IELTS Reading Practice Test 17. Answers are given at the end of the test.
The economic importance of coral reefs
A lot of people around the world are dependent, or partly dependent, on coral reefs for their livelihoods. They often live adjacent to the reef, and their livelihood revolves around the direct extraction, processing and sale of reef resources such as shell fish and seaweeds. In addition, their homes are sheltered by the reef from wave action.
Reef flats and shallow reef lagoons are accessible on foot, without the need for a boat, and so allow women, children and the elderly to engage directly in manual harvesting, or ‘reef-gleaning’. This is a significant factor distinguishing reef-based fisheries from near-shore sea fisheries. Near-shore fisheries are typically the domain of adult males, in particular where they involve the use of boats, with women and children restricted mainly to shore-based activities. However, in a coral-reef fishery the physical accessibility of the reef opens up opportunities for direct participation by women, and consequently increases their independence and the importance of their role in the community. It also provides a place for children to play, and to acquire important skills and knowledge for later in life. For example, in the South West Island of Tobi, in the Pacific Ocean, young boys use simple hand lines with a loop and bait at the end to develop the art of fishing on the reef. Similarly, in the Surin Islands of Thailand, young Moken boys spend much of their time playing, swimming and diving in shallow reef lagoons, and in doing so build crucial skills for their future daily subsistence.
Secondary occupations, such as fish processing and marketing activities, are often dominated by women, and offer an important survival strategy for households with access to few other physical assets (such as boats and gear), for elderly women, widows, or the wives of infirm men. On Ulithi Atoll in the western Pacific, women have a distinct role and rights in the distribution of fish catches. This is because the canoes, made from mahogany logs from nearby Yap Island, are obtained through the exchange of cloth made by the women of Ulithi. Small-scale reef fisheries support the involvement of local women traders and their involvement can give them greater control over the household income, and in negotiating for loans or credit. Thus their role is not only important in providing income for their families, it also underpins the economy of the local village.
Poor people with little access to land, labour and financial resources are particularly reliant on exploiting natural resources, and consequently they are vulnerable to seasonal changes in availability of those resources. The diversity of coral reef fisheries, combined with their physical accessibility and the protection they provide against bad weather, make them relatively stable compared with other fisheries, or land-based agricultural production.
In many places, the reef may even act as a resource bank, used as a means of saving food for future times of need. In Manus, Papua New Guinea, giant clams are collected and held in walled enclosures on the reef, until they are needed during periods of rough weather. In Palau, sea cucumbers are seldom eaten during good weather in an effort to conserve their populations for months during which rough weather prohibits good fishing.
Coral reef resources also act as a buffer against seasonal lows in other sectors, particularly agriculture. For example, in coastal communities in northern Mozambique, reef harvests provide key sources of food and cash when agricultural production is low, with the peak in fisheries production coinciding with the period of lowest agricultural stocks. In Papua New Guinea, while agriculture is the primary means of food production, a large proportion of the coastal population engage in sporadic subsistence fishing.
In many coral-reef areas, tourism is one of the main industries bringing employment, and in many cases is promoted to provide alternatives to fisheries-based livelihoods, and to ensure that local reef resources are conserved. In the Caribbean alone, tours based on scuba-diving have attracted 20 million people in one year. The upgrading of roads and communications associated with the expansion of tourism may also bring benefits to local communities. However, plans for development must be considered carefully. The ability of the poorer members of the community to access the benefits of tourism is far from guaranteed, and requires development guided by social, cultural and environmental principles. There is growing recognition that sustainability is a key requirement, as encompassed in small-scale eco-tourism activities, for instance. Where tourism development has not been carefully planned, and the needs and priorities of the local community have not been properly recognised, conflict has sometimes arisen between tourism and local, small-scale fishers.
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. In most places, coral-reef gleaning is normally carried out by men.
2. Involvement in coral-reef-based occupations raises the status of women.
3. Coral reefs provide valuable learning opportunities for young children.
4. The women of Ulithi Atoll have some control over how fish catches are shared out.
5. Boats for use by the inhabitants of Ulithi are constructed on Yap Island.
6. In coral reef fisheries, only male traders can apply for finance.
7. Coral reefs provide a less constant source of income than near-shore seas.
Complete the notes below. Choose NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS from the passage for each answer.
How coral-reef-based resources protect people during difficult times
Coral reefs can provide
• a resource bank, e.g. for keeping clams and (8)……………………
• a seasonal back-up, when (9)…………………products are insufficient
• e.g. in northern Mozambique, a tourist attraction, e.g. (10)……………….tours in the Caribbean.
Benefits for local people include:
• The creation of jobs.
• Improvements to roads and (11)…………………
• Development must be based on appropriate principles.
• Need for (12)……………
Poorly-planned development can create (13)………………..with local fishers.
Acquiring the principles of mathematics and science
A It has been pointed out that learning mathematics and science is not so much learning facts as learning ways of thinking. It has also been emphasised that in order to learn science, people often have to change the way they think in ordinary situations. For example, in order to understand even simple concepts such as heat and temperature, ways of thinking of temperature as a measure of heat must be abandoned and a distinction between ‘temperature’ and ‘heat’ must be learned. These changes in ways of thinking are often referred to as conceptual changes. But how do conceptual changes happen? How do young people change their ways of thinking as they develop and as they learn in school?
B Traditional instruction based on telling students how modern scientists think does not seem to be very successful. Students may learn the definitions, the formulae, the terminology, and yet still maintain their previous conceptions. This difficulty has been illustrated many times, for example, when instructed students are interviewed about heat and temperature. It is often identified by teachers as a difficulty in applying the concepts learned in the classroom; students may be able to repeat a formula but fail to use the concept represented by the formula when they explain observed events.
C The psychologist Piaget suggested an interesting hypothesis relating to the process of cognitive change in children. Cognitive change was expected to result from the pupils’ own intellectual activity. When confronted with a result that challenges their thinking – that is, when faced with conflict – pupils realise that they need to think again about their own ways of solving problems, regardless of whether the problem is one in mathematics or in science. He hypothesised that conflict brings about disequilibrium, and then triggers equilibration processes that ultimately produce cognitive change. For this reason, according to Piaget and his colleagues, in order for pupils to progress in their thinking they need to be actively engaged in solving problems that will challenge their current mode of reasoning. However, Piaget also pointed out that young children do not always discard their ideas in the face of contradictory evidence. They may actually discard the evidence and keep their theory.
D Piaget’s hypothesis about how cognitive change occurs was later translated into an educational approach which is now termed ‘discovery learning’. Discovery learning initially took what is now considered the Tone learner’ route. The role of the teacher was to select situations that challenged the pupils’ reasoning; and the pupils’ peers had no real role in this process. However, it was subsequently proposed that interpersonal conflict, especially with peers, might play an important role in promoting cognitive change. This hypothesis, originally advanced by Perret-Clermont (1980) and Doise and Mugny (1984), has been investigated in many recent studies of science teaching and learning.
E Christine Howe and her colleagues, for example, have compared children’s progress in understanding several types of science concepts when they are given the opportunity to observe relevant events. In one study, Howe compared the progress of 8 to 12-year-old children in understanding what influences motion down a slope. In order to ascertain the role of conflict in group work, they created two kinds of groups according to a pre-test: one in which the children had dissimilar views, and a second in which the children had similar views. They found support for the idea that children in the groups with dissimilar views progressed more after their training sessions than those who had been placed in groups with similar views. However, they found no evidence to support the idea that the children worked out their new conceptions during their group discussions, because progress was not actually observed in a post-test immediately after the sessions of group work, but rather in a second test given around four weeks after the group work.
F In another study, Howe set out to investigate whether the progress obtained through pair work could be a function of the exchange of ideas. They investigated the progress made by 12-15-year-old pupils in understanding the path of falling objects, a topic that usually involves conceptual difficulties. In order to create pairs of pupils with varying levels of dissimilarity in their initial conceptions, the pupils’ predictions and explanations of the path of falling objects were assessed before they were engaged in pair work. The work sessions involved solving computer-presented problems, again about predicting and explaining the paths of falling objects. A post-test, given to individuals, assessed the progress made by pupils in their conceptions of what influenced the path of falling objects.
Reading Passage 2 has SIX paragraphs, A-F. Choose the correct heading for paragraphs A-F from the list of headings below.
List of Headings
i A suggested modification to a theory about learning.
ii The problem of superficial understanding.
iii The relationship between scientific understanding and age.
iv The rejection of a widely held theory.
v The need to develop new concepts in daily life.
vi The claim that a perceived contradiction can assist mental development.
vii Implications for the training of science teachers.
viii An experiment to assess the benefits of exchanging views with a partner.
ix Evidence for the delayed benefits of disagreement between pupils.
14. Paragraph A
15. Paragraph B
16. Paragraph C
17. Paragraph D
18. Paragraph E
19. Paragraph F
Choose TWO letters, A-E.
The list below contains some possible statements about learning.
Which TWO of these statements are attributed to Piaget by the writer of the passage?
A teachers can assist learning by explaining difficult concepts
B mental challenge is a stimulus to learning
C repetition and consistency of input aid cognitive development
D children sometimes reject evidence that conflicts with their preconceptions
E children can help each other make cognitive progress
Choose TWO letters, A-E.
Which TWO of these statements describe Howe’s experiment with 8-12-year-olds?
A the children were assessed on their ability to understand a scientific problem
B all the children were working in mixed ability groups
C the children who were the most talkative made the least progress
D the teacher helped the children to understand a scientific problem
E the children were given a total of three tests at different times
Complete the summary below. Choose NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS from the passage for each answer.
How children learn
Piaget proposed that learning takes place when children encounter ideas that do not correspond to their current beliefs. The application of this theory gave rise to a teaching method known as (24)……………..
At first this approach only focused on the relationship between individual pupils and their (25)…………………
Later, researchers such as Perret-Clermont became interested in the role that interaction with (26)………………might also play in a pupil’s development.
Learning lessons from the past
Many past societies collapsed or vanished, leaving behind monumental ruins such as those that the poet Shelley imagined in his sonnet, Ozymandias. By collapse, I mean a drastic decrease in human population size and/or political/economic/social complexity, over a considerable area, for an extended time. By those standards, most people would consider the following past societies to have been famous victims of full-fledged collapses rather than of just minor declines: the Anasazi and Cahokia within the boundaries of the modern US, the Maya cities in Central America, Moche and Tiwanaku societies in South America, Norse Greenland, Mycenean Greece and Minoan Crete in Europe, Great Zimbabwe in Africa, Angkor Wat and the Harappan Indus Valley cities in Asia, and Easter Island in the Pacific Ocean.
The monumental ruins left behind by those past societies hold a fascination for all of us. We marvel at them when as children we first learn of them through pictures. When we grow up, many of us plan vacations in order to experience them at first hand. We feel drawn to their often spectacular and haunting beauty, and also to the mysteries that they pose. The scales of the ruins testify to the former wealth and power of their builders. Yet these builders vanished, abandoning the great structures that they had created at such effort. How could a society that was once so mighty end up collapsing?
It has long been suspected that many of those mysterious abandonments were at least partly triggered by ecological problems: people inadvertently destroying the environmental resources on which their societies depended. This suspicion of unintended ecological suicide (ecocide) has been confirmed by discoveries made in recent decades by archaeologists, climatologists, historians, paleontologists, and palynologists (pollen scientists). The processes through which past societies have undermined themselves by damaging their environments fall into eight categories, whose relative importance differs from case to case: deforestation and habitat destruction, soil problems, water management problems, overhunting, overfishing, effects of introduced species on native species, human population growth, and increased impact of people.
Those past collapses tended to follow somewhat similar courses constituting variations on a theme. Writers find it tempting to draw analogies between the course of human societies and the course of individual human lives – to talk of a society’s birth, growth, peak, old age and eventual death. But that metaphor proves erroneous for many past societies: they declined rapidly after reaching peak numbers and power, and those rapid declines must have come as a surprise and shock to their citizens. Obviously, too, this trajectory is not one that all past societies followed unvaryingly to completion: different societies collapsed to different degrees and in somewhat different ways, while many societies did not collapse at all.
Today many people feel that environmental problems overshadow all the other threats to global civilisation. These environmental problems include the same eight that undermined past societies, plus four new ones: human-caused climate change, build up of toxic chemicals in the environment, energy shortages, and full human utilisation of the Earth’s photosynthetic capacity. But the seriousness of these current environmental problems is vigorously debated. Are the risks greatly exaggerated, or conversely are they underestimated? Will modern technology solve our problems, or is it creating new problems faster than it solves old ones? When we deplete one resource (e.g. wood, oil, or ocean fish), can we count on being able to substitute some new resource (e.g. plastics, wind and solar energy, or farmed fish)? Isn’t the rate of human population growth declining, such that we’re already on course for the world’s population to level off at some manageable number of people?
Questions like this illustrate why those famous collapses of past civilisations have taken on more meaning than just that of a romantic mystery. Perhaps there are some practical lessons that we could learn from all those past collapses. But there are also differences between the modern world and its problems, and those past societies and their problems. We shouldn’t be so naive as to think that study of the past will yield simple solutions, directly transferable to our societies today. We differ from past societies in some respects that put us at lower risk than them; some of those respects often mentioned include our powerful technology (i.e. its beneficial effects), globalisation, modern medicine, and greater knowledge of past societies and of distant modern societies. We also differ from past societies in some respects that put us at greater risk than them: again, our potent technology (i.e., its unintended destructive effects), globalisation (such that now a problem in one part of the world affects all the rest), the dependence of millions of us on modern medicine for our survival, and our much larger human population. Perhaps we can still learn from the past, but only if we think carefully about its lessons.
Choose the correct letter, A, B, C or D.
27. When the writer describes the impact of monumental ruins today, he emphasises
A the income they generate from tourism.
B the area of land they occupy.
C their archaeological value.
D their romantic appeal
28. Recent findings concerning vanished civilisations have
A overturned long-held beliefs.
B caused controversy amongst scientists.
C come from a variety of disciplines.
D identified one main cause of environmental damage.
29. What does the writer say about ways in which former societies collapsed?
A The pace of decline was usually similar.
B The likelihood of collapse would have been foreseeable.
C Deterioration invariably led to total collapse.
D Individual citizens could sometimes influence the course of events.
Do the following statements agree with the views of the writer in Reading Passage 3? Write
YES if the statement agrees with the views of the writer
NO if the statement contradicts the views of the writer
NOT GIVEN if it is impossible to say what the writer thinks about this
30. It is widely believed that environmental problems represent the main danger faced by the modern world.
31. The accumulation of poisonous substances is a relatively modern problem.
32. There is general agreement that the threats posed by environmental problems are very serious.
33. Some past societies resembled present-day societies more closely than others.
34. We should be careful when drawing comparisons between past and present.
Complete each sentence with the correct ending, A-F, below.
35. Evidence of the greatness of some former civilisations
36. The parallel between an individual’s life and the life of a society
37. The number of environmental problems that societies face
38. The power of technology
39. A consideration of historical events and trends
A is not necessarily valid.
B provides grounds for an optimistic outlook.
C exists in the form of physical structures.
D is potentially both positive and negative.
E will not provide direct solutions for present problems.
F is greater now than in the past.
Choose the correct letter, A, B, C or D.
40. What is the main argument of Reading Passage 3?
A There are differences as well as similarities between past and present societies.
B More should be done to preserve the physical remains of earlier civilisations.
C Some historical accounts of great civilisations are inaccurate.
D Modern societies are dependent on each other for their continuing survival.