IELTS Reading Test 22-23-24 Passages
Reading passage 1
Since 1901, the Nobel Prize has been honoring men and women from all corners of the globe for outstanding achievements in physics, chemistry, medicine, literature, and for work in peace. The foundations for the prize were laid in 1895 when Alfred Nobel wrote his last will, leaving much of his wealth to the establishment of the Nobel Prize.
Alfred Nobel was born in Stockholm on October 21, 1833. His father Immanuel Nobel was an engineer and inventor who built bridges and buildings in Stockholm. In connection with his construction work Immanuel Nobel also experimented with different techniques for blasting rocks. Successful in his industrial and business ventures, Immanuel Nobel was able, in 1842, to bring his family to St. Petersburg. There, his sons were given a first class education by private teachers. The training included natural sciences, languages and literature. By the age of 17 Alfred Nobel was fluent in Swedish, Russian, French, English and German. His primary interests were in English literature and poetry as well as in chemistry and physics. Alfred’s father, who wanted his sons to join his enterprise as engineers, disliked Alfred’s interest in poetry and found his son rather introverted.
In order to widen Alfred’s horizons his father sent him abroad for further training in chemical engineering. During a two year period Alfred Nobel visited Sweden, Germany, France and the United States. In Paris, the city he came to like best, he worked in the private laboratory of Professor T. J. Pclouze, a famous chemist. There he met the young Italian chemist Ascanio Sobrero who, three years earlier, had invented nitroglycerine, a highly explosive liquid. But it was considered too dangerous to be of any practical use. Although its explosive power greatly exceeded that of gunpowder, the liquid would explode in a very unpredictable manner if subjected to heat and pressure. Alfred Nobel became very interested in nitroglycerine and how it could be put to practical use in construction work. He also realized that the safety problems had to be solved and a method had to be developed for the controlled detonation of nitroglycerine.
After his return to Sweden in 1863, Alfred Nobel concentrated on developing nitroglycerine as an explosive. Several explosions, including one (1864) in which his brother Emil and several other persons were killed, convinced the authorities that nitroglycerine production was exceedingly dangerous. They forbade further experimentation with nitroglycerine within the Stockholm city limits and Alfred
Nobel had to move his experimentation to a barge anchored on Lake Malaren. Alfred was not discouraged and in 1864 he was able to start mass production of nitroglycerine. To make the handling of nitroglycerine safer Alfred Nobel experimented with different additives. He soon found that mixing nitroglycerine with kieselguhr would turn the liquid into a paste which could be shaped into rods of a size and form suitable for insertion into drilling holes. In 1867 he patented this material under the name of dynamite. To be able to detonate the dynamite rods he also invented a detonator (blasting cap) which could be ignited by lighting a fuse. These inventions were made at the same time as the pneumatic drill came into general use. Together these inventions drastically reduced the cost of blasting rock, drilling tunnels, building canals and many other forms of construction work.
The market for dynamite and detonating caps grew very rapidly and Alfred Nobel also proved himself to be a very skillful entrepreneur and businessman. Over the years he founded factories and laboratories in some 90 different places in more than 20 countries. Although he lived in Paris much of his life he was constantly traveling. When he was not traveling or engaging in business activities Nobel himself worked intensively in his various laboratories, first in Stockholm and later in other places. He focused on the development of explosives technology as well as other chemical inventions including such materials as synthetic rubber and leather, artificial silk, etc. By the time of his death in 1896 he had 355 patents.
Intensive work and travel did not leave much time for a private life. At the age of 43 he was feeling like an old man. At this time he advertised in a newspaper “wealthy, highly-educated elderly gentleman seeks lady of mature age, versed in languages, as secretary and supervisor of household.” The most qualified applicant turned out to be an Austrian woman, Countess Bertha Kinsky. After working a very short time for Nobel she decided to return to Austria to marry Count Arthur von Suttner. In spite of this Alfred Nobel and Bertha von Suttner remained friends and kept writing letters to each other for decades. Over the years Bertha von Suttner became increasingly critical of the arms race. She wrote a famous book, Lay Down Your Arms and became a prominent figure in the peace movement. No doubt this influenced Alfred Nobel when he wrote his final will which was to include a Prize for persons or organizations who promoted peace. Several years after the death of Alfred Nobel, the Norwegian Storting (Parliament) decided to award the 1905 Nobel Peace Prize to Bertha von Suttner.
Alfred Nobel died in San Remo, Italy, on December 10, 1896. When his will was opened it came as a surprise that his fortune was to be used for Prizes in Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine, Literature and Peace. The executors of his will were two young engineers, Ragnar Sohlman and Rudolf Lilljequist. They set about forming the Nobel Foundation as an organization to take care of the financial assets left by Nobel for this purpose and to coordinate the work of the Prize-Awarding Institutions. This was not without its difficulties since the will was contested by relatives and questioned by authorities in various countries.
Alfred Nobel’s greatness lay in his ability to combine the penetrating mind of the scientist and inventor with the forward-looking dynamism of the industrialist. Nobel was very interested in social and peace-related issues and held what were considered radical views in his era. He had a great interest in literature and wrote his own poetry and dramatic works. The Nobel Prizes became an extension and a fulfillment of his lifetime interests.
Questions 1-6 Do the following statements agree with the information given in Reading Passage 1? Write
TRUE if the statement agrees with the information
FALSE if the statement contradicts the information
NOT GIVEN if there is no information on this
1 The first Nobel Prize was awarded in 1895.
2 Nobel’s father wanted his son to have better education than what he had had.
3 Nobel was an unsuccessful businessman.
4 Bertha von Suttner was selected by Nobel himself for the first peace prize.
5 The Nobel Foundation was established after the death of Nobel
6 Nobel’s social involvement was uncommon in the 1800’s.
Questions 7-13 Complete the notes below using NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS from the passage. Write your answers in boxes 7-13 on your answer sheet Education:
Having accumulated a great fortune in his business, Nobel’s father determined to give his son the best education and sent him abroad to be trained in 7…………… during Nobel’s study in Paris, he worked in a private laboratory, where he came in contact with a young engineer 8……………and his invention nitroglycerine, a more powerful explosive than 9………………
Benefits in construction works:
Nobel became really interested in this new explosive and experimented on it. But nitroglycerine was too dangerous and was banned for experiments within the city of 10……………………….……. So Nobel had to move his experiments to a lake. To make nitroglycerine easily usable, Nobel invented dynamite along with 11……………………………..…….while in the meantime 12…………………………….became popular, all of which dramatically lowered the 13…………………….….of construction works.
READING PASSAGE 2
Reading passage 2 has seven paragraphs, A-G. Choose the correct heading for each paragraph from the list of headings below. Write the correct number, i-x, in boxes 14-20 on your answer sheet
List of headings
i. The best moment to migrate
ii. The unexplained rejection of closer feeding ground
iii. The influence of weather on the migration route
iv. Physical characteristics that allow birds to migrate
v. The main reason why birds migrate
vi. The best wintering grounds for birds
vii. Research findings on how birds migrate
viii. Successful migration despite trouble of wind
ix. Contrast between long-distance migration and short-distance migration
x. Mysterious migration despite lack of teaching
14 Paragraph A
15 Paragraph B
16 Paragraph C
17 Paragraph D
18 Paragraph E
19 Paragraph F
20 Paragraph G
A. Birds have many unique design features that enable them to perform such amazing feats of endurance. They are equipped with lightweight, hollow bones, intricately designed feathers providing both lift and thrust for rapid flight, navigation systems superior to any that man has developed, and an ingenious heat conserving design that, among other things, concentrates all blood circulation beneath layers of warm, waterproof plumage, leaving them fit to face life in the harshest of climates. Their respiratory systems have to perform efficiently during sustained flights at altitude, so they have a system of extracting oxygen from their lungs that far exceeds that of any other animal. During the later stages of the summer breeding season, when food is plentiful, their bodies are able to accumulate considerable layers of fat, in order to provide sufficient energy for their long migratory flights.
B. The fundamental reason that birds migrate is to find adequate food during the winter months when it is in short supply. This particularly applies to birds that breed in the temperate and Arctic regions of the Northern Hemisphere, where food is abundant during the short growing season. Many species can tolerate cold temperatures if food is plentiful, but when food is not available they must migrate. However, intriguing questions remain.
C. One puzzling fact is that many birds journey much further than would be necessary just to find food and good weather. Nobody knows, for instance, why British swallows, which could presumably survive equally well if they spent the winter in equatorial Africa, instead fly several thousands of miles further to their preferred winter home in South Africa’s Cape Province. Another mystery involves the huge migrations performed by arctic terns and mudflat-feeding shorebirds that breed close to Polar Regions. In general, the further north a migrant species breeds, the further south it spends the winter. For arctic terns this necessitates an annual round trip of 25,000 miles. Yet, en route to their final destination in far-flung southern latitudes, all these individuals overfly other areas of seemingly suitable habitat spanning two hemispheres. While we may not fully understand birds’ reasons for going to particular places, we can marvel at their feats.
D. One of the greatest mysteries is how young birds know how to find the traditional wintering areas without parental guidance. Very few adults migrate with juveniles in tow, and youngsters may even have little or no inkling of their parents’ appearance. A familiar example is that of the cuckoo, which lays its eggs in another species’ nest and never encounters its young again. It is mind boggling to consider that, once raised by its host species, the young cuckoo makes it own way to ancestral wintering grounds in the tropics before returning single-handedly to northern Europe the next season to seek out a mate among its own kind. The obvious implication is that it inherits from its parents an inbuilt route map and direction-finding capability, as well as a mental image of what another cuckoo looks like. Yet nobody has the slightest idea as to how this is possible.
E. Mounting evidence has confirmed that birds use the positions of the sun and stars to obtain compass directions. They seem also to be able to detect the earth’s magnetic field, probably due to having minute crystals of magnetite in the region of their brains. However, true navigation also requires an awareness of position and time, especially when lost. Experiments have shown that after being taken thousands of miles over an unfamiliar landmass, birds are still capable of returning rapidly to nest sites. Such phenomenal powers are the product of computing a number of sophisticated cues, including an inborn map of the night sky and the pull of the earth’s magnetic field. How the birds use their ‘instruments’ remains unknown, but one thing is clear: they see the world with a superior sensory perception to ours. Most small birds migrate at night and take their direction from the position of the setting sun. However, as well as seeing the sun go down, they also seem to see the plane of polarized light caused by it, which calibrates their compass. Traveling at night provides other benefits. Daytime predators are avoided and the danger of dehydration due to flying for long periods in warm, sunlit skies is reduced. Furthermore, at night the air is generally cool and less turbulent and so conducive to sustained, stable flight.
F. Nevertheless, all journeys involve considerable risk, and part of the skill in arriving safely is setting off at the right time. This means accurate weather forecasting, and utilizing favorable winds. Birds are adept at both, and, in laboratory tests, some have been shown to detect the minute difference in barometric pressure between the floor and ceiling of a room. Often birds react to weather changes before there is any visible sign of them. Lapwings, which feed on grassland, flee west from the Netherlands to the British Isles, France and Spain at the onset of a cold snap. When the ground surface freezes the birds could starve. Yet they return to Holland ahead of a thaw, their arrival linked to a pressure change presaging an improvement in the weather.
G. ln one instance a Welsh Manx shearwater carried to America and released was back in its burrow on Skokholm Island, off the Pembrokeshire coast, one day before a letter announcing its release! Conversely, each autumn a small number of North American birds are blown across the Atlantic by fast-moving westerly tail winds. Not only do they arrive safely in Europe, but, based on ringing evidence, some make it back to North America the following spring, after probably spending the winter with European migrants in sunny African climes.
Questions 21-22 Choose TWO letters, A-E. Write the correct letters in your answer sheet Which TWO of the following statements are true of bird migration?
A. Birds often fly further than they need to.
B. Birds traveling in family groups are safe.
C. Birds flying at night need less water.
D. Birds have much sharper eye-sight than humans.
E. Only shorebirds are resistant to strong winds.
Question 23-26 Complete the sentences below using NO MORE THAN ONE WORD OR NUMBER from the passage. Write your answers in your answer sheet
23 It is a great mystery that young birds like cuckoos can find their wintering grounds without………….
24 Evidence shows birds can tell directions like a…………..by observing the sun and the stars.
25 One advantage for birds flying at night is that they can avoid contact with
26 Laboratory tests show that birds can detect weather without……………..signs.
The Ingenuity Gap (Passage No 3)
Ingenuity, as I define it here, consists not only of ideas for new technologies like computers or drought-resistant crops but, more fundamentally, of ideas for better institutions and social arrangements, like efficient markets and competent governments.
How much and what kinds of ingenuity a society requires depends on a range of factors, including the society’s goals and the circumstances within which it must achieve those goals—whether it has a young population or an aging one, an abundance of natural resources or a scarcity of them, an easy climate or a punishing one, whatever the case may be.
How much and what kinds of ingenuity a society supplies also depends on many factors, such as the nature of human inventiveness and understanding, the rewards an economy gives to the producers of useful knowledge, and the strength of political opposition to social and institutional reforms.
A good supply of the right kind of ingenuity is essential, but it isn’t, of course, enough by itself. We know that the creation of wealth, for example, depends not only on an adequate supply of useful ideas but also on the availability of other, more conventional factors of production, like capital and labor. Similarly, prosperity, stability and justice usually depend on the resolution, or at least the containment, of major political struggles over wealth and power. Yet within our economies ingenuity often supplants labor, and growth in the stock of physical plant is usually accompanied by growth in the stock of ingenuity. And in our political systems, we need great ingenuity to set up institutions that successfully manage struggles over wealth and power. Clearly, our economic and political processes are intimately entangled with the production and use of ingenuity.
The past century’s countless incremental changes in our societies around the planet, in our technologies and our interactions with our surrounding natural environments, have accumulated to create a qualitatively new world. Because these changes have accumulated slowly, it’s often hard for us to recognize how profound and sweeping they’ve been. They include far larger and denser populations; much higher per capita consumption of natural resources; and far better and more widely available technologies for the movement of people, materials, and especially information.
In combination, these changes have sharply increased the density, intensity, and pace of our interactions with each other; they have greatly increased the burden we place on our natural environment; and they have helped shift power from national and international institutions to individuals ind subgroups, such as political special interests and ethnic factions.
As a result, people in all walks of life—from our political and business leaders to all of us in our day-to-day—must cope with much more complex, urgent, and often unpredictable circumstances. The management of our relationship with this new world requires immense and ever-increasing amounts of social and technical ingenuity. As we strive to maintain or increase our prosperity and improve the quality of our lives, we must make far more sophisticated decisions, and in less time, than ever before.
When we enhance the performance of any system, from our cars to the planet’s network of financial institutions, we tend to make it more complex. Many of the natural systems critical to our well-being, like the global climate and the oceans, are extraordinarily complex to begin with. We often can’t predict or manage the behavior of complex systems with much precision, because they are often very sensitive to the smallest of changes and perturbations, and their behavior can flip from one mode to another suddenly and dramatically. In general, as the human-made and natural systems we depend upon become more complex, and as our demands on them increase, the institutions and technologies we use to manage them must become more complex too, which further boosts our need for ingenuity.
The good news, though, is that the last century’s stunning changes in our societies and technologies have not just increased our need for ingenuity; they have also produced a huge increase in its supply. The growth and urbanization of human populations have combined with astonishing new communication and transportation technologies to expand interactions among people and produce larger, more integrated, and more efficient markets. These changes have, in turn, vastly accelerated the generation and delivery of useful ideas.
But—and this is the critical “but”—we should not jump to the conclusion that the supply of ingenuity always increases in lockstep with our ingenuity requirement: while it’s true that necessity is often the mother of invention, we can’t always rely on the right kind of ingenuity appearing when and where we need it. In many cases, the complexity and speed of operation of today’s vital economic, social, and ecological systems exceed the human brain’s grasp. Very few of us have more than a rudimentary understanding of how these systems work. They remain fraught with countless “unknown unknowns,” which makes it hard to supply the ingenuity we need to solve problems associated with these systems.
In this book, I explore a wide range of other factors that will limit our ability to supply the ingenuity required in the coming century. For example, many people believe that new communication technologies strengthen democracy and will make it easier to find solutions to our societies’ collective problems, but the story is less clear than it seems. The crush of information in our everyday lives is shortening our attention span, limiting the time we have to reflect on critical matters of public policy, and making policy arguments more superficial.
Modern markets and science are an important part of the story of how we supply ingenuity. Markets are critically important, because they give entrepreneurs an incentive to produce knowledge. As for science, although it seems to face no theoretical limits, at least in the foreseeable future, practical constraints often slow its progress. The cost of scientific research tends to increase as it delves deeper into nature. And science’s rate of advance depends on the characteristic of the natural phenomena it investigates, simply because some phenomena are intrinsically harder to understand than others, so the production of useful new knowledge in these areas can be very slow. Consequently, there is often a critical time lag between the recognition between a problem and the delivery of sufficient ingenuity, in the form of technologies, to solve that problem. Progress in the social sciences is especially slow, for reasons we don’t yet understand; but we desperately need better social scientific knowledge to build the sophisticated institutions today’s world demands.
Questions 27-30 Complete each sentence with the appropriate answer, A, B, C, or D. Write the correct answer in boxes 27-30 on your answer sheet
27 The definition of ingenuity
28 The requirement for ingenuity
29 The creation of social wealth
30 The stability of society
A depends on many factors including climate.
B depends on the management and solution of disputes.
C is not only of technological advance, but more of institutional renovation.
D also depends on the availability of some traditional resources.
Questions 31-33 Choose the correct letter, A, B, C or D. Write your answers in boxes 31-33 on your answer sheet
31. What does the author say about the incremental change of the last 100 years? A It has become a hot scholastic discussion among environmentalists.
B Its significance is often not noticed.
C It has reshaped the natural environments we live in.
D It benefited a much larger population than ever.
32 The combination of changes has made life:
A easier B faster C slower D less sophisticated
33 What does the author say about the natural systems?
A New technologies are being developed to predict change with precision.
B Natural systems are often more sophisticated than other systems.
C Minor alterations may cause natural systems to change dramatically.
D Technological developments have rendered human being more independent of natural systems.
Questions 34-40 Do the following statements agree with the information given in Reading Passage 3?
In boxes 34-40 on your answer sheet, write
TRUE if the statement agrees with the information
FALSE if the statement contradicts the information
NOT GIVEN if there is no information on this
34 The demand for ingenuity has been growing during the past 100 years.
35 The ingenuity we have maybe inappropriate for solving problems at hand.
36 There are very few who can understand the complex systems of the present world.
37 More information will help us to make better decisions.
38 The next generation will blame the current government for their conduct.
39 Science tends to develop faster in certain areas than others.
40 Social science develops especially slowly because it is not as important as natural science.