B. The reading skill – skimming and general meaning
The main skill tested here is your ability to read quickly and get the main meaning of a
paragraph. This means that:

1. If you find a word you don’t understand: ignore it – you are looking for meanings of
paragraphs not words
2. Don’t simply match a word in the question with a word in the text – read the
sentence/paragraph to see how it is being used
3. Concentrate on the openings and closings of paragraphs – that is where the writer
normally makes the main point

C. Some problems and their solutions


This can be one of the easier types of question but it is also easy to get them all wrong!
Here are one or two difficulties.

a. A large part of the text – too much to read


You may need to read the whole text or a large part of it anyway. Make this problem into
a virtue.

One idea is that you do this task first – even if it is not the first set of questions. This
allows you to understand what the text is about.
b. Just matching words
Sometimes you can find the answer by matching words in the heading with words in the
text. Often though it is not as simple as matching words.The word in the heading may
be environmental and the word in the paragraph may be green.

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Think meaning, not words. When you look at the headings remember that the paragraphs may not
contain those exact same words.
c. Similar headings
Some of the headings seem quite similar and contain similar words.

Make sure you spend time reading them all and try every heading with every paragraph.
This may take time but you will avoid a lot of mistakes.
Avoid concentrating on words that are common to all or many of the headings. Look for words
that are special to that heading.
d. Only looking at first lines – trying to go too quickly
You want to work efficiently, so often you avoid reading the whole paragraph. Often you
can guess the meaning from the first few lines of the paragraph. This is because the writer uses a
topic sentence at the start to say what the paragraph is going to be about. The problem is that this
only works sometimes. The meaning you need may be in the last few lines of the paragraph, or
sometimes from the whole paragraph itself.

Look to see if the final sentence of the paragraph gives a summary of what the paragraph is
about.
Don’t stop reading too quickly and skim the whole paragraph. Some paragraphs are a
combination of ideas and to get their general meaning you need to skim the whole paragraph for
general meaning.
e. Wasting time on one paragraph
Often you waste time because the first paragraph is the hardest to match. You may spend
a long time concentrating on that one because it is one of the harder matches and you have lots of
options.

Easy. Write in 2/3 headings it could be and move on. When you come back after doing
the other questions, it may seem obvious. Don’t guess immediately. Do the task twice and using
a code. The code I suggest is that you mark in capital letters (CD etc) if you are certain and small
letters (cd etc) if you are unsure.

D. A suggested procedure

1. Look at the headings first. Don’t spend too much time on this, as at least some of them
will be wrong. Try and identify what the more important words are. By looking at the headings
first, you get a good idea of the general meaning of the text. That will help your reading.
2. Look at the first paragraph. Try to ignore the detail and look for the main point – these
are normally found in the first few lines – that may be the topic of the paragraph. Does it

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match any of the headings? Don’t forget to check final sentences too – that may be a summary
of the paragraph.
3. Try all the headings for each paragraph. Lots of mistakes happen because you try and
work too quickly.
4. If you are unsure and it could be heading a) or b) – write down a) or b). Don’t guess yet.
Come back at the end.
5. Make sure you underline/circle the words in the text that best match the heading. If you
do this, you can easily check your answer, if you want to use the same heading for another
paragraph later on.
6. Move onto the next paragraph and repeat the process. Don’t expect to complete all the
paragraphs first time around.
7. Go back at the end and make a decision about the paragraphs you didn’t do first time. Try
and be as careful as possible. Don’t rush.
8. If you are uncertain, it sometimes makes sense to use the same heading for 2 paragraphs.
You will get one wrong and one right. If you guess, you may get two wrong (or two right!)

IV. ELTS reading text completion questions


This is the next in my series of IELTS reading tutorials where I look at the different types
of questions you can expect to find in the exam. In this one, I talk you through the IELTS reading
text completion task, showing you some of the problems it can cause and giving you strategies to
deal with them.

A. Test yourself
Below is a complete reading passage with 6 sample text completion questions. You can either do
it now or take the tutorial and come back to it.

1. Text completion exercise

Weather forecasts

It is hard to imagine a world without weather forecasts they have become so essential
to so many facets of everyday life in the 21st Century. On an individual basis, of course,
people use weather forecasts to decide what to wear: whether they need an umbrella,
protection against the sun or even medication against abnormally high pollen levels. The
forecast is also seen as a necessary safeguard to protect life and property and we have also
become accustomed to receiving warnings against extreme weather conditions such as
drought, heavy snow, flooding or high winds. In our increasingly motorised age, the weather
report is now seen as vital for advising drivers of difficult driving conditions. The forecast is
equally important in agriculture and commerce so that famers can grow their crops and
commodity brokers can trade them on stock markets. Energy providers are also among a
wide range of institutions that rely on an accurate forecast so that they can plan ahead for the
services they provide.

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While the technology we use today to provide weather forecasts is new, the study of
weather patterns is as old as the hills as mankind has always been dependent on weather. In
primitive civilisations, hunters, warriors, farmers and shepherds alike would look to the gods
in the sky as the force behind the weather. Often the priests of these gods would enjoy high
status and considerable power in the belief they could influence the gods to provide the right
weather conditions by performing a rain dance or even, in the case of the Aztecs,
commanding a human sacrifice. The actual forecasting methods usually relied on
observed patterns of events, also termed pattern recognition. For example, if the sunset was
particularly red, the following day often brought fair weather. This form of weather lore,
which was passed from one generation to the next, has not entirely disappeared as is
evidenced by such sayings as “red sky at night, shepherds’ delight”. However, not all of these
predictions proved reliable, and many of them have since been found not to stand up to
rigorous statistical testing by meteorologists today.

Our roots of our modern scientific tradition can be traced back to the Babylonians
who began to predict weather from cloud formations and, more particularly, the Ancient
Greeks. As is the case in so many other fields, Aristotle is considered to have founded the
modern science of meteorology when he correctly identified the hydrologic cycle in 350 BC.
This cycle, which describes the continuous movement of water on, above and below the
surface of the Earth, is fundamental to much of modern weather forecasting. However,
Aristotle himself and his follower and pupil Theophrastus largely failed to make the
connection between the water cycle and weather forecasting and their science was scarcely
more reliable than the aboriginal rain dance. Indeed, the word “meteorology” literally means
the study of heavenly bodies and the Greeks attempted to explain weather conditions through
heavenly signs such as colours of the sky, rings and halos.

The influence of Aristotle on weather forecasting lasted for almost 2000 years and
was only gradually eroded by a combination of a series of scientific discoveries and advances
in communication technology. One important step forward was made in 1654 when Fernando
de Medici set up the first weather observation network with meteorological stations in eleven
separate European cities. When this data was centrally collected in Florence, it became
possible to analyse weather patterns on a grander scale than ever before by allowing maps to
be produced that showed atmospheric conditions over a large area of the Earth’s surface. The
invention of the telegraph in 1837 allowed such observations to be collected more
quickly and from a wider region than ever before and as a consequence meteorologists were
able to identify the global nature of weather patterns.

A central figure in turning the science of meteorology into the modern-day weather
forecast was Robert Fitzroy. Fitzroy was a man of many talents who had sailed with Charles
Darwin in The Beagle, helped to pioneer the use of barometers in the navy and correctly
identified sunspots as an influence on weather conditions As a former naval captain he was
aware of the necessity of accurate forecasting and he helped to establish The United
Kingdom Meteorological Office, which became the first national meteorological service in
the world. This office would advise ports around the United Kingdom when a gale was
expected so that the fishing fleets would not put out to sea. These forecasts were so reliable
that they were published in the newly-founded daily newspapers and it is said that Queen
Victoria would not sail anywhere unless Fitzroy had said the seas would be calm.

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How has weather forecasting evolved in the past 20 years? There have been a number
of influences and perhaps the most visible is the use of satellite technology. It is almost
impossible to watch a forecast on television nowadays without seeing a satellite picture
showing where the areas of high pressure and low pressure are and how the weather is likely
to develop. Indeed, a whole new industry of “nowcasting” has developed, telling us what the
weather is like now and what we could expect tot see if we could be bothered to look out of
the window. A less evident, but equally relevant, innovation has been the application of the
comparatively new science of mathematical modelling to weather forecasting. This involves
using the massive computational powers of supercomputers to process all the different
variables so as to provide some likely forecasts of what will happen next with the weather.
Even here, however, the science is by no means complete and the weather experts still need
to choose between different possible forecasts. How do they do that? Experience and
judgment – not perhaps that different from the ancient Babylonians who decided if it was
going to rain by looking at the shape of the cloud.

Complete the summary below.

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

Early societies used to predict the weather by noting . Although this body of knowledge was

not completely in making forecasts, it was more accurate than performing a rain dance. While the

discovery of was academically important, it did not notably improve forecasting methods.

The establishment of an was a major step forward because then early

meteorologists charts showing weather patterns. However, real progress was not made until the

information that formed the basis of these charts could be sent by means of telegraph.

2. The task
The task is to complete a text with words from the passage. The text you need to complete can
vary, sometimes it is a series of sentences, sometimes a table and sometimes a short summary.

Notes
- Typically, you will need to read 2/3 paragraphs to get all the answers. Sometimes you may need to
read the whole passage
- The questions will follow the order of the passage.
- If there is one thing that makes this task tough, it’s that you need a little grammar to do it well!

Problem 1 – read the question


Be very careful to read the question carefully as the examiners use different words sometimes.
Look at these examples:

1. Complete the summary below. Choose NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS from the
passage for each answer.

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2. Complete the table below. Choose NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS from the passage
for each answer.
3. Answer the question below using NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS for each answer.
In each case you need to do something different.

1. This a text completion task and you can use 1,2 or 3 words from the passage for your
answer
2. This is also a text completion task, but this time you can only use 1 0r 2 words from the
passage
3. This is not a text completion task. The words you use do not need to come from the
passage
Tip: remember in this task you need to use words from the passage. You cannot change
the form or order of those words. You must write them down as they appear in the
passage.

Problem 2 – a test of grammar


The words you use to complete the text must fit grammatically. Look at this simple example:

Passage
Traditionally, it was always supposed that it was the Egyptians who first domesticated the cat.
The primary evidence for this are the depictions of cats in paintings and statuary in Egypt from
over 3,500 years ago and it is indeed the case that the ancient Egyptians had an extraordinarily
close relationship with cats. One of the major deities in the New Kingdom, Bast, was a cat-
goddess that symbolised fertility and motherhood and the Greek historian Herodotus tells how
cats were often mummified and given a funeral, sometimes with the mummified remains of mice
so that they could enjoy the afterlife

This traditional view has been overturned, however, by the discovery in 2004 of a grave in
Cyprus that was 9,500 years old in which the remains of a cat were found next to a human.
Clearly, the human association with cats predates the ancient Egyptians by many millennia. It is
now thought that it was in the Fertile Crescent, modern-day Iraq, that humans first domesticated
the cat. Agriculture was invented in this region and the likelihood is that cats were used to
control the rodents and other vermin that fed on the crops and raided the grain stores.

Questions
The (1)________________ were the first people to have the cat as a pet. We know this from
(2)______________________ created over millennia ago and it is thought that cats
(3)_________________ so that they could enjoy eternal life. There is, however, some doubt

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about this (4)__________________ theory because the remains of a cat were found buried with
human remains in (5)____________.

Even before you read, you should be able to predict

- must be a noun after “The”


- likely to be a noun after “from”
- must be a verb form
- must be an adjective between “this” and “theory”
- either a place or a time after “in”
Tip: Even if you can’t predict the correct word form before you read, you must check
afterwards that what you have written is good grammar.

Problem 3 – recognise synonyms


Another major problem is that the words used in the text you have to complete will not exactly
match the words from the passage. This means that you need to read for meaning and simply
look for the same words in the passage. So there is no point looking for the word “pet” as the
word in the passage is “domesticated”.

3. A suggested technique
1. Read the instructions very carefully: check how many words you can use
2. Read the summary/table/sentences to see what general information you are looking for.
Ignore any specific words, think about meaning
3. Skim the text quickly to find the paragraphs you need to read more carefully. It’s a good
idea to concentrate the first and last question as they will tell you how much of the text you need
to read.
4. Look back at each question one by one and look for what specific information you need.
If you can, try and decide if you are looking for nouns, prepositions, verbs or adjectives
5. Find the sentence in the passage that you think most clearly matches the question
6. Check carefully that what you have written fits grammatically and makes sense too.
7. Spell the words correctly!

Answers
Weather text
1. patterns of flight
2. reliable
3. hydrologic cycle
4. observation network
5. produced
6. collected more quickly

Tài li u chia s t i DI N ĐÀN H C TI NG ANH - Admin: TR N M NH TRUNG

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Cat text
1. Egyptians
2. paintings and statuary
3. were often mummified
4. traditional
5. Cyprus

V. Summary completion
This is the next in my series of reading tutorials and looks at the summary completion
question type in IELTS reading. First of all I talk you through the task and discuss the problems
it presents and the reading skills you need to improve your band score. Then I suggest a
procedure to deal with this type of question. There is a sample reading test for you to do at the
end.

A. Format of the question


The format of the question is that you are asked to complete a summary of the reading passage
by selecting words from a box. You should note:

1. there are more words in the box than questions


2. the words on the box are not usually the same as in the reading passage
3. the summary may relate to the whole passage or only a part of it
4. the text of the summary will follow the order of the text of the passage

B. Key reading skills


Concentrate on understanding the meaning of the passage. Don’t try and match words in
the summary and the passage.
The main skill here is the ability to read a text quickly and understand its general
meaning. If you can do this, you should be able to predict many of the correct answers even
before you analyse the text.

The vocabulary skill you need most is the ability to recognise “synonyms”or words that
have a similar meaning. This is because the words from the summary may not exactly match the
reading passage itself.

Another key skill is to think grammar. Each word you place in the summary must fit in
grammatically. It helps to know whether you need a noun, adjective, verb or adverb.

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C. Problems and common mistakes
Remember that the completed summary must make sense grammatically. Check the parts
of speech and read through the completed summary at the end
The main difficulty this task presents is that it requires you to read all or a large part of
the passage. One suggestion is to do it first even if it is not the first set of questions – that way
you should get a better understanding of the passage as a whole.

Another problem is that there are a lot of possible words to consider – normally they
give twice as many words as there are spaces. It’s important to be methodical here and make sure
you consider all the words before you put in your answer. it may take more time, but you’ll get
more questions right that way.

A very common mistake is to fill in a word because you recognise it form the passage.
Try not to do this, but rather think about meanings of words as you are almost always looking for
a synonym.

Another common mistake is to choose a word that has the right general meaning but does
not fit grammatically in the summary passage. One way to avoid this mistake is to read the
summary sentence by sentence and not just look at the words either side of the gap.

D. Sample task – vocabulary and synonyms


Read this short passage and then decide which is the best word to complete the summary
sentence:

Passage
Another possibility is that an asteroid or comet will crash into Earth, wiping out most if not all of
mankind in seconds. In 1908, an asteroid just 60 metres in diameter exploded above Tunguska in
Siberia, destroying 80 million trees. If that happened over an inhabited area, the death toll would
be millions – and that was just a small hit, predicted to happen about one every 100 years. The
asteroid that killed off the dinosaurs was more than 10kn across, and there are craters in
Australia and Norway that suggest that similar-sized rocks have hit in the distant past.

Instructions: Click the answer button to see the correct answer.

1. An asteroid strike was responsible for making the dinosaurs ______________.


a. destroyed
b. dead
c. extinct

Answer: c

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The answer is “extinct” even though it doesn’t appear in the original passage. It is
correct because it summarises the meaning of the passage and is a close synonym of “killed
off”.

E. Sample task – grammar and word forms


To help you understand this task, look at this sample summary. What can you predict about each
word?

An (1)___________ amount of young people are suffering from depression and other mental
(2)__________. There is a (3)_________ with older generations who have been shown to be
living longer. Research into this has been carried out by scientists in the United States. They
have (4)___________ that there is almost certainly a connection between (5)___________ and
mental health.

In the grammar task:

1. Must start with a vowel sound because of “an” and is presumably an adjective coming
before the noun amount.
2.We need a noun that follows “mental”.
3. Must be a noun following “a”
4. This is surely a verb form between “have” and “that” – probably a past participle
5. This is possibly an adjective such as “physical” to balance “mental” or it could be a noun
such as “diet” to balance the word “health”.

A suggested procedure
Don’t get stuck on any one question. If you can’t find the answer, move on and come back
to it later.
1. Read the instructions to the questions very carefully.
2. Skim through the summary ignoring the blanks to understand its general meaning
3. Identify which part of the passage the summary relates to. You don’t want to waste time
looking at parts of the passage that are not included in the summary.To do this look at the first
and last questions in the summary.
4. Look at each gap in turn. If you can, try and predict the meaning of the word from your
understanding of the text. Then see if any of the options match your prediction. Remember to
look through all the words.
5. Check with the passage. You can use your “key word” strategy to identify the correct part
of the passage but remember you are looking for synonyms
6. Check to see if your word is grammatical – think about nouns, adjectives, verbs and
adverbs.

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VI. IELTS reading matching features
In this lesson I look at the IELTS reading matching features question. I help you along
with a suggested strategy for approaching this type of question and show you some of the more
common traps.

A. An example of how it works


The way this reading works is you have to find elements in the text that match a list of
people/places

eg, You have a list of names such as

A. George Stephenson

B. Richard Trevithick

C. Archimedes

D. James Watt

E. the Corinthians

F. John Fitch

and you have to match them to items in the text:


Which pioneer
1. was responsible for building a life size steam locomotive

2. legally protected the design of the working model of the steam locomotive

3. created a small scale replica of a steam locomotive

4. was defeated by the limitations of the raw materials available to him

5. understood the potential of steam locomotives to transport people

6. used steam as a form of propulsion

7. discovered how to use steam engines in the manufacturing industry

8. used animals and not steam to power a form of railway

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B. The traps
It may look easy but there are traps.

1. Read the context – don’t word match


Look at this example:

The first step was the design of a working model of a steam locomotive by John Fitch in the
United States in 1794

You may think that this means you can match John Fitch with 2. You see “the design of
the working model of the steam locomotive” and you match it with “legally protected the design
of the working model of the steam locomotive”. Sorry, you just lost a point by not reading the
context and the question. We see nothing there that says Fitch legally protected the design.
2. Read for synonyms – don’t match words
Another problem is that you may need to look for synonyms or similar words in the
passage and not the exact words in the question. Look at this example:

8. used animals and not steam to power a form of railway

It is no good looking for the word “animals” in the text because the answer is given by these
words:
The Corinthians did not consider using steam to power this prototype of the railway but instead
used horses and oxen.
This means you need to read for meaning and not just individual words.

3. You are looking for similar words in every question


In every question, you are going to be looking for “firsts” and “steam” and normally
“locomotive’. This means it makes no sense to concentrate on these words in the text.

4. The questions do not follow the order of the text


This is one of those tricky question types where you cannot necessarily read the text and
expect to find the questions coming in order. You may have to go backwards and forwards as you
read: this is where you need to be sure of your scanning skills.

5. You may use more than one name once


Don’t be trapped into using each name just once. It may be that some names have two or
more correct answers.

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C. A suggested procedure
You will find your own way to do this exercise, but here is my suggestion:

1. focus on the names/dates/places: in my example James Watt etc


2. scan the text for those names and underline them in the text – every time they occur
3. look at all the questions for all the names
4. read carefully and look for synonyms in the text
5. underline/highlight parts of the passage that give the answer –
6. mark them “?4” if you are uncertain
7. mark them “4” if you are certain and cross out that question on the question paper

D. IELTS matching features reading practice


a. How to do this exercise

I suggest that you use the print button at the bottom of the page and do the exercise
offline – this is a much better exercise.

I do not suggest that you try and do this as a timed exercise. It is a long and complex text.
Train your skills on it.

b. Questions
Which pioneer …

1. was responsible for building a life size steam locomotive

2. legally protected the design of a steam locomotive

3. created a small scale replica of a steam locomotive

4. was defeated by the limitations of the raw materials available to him

5. understood how steam locomotives could transport people

6. used steam for warfare

7. discovered a use for steam engines in the manufacturing industry

Choose one of ….
A. George Stephenson

B. Richard Trevithick

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C. Archimedes

D. James Watt

E. John Fitch

From Corinth to Darlington –

A journey on two tracks with many detours along the way


A.

There are those who believe that it was George Stephenson who was the inventor of
railway transport and indeed many history books do credit him with this achievement. In point of
fact though, railway transport had a long and varied history well before Stephenson came along
with his legendary “Rocket” and “Locomotion” and he can at best be regarded as the man who
popularised steam powered rail locomotion for passengers. Though, even in that sphere, he
should be seen as simply developing ideas of other inventors rather than as being the true
originator.

B.

Strange as it may seem, the pioneers of rail transport were the Ancient Greeks of Corinth
as far back as 600 BC. They produced a system for transporting boats across the Isthmus of
Corinth, the narrow neck of land connecting the Peloponnese with mainland Greece, so that
sailors no longer had to take the longer route around the Peloponnese. It worked by pulling
wheeled vehicles along a track which was formed by grooves in the natural limestone and this
prevented the wagons from leaving the intended route, much in the same way as modern railways
work. Curiously, the technology for creating the first steam engine already existed at this time as
Archimedes had invented the steam powered cannon. The Corinthians did not consider using
steam to power this prototype of the railway but instead used horses and oxen.

C.

The next great leap forward in rail transport came in Germany in the mid 16th century
when a primitive form of wooden rails were introduced. The breakthrough was the so-called
“hund” system. This involved the wheels running not on grooves in the ground as previously, but
on wooden planks with a pin on the wagon that fitted into the gap between the planks so that the
wagon ran in one direction. This system gradually evolved and became increasingly popular as a
form of transport as the Industrial Revolution took hold of Western Europe. The reason being
that, as coal and other minerals were being mined in ever larger quantities, there was a

26
corresponding need for a form of transport that was energy efficient. A wheel running on a rigid
rail provided just such a solution for the transport of heavy bulk goods as it needed less energy
than the alternative road transport system which was hindered by the uneven road surfaces of the
time.

D.

The technology of the Industrial Revolution also provided the inspiration for the means to
power these new rail systems in the form of steam. James Watt had seen the potential of steam to
drive a wheel and developed a reciprocating engine that helped power the machinery in the
cotton mills that were flourishing at the time. This stationary engine was both too large and
inefficient to be utilised in transport, but in a relatively short span of time boiler technology
improved and smaller engines were developed that could produce high pressure steam that acted
directly on a piston so that they could drive a vehicle. Indeed, Watt himself patented a design for
a steam locomotive in 1784.

E.

At this point, progression in rail transport accelerated rapidly and within 30 years
passenger transport became a reality. The first step was the construction of a working model of a
steam locomotive by John Fitch in the United States in 1794 and a mere 10 years later a full scale
steam locomotive was built in the united Kingdom by Richard Trevithick. While he made several
advances towards constructing a truly functional railway locomotive, especially with the
introduction of a fly-wheel system to even out the action of the piston that drove the wheels,
Trevithick never managed to construct a locomotive that was more than simply experimental.
The one problem he failed to overcome was that his engines were still too heavy to be borne by
the tracks as the steel used was simply too weak.

F.

The Napoleonic wars provided the stimulus in the next stage of this journey towards a
workable form of rail transport. It became highly desirable that a means was found move
provisions around the continent so that the all-important supply lines were not broken. Necessity
being the mother of invention, it was not long before two key advances were made: a twin
cylinder locomotive that was light enough not to break the rails and an adhesion system that
ensured the weight of the locomotive was distributed evenly through a number of wheels. The
success of these technological advances can be seen by the fact that the first commercially
successful steam locomotive railway was in operation by 1812, transporting coal. At this point
George Stephenson saw the potential of the new steam locomotive for passenger transport and,

27
after a decade of improving on the existing technology, he was instrumental in the opening of the
Stockton and Darlington Railway in 1825 in the north east of England. 600 people made a short
journey of 26 miles and a new era in transport began.

c. Circle your answers and see how to solve the answers


1. Which pioneer was responsible for a life size steam locomotive ?
A, B, C, D, E, F
2. Which pioneer was legally protected the design of a steam locomotive ?
A, B, C, D, E, F
3. Which pioneer created a small scale replica of a steam locomotive ?
A, B, C, D, E, F
4. Which pioneer was defeated by the limitations of the raw materials available to him?
A, B, C, D, E, F
5. Which pioneer understood how steam locomotives could transport people?
A, B, C, D, E, F
6. Which pioneer used steam for warfare?
A, B, C, D, E, F
7. Which pioneer discovered a use of steam engines in the manufaturing industry?
A, B, C, D, E, F

d. Answers:

1.B 2. D 3. E 4. E 5. A. 6. A 7.D

VII. Matching sentence endings in IELTS reading


In this lesson I discuss the matching sentence endings question type in IELTS reading
and suggest an approach to deal with this task.

A. An example of the question


You get a series of incomplete sentences and you need to match them their correct ending
using information from the text. There are normally 5 or 6 sentences and 8 to 10 different
endings. For example:

Sentence beginnings
1. The tourism industry in the UK suffered financially
2. There was a ban on burials of animals in quicklime
3. The first animal became infected

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4.The policy of transporting dead animals was challenged in the courts
5. A policy of vaccination was not introduced

Sentence endings
A. because a farmer used untreated waste as feed.
B. because the number of cases fell between May and September.
C. because footpaths were closed due to the foot and mouth outbreak.
D. because it also affected animals that were not affected by the disease
E. because it might reduce the profits of farmers.
F. because a similar programme had worked well in The Netherlands.
G. because of the adoption of European legislation in the UK.
H. because many abattoirs were closed

B. Understanding how it works


This question is designed to test your understanding of the main ideas in a text. You will be NOT
be looking for exactly the same words in the text as in the question, but words/phrases that have a
similar meaning. In addition, you need to understand before you approach this type of question
that:

1. the questions follow order of the text


2. the questions may test part of the whole text, not all of it
3. the sentence endings look grammatically similar
4. you will not use all of the endings

C. A suggested approach
Concentrate on the sentence beginnings
The general idea is that you focus on the sentence beginnings and not the sentence
endings. The simple reason for this is that not all the sentence endings appear in the text and you
will waste time if you concentrate on them.

1. Find the correct section of text


Find the part of the text that the questions relate to. One way to do this is scan the text for
key words in the question. Once you have found the paragraph for question 1, then you know that
the answer to question 2 comes later in the text and so on.

As you do this, it is sensible to ignore words that occur in more than question and words
that occur frequently in the text. Focussing on proper names and dates is often a good approach.

29
2. Look for synonyms in the text
The answer will normally be found by looking for words in the text that have the same
meaning as one of the sentence endings, rather than using exactly the same words.

3. Check back with sentence beginning


Once you have found the “correct” ending, check your answer by making the complete
sentence.

4. Think about meaning


Don’t be tempted to word match. If you find a word in the text that matches the sentence
ending, read carefully. This may be an examiner trap. It is not always that easy. Go back to
sentence beginning and match it with the ending. Does the whole sentence make sense? Does the
whole sentence match what you find in the text?

5. Think about grammar


This is a similar piece of advice. Make certain that the sentence you make is
grammatically accurate. It is a mistake simply to match words.

6. Be methodical – check every ending with every beginning


It is very easy here to write down the first option you think is possible. Don’t. The
examiners set traps. Be careful and look at every ending for each question. This will take a little
more time, but you will certainly avoid mistakes.

7. The first question is the hardest – give it more time


In this type of question, it makes absolutely no sense to give one and half minutes to
every question. The first question you look at will be hardest as you still have all the 8/9 options
available to you. Likewise the last question will be the simplest and quickest to do as you will
only have around 4 options left.

If you can’t find the answer to the first question immediately, don’t panic. Spend some
time on it, note 2/3 different answers it could be and move on. You can always come back to it
later, when you have got some other answers right.

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PART 02:

IELTS READING PRACTICE AND MORE


TIPS
MORE PRACTICE EXERCISES

A. True False Not Given – some tips and an


exercise
This lesson reminds you of some tips on the True False Not Given question type in
IELTS reading. There are two main points to focus on when you are answering the question:
firstly, to think about meaning and not just words, and secondly to focus on the question as much
as the text itself. There is also an interactive quiz at the bottom for you to test your skills.

1. Tip one – Underline the part of the text that shows the answer
A forgotten reading skill is to learning how to read intensively when you are looking for the
answer itself. Forget “key words” – they only show where to find the answer. Once you have
found the right part of the text, read very carefully – you want to find something that says:

1. This agrees with the information in the question – True


2. This contradicts the informnation in the question – False
Do NOT read generally at this point. You want to find something you can underline. If you
cannot find anything specific that you can underline, then the answer is likely to be Not Given.

2. Tip two – refer back to the whole question and think about its
meaning
IELTS reading is designed how well you understand reading passages. This means you always
want to focus on meaning when you are looking for the answer. Once you have found the right
part of the text, forget key words. It’s quite possible to find words in the text that match words in
the question, but the overall meaning is quite different.

1. Go back to the question and re-read it carefully – focus on the little words
too (some, never, generally etc), these can change the meanings of questions dramatically. Ask
yourself if you are looking for something absolutely true or something that is qualified in some
ay.
2. Re-read the text. Does it mean the same as the question? Make sure you check the text
and question against each other – that they mean the same thing.

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3. Some practice questions
Luxilon
The majority of professional players on the ATP and the WTA tours now use polyester
strings made by Luxilon, a company that specialised in the past in manufacturing fibres for
female undergarments. The trend was started by the then little-known Brazilian player Gustavo
Kuerten who more or less by chance discovered that this string was almost completely “dead” –
meaning that the players are able to swing much harder at the ball and impart much more spin on
it without it flying off uncontrollably as it would do with a traditional gut string. Kuerten of
course went on to achieve much success and, in the clay court game at least, is regarded as one of
the modern greats. His most lasting legacy though may not be his titles, rather it may be that his
use of a material primarily made for women’s bras allowed him and successive champions to
change how the tennis ball flew. Players were able to find completely new angles on the court
because, in the hands of a master, a shot hit with a luxilon string that might look as if it were
heading way out of court would suddenly drop like a stone, describing an almost perfect
parabola. This technological innovation has revolutionised the way in which the game is now
played. For example, Roger Federer, a man who many regard as the greatest player of all time,
may have begun his career as an attacking all-court player, but in latter years he has been forced
become a much more defensively orientated player who chooses his time to attack more
carefully. Indeed, he is on record as saying that new string technology has changed the face of the
game and that he has had to adapt his game to counter players who stand behind the baseline and
produce winning shots from almost nowhere.

True/False/Not Given - Luxilon


Decide if the answers to these questions are: TRUE - there is information in the text that
shows that this is the author's opinion FALSE - there is information in the text that shows that
this is NOT the author's opinion NOT GIVEN - there is not enough information in the text to
determine whether this true or false.

Start
Question 1
Roger Federer uses luxilon to string his tennis racket.

A True

B False

C Not Given
Question 2
The use of luxilon allowed players to hit new types of shots.

A True

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B False

C Not Given
Question 3
Roger Federer has always played an attacking game of tennis.

A True

B False

C Not Given
Once you are finished, click the button below. Any items you have not completed will be
marked incorrect.

Question 1 Explanation:
We know that “The majority of professional players on the ATP and the WTA tours now use
polyester strings made by Luxilon” and that Federer believes”new string technology has
changed the face of the game”. You might assume therefore that he uses the string. There is,
however, no information in the text about what type of string Federer uses – he may be part
of the majority, he may be part of the minority, we simply don’t know.
Question 2 Explanation:
We find the answer in “ the players are able to swing much harder at the ball and impart
much more spin on it without it flying off uncontrollably” and “Players were able to find
completely new angles on the court because, in the hands of a master, a shot hit with a
luxilon string that might look as if it were heading way out of court would suddenly drop like
a stone, describing an almost perfect parabola.”
Question 3 Explanation:
We have enough information in the text from “Roger Federer, a man who many regard as the
greatest player of all time, may have begun his career as an attacking all-court player, but in
latter years he has been forced become a more defensively orientated player who chooses his
time to attack more carefully.” This is a “trick question” if you look only at the words
“Federer” and “attacking”, you may want to say True. If, however, you read the whole
question including the word “always”, then the answer must be False. The idea is that
Federer has changed the way he plays into a more defensive style

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B. Multiple choice reading practice
Try this IELTS multiple choice reading practice. It is a long text and you will need plenty
of time to complete it – it may take up to 10 minutes – that isn’t bad if you are still training.

1. Don’t do it online!
This is a long text. You can print it off by using the print button at the bottom of the page. That
way you can get real practice underling and ringing words!

2. Some tips on dealing with IELTS multiple choice reading questions


tip 1 – decide which paragraph you find the answer in – find words in the text that relate to the
question – this will require skimming and scanning

tip 2 – remember that the questions will follow the order of the text – i.e. question 2 will be
between questions 1 and 3

tip 3 – read the question closely

tip 4 – look for something specific in the text that matches the whole question

tip 5- beware of simply matching words -you will probably need to look for synonyms

tip 6 – concentrate on the stem of the question – remember that 3 of the options are wrong and
may confuse you

3. Questions

1. Professor Hobbs is researching

A. ? whether or not the Pyramids were constructed of concrete in their entirety

B. ? how the Egyptians managed to get limestone blocks to the top of the Pyramids

C. ? whether the invention of concrete led to the building of the Pyramids

D. ? the proportions of granite and limestone used in the constuction of the Pyramids

2. The author believes the ramp theory

A. ? is unlikely to be true due to lack of evidence.

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B. ? supports the traditional theory on how the Pyramids were constructed

C. ? is a better explanation than the concrete theory

D. ? was a result of how Hollywood portrayed the construction of the Pyramids

3. The Roman aqueduct system was

A. ? something the Romans developed from earlier civilisations

B. ? initially made from stone and then out of concrete

C. ? an intentional part of the Roman Architectural revolution

D. ? partially responsible for improving the quality of life in cities

4. The Parthenon and the Pantheon

A. ? were built at the same time

B. ? have rounded domes and are rectangular ins hape

C. ? were made from different materials

D. ? are both magnifcent structures and unchanged in form

Concrete in the Ancient World


Nowadays the world’s most commonly used building material is concrete but that has
not always been the case. The traditional view is that it was the Romans who pioneered its
use in construction. Recent studies raise the possibility though that this can be traced back to
the Pharaohs of Egypt, who may have employed concrete in the construction of the Great
Pyramids a good two millennia earlier than previously thought and it remains a possibility
that the invention of concrete may have acted as a catalyst for the construction of the Great
Pyramids. This theory has attracted the attention of academics around the world and is now
being tested by Linn Hobbs, professor of material sciences at MIT. Hobbs is examining
claims that the Egyptians relied as much on intelligence as brute force in their monumental
building programme a. It is not of course being suggested that the Great Pyramids were built
of concrete in their entirety. It is generally accepted that a mixture of limestone blocks,
granite and special white limestone casing stones were used. Rather the theory goes that the
blocks at the top of the pyramids were made in situ. A liquid mixture of crushed limestone
and other chemicals were poured into vats or moulds and this subsequently set hard into
concrete. It is this process that Hobbs is trying to replicate with his research students in the
US, albeit on a much smaller scale. It does seem a likely hypothesis, as we do know that
Egyptians did work with a very similar mixture of crushed limestone, mineral additives and
water to glaze some of their monumental statues. It does also seem to provide an answer to

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an engineering challenge that has long puzzled engineers. How did they get vast limestone
blocks to the top of what was then the tallest structure in the world?

All this is challenged by the archaeological community, where the mainstream view is that
the Pyramids were indeed built in much the same sort of way as the great historical epics
from Hollywood would have us believe, with the limestone blocks being dragged on sleds
from local quarries and the granite being transported 500 miles down the Nile from far away
Aswan. These blocks would then be heaved up ramps made of rubble to the top of the
pyramid and carefully manoeuvred into place. A major difficulty with this theory is that there
is no archaeological evidence for it and, given the thousands of tonnes of earth involved, it
does seem almost unbelievable that there is nothing left to show for these mighty ramps.
Equally, the Egyptologist Kathryn Bard says there is just as little evidence that the ancient
Egyptians did use concrete and she believes that any concrete that has been found in tests on
the Pyramids can be explained by modern repair work over the centuries.
There is far less controversy about the Romans use of concrete. As in other fields, they
borrowed something the an earlier civilsation had discovered and found a practical use for
it. Indeed the building programmes, which were such a feature of their empire and enabled it
to endure for so long, were made possible by the widespread use of concrete. In particular it
helped in the construction of that most Roman phenomenon – the aqueduct. Early aqueduct
systems that were made solely of stone were limited in size and frequently collapsed but with
concrete added the aqueduct systems grew ever more ambitious in scope This in turn
improved the network of aqueducts that carried water into cities and was one factor that
helped lead to far better sanitation and, ultimately, prosperity and a better style of living. In
this sense, concrete was a truly revolutionary material and it is no accident that when we
refer to the Roman Architectural Revolution, we think almost immediately of structures that
used concrete. Those two symbols of Rome, the Panthoen and the Colloseum, may largely be
built of stone but it was concrete that made their construction possible in the first place.

Concrete did not of course displace stone as the major building material, rather the
two materials were used in conjunction with one another. Just as in the modern age concrete
has been used with glass in skyscrapers the world over. This concrete/stone combination
allowed the construction of different forms of structures such as arches and domes that were
not rectangular or square. The great example here is the Pantheon in Rome that was built in
the first century AD. Its rounded dome made out of concrete contrasts with the sharp angles
found on temples from earlier civilisations, such as the Parthenon in Athens where stone was
used alone. In these ancient monuments from the classical era we can see that concrete has
proved more durable than stone. Magnificently, the Pantheon still stands today in much the
same form as the Romans would have seen it; while when we look at the ruins of the
Parthenon, we can only imagine what the complete structure would have looked like.

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Roman concrete was revolutionary in more ways than one. In order they would add horse
hair to prevent their concrete from cracking, volcanic ash to allow it to set under water and
blood to make it more resistant to frost. These additives may sound primitive, but in many
respects the Romans were well ahead of their times when we consider the modern practice of
using similarly environmentally friendly additives such as fly ash. The secret of concrete was
then seemingly lost for around thirteen centuries until the dawn of the Industrial Revolution.
There is some evidence to suggest that concrete was used in building projects in Finland
during the 17th century, but it is generally John Smeaton who is credited with the re-
invention of concrete in the mid 18th century. The real breakthrough came a hundred years
later with the advent of Portland cement. Previously lime had been used to harden concrete
but Portland cement was both stronger and hardened more quickly. These properties and the
fact that it was so easily manufactured led to its almost universal use in modern day concrete
and there are few buildings nowadays that do not have at least some concrete in them.

The answers explained

1. C
Paragraph 1: “who may have employed concrete in the construction of the Great Pyramids a
good two millennia earlier than previously thought and it remains a possibility that the
invention of concrete may have acted as a catalyst for the construction of the Great Pyramids.
This theory has attracted the attention of academics around the world and is now being tested
by Linn Hobbs, professor of material sciences at MIT.”
You should see the name Linn Hobbs and know the answer is somewhere near here.
“Whether the invention of concrete led to the building of the Pyramids” matches “acted a s
catalyst for the construction of the Pyramids”. Note how “construction” is a synonym for
“construction” and “acted as a catalyst” is for “led to”
2. A
Paragraph 2 ” A major difficulty with this theory is that there is no archaeological evidence
for it and, given the thousands of tonnes of earth involved, it does seem almost unbelievable
that there is nothing left to show for these mighty ramps.”
You should see ramps and theory tells us that this is the correct passage. “A major difficulty”
and “almost unbelievable” gives us the writer’s opinion.
3. D
Paragraph 3 “This in turn improved the network of aqueducts that carried water into cities
and was one factor that helped lead to far better sanitation and, ultimately, prosperity and a
better style of living.”
You should see that “better style of living” matches “quality of life” and “helped lead to”
matches “was partially responsible”

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4. C
paragraph 4
“This concrete/stone combination allowed the construction of different forms of structures
such as arches and domes that were not rectangular or square. The great example here is the
Pantheon in Rome that was built in the first century AD.”and “such as the Parthenon in
Athens where stone was used alone.”
You should see the words Pantheon and Parthenon tell us this is the right passage. On wis
made out of concrete and stone and the other from stone only.

B. Matching sentence endings reading


practice
1. How to do this exercise
I suggest that you use the print button at the bottom of the page and do the exercise
offline – this is a much better exercise.

I do not suggest that you try and do this as a timed exercise. It is a long and complex text.
Train your skills on it.

2. Get some help before you start


You might want to try the tutorial first if you haven’t already read it.

Notes:

- you should concentrate on the stem of the questions (1-5) and not the letters (A-H) when you are
scanning)
- you should identify the right part of the text first
- the questions follow the order of the text
Questions
Complete each sentence with the correct letter A-H

1. The tourism industry in the UK suffered financially

2. There was a ban on burials of animals in quicklime

3. The first animal became infected

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4. The policy of transporting dead animals was challenged in the courts

5. A policy of vaccination was not introduced

A. because a farmer used untreated waste as feed.

B. because the number of cases fell between May and September.

C. because footpaths were closed due to the foot and mouth outbreak.

D. because it also affected animals that were not affected by the disease.

E. because it might reduce the profits of farmers.

F. because a similar programme had worked well in The Netherlands.

G. because of the adoption of European legislation in the UK.

H. because many abattoirs were closed

The foot and mouth crisis


One of the worst crises in agriculture in the United Kingdom was caused by the outbreak
of foot-and-mouth disease in 2001 caused a crisis in British agriculture. The depth of the crisis
can be judged by the fact that there were no fewer than 2,000 cases of the disease and that over
10 million sheep and cattle were killed in the attempt to halt the disease. The disease primarily
the countryside and took root in many regions with Cumbria the worst affected area of the
country, with 843 cases. 1.There was also a profound effect on tourism industry due to the
closure of public rights of way across land so as to prevent the spread the disease. Estimates vary
as to the overall cost of the crisis to the UK economy, but it is thought that the final figure was in
the region of £8 billion.

The 2001 crisis, serious as it was, was by no means the first outbreak of foot-and-mouth
disease in the United Kingdom. It was, however, notable for the way it affected the whole
country. The last outbreak in 1967 had been confined to a relatively small area and The
Northumberland report issued by the government after that outbreak recommended that speed
was of the essence in dealing with any future outbreak of the disease. Priority should be given to
the speedy identification of infected animals and those animals should be slaughtered on the spot
within 24 hours, with their carcasses buried in quicklime. These recommendations were no
longer in effect by 2001, partly thanks to changes brought about by farming practice and the
closure of many local abattoirs which meant that animals had to be transported greater distances.

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More particularly, Britain’s accession to the European Union had meant that by 1985 new
European Union legislation was in effect in the UK. This amended the rules on the treatment of
foot-and-mouth in a directive that required confirmation of any diagnosis by laboratory tests and
prohibited farm burials and the use of quicklime.

The disease was first detected on a pig at an abattoir in Essex on 19 February 2001 and it
was found to have spread to several other pigs in the local area. However, four days later another
case was confirmed on a farm in Heddon-on-the-Wall, Northumberland, from where the pig in
the first case had come and this farm was later confirmed as the source of the outbreak, the
immediate cause being that the farmer had been feeding his pigs “untreated waste”. At this stage,
the European Union imposed a worldwide ban on all British exports of livestock, meat and
animal products. And by the end of the beginning of March, the disease had spread to many of
the heavily agricultural regions of the UK, including, Devon, north Wales, Cornwall, southern
Scotland and the Lake District. Following European policy, the Ministry for Agriculture,
Fisheries and Food (MAFF) ruled that not only infected animals were to be slaughtered but, in
what came to be known as “contiguous cull” any sheep, cow or pig within three kilometres of
known cases would be slaughtered too.

The carcasses of the animals that were slaughtered had to be taken to a special facility in
Widnes, in the north west of England, with the unfortunate result that the corpses of infected
animals were transported through areas that previously had been disease free. This policy was
challenged legally on two fronts: that pigs and cows were not transmitters of the disease and that
the authorities had no right to slaughter uninfected animals that had not been directly exposed to
the disease. The MAFF immediately amended their ruling so that only uninfected sheep were
affected.

Professor King, an expert in the transmission of disease, announced that the foot-and-
mouth outbreak was “totally under control” in April. This was false confidence, however, as the
outbreak continued with around 5 cases a day being reported from May to September. This was
down from the peak of 50 cases a day in March, but the continuation of the disease necessitated a
series of measures to prevent its further spread. These included a complete ban on the movement
of livestock and the sale of British pigs, sheep and cattle and severe restrictions on the movement
of humans near infected areas. This included closing vast tracts of the countryside to walkers and
tourists and ensuring that the footwear of people with access to farmyards and fields was
disinfected so that the disease was not spread. Most of all though, efforts concentrated on the
controlled culling of animals and the burning of their remains. With approximately 90,000
animals being destroyed on a weekly basis, the army was called in to assist the MAFF officials
who were unable to cope with slaughter on such an unparalleled scale.

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It was not until late September that The Department for Environment, Food and Rural
Affairs cleared the last area to be infected, although restrictions on livestock movement
continued well into 2002. When its inquest began into the outbreak, most attention focussed on
the refusal of MAFF to use a vaccine – not least because vaccination had rapidly ended a
simultaneous outbreak in The Netherlands. This policy had been implemented under pressure
from farmers’ unions who were concerned that any vaccination programme would cost them
dearly as it would prevent any future export of British meat. However, the net loss to the farming
industry of approximately £594 million was dwarfed by the loss to the tourism industry and, on
the basis that in future it would economically prudent to end any outbreak as quickly as possible,
current policy has been amended to allow for vaccination as well as culling.

Answers to questions:
1. C 2. G 3. A 4. D 5. E

================================
Scanning skills in IELTS
Many IELTS reading texts are really tough and the questions can be tricky, but time
is the real problem for many candidates. How can you read and process 3 texts of 800-900
words in 60 minutes? One answer is skimming, another is scanning.

Done well scanning can save you time, done badly it may be a waste of time. Scanning
skills do need a little learning – there is a definite art to it.

What is scanning?

Scanning is the skill of looking for individual words in the text without reading the text for
meaning. This is an important point and is worth emphasising: when you skim a text you are
trying to understand what the text is generally about, but when you scan it you are simply
looking for words not meanings.

Why does it matter?

To show you why scanning skills matter, take a look at this extract that I have borrowed from
Wikipedia on the life of Dickens. It is really quite similar to an IELTS passage. The question
you need to answer is:

“How many performances did Dickens give on his reading tour of the United Kingdom?”

It’s a fairly simple question and your task is to get it right in 30 seconds. Give it a go. Time
yourself.

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How were your scanning skills?

The answer is of course “eighty seven” and I hope you got it. But how long did it take you?
If it took much over 30 seconds, you are probably not scanning correctly. Here are two
reasons why: you did the logical thing and started reading at the beginning and left to right.

1. Don’t read from left to right

If you start reading from left to right you are going to scan very slowly. In fact, what happens
is that you start to skim the text and read it for meaning rather than just scanning for
individual words. This happens because your brain wants to process the information coming
to it.

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If you’re an Arabic language speaker, here you have an advantage!. You should be used to
reading right to left.

2. Don’t start at the beginning

It is of course logical to start reading from the beginning. Or is it? Actually no. This is
because the word you are looking for could be anywhere in the text and there is no reason to
start at the beginning: you’re not reading the text for meaning, you’re looking for a word. In
the example here the word is right at the end – the very worst place to start was at the
beginning.

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How to scan

You will need to practise this yourself to see what works for you, but the skill of scanning
includes:

1. the skill of reading right to left and up and down: that way your brain can’t slow you
down by trying to understand the text
2. the skill of starting in the middle: you are more likely to find word quickly that way.

In this next diagram, you’ll see the arrows (and your eyes) do not all go in the same direction.
Some go right to left and some left to right.

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In the next one the eyes start in the middle and move out in all directions. This is the logical
place to start reading if you want to find your information quickly.

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