Category Archives: IELTS Reading (all)

IELTS reading all question types

IELTS reading all question types


IELTS reading all question types

IELTS reading all question typesThere are 8 common question types in IELTS reading. On this page, you will see an example of each type based on the reading text below.


Important note: the questions used on this page are to demonstrate the types of question used in the IELTS reading test – they are MUCH EASIER than you could expect in the IELTS test.

The IELTS Test

A The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) was launched worldwide in 1989. The tests are produced by the University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate (UCLES), and jointly managed by the British Council and IDP Australia. There are over 250 test centres in 105 countries around the world, figures which are increasing almost monthly as the IELTS test continues to become more popular. From 1999 to 2001, the number of candidates sitting the test increased dramatically from just over one hundred thousand to well over two hundred thousand.

B The IELTS has two formats. One is the general test, which is taken mostly by people looking for residency in English speaking countries. The other is the academic test, preferred by nearly 80% of candidates as the results determine whether candidates can join academic courses held in English. Accounting for 13% of these, New Zealand is surpassed only by Great Britain and Australia. Although there is no standardised score for tertiary or high school entry, students looking to join a foundation course at university are often aiming for a score of 5.5, and those looking to complete a postgraduate course of study generally need 6.0 or more. In the USA, for example, over 170 universities accept students with a suitable IELTS score.


C The IELTS test has four sections, testing the fours skills – reading, writing, listening and speaking. The reading test has three passages, totalling between 2,000 and 2,800 words. The texts are taken from magazines, journals, books and newspapers, and are specifically chosen to be of ‘general’ interest. That is, no specialist knowledge is required to understand, although they are aimed at an academic level and require a good standard of vocabulary. There are a number of topics, such as the environment or social issues, around which IELTS readings often revolve. You have one hour to complete the test, which comprises 40 questions based on the reading texts (generally between 12 and 18 questions per text). The questions may come before or after the reading, and you will not necessarily get every type of question. You will not be given additional time to transfer your answers to the answer paper.

D The writing test consists of two parts – Task I and Task II. Again, this section of the test is aimed at an academic level and requires a good standard of vocabulary and is based on the same possible topics as the reading. You have one hour in which to complete both tasks, with the recommendation that you spend 20 minutes writing the 150 words required for Task I and 40 minutes completing the 250-word Task II. In Task I, will have to describe information given in a chart, graph or illustration, and in Task II you will have to give opinions or make recommendations about a topic.

E The listening test has four parts, and takes around thirty minutes. This is the only section of the test in which you are given time to transfer the answers from your question paper to the answer sheet. The format of each part of the listening is different, becoming more difficult as the test progresses. There are a variety of question types, most of which are the same as the reading. Perhaps the most important fact about the listening test is that, apart from the example you are given at the beginning of each part of the test, you will only hear the tape once.

F Finally comes the speaking. There are three parts to the speaking test. In phase one, the examiner will ask a number of questions about you, your family your plans or your background. In phase two, the long turn, you are given a card and have one minute to prepare a talk of up to two minutes. This leads to phase three, where the examiner will ask you extension questions based on what you have said in phase two. In total, the test takes up to 15 minutes. Testing centres differ in when the listening test is held. Sometimes it is before other sections of the test and sometimes a few days or even a week later.

Reading test #1

Tips for the IELTS reading test

Tips for the IELTS reading test

On this page are tips and hints for reading in the IELTS test. If you have a question or a tip that you think would benefit others, let us know using the message form at the bottom of the page.

*Note that there are differences in the first two sections for the General Training and Academic Module test

Transferring answers

Tips for the IELTS reading testA common – and very disappointing – error that occasionally happens in the reading test is that candidates do not transfer their answers to the answer sheet before the end of the 60 minutes given. That means that even if you have all the correct answers written on the question paper, you still get a score of zero. One of the most useful tips for the IELTS reading test is to transfer your answers as soon as you finish each section, and as you get closer to the end of the test, transfer your answers as soon as you have completed them.

The best method for sitting the IELTS reading test

There are a number of different theories about the best way of approaching the IELTS, but in our experience as IELTS trainers, the best approach is not fixed – you need to try a few different methods, find out which works best for you then stick to it. Repetition when preparing for the IELTS test is the most important point, so once you find the technique that suits you, stick to it! Here are some of the common (and effective) techniques – try them all and see which works best for you:

Tips for the IELTS reading test: Technique 1

Skim the text before reading any of the questions, making short notes in the margin of the page identifying what each section or paragraph relates to. Don’t spend too much time reading in detail. Once you have an idea what the text relates to, go to the questions. Focus only on one question type (for example, if questions 1 to 4 are multiple choice and 5 to 7 are short answer questions, focus only on questions 1 to 4). Because you have already skimmed the text, you should know the approximate area in which to find the answers.

POSITIVES: when you are focusing on find answers, you already have a clear idea of what the test is about so it should be easier to locate and confirm your answer.

NEGATIVES: the problem with this technique is time – you may find you are up to 10 minutes into the reading test and still have no answers to any of the questions, and this can sometimes cause candidates to panic and rush their answers.


Tips for the IELTS reading test: Technique 2

Look at the first few questions, identifying keywords and qualifying words and getting a clear idea of what you are required to do (word limit in the answer, for example). Then go to the text for the first time, scanning for something that relates to question.

POSITIVES: you will be answering questions within the first two minutes and don’t need to spend time reading sections of the text that don’t relate to any of the questions.

NEGATIVES: even by the end of the test, you may not have a clear idea of everything in the text – only the sections which relate to the answers.

Writing your answers in CAPITAL LETTERS

Write your answers in CAPITAL LETTERS – that way you won’t risk losing points for punctuation (e.g. ‘LONDON’ is better than  ‘london’) and your writing will be clearer and easier to read.

Start with the passage that interests you most

It’s often better to start with the section of the reading that interests you most – this will then leave you free to focus on the other sections knowing you have already answered 10 or more questions, relieving some of the pressure.

Use the question paper

You can write, underline and make marks on the question paper – this will not be submitted with your answer sheet (although you are required to hand them in at the end of the test). Underlining, making notes or other markings on your question paper can often help you clearly understand the topic presented in the text and can help you pinpoint or double check answers just before the end of the test.

Use titles, heading and subheadings

Most reading sections will have a title and some will also have illustrations and subheadings – make sure to spend some time looking at them as they will often give you a good idea of what the text is referring to.

Don’t get stuck on an answer

With 60 minutes to answer 40 questions, as well as time to skim and scan the text and locate answers, you have approximately one minute to answer each question. If you find you are spending more time than that, make a clear mark on the question paper to indicate that you haven’t answered that particular question then move on to the next question. If there is time later, then you can go back to that question, but spending time on a difficult answer may mean you lose more points on answers which you may have found easier. Remember that it is one point per correct answer, regardless of how difficult or easy you think it may be.

ALWAYS write an answer

You are not penalised in the IELTS test for an incorrect answer in the listening or reading sections, so even if you are not sure or don’t know, always write something, even if it’s just a guess. You might get lucky, and it certainly won’t harm!

We hope these tips for the IELTS reading test have helped, but if you have any other ideas you’d like to share, we’d love to hear from you in the comments area below!

Free IELTS Academic Reading test 1 Section 1

Free IELTS Academic Reading test 1 Section 1

Go to Section 2 | 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 1 Section 1Looking 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 2.


Section 1:

A very brief history of time

These days, time is everything. We worry about being late, we rush to get things done or to be somewhere and our daily schedules are often planned down to the minute. Of course, none of this would have been possible without the humble clock. The internationally accepted division of time into regular, predictable units has become an essential aspect of almost all modern societies yet the history of time keeping is almost as old as civilisation itself. Nearly 3000 years ago, societies were using the stars in order to keep track of time to indicate agricultural cycles. Then came the sundial, an Egyptian invention in which the shadow cast by the sun was used to measure the time not of the seasons but of the day.

The first manufactured clock, believed to have come from Persia, was a system which recreated the movements of the stars. All the celestial bodies which had been used to tell the time of year were plotted onto an intricate system in which the planets rotated around each other. Not being dependent on either sunlight or a clear night, this was one of the earliest systems to divide a complete day. Although ingenious for its time, this method suffered from incorrect astrological assumptions of the period, in which it was believed that the Earth was the centre of the universe.

The Greeks were next to develop a more accurate clock using water to power a mechanism that counted out the divisions of the day. The simplest water clock consisted of a large urn that had a small hole located near the base, and a graduated stick attached to a floating base. The hole would be plugged while the urn was being filled with water, and then the stick would be inserted into the urn. The stick would float perpendicular to the surface of the water, and when the hole at the base of the urn was unplugged, the passage of time was measured as the stick descended farther into the urn.

Then, for nearly one thousand years, there was little in the way of progress in time keeping until the European invention of spring-powered clocks in the late fourteenth century. Unreliable and inaccurate, the early models of these clocks were useful in that they gave direction to new advances. In 1656 Christiaan Huygens, a Dutch scientist, made the first pendulum clock, which had an error of less than one minute a day, the first time such accuracy had been achieved. His later refinements reduced his clock’s error to less than 10 seconds a day. Some years later, Huygens abandoned the pendulum for a balance wheel and spring assembly which allowed for a whole new generation of time piece – the wristwatch. Still found in some of today’s wristwatches, this improvement allowed portable seventeenth-century watches to keep time to 10 minutes a day.

While clock making and musical chime clocks became increasingly popular, it was the invention of the cuckoo clock, designed and made by Franz Anton Ketterer, which really caught people’s imagination. The design was not particularly complex. The clock was mounted on a headboard, normally a very elaborate carving reflecting the tastes of the artist. Many of the original cuckoo clocks are still kept today because of the artwork on the headboard. Using the traditional circular pendulum design, the clock could run accurately for up to a week, using a weight to keep the pendulum in motion. Again, the weight was often carved with a design making the whole clock an art form as well as a timepiece. The most innovative feature of these cuckoo clocks, as the name implies, is that a small carved cuckoo came out of the clock to chime the hour. Particularly ingenious was the placement of bellows inside the clock, which were designed to recreate the sound made by the bird, although later models included a lever on the bottom of the clock which could be used to stop this hourly chime.

Refinements to this original pendulum concept meant that by 1721 the pendulum clock remained accurate to within one second per day by compensating for changes in the pendulum’s length due to temperature variations. Over the next century, further refinements reduced this to a hundredth of a second a day. In the 1920s, a new era of clock making began which is still popular today – the quartz clock. When under pressure, quartz generates an electric field of relatively constant frequency, and it was discovered that this electric signal was sufficient to power a clock. Quartz crystal clocks were better because they had fewer moving parts to disturb their regular frequency. Even so, they still rely on a mechanical vibration and this depends on the size of the crystal, and as no two crystals can be exactly alike, there is a degree of difference in every quartz watch.

Comparing performance to price, it is understandable that quartz clocks still dominate the market. Yet they are no longer the most accurate. Scientists had long realised that each chemical element in the universe absorbs and emits electromagnetic radiation at its own specific frequencies. These resonances are inherently stable, thus forming the basis for a reliable system of time measurement, all the more so because no moving parts are needed to record these resonances. Yet the cost of these atomic clocks mean that such timekeeping precision is a long way from becoming common.


Questions 1 – 15

Questions 1 – 8

Match a type of clock to a description. Write a letter A – H in boxes 1 to 8 on your answer sheet.

A Relied on basic scientific principles
B was the first to replace the pendulum
C Is the most common method of timekeeping
D Is the most accurate clock
E Is the earliest known method of measuring time during the day
F Was inaccurate because of misconceptions of the age
G Was often highly ornamental
H Had only a 10-second margin of error per day

1.Quartz clock      Show answer C

2 Cuckoo clock      Show answerG

3 Sundial      Show answerE

4 Persian clock      Show answerF

5 Wristwatch      Show answerB

6 Pendulum      Show answerH

7 Atomic clock      Show answerD

8 Water clock      Show answerA


Questions 9 – 12

Label the diagram below using words from the text. Use NO MORE THAN ONE WORD.

Free IELTS Academic Reading test 1 Section 1

9.     Show answer HEADBOARD or CARVING

10.     Show answer WEIGHT

11.     Show answer PENDULUM

12.     Show answer BELLOWS

Questions 13 – 15

Complete the following summary using words from the box below. Write A-F in boxes 13 to 15.

A: Cheaper B: the least accurate C: Accurate
D: More expensive D: Precision F: exactly the same
G: H: Mechanical vibration I: Moving parts

Although quartz clocks are (13)   , the atomic clock is the most (14)     as it does not rely on any (15)   .

13. Show answerA – cheaper

14. Show answerC – accurate

15. Show answerI – moving parts


Show All correct answers

Once you have finished, check your answers, then move on Section 2.

Speed reading for IELTS

Speed reading for IELTS

An essential skill to help you read faster in the IELTS reading test

To read faster in the IELTS reading test, you need to increase you speed reading for IELTS. There are a number of points that you need to consider:

1. Keep going!

speed-readingWhen reading, a lot of people stop and go back, reading the same words again. This is often simply a habit and one that does not necessarily help you understand any better. Spend some time reading forward only, even if you feel that you missed something or that you didn’t understand. With practice, you will find that you are spending less time reading the same words twice but can get just as good an understanding of what you are reading.

2. Use ‘chunking’ techniques

When you read, try to focus not on individual words, but on small groups of words (about 3 or 4 words) each time your eyes move. This technique is called ‘chunking’ – looking at a chunk of words at one time. On this page, for example, your eyes should be moving a maximum of 4 times. Here is an example (your eyes should move to each different ‘block’ of text):

This is an example sentence to help you practice your speed reading techniques.

3. Stop reading to yourself

When reading, many people actually ‘say’ the words as they read them. This might be silently or a very quiet mumble, but this slows your reading speed down. Your eyes and brain can absorb information much more quickly that your mouth and brain can form the words.

4. Use a marker

To keep an even pace and to stop your self re-reading words (see point #1), try using a marker to keep you focussed. This can be another piece of paper that you move at a consistent speed, or even something simple like your finger or a pen. The main aim is to keep the marker moving, even though you might want to stop or slow down. When you first try this technique, you may find that you don’t remember anything of what you have read. Keep trying! Remember that you are re-teaching your brain how to read!

5. Read vertically, not horizontally

When reading slowly, it is common in western languages to read from the left to the right. However, when speed reading, you will eventually be able to read straight down the page, with your eyes chunking once to the left and once to the right of the centre as you move your finger, a pen or other marker straight down the page.

6. Be prepared

Before attempting to speed read any text, try to get as much information as you can about what you are reading. Look for a title, any subheadings, images or text captions. Also very quickly scan for any bold, underlined or italicised text. Having some idea of what you are reading will help your reading speed.

7. Practice!

None of the techniques above will work by the end of today. You need to keep practising and using these techniques wherever you can. Newspapers, magazines, textbooks – all of these are good practice material.

IELTS reading practice (single text)

IELTS reading practice (single text)

The Populating of New Zealand

populating-new-zealandThere are many myths and legends surrounding New Zealand’s history, but what is certain is that Maori settled in the country long before the arrival of the Europeans. It is generally believed that Kupe, an explorer from Hawaiki, accompanied by a small group of others in canoes discovered the country about AD800. The country was named Aotearoa, which means the Land of the Long White Cloud, and soon more fleets of canoes brought not only people but dogs, rats, kumura and other introduced foods and animals to the country. These original settlers lived in tribes, called iwi, and soon learned to live comfortably in the new land. These early Maori were warriors, and tribal wars were common.

The population was undisturbed for over 300 years until 1642, when the Dutch explorer Abel Tasman arrived on the west coast of the country. He christened it Nieuw Zeeland, after the province of Zeeland from his own country, but Tasman’s stay was short lived and his contact with the population at the time ended in a number of his crew being killed. Some hundred years later, in 1769, the British explorer Captain James Cook sailed around New Zealand. With the help of his Tahitian interpreter, Cook had the opportunity to explore the country on much friendlier terms than Tasman.

The first European settlers, named Pakeha by the Maori, arrived in the form of traders, looking to make their fortunes from the natural resources of New Zealand. The practice of exchanging firearms for goods paved the way for ever more deadly battles between Maori tribes, but armed warfare was not the only thing the settlers imported into the country; they also brought other social problems in the form of disease and prostitution.

Next came the missionaries, intent on bringing Christianity to the country. The first missionary church was established by Samuel Marsden in 1814, in an area heavily populated by Pakeha.

By the late 1830s, British intervention in New Zealand was becoming stronger, and eventually lead to the signing of a famous treaty, now referred to as The Treaty of Waitangi. Much has been written about the treaty, and it remains a heavily debated issue even to this day.

Meanwhile, colonisation continued on the South Island due to the discovery of gold and developments in farming. The North Island wasn’t long behind as Wellington was named capital of the country in 1865. In 1947, New Zealand became fully independent, although clear signs of its connection with Britain still remain.

  1. According to Maori legend, which explorer landed in New Zealand first?
  2. When did the first settlers arrive?
  3. What is the Maori name for New Zealand?
  4. What is the Maori word for tribe?
  5. When did Tasman arrive on the shores of New Zealand?
  6. What did he name the country?
  7. Who arrived in 1769?
  8. What nationality was his interpreter?
  9. What did early European settlers exchange firearms for?
  10. When did British involvement in New Zealand become noticeable?
  11. What two factors made settlers go to the South Island?
  12. What happened in 1865?
  13. When did New Zealand become independent?

Scroll down to see the answers:









  1. Kupe
  2. 800AD
  3. Aotearoa
  4. Iwi
  5. 1642
  6. Nieuw Zeeland
  7. Captain James Cook
  8. Tahitian
  9. Goods
  10. 1830s
  11. Gold and developments in farming
  12. Wellington became the capital
  13. 1947

Skimming and scanning in IELTS reading

Skimming and scanning in IELTS reading

One of the most common problems with the IELTS reading test is the time limit. You have 60 minutes to find 40 answers over three sections with a total of up to 3000 words. Two essential skills for getting a good IELTS result are skimming and scanning.

Skimming and scanning in IELTS readingSkimming

Skimming is when you very quickly look though a text looking for a general understanding of what it is about, how it is structured and how it is written. You are not looking for specific information, just an overview. A common time you may have used skimming skills is when you deciding to buy a newspaper or magazine – you quickly look through to see if there is anything in there you may be interested in reading closely.


Scanning is when you are looking for a specific piece of information in a text. This could be a name, a place, a date or any specific detail. A common time for scanning would be looking through a telephone directory, looking for a specific name.


So what are good strategies to help you skim and scan faster?

1. Reading the title / looking at any illustrations

This is a GOOD strategy. Not all IELTS reading texts have titles, but if there is one it can often be a good indicator of what the text is about. The same is true for illustrations, which can often give you a good idea of what at least part of the text is about.

2. Reading every word

This is a BAD strategy. The IELTS test does not give you time to read every word of the complete text, and trying to do so will often mean you do not finish all three sections. The only time you should reading every word is when you think you have found the an answer and want to read the surrounding sentences carefully. Otherwise, you should either be skimming the text for a general understanding or scanning for something in particular.

3. Reading the first and last sentence of each paragraph

This is a BAD strategy. The IELTS test has developed to test your English level and skills, and shortcuts like this simply do not work anymore. You will miss vital information or even be led astray by sentences designed deliberately to mislead you.

4. Underlining/circling names as you skim

This is a GOOD strategy. People, places and other kinds of names can often give you a good guide for where information is in the text, and can help you come back to a specific point much faster.

3. Concentrating on difficult vocabulary

This is a BAD strategy. It is very common to get stuck on a word or phrase when you don’t know the meaning, but this is wasting precious time when you should be moving on. It’s possible that you may lose a point because of a word you didn’t know, but it’s better to answer easier questions first and if you have time, go back to that word at the end.

Practice your skimming and scanning skills

Click here to try exercise 1

Click here to try exercise 2

IELTS practice tests

About the IELTS reading test

About the IELTS reading test

The IELTS reading test takes 60 minutes to complete, has three sections and a total of 40 questions. You need to make sure that your answers are transferred to the answer sheet within the 60 minutes as no extra time is given at the end of the test.

*Note that there are differences in the first two sections for the General Training and Academic Module test for Passages 1 and 2.

Differences between the Academic and General reading test:

About the IELTS reading testThe Academic Module

The Academic Module has three passages, generally ranging between 700 to 1000 words, with between 12 and 18 questions per passage. The passages are all equal in levels of difficulty, and do not get progressively more difficult. The topics are based on articles from journals, academic magazines, articles and other sources.

The General Training Module

Although there are still three parts to the General Training reading test, the first two sections are broken into two (sometimes three) subsections, with between 5 and 9 questions per sub section. The first section is survival level English, and may require you to read a timetable, notice or short piece of information, and will generally be quite short (less than 300 words). The second section is a little more difficult and will a workplace related topic, such as interview techniques or the first day at work.

The third section (Passage 3) is the same as the Academic Module.

IELTS reading test question types

  1. Headings style questions
  2. Locating information in a paragraph
  3. True / False / Not Given questions
  4. Short answer questions
  5. Sentence completion questions
  6. Form/summary/table/flowchart/notes completion questions
  7. Labelling a diagram
  8. Matching and classifying
  9. Multiple choice

Headings questions in IELTS

Headings questions in IELTS reading

One of the most common – and most difficult – types of question you are likely to face in the IELTS reading test are Headings style questions, where you are required to match a heading (much the same as a title) to a paragraph from the text.

Here are some facts about Headings questions in IELTS:

  • There are always more headings than paragraphs.
  • There can be up to ten paragraphs in an IELTS reading text
  • Some of the headings are similar
  • Matching words and phrases directly from the heading and the text is not a good technique – you need to focus on parallel expressions (that is, the same meaning written in a different way with different vocabulary)
  • The same heading is never used more than once.
  • You need to write the Roman numerals (i, ii, iii, iv, v etc) not the heading itself
  • You are often given an example, but this is not necessarily the first paragraph

For many IELTS candidates, Headings style questions and True, False, Not Given style questions are the most difficult question types, so if you’re having difficulty, you’re not alone!

Here’s an example of a headings style question.

Which of the three headings given do you think matches best (the answer is below the text)?

a Disappointment in GM foods.
b GM foods could be the answer.
c The history of GM foods.

When the idea was first put forward, the concept of genetically modified (GM) food seemed to be the answer to so many problems. The ability to harvest foods that could grow in specific climates and were resistant to disease would end famine in many countries, saving millions, even making fortunes for farmers. The truth, however, is a little different. Lower yields, expensive research and general public distrust of ‘tampered’ food have not made genetic modification the solution it promised to be. 

Click here to see the answer and explanation
The correct answer is A. Although the paragraph does refer to some positive things, these were only the hopes for GM food, not what actually happened.

B is not correct – although the text does talk about some of the hopes for GM food, the end of paragraph shows that these hopes did not come try. The text is written in the past tense, but the heading would be looking for the present or future tense (‘Could be’ is referring to the future).

C is not the correct answer because the text is written in the past tense, but it is about what people hoped or expected would happen. The last sentence of the paragraph refers to the current situation, not the history.

Here are some useful tips to help answer Headings questions in IELTS:

  1. Read the first and last part of the paragraph carefully.
  2. Underline key words, phrases or sentences.
  3. Pick more than one heading for each passage if you are not
    sure. When you have completed this for all paragraphs, you can
    see if any have been used twice.
  4. Make sure the meaning of the complete heading matches, not just single words.
  5. Look for what is different between each paragraph, not what is
    the same.
  6. If an example is given, cross it off the list of headings.

Now practice with a complete text.

The GM controversy – is it worth it?

A Four genetically modified foods are currently being tested in the UK in the hope that they will be resistant to the most common herbicides. The aim is to create a crop which can be sprayed to kill everything around it, allowing more room and an easier harvest. Yet the project has been under heavy pressure, as it promotes the use of broad spectrum herbicides which have already been linked with the decline in farmland wildlife, a result of its highly efficient removal of weeds and a consequent decrease in food supplies for invertebrates and birds.

B In order to pacify the environmentalists, the experiment into herbicidal side effects will be run on four fields, all divided into two – one half growing the GM crop and the other half growing a non-GM variety – with numbers of insects, wild flowers and birds being compared in each half of the field. However, the GM crop will be grown for only one year and each trial field will be monitored for only a further two years. Farmland ecology is poorly understood and the wildlife in these fields will never have been studied before. Soil type is an important factor in determining what lives in the field, yet it may vary from one part of the field to another. Modern fields are often two or three older fields joined together, each of which may have a different history, soil structure and wildlife. Insect numbers vary naturally from one year to the next, so effects would have to be large, otherwise they would not be detected. Earthworms, fungi and bacteria are vital to the health of the soil, yet their numbers are not being monitored.

C Naturally, those who are opposed to the experiment claim that the effects of GM crops and their herbicides are likely to be subtle. It took many years for the devastating effects of DDT on birds to be realised and over 50 years for scientists to discover the damage caused to the ozone layer by CFCs, previously thought to be inert. Three years of limited studies is simply not long enough to say that GM crops are ‘safe’. DNA from GM crops may spread into the wider environment through the transfer of genetic material to soil microbes. DNA from GM sugar beet persists for up to two years in the soil. In laboratory experiments DNA from GM plants was taken up by both fungi and bacteria. Agricultural soils are often very mobile, so it is likely that soil contaminated by GM crops will spread to other fields. In addition, sugar beet seeds can remain in the ground, dormant but fertile, for at least 10 years, giving rise to GM sugar beet plants long after monitoring of the fields has stopped.

D GM contamination will affect livelihoods of other farmers, especially organic farmers, who will be unable to sell contaminated crops. Honey contaminated with GM pollen from last year’s crop trials has already been found. Beekeepers provide a vital service to fruit growers but will be forced to move their hives from areas near GM crop trials if they wish to avoid GM contamination, and this will affect land values.

E But perhaps the most persuasive reason to abandon GM food is that nature is already evolving beyond our advances in the field. GM insect-resistant crops are starting to become less effective, as the insect pests they were designed to resist rapidly develop tolerance. Similarly, weeds will develop herbicide tolerance as they are exposed to more of the same few herbicides, and as nature adapts to the new environment, another weakness of GM foods is exposed – it cannot change. By being manipulated and modified, GM crops have lost their ability to adapt as natural crops would, and are unable to cope with the environmental changes the planet is experiencing.

Questions 1-5. Match the headings below with a paragraph from the text above. Write i – viii in the boxes provided.

List of headings

I. Looking at the long term
II. The weaknesses of upcoming tests
III. Benefits to farming
IV. Subsidiary effects
V. Controversial experiments for easier farming
VI. GM food remains highly adaptable
VII. The flexibility of nature
VIII. The science of genetic modification

1. Paragraph A:
Show answerV

2. Paragraph B:
Show answerII

3. Paragraph C:
Show answerI

4. Paragraph D:
Show answerIV

5. Paragraph E:
Show answerVII


Show All correct answers

Looking for another exercise to practice headings questions? Click here!

Free IELTS General Training Reading test 1 Section 1

Free IELTS General Training Reading test 1 Section 1

Section 1

Go to Section 2 | Go to Section 3

This free IELTS reading test (General Training) 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 General Training Reading test 1 Section 1Looking 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, click the ‘Finish quiz’ button. To see which of your answers were marked as correct or incorrect, click the ‘View questions’ button. When completed, move on to Section 2.

Section 1:


5 tips to improve your IELTS reading

5 tips to improve your IELTS reading

Are you taking practice test after practice, but not seeing your score improve? Stuck on the same level with your reading for ages? You’re not alone – this is a very common problem, especially when you are studying on your own without a teacher or other students to help you.

The most important factor in improving your result is to spend a considerable amount of time in reflection, analysing practice tests you have taken to identify where your strengths and weakness are. Here are 5 handy tips for how to improve your IELTS reading result – ask yourself each of these questions at the end of every reading practice test you take and you’ll be on your way to a better score!

Tip 1: Am I making mistakes on the same question type?

For many IELTS candidates, Headings style questions and True / False / Not Given style questions cause the most difficulty. If you find that there is one particular question that is causing you to lose more points than any other, then that’s the one you should focus on. We have tips and hints for all the IELTS question types, as well as practice exercises and tests – keep practising, keep reviewing and if needed, ask question on the comments form at the bottom of each page until you improve!

Tip 2: When I see the correct answer, do I realise where I went wrong?

Simply accepting your answer was wrong and moving on will not help you improve. You need to look at the correct answer and consider why your answer was not correct. Did you misunderstand the question? Was there a negative prefix (UNimportant, NONflammable) that meant you misunderstood the question or text? Was there a qualifying word that you overlooked?

Tip 3: Am I taking too long to read the text or questions?

Remember that in the IELTS reading test, you don’t actually have time to read – you need to be able to skim and scan, and use speed reading techniques to absorb the information as fast as possible.You also need to be disciplined – if you are spending 30 minutes on one text and questions, then you will not have time to complete the other 2 sections accurately, so get in the habit of moving on if you can’t find the answer. It’s better to lose one point on a difficult question than to lose two or more points on easy questions because you ran out of time!

Tip 4: Is it the text or the questions that I am misunderstanding?

Depending on your technique, you might first skim the text then turn to the questions, or start with the questions then turn to the text. When you find an incorrect answer, spend some time considering whether you misunderstood the text or the question, and change the amount of time you spend on each part respectively. For example, if your answer is wrong because you misunderstood the question, then allow a little extra time in the next practice test to read the questions a second or third time before deciding on the answer.

Tip 5: Is it a vocabulary, syntax (sentence order) or another reason why I have not understood?

So you have an incorrect answer because you did not understand a section of text. Now look back at the text and decide why you had problems with it. If it was because of some vocabulary you didn’t understand, then did you apply the skills for unknown vocabulary? If it was the sentence structure – perhaps it was a long, academic sentence – did you break it down into smaller pieces? Turning longer, academic sentences into shorter, simple sentences can often help you understand a lot more clearly. This takes practice, so start doing that from today! Or was there another problem – qualifying words, prefixes or indirect sentences? By spending some time analysing your own errors, you will improve your skills not just for IELTS but for your general level of English.