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Free IELTS Academic Reading test 5 Section 2

Free IELTS Academic Reading test 5 Section 2

Go back to Section 1 | Go to Section 3

This free IELTS reading test (Academic Module) has the same question types, content style, length and difficulty as a standard IELTS test. To get started simply scroll down to read the texts and answer the questions.

Free IELTS Academic Reading test 5 Section 2Looking for more reading practice tests? Our online course has over 15 complete practice tests as well as end of lesson tests and reading texts used in the lessons.

When you have finished the test, make a note of the number of correct answers and move on to Section 3.

Section 2:

You should spend about 20 minutes on Questions 16 – 27, which are based on Reading Passage 2 below.

Migration – the incredible journey

Twice a year, certain species of birds make immense journeys, often in excess of ten thousand miles, spending the summer months in a temperate climate and the rest of the year in more tropical climates. This migration is a long journey which many birds do not complete, yet it is an essential part of their natural pattern.

Many reasons can be given for this migration. Some argue that it is a result of some birds being unable to withstand extremes of temperature, especially the cold weather, explaining why many birds migrate to Africa during the European winter. It has also been suggested that this migration is a result of travelling instincts of millennia ago, before the continents drifted apart. As the land mass spread, birds continued to travel the required distance back to the area they knew was a good source of food or protection. The primary cause, however, is considered to be the search for food, particularly for their chicks. Staying in one place, the food sources would become increasingly scarce.

In preparation for their long journey, migratory birds undergo a number of physical and chemical changes. These changes are triggered by the rising or falling daylight and result in a considerable increase in the birds’ appetite (up to 40% more than during other times of the year). This food is stored in fat deposits and in some long-distance migrants, this fat becomes 30–50% of their weight, ready to be released gradually to fuel their journey. In addition, they are also considerably more active at night, influenced by chemical changes preparing them for their long-distance haul. Most birds travel long distances overnight, partly as migratory flight generates considerable heat that needs night-time temperatures to dissipate.

The speed at which migratory birds travel varies depending on species. Some birds can reach speeds of nearly 90 kilometres an hour, while others travel at a more sedate pace. Ducks and geese can fly between 60 and 80 kilometres an hour where herons and hawks travel at less than 40 kilometres an hour. Many smaller birds are capable of travelling at considerably faster speeds for short periods in order to escape predators, but cannot maintain these speeds for the distances required for migration. Another difference between species is that for some, the males migrate first, arriving at the breeding grounds early in order to establish territories before the female arrives to choose a suitable site for a nest.

One of the most impressive aspects of this migration is how birds can maintain a direction. Most migrating birds return to the same nesting areas year after year. Theories to explain precision of travelling such distances without getting lost have considered landmarks on the Earth’s surface, the sun and the stars, even wind direction and an acute sense of smell. Yet these theories do not explain how some birds can travel thousands of miles on windy and wet nights and still arrive in the same area year after year.

Naturally, given the dangers involved, migration is a dangerous journey. Untold thousands of smaller migrants die each year from storms and attacks by predators. Mortality during migratory flight, of course, is one of the several costs that are covered by the increased production of offspring that migrants obtain by nesting in locations where food is more abundant and competition for most resources is lower. Flying at night, lighthouses, tall buildings, monuments, television towers, and other aerial obstructions have been responsible for destruction of migratory birds who simply do not detect the problem before it is too late. There is also the simple matter of exhaustion, particularly for smaller birds with less energy reserves. Birds flying for up to 48 hours straight can run into adverse winds and find the last of their energy depleted before they reach land. Flying lower and lower as fatigue sets in, these birds fall into the sea.

The most recent challenge to migration is, however, man. Slow climatic and environmental changes have always occurred, but not on the grand scale people have been responsible for. Extensive forests have been burned or cut away, and open fields have been claimed for agricultural purposes. Urban expansion has further encroached on the birds’ natural habitats, and pollution, particularly in the form of acid rain, has damaged many of the remaining fields, mountains, lakes and forests. Wetlands that were once home to many species of birds are increasingly drained or filled as land is needed for new housing developments. After overcoming all the trials and risks involved in migration, many birds find that their homes of the year before are now unrecognisable and they are forced to find new grounds on which to breed, often straying into areas defended by larger and aggressively territorial birds.

Questions 16 – 27

Questions 16 – 18

Choose the correct answer A–D.

16. The main reason birds migrate is

a. the demands of their new-born
b. to avoid cold weather
c. because of an instinctive homing impulse
d. because of a scarcity of food.
Show answer A (‘D’ is incorrect as the text states ‘food…would become increasingly scarce’)


17. Birds prepare for migration by

a. gradually burning fat deposits
b. shedding up to 50% of their body weight
c. becoming more nocturnal
d. travelling long distances.
Show answer C

18. Birds that die during migration

a. often drown
b. balance the number of new-born birds
c. are generally old
d. waited too long to begin their journey.
Show answer B

Questions 19- 23

Do the following statements agree with the views of the writer?


YES if the statement agrees with the writer
NO if the statement does not agree with the writer
NOT GIVEN if the information is not given in the passage.

  1. Migratory habits vary between species.
    Show answer Yes
  2. There are a number of complete theories to explain the navigational abilities of migrating birds.
    Show answer No
  3. The female of the species often flies slower than the male.
    Show answer Not given
  4. Smaller birds are at greater risk than bigger birds.
    Show answer Yes
  5. People’s relationship with the land is the biggest danger for migrating birds.
    Show answer Not given (‘The most recent challenge’ is not necessarily the biggest danger)

Questions 24 – 27

Complete the following summary using NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS FROM THE TEXT.

Not only are cities becoming larger, new housing is being built on areas reclaimed from (24) . In addition, migrating birds are also at risk from a number of different (25) which cannot be seen in the dark. Smaller birds are particularly vulnerable as they are at risk from (26) and (27) .

24. Show answer Wetlands 25. Show answer Aerial obstructions 26. Show answer Predators OR storms 27. Show answer Predators OR storms

Show All correct answers

Once you have finished, check your answers, then move on to Section 3

IELTS vocabulary for law

IELTS vocabulary for law

Essential IELTS vocabulary split into common IELTS topics and subsections. In this lesson, we are focusing on vocabulary used to describe the law – crimes, criminals, the legal system and more.

IELTS vocabulary for lawTake a look at the list below. How many words do you know? We will soon be adding vocabulary exercises to these pages, but for now, we hope the lists help!

Degrees of crime

  • Misdemeanour – A minor crime, punishable by a fine or a light jail term
  • Felony [US English] – a crime punishable by death or imprisonment in excess of one year.
  • Infraction – generally used to describe minor crimes when the law has been broken (e.g. riding a bicycle at night without lights – it’s breaking the law, but you’re not going to prison for it!)


  • Capital punishment (the death penalty) – being put to death by the state for crimes committed
  • Incarcerated – a formal word meaning ‘to be put in prison’
  • Suspended sentence – a person can be found guilty but their time in prison is delayed for a period of time. Often is a person has not broken the law within a given period, the prison time is dismissed.
  • Maximum security – a prison where there prisoners are watched very closely and chances of escape are very low (compare this to minimum security prisons, which are generally more relaxed and reserved for lesser crimes)
  • Damages – this is where the person or company accused of the crime is found guilty and required to pay money to the person / people they have wronged.

Types of crime

NOTE: There are hundreds of different types of crime – the list below covers only the words we think will be most useful in your IELTS test!

  • White collar crime – this refers to non-violent crimes done for money, generally by business and government professionals.
  • Homicide – a more formal (legal) term for murder
  • Larceny – a more formal (legal) term for theft
  • Arson – setting fire to buildings or other property
  • Embezzlement – taking money which the person has been trusted to look after (commonly when people steal money from the company they work for)
  • Forgery – making illegal copies of official documents
  • Fraud – to deceive (trick) someone for illegal gain
  • Hate crime – a crime against a person because of a social group they are considered to belong to (could be race, colour, religion etc)

The people involved

  • Judge – the person responsible for deciding the punishment for a guilty person
  • Defendant – the person in a trial who has been accused of a crime
  • Prosecution – the people who are trying to prove that the defendant is guilty
  • Jury – 12 people who attend a trial and then decide whether the accused person is innocent or guilty.
  • Witness – people that are brought into a trial to give evidence (this can be for the defendant, against the defendant of simply to give factual evidence)
  • Attorney / barrister – these are law professionals that will often be present in court, either defending or prosecuting a case.

The legal process

  • To arrest someone – to take someone into custody
  • A trial – when the evidence against the accused person is considered by a judge and jury
  • Verdict – the decision as to whether the defendant is innocent or guilty
  • Appeal – when the final decision made by the judge is challenged
  • Confession – when the accused person admits they are guilty
  • Testimony – a written or spoken statement

Miscellaneous vocabulary for the law

  • Immunity – when a criminal is not prosecuted for their crime(s) in exchange for their testimony about another criminal

Signpost words in IELTS listening

Signpost words in IELTS listening


NOTE: we recommend you take a look at the post on linking words before beginning this page.

In the listening test, the type of linking words you hear can help you predict the general direction of what you hear. You can tell if points are connected as:

• comparisons
• concessions
• additions
• sequences
• opposites
• cause and effect constructions.

These are called ‘signpost words’ (also ‘discourse markers’), as they are a signpost to tell you what is happening next. Understanding and following signpost words can be a very helpful way to improve your IELTS result as it will help you better follow the conversation.

Listen to the recording. You will hear the first part of a sentence. What point do you think it will be followed by? Write the linking word that helped you decide. The first one has been done for you.

Sentence 1 (example): The next point is likely to be an opposite because of the word although.

Sentence 2: The next point is likely to be   because of the word
Show answer SEQUENCE because of the words ‘NEXT STEP’

Sentence 3: The next point is likely to bebecause of the word
Show answer ADDITION because of the words ‘NO ONLY…BUT ALSO’

Sentence 4: The next point is likely to bebecause of the word
Show answer CONCESSION because of the word ‘ADMITTEDLY’

Sentence 5: The next point is likely to bebecause of the word
Show answer CAUSE/EFFECT because of the words ‘AS A RESULT’

Sentence 6: The next point is likely to bebecause of the word
Show answer COMPARISON because of the words ‘IN THE SAME WAY’

Linking words in listening are only one example of discourse markers – the words and expressions used to show how speech is constructed. They are particularly useful for you in Sections 2 and 4 of the listening test as they indicate changes in the direction of a thought, idea or opinion. That means if you have a question asking about reading ability and the next question is asking about new additions to the school building, then you can expect to hear a discourse marker announcing the change of topic.

Here are some of the more common signpost words and phrases, with their meanings.

First = This it the beginning of a list of points.
Like = An example is going to be given.
Anyway = This could mean a change of subject or nearing the end of the talk.
I mean = The speaker is about to rephrase or give an example.
So = An effect or a result of a previous point is about to be stated.
Moving on = Another point is going to be introduced.
As I said = The speaker is going to recap an earlier point.
To make myself clear = The speaker is going to rephrase a point.
Right = This could mean the speaker is about to begin,change the subject or is nearing the end of the talk.
To put it another way = The speaker is about to rephrase a point.
This isn’t always so = The speaker is about to give exceptions to or contrasts to a previous comment
Now = The speaker is about to begin a new subject.
Talking about that = The speaker is going to expand on a point.

Test your skills! You can either try completing the text below using the list of signpost words presented above then listen, or you could just listen and complete the answers!

(1) I’d like to thank you all again for coming to this meeting, and to say that I have received apologies from Mrs Brownlow, who won’t be able to attend today. (2), I’d like to talk to you about our English language department. (3) in the last meeting, we are looking for some of you to act as mentors for our international students arriving over the coming weeks. Although our college prides itself on having a welcoming environment in which international students can feel at home from the very first day, we know (4). Feelings of homesickness, isolation and loneliness are somewhat unavoidable, but I would like, as much as possible, to reduce these factors by teaming new students with existing students who have been here some time. (5), I am looking for volunteers to show the new students around, introduce them to people and generally ease them into their studies, so if any of you are willing to help, then please come to my office anytime during the week and let me know. (6), I’d also like to talk to you about a temporary teacher who will be joining us for the next week or so. He will be teaching history and sociology, and substituting for Miss Kinsale until her recovery. (7), if anyone
wants to send her a card then just let me know by the end of the day as I will be going to the hospital this evening to visit her. (8), unless there is anything else you want to add, we’ll close the meeting. I hope to see some of you during the week.

Show answer 1. First
2. Now
3. As I said
4. This isn’t always so
5. To put it another way
6. Moving on
7. Talking about that
8. Right

Show All correct answers

In addition to discourse markers, the intonation pattern of the speaker’s voice can also indicate a change of topic. The tone of voice generally falls at the end of one topic, followed by a pause then starts on the next topic in a higher tone.

Here are 2 examples. In the first part, the speaker has clearly indicated that they have finished by having a falling intonation. The second speaker has a rising intonation, indicating more is to come.

IELTS Task 2 Writing model answer 035

IELTS Task 2 Writing model answer 35

All of the model answers on this site are guaranteed band 9

You should spend about 40 minutes on this task.

Write about the following topic:

The difference between popular culture and more traditional culture is vast.


Give reasons for your answer and include any relevant examples from your own knowledge or experience.

Write at least 250 words.

IELTS Task 2 Writing model answer 35The modern and the traditional are often seen, if not as exact opposites, then at least as areas of contrast, and many people hold this to be true of culture. Although there are clear points to support this opinion, there are also a significant number of points that argue against it, as will now be discussed.

The culture of today revolves heavily around changes in technology. Mobile phones, for instance, have become an almost essential part of younger people’s lives, and in this regard it can be said to be an example of the difference. Yet under the surface, it can be seen that this modern trend is actually little more than another method of communication, albeit less personal than speaking face-to-face. In a similar way,  home computers and the Internet, a clear part of modern culture, can be considered to be simply an extension of reading. Using a monitor and mouse rather than a book does not make the two incompatible.

There are some who claim technology is making people less sociable, that culturally communities are isolating themselves with modern appliances. Yet it must be understood that the world can now be seen as a global village, a world wide web which allows people to interact globally.

In conclusion, it is not that the cultures of the past and today are so different, it is simply the methods used to express those cultures which have changed. A culture should flexible, adapting itself to each new generation; if not, then its worth is limited only to historians.

(258 words)

IELTS Task 2 Writing model answer 034

IELTS Task 2 Writing model answer 34

All of the model answers on this site are guaranteed band 9

You should spend about 40 minutes on this task.

Write about the following topic:

It is the responsibility of governments to ensure that environmentally friendly policies are adopted.

To what extent do you agree?

Give reasons for your answer and include any relevant examples from your own knowledge or experience.

Write at least 250 words.

IELTS Task 2 Writing model answer 34
The general public has become increasingly aware of environmental issues, and this has led to a demand from some that the government become more involved. Indeed, it could be argued that green issues have been excessively debated. While concern for the environment is very important, a more relaxed approach to problems may have better results.

One significant way in which environmentally sound policies could be followed is by a better standard of education about the issues in question. Granted, this approach may take a degree of organising, yet educating not just children but whole communities would perhaps be more of an incentive than simply passing new laws.

Naturally some people would argue that without passing laws which are enforceable, people would not actively become involved in more environmental approaches. This is true to a point although as people often act only in self-interest; however, through education people will be able to understand that environmental protection is in their own long-term interest.

Balancing this, there is a point beyond which even dedicated communities cannot lead to a better environment, such as in the field of industry. It on this scale government should be legislating, making it financially worthwhile for industry to operate as cleanly as possible or be faced with stiff penalties.

To summarise, the government should use its authority to govern industrial pollution but should at the same time encourage a better standard of education. By having an industrial and community plan, it would be considerably easier to embrace more environmentally sound policies.

(253 words)

IELTS Task 2 Writing model answer 033

IELTS Task 2 Writing model answer 33

All of the model answers on this site are guaranteed band 9

You should spend about 40 minutes on this task.

Write about the following topic:

Modern appliances in the home have become more common, leaving no doubt that advances in technology have improved our lifestyle.

Do you agree or disagree?

Give reasons for your answer and include any relevant examples from your own knowledge or experience.

Write at least 250 words.

IELTS Task 2 Writing model answer 33The impact of innovations and inventions in people’s daily lives has increased dramatically. Most homes these days have, at the very least, a washing machine and a microwave, yet this has had both positive and negative effects, as will now be presented.

Primarily, the fact that these appliances have to be paid for, serviced, repaired and replaced means that consumers need to work to maintain this cycle. For example, in some countries the average machine is two or three weeks’ wages for most people. Considering the product’s life span, it can be estimated that many people are working at least two or three days a year simply to cover the cost of the appliance, a calculation which is multiplied by all the appliances we acquire.

In addition, an increasing number of appliances are for purposes that were not previously considered necessities, but through marketing techniques, manipulative advertising and human nature many are now keen to acquire them. Electric juice makers are a perfect example.

Of course, there are appliances which in their basic format have improved our lifestyle simply because of the labour they save. The machine, which saves hours every week on handwashing, is an example of this. It is only when such appliances develop functions beyond their basic use, that they become more expensive but more desirable because of the addition of these extra options that most people never use.

It can therefore be concluded that only by carefully considering the use and relevance of the appliances purchased that they can improve a person’s general lifestyle.

(258 words)

IELTS Academic Task 1 Writing model answer 028

IELTS Academic Task 1 Writing model answer 28


You should spend about 20 minutes on this task.

The table below shows the attitudes to recycling of people in different age groups.

Write a report for a university lecturer describing the information shown below.
IELTS Academic Task 1 Writing model answer 28

Summarise the information by selecting and reporting the main features, and make comparisons where relevant.

Write at least 150 words.

The table gives opinions on recycling in percentages of people in six different age categories.

At less than 10 per cent, those under 15 and over 71 represent the lowest percentage of people that actively recycle. This figure increased over five-fold to 59 per cent for those aged 15 to 25. The remaining age categories varied between just under half to over one-third of people.

The under 15s represent the largest per cent of people who do not know about recycling. The lowest percentage was those aged 26 to 40, although this figure doubled to eight per cent for those just under this age. Slightly more than a quarter of those aged 56 to 70 knew nothing about recycling, a figure which is four times higher than those aged 41 to 55.

One-fifth of people aged 41 to 55 opted not to give their opinions on recycling, with those under 15 just one per cent behind. The remaining four age groups in this category were within a four per cent range.

(167 words)

IELTS test day listening exercise

IELTS test day listening exercise

For this listening exercise, we’ve used ALL the different question types you will find in the IELTS listening test.

The listening is about a candidate’s experience on test day – this is not a topic you would normally have in the IELTS test (and it is easier than normal IELTS recordings), but is an opportunity for you to get some idea of what other people feel on test day!



Answer the following using NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS (this is a short answer question).

1. How did Eileen feel before the test?
Show answer NERVOUS

Circle the correct answer A–C  (this is a multiple choice question).

2. She felt calmer
A. when her friend got her results
B. after she had spoken to her mother
C. the night before the test.
  Show answer B

Complete the sentence below in ONE WORD (this is a sentence completion question).

3. The hardest part of the listening test was ____________________.
Show answer SPELLING

Label the diagram below (this is a labelling a diagram question).

4. In which room was Eileen’s speaking test?
Show answer INTERVIEW ROOM 5

IELTS test day listening exercise

Match a problem with a solution (this is a matching/classifying question).

A. If you feel nervous…
B. If you make a mistake…

5.  stop and rephrase your sentence. Show answer B

6.  stop and take a deep breath. Show answer A

Questions 7-9. Complete the table below using NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS/AND OR A NUMBER (this is a table completion question).

 The most difficult section  The most difficult question type
 Writing  (7)  Writing about tables
 Reading  (8)    (9)

7. Show answer TASK 1/ONE 8. Show answer PASSAGE 2/TWO 9. Show answer MULTIPLE CHOICE

Choose the correct letter A–D (this is a labelling a diagram question)
10. What does Eileen recommend just before going in to the test?
Show answer C


Show All correct answers

Click here to read the transcript of the recording Teacher: So Eileen, tell me how you felt just before your test.

Well, it was the first time I had taken a test for such a long time that l was very nervous. Actually, didn’t sleep very well for nearly a week before the test. I felt a little under pressure because a friend of mine had got results a week before, and just his he’d done very well. Anyway, rang my parents the night before, and my mother reminded me that there was no point in worrying, and that made me feel a little calmer.

Teacher: So tell me how things went on the day. What about the listening test?

Eileen (student): Surprisingly, the listening test wasn’t as difficult as I’d thought. The hardest part was spelling, but didn’t feel that the sections got much more difficult as the test went on. By the end I felt quite confident in my answers.

Teacher: Tell me about the speaking. What was that like?

Eileen (student): I didn’t make a very good start. From the waiting area, l was supposed to go up to in end of the corridor and turn right. My interview room was on the right, but I the the room on the left and when showed the interviewer my ID he told me I was in wrong room! Anyway, he took me where I was supposed to go so it wasn’t too bad. Anyway, my real interviewer was great She made me feel so relaxed. Before the interview began, she asked me if taken the test before, and when told her was my first time, she just smiled and said “relax. I did find myself getting a nervous, but have little just took a breath and relaxed. As for the actual interview, I felt that I could done a little better but then I suppose most people feel that. Once or twice l realised I’d made a mistake so just corrected myself and went on

Teacher: Okay. What about the writing test?

Eileen (student): Well, I spent a few minutes too long on Task One l had to write about a table, a they’re easier to write about. Actually, I think tables was hoping for a graph because because the title was are the most difficult Task wasn’t too bad though to something I had studied in my class. I wrote a plan, so I just followed what I had written. Near the end I changed a few parts the plan a of didn’t follow my original idea but I still felt that Id done a good job

Teacher: And finally, then, the reading?

Eileen (student): Well, when the examiner handed out the test, l thought the size of the booklet was a little intimidating. To calm me down, I had a quick look through the three passage before began, and didn’t have much problem with the first and the third, but though Reading Passage 2 was quite difficult. There were some multiple-choice questions and I’ve always found them a little difficult. But just left them and moved on, an found I had a few minutes a the end to go back and answer them

Teacher: Good. Well, just before we finish, do you have any advice you would give to someone just about to take their test?

Eileen (student): Yes, a couple of things actually. A few days before the test, look through the work yo have done, but the night before the test, don’t do anything. Relax and go to bed ear In the morning, have a good breakfast. But the most important advice l would give to avoid speaking or listening to anything but English on the day. Listen to the radio when you get up, and take a portable cassette player to listen to when you’re waiting to go into the test room. Don’t speak your native language even if there are people that you know at the test centre.

Teacher: Well, thanks very much, Eileen. When do you get your results?

Eileen (student): Next Friday, I think.

Teacher: I hope you’ve done well.

Eileen (student): Thanks

Comparison and contrast in Task 2

Comparison and contrast in Task 2

Comparison and contrast in Task 2

To present your ideas and opinions clearly, it is important to know how to accurately use comparison and contrast in Task 2 of the IELTS writing test. Here are some the words that you can use:

Comparison and contrast in Task 2

  • while
  • as opposed to
  • however
  • likewise
  • equally
  • in contrast to
  • in the same way
  • in a similar way
  • as well as
  • like the…
  • as …as …
  • similarly
  • whereas
  • by contrast
  • although
  • instead

Practice your understanding of these words by deciding whether the statements that follow are TRUE or FALSE according to the text below.

Read the passage below. Are the statements that follow true or false? They are not in order.

Although they are both highly respected institutions, there are many factors to be considered when comparing the Louvre and the Guggenheim.

The most important factor is the quality of their displays. The Guggenheim is excellently organized and offers fine examples of most forms of art, including traditional, modern and impressionist. The Louvre, on the other hand, lacks this variety of art forms, concentrating more on the traditional.

As regards location, both museums are well situated with convenient access for the public, although they are both a little expensive to visit. The Louvre, however, is a piece of architectural history in itself, whereas the Guggenheim is far more of a modern building with no real sense of history.

Both The Louvre and The Guggenheim have something to offer the art lover.

    Show answer TRUE


Just as the Guggenheim museum displays impressionist works, so too does the Louvre.

    Show answer FALSE


Neither The Louvre nor the Guggenheim is cheap to visit.

    Show answer TRUE


Compared to the Louvre, The Guggenheim concentrates more on traditional art forms.

    Show answer FALSE


The Louvre and the Guggenheim are similar in that they are both well situated.

    Show answer TRUE


The Louvre is similar to The Guggenheim in that it has good public access.

    Show answer TRUE


The Guggenheim and the Louvre are equally respected.

    Show answer TRUE


The Guggenheim is an historic building, whereas the Louvre is relatively modern.

    Show answer FALSE


Contrast can also be shown by using specific verbs, adjectives and nouns. Use the table below as a guide (note how the word family changes depending on the word type).

Verbs: Adjectives: Nouns:
Compare to / with Compared to / with In comparison to / with
Contrast with Contrasting In contrast to
Differ from / differentiate between Different from Difference between
Distinguish between Distinct from Distinction between
Resemble Similar to Resemblance to / with
Vary from / between Variable Variation between

IMPORTANT NOTE: Be careful with the use of comparing and compared

Compared to the Guggenheim, the Louvre has a long history.


Comparing the Louvre and the Guggenheim, the former has a longer history.

More examples

Here are some more examples of comparison and contrast that you could to express comparison and contrast:

While both opera and ballet are considered to represent the finer end of the arts, the former involves more vocal musical content.

DVDs are a highly flexible, user-directed form of entertainment, whereas the cinema is considerably more rigid in its presentation.

Radio plays allow the listener to use their imagination, picturing the scenes and characters involved. By contrast, the theatre presents both characters and scenery.

E-mails are a common form of communication both personally and in business, in the same way as letters were some 20 years ago.

Museums, as opposed to theme parks and other such activities, can offer visitors far more of a cultural experience.

Traditional dances from my country, in the same way as the haka here in New Zealand, are something most people enjoy watching but can’t actually perform.

One of the more obvious changes in communication over the last 20 years is that people are using telephone booths less and less, opting instead for mobile phones.

Giving longer answers in IELTS speaking

Giving longer answers in IELTS speaking

Giving longer answers in IELTS speakingThis post focuses on a formula you can use to help you keep speaking fluently during the IELTS speaking test, especially in Part 2 (the topic card), and follows on from this post about longer answers in the speaking test.

Consider the following question. How could you expand your answer?

Do you think traditions are important?

Now read the candidate’s response below, and answer the questions that follow.

Yes, I do because they give us a sense of connection with the past. This is important because it can bring people together and remind us of the history we share. However, I believe traditions should also be flexible. They should reflect not only the past but also the present. Only by doing this can any tradition continue to have relevance today.

  1. Why does the speaker think traditions are important?
  2. Why is it important to have this connection?
  3. What qualification does the speaker make?
  4. Why is this qualification important?

Read the next section for the answers.

The answers for the four questions above give examples of the formula you can use to expand your topic.

FORMULA + Why + So + But + Then

In the exercise above, this is:

Why? connection with the past
So? brings people together
But? should be flexible
Then? continue to be relevant

Looking at this formula in more detail, you can break your answer down into these sections:

Why? Why do you feel that way about the question? Why is this your opinion?

So? This can also be thought of as So what? Maybe the opinion presented in the first step (why?) is true, but what impact does it have? What’s the positive result of your opinion that makes you believe it?

But? Are there any parts of your opinion that could be considered wrong by other people, or anything that needs to be taken into account?

Then? If the point you raised in the previous section happened, what would be the effect?

Now let’s apply the formula to another question

Example 1:

Do you think smoking should be banned?

Yes I do (WHY? why do you think that?) because of the significant health risks cigarettes present (SO? so what if they have health risks?) This can have an effect on not only the smoker, but also those people in the nearby area who then suffer from passive smoking, as well as on tax payers in general when smokers require additional medical treatment. (BUT? is there anything that needs to be considered from another point of view?) Of course there is the issue of having the freedom to act how you wish, and banning cigarettes could create an illegal trade (THEN? What would happen if the ‘but’ section occurred?) This could then potentially lead to rising crime and more pressure on the police.

Example 2:

Because we are now in a digital age, do you think we should therefore stop following traditional customs?

It can be argued that traditional customs can co-exist alongside more modern culture (WHY? why do you think that?) Both traditional and modern cultures are important as a reflection of history and society (SO? so what if they are important?) We should find ways that the two forms can support each other. (BUT? is there anything that needs to be considered from another point of view?) There are times when modern and traditional cultures are in conflict. (THEN? What would happen if there was conflict?) Digital culture must be considered paramount as traditional culture should not be a handicap to development.