IELTS Reading Practice Test 10

The old, print-friendly test

Reading Passage 1

Questions 1-14
Finding the Lost Freedom

1. The private car is assumed to have widened our horizons and increased our mobility. When we consider our children’s mobility, they can be driven to more places (and more distant places) than they could visit without access to a motor vehicle. However, allowing our cities to be dominated by cars has progressively eroded children’s independent mobility. Children have lost much of their freedom to explore their own neighbourhood or city without adult supervision. In recent surveys, when parents in some cities were asked about their own childhood experiences, the majority remembered having more, or far more, opportunities for going out on their own, compared with their own children today. They had more freedom to explore their own environment.

2. Children’s independent access to their local streets may be important for their own personal, mental and psychological development. Allowing them to get to know their own neighborhood and community gives them a “sense of place”. This depends on “active exploration”, which is not provided for when children are passengers in cars. (Such children may see more, but they learn less.) Not only is it important that children be able to get to local play areas by themselves, but walking and cycling journeys to school and to other destinations provide genuine play activities in themselves.

3. They are very significant time and money costs for parents associated with transporting their children to school, sport and other locations. Research in the United Kingdom estimated that this cost, in 1990, was between 10 billion and 20 million pounds. (AIPPG)

4. The reduction in children’s freedom may also contribute to a weakening of the sense of local
community. As fewer children and adults use the streets as pedestrians, these streets become less sociable places. There is less opportunity for children and adults to have the spontaneous of community. This in itself may exacerbate fears associated with assault and molestation of children, because there are fewer adults available who know their neighbours’ children, and who can look out for their safety.

5. The extra traffic involved in transporting children results in increased traffic congestion, pollution and accident risk. As our roads become more dangerous, more parents drive their children to more places, thus contributing to increased levels of danger for the remaining pedestrians. Anyone who has experienced either the reduced volume of traffic in peak hour during school holidays, or the traffic jams near schools at the end of a school day, will not need convincing about these points. Thus, there are also important environmental implications of children’s loss of freedom.

6. As individuals, parents strive to provide the best upbringing they can for their children.
However, in doing so, (e.g. by driving their children to sport, school or recreation) parents may be contributing to a more dangerous environment for children generally. The idea that “streets are for cars and back yards and playgrounds are for children” is a strongly held belief, and parents have little choice as individuals but to keep their children off the streets if they want to protect their safety.

7. In m any parts of Dutch cities, and some traffic calmed precincts in Germany, residential streets are now places where cars must give way to pedestrians. In these areas, residents are accepting the view that the function of streets is not solely to provide mobility for cars. Streets may also be for social interaction, walking, cycling and playing. One of the most important aspects of these European streets, in terms of giving cities back to children, has been a range of “traffic calming” initiatives, aimed at reducing the volume and speed of traffic. These initiatives have had complex interactive effects, leading to a sense that children have been able to do this in safety. Recent research has demonstrated that children in m any German cities have significantly higher levels of freedom to travel to places in their own neighbourhood or city than children in other cities in the world.

8. Modifying cities in order to enhance children’s freedom will not only benefit children. Such cities will become more environmentally sustainable, as well as more sociable and more livable for all city residents. Perhaps, it will be our concern for our children’s welfare that convinces us that we need to challenge the dominance of the car in our cities.

Questions 1-5
Do the following statements agree with the information given in Reading Section 1? Write:

TRUE if the statement agrees with the information
FALSE if the statement contradicts the information
NOT GIVEN if there is no information on this

1 The private car has helped children have more opportunities to learn.
2 Children are more independent today than they used to be.
3 Walking and cycling to school allows children to learn more.
4 Children usually walk or cycle to school.
5 Parents save time and money by driving children to school.

Questions 6-9
In Paragraph FOUR and FIVE there are FOUR problems stated . These problems are numbered as questions 6-9. Find the correct cause for each of the problems and write the corresponding letter A-G. There are more causes than problems so you will not use all of them. You may use any cause MORE THAN ONCE.

Problems
Example:low sense of community feeling  Answer:F

6 streets become less sociable
7 fewer chances for meeting friends
8 fears of danger for children
9 higher accident risk

Causes
A few adults know local children
В fewer people use the streets
C increased pollution
D streets are less friendly
E less traffic in school holidays
F reduced freedom for children
G more children driven to school

Questions 10-14
Complete the sentences. Choose the correct ending for each statement.
Endings are numbered I-X.
Example:By driving children to school, parents help create… Answer: I

10 Children should play
11 In some German towns, pedestrians have right of way in
12 Streets should also be used for
13 Reducing the amount of traffic and the speed is
14 All people who live in the city will benefit if cities are

… a dangerous environment
II … modified
III … residential streets
IV … modifying cities
…neighborhoods
VI … socializing
VII … in backyards
VIII … for cars
IX … traffic calming
… residential

For this task: Answer keys

IELTS Reading Practice Test 9

The old, print-friendly test

Reading Passage 1

Questions 1-13
The History of Bicycle

The bicycle was not invented by one individual or in one country. It took nearly 100 years and many individuals for the modern bicycle to be born. By the end of those 100 years, bicycles had revolutionised the way people travel from place to place.

Bicycles first appeared in Scotland in the early 1800s, and were called velocipedes. These early bicycles had two wheels, but they had no pedals. The rider sat on a pillow and walked his feet along the ground to move his velocipede forward.

Soon a French inventor added pedals to the front wheel. Instead of walking their vehicles, riders used their feet to run the pedals. However, pedalling was hard because velocipedes were very heavy. The framework was made of solid steel tubes and the wooden wheels were covered with steel. Even so, velocipedes were popular among rich young men, who raced them in Paris parks.

Because of the velocipedes were so hard to ride, no one thought about using them for transportation. People didn’t ride velocipedes to the market or to their jobs. Instead, people thought velocipedes were just toys.

Around 1870, American manufacturers saw that velocipedes were very popular overseas. They began building velocipedes, too, but with one difference. They made the frameworks from hollow steel tubes. This alteration made velocipedes much lighter, but riders still had to work hard to pedal just a short distance. In addition, roads were bumpy so steering was difficult. In fact, most riders preferred indoor tracks where they could rent a velocipede for a small fee and take riding lessons.

Subsequent changes by British engineers altered the wheels to make pedalling more efficient. They saw that when a rider turned the pedals once, the front wheel turned once. If the front wheel was small, the bicycle travelled just a small distance with each turn. They reasoned that if the front wheel were larger, the bicycle would travel a greater distance. So they designed a bicycle with a giant front wheel. They made the rear wheel small. Its primary purpose was to help the rider balance. Balancing was hard because the rider had to sit high above the giant front wheel in order to reach the pedals. This meant he was in danger of falling off the bicycle and injuring himself if he lost his balance. Despite this inherent danger, “high-wheelers” became very popular in England.

American manufacturers once again tried to design a better bicycle. Their goal was to make a safer bicycle. They substituted a small wheel for the giant front wheel and put the driving mechanism in a larger rear to wheel. It would be impossible for a rider to pedal the rear wheel, so engineers designed a system of foot levers. By pressing first the right one and then the left, the rider moved a long metal bar up and down. This bar turned the rear axle. This axle turned the rear wheel and the bicycle minimised the dangers inherent in bicycle riding, more and more people began using bicycles in their daily activities.

The British altered the design one last time. They made the two wheels equal in size and created a mechanism that uses a chain to turn the rear wheel. With this final change, the modern bicycle was born.

Subsequent improvements, such as brakes, rubber tires, and lights were added to make bicycles more comfortable to ride. By 1900, bicycle riding had become very popular with men and women of all ages. Bicycles revolutionised the way people worldwide ride bicycles for transportation, enjoyment, sport, and exercise.

Questions 1-6
Complete the sentences. Choose NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS from the passage above for each answer.

In the invention of the bicycle took part not only one individual or the country, but the world in general during the 1 years. This invention was firstly found in Scotland in the first decades of 1800, and was known as velocipedes. They were not resembled to today’s bicycles and had two wheels, but they had no 2 . The rider sat on a pillow and walked his feet along the ground in order to move his velocipede forward. Soon, a French inventor added pedals to the front wheel. However, because of their difficulty in riding, nobody used them in a daily life, and they were accepted as 3 . Around 1870, manufacturers in America found that this invention is popular 4 , but within the difference: frameworks were made from 5 , what makes them much lighter. Soon, the British inventors found the method which can make pedalling more efficient to turn pedals one by one. They designed a bicycle with a giant front wheel.
However, as the rider had to sit high above the giant front wheel it was too difficult to keep the
balance. The safer bicycle was invented by Americans. They designed the rear 6 , which minimised the danger of falling and injuring. At last, the British changed the design one last time and added two wheels equal in size and the mechanism that induce a chain to turn the rear wheel. By this there was invented the example of the modem bicycle.

Questions 7-10
Do the following statements agree with the information given in Reading Passage 1? Write

TRUE if the statement agrees with the information
FALSE if the statement contradicts the information
NOT GIVEN if there is no information on this

7 The bicycle was invited by Americans only
8 It was too hard to lead the velocipedes due to their heaviness
9 The alteration of velocipedes made the life of people much more easy
10 The changes by British inventors altered the wheels to make pedalling more efficient

Questions 11-13
Complete the sentences. Choose NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS from the passage for each answer.

11 The British inventors concluded that if the front wheel were large in , the bicycle would travel comparatively long distance.
12 American engineers designed a system of  which was driven by pressing first the right and then the left pedals.
13 The last, but not least alteration in creating of the modern bicycle was a making the two wheels equal in size and using the to spin the rear wheel.

For this task: Answers with explanations

IELTS Reading Practice Test 8

The old, print-friendly test

Reading Passage 1

You should spend about 20 minutes on Questions 1-15, which are based on Passage 1 below.

Questions 1-5
Reading Passage 1 has five paragraphs, A-E. Choose the most suitable heading for each paragraph from the list of headings below. Write the appropriate numbers (I-VIII) on your Answer Sheet. There are more headings than paragraphs, so you will not use them all.

1. Paragraph A
2. Paragraph B
3. Paragraph C
4. Paragraph D
5. Paragraph E
List of headings:
I Glacial Continents
II Formation and Growth of Glaciers
III Glacial Movement
IV Glaciers in the Last Ice Age
V Glaciers Through the Years
VI Types of Glaciers
VII Glacial Effects on Landscapes
VIII Glaciers in National Parks
Glaciers

A
Besides the earth’s oceans, glacier ice is the largest source of water on earth. A glacier is a massive stream or sheet of ice that moves underneath itself under the influence of gravity. Some glaciers travel down mountains or valleys, while others spread across a large expanse of land. Heavily glaciated regions such as Greenland and Antarctica are called continental glaciers. These two ice sheets encompass more than 95 percent of the Earth’s glacial ice. The Greenland ice sheet is almost 10,000 feet thick in some areas, and the weight of this glacier is so heavy that much of the region has been depressed below sea level. Smaller glaciers that occur at higher elevations are called alpine or valley glaciers. Another way of classifying glaciers is in terms of their internal temperature. In temperate glaciers, the ice within the glacier is near its melting point. Polar glaciers, in contrast, always maintain temperatures far below melting.

В
The majority of the earth’s glaciers are located near the poles, though glaciers exist on all continents, including Africa and Oceania. The reason glaciers are generally formed in high alpine regions is that they require cold temperatures throughout the year. In these areas where there is little opportunity for summer ablation (loss of mass), snow changes to compacted form and then crystallised ice. During periods in which melting and evaporation exceed the amount of snowfall, glaciers will retreat rather than progress. While glaciers rely heavily on snowfall, other climactic conditions including freezing rain, avalanches, and wind, contribute to their growth. One year of below average precipitation can stunt the growth of a glacier tremendously. With the rare exception of surging glaciers, a common glacier flows about 10 inches per day in the summer and 5 inches per day in the winter. The fastest glacial surge on record occurred in 1953, when the Kutiah Glacier in Pakistan grew more than 12 kilometres in three months.

C
The weight and pressure of ice accumulation causes glacier movement. Glaciers move out from under themselves, via plastic deformation and basal slippage. First, the internal flow of ice crystals begins to spread outward and downward from the thickened snow pack also known as the zone of accumulation. Next, the ice along the ground surface begins to slip in the same direction. Seasonal thawing at the base of the glacier helps to facilitate this slippage. The middle of a glacier moves faster than the sides and bottom because there is no rock to cause friction. The upper part of a glacier rides on the ice below. As a glacier moves it carves out a U-shaped valley similar to a riverbed, but with much steeper walls and a flatter bottom.

D
Besides the extraordinary rivers of ice, glacial erosion creates other unique physical features in the landscape such as horns, fjords, hanging valleys, and cirques. Most of these land-forms do not become visible until after a glacier has receded. Many are created by moraines, which occur at the sides and front of a glacier. Moraines are formed when material is picked up along the way and deposited in a new location. When many alpine glaciers occur on the same mountain, these moraines can create a horn. The Matterhorn, in the Swiss Alps is one of the most famous horns. Fjords, which are very common in Norway, are coastal valleys that fill with ocean water during a glacial retreat. Hanging valleys occur when two or more glacial valleys intersect at varying elevations. It is common for waterfalls to connect the higher and lower hanging valleys, such as in Yosemite National Park. A cirque is a large bowl-­shaped valley that forms at the front of a glacier. Cirques often have a lip on their down slope that is deep enough to hold small lakes when the ice melts away.

E
Glacier movement and shape shifting typically occur over hundreds of years. While presently about 10 percent of the earth’s land is covered with glaciers, it is believed that during the last Ice Age glaciers covered approximately 32 percent of the earth’s surface. In the past century, most glaciers have been retreating rather than flowing forward. It is unknown whether this glacial activity is due to human impact or natural causes, but by studying glacier movement, and comparing climate and agricultural profiles over hundreds of years, glaciologists can begin to understand environmental issues such as global warming.

Questions 6-10
Do the following statements agree with the information in Passage 1? In boxes 6-10 on your Answer Sheet write

TRUE if the statement is true according to the passage.
FALSE if the statement contradicts the passage.
NOT GIVEN if there is no information about this in the passage.

6. Glaciers exist only near the north and south poles
7. Glaciers are formed by a combination of snow and other weather conditions
8. Glaciers normally move at a rate of about 5 to 10 inches a day
9. All parts of the glacier move at the same speed
10. During the last Ice Age, average temperatures were much lower than they are now

Questions 11-15
Match each definition below with the term it defines.
Write the letter of the term, A-H, on your Answer Sheet. There are more terms than definitions, so you will not use them all.

Definition
11. a glacier formed on a mountain
12. a glacier with temperatures well below freezing
13. a glacier that moves very quickly
14. a glacial valley formed near the ocean
15. a glacial valley that looks like a bowl
Term
A fjord
B alpine glacier
C horn
D polar glacier
E temperate glacier
F hanging valley
G cirque
H surging glacier

For this task: Answer keys

IELTS Reading Practice Test 7

The old, print-friendly test

Reading Passage 1

You should spend about 20 minutes on Questions 1-13, which are based on Reading Passage 1.

The Value of a College Degree

Escalating cost of higher education is causing many to question the value of continuing education beyond high school. Many wonder whether the high cost of tuition, the opportunity cost of choosing college over full-time employment, and the accumulation of thousands of dollars of debt is, in the long run, worth the investment. The risk is especially large for low- income families who have a difficult time making ends meet without the additional burden of college tuition and fees.

In order to determine whether higher education is worth the investment, it is useful to examine what is known about the value of higher education and the rates of return on investment to both the individual and to society.

The Economic Value of Higher Education

There is considerable support for the notion that the rate of return on investment in higher education is high enough to warrant the financial burden associated with pursuing a college degree. Though the earnings differential between college and high school graduates varies over time, college graduates, on average, earn more than high school graduates. According to the Census Bureau, over an adult’s working life, high school graduates earn an average of $1.2 million; associate’s degree holders earn about $1.6 million; and bachelor’s degree holders earn about $2.1 million (Day and Newburger, 2002).

These sizeable differences in lifetime earnings put the costs of college study in realistic perspective. Most students today—about 80 percent of all students—enrol either in public four- year colleges or in public two-year colleges. According to the U.S. Department of Education report, Think College Early, a full-time student at a public four-year college pays an average of $8,655 for in-state tuition, room, and board (U.S. Department of Education, 2002). A full-time student in a public two-year college pays an average of $1,359 per year in tuition (U.S. Department of Education, 2002).

These statistics support the contention that, though the cost of higher education is significant, given the earnings disparity that exists between those who earn a bachelor’s degree and those who do not, the individual rate of return on investment in higher education is sufficiently high to warrant the cost.

Other Benefits of Higher Education

College graduates also enjoy benefits beyond increased income. A 1998 report published by the Institute for Higher Education Policy reviews the individual benefits that college graduates enjoy, including higher levels of saving, increased personal/professional mobility, improved quality of life for their offspring, better consumer decision making, and more hobbies and leisure activities (Institute for Higher Education Policy, 1998). According to a report published by the Carnegie Foundation, non-monetary individual benefits of higher education include the tendency for post-secondary students to become more open-minded, more cultured, more rational, more consistent, and less authoritarian; these benefits are also passed along to succeeding generations (Rowley and Hurtado, 2002). Additionally, college attendance has been shown to “decrease prejudice, enhance knowledge of world affairs and enhance social status” while increasing economic and job security for those who earn bachelor’s degrees (Ibid.). Research has also consistently shown a positive correlation between completion of higher education and good health, not only for oneself, but also for one’s children. In fact, “parental schooling levels (after controlling for differences in earnings) are positively correlated with the health status of their children” and Increased schooling (and higher relative income) are correlated with lower mortality rates for given age brackets” (Cohn and Geske, 1992).

The Social Value of Higher Education

A number of studies have shown a high correlation between higher education and cultural and family values, and economic growth. According to Elchanan Cohn and Terry Geske (1992), there is the tendency for more highly educated women to spend more time with their children; these women tend to use this time to better prepare their children for the future. Cohn and Geske (1992) report that “college graduates appear to have a more optimistic view of their past and future personal progress.”

Public benefits of attending college include increased tax revenues, greater workplace productivity, increased consumption, increased workforce flexibility, and decreased reliance on government financial support (Institute for Higher Education Policy, 1998)

Conclusion

While it is clear that investment in a college degree, especially for those students in the lowest income brackets, is a financial burden, the long-term benefits to individuals as well as to society at large, appear to far outweigh the costs.

Questions 1-4
Do the following statements agree with the information in Reading Passage 1? In boxes 1-4 on your Answer Sheet, write
TRUE if the statement is true according to the passage.
FALSE if the statement contradicts the passage.
NOT GIVEN if there is no information about this in the passage.

1. The cost of a college education has remained steady for several years.
2. Some people have to borrow large amounts of money to pay for college.
3. About 80 percent of college students study at public colleges.
4. Public colleges cost less than private colleges.

Questions 5-9
Complete the fact sheet below.
Choose NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS from the passage for each answer

Financial Costs and Benefits of Higher Education

The average high school graduate makes a little more than one million dollars in 5 The average person with an associate’s degree earns 6
The average 7 makes over two million dollars.
The average student at a four year college spends 8  $ a year on classes, housing, and food.
The average student at a two-year college spends $1,359 on 9

Questions 10-13
The list below shows some benefits which college graduates may enjoy more of as compared to non-college graduates.

Which four of these benefits are mentioned in the article?
Mark the corresponding letters.

A They own bigger houses
B They are more optimistic about their lives
C They save more money
D They enjoy more recreational activities
E They have healthier children
F They travel more frequently
G They make more purchases

For this task: Answer keys

IELTS Reading Practice Test 6

The old, print-friendly test

Section 1

Networking as a concept has acquired what is in all truth an unjustified air of modernity. It is considered in the corporate world as an essential tool for the modern businessperson, as they trot round the globe drumming up business for themselves or a corporation. The concept is worn like a badge of distinction, and not just in the business world.

People can be divided basically into those who keep knowledge and their personal contacts to themselves, and those who are prepared to share what they know and indeed their friends with others. A person who is insecure, for example someone who finds it difficult to share information with others and who is unable to bring people, including friends, together does not make a good networker. The classic networker is someone who is strong enough within themselves to connect different people including close friends with each other. For example, a businessman or an academic may meet someone who is likely to be a valuable contact in the future, but at the moment that person may benefit from meeting another associate or friend.

It takes quite a secure person to bring these people together and allow a relationship to develop independently of himself. From the non-networker’s point of view such a development may be intolerable, especially if it is happening outside their control. The unfortunate thing here is that the initiator of the contact, if he did but know it, would be the one to benefit most. And why?

Because all things being equal, people move within circles and that person has the potential of being sucked into ever growing spheres of new contacts. It is said that, if you know eight people, you are in touch with everyone in the world. It does not take much common sense to realise the potential for any kind of venture as one is able to draw on the experience of more and more people.

Unfortunately, making new contacts, business or otherwise, while it brings success, does cause problems. It enlarges the individual’s world. This is in truth not altogether a bad thing, but it puts more pressure on the networker through his having to maintain an ever larger circle of people. The most convenient way out is, perhaps, to cull old contacts, but this would be anathema to our networker as it would defeat the whole purpose of networking. Another problem is the reaction of friends and associates. Spreading oneself thinly gives one less time for others who were perhaps closer to one in the past. In the workplace, this can cause tension with jealous colleagues, and even with superiors who might be tempted to rein in a more successful inferior. Jealousy and envy can prove to be very detrimental if one is faced with a very insecure manager, as this person may seek to stifle someone’s career or even block it completely.

The answer here is to let one’s superiors share in the glory; to throw them a few crumbs of comfort. It is called leadership from the bottom. In the present business climate, companies and enterprises need to co-operate with each other in order to expand. As globalization grows apace, companies need to be able to span not just countries but continents. Whilst people may rail against this development it is for the moment here to stay. Without co-operation and contacts, specialist companies will not survive for long. Computer components, for example, need to be compatible with the various machines on the market and to achieve this, firms need to work in conjunction with others. No business or institution can afford to be an island in today’s environment. In the not very distant past, it was possible for companies to go it alone, but it is now more difficult to do so.

The same applies in the academic world, where ideas have been jealously guarded. The opening-up of universities and colleges to the outside world in recent years has been of enormous benefit to industry and educational institutions. The stereotypical academic is one who moves in a rarefied atmosphere living a life of sometimes splendid isolation, a prisoner of their own genius. This sort of person does not fit easily into the mould of the modern networker. Yet even this insular world is changing. The ivory towers are being left ever more frequently as educational experts forge links with other bodies; sometimes to stunning effect as in Silicon Valley in America and around Cambridge in England, which now has one of the most concentrated clusters of high tech companies in Europe.

It is the networkers, the wheeler-dealers, the movers and shakers, call them what you will, that carry the world along. The world of the Neanderthals was shaken between 35,000 and 40,000 BC; they were superseded by Homo Sapiens with the very ‘networking’ skills that separate us from other animals: understanding, thought abstraction and culture, which are inextricably linked to planning survival and productivity in humans. It is said the meek will inherit the earth. But will they?

Questions 1-5

YES if the statement agrees with the writer’s claims
NO if the statement contradicts the writer’s claims
NOT GIVEN if there is impossible to say what the writer thinks about this

1 Networking is not a modern idea.
2 Networking is worn like a badge exclusively in the business world.
3 People fall into two basic categories.
4 A person who shares knowledge and friends makes a better networker than one who does not.
5 The classic networker is physically strong and generally in good health.

Questions 6-10
Using NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS from the passage, complete the sentences below.

6 Making new acquaintances but also has its disadvantages.
7 At work, problems can be caused if the manager is .
8 A manager can suppress, or even totally the career of an employee.
9 In business today, working together is necessary in order for to grow.
10 Businesses that specialise will not last for long without .

Questions 11-15
Using NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS from the passage, complete the sentences below.

11 In which sphere of life have ideas been protected jealously?
12 Which type of individual does not easily become a modern networker?
13 Where is one of the greatest concentrations of high tech companies in Europe?
14 Who replaced the Neanderthals?
15 What, as well as understanding and thought abstraction, sets us apart from other animals?

For this task: Answers with explanations :: Vocabulary

IELTS Reading Practice Test 5

The old, print-friendly test

Section 1

A
They play hard, they play often, and they play to win. Australian sports teams win more than their fair share of titles, demolishing rivals with seeming ease. How do they do it? A big part of the secret is an extensive and expensive network of sporting academies underpinned by science and medicine. At the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS), hundreds of youngsters and pros live and train under the eyes of coaches. Another body, the Australian Sports Commission (ASC), finances programmes of excellence in a total of 96 sports for thousands of sportsmen and women. Both provide intensive coaching, training facilities and nutritional advice.

B
Inside the academies, science takes centre stage. The AIS employs more than 100 sports scientists and doctors, and collaborates with scores of others in universities and research centres. AIS scientists work across a number of sports, applying skills learned in one – such as building muscle strength in golfers – to others, such as swimming and squash. They are backed up by technicians who design instruments to collect data from athletes. They all focus on one aim: winning. ‘We can’t waste our time looking at ethereal scientific questions that don’t help the coach work with an athlete and improve performance.’ says Peter Fricker, chief of science at AIS.

C
A lot of their work comes down to measurement – everything from the exact angle of a swimmers dive to the second-by-second power output of a cyclist. This data is used to wring improvements out of athletes. The focus is on individuals, tweaking performances to squeeze an extra hundredth of a second here, an extra millimetre there. No gain is too slight to bother with. It’s the tiny, gradual improvements that add up to world-beating results. To demonstrate how the system works, Bruce Mason at AIS shows off the prototype of a 3D analysis tool for studying swimmers. A wire-frame model of a champion swimmer slices through the water, her arms moving in slow motion. Looking side-on, Mason measures the distance between strokes. From above, he analyses how her spine swivels. When fully developed, this system will enable him to build a biomechanical profile for coaches to use to help budding swimmers. Mason’s contribution to sport also includes the development of the SWAN (SWimming ANalysis) system now used in Australian national competitions. It collects images from digital cameras running at 50 frames a second and breaks down each part of a swimmers performance into factors that can be analysed individually – stroke length, stroke frequency, average duration of each stroke, velocity, start, lap and finish times, and so on. At the end of each race, SWAN spits out data on each swimmer.

D
‘Take a look.’ says Mason, pulling out a sheet of data. He points out the data on the swimmers in second and third place, which shows that the one who finished third actually swam faster. So why did he finish 35 hundredths of a second down? ‘His turn times were 44 hundredths of a second behind the other guy.’ says Mason. ‘If he can improve on his turns, he can do much better.’ This is the kind of accuracy that AIS scientists’ research is bringing to a range of sports. With the Cooperative Research Centre for Micro Technology in Melbourne, they are developing unobtrusive sensors that will be embedded in an athlete’s clothes or running shoes to monitor heart rate, sweating, heat production or any other factor that might have an impact on an athlete’s ability to run. There’s more to it than simply measuring performance. Fricker gives the example of athletes who may be down with coughs and colds 11 or 12 times a year. After years of experimentation, AIS and the University of Newcastle in New South Wales developed a test that measures how much of the immune-system protein immunoglobulin A is present in athletes’ saliva. If IgA levels suddenly fall below a certain level, training is eased or dropped altogether. Soon, IgA levels start rising again, and the danger passes. Since the tests were introduced, AIS athletes in all sports have been remarkably successful at staying healthy.

E
Using data is a complex business. Well before a championship, sports scientists and coaches start to prepare the athlete by developing a ‘competition model’, based on what they expect will be the winning times. ‘You design the model to make that time.’ says Mason. ‘A start of this much, each free-swimming period has to be this fast, with a certain stroke frequency and stroke length, with turns done in these times’. All the training is then geared towards making the athlete hit those targets, both overall and for each segment of the race. Techniques like these have transformed Australia into arguably the world’s most successful sporting nation.

F
Of course, there’s nothing to stop other countries copying – and many have tried. Some years ago, the AIS unveiled coolant-lined jackets for endurance athletes. At the Atlanta Olympic Games in 1996, these sliced as much as two percent off cyclists’ and rowers times. Now everyone uses them. The same has happened to the altitude tent’, developed by AIS to replicate the effect of altitude training at sea level. But Australia’s success story is about more than easily copied technological fixes, and up to now no nation has replicated its all-encompassing system.

Questions 1-7
Reading Passage 1 has six sections, A-F.
Which paragraph contains the following information?
Write the correct letter A-F for questions 1-7 .
NB You may use any letter more than once

1 a reference to the exchange of expertise between different sports
2 an explanation of how visual imaging is employed in investigations
3 a reason for narrowing the scope of research activity
4 how some AIS ideas have been reproduced
5 how obstacles to optimum achievement can be investigated
6 an overview of the funded support of athletes
7 how performance requirements are calculated before an event

Questions 8-11
Classify the following techniques according to whether the writer states they

A are currently exclusively used by Australians
B will be used in the future by Australians
C are currently used by both Australians and their rivals

Write the correct letter A, B, C or D for questions 8-11.

8 cameras
9 sensors
10 protein tests
11 altitude tents

Questions 12 and 13
Choose NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS AND/OR A NUMBER from the Reading Passage 1 for each answer.
Write your answers for questions 12 and 13 .

12 What is produced to help an athlete plan their performance in an event?
13 By how much did some cyclists’ performance improve at the 1996 Olympic Games?

For this task: Answers with explanations :: Vocabulary

IELTS Reading Practice Test 4

The old, print-friendly test

Section 1

Adam’s Wine

A
Water is the giver and, at the same time, the taker of life. It covers most of the surface of the planet we live on and features large in the development of the human race. On present predictions, it is an element that is set to assume even greater significance.

B
Throughout history, water has had a huge impact on our lives. Humankind has always had a rather ambiguous relationship with water, on the one hand receiving enormous benefit from it, not just as a drinking source, but as a provider of food and a means whereby to travel and to trade. But forced to live close to water in order to survive and to develop, the relationship has not always been peaceful or beneficial. In fact, it has been quite the contrary. What has essentially been a necessity for survival has turned out in many instances to have a very destructive and life-threatening side.

C
Through the ages, great floods alternated with long periods of drought have assaulted people and their environment, hampering their fragile fight for survival. The dramatic changes to the environment that are now a feature of our daily news are not exactly new: fields that were once lush and fertile are now barren; lakes and rivers that were once teeming with life are now long gone; savannah has been turned to desert. What perhaps is new is our naive wonder when faced with the forces of nature.

D
Today, we are more aware of climatic changes around the world. Floods in far-flung places are instant news for the whole world. Perhaps these events make us feel better as we face the destruction of our own property by floods and other natural disasters.

E
In 2002, many parts of Europe suffered severe flood damage running into billions of euros. Properties across the continent collapsed into the sea as waves pounded the coastline wreaking havoc with sea defences. But it was not just the seas. Rivers swollen by heavy rains and by the effects of deforestation carried large volumes of water that wrecked many communities.

F
Building stronger and more sophisticated river defences against flooding is the expensive short-term answer. There are simpler ways. Planting trees in highland areas, not just in Europe but in places like the Himalayas, to protect people living in low-lying regions like the Ganges Delta, is a cheaper and more attractive solution. Progress is already being made in convincing countries that the emission of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases is causing considerable damage to the environment. But more effort is needed in this direction.

G
And the future? If we are to believe the forecasts, it is predicted that two-thirds of the world population will be without fresh water by 2025. But for a growing number of regions of the world the future is already with us. While some areas are devastated by flooding, scarcity of water in many other places is causing conflict. The state of Texas in the United States of America is suffering a shortage of water with the Rio Grande failing to reach the Gulf of Mexico for the first time in 50 years in the spring of 2002, pitting region against region as they vie for water sources. With many parts of the globe running dry through drought and increased water consumption, there is now talk of water being the new oil.

H
Other doom-laden estimates suggest that, while tropical areas will become drier and uninhabitable, coastal regions and some low-lying islands will in all probability be submerged by the sea as the polar ice caps melt. Popular exotic destinations now visited by countless tourists will become no-go areas. Today’s holiday hotspots of southern Europe and elsewhere will literally become hotspots – too hot to live in or visit. With the current erratic behaviour of the weather, it is difficult not to subscribe to such despair.

I
Some might say that this despondency is ill-founded, but we have had ample proof that there is something not quite right with the climate. Many parts of the world have experienced devastating flooding. As the seasons revolve, the focus of the destruction moves from one continent to another. The impact on the environment is alarming and the cost to life depressing. It is a picture to which we will need to become accustomed.

Questions 1-8
Reading Passage 1 has eight paragraphs labelled A-I.
Choose the most suitable headings for paragraphs B-I from the list of headings below.

Write the appropriate numbers (I-XII) in boxes 1-8 on your answer sheet.
One of the headings has been done for you as an example.
Note: There are more headings than paragraphs, so you will not use all of them.

Example:  Paragraph A  — Answer VII

List of Headings
I        Environmental change has always been with us
II       The scarcity of water
III      Rivers and seas cause damage
IV       Should we be despondent? Or realistic?
V        Disasters caused by the climate make us feel better
VI       Water, the provider of food
VII      What is water?
VIII     How to solve flooding
IX       Far-flung flooding
X        Humans’ relationship with water
XI       The destructive force of water in former times
XII      Flooding in the future
XIII     A pessimistic view of the future

1        Paragraph B
2        Paragraph C
3        Paragraph D
4        Paragraph E
5        Paragraph F
6        Paragraph G
7        Paragraph H
8        Paragraph I

Questions 9-15
Choose the appropriate letters A-D and write them in boxes 9-15 on your answer sheet.

The writer believes that water
A is gradually becoming of greater importance.
B will have little impact on our lives in future.
C is something we will need more than anything else.
D will have even greater importance in our lives in the future.

Humankind’s relationship with water has been
A two-sided.
B one-sided.
C purely one of great benefit.
D fairly frightening.

The writer suggests that
A we are in awe of the news we read and see on TV every day.
B change to the environment leaves us speechless.
C we should not be in awe of the news we read and see on TV every day.
D our surprise at the environmental change brought about by nature is something new.

According to the text, planting trees
A has to be co-ordinated internationally.
B is more expensive than building sea and river defences.
C is a less expensive answer to flooding than building river defences.
D is not an answer to the problem of flooding in all regions.

By 2025, it is projected that
A at least half the world population will have fresh water.
B the majority of the world population will have fresh water.
C one-third of the world population will have fresh water.
D fresh water will only be available to half of the world population.

According to the text, in the future low-lying islands
A will still be habitable.
B will not be under water.
C are likely to be under water.
D will probably not be under water.

According to the writer
A people do not need to get used to environmental damage.
B people will need to get used to climate changes that cause environmental damage.
C people are now more used to environmental damage than they have been in the past.
D the general despondency about environmental changes is ill-founded.

For this task: Answers with explanations :: Vocabulary

IELTS Reading Practice Test 3

The old, print-friendly test

Section 1

Adults and children are frequently confronted with statements about the alarming rate of loss of tropical rainforests. For example, one graphic illustration to which children might readily relate is the estimate that rainforests are being destroyed at a rate equivalent to one thousand football fields every forty minutes – about the duration of a normal classroom period. In the face of the frequent and often vivid media coverage, it is likely that children will have formed ideas about rainforests – what and where they are, why they are important, what endangers them – independent of any formal tuition. It is also possible that some of these ideas will be mistaken.

Many studies have shown that children harbour misconceptions about ‘pure’, curriculum science. These misconceptions do not remain isolated but become incorporated into a multifaceted, but organised, conceptual framework, making it and the component ideas, some of which are erroneous, more robust but also accessible to modification. These ideas may be developed by children absorbing ideas through the popular media. Sometimes this information may be erroneous. It seems schools may not be providing an opportunity for children to re-express their ideas and so have them tested and refined by teachers and their peers.

Despite the extensive coverage in the popular media of the destruction of rainforests, little formal information is available about children’s ideas in this area. The aim of the present study is to start to provide such information, to help teachers design their educational strategies to build upon correct ideas and to displace misconceptions and to plan programmes in environmental studies in their schools.

The study surveys children’s scientific knowledge and attitudes to rainforests. Secondary school children were asked to complete a questionnaire containing five open-form questions. The most frequent responses to the first question were descriptions which are self-evident from the term ‘rainforest’. Some children described them as damp, wet or hot. The second question concerned the geographical location of rainforests. The commonest responses were continents or countries: Africa (given by 43% of children), South America (30%), Brazil (25%). Some children also gave more general locations, such as being near the Equator.

Responses to question three concerned the importance of rainforests. The dominant idea, raised by 64% of the pupils, was that rainforests provide animals with habitats. Fewer students responded that rainforests provide plant habitats, and even fewer mentioned the indigenous populations of rainforests. More girls (70%) than boys (60%) raised the idea of rainforest as animal habitats.

Similarly, but at a lower level, more girls (13%) than boys (5%) said that rainforests provided human habitats. These observations are generally consistent with our previous studies of pupils’ views about the use and conservation of rainforests, in which girls were shown to be more sympathetic to animals and expressed views which seem to place an intrinsic value on non-human animal life.

The fourth question concerned the causes of the destruction of rainforests. Perhaps encouragingly, more than half of the pupils (59%) identified that it is human activities which are destroying rainforests, some personalising the responsibility by the use of terms such as ‘we are’. About 18% of the pupils referred specifically to logging activity.

One misconception, expressed by some 10% of the pupils, was that acid rain is responsible for rainforest destruction; a similar proportion said that pollution is destroying rainforests. Here, children are confusing rainforest destruction with damage to the forests of Western Europe by these factors.

While two fifths of the students provided the information that the rainforests provide oxygen, in some cases this response also embraced the misconception that rainforest destruction would reduce atmospheric oxygen, making the atmosphere incompatible with human life on Earth.

In answer to the final question about the importance of rainforest conservation, the majority of children simply said that we need rainforests to survive. Only a few of the pupils (6%) mentioned that rainforest destruction may contribute to global warming. This is surprising considering the high level of media coverage on this issue. Some children expressed the idea that the conservation of rainforests is not important.

The results of this study suggest that certain ideas predominate in the thinking of children about rainforests. Pupils’ responses indicate some misconceptions in basic scientific knowledge of rainforests’ ecosystems such as their ideas about rainforests as habitats for animals, plants and humans and the relationship between climatic change and destruction of rainforests.

Pupils did not volunteer ideas that suggested that they appreciated the complexity of causes of rainforest destruction. In other words, they gave no indication of an appreciation of either the range of ways in which rainforests are important or the complex social, economic and political factors which drive the activities which are destroying the rainforests. One encouragement is that the results of similar studies about other environmental issues suggest that older children seem to acquire the ability to appreciate, value and evaluate conflicting views. Environmental education offers an arena in which these skills can be developed, which is essential for these children as future decision–makers.

Questions 1-8
Do the following statements agree with the information given in Reading Passage 1?
In boxes 1-8 on your answer sheet, write

TRUE if the statement agrees with the information
FALSE if the statement contradicts the information
NOT GIVEN if there is no information on this

1 The plight of the rainforests has largely been ignored by the media.
2 Children only accept opinions on rainforests that they encounter in their classrooms.
3 It has been suggested that children hold mistaken views about the ‘pure’ science that they study at school.
4 The fact that children’s ideas about science form part of a larger framework of ideas means that it is easier to change them.
5 The study involved asking children a number of yes/no questions such as ‘Are there any rainforests in Africa?’
6 Girls are more likely than boys to hold mistaken views about the rainforests’ destruction.
7 The study reported here follows on from a series of studies that have looked at children’s understanding of rainforests.
8 A second study has been planned to investigate primary school children’s ideas about rainforests.

Questions 9-13
The box below gives a list of responses A–P to the questionnaire discussed in Reading Passage 1.
Answer the following questions by choosing the correct responses A–P.
Write your answers in boxes 9–13 on your answer sheet.

9 What was the children’s most frequent response when asked where the rainforests were?
10 What was the most common response to the question about the importance of the rainforests?
11 What did most children give as the reason for the loss of the rainforests?
12 Why did most children think it important for the rainforests to be protected?
13 Which of the responses is cited as unexpectedly uncommon, given the amount of time spent on the issue by the newspapers and television?

A There is a complicated combination of reasons for the loss of the rainforests.
B The rainforests are being destroyed by the same things that are destroying the forests of Western Europe.
C Rainforests are located near the Equator.
D Brazil is home to the rainforests.
E Without rainforests some animals would have nowhere to live.
F Rainforests are important habitats for a lot of plants.
G People are responsible for the loss of the rainforests.
H The rainforests are a source of oxygen.
I Rainforests are of consequence for a number of different reasons.
J As the rainforests are destroyed, the world gets warmer.
K Without rainforests there would not be enough oxygen in the air.
L There are people for whom the rainforests are home.
M Rainforests are found in Africa.
N Rainforests are not really important to human life.
O The destruction of the rainforests is the direct result of logging activity.
P Humans depend on the rainforests for their continuing existence.

Question 14
Choose the correct letter, A, B, C, D or E
Write your answer in box 14 on your answer sheet.

Which of the following is the most suitable title for Reading Passage 1?
A The development of a programme in environmental studies within a science curriculum
B Children’s ideas about the rainforests and the implications for course design
C The extent to which children have been misled by the media concerning the rainforests
D How to collect, collate and describe the ideas of secondary school children
E The importance of the rainforests and the reasons for their destruction

For this task: Answer keys

IELTS Reading Practice Test 2

The old, print-friendly test

Section 1

The Impact of Wilderness Tourism

A
The market for tourism in remote areas is booming as never before. Countries all across the world are actively promoting their ‘wilderness’ regions – such as mountains, Arctic lands, deserts, small islands and wetlands – to high-spending tourists. The attraction of these areas is obvious: by definition, wilderness tourism requires little or no initial investment. But that does not mean that there is no cost. As the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development recognised, these regions are fragile (i.e. highly vulnerable to abnormal pressures) not just in terms of their ecology, but also in terms of the culture of their inhabitants. The three most significant types of fragile environment in these respects, and also in terms of the proportion of the Earth’s surface they cover, are deserts, mountains and Arctic areas. An important characteristic is their marked seasonality, with harsh conditions prevailing for many months each year. Consequently, most human activities, including tourism, are limited to quite clearly defined parts of the year.

Tourists are drawn to these regions by their natural landscape beauty and the unique cultures of their indigenous people. And poor governments in these isolated areas have welcomed the new breed of ‘adventure tourist’, grateful for the hard currency they bring. For several years now, tourism has been the prime source of foreign exchange in Nepal and Bhutan. Tourism is also a key element in the economies of Arctic zones such as Lapland and Alaska and in desert areas such as Ayers Rock in Australia and Arizona’s Monument Valley.

B
Once a location is established as a main tourist destination, the effects on the local community are profound. When hill-farmers, for example, can make more money in a few weeks working as porters for foreign trekkers than they can in a year working in their fields, it is not surprising that many of them give up their farm-work, which is thus left to other members of the family. In some hill-regions, this has led to a serious decline in farm output and a change in the local diet, because there is insufficient labour to maintain terraces and irrigation systems and tend to crops. The result has been that many people in these regions have turned to outside supplies of rice and other foods.

In Arctic and desert societies, year-round survival has traditionally depended on hunting animals and fish and collecting fruit over a relatively short season. However, as some inhabitants become involved in tourism, they no longer have time to collect wild food; this has led to increasing dependence on bought food and stores. Tourism is not always the culprit behind such changes. All kinds of wage labour, or government handouts, tend to undermine traditional survival systems. Whatever the cause, the dilemma is always the same: what happens if these new, external sources of income dry up?

The physical impact of visitors is another serious problem associated with the growth in adventure tourism. Much attention has focused on erosion along major trails, but perhaps more important are the deforestation and impacts on water supplies arising from the need to provide tourists with cooked food and hot showers. In both mountains and deserts, slow-growing trees are often the main sources of fuel and water supplies may be limited or vulnerable to degradation through heavy use.

C
Stories about the problems of tourism have become legion in the last few years. Yet it does not have to be a problem. Although tourism inevitably affects the region in which it takes place, the costs to these fragile environments and their local cultures can be minimized. Indeed, it can even be a vehicle for reinvigorating local cultures, as has happened with the Sherpas of Nepal’s Khumbu Valley and in some Alpine villages. And a growing number of adventure tourism operators are trying to ensure that their activities benefit the local population and environment over the long term.

In the Swiss Alps, communities have decided that their future depends on integrating tourism more effectively with the local economy. Local concern about the rising number of second home developments in the Swiss Pays d’Enhaut resulted in limits being imposed on their growth.

There has also been a renaissance in communal cheese production in the area, providing the locals with a reliable source of income that does not depend on outside.

Many of the Arctic tourist destinations have been exploited by outside companies, who employ transient workers and repatriate most of the profits to their home base. But some Arctic communities are now operating tour businesses themselves, thereby ensuring that the benefits accrue locally. For instance, a native corporation in Alaska, employing local people, is running an air tour from Anchorage to Kotzebue, where tourists eat Arctic food, walk on the tundra and watch local musicians and dancers.

Native people in the desert regions of the American Southwest have followed similar strategies, encouraging tourists to visit their pueblos and reservations to purchase high-quality handicrafts and artwork. The Acoma and San Ildefonso pueblos have established highly profitable pottery businesses, while the Navajo and Hopi groups have been similarly successful with jewellery.

Too many people living in fragile environments have lost control over their economies, their culture and their environment when tourism has penetrated their homelands. Merely restricting tourism cannot be the solution to the imbalance, because people’s desire to see new places will not just disappear. Instead, communities in fragile environments must achieve greater control over tourism ventures in their regions; in order to balance their needs and aspirations with the demands of tourism. A growing number of communities are demonstrating that, with firm communal decision-making, this is possible. The critical question now is whether this can become the norm, rather than the exception.

Questions 1-3
Reading Passage 1 has three section, A-C.
Choose the correct heading for each section from the list of headings below.
Write the correct number I-VI in boxes 1-3 on your answer sheet.

List of Headings
The expansion of international tourism in recent years
II How local communities can balance their own needs with the demands of    wilderness tourism
III Fragile regions and the reasons for the expansion of tourism there
IV Traditional methods of food-supply in fragile regions
Some of the disruptive effects of wilderness tourism
VI The economic benefits of mass tourism

Section A
Section B
Section C

Questions 4-9
Do the following statements reflect the claims of the writer in Reading Passage 1?

YES if the statement reflects the claims of the writer
NO if the statement contradicts the claims of the writer
NOT GIVEN  if it is impossible to say what the writer thinks about this

4 The low financial cost of setting up wilderness tourism makes it attractive to many countries.
5 Deserts, mountains and Arctic regions are examples of environments that are both ecologically and culturally fragile.
6 Wilderness tourism operates throughout the year in fragile areas.
7 The spread of tourism in certain hill-regions has resulted in a fall in the amount of food produced locally.
8 Traditional food-gathering in desert societies was distributed evenly over the year.
9 Government handouts do more damage than tourism does to traditional patterns of food-gathering.

Questions 10-13
Choose ONE WORD from Reading Passage 1 for each answer.

The positive ways in which some local communities have responded to tourism
People/LocationActivity
Swiss Pays d’EnhautRevived production of 10
Arctic communitiesOperate 11 businesses
Acoma and San IldefonsoProduce and sell 12
Navajo and Hopi ActivityProduce and sell 13

For this task: Answer keys

IELTS Reading Practice Test 1

The old, print-friendly test

Section 1

IELTS Reading bakelite

Bakelite

In 1907, Leo Hendrick Baekeland, a Belgian scientist working in New York, discovered and patented a revolutionary new synthetic material. His invention, which he named ‘Bakelite’, was of enormous technological importance, and effectively launched the modern plastics industry.

The term ‘plastic’ comes from the Greek plassein, meaning ‘to mould’. Some plastics are derived from natural sources, some are semi-synthetic (the result of chemical action on a natural substance), and some are entirely synthetic, that is, chemically engineered from the constituents of coal or oil. Some are ‘thermoplastic’, which means that, like candlewax, they melt when heated and can then be reshaped. Others are ‘thermosetting’: like eggs, they cannot revert to their original viscous state, and their shape is thus fixed forever. Bakelite had the distinction of being the first totally synthetic thermosetting plastic.

The history of today’s plastics begins with the discovery of a series of semi-synthetic thermoplastic materials in the mid-nineteenth century. The impetus behind the development of these early plastics was generated by a number of factors – immense technological progress in the domain of chemistry, coupled with wider cultural changes, and the pragmatic need to find acceptable substitutes for dwindling supplies of ‘luxury’ materials such as tortoiseshell and ivory.

Baekeland’s interest in plastics began in 1885 when, as a young chemistry student in Belgium, he embarked on research into phenolic resins, the group of sticky substances produced when phenol (carbolic acid) combines with an aldehyde (a volatile fluid similar to alcohol). He soon abandoned the subject, however, only returning to it some years later. By 1905 he was a wealthy New Yorker, having recently made his fortune with the invention of a new photographic paper. While Baekeland had been busily amassing dollars, some advances had been made in the development of plastics. The years 1899 and 1900 had seen the patenting of the first semi-synthetic thermosetting material that could be manufactured on an industrial scale. In purely scientific terms, Baekeland’s major contribution to the field is not so much the actual discovery of the material to which he gave his name, but rather the method by which a reaction between phenol and formaldehyde could be controlled, thus making possible its preparation on a commercial basis. On 13 July 1907, Baekeland took out his famous patent describing this preparation, the essential features of which are still in use today.

The original patent outlined a three-stage process, in which phenol and formaldehyde (from wood or coal) were initially combined under vacuum inside a large egg-shaped kettle. The result was a resin known as Novalak, which became soluble and malleable when heated. The resin was allowed to cool in shallow trays until it hardened, and then broken up and ground into powder. Other substances were then introduced: including fillers, such as woodflour, asbestos or cotton, which increase strength and moisture resistance, catalysts (substances to speed up the reaction between two chemicals without joining to either) and hexa, a compound of ammonia and formaldehyde which supplied the additional formaldehyde necessary to form a thermosetting resin. This resin was then left to cool and harden, and ground up a second time. The resulting granular powder was raw Bakelite, ready to be made into a vast range of manufactured objects. In the last stage, the heated Bakelite was poured into a hollow mould of the required shape and subjected to extreme heat and pressure; thereby ‘setting’ its form for life.

The design of Bakelite objects, everything from earrings to television sets, was governed to a large extent by the technical requirements of the moulding process. The object could not be designed so that it was locked into the mould and therefore difficult to extract. A common general rule was that objects should taper towards the deepest part of the mould, and if necessary the product was moulded in separate pieces. Moulds had to be carefully designed so that the molten Bakelite would flow evenly and completely into the mould. Sharp corners proved impractical and were thus avoided, giving rise to the smooth, ‘streamlined’ style popular in the 1930s. The thickness of the walls of the mould was also crucial: thick walls took longer to cool and harden, a factor which had to be considered by the designer in order to make the most efficient use of machines.

Baekeland’s invention, although treated with disdain in its early years, went on to enjoy an unparalleled popularity which lasted throughout the first half of the twentieth century. It became the wonder product of the new world of industrial expansion — ‘the material of a thousand uses’. Being both non-porous and heat-resistant, Bakelite kitchen goods were promoted as being germ-free and sterilisable. Electrical manufacturers seized on its insulating: properties, and consumers everywhere relished its dazzling array of shades, delighted that they were now, at last, no longer restricted to the wood tones and drab browns of the pre-plastic era. It then fell from favour again during the 1950s, and was despised and destroyed in vast quantities. Recently, however, it has been experiencing something of a renaissance, with renewed demand for original Bakelite objects in the collectors’ marketplace, and museums, societies and dedicated individuals once again appreciating the style and originality of this innovative material.

Questions 1-3
Complete the summary.
Choose ONE WORD ONLY from the passage for each answer.
Write your answers in boxes 1-3 on your answer sheet.

Some plastics behave in a similar way to 1 in that they melt under heat and can be moulded into new forms. Bakelite was unique because it was the first material to be both entirely 2 in origin and thermosetting.

There were several reasons for the research into plastics in the nineteenth century, among them the great advances that had been made in the field of 3 and the search for alternatives to natural resources like ivory.

Questions 4-8
Complete the flow-chart
Choose ONE WORD ONLY from the passage for each answer.Write your answers in boxes 4-8 on your answer sheet.

IELTS Reading bakelite production

4
5
6
7
8

Questions 9-10
Write your answers in boxes 9 and 10 on your answer sheet.
Your answers may be given in either order.

Which TWO of the following factors influencing the design of Bakelite objects are mentioned in the text?

A the function which the object would serve
B the ease with which the resin could fill the mould
C the facility with which the object could be removed from the mould
D the limitations of the materials used to manufacture the mould
E the fashionable styles of the period

Questions 11-13
Do the following statements agree with the information given in Reading Passage 1?
In for questions 11-13, write

TRUE if the statement agrees with the information
FALSE if the statement contradicts the information
NOT GIVEN if there is no information on this statement

11 Modern-day plastic preparation is based on the same principles as that patented in 1907.
12 Bakelite was immediately welcomed as a practical and versatile material.
13 Bakelite was only available in a limited range of colours.

For this task: Answers with explanations :: Vocabulary