IELTS Academic Reading- Alarming Rate of Loss of Tropical Rainforests

You should spend about 20 minutes on Questions 1–14 which are based on Reading Passage Sample 7 below:

Alarming Rate of Loss of Tropical Rainforests

Adults and children are frequently confronted with statements about the alarming rate of loss of tropical rainforests. ielts reading sample 7For example, one graphic illustration to which children might readily relate is the estimate that rainforests are being destroyed at a rate equivalent to one thousand football fields every forty minutes – about the duration of a normal classroom period. In the face of the frequent and often vivid media coverage, it is likely that children will have formed ideas about rainforests – what and where they are, why they are important, what endangers them – independent of any formal tuition. It is also possible that some of these ideas will be mistaken. Many studies have shown that children harbour misconceptions about ‘pure’, curriculum science. These misconceptions do not remain isolated but become incorporated into a multifaceted, but organised, conceptual framework, making it and the component ideas, some of which are erroneous, more robust but also accessible to modification. These ideas may be developed by children absorbing ideas through the popular media. Sometimes this information may be erroneous. It seems schools may not be providing an opportunity for children to re-express their ideas and so have them tested and refined by teachers and their peers.

Despite the extensive coverage in the popular media of the destruction of rainforests, little formal information is available about children’s ideas in this area. The aim of the present study is to start to provide such information, to help teachers design their educational strategies to build upon correct ideas and to displace misconceptions and to plan programmes in environmental studies in their schools.

The study surveys children’s scientific knowledge and attitudes to rainforests. Secondary school children were asked to complete a questionnaire containing five open-form questions. The most frequent responses to the first question were descriptions which are self-evident from the term ‘rainforest’. Some children described them as damp, wet or hot. The second question concerned the geographical location of rainforests. The commonest responses were continents or countries: Africa (given by 43% of children), South America (30%), Brazil (25%). Some children also gave more general locations, such as being near the Equator.

Responses to question three concerned the importance of rainforests. The dominant idea, raised by 64% of the pupils, was that rainforests provide animals with habitats. Fewer students responded that rainforests provide plant habitats, and even fewer mentioned the indigenous populations of rainforests. More girls (70%) than boys (60%) raised the idea of the rainforest as animal habitats.

Similarly, but at a lower level, more girls (13%) than boys (5%) said that rainforests provided human habitats. These observations are generally consistent with our previous studies of pupils’ views about the use and conservation of rainforests, in which girls were shown to be more sympathetic to animals and expressed views which seem to place an intrinsic value on non-human animal life.

The fourth question concerned the causes of the destruction of rainforests. Perhaps encouragingly, more than half of the pupils (59%) identified that it is human activities which are destroying rainforests, some personalising the responsibility by the use of terms such as ‘we are’. About 18% of the pupils referred specifically to logging activity.

One misconception, expressed by some 10% of the pupils, was that acid rain is responsible for rainforest destruction; a similar proportion said that pollution is destroying rainforests. Here, children are confusing rainforest destruction with damage to the forests of Western Europe by these factors. While two-fifths of the students provided the information that the rainforests provide oxygen, in some cases this response also embraced the misconception that rainforest destruction would reduce atmospheric oxygen, making the atmosphere incompatible with human life on Earth.

In answer to the final question about the importance of rainforest conservation, the majority of children simply said that we need rainforests to survive. Only a few of the pupils (6%) mentioned that rainforest destruction may contribute to global warming. This is surprising considering the high level of media coverage on this issue. Some children expressed the idea that the conservation of rainforests is not important.

The results of this study suggest that certain ideas predominate in the thinking of children about rainforests. Pupils’ responses indicate some misconceptions in the basic scientific knowledge of rainforests’ ecosystems such as their ideas about rainforests as habitats for animals, plants and humans and the relationship between climatic change and destruction of rainforests.

Pupils did not volunteer ideas that suggested that they appreciated the complexity of causes of rainforest destruction. In other words, they gave no indication of an appreciation of either the range of ways in which rainforests are important or the complex social, economic and political factors which drive the activities which are destroying the rainforests. One encouragement is that the results of similar studies about other environmental issues suggest that older children seem to acquire the ability to appreciate, value and evaluate conflicting views. Environmental education offers an arena in which these skills can be developed, which is essential for these children as future decision-makers.

Questions 1–8

Do the following statements agree with the information given in Reading Sample 7?

In boxes 1–8 on your answer sheet write:

TRUE  if the statement agrees with the information

FALSE  if the statement contradicts the information

NOT GIVEN  if there is no information on this

1 The plight of the rainforests has largely been ignored by the media.

2 Children only accept opinions on rainforests that they encounter in their classrooms.

3 It has been suggested that children hold mistaken views about the ‘pure’ science that they study at school.

4 The fact that children’s ideas about science form part of a larger framework of ideas mean that it is easier to change them.

5 The study involved asking children a number of yes/no questions such as ‘Are there any rainforests in Africa?’

6 Girls are more likely than boys to hold mistaken views about the rainforests’ destruction.

7 The study reported here follows on from a series of studies that have looked at children’s understanding of rainforests.

8 A second study has been planned to investigate primary school children’s ideas about rainforests.

Questions 9–13

The box below gives a list of responses A–P to the questionnaire discussed in the Reading sample.

Answer the following questions by choosing the correct responses A–P.

Write your answers in boxes 9–13 on your answer sheet.

09 What was the children’s most frequent response when asked where the rainforests were?

10 What was the most common response to the question about the importance of the rainforests?

11 What did most children give as the reason for the loss of the rainforests?

12 Why did most children think it important for the rainforests to be protected?

13 Which of the responses is cited as unexpectedly uncommon, given the amount of time spent on the issue by the newspapers and television?

A  There is a complicated combination of reasons for the loss of the rainforests.

B  The rainforests are being destroyed by the same things that are destroying the forests of  Western Europe.

C  Rainforests are located near the Equator.

D  Brazil is home to the rainforests.

E  Without rainforests some animals would have nowhere to live.

F  Rainforests are important habitats for a lot of plants.

G  People are responsible for the loss of the rainforests.

H  The rainforests are a source of oxygen.

I    Rainforests are of consequence for a number of different reasons.

J   As the rainforests are destroyed, the world gets warmer.

K  Without rainforests there would not be enough oxygen in the air.

L   There are people for whom the rainforests are home.

M  Rainforests are found in Africa.

N   Rainforests are not really important to human life.

O  The destruction of the rainforests is the direct result of logging activity.

P   Humans depend on the rainforests for their continuing existence.

Question 14

Choose the correct letter A, B, C, D or E.

Write your answer in box 14 on your answer sheet.

Which of the following is the most suitable title for Reading sample Passage 7?

A The development of a programme in environmental studies within a science curriculum

B Children’s ideas about the rainforests and the implications for course design

C The extent to which children have been misled by the media concerning the rainforests

D How to collect, collate and describe the ideas of secondary school children

E The importance of the rainforests and the reasons for their destruction

                                    IELTS Academic Reading  – A Workaholic Economy

You should spend about 20 minutes on Questions 15-26 which are based on the Reading Passage below.

A Workaholic Economy

For the first century or so of the industrial revolution, increased productivity led to decreases in working hours. Employees who had been putting in 12-hour days, six days a week, found their time on the job shrinking to 10 hours daily, then finally to eight hours, five days a week. Only a generation ago social planners worried about what people would do with all this new-found free time. In the US, at least it seems they need not have bothered.

Although the output per hour of work has more than doubled since 1945, leisure seems reserved largely for the unemployed and underemployed. Those who work full-time spend as much time on the job as they did at the end of World War II. In fact, working hours have increased noticeably since 1970 — perhaps because real wages have stagnated since that year. Bookstores now abound with manuals describing how to manage time and cope with stress.

There are several reasons for lost leisure. Since 1979, companies have responded to improvements in the business climate by having employees work overtime rather than by hiring extra personnel, says economist Juliet B. Schor of Harvard University. Indeed, the current economic recovery has gained a certain amount of notoriety for its “jobless” nature: increased production has been almost entirely decoupled from employment. Some firms are even downsizing as their profits climb. “All things being equal, we’d be better off spreading around the work,” observes labour economist Ronald G. Ehrenberg of Cornell University.

Yet a host of factors pushes employers to hire fewer workers for more hours and at the same time compels workers to spend more time on the job. Most of those incentives involve what Ehrenberg calls the structure of compensation: quirks in the way salaries and benefits are organised that make it more profitable to ask 40 employees to labour an extra hour each than to hire one more worker to do the same 40-hour job.

Professional and managerial employees supply the most obvious lesson along these lines. Once people are on salary, their cost to a firm is the same whether they spend 35 hours a week in the office or 70. Diminishing returns may eventually set in as overworked employees lose efficiency or leave for more arable pastures. But in the short run, the employer’s incentive is clear. Even hourly employees receive benefits – such as pension contributions and medical insurance – that are not tied to the number of hours they work. Therefore, it is more profitable for employers to work their existing employees harder.

For all that employees complain about long hours, they too have reasons not to trade money for leisure. “People who work reduced hours pay a huge penalty in career terms,” Schor maintains. “It’s taken as a negative signal’ about their commitment to the firm.’ [Lotte] Bailyn [of Massachusetts Institute of Technology] adds that many corporate managers find it difficult to measure the contribution of their underlings to a firm’s well-being, so they use the number of hours worked as a proxy for output. “Employees know this,” she says, and they adjust their behaviour accordingly.

“Although the image of the good worker is the one whose life belongs to the company,” Bailyn says, “it doesn’t fit the facts.’ She cites both quantitative and qualitative studies that show increased productivity for part-time workers: they make better use of the time they have and they are less likely to succumb to fatigue in stressful jobs. Companies that employ more workers for less time also gain from the resulting redundancy, she asserts. “The extra people can cover the contingencies that you know are going to happen, such as when crises take people away from the workplace.” Positive experiences with reduced hours have begun to change the more-is-better culture at some companies, Schor reports.

Larger firms, in particular, appear to be more willing to experiment with flexible working arrangements…

It may take even more than changes in the financial and cultural structures of employment for workers successfully to trade increased productivity and money for leisure time, Schor contends. She says the U.S. market for goods has become skewed by the assumption of full-time, two-career households. Automobile makers no longer manufacture cheap models, and developers do not build the tiny bungalows that served the first postwar generation of home buyers. Not even the humblest household object is made without a microprocessor. As Schor notes, the situation is a curious inversion of the “appropriate technology” vision that designers have had for developing countries: U.S. goods are appropriate only for high incomes and long hours. — Paul Walluh.

Questions 15-20

Do the following statements agree with the views of the writer in reading passage? In boxes 15-20 on your answer sheet write:

YES              if the statement agrees with the writer

NO               if the statement contradicts the writer

NOT GIVEN  if it is impossible to say what the writer thinks about this

  Example                                                                                                            Answer

During the industrial revolution, people worked harder                           NOT GIVEN


15    Today, employees are facing a reduction in working hours.

16    Social planners have been consulted about US employment figures.

17    Salaries have not risen significantly since the 1970s.

18    The economic recovery created more jobs.

19    Bailyn’s research shows that part-time employees work more efficiently.

20    Increased leisure time would benefit two-career households.

Questions 21-22

Choose the appropriate letters A-D and write them in boxes 21 and 22 on your answer sheet.

21  Bailyn argues that it is better for a company to employ more workers because

      A.    it is easy to make excess staff redundant.

      B.    crises occur if you are under-staffed.

      C.    people are available to substitute for absent staff.

      D.    they can project a positive image at work.

22 Schor thinks it will be difficult for workers in the US to reduce their working hours because

      A.    they would not be able to afford cars or homes.

      B.    employers are offering high incomes for long hours.

      C.    the future is dependent on technological advances.

      D.    they do not wish to return to the humble post-war era.

Questions 23-26

The writer mentions a number of factors that have resulted, in employees working longer hours. Which FOUR of the following factors are mentioned? Write your answers (A-H) in boxes 23-26 on your answer sheet.

List of Factors

A   Books are available to help employees cope with stress.

B   Extra work is offered to existing employees.

C   Increased production has led to joblessness.

D   Benefits and hours spent on the job are not linked.

E   Overworked employees require longer to do their work.

F    Longer hours indicate a greater commitment to the firm.

G   Managers estimate staff productivity in terms of hours worked.

H   Employees value a career more than a family


IELTS Academic Reading- Changing Our Understanding of Health

You should spend about 20 minutes on Questions 27-40 which are based on Reading Passage below.

 Questions 27-31

Reading passage has six paragraphs B-F from the list of headings below Choose the most suitable headings for paragraphs B-F from the list of headings below.

Write the appropriate numbers (i-ix) in boxes 27-31 on your answer sheet.

NB There are more headings than paragraphs, so you will not use them all.


 List of Headings

 i)    Ottawa International Conference on Health Promotion

 ii)    Holistic approach to health

 iii)   The primary importance of environmental factors

 iv)   Healthy lifestyles approach to health

 v)    Changes in concepts of health in Western society

 vi)   Prevention of diseases and illness

 vii)  Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion

 viii)  Definition of health in medical terms

  ix)  Socio-ecological view of health

 27.    Paragraph   B

28.    Paragraph   C

29.    Paragraph   D

30.    Paragraph   E

31.    Paragraph   F

Changing Our Understanding of Health


The concept of health holds different meanings for different people and groups. These meanings of health have also changed over time. This change is no more evident than in Western society today, when notions of health and health promotion are being challenged and expanded in new ways.


For much of recent Western history, health has been viewed in the physical sense only. That is, good health has been connected to the smooth mechanical operation of the body, while ill health has been attributed to a breakdown in this machine. Health in this sense has been defined as the absence of disease or illness and is seen in medical terms. According to this view, creating health for people means providing medical care to treat or prevent disease and illness. During this period, there was an emphasis on providing clean water, improved sanitation and housing.


In the late 1940s the World Health Organisation challenged this physically and medically oriented view of health. They stated that ‘health is a complete state of physical, mental and social well-being and is not merely the absence of disease’ (WHO, 1946). Health and the person were seen more holistically (mind/body/spirit) and not just in physical terms.


The 1970s was a time of focusing on the prevention of disease and illness by emphasising the importance of the lifestyle and behaviour of the individual. Specific behaviours which were seen to increase the risk of diseases, such as smoking, lack of fitness and unhealthy eating habits, were targeted. Creating health meant providing not only medical health care, but health promotion programs and policies which would help people maintain healthy behaviours and lifestyles. While this individualistic healthy lifestyle approach to health worked for some (the wealthy members of society), people experiencing poverty, unemployment, underemployment or little control over the conditions of their daily lives benefited little from this approach. This was largely because both the healthy lifestyles approach and the medical approach to health largely ignored the social and environmental conditions affecting the health of people.


During 1980s and 1990s there has been a growing swing away from seeing lifestyle risks as the root cause of poor health. While lifestyle factors still remain important, health is being viewed also in terms of the social, economic and environmental contexts in which people live. This broad approach to health is called the socio-ecological view of health. The broad socio-ecological view of health was endorsed at the first International Conference of Health Promotion held in 1986, Ottawa, Canada, where people from 38 countries agreed and declared that:


The fundamental conditions and resources for health are peace, shelter, education, food, a viable income, a stable eco-system, sustainable resources, social justice and equity. Improvement in health requires a secure foundation in these basic requirements. (WHO, 1986) .

It is clear from this statement that the creation of health is about much more than encouraging healthy individual behaviours and lifestyles and providing appropriate medical care. Therefore, the creation of health must include addressing issues such as poverty, pollution, urbanisation, natural resource depletion, social alienation and poor working conditions. The social, economic and environmental contexts which contribute to the creation of health do not operate separately or independently of each other. Rather, they are interacting and interdependent, and it is the complex interrelationships between them which determine the conditions that promote health. A broad socio-ecological view of health suggests that the promotion of health must include a strong social, economic and environmental focus.


At the Ottawa Conference in 1986, a charter was developed which outlined new directions for health promotion based on the socio-ecological view of health. This charter, known as the Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion, remains as the backbone of health action today. In exploring the scope of health promotion it states that:

Good health is a major resource for social, economic and personal development and an important dimension of quality of life. Political, economic, social, cultural, environmental, behavioural and biological factors can all favour health or be harmful to it. (WHO, 1986) .       The Ottawa Charter brings practical meaning and action to this broad notion of health promotion. It presents fundamental strategies and approaches in achieving health for all. The overall philosophy of health promotion which guides these fundamental strategies and approaches is one of ‘enabling people to increase control over and to improve their health’ (WHO, 1986).

Questions 32-35

Using NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS from the passage, answer the following questions

Write your answers in boxes 32-35 on your answer sheet.

32. In which year did the World Health Organization define health in terms of mental, physical and social well-being?

33. Which members of society benefited most from the healthy lifestyles approach to health?

34. Name the three broad areas which relate to people’s health, according to the socio-ecological view of health.

35. During which decade were lifestyle risks seen as the major contributors to poor health?

 Questions 36-40

Do the following statements agree with the information in Reading Passage?

In boxes 36-40 on your answer sheet write

         YES             if the statement agrees with the information.

         NO               if the statement contradicts the information.

         NOT GIVEN  if there is no information on this in the passage.

36 Doctors have been instrumental in improving living standards in Western society.

37 The approach to health during the 1970s included the introduction of health awareness programs.

38 The socio-ecological view of health recognises that lifestyle habits and the provision of adequate health care are critical factors governing health.

39 The principles of the Ottawa Charter are considered to be out of date in the 1990s.

40  In recent years a number of additional countries have subscribed to the Ottawa Charter.