IELTS Practice Tests: Academic Reading 3

Academic Reading 3
You should spend about 20 minutes on Questions 1-13 which are based on the Reading Passage below.

Endangered chocolate
A  The cacao tree, once native to the equatorial American forest, has some exotic traits for a plant. Slender and shrubby, the cacao has adapted to life close to the leaf littered forest floor. Its large leaves droop down. away from the sun. Cacao doesn’t flower, as most plants do at the tips of its outer and uppermost branches. Instead. its sweet white buds hang from the trunk and along a few Fat branches which form where leaves drop off. These tiny Flowers transform into pulp-filled pods almost the size of rugby balls. The low-hanging pods contain the bitter-tasting magical seeds.

B Somehow, more than 2,000 years ago. ancient humans in Mesoamerica discovered the secret of these beans. If you scoop them from the pod with their pulp. let them ferment and dry in the sun, then roast them over a gentle fire, something extraordinary happens: they become chocolaty. And if you then grind and press the beans, which are half-cocoa butter or more, you will obtain a rich crumbly. chestnut brown paste – chocolate at its most pure and simple.
C  The Maya and Aztecs revered this chocolate, which they Frothed up with water and spices to make bracing concoctions. It was edible treasure, offered up to their gods, used as money and hoarded like gold. Long after Spanish explorers introduced the beverage to Europe in the sixteenth century. chocolate retained an aura of aristocratic luxury. In 1753. the Swedish botanist Carolus Unnaeus gave the cacao tree genus the name Theobroma. which means ‘food of the gods’,
D In the last 200 years the bean has been thoroughly democratized – transformed from an elite drink into ubiquitous candy bars, cocoa powders and confections. Today chocolate is becoming more popular worldwide, with new markets opening up in Eastern Europe and Asia. This is both good news and bad because. Although farmers are producing record numbers of cacao bean, this is not enough, some researchers worry, to keep pace with global demand. Cacao is also facing some alarming problems.
E  Philippe Petithuguenin, head of the cacao program at the Centre For International Cooperation in Development-Oriented Agricultural Research (CiRAD) in France, recently addressed a seminar in the Dominican Republic. He displayed a map of the world revealing a narrow band within 180 north and south of the equator. where cacao grows. In the four centuries since the Spanish first happened upon cacao, it has been planted all around this hot humid tropical belt – from South America and the Caribbean to West Africa, east Asia, and New Guinea and Vanuatu in the Pacific.
F Today 70% of all chocolate beans come from West Africa and Central Africa. In many parts, growers practice so-called pioneer Farming. They strip patches of forest of all but the tallest canopy trees and then they put in cacao, using temporary plantings of banana to shade the cacao while it’s young. With luck, groves like this may produce annual yields of 50 to 60 pods per tree for 25 to 30 years. But eventually pests, pathogens and soil exhaustion take their toll and yields diminish. Then the growers move on and clear a new forest patch – unless farmers of other crops get there first. ‘You cannot keep cutting tropical forest, because the forest itself is endangered: said Petithuguenin. ‘World demand for chocolate increases by 3% a year on average. With a lack of land for new plantings in tropical forests, how do you meet that?’
G Many farmers have a more imminent worry: outrunning disease. Cacao, especially when grown in plantations, is at the mercy of many afflictions, mostly rotting diseases caused by various species of fungi which cover the pods in fungus or kill the trees. These fungi and other diseases spoil more than a quarter of the world’s yearly harvest and can devastate entire cacao-growing regions.
H One such disease, witches broom, devastated the cacao plantations in the Bahia region of Brazil. Brazil was the third largest producer of cacao beans but in the 1980s the yields fell by 75%. According to Petithuguenin, ‘if a truly devastating disease like witches broom reached West Africa (the world’s largest producer), it could be catastrophic.’ If another producer had the misfortune to falter now, the ripples would be felt the world over. In the United States, for example, imported cacao is the linchpin of an $8.6 billion domestic chocolate industry that in turn supports the nation’s dairy and nut industries; 20% of all dairy products in the US go into confectionery.
Today research is being carried out to try to address this problem by establishing disease resistant plants. However. even the best plants are useless if there isn’t anywhere to grow them. Typically, farmers who grow cacao get a pittance for their beans compared with the profits reaped by the rest of the chocolate business. Most are at the mercy of local middlemen who buy the beans then sell them for a much higher price to the chocolate manufacturers. If the situation is to improve for farmers, these people need to be removed from the process. But the economics of cacao is rapidly changing because of the diminishing supply of beans. Some companies have realized that they need to work more closely with the farmers to ensure that sustainable farming practices are used. They need to replant areas and create a buffer for the forest, to have ground cover, shrubs and small trees as well as the canopy trees. Then the ‘soil will be more robust and more productive. They also need to empower the farmers by guaranteeing them a higher price for their beans so that they will be encouraged to grow cacao and can maintain their way of life.

Questions 1-3
Choose the correct letter, A, B, C or D.
Write your answers next to Questions 1-3 below.
1 The flowers of the cacao plant appear
A at the end of its top branches.
B along all of its branches.
C mainly on its trunk.
D close to its leaves.
2 In Africa, banana trees are planted with the cacao plants in order to
A replace the largest trees.
B protect the new plants.
C provide an extra crop.
D help improve soil quality.
3 In paragraph H, what is the writer referring to when he says ‘the ripples would be felt the world over’?
A the impact a collapse in chocolate production could have on other industries 
B the possibility of disease spreading to other crops
C the effects of the economy on world chocolate growers
D the link between Brazilian growers and African growers

Questions 4-9
The Reading Passage has nine paragraphs labelled A-I. Which paragraph contains the following. Information?
Write the correct letter A-I next to Questions 4-9 below.
4   a list of the cacao growing areas
5   an example of how disease has affected one cacao growing region
6   details of an ancient chocolate drink
7   a brief summary of how the chocolate industry has changed in modern times
8   the typical lifespan and crop size of a cacao plantation
9   a reference to the scientific identification of the cacao plant

Questions 10-13
Complete the notes below.
Write NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS from the passage for each answer. Write your answers in spaces 10-13 below.
Ways of dealing with the plant’s problems
·         Need to find plants which are not affected by 10__________.  .
·         Chocolate producers need to work directly with farmers instead of 11 __________..
·         Need to encourage farmers to use 12 __________. methods to grow cacao plants
·         Make sure farmers receive some of the 13 __________. made by the chocolate industry

Answer: 1 C    2B    3A  4E   5H   6 C   7D   8 F   9C
10 disease   11 (local) middlemen 12 sustainable  13 profits


IELTS Practice Test: Academic Reading Section 2

IELTS Academic Reading Section 2
You should spend about 20 minutes on Questions 1-13 which are based on the Reading Passage below.

Jumping spiders
Peter Aldhons examines how Portia spiders catch their prey
A  For a stalking predator, the element of surprise is crucial. And for jumping spiders that sneak onto other spiders’ webs to prey on their owners, it can be the difference between having lunch and becoming it. Now zoologists have discovered the secret of these spiders’ tactics: creeping forward when their prey’s web is vibrating.

B The fifteen known species of Portia jumping spiders are relatively small, with adults being about two centimeters long (that’s smaller than the cap on most pens). They habitually stay in the webs of other spiders, and in an area of these webs that is as out-of-the-way as possible. Portia spiders live mostly in tropical forests, where the climate is hot and humid. They hunt a range of other spiders, some of which could easily turn the tables on them. ‘They will attack something about twice their own size if they are really hungry,’ says Stimson Wilcox of Binghamton University in New York State. Wilcox and his colleague, Kristen Gentile of the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand, wanted to find out how Portia spiders keep the upper hand.
C All jumping spiders have large eyes that look like binocular lenses, and they function pretty much the same way. Most jumping spiders locate their prey visually, and then jump and capture from one centimeter to over ten centimeters away. Only a few species of jumping spiders invade the webs of other spiders, and the Portia spider is among them. Jumping spiders, including Portia spiders, prey on insects and other arthropods by stalking. Sometimes the spiders lure their victims by vibrating the web to mimic the struggles of a trapped insect. But many web-weaving spiders appear to be wise to these tricks, so stalking is often a better strategy. Sometimes, the researchers found, Portia spiders take advantage of the vibrations created in the web by a gentle breeze. But if necessary, they will make their own vibrations.
D The researchers allowed various prey spiders to spin webs in the laboratory and then introduced Portia spiders. To simulate the shaking effect of a breeze the zoologists used either a model aircraft propeller or attached a tiny magnet to the centre of the web which could be vibrated by applying a varying electrical field. The researchers noticed that the stalking Portia spiders moved more when the webs were shaking than when they were stilt and they were more likely to capture their prey during tests in which the webs were penorncally shaken than in those where the webs were undisturbed. If the spiders were placed onto unoccupied webs, they would make no attempt to change their movements.
E It is the Portia spider’s tactic of making its victims’ webs shake that has most intrigued the researchers, They noticed that the spiders would sometimes shake their quarry’s web violently, then creep forwards up to five millimeters before the vibrations died down. ‘They’d make a big pluck with one of their hind legs,’ says Wilcox. These twangs were much more powerful than the gentler vibrations Portia spiders use to mimic a trapped insect, and the researchers were initially surprised that the prey spiders did not respond to them in any way. But they have since discovered that the violent twanging produces a pattern of vibrations that match those caused by a twig falling onto the web.
F Other predators make use of natural ‘smokescreens’ or disguises to hide from their prey: lions hunting at night, for example, move in on their prey when clouds obscure the moon. ‘But this is the first example of an animal making its own smokescreen that we know of,’ says Wilcox. ‘Portia spiders are clearly intelligent and they often learn from their prey as they are trying to capture it. They do this by making different signals on the web of their prey until the prey spider makes a movement. In general, Portia spiders adjust their stalking strategy according to their prey and what the prey is doing. Thus, Portia spiders use trial-and-error learning in stalking. Sometimes they will even take an indirect route to reach a prey spider they can see from a distance. This can sometimes take one to two hours following a predetermined route. When it does this, the Portia spider is actually solving problems and thinking ahead about its actions.’

Questions 1-9
The Reading Passage has six paragraphs labelled A-F. Which paragraph contains the following information?
Write the correct letter A-F next to Questions 1-9.
NB You may use any letter more than once.
1.       the reaction of the Portia spider’s prey to strong web vibrations
2.      a description of how the researchers set up their experiment
3.      a comparison between Portia spiders and another animal species
4.      an explanation of how the researchers mimicked natural conditions
5.      a comparison between Portia spiders and their prey
6.      the reason why concealment is important to Portia spiders
7.      a description of the Portia spider’s habitat
8.      the number of species of Portia spiders
9.      an example of the Portia spider’s cleverness
Questions 10-13
Choose the correct letter, A, B, C or D.
10 In their laboratory experiments, the researchers found that the Portia spiders moved most when the web was
A vibrating.
B motionless.
C undisturbed.
D unoccupied.
11 What discovery did the researchers make about Portia spiders?
A  They make very strong vibrations with one leg.
B  They move 5 mm at a time on a still web.
C  They move slowly when vibrations stop.
D  They use energetic vibrations to mimic a trapped insect.
12 Portia spiders are the only known animal to
A use the weather to disguise themselves.
B mimic other prey-eating animals.
C create their own smokescreen.
D stalk using ‘trial and error’.
13 The Portia spider demonstrates ‘thinking ahead’ when it
A chooses prey that is a short distance away.
B takes a longer route to reach its prey.
C reaches its prey in a short time.
D solves the problem of locating its prey.
Answers: 1 – 9
1 E    2 D    3 F    4D    5B    6A    7 B    8B    9 F
Multiple choice: 10 A    11 A    12 C    13D

IELTS Practice Test: Academic Reading 1

IELTS Academic Reading
Questions 1-12
Read the passage below and answer Questions 1-12.

The history of the biro
A One chilly autumn morning in 1945, five thousand shoppers crowded the pavements outside Gimbels Department Store in New York City. The day before, Gimbels had taken out a full-page newspaper advertisement in the New York Times, announcing the sale of the first ballpoint pens in the United States. The new writing instrument was heralded as “fantastic … miraculous … guaranteed to write for two years without refilling!” Within six hours, Gimbels had sold its entire stock of ten thousand ballpoints at $12.50 each – approximately $130 at today’s prices.

B In fact this ‘new’ pen was not new after all, and was just the latest development in a long search for the best way to deliver ink to paper. In 1884 Lewis Waterman had patented the fountain pen, giving him the sole rights to manufacture it. This marked a significant leap forward in writing technology, but fountain pens soon became notorious for leaking. In 1888, a leather tanner named John Loud devised and patented the first “rolling-pointed marker pen” for marking leather. Loud’s design contained a reservoir of ink in a cartridge and a rotating ball point that was constantly bathed on one side with ink.  Loud’s pen was never manufactured, however, and over the next five decades, 350 additional patents were issued for similar ball-type pens, though none advanced beyond the design stage. Each had their own faults, but the major difficulty was the ink: if the ink was thin, the pens leaked, and if it was too thick, they clogged. Depending on the climate or air temperature, sometimes the pens would do both.
C Almost fifty years later, Ladislas and Georg Biro, two Hungarian brothers, came up with a solution to this problem. In 1935 Ladislas Biro was working as a journalist, editing a small newspaper. He found himself becoming more and more frustrated by the amount of time he wasted filling fountain pens with ink and cleaning up ink smudges. What’s more, the sharp tip of his fountain pen often scratched or tore through the thin newsprint paper. Ladislas and Georg (a chemist) set about making models of new pen designs and creating better inks to use in them. Ladislas had observed that the type of ink used in newspaper printing dried rapidly, leaving the paper dry and smudge-free. He was determined to construct a pen using the same type of ink. However, the thicker ink would not flow from a regular pen nib so he had to develop a new type of point. Biro came up with the idea of fitting his pen with a tiny ball bearing in its tip. As the pen moved along the paper, the ball bearing rotated and picked up ink from the ink cartridge which it delivered to the paper.
D The first Biro pen, like the designs that had gone before it. relied on gravity for the ink to flow to the ball bearing at the tip. This meant that the pens only worked when they were held straight up, and even then the ink flow was sometimes too heavy, leaving big smudges of ink on the paper. The Biro brothers had a rethink and eventually devised a new design, which relied on capillary action rather than gravity to feed the ink. This meant that the ink could flow more smoothly to the tip and the pen could be held at an angle rather than straight up. In 1938, as World War II broke out, the Biro brothers fled to Argentina, where they applied for a patent for their pen and established their first factory.
E  The Biros’ pen soon came to the attention of American fighter pilots, who needed a new kind of pen to use at high altitudes. Apparently, it was ideal for pilots as it did not leak like the fountain pen and did not have to be refilled frequently. The United States Department of War contacted several American companies, asking them to manufacture a similar writing instrument in the U.S. Thus fortune smiled on the Biro brothers in May 1945, when the American company ‘Eversharp’ paid them $500,000 for the exclusive manufacturing and marketing rights of the Biro ballpoint for the North American market. Eversharp were slow to put their pen into production, however, and this delay ultimately cost them their competitive advantage.
F Meanwhile, in June 1945 an American named Milton Reynolds stumbled upon the Biro pen while on vacation in Buenos Aires. Immediately seeing its commercial potential, he bought several pens and returned to Chicago, where he discovered that loud’s original 1888 patent had long since expired. This meant that the ballpoint was now in the public domain, and he therefore wasted no time making a copy based on the Biro design. Establishing his pen company with just $26,000, Reynolds quickly set up a factory with 300 workers who began production on 6th October 1945, stamping out pens from precious scraps of aluminum that hadn’t been used during the war for military equipment or weapons. Just 23 days later, it was Reynolds’ ballpoint pen that caused the stampede at Gimbels Department Store. Following the ballpoint’s debut in New York City, Eversharp challenged Reynolds in the law courts, but lost the case because the Biro brothers had failed to secure a U.S. patent on their invention.

Questions 1-6

The reading passage has six paragraphs A-F.

Choose the most suitable heading for each paragraph from the list of headings below. Write the correct number i-ix in the space provided. 

List of Headings
i Fountain pens are history
ii Fame at last for the Biro brothers •
iii A holiday helps bring the biro to America
iv A second design and a new country
v War halts progress
vi Dissatisfaction leads to a new invention
vii Big claims bring big crowds
viii A government request brings a change of ownership
ix Many patents and many problems
1 Paragraph A .
2 Paragraph B .
3 Paragraph C .
4 Paragraph D .
5 Paragraph E .
6 Paragraph F .

Questions 7-9
Choose the correct answer, A, B, C or D.
7  The problem with the ballpoint pens invented between 1888 and 1935 was that
A  they cost a great deal of money to manufacture.
B  the technology to manufacture them did not exist.
C  they could not write on ordinary paper:
D  they were affected by weather conditions.
8 The design of the Biro brothers’ first pen
A was similar to previous pens.
B was based on capillary action,
C worked with heavy or light inks.
D worked when slanted slightly.
9  Milton Reynolds was able to copy the Biro brothers’ design because
A  the Biro brothers’ original patent was out of date.
B  it was legal to copy other designs at the time.
C  they did not have a patent for North America.

D  the Biro brothers gave him permission.

Questions 10-12
Answer the questions below using NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS AND/OR A NUMBER for each answer.
Write your answers in the spaces provided.
10 What material was the first ballpoint pen designed to write on?___________
11 Where did the Biro brothers open their first factory?___________
12 In what year did the first American biro factory begin production?___________

Answers1 vii    2ix    3vi    4 iv    5viii   6 iii
 7D   8A   9 C 10 leather  11 (in) Argentina 12 (in) 1945

IELTS Practice Test: Academic Reading 1

IELTS Academic Reading
You should spend about 20 minutes on Questions 1-14 which are based on the Reading Passage below.

Dressed to dazzle
As high-tech materials invade high-street fashion, prepare for clothes that are cooler than silk and warmer than wool, keep insects at arm’s length, and emit many pinpricks of coloured light.
The convergence of fashion and high technology is leading to new kinds of fibres, fabrics and coatings that are imbuing clothing with equally wondrous powers. Corpe Nove, an Italian fashion company, has made a prototype shirt that shortens its sleeves when room temperature rises and can be ironed with a hairdryer. And at Nexia Biotechnologies, a Canadian firm, scientists have caused a stir by manufacturing spider silk from the milk of genetically engineered goats. Not surprisingly, some industry analysts think high-tech materials may soon influence fashion more profoundly than any individual designer.

A big impact is already being made at the molecular level. Nano-Tex, a subsidiary of American textiles maker Burlington, markets a portfolio of nanotechnologies that can make fabrics more durable, comfortable, wrinkle-free and stain-resistant. The notion of this technology posing a threat to the future of the clothing industry clearly does not worry popular fashion outlets such as Gap, Levi Strauss and Lands’ End, all of which employ Nano-Tex’s products. Meanwhile, Schoeller Textil in Germany, whose clients include famous designers Donna Karan and Polo Ralph Lauren, uses nanotechnology to create fabrics that can store or release heat.
Sensory Perception Technologies (Spn embodies an entirely different application of nanotechnology. Created in 2003 by Quest International, a flavour and fragrance company, and Woolmark, a wool textile organisation, SPT is a new technique of embedding chemicals into fabric. Though not the first of this type, SPT’s durability (evidently the microcapsule containing the chemicals can survive up to 30 washes) suggests an interesting future. Designers could incorporate signature scents into their collections. Sportswear could be impregnated with anti-perspirant. Hayfever sufferers might find relief by pulling on a T-shirt, and so on.
The loudest buzz now surrounds polylactic acid (PLA) fibres – and, in particular, one brand-named Ingeo. Developed by Cargill Dow, it is the first man-made fibre derived from a 100% annually renewable resource. This is currently maize (corn), though in theory any fermentable plant material, even potato peelings, can be used. In performance terms, the attraction for the 30-plus clothes makers signed up to use Ingeo lies in its superiority over polyester (which it was designed to replace).
As Philippa Watkins, a textiles specialist, notes, Ingeo is not a visual trend. Unlike nanotechnology, which promises to ‘transform what clothes can do, Ingeo’s impact on fashion will derive instead from its emphasis on using natural sustainable resources. Could wearing synthetic fabrics made from polluting and non-renewable fossil fuels become as uncool as slipping on a coat made from animal fur? Consumers should expect a much wider choice of ‘green’ fabrics. Alongside PLA fibres, firms are investigating plants such as bamboo, seaweed, nettles and banana stalks as raw materials for textiles. Soya bean fibre is also gaining ground. Harvested in China and spun in Europe, the fabric is a better absorber and ventilator than silk, and retains heat better than wool.
Elsewhere, fashion houses – among them Ermenegildo Zegna, Paul Smith and DKNY – are combining fashion with electronics. Clunky earlier attempts Involved attaching electronic components to the fabrics after the normal weaving process. But companies such as SOFTswitch have developed electro-conductive fabrics that behave in similar ways to conventional textiles.
Could electronic garments one day change colour or pattern? A hint of what could be achieved is offered by Luminex, a joint venture between Stabio Textile and Caen. Made of woven optical fibres and powered by a small battery, Luminex fabric emits thousands of pinpricks of light, the colour of which can be varied. Costumes made of the fabric wowed audiences at a production of the opera Aida in Washington, DC, last year.
Yet this ultimate of ambitions has remained elusive in daily fashion, largely because electronic textiles capable of such wizardry are still too fragile to wear. Margaret Orth, whose firm International Fashion Machines makes a colour-changing fabric, believes the capability is a decade or two away. Accessories with this chameleon-like capacity – for instance, a handbag that alters its colour – are more likely to appear first.

Questions 1-6
Look at the following list of companies (1-6) and the list of new materials below. Match each company with the correct material.
Write the correct letter A-H next to the companies 1-6. NB You may use any answer more than once. 

1 Corpe Nove
2 Nexia Biotechnologies
3 Nano-Tex
4 Schoeller Textil
5 Quest International and Wool mark
6 Cargill Dow
New materials
A material that can make you warmer or cooler B clothing with perfume
   or medication added
C material that rarely needs washing
D clothes that can change according to external heat levels E material
    made from banana stalks
F material that is environmentally-friendly
G fibres similar to those found in nature
H clothes that can light up in the dark
Questions 7-14
Complete the summary below.
Write NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS from the Reading Passage for each answer.

Major changes in fabrics
Using plants
Nanotechnology will bring changes we can see, while the brand called 7 _____________will help the environment. Fibre made from the 8 ___________plant has better qualities than silk and wool.
In first attempts to use electronics, companies started with a material made by a standard 9 ____________method and then they fixed 10 ______________to the material.
Luminex fabric
·         needs a 11 ___________to make it work.
·         has already been used to make stage                12. _________________________
·         is not suitable for everyday wear because it is too 13 ______________________.
The first products that can change colour are likely to be 14. _____________________
1 D    2G    3 C    4A    5 B    6F 7  Ingeo   8 soya bean   9 weaving  10 electronic components   11 battery  12 costumes   13 fragile   14 accessories/ handbags

IELTS Practice Tests: Academic Reading 3

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

How consumers decide
Professor John Maule from the University of Leeds describes new research into the way that consumers choose a product.
Understanding consumers
Consumers are creatures of habit: they buy the same products time and time again, and such is their familiarity with big brands, and the colours and logos that represent them, that they can register a brand they like with barely any conscious thought process. The packaging of consumer products is therefore a crucial vehicle for delivering the brand and the product into our shopping baskets.

Having said this, understanding how consumers make decisions, and the crucial role of packaging in this process, has been a neglected area of research so far. This is surprising given that organisations invest huge amounts of money in developing packaging that they believe is effective – especially at the retail level. Our Centre for Decision Research at Leeds University‘s Business School, in collaboration with Faraday Packaging, is now undertaking work in this area. It has already led to some important findings that challenge the ways in which organisations think about consumer choice.
The research has focused on two fundamental types of thinking. On the one hand, there’s ‘heuristic processing’, which involves very shallow thought and is based on very simple rules: 1) buy what you recognize, 2) choose what you did last time, or 3) choose what a trusted source suggests. This requires comparatively little effort, and involves looking at – and thinking about – only a small amount of the product information and packaging. One can do this with little or no conscious thought.
On the other hand, ‘systematic processing’ involves much deeper levels of thought. When people choose goods in this way, they engage in quite detailed analytical thinking – taking account of the product information, including its price, its perceived quality and so on. This form of thinking, which is both analytical and conscious, involves much more mental effort.
The role of packaging is likely to be very different for each of these types of decision making. Under heuristic processing, for example, consumers may simply need to be able to distinguish the pack from those of competitors since they are choosing on the basis of what they usually do. Under these circumstances, the simple perceptual features of the pack may be critical – so that we can quickly discriminate what we choose from the other products on offer. Under systematic processing, however, product-related information may be more important, so the pack has to provide this in an easily identifiable form.
Comparing competition
Consumers will want to be able to compare the product with its competitors, so that they can determine which option is better for them. A crucial role of packaging in this situation is to communicate the characteristics of the product, highlighting its advantages over possible competitors.
So, when are people likely to use a particular type of thinking? First, we know that people are cognitive misers; in other words they are economical with their thinking because it requires some effort from them. Essentially, people only engage in effort-demanding systematic processing when the situation justifies it, for example when they are not tired or distracted and when the purchase is important to them.
Second, people have an upper limit to the amount of information they can absorb. If we present too much, therefore, they will become confused. This, in turn, is likely to lead them to disengage and choose something else.
Third, people often lack the knowledge or experience needed, so will not be able to deal with things they do not already understand, such as the ingredients of food products, for example.
And fourth, people vary in the extent to which they enjoy thinking. Our research has differentiated between people with a high need for thinking – who routinely engage in analytical thinking – and those low in the need for cognition, who prefer to use very simple forms of thinking.
Effectiveness varies
This work has an important impact on packaging in that what makes packaging effective is likely to vary according to the type of processing strategy that consumers use when choosing between products. You need to understand how consumers are selecting your products if you are to develop packaging that is relevant. Furthermore, testing the effectiveness of your packaging can be ineffective if the methods you are employing concern one form of thinking (e.g. a focus group involving analytical thinking) but your consumers are purchasing in the other mode (i.e. the heuristic, shallow form of thinking).
For the packaging industry, it is important that retailers identify their key goals. Sustaining a consumer’s commitment to a product may involve packaging that is distinctive at the heuristic level (if the consumers can recognize the product they will buy it) but without encouraging consumers to engage in systematic processing (prompting deeper level thinking that would include making comparisons with other products).
Conversely, getting consumers to change brands may involve developing packaging that includes information that does stimulate systematic processing and thus encourages consumers to challenge their usual choice of product. Our work is investigating these issues, and the implications they have for developing effective packaging.

Questions 1-6

Do the following statements agree with the information given in the Reading Passage? Next to Questions 1-6 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  Little research has been done on the link
    between packaging and consumers
    choosing a product.
2  A person who buys what another person
    recommends is using heuristic thinking.
3  Heuristic processing requires more
    energy than systematic processing.
4  The concept of heuristic processing was
    thought up by Dr Maule’s team.
5  A consumer who considers how much a
    product costs is using systematic
6  For heuristic processing, packaging  
     must be similar to other products.

Questions 7–8

Choose the correct answer A, B, C or D.

7  When trying to determine how effective
    packaging is, testing can be made
    ‘ineffective’ if

A you rely upon a very narrow focus group.
B your consumers use only heuristic
C the chosen consumers use only shallow
D your tests do not match the consumers’
    thinking type.

8 If a retailer wants consumers to change brands their packaging needs to be

A informative.
B distinctive.
C familiar.

D colourful. 

Questions 9-13
Complete the summary below.
Write NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS for each answer. Write your answers next to Questions 9-13 below.
Comparing competition
For consumers who want to compare products it is important that your packaging stresses the 9 __________. of your product. We know that people only use systematic processing if the 10 __________. makes it necessary or desirable. We also know that too much 11 __________. could make consumers choose another product. Furthermore, consumers may not fully understand details such as the 12__________ of a product. While some people like using systematic processing, others like to think in a 13 __________way.
Answer: 1 True  2 True  3 False  4 Not given 
5 True  6 False  7D   8A 9 advantages / characteristics 10 situation 11 information   12 Ingredients  13 Simple

IELTS Practice Tests: Academic Reading 2

IELTS Academic Reading
You should spend about 20 minutes on Questions 1-12 which are based on the Reading Passage below. 

Practical intelligence lends a hand
Dr Rajendra Persaud explains how practical intelligence is linked to success.
This year, record numbers of high school students obtainedtop grades in their final exams, yet employers complain that young people still lack the basic skills to succeed at work. The only explanation offered is that exams must be getting easier. But the real answer could lie in a study just published by Professor Robert Sternberg, an eminent psychologist at Yale University in the USA and the world’s leading expert on intelligence. His research reveals the existence of a totally new variety: practical intelligence.

Professor Sternberg’s astonishing finding is that practical intelligence, which predicts success in real life, has an inverse relationship with academic intelligence. In other words, the more practically intelligent you are, the less likely you are to succeed at school or university. Similarly, the more paper qualifications you hold and the higher your grades, the less able you are to cope with problems of everyday life and the lower your score in practical intelligence.
Many people who are clearly successful in their place of work do badly in standard 10 (academic intelligence) tests. Entrepreneurs and those who have built large businesses from scratch are frequently discovered to be high school or college drop-outs. 10 as a concept is more than 100 years old. It was supposed to explain why some people excelled at a wide variety of intellectual tasks. But IQ ran into trouble when it became apparent that some high scorers failed to achieve in real life what was predicted by their tests.
Emotional intelligence (EQ), which emerged a decade ago, was supposed to explain this deficit. It suggested that to succeed in real life, people needed both emotional as well as intellectual skills. EO includes the abilities to motivate yourself and persist in the face of frustrations; to control impulses and delay gratification; to regulate moods and keep distress from swamping the ability to think; and to understand and empathize with others. While social or emotional intelligence was a useful concept in explaining many of the real-world deficiencies of super intelligent people, it did not go any further than the 10 test in measuring success in real life. Again, some of the most successful people in the business world were obviously lacking in social charm.
Not all the real-life difficulties we face are solvable-with just good social skills – and good social acumen in one situation may not translate to another. The crucial problem with academic and emotional intelligence scores is that they are both poor predictors of success in real life. For example, research has shown that IQ tests predict only between 4% and 25% of success in life, such as job performance.
Professor Sternberg’s group at Yale began from a very different position to traditional researchers into intelligence. Instead of asking what intelligence was and investigating whether it predicted success in life, Professor Sternberg asked what distinguished people who were thriving from those that were not. Instead of measuring this form of intelligence with mathematical or verbal tests, practical intelligence is scored by answers to real-life dilemmas such as: ‘If you were travelling by car and got stranded on a motorway during a blizzard, what would you do?’ An important contrast between these questions is that in academic tests there is usually only one answer, whereas in practical intelligence tests – as in real life – there are several different solutions to the problem.
The Yale group found that most of the really useful knowledge which successful people have acquired is gained during everyday activities – but typically without conscious awareness. Although successful people’s behaviour reflects the fact that they have this knowledge. high achievers are often unable to articulate or define what they know. This partly explains why practical intelligence has been so difficult to identify.
Professor Sternberg found that the best way to reach practical intelligence is to ask successful people to relate examples of crucial incidents at work where they solved problems demonstrating skills they had learnt while doing their jobs. It would appear that one of the best ways of improving your practical intelligence is to observe master practitioners at work and, in particular, to focus on the skills they have acquired while doing the job. Oddly enough, this is the basis of traditional apprentice training. Historically, the junior doctor learnt by observing the consultant surgeon at work and the junior lawyer by assisting the senior barrister.
Another area where practical intelligence appears to resolve a previously unexplained paradox is that performance in academic tests usually declines after formal education ends. Yet most older adults contend that their ability to solve practical problems increases over the years. The key implication for organizations and companies is that practical intelligence may not be detectable by conventional auditing and performance measuring procedures. Training new or less capable employees to become more practically intelligent will involve learning from the genuinely practically intelligent rather than from training manuals or courses.
Perhaps the biggest challenge is in recruitment, as these new studies strongly suggest that paper qualifications are unlikely to be helpful in predicting who will be best at solving your company’s problems. Professor Sternberg’s research suggests that we should start looking at companies in a completely different way – and see them as places where a huge number of problems are being solved all the time but where it may take new eyes to see the practical intelligence in action.

Questions 1-5
Choose the correct answer, A, B, C or D.
1 Professor Sternberg’s study showed that
A  qualifications are a good indicator of success at work.
B  education can help people cope with real-life problems.
C  intelligent people do not always achieve well at school.
D  high grades can indicate a lack of practical intelligence.
2 What is the ‘deficit’ referred to in the fourth paragraph?
A People with high IQ scores could not score well in EO tests.
B EO tests were unable to predict success at work.
C High 10 scores did not always lead to personal success.
D People with high EO scores could not cope with real life.
3 Professor Sternberg’s research differed from previous studies because
A he used verbal testing instead of mathematics.
B he began by establishing a definition of intelligence.
C he analyzed whether intelligence could predict success in real life.
D he wanted to find out what was different about successful people.
4 Part of the reason why practical intelligence had not been identified before Professor Sternberg’s study is that
A the behaviour of successful people had never been studied.
B successful people are too busy with their everyday lives.
C successful people cannot put their knowledge into words.
D successful people are unaware of their own abilities.
5 In order to increase the practical intelligence of employees, companies need to
A adopt an apprentice-style system.
B organise special courses.
C devise better training manuals.
D carry out an audit on all employees.

Questions 6-12
Classify the following characteristics as belonging to
A academic intelligence (10) tests
B emotional intelligence (EO) tests
C practical intelligence tests
Write the correct letter A, B or C, next to Questions 6-12 below.
6 measures skills which are likely to improve with age
7  assesses people’s social skills
8  measures the ability to deal with real-life difficulties
9  the oldest of the three tests
10 high scorers learn from their actions
11 high scorers are more likely to stay calm in difficult situations 12 questions have more than one 
     possible answer

Answers1D    2C    3D    4 C    5 A  6 C   7 B    8 C    9A    10 C    11 B   12 C

IELTS Practice Test: Academic Reading 3

Academic Reading
You should spend about 20 minutes on Questions 1-12 which are based on the Reading Passage below. 

Experience versus speed
Certain mental functions slow down with age, but the brain compensates in ways that can keep seniors as sharp as youngsters.
Jake, aged 16, has a terrific relationship with his grandmother Rita, who is 70. They live close by, and they even take a Spanish class together twice a week at a local college. After class they sometimes stop at a cafe for a snack. On one occasion, Rita tells Jake, ‘I think it’s great how fast you pick up new grammar. It takes me a lot longer.’ Jake replies, ‘Yeah, but you don’t seem to make as many silly mistakes on the quizzes as I do. How do you do that?’

In that moment, Rita and Jake stumbled across an interesting set of differences between older and younger minds. Popular psychology says that as people age their brains ‘slow down’. The implication, of course, is that elderly men and women are not as mentally agile as middle-aged adults or even teenagers. However, although certain brain functions such as perception and reaction time do indeed take longer, that slowing down does not necessarily undermine mental sharpness. Indeed, evidence shows that older people are just as mentally fit as younger people because their brains compensate for some kinds of declines in creative ways that young minds do not exploit.
Just as people’s bodies age at different rates, so do their minds. As adults advance in age, the perception of sights, sounds and smells takes a bit longer, and laying down new information into memory becomes more difficult. The ability to retrieve memories also quickly slides and it is sometimes harder to concentrate and maintain attention.
On the other hand, the ageing brain can create significant benefits by tapping into its extensive hoard of accumulated knowledge and experience. The biggest trick that older brains employ is to use both hemispheres simultaneously to handle tasks for which younger brains rely predominantly on one side. Electronic images taken by cognitive scientists at the University of Michigan, for example, have demonstrated that even when doing basic recognition or memorization exercises, seniors exploit the left and right side of the brain more extensively than men and women who are decades younger. Drawing on both sides of the brain gives them a tactical edge, even if the speed of each hemisphere’s process is slower.
In another experiment, Michael Falkenstein of the University of Dortmund in Germany found that when elders were presented with new computer exercises they paused longer before reacting and took longer to complete the tasks, yet they made 50% fewer errors, probably because of their more deliberate pace.
One analogy for these results might be the question of who can type a paragraph ‘better’: a I6-year-old who glides along at 60 words per minute but has to double back to correct a number of mistakes or a 70-year-old who strikes keys at only 40 words per minute but spends less time fixing errors? In the end, if ‘better’ is defined as completing a clean paragraph. both people may end up taking the same amount of time.
Computerized tests support the notion that accuracy can offset speed. In one so-called distraction exercise, subjects were told to look at a screen, wait for an arrow that pointed in a certain direction to appear, and then use a mouse to click on the arrow as soon as it appeared on the screen. Just before the correct symbol appeared, however, the computer displayed numerous other arrows aimed in various other directions. Although younger subjects cut through the confusion faster when the correct arrow suddenly popped up, they more frequently clicked on incorrect arrows in their haste.
Older test takers are equally capable of other tasks that do not depend on speed, such as language comprehension and processing. In these cases, however. the elders utilize the brain’s available resources in a different way. Neurologists at Northwest University came to this conclusion after analyzing 50 people ranging from age 23 to 78. The subjects had to lie down in a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine and concentrate on two different lists of printed words posted side by side in front of them. By looking at the lists, they were to find pairs of words that were similar in either meaning or spelling.
The eldest participants did just as well on the tests as the youngest did, and yet the MRI scans indicated that in the elders’ brains, the areas which are responsible for language recognition and interpretation were much less active. The researchers did find that the older people had more activity in brain regions responsible for attentiveness. Darren Gleitman, who headed the study, concluded that older brains solved the problems just as effectively but by different means.

Questions 1-3
Choose the correct answer A, B, C or D.
1 The conversation between Jake and Rita  
   is used to give an example of
A the way we learn languages.
B the changes that occur in our brains over time.
E the fact that it is easier to learn a language at a young age.
D the importance of young and old people doing things together.
2 In paragraph six, what point is the analogy used to illustrate?
A Working faster is better than working slower.
B Accuracy is less important than speed.
C Accuracy can improve over time.
D Working faster does not always save time.
3 In the computerized distraction exercises, the subjects had to
A react to a particular symbol on the screen.
B type a text as quickly as possible.
C move an arrow in different directions around the screen.
D click on every arrow that appeared on the screen. 

Questions 4-7
Complete each sentence with the correct ending A-F.
Write the correct letter A-F next to Questions 4-7 below.
4 According to popular psychology
5 Researchers at the University of Michigan showed that
6 Michael Falkenstein discovered that
7 Scientists at Northwest University concluded that

A the older we get the harder it is to concentrate for any length of time.
B seniors take longer to complete tasks but with greater accuracy.
C old people use both parts of their brain more than young people.
D older people use their brains differently but achieve the same result.
E the speed of our brain decreases with age.
F older people do not cope well with new technology. 
Questions 8-12
Complete the summary below.
Choose NO MORE THAN ONE WORD from the passage for each answer. Write your answers in spaces 8-12 below.
People’s bodies and 8 __________.   grow older at varying stages. As we age our senses take longer to process information and our aptitude for recalling 9 __________.   also decreases.
However, older people’s brains do have several advantages. Firstly, they can call upon both the 10 __________.   and 11 __________.   which is already stored in their brain.
Secondly, although the 12__________.    of each side of their brain is reduced, they are able to use both sides at once.

1 B   2 D   3 A 4 E   5 C    6 B    7 D
8 minds   9 memories  10 and 11 IN EITHER ORDER: knowledge, experience 12 speed