Category Archives: IELTS Reading (lessons)

Reading for meaning in IELTS

Reading for meaning in IELTS

This practice exercises follows on from the information in this lesson about understanding meaning in IELTS reading. You should read that lesson before starting this exercise!

Challenge yourself! In the time I have used this exercise with my classes, less than 5% of students scored 100% – see what score you can get!

Read the text below and complete the task that follows.

Reading for meaning in IELTSAttention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD as it is more commonly referred to, is often erroneously considered to be a relatively modern ailment. In fact, it was first diagnosed as far back as 1845 by Dr Heinrich Hoffman, although it was not until the turn of the century that ADHD was given medical credence as Dr G. F. Still presented a paper to the Royal College of Physicians in England. Since that date, many scientists, doctors and psychologists have vastly increased the fund of information available, slowly reversing the impression that children with ADHD are simply badly brought up. It is now commonly understood that although most children have little difficulty in concentrating on a subject, for those with ADHD, attention spans are short.

However, Robert Ashcroft, Headmaster of Oreno College, is sceptical, referring to such diagnoses as a pseudo-science. The situation, claims Ashcroft, has spawned from a modern trend towards scientifically categorising our actions, and is simply another argument in a fundamentally flawed society that does not wish to take responsibility for its behaviour.

Karen Waters is vocal in her opposition to Ashcroft and his supporters. Working with the Mental Health Board, Waters is concerned that until ADHD is officially recognised, it will continue to be misdiagnosed and sufferers will not get the help and support they need. It would appear that the tide is turning in her favour, as all but a few schools around the country have on their staff professionals trained to recognise the signs, but Waters feels this is not yet enough. Awareness of the condition, she claims, needs to be in all levels of society, not just in schools.

Although few would argue that the symptoms of ADHD can be problematic at times, not everyone sees ADHD as a negative thing. It has been argued that where traditional thinking sees lack of attention, others see boredom and a thirst for action. Those with ADHD are considered to be more creative, more likely to take risks, both physical and academic, so long as there is stimulation in it. The term ‘attention deficit’ is misleading, as what we are really seeing is attention inconsistency. These people have a high level of energy and, if they can find a place in the business community, can work tirelessly and brainstorm with much greater ease than so-called ‘normal’ people. They are intuitive and can work at problems from a different perspective, offering a flexibility that is a positive attribute in business. It is not them, argues Waters, but society itself that is disordered. With such stalwart champions, it is not beyond possibility that those with ADHD will find the support and understanding that their condition requires.


Are the following statements TRUE, FALSE OR NOT GIVEN according to the article? Find evidence for your answer if possible.

1. ADHD is not a new condition.
Show answer TRUE (erroneously considered…modern ailment)

2. It was first identified in a paper presented to the Royal College of Physicians.
Show answer FALSE (diagnosed 1845…Heinrich Hoffman)

3. Ashcroft does not believe in ADHD.
Show answer TRUE (sceptical…pseudo-science)

4. Ashcroft blames families for the situation.
Show answer NOT GIVEN

5. Waters believes ADHD is too easily mistaken for other problems.
Show answer TRUE (misdiagnosed)

6. Not many schools have people available to help.
Show answer FALSE (all but a few schools have…professionals)

7. Most people do not see the negative side of ADHD.
Show answer FALSE (few would argue…problematic at times)

8. The term given to the condition is inaccurate.
Show answer TRUE (term…is misleading)

9. An increasing number of ADHD sufferers are being employed in business.
Show answer NOT GIVEN

10. There is a chance ADHD sufferers will be better understood in the future.
Show answer TRUE (not beyond possibility…find the support and understanding)


True, False, Not Given in IELTS reading – exercise

True, False, Not Given in IELTS reading – exercise

This post is another practice exercise for True, False, Not Given style questions. For the main lesson page on this question type, take a look here: True, False, Not Given in IELTS reading

Ta moko

True, False, Not Given in IELTS reading - exerciseThe practice of making markings on the human body has long been in existence. These days, it is commonly expressed by the wearing of tattoos or piercings, and is symbolic only of a personal attitude. Yet for Maori, traditionally markings on the body, called moko, have a much deeper, symbolic relevance.

Although parallels can be seen between moko and tattooing, there are a number of fundamental differences. Perhaps the most striking is that while tattoos involve the use of needles to inject ink beneath the surface of the skin, moko designs were traditionally chiselled into the skin. A painful procedure, the ink was carved into the body of the wearer by using fine chisels and a mallet.

Another contrast to the tattooing more common today is that each marking had a message which could be read by those familiar with the process. Moko told of the wearer’s family and his tribe, illustrating who was a chief or other member of Maori aristocracy, and such clear markings meant that disputes over birthrights and status were avoidable. Moko spoke of social position within the tribe, and thus they were a dynamic form of marking; as tribe members grew, so too did the number and positioning of the moko. Women were tattooed on the chin once they had come of age, meaning that they were now entitled to speak at meetings. Markings under the nose represented childbirth, the first breath of the young. A moko design on the leg represented speed, on the arm showed occupation. For men, facial moko told a history of battles, injuries and victories, and it is these images that were the first to reach Europe. With wide eyes, open mouth and full facial moko, the Maori warriors were certainly feared by these early settlers.

In recent years, the moko has become synonymous with gang culture, as highlighted in a number of New Zealand-produced movies, yet at the same time has now reached international recognition, with pop stars and other celebrities adopting the designs. This is not a situation which pleases everyone. With so much cultural and historical significance, most Maori are rightfully protective of moko and its various designs. This possibly stems from a fear that Pakeha (the Maori name for the settlers) did not understand the significance of moko. For Maori, it was something which had to be earned, that represented an achievement. Moko were not given to everyone, and permission had to be sought from Maori elders. This was often a long, involved process of discussion because, of course, once applied, the moko could not then be withdrawn. Then, too, the early history of the settlers must be considered. For many Pakeha, it was simply a nice design, a decoration for which settlers used to pay in weapons and ammunitions. They would encourage tribes to fight and return with moko heads for display in European museums, and from this beginning it is easy to understand Maori reluctance to see moko ‘Westernised’.

Are the following statements TRUE, FALSE or NOT GIVEN according to the text?

Moko has an equal significance to tattooing.
Show answer FALSE

Chisels are used in the moko process because it can create fine lines.
Show answer NOT GIVEN

Not only the design but the placement of moko had relevance.
Show answer TRUE

Children were forbidden from wearing moko.
Show answer NOT GIVEN

Warriors wore moko to frighten their enemies.
Show answer NOT GIVEN

Europeans are not allowed to wear moko designs.
Show answer FALSE

Modern moko is only worn by gang members.
Show answer FALSE

Traditionally, moko application involved a process of consultation and discussion.
Show answer TRUE

Pakeha traditionally did not appreciate the significance of the designs.
Show answer TRUE – ‘For many Pakeha, it was simply a nice design

Heads with moko designs were traded.
Show answer TRUE

Show All correct answers

Short answer questions in the IELTS reading test

Short answer questions in the IELTS reading test

In the IELTS reading test, you may be required to answer short answer questions, where you have to write one, two or three words or a number as an answer.

As with all question types, make sure you read the question instructions carefully before you answer. Do not write more than the number of words / numbers the question asks for. Generally the instructions and limits on word numbers are written in CAPITAL LETTERS, with bold and italic script.

For example: Answer the following questions USING NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS.

If you write three words for the answer here, your answer will be marked as wrong even if you have included the two words that are correct. However, it is OK to use only one word.

Here are some common instructions for this type of question:

Answer the following questions USING NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS

This means the answers will be either one or two words.

Answer the following questions USING NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS OR A NUMBER

This means that at least one of the answers will be just a number – a useful tip!

Answer the following questions USING NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS AND / OR A NUMBER

This means that at least one of the answers will include a number and probably another word as well

Answer the following questions USING NO MORE THAN ONE WORD

This means that all of the answers are single words only

IELTS Short answer questions reading text

Now practice by reading the text below answering the 10 short answer questions that follow.


Thermal tourism

Short answer questions in the IELTS reading testThe heat in the middle of the earth is held in place by large plates that float over molten rock. At the point where these tectonic plates meet, there is a fissure through which the heat and power beneath the earth can escape, causing volcanic eruptions of liquid rock. However, there are some advantages to living close to the edge of tectonic plates.

New Zealand, being positioned on the border of two such tectonic plates, experiences a large amount of this geothermal activity, but it is more in the nature of thermally heated water than molten rock. From a tourism perspective, this has given the country the opportunity to develop a number of spas and hot pool resorts, some of the most well known being situated in and around Rotorua and Taupo.

Rotorua has earned the nickname of ‘RotoVegas’, in that not unlike Las Vegas it attracts a large number of international tourists every year. The majority of commercially operated tours of the North Island include a day or more in Rotorua, and very few independent travellers miss the chance to visit. From Auckland, the entry point for most visitors to the North Island, Rotorua is an idyllic car ride or bus journey through lush countryside. In addition to the numerous spas and pools, Rotorua is also a popular destination as it is a renowned centre for Maori culture. You can spend the morning walking around the area, the afternoon soaking in a hot pool and then in the evening go to a Maori concert or have a hangi, a traditional form of Maori cooking.

To name just a few of the thermal resorts in Rotorua, tourists are able to visit Hell’s Gate, Wai Ora spa, the Lakeside Thermal Holiday Park, QE Health Spa and Lady Knox geyser. At Hell’s Gate and Wai Ora, visitors can take advantage of the opportunity to bathe in geothermal mud and sulphurous water, although many people find Hell’s Gate a little less accessible. The Lakeside Holiday Park, situated on the shores of Lake Rotorua, serves breakfast cooked in thermal steam and visitors are invited to sample the medicinal benefits of soaking in pure, hot mineral pools. At the QE Health Spa, guests can luxuriate in a mineral water pressure spray massage. Lady Knox, one of New Zealand’s most famous geysers, is one of the few geysers that you can guarantee will erupt. It is stimulated artificially as it was when it was first discovered, although these days the effect is intentional. The geyser was first discovered by convicts who used the hot water around the geyser to wash their clothes, only to find that by adding soap to the water, they triggered a chemical reaction which caused the geyser to erupt.

A scenic drive to the town of Taupo offers tourists the opportunity to visit the largest lake in New Zealand. Around the lake, which bears the same name as the town, there is an abundance of cafés, restaurants and curio shops. In both Rotorua and Taupo, accommodation is plentiful and there is an option for every budget, from campsites to five-star hotels. It is also possible to rent a bach (a holiday home), offering more independence and privacy at a reasonable price. This is the preferred option for larger groups. On the shores of Lake Taupo to the northeast there is an area of the lake which has become known as ‘Hot Water Beach’, as a natural stream of thermally heated water feeds into the lake. Even on the coldest days, this area offers the chance for a warm swim.

But it is not just the main centres of attraction that benefit from thermal activity. There is another Hot Water Beach on the Coromandel Peninsula, a couple of hours’ drive from Auckland, where visitors can rent a spade to dig holes on the beach which then naturally fill with hot water. There is also the Miranda Springs resort, a relatively small leisure park only 45 minutes drive from Auckland. And, of course, this is in the North Island alone. In the South Island there is Hanmer Springs Thermal Reserve, situated in the north Canterbury region, about 90 minutes from Christchurch. Hanmer is an alpine town and the Thermal Reserve has been in operation since 1859. The resort’s proximity to Christchurch also ensures that activities and excursions are available all year round. So wherever and whenever you go, you can always find some thermal tourist attraction.

Read the text and answer the questions that follow using NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS.

How does the text refer to tourists that follow their own itineraries?
Show answer Independent travellers

What does Rotorua attract to have earned parallels with an American city?
Show answer International tourists

Where do most people first arrive when travelling in the North Island?
Show answer Auckland

What else is Rotorua noted for?
Show answer Maori culture

Where is the most convenient place to have a mud bath?
Show answer Wai Ora

What is used to start the Lady Knox geyser?
Show answer Soap

What is the name of New Zealand’s largest lake?
Show answer (Lake) Taupo

What kind of accommodation is preferred by large parties of visitors?
Show answer (A) bach

Where in Taupo can you swim all year round?
Show answer Hot Water Beach

Which city is the Thermal Reserve near?
Show answer Christchurch

Show All correct answers

Dealing with unknown vocabulary in IELTS – exercise

Dealing with unknown vocabulary in IELTS – exercise

NOTE: We recommend you read the lesson Dealing with unknown vocabulary before trying this exercise.

Now read the text below and guess what the missing word could be using the skills from the unknown vocabulary lesson. If you have an answer that we haven’t listed, post it in the comments sections below and we’ll review it to see if we should add it to the list!

Dealing with unknown vocabulary in IELTS - exerciseEvery nation has a sport to represent it. In the UK there is football and in the US they follow baseball. In New Zealand, the majority of New Zealanders follow rugby. The All Blacks, New Zealand’s national team, have gained international (Example) respect/prestige for their skill and strength. While most people, regardless of their sporting preference or nationality, have some passing knowledge of the All Blacks, fewer can claim to know the (1) of the name.Show answerPossible word here is origins, origin or history. As is true of most legends, there is more than one theory as to how the team was named, although one indisputable fact is that the New Zealand rugby team was first named The Originals in 1905. An Originals team member, Billy Wallace, held that the name ‘All Blacks’ was derived from a report on how the team played, and this theory is supported by a newspaper  (2). Show answerPossible word here is article, piece or report. that commented that the when they toured England, the team played as though they were ‘all backs’. Others claim that the name came into common use because of the team’s kit; the pitch black colour still worn by the team today. Indeed, the only (3) Show answerPossible word here is alteration, modification, difference or change. to the kit in the last century is the addition of the Silver Fern, an iconic symbol for the country and one which has been adopted by a number of New Zealand sporting teams. The silver fern itself was used by Maori as it has a reflective underside; turning this over allowed the moonlight to reflect on it, thus creating markers to guide their way back to camp.

Names aside, the All Blacks have become an international legend not only for their prowess during the game but also for their pre-match performance of the haka. Originally a Maori war dance, the haka is an entertaining, and – at least for their  (4) Show answerPossible word here is opposition, competition, competitors or rivals. – intimidating display of the All Blacks’ strength.

For the (5), Show answerPossible word here is uninitiated, layman or uninformed. it needs to be clarified that there are of course two types of rugby, each with a number of significant differences. The rugby played by the All Blacks is Rugby Union, as opposed to Rugby League the national team of which is The Kiwis (formerly the All Golds). Despite New Zealand’s size and population, in addition to what, on a global scale, is a limited amount of financial support, the All Blacks are the most (6) Show answerPossible word here is successful (we know it refers to their success because of the sentences that follow – ‘A number of international teams have still to beat them’). International Rugby Union team of all time. A number of international teams have still to beat them, and no other international team has achieved more (7) Show answerPossible word here is victories or wins (we know this because it balances the word ‘losses’ at the end of the sentence). than losses against them.

The origins of the game itself, as with the name ‘All Blacks’, are uncertain. William Webb Ellis, born in 1823 and a former student of Rugby school in England, is credited by many as having invented the game. It is said that, having tired of the (8) Show answerPossible word here is rules (the phrase ‘rules and regulations’ are often put together). and regulations of football, he picked up the ball and ran with it, so laying down the new rules of a game called rugby. However, games played in a rugby style, involving kicking, catching and (9) Show answerPossible word here is running, moving, striking or jumping – we know from the word families that it is some kind of action. with the ball have been recorded as being in existence as far back as medieval times. The Welsh called such games ‘craipan’, the French ‘la soule’ and the Irish ‘caid’. Interestingly, Webb Ellis’s father was known to have spent time in Ireland and may well have passed on his (10) Show answerPossible word here is experience or knowledge. of ‘caid’ onto his son. But no matter however or whenever the game originated, there is no doubt that the All Blacks have the sport down to a fine art.

Do you have answers that you think are right but are not in this list? Post them in the comments section below and we’ll let you know!

Show All correct answers

Practice heading questions in IELTS 1

Practice heading questions in IELTS 1

We recommend you read this page about headings style questions before beginning this practice.

Read the following passage and select the best heading for each paragraph.

A. Lapped on all sides by water, it’s hardly surprising that the country’s largest city is a giant aquatic playpen, with its two harbours, a gulf full of islands, a rugged coast and the highest density per head of pleasure boats in the world. By ferry, boat or water taxi, some 48 islands make for a perfect cruise. Some offer homes for commuters and weekend retreaters. Others are only for native birds, flora and fauna, or for lifestylers seeking a bygone era. Then there is the volcano island of Rangitoto, with a cone so perfectly round it looks the same wherever you are.

Practice heading questions in IELTSB. Waiheke, a short ferry ride from Auckland, is a popular choice for those who prefer island living. Auckland’s long and sunny, sometimes humid, but mostly balmy days are at their summer best between January and April. This time of year brings Auckland dwellers outdoors to savour this lifestyle built on a nautical backdrop but underlined by artistic and sporting endeavours. The city is home to well over a million, including the world’s largest Polynesian population and an increasing swell of Asians. It is a colourful tapestry of culture, cuisine and a sophisticated manner befitting a grown-up metropolis. A free evening concert of fireworks and orchestra is an annual event in the Auckland Domain, below the majestic Auckland Museum. It draws a sea of picnickers, complete with chilly bins full of food and fine local wine. In winter, brisk weather is no deterrent to the thousands who swamp Eden Park to watch an invigorating game of rugby. No matter what time of year, Auckland always has an event or festival to celebrate.

C. Little wonder that more and more well-heeled and sometimes very famous folk fall for the city’s charm. They glide in on floating palaces, treating Auckland as a newfound southern Riviera. That they should have discovered the city and its pleasures is largely due to Team New Zealand bringing two defences of the prestigious international America’s Cup yacht race to the Hauraki Gulf. The Cup defence sparked a citywide spruce-up and the creation of a swank new Viaduct Harbour village, teeming with classy restaurants, boutiques, bars, hotels and apartments. Suburbs of Auckland are never far from beaches as golden sand and bath-like waters in the sheltered harbourside draw the barbecue brigade and families.

D. The North Shore, the community north of the Harbour Bridge, is well worth exploring. Ferries ply the harbour between downtown Auckland and Devonport, a sweet village that offers main street browsing and al fresco cafe lattes in the sun. Mt Victoria and North Head, with their war remnant defence bunkers, rise up behind the village. They’re perfect places for children to scramble and explore. Picturesque swimming beaches hug the shores that stretch to the north-east below.

E. The needle-shaped Sky Tower rises from the bustling commercial centre. The tower houses a casino, and madcap sky jumpers plunge over its side past diners eating in the revolving restaurant. Far below, motorways slither under and over each other in such a sprawl that one section is simply known as “spaghetti junction’. From the gourmet and trendy shopping strip of Ponsonby on the city fringe, to fashion-conscious Newmarket, upmarket Parnell and Remuera, from smart suburban malls to the Pacific Island markets in colourful Otara to the south, the sprawling city is an ever-changing mosaic.

F. It is a place where, half an hour from the centre, you can fish for snapper, tramp in a national park, or play golf on some of the most picturesque and challenging courses in the world. Its backyard brims with treats. There’s a beautiful garden smothered in scented roses. Another is planted by scent for the blind. You can drive up a volcano called One Tree Hill, fill up on culture and history at galleries and museums or land yourself in a virtual Antarctic at Kelly Tarlton’s Antarctic Encounter and Underwater World. But for a relaxing reward, nothing beats the lolling landscape carpeted in vineyards on the city’s outskirts, where a taste or three of some of the country’s premier wines is a pleasant way to end the day.

i. Messing about on the water
ii. Getting out of Auckland
iii. A bird’s-eye view
iv. Overwhelming choices
v. City lights
vi. Harbourside development
vii. Something for every season
viii. Over the Bridge
ix. Bird spotting

1. Paragraph A:
Show answer I

2. Paragraph B:
Show answer VII

3. Paragraph C:
Show answer VI

4. Paragraph D:
Show answer VIII

5. Paragraph E:
Show answer V

6. Paragraph F:
Show answer IV

Show All correct answers

False or not given in IELTS reading

Identifying the difference between ‘False’ and ‘Not given’ can sometimes be complicated, but a basic rule you can apply is this – are the 2 things both possible, or is only one possible?

To illustrate with a very simple example, if the text said ‘the sun is hot’ and the T/F/NG statement was ‘The sun is yellow’, you need to decide whether it is possible for something to be hot and yellow. In this case, the answer would be not given, because both are possible (they are not mutually exclusive).

However, if the statement was ‘The sun is cold’ then the answer is false because the it cannot be both hot and cold at the same time, therefore the answer is false.

Another useful rule of thumb is that if an answer is ‘false’ then you must be able to show specific evidence to support that, something that contradicts the statement. If you can find no evidence to contradict the statement, it’s ‘Not given’.

True False Not Given questions

True False Not Given questions

This type of question can be particularly difficult, especially when you need to decide whether the answer is NOT GIVEN or FALSE. Here’s a very simple example of this question type:

Text: Training to become a doctor involves long hours and little pay, and many trainees do not complete the course.



Q3. Some trainees do not study the full qualification. THIS IS TRUE – THE TEXT STATES THAT ‘MANY TRAINEES DO NOT COMPLETE THE COURSE’.


Try your skills with these TRUE / FALSE / NOT GIVEN exercises, but be careful – the text uses a lot of qualifying words (a common IELTS ‘trick’!).

Are the statements below the text TRUE, FALSE or NOT GIVEN? The questions are below the text.

 What is culture?

True False Not Given questions

Culture is defined as the ‘socially transmitted behaviour patterns, arts, beliefs, and institutions that are the expression of a particular class, community or period’  ( To most people, this  is seen in terms of books, paintings, rituals  and ceremonies, but recently there has  been a new entrant in the field of what is   considered to be ‘culture’ – the Internet.

On the Internet, science & art, media and mind combine to create a modern culture which is far more widespread than any of its predecessors. Not referring to the casual user who has no particular interest in the Internet, active supporters of the Internet as a culture have given themselves nomenclature to reflect their cultural aspirations – they are the new cyberpoets. A cyberpoet can be defined as ‘one who makes frequent trips to the edge of technology, society and traditional culture and strives to be artful in their use of virtual space’.

Supporter or opponent of this new culture, there is little doubt that the Internet offers a lot to our traditional view of culture. In just a few minutes in front of a keyboard, we can read almost anything that has ever been written, yet no paper had to be made, no library had to stay open and thus the cost remains minimal. All of this encourages even the casual surfer to explore further than he or she otherwise would have. The same effect can be observed with works of art. Previously available to be viewed only in museums if they were not in the hands of private collectors, all but a few famous works are now replicated on the Internet.

Yet the Internet is not merely a mirror of traditional culture – it is also a new culture in its own right. The medium of the Net allows for wider distribution and new platforms for most forms of art. ‘Kinetic art’ and other such computerised art forms occur with increasing regularity, both motivated by and generating an upsurge in popular and computer-mediated art.

In addition, if culture is said to be ‘socially transmitted’, then the Internet is remarkable in its ability to share, on an almost global scale, all the factors that constitute culture. We have only to hear the influence of jargon as we visit dub-dub-dub dot sites and surf the web to see how international the Internet has become to the majority.

Very few people would disagree that the cyberpoets are increasingly asserting themselves into popular culture. What is not so certain is how far this will go, as the Internet continues to assimilate more and more forms of culture, reaching global audiences. It is not inconceivable that our entire perception of culture will soon become cyber-focused.

Now answer the questions below. When you have finished, click ‘Finish quiz’. To see which of your answers were correct and the explanations why, click ‘View questions’.

Are the statements TRUE, FALSE or NOT GIVEN according to the text?

1. The majority of people consider ‘culture’ to be represented by traditional forms of art and literature.

click here to see the answer
True – Paragraph A states “To most people, this is seen in terms of books, paintings, rituals and ceremonies”


2. The internet as a culture is not extensive.

click here to see the answer
False – Paragraph B states ‘On the Internet, science and art, media and mind combine to create a modern culture which is far more widespread than any of its predecessors’. This is further supported later in Paragraph D, ‘The medium of the Net allows for wider distribution and new platforms for most forms of art’ therefore the internet as a culture IS extensive.


3. Through the Internet, every written word can be accessed.

click here to see the answer
False – the key here was to identify the qualifying word ‘every’ – Paragraph C states ‘In just a few minutes in front of a keyboard, we can read almost anything that has ever been written’ – almost is not a synonym for every.


4. The Internet provides a stage for all forms of art.

click here to see the answer
False – as with question 18, the key is in the qualifying word – the question says ‘all forms of art’, but Paragraph D states ‘most forms of art’


5. An insignificant number remain unaffected by the international nature of the Internet.

click here to see the answer
Not given – Paragraph E refers to the international nature of the internet, but we are not given specifics on numbers that are affected.


6. Only a few people believe that ‘cyberpoets’ are becoming part of our popular culture.

click here to see the answer
False – the text states ‘Very few people would disagree’ (Paragraph F) – very few would disagree means most would agree, which contradicts ‘Only a few people believe’ in the question.

Reading practice exercise


Reading practice exercise

Brush up on your reading skills with this short text and questions.

Note: The text is NOT full the length of a normal IELTS reading test – this is a shortened version for some quick practice! See if you can complete it under 10 minutes.

Read the text below and answer the 10 questions that follow:


Gifu castle is one of the most beautiful sight-seeing attractions in central Japan. The closest township is Gifu, which has a population of approximately four hundred thousand people and is the prefectural capital. There are several noteworthy places in the region, including Ozaki castle and Sekigahara, the site of Japan’s most famous battle, the Battle of Sekigahara (1603) a monumental victory for Ieyasu Tokugawa, the renowned warlord of Edo, now Japan’s capital city, Tokyo.

gifuIn order to ascend to Gifu castle, which is perched atop the seventy metre high Mount Kinka, there is a cable car or for the more athletic sight-seer there are many trails to the castle and museum. The shortest of these trails takes around one hour to reach the castle, at a steady pace. Walking the trails is not recommended during the winter months as the tracks can become slippery and dangerous.

The present day castle which was built with concrete and timber in the 1950’s, is based upon the 16th century building. It was governed and inhabited by the notorious warlord Oda Nobunaga, the most feared of all Japanese warlords who met a treacherous death near the modern day city of Kyoto in 1582, after one of his most trusted generals, Akechi Mitsuhide turned against him. Mitsuhide ordered the buildings of Honno-ji temple be set alight, forcing the great warlord Nobunaga to commit seppuku, the samurai form of suicide.

The castle consists of three levels and contains many displays of weapons, maps, military equipment, portraits of Nobunaga and other artifacts from the period. On the third level, for those without any fear of heights, there is an observation platform from which viewers can look out across the Nagara river valley towards the city of Nagoya.

There is a small cafe and restaurant providing light refreshments near the cable car entrance, a five minute walk from the castle.

Comprehension Questions (True or False)

1/. The present day castle was built in the sixteenth century.
Click here to show the answer


2/. Akechi Mitsuhide governed Gifu castle.
Click here to show the answer


3/. It takes about one hour to reach the castle on foot.
Click here to show the answer


4/. Oda Nobunaga was killed in the Battle of Sekigahara.
Click here to show the answer


5/. The population of Gifu is approximately 400,000 people.
Click here to show the answer



Comprehension Questions (short answer – use no more than 3 words and/or a  number)

6/. Who betrayed Oda Nobunaga, forcing his death?
Click here to show the answer

Akechi Mitsuhide

7/. When did Oda Nobunaga die?
Click here to show the answer


8/. When was the modern day castle built?
Click here to show the answer

In the 1950’s

9/. What is the capital of Gifu prefecture?
Click here to show the answer

Gifu City

10/. What can visitors see from the third floor beyond the river?
Click here to show the answer

Nagoya (City)

Matching questions in IELTS reading

Matching questions in IELTS reading

Matching questions in IELTS readingIn the IELTS reading test, matching questions come in 3 different forms. You could be asked to match a heading to a paragraph (this is covered in the Headings lesson), match two halves of a sentences or match cause and effect. This post will focus on matching sentence halves and cause and effect statements.

NOTE: This post does not cover classifying, which is a slightly different skill and will be covered in future posts.

Matching parts of sentences

Here’s an example of a matching exercises that requires you to match parts of a sentence.

1 This exercise is A. a common ‘matching’ question type.
2 Putting sentence halves together is B. a simple example of this question type.

The correct combination is:

1 – B

2 – A

Useful tip: When matching sentence halves, grammar and logic are important. If you are having difficulty finding the correct answer, begin by eliminating the options you think are wrong.

Practice by matching the sentence halves below. There is no text for this exercise – use the tip above to find the correct answers.

1 Further education is essential if … a … you are hoping for a good job.
2 Degree-level study and beyond … b … is part of building your English.
3 Good teachers … c … is a very useful tool in the job market.
4 The ability to speak English … d … should be self-funded.
5 Completing homework assignments … e … have good students.
Click here to see the answers
1=A, 2=D, 3=E, 4=C, 5=B

Matching cause and effect

Here’s a simple example of a cause and effect matching question:

1 University enrolment has increased a Specialised courses developed to train people.
2 Technology is increasing in the workplace b More competition for places.

The correct combination is:

1 – B

2 – A

Useful tip: Matching cause-and-effect sentences can be difficult as they often rely on reference words, they will not always be in the same sentence with a clear connecting word and there are many ways of expressing cause and effect (see here for a closer look at cause and effect constructions). When matching cause-and-effect questions, you will often find that the linking words and the grammar have been abbreviated, leaving almost note-form sentences. It often helps to build each cause or effect phrase into a complete sentence after you have
matched them. For example:

Question: University enrolment has  increased = more competition for places
Complete sentence: As a result of increased enrolment in university, there is now more competition for places.


Practice matching questions

Practice by reading the text below and matching cause and effect in the table that follows.

For many sufferers of dyslexia, the knowledge that they have this learning difficulty came too late to help. Having been through, and often dropped out of, the standard school system, they are left with a low sense of self-worth and the conviction that they are mentally below par. Yet in reality, dyslexics often have above-average intelligence. The problem, it appears, is that they have trouble translating language into thought and thought into language. The two-dimensional world of reading and spelling is a constant source of frustration, and those suffering from dyslexia need more time and help in reading and spelling. Undiagnosed, children see a difference between themselves and their peers but don’t know how to express it to others and continue quietly struggling to compete in a world for which their mind is not geared. Teachers and even other students push them to simply ‘try harder’ or ‘just concentrate and you’ll get it’.

Moving from childhood to adolescence, the situation becomes worse. Young teenagers are academically left even further behind, and this is often noticed by fellow students, an embarrassing situation for people already going through hormonal and biological changes. Anxiety and anger build from repeated failures, low school results and an inability to follow the flow of lessons that other students seem to comprehend with relative ease.

Motivation then becomes a problem as these young teens are mislabelled ‘lazy’, or ’emotionally disturbed’, and some schools then probe into the home life of a student in order to uncover causes for these problems. This inevitably adds pressure to an already tense situation.

Fear of humiliation combined with an unimpressive academic record often combines to discourage students from continuing to university or further education. For those that do pursue an academic path, they often find college just as hard, if not harder. Finding some solace in menial jobs which do not require the academic skills they could never master, many intelligent people with dyslexia never get to explore their true abilities and so are left with low self-esteem that follows them throughout their adult life.

1 Symptoms not recognised in childhood a Lack of ambition
2 Peer pressure b Feeling of inferiority begins
3 Incorrectly diagnosed c Chronic low self-confidence
4 Fear of further humiliation d Deeper investigation into the wrong areas
5 Never realising full potential e Additional stress at an already difficult age
Click here to see the answers
1=B, 2=E, 3=D, 4=A, 5=C
qualifying words

Qualifying word in IELTS reading

Qualifying word in IELTS reading

Qualifying word in IELTS reading

By now, you should be familiar with the idea of looking for key words in the question before looking for the answer in both the IELTS reading and listening test. However, a common reason for IELTS candidates to lose points is by not looking closely enough at qualifying words – words that modify the degree or amount of the main verb or noun.

Compare these two sentences:

  1. Every government believes that education is important.
  2. Most governments believe that education is important.

When you are looking for key words, you should have identified ‘government’, ‘important’ and ‘education’.

However, you should also have identified the qualifying words – in sentence 1, the qualifying word is ‘every’. In sentence 2, this has changed to ‘most’.


Now look at the TRUE, FALSE or NOT GIVEN question below.

All governments feel that being educated is significant. 

If you were answering question 1 above (Every government believes that education is important), then the answer would be TRUE. However, if you were answering question 2 (Most governments believe that education is important) then the answer changes to FALSE, because it is not ALL governments, only MOST.

As you can see from the example above, qualifying words are particular important in TRUE, FALSE NOT GIVEN  questions, but they can also be important with other question types.

Here are some more qualifying words that are commonly used in the IELTS test.

  • virtually nil, an insignificant number, negligible, rarely
  • a few, a minority, a small number, occasionally
  • always, everyone, the entirety
  • all but a few, the majority, most, little doubt
  • nil, zero, nobody, absolutely none
  • roughly half, sometimes, neither one way nor the other, no particular emphasis either way

Now practice by reading the short text below and answer the questions that follow.

For most people, traditional forms of culture have little impact on their daily lives. Opera, fine art, classical literature – these are special events, not the common fare of the average household. Popular culture, on the other hand, dominates almost all of our leisure time. We are becoming a nation with very short attention spans, spending most evenings in front of the TV, with very few people making the effort of actually entertaining themselves.


Are the following statements TRUE (T) or FALSE (F)?

1 Traditional culture has no impact on our daily lives.

2 Popular culture dominates all our leisure time. 

3 Only a minority of people make their own entertainment. 
Check all three answers

1. FALSE – the questions says ‘no impact’, but the text says ‘little’

2. FALSE – the question says ‘all our leisure time’ but the text says ‘almost all’

3. TRUE – the question says ‘only a minority’, which is equal to ‘very few’


USEFUL TIP: In the writing test, using qualifying words to make your opinion less dogmatic (strong, or presented as absolutely 100%) can help improve your result. For example:

People on lower incomes never save money. This is too strong

People on lower incomes rarely save money. This is more academic as it allows for exceptions.