IELTS Online Coaching

IELTS Online Coaching

IELTS Academic Reading (D9)

IELTS Academic Reading (D9)

You should not take more than 60 minutes on the whole task. You can input your answers in the form below.

Reading Passage 1

Advantages of public transport

A. A New study conducted for the World Bank by Murdoch University’s Institute for Science and Technology Policy (ISTP) has demonstrated that public transport is more efficient than cars. The study compared the proportion of wealth poured into transport by thirty-seven cities around the world. This included both the public and private costs of building, maintaining and using a transport system. The study found that the Western Australian city of Perth is a good example of a city with minimal public transport. As a result, 17% of its wealth went into transport costs. Some European and Asian cities, on the other hand, spent as little as 5%. Professor Peter Newman, ISTP Director, pointed out that these more efficient cities were able to put the difference into attracting industry and jobs or creating a better place to live. According to Professor Newman, the larger Australian city of Melbourne is a rather unusual city in this sort of comparison. He describes it as two cities: ‘A European city surrounded by a car-dependent one’. Melbourne’s large tram network has made car use in the inner city much lower, but the outer suburbs have the same car-based structure as most other Australian cities. The explosion in demand for accommodation in the inner suburbs of Melbourne suggests a recent change in many people’s preferences as to where they live.

Newman says this is a new, broader way of considering public transport issues. In the past, the case for public transport has been made on the basis of environmental and social justice considerations rather than economics. Newman, however, believes the study demonstrates that ‘the auto-dependent city model is inefficient and grossly inadequate in economic as well as environmental terms’.

Bicycle use was not included in the study but Newman noted that the two most ‘bicycle friendly’ cities considered – Amsterdam and Copenhagen – were very efficient, even though their public transport systems were ‘reasonable but not special’.

It is common for supporters of road networks to reject the models of cities with good public transport by arguing that such systems would not work in their particular city. One objection is climate. Some people say their city could not make more use of public transport because it is either too hot or too cold. Newman rejects this, pointing out that public transport has been successful in both Toronto and Singapore and, in fact, he has checked the use of cars against climate and found ‘zero correlation’.

When it comes to other physical features, road lobbies are on stronger ground. For example, Newman accepts it would be hard for a city as hilly as Auckland to develop a really good rail network. However, he points out that both Hong Kong and Zürich have managed to make a success of their rail systems, heavy and light respectively, though there are few cities in the world as hilly.

In fact, Newman believes the main reason for adopting one sort of transport over another is politics: ‘The more democratic the process, the more public transport is favored.’ He considers Portland, Oregon, a perfect example of this. Some years ago, federal money was granted to build a new road. However, local pressure groups forced a referendum over whether to spend the money on light rail instead. The rail proposal won and the railway worked spectacularly well. In the years that have followed, more and more rail systems have been put in, dramatically changing the nature of the city. Newman notes that Portland has about the same population as Perth and had a similar population density at the time.

B. In the UK, travel times to work had been stable for at least six centuries, with people avoiding situations that required them to spend more than half an hour travelling to work. Trains and cars initially allowed people to live at greater distances without taking longer to reach their destination. However, public infrastructure did not keep pace with urban sprawl, causing massive congestion problems which now make commuting times far higher.

C. There is a widespread belief that increasing wealth encourages people to live farther out where cars are the only viable transport. The example of European cities refutes that. They are often wealthier than their American counterparts but have not generated the same level of car use. In Stockholm, car use has actually fallen in recent years as the city has become larger and wealthier. A new study makes this point even more starkly. Developing cities in Asia, such as Jakarta and Bangkok, make more use of the car than wealthy Asian cities such as Tokyo and Singapore. In cities that developed later, the World Bank and Asian Development Bank discouraged the building of public transport and people have been forced to rely on cars – creating the massive traffic jams that characterize those cities.

D. Newman believes one of the best studies on how cities built for cars might be converted to rail use is The Urban Village report, which used Melbourne as an example. It found that pushing everyone into the city centre was not the best approach. Instead, the proposal advocated the creation of urban villages at hundreds of sites, mostly around railway stations.

E. It was once assumed that improvements in telecommunications would lead to more dispersal in the population as people were no longer forced into cities. However, the ISTP team’s research demonstrates that the population and job density of cities rose or remained constant in the 1980s after decades of decline. The explanation for this seems to be that it is valuable to place people working in related fields together. ‘The new world will largely depend on human creativity, and creativity flourishes where people come together face-to-face.’

Questions 1-5

You should spend about 20 minutes on Questions 1-13, which are based on Reading Passage.
Reading Passage  has five paragraphs, A-E.

Choose the correct heading for each paragraph from the list of headings below..
Write the correct number i-viii, in boxes 1-5 on your answer sheet.

List of Headings

i     Avoiding an overcrowded centre
ii    A successful exercise in people power
iii   The benefits of working together in cities
iv    Higher incomes need not mean more cars
v     Economic arguments fail to persuade
vi    The impact of telecommunications on population distribution
vii    Increases in travelling time
viii   Responding to arguments against public transport

1.  Paragraph  A
2.  Paragraph  B
3.  Paragraph  C
4.  Paragraph  D
5.  Paragraph  E

Questions 6-10

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

In boxes 6-10 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

6. The ISTP study examined public and private systems in every city in the world.
7. Efficient cities can improve the quality of life for their inhabitants.
8. An inner-city tram network is dangerous for car drivers.
9. In Melbourne, people prefer to live in the outer suburbs.
10. Cities with high levels of bicycle usage can be efficient even when public transport is only averagely good.

Questions 11-13

Look at the following cities (Questions 11-13) and the list of descriptions below.
Match each city with the correct description, A-F.

Write the correct letter, A-F, in boxes 11-13 on your answer sheet.
11. Perth
12. Auckland
13. Portland

List of Descriptions
A     successfully uses a light rail transport system in hilly environment
B     successful public transport system despite cold winters
    profitably moved from road to light rail transport system
D     hilly and inappropriate for rail transport system
E     heavily dependent on cars despite widespread poverty
F     inefficient due to a limited public transport system

Reading Passage 2

You should spend about 20 minutes on Questions 14-26, which are based on Reading Passage  below.


Elderly people are growing healthier, happier and more independent, say American scientists. The results of a 14-year study to be announced later this month reveal that the diseases associated with old age are afflicting fewer and fewer people and when they do strike, it is much later in life.

In the last 14 years, the National Long-term Health Care Survey has gathered data on the health and lifestyles of more than 20,000 men and women over 65. Researchers, now analysing the results of data gathered in 1994, say arthritis, high blood pressure and circulation problems -the major medical complaints in this age group – are troubling a smaller proportion every year. And the data confirms that the rate at which these diseases are declining continues to accelerate. Other diseases of old age – dementia, stroke, arteriosclerosis and emphysema – are also troubling fewer and fewer people.

‘It really raises the question of what should be considered normal ageing,’ says Kenneth Manton, a demographer from Duke University in North Carolina. He says the problems doctors accepted as normal in a 65-year-old in 1982 are often not appearing until people are 70 or 75.

Clearly, certain diseases are beating a retreat in the face of medical advances. But there may be other contributing factors. Improvements in childhood nutrition in the first quarter of the twentieth century, for example, gave today’s elderly people a better start in life than their predecessors.

On the downside, the data also reveals failures in public health that have caused surges in some illnesses. An increase in some cancers and bronchitis may reflect changing smoking habits and poorer air quality, say the researchers. ‘These may be subtle influences,’ says Manton, ‘but our subjects have been exposed to worse and worse pollution for over 60 years. It’s not surprising we see some effect.’

One interesting correlation Manton uncovered is that better-educated people are likely to live longer. For example, 65-year-old women with fewer than eight years of schooling are expected, on average, to live to 82. Those who continued their education live an extra seven years. Although some of this can be attributed to a higher income, Manton believes it is mainly because educated people seek more medical attention.

The survey also assessed how independent people over 65 were, and again found a striking trend. Almost 80% of those in the 1994 survey could complete everyday activities ranging from eating and dressing unaided to complex tasks such as cooking and managing their finances. That represents a significant drop in the number of disabled old people in the population. If the trends apparent in the United States 14 years ago had continued, researchers calculate there would be an additional one million disabled elderly people in today’s population. According to Manton, slowing the trend has saved the United States government’s Medicare system more than $200 billion, suggesting that the greying of America’s population may prove less of a financial burden than expected.

The increasing self-reliance of many elderly people is probably linked to a massive increase in the use of simple home medical aids. For instance, the use of raised toilet seats has more than doubled since the start of the study, and the use of bath seats has grown by more than 50%. These developments also bring some health benefits, according to a report from the MacArthur Foundation’s research group on successful ageing. The group found that those elderly people who were able to retain a sense of independence were more likely to stay healthy in old age.

Maintaining a level of daily physical activity may help mental functioning, says Carl Cotman, a neuroscientist at the University of California at Irvine. He found that rats that exercise on a treadmill have raised levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor coursing through their brains. Cotman believes this hormone, which keeps neurons functioning, may prevent the brains of active humans from deteriorating.

As part of the same study, Teresa Seeman, a social epidemiologist at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, found a connection between self-esteem and stress in people over 70. In laboratory simulations of challenging activities such as driving, those who felt in control of their lives pumped out lower levels of stress hormones such as cortisol. Chronically high levels of these hormones have been linked to heart disease.

But independence can have drawbacks. Seeman found that elderly people who felt emotionally isolated maintained higher levels of stress hormones even when asleep. The research suggests that older people fare best when they feel independent but know they can get help when they need it.

‘Like much research into ageing, these results support common sense,’ says Seeman. They also show that we may be underestimating the impact of these simple factors. ‘The sort of thing that your grandmother always told you turns out to be right on target,’ she says.

Questions 14-22

Complete the summary using the list of words, A-Q. below.
Write the correct letter, A-Q, in boxes 14-22 on your answer sheet.

Research carried out by scientists in the United States has shown that the proportion of people over 65 suffering from the most common age-related medical problems is 14 ………………….. and that the speed of this change is 15……………………….. It also seems that these diseases ere affecting people 16 …………………….. in life than they did in the past. This is largely due to developments in 17 ……………………. , but other factors such as improved 18 …………………… may also be playing a part. Increases in some other illnesses may be due to changes in personal habits and to 19 ………………………. The research establishes a link between levels of 20 ……………………. and life expectancy. It also shows that there has been a considerable reduction in the number of elderly people who are 21 …………………….. which means that the 22 …………………… involved in supporting this section of the population may be less than previously predicted.

A  cost                         B falling             D technology
D undernourished         E earlier             F later
G disabled                   H more               Increasing
nutrition                     K education        L constant
medicine                  N pollution          O environmental
P health                       Q independent

Questions 23-26

Complete each sentence with the correct ending, A-H, below. Write
the correct letter, A-H, in boxes 23-26 on your answer sheet.

23.  Home medical aids
24.  Regular amounts or exercise
25.  Feelings of control over life
26.  Feelings of loneliness

A may cause heart disease.
B can be helped by hormone treatment.
C may cause rises in levels of stress hormones.
D have cost the United States government more than $200 billion.
E may help prevent mental decline.
F may get stronger at night.
G allow old people to be more independent.
H can reduce stress in difficult situations.

Reading Passage 3


In the social sciences, it is often supposed that there can be no such
thing as a controlled experiment. Think again.

A. In the scientific pecking order, social scientists are usually looked down on by their peers in the natural sciences. Natural scientists do experiments to test their theories or, if they cannot, they try to look for natural phenomena that can act in lieu of experiments. Social scientists, it is widely thought, do not subject their own hypotheses to any such rigorous treatment. Worse, they peddle their untested hypotheses to governments and try to get them turned into policies.

B. Governments require sellers of new medicines to demonstrate their safety and effectiveness. The accepted gold standard of evidence is a randomised control trial, in which a new drug is compared with the best existing therapy (or with a placebo, if no treatment is available). Patients are assigned to one arm or the other of such a study at random, ensuring that the only difference between the two groups is the new treatment. The best studies also ensure that neither patient nor physician knows which patient is allocated to which therapy. Drug trials must also include enough patients to make it unlikely that chance alone may determine the result.

C. But few education programmes or social initiatives are evaluated in carefully conducted studies prior to their introduction. A case in point is the ‘whole-language’ approach to reading, which swept much of the English-speaking world in the 1970s and 1980s. The whole-language theory holds that children learn to read best by absorbing contextual clues from texts, not by breaking individual words into their component parts and reassembling them (a method known as phonics). Unfortunately, the educational theorists who pushed the whole-language notion so successfully did not wait for evidence from controlled randomised trials before advancing their claims. Had they done so, they might have concluded, as did an analysis of 52 randomised studies carried out by the US National Reading Panel in 2000, that effective reading instruction requires phonics.

D. To avoid the widespread adoption of misguided ideas, the sensible thing is to experiment first and make policy later. This is the idea behind a trial of restorative justice which is taking place in the English courts. The experiment will include criminals who plead guilty to robbery. Those who agree to participate will be assigned randomly either to sentencing as normal or to participation in a conference in which the offender comes face-to-face with his victim and discusses how he may make emotional and material restitution. The purpose of the trial is to assess whether such restorative justice limits re-offending. If it does, it might be adopted more widely.

E. The idea of experimental evidence is not quite as new to the social sciences as sneering natural scientists might believe. In fact, randomised trials and systematic reviews of evidence were introduced into the social sciences long before they became common in medicine. An apparent example of random allocation is a study carried out in 1927 of how to persuade people to vote in elections. And randomised trials in social work were begun in the 1930s and 1940s. But enthusiasm later waned. This loss of interest can be attributed, at least in part, to the fact that early experiments produced little evidence of positive outcomes. Others suggest that much of the opposition to experimental evaluation stems from a common philosophical malaise among social scientists, who doubt the validity of the natural sciences and therefore reject the potential of knowledge derived from controlled experiments. A more pragmatic factor limiting the growth of evidence-based education and social services may be limitations on the funds available for research.

F. Nevertheless, some 11,000 experimental studies are known in the social sciences {compared with over 250,000 in the medical literature). Randomised trials have been used to evaluate the effectiveness of driver-education programmes, job¬training schemes, classroom size, psychological counselling for post-traumatic stress disorder and increased investment in public housing. And where they are carried out, they seem to have a healthy dampening effect on otherwise rosy interpretations of the observations.

G. The problem for policymakers is often not too few data, but what to make of multiple and conflicting studies. This is where a body called the Campbell Collaboration comes into its own. This independent non-profit organisation is designed to evaluate existing studies, in a process known as a systematic review. This means attempting to identify every relevant trial of a given question (including studies that have never been published), choosing the best ones using clearly defined criteria for quality, and combining the results in a statistically valid way. An equivalent body, the Cochrane Collaboration, has produced more than 1,004 such reviews in medical fields. The hope is that rigorous review standards will allow Campbell, like Cochrane, to become a trusted and authoritative source of information.

Questions 27-32

You should spend about 20 minutes on questions 27-40, which are based on Reading Passage 3.
Reading Passage 3 has seven paragraphs A-G.

Choose the correct heading for paragraphs B-G from the list of headings below.

Write the correct number i-x in boxes 27-32 on your answer sheet.

List of Headings

i     Why some early social science methods lost popularity
ii    The cost implications of research
iii    Looking ahead to an unbiased assessment of research
iv    A range of social issues that have been usefully studied
v     An example of a poor decision that was made too quickly
vi    What happens when the figures are wrong
vii   One area of research that is rigorously carried out
viii  The changing nature of medical trials
ix    An investigative study that may lead to a new system
x    Why some scientists’ theories are considered second-rate

Example     Paragraph   A            Answer  X

27.     Paragraph B
Paragraph C
Paragraph D
 Paragraph E
  Paragraph F
Paragraph G 

Questions 33-36

Complete the summary below.
Choose NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS from the passage for each answer.
Write your answers in boxes 33-36 on your answer sheet.

Fighting Crime

Some criminals in England are agreeing to take part in a trial designed to help reduce their chances of 33………………….. .  The idea is that while one group of randomly selected criminals undergoes the usual 34…………………..  the other group will discuss the possibility of making some repayment for the crime by meeting the 35 …………………… It is yet to be seen whether this system, known as 36 …………………..  will work.

Questions 37-40

Classify the following characteristics as relating to
A Social Science
B Medical Science
C Both Social Science and Medical Science
D Neither Social Science nor Medical Science

Write the correct letter A, B, C or D in boxes 37-40 on your answer sheet.

37. a tendency for negative results in early trials
38. the desire to submit results for independent assessment
39. the prioritisation of research areas to meet government needs
40. the widespread use of studies that investigate the quality of new products.