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This is IELTS Reading Test No 43. The answers of this reading practice test are given at the end of the test


A Fear of public speaking results not only from what one does not know or understand about public communication but also from misconceptions and myths about public encounters. These misconceptions and myths persist among professional people as well as the general public. Persistent myths about public communication simply increase fear in people and prevent their development into competent public speakers.

B Perhaps the most persistent myth about public communication is that it is a ‘special’ activity reserved for unusual occasions. After all, public speeches are not made that often. There are only a few special occasions during the year when even an outgoing professional person will step behind a podium to give a public speech, and many professional people can count on one hand the number of public speeches given in a career. Surely, then, public communication is a rare activity reserved for especially important occasions. This argument, of course, ignores the true nature of public communication and the nature of the occasions in which it occurs. To engage with people whom one does not know well, to solve problems, share understanding and perspectives, advocate points of view, or seek stimulation, means to engage in public speaking. Public communication, therefore, is a familiar, daily activity that occurs in the streets, restaurants, boardrooms, courtrooms, parks, offices, factories, and meetings. Contrary to widespread misunderstandings, public speaking is not an unusual activity reserved for special occasions and restricted to the lectern or the platform. Rather it is and should be developed as, an everyday activity occurring in any location where people come together.

C A related misconception about public communication is the belief that the public speaker is a specially gifted individual with innate abilities and God-given propensities. While most professional people would reject the idea that public speakers are born, not made, they never the less often feel that the effective public communicator has developed unusual personal talents to a remarkable degree. At the heart of this misconception—like the myth of public speaking as a ‘special’ activity—is an overly narrow view of what a public person is and does. Development as an effective public communicator begins with the understanding that it is not necessary to be a nationally-known, speak-for-pay, professional platform speaker to be a competent public person. A public speaker is an ordinary person who confronts the necessity of being a public person and uses common abilities.

D A less widespread but serious misconception of public speaking is reflected in the belief that public speeches have a lasting purpose. A public speech is something viewed as a historical event that will be part of a continuing and generally available public record. Some public speeches are faithfully recorded, transcribed, reproduced, and made part of broadly available historical records. Those instances are rare compared to the thousands of unrecorded public speeches made’ every day. Public communication is usually situation-specific and ephemeral. Most audiences do well if they remember as much as 40 percent of what a speaker says immediately after the speaker concludes; even less is retained as time goes by. This fact is both reassuring and challenging to the public communicator. On the one hand, it suggests that there is room for human error in making public pronouncements; on the other hand, it challenges the public speaker to overcome the poor listening habits of most audiences.

E Finally, professional people, perhaps more than other groups, often subscribe to the misconception that public communication must be an exact science, that if it is done properly it will succeed. The troublesome corollary to this reasoning is that if public communication fails, it is because it was improperly prepared or executed. This argument, unfortunately, ignores the uncertainties of human interaction. Public speakers achieve their goals through their listeners, and the only truly predictable aspect of human listeners is their unpredictability. Further, public messages may succeed despite inadequate preparation and dreadful delivery.

F It should be added that professional people often mismanage their fears of public communication. However, once an understanding of what public encounters assume and demand, once the myths that handicap the growth of a public person are unburdened, development as a competent public communicator can properly begin.

Questions 1-5
Reading Passage 1 has six sections, A-F. Which section contains the following information?

1. A person’s ability to be a public speaker
2. Conditions under which one begins developing as a public speaker
3. A definition of public speaking
4. The relationship of preparation to success in public speaking
5. Reasons why public speaking is feared

Questions 6-11
Do the following statements agree with the claims of the writer in Reading Passage 1? In boxes 6-11 on your answer sheet, 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

6. An ongoing misunderstanding about public communication is that it is an uncommon activity.
7. Expressing a point of view does not fall into the category of engaging in public communication.
8. Most professional people believe that good public communicators are born, not made.
9. There is little place for public speaking in the life of the ordinary person.
10. Public speaking can be learned at specially designated schools.
11. It is impossible to predict how a speech will be received.

Questions 12-13
Complete the sentences below. Choose NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS from the passage for each answer.

The writer defines public speaking as any activity where people jointly explore problems, knowledge, and opinions, or look for (12)…………………..

One of the most difficult challenges facing a public speaker is dealing with the (13)…………………..of audiences.


A main public concern about petroleum exploration and production seems to be that a blowout will cause a major oil spill.

Oil often exists in the subsurface at great pressure and, in the early days, when wells were drilled with only air or water in the hole, the oil could rush into and up the hole and ‘blowout’ at the surface.

For reasons of economy and safety, the early oilmen soon put a. stop to that practice. Rotary drilling technology developed rapidly, including special drilling fluids with additives to control their density and consistency and counterbalance the pressure of inflowing oil or gas. Modern drilling rigs are also fitted with blowout prevention controls: complex systems of metal clamps and shutters which can be used to seal the hole if unexpected high pressures are encountered.

There can be no denying that major blowouts still occur, and cause loss of life, as well as severe ecological trauma and economic loss.

• Total number of incidents on offshore facilities over a 30-year period, involving spills 320 liters, or causing injury or damage – 51
• Platform oil spills – 27
• Explosions and fires – 13
• Blowout – 6
• Pipeline breaks and leaks – 2
• Other – 3
• Total number of wells drilled – 1.100
• Total number of kilolitres (barrels) of oil produced – 480,000,000 (3,100,000,000)
• Total number of kilolitres (barrels) of oil spilled – 70 (440)
• Largest single spill in kilolitres (barrels) – 10 (63)

Source: Oil Spills in the Commonwealth of Australia offshore areas connected with Petroleum Exploration and Development Activities. Department of Primary Industries and Energy. Fortunately, the available technology and proper precautions make them very rare events. Since offshore drilling commenced in Australia in the mid-twentieth century, there has not been a single oil blowout.

On the other hand, six gas blowouts occurred during that time: five in the Bass Strait and one in the Timor Sea. The Bass Strait blowouts were all controlled relatively quickly; the Petrel well in the Timor Sea flowed gas for 15 months.

It is a comment on improving technology and safety procedures that four of the incidents occurred in the initial decades of offshore drilling. The number of incidents, however, declined progressively over time.

The statistics on oil spills from offshore exploration and production in Australian Commonwealth waters are shown in the adjacent table. The total spillage, over a 30-year period, is roughly equivalent in size to a large backyard swimming pool (70 kilolitres). The main spills have actually occurred in the loading of fuel onto production platforms; they had nothing to do with the oil well itself.

In addition to the oil spill issue, there are concerns about other discharges from the drilling and production facilities: sanitary and kitchen wastes, drilling fluid, cuttings, and produced water. Putrescible sanitary and kitchen wastes are discharged into the ocean but must be processed in accordance with regulations set by the Federal government. This material is diluted rapidly and contributes to the local food chain, without any risk of nutrient oversupply. All solid waste must be brought ashore. The cuttings are sieved out of the drilling fluid and usually discharged into the ocean. In shallower waters they form a low mound near the rig; in deeper water a wider-spread layer forms, generally within one kilometer of the drill site, although this depends on a number of factors. Some benthic (bottom-dwelling) organisms may be smothered, but this effect is local and variable, generally limited to within about 100 meters of the discharge point. Better-adapted organisms soon replace them and storm-driven wave activity frequently sweeps away the material.

Drilling fluid is also discharged directly into the ocean. Most of the common constituents of water-based fluids used in Australia have low-to-nil toxicity to marine organisms. Some additives are toxic but are used in small concentrations and infrequently. The small amounts of heavy metals present are not absorbed into the bodies of marine organisms, and therefore it is unlikely that they would pose a problem for animals higher up the food chain. Field studies have shown that dilution is normally very rapid, ranging to 1,000-fold within 3 meters of the discharge point. At Rivoli-1 well in Exmouth Gulf, the input was chemically undetectable 560 meters away.

Oil-based drilling fluids have a more toxic component, and discharge to the marine environment is more significant. However, they are used only rarely in Australia, and the impact remains relatively local. At Woodside’s North Rankin A Platform offshore Western Australia, the only facility currently using oil-based fluids, the discharge is diluted 2,000-fold within 1 kilometer down current, and undetectable beyond 200 meters on either side. In the event of a discovery, the presence of a permanent production facility and the discharge of ‘produced water are additional concerns. Produced water is the water associated with the oil or gas deposit, and typically contains some petroleum, dissolved organic matter and trace elements. Most produced water is effectively non-toxic but, even when relatively toxic, is quickly diluted to background levels.

The impact occurs mainly within about 20 meters of the discharge point but is observable in some instances for about 1 kilometer down current. Government regulations limit the oil content allowed to be discharged, and the produced water is treated on the platforms to meet those specifications, The discharge points are carefully selected to maximize dispersion and dilution, and avoid any particularly sensitive local environments. Ultimately the best test of the real environmental effect of drilling and producing operations may be the response of the environment to the fixed production platforms. In many areas, the platforms quickly become artificial reefs, with the underwater supports of the platforms providing a range of habitats, from sea-bottom to surface, and quickly colonized by a wide range of marine plants and animals.

Questions 14-16
Choose the appropriate letter, A, B, C, or D.

14. Oil sometimes ‘blows out’ of a drilling hole because
A The technology has developed too quickly.
B Special drilling fluids are used.
C The surface pressure is not stable.
D Oil exists under pressure under the ground.

15. Sudden high pressure can be controlled using
A Special valve that seals any holes.
B Metal clamps and shutters fitted to the rig.
C Water to counterbalance the pressure of the oil.
D Rubber pressure valves fitted to the rig.

16. Since offshore drilling began in Australia
A Oil and gas blowouts have been a major problem.
B Oil blowouts have occurred occasionally.
C Most gas blowouts were rapidly controlled.
D Gas blowouts have occurred regularly up to the present,

Questions 17-19
Answer the questions below. Choose NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS AND/OR A NUMBER from the passage for each answer.

17. How much oil was spilled in the largest accident on offshore facilities?
18. How many incidents were the result of blowouts?
19. According to the table, what was the major cause of spillage of oil?

Questions 20-27
Complete the table. Choose NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS from the passage for each answer

IELTS Reading Test Myth about public speaking with Answers
Myths about public speaking IELTS Reading Test


There are many ways of obtaining an understanding of people’s behavior. One of these is to study the objects discarded by a community, objects used in daily lives. The study of the refuse of a society is the basis for the science of archaeology in which the lives and behavior of past societies are minutely examined. Some recent studies have indicated the degree to which rubbish is socially defined.

For several years the University of Arizona, USA, has been running a Garbage Project, in which garbage is collected, sorted out, and noted. It began with an arrangement whereby the City of Tucson collected for analysis garbage from randomly selected households in designated census collection districts. Since then the researchers have studied other cities, both in the USA and Mexico, refining their techniques and procedures in response to the challenges of validating and understanding the often unexpected results they have obtained. Garbage is sorted according to an extremely detailed schedule, a range of data for each item is recorded on a standardized coding form, and the researchers cross-tabulate their findings with information from census and other social surveys.

This project arose out of courses designed to teach students at the University the principles of archaeological methodology and to sensitize them to the complex and frequently surprising links between cultural assumptions and physical realities. Often a considerable discrepancy exists between what people say they do—or even think they do—and what they actually do. In one Garbage Project study, none of the Hispanic (Spanish-speaking) women in the sample admitted to using as much as a single serving of commercially-prepared baby food, clearly reflecting cultural expectations about proper mothering. Yet garbage from the Hispanic households with infants contained just as many baby food containers as garbage from non-Hispanic households with infants.

The project leaders then decided to took not only what was thrown away, but what happened to it after that. In many countries waste is disposed of in landfills; the rubbish is compacted and buried in the ground. So the project expanded its activities to include the excavation of landfills across the United States and Canada. Surprisingly, no one had ever attempted such excavations before.

The researchers discovered that far from being sites of chemical and biological activity, the interiors of waste landfills are rather inactive, with the possible exception of those established in swamps. Newspapers buried 20 or more years previously usually remained perfectly legible, and a remarkable amount of food wastes of similar age also remained intact.

While discarded household products such as paints, pesticides, cleaners, and cosmetics result in a fair amount of hazardous substances being contained in municipal landfills, toxic leachates pose considerably less danger than people fear, provided that a landfill is properly sited and constructed. Garbage Project researchers have found that the leachates do not migrate far, and tend to get absorbed by the other materials in the immediate surroundings.

The composition of landfills is also strikingly different from what is commonly believed. In a recent US survey, people were asked whether particular items were a major cause of garbage problems. Disposable nappies (baby diapers) were identified as a major cause by 41 percent of the survey respondents, plastic bottles by 29 percent, all forms of paper by six percent, and construction debris by zero percent. Yet Garbage Project data shows that disposable nappies make up less than two percent of the volume of landfills and plastic bottles less than one percent. On the other hand, over 40 percent of the volume of landfills is composed of paper and around 12 percent is construction debris.

Packaging—the paper and plastic wrapping around goods bought— has also been seen as a serious cause of pollution. But while some packaging is excessive, the Garbage Project researchers note that most manufacturers use as little as possible, because less is cheaper. They also point out that modern product packaging frequently functions to reduce the overall size of the solid-waste stream.

This apparent paradox is illustrated by the results of a comparison of garbage from a large and socially diverse sample of households in Mexico City with a similarly large and diverse sample in three United States cities. Even after correcting for differences in family size,

US households generated far less garbage than the Mexican ones. Because they are much more dependent on processed and packaged foods than Mexican households, US households produce much less food debris. (And most of the leaves, husks, etc. that the US processor has removed from the food can be used in the manufacture of other products, rather than entering the waste stream as is the likely fate with fresh produce purchased by households.)

One criticism made of Western societies is that the people are wasteful, and throw things away while they are still useable. This, however, does not seem to be true. Garbage Project data showed that furniture and consumer appliances were entering the solid waste stream at a rate very much less than would be expected from production and service-life figures. So the researchers set up a study to track the fate of such items and thus gained an insight into the huge informal and commercial trade in used goods that rarely turns up in official calculations and statistics.

The Garbage Project’s work shows how many misconceptions exist about garbage. The researchers are therefore critical of attempts to promote one type of waste management, such as source reduction or recycling, over others, such as incineration or landfilling. Each has its advantages and disadvantages, and what may be appropriate for one locality may not be appropriate for another.

Questions 28-34
Complete the summary. Choose NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS from the passage for each answer. Write your answers in boxes 28-34 on your answer sheet.


Studying the (28)……………………of a community is one means by which an understanding of people’s behavior can be obtained. Researchers running a Garbage Project found from their initial analysis of collected garbage that it was necessary to refine their techniques and procedures because of the difficulties they faced in substantiating some (29)……………………. The investigation involved entering data on a standardized coding form and comparing these results with those from other (30)…………………. The Garbage Project actually came about through courses aimed at teaching archaeological methodology and making students aware of the often unexpected connection between (31)………………………and what in fact happens in reality. This kind of (32)…………………was observed in a sample of Hispanic women who claimed not to have used store-bought baby food, obviously expressing that which would be culturally expected insofar as (33)…………………….is concerned. Their household garbage, however, told another story. It had the same quantity of (34)………………. as the non-Hispanic households with infants.

Questions 35-40
Look at the following misconceptions about garbage and the list of counterarguments below. Match each misconception with the appropriate counterargument.

35. Certain household items are a major cause of garbage problems in landfills.
36. Western households generate far more waste than others.
37. Germs and bacteria are active and widespread in landfills.
38. Western societies waste many useable items.
39. Harmful substances are widespread in municipal landfills.
40. Paper wrapping is wasteful and causes excess garbage.

List of Counter Arguments
A Toxins are contained in designated sites only.
B Fresh food creates less debris.
C Perishable items are often almost unchanged, even after long periods of time
D It is used sparingly in the manufacturing industry
E Businesses process food debris into other products.
F Household goods constituted a smaller-than-expected part of solid waste
G Disposable nappies make up less than 2% of landfills
H Leachates are confined to surrounding areas.
I It is used far more efficiently by manufacturers these days.
J Paper constitutes 6% of landfills.

Myth About Public Speaking Reading Answers

  1. C
  2. F
  3. B
  4. E
  5. A
  6. Yes
  7. No
  8. No
  9. No
  10. Not given
  11. Yes
  12. Stimulation
  13. Poor listening habits
  14. D
  15. B
  16. C
  17. 10 kiloliters / 63 barrels
  18. 6
  19. Platform oil spills
  20. Local food chain
  21. Solid waste
  22. Cuttings
  23. Local and variable
  24. Heavy metals
  25. Oil-based ( drilling fluids)
  26. Gas deposit
  27. Background levels
  28. Refuse
  29. Unexpected results
  30. Social surveys
  31. Cultural assumptions
  32. Discerpancy
  33. Proper mothering
  34. Baby food containers
  35. G
  36. E
  37. C
  38. F
  39. H
  40. D

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