IELTS Reading Practice



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

The History Of Salt

Salt is so simple and plentiful that we almost take it for granted. In chemical terms, salt is the combination of a sodium ion with a chloride ion, making it one of the most basic molecules on earth. It is also one of the most plentiful: it has been estimated that salt deposits under the state of Kansas alone could supply the entire world’s needs for the next 250,000 years.

But salt is also an essential element. Without it, life itself would be impossible since the human body requires the mineral in order to function properly. The concentration of sodium ions in the blood is directly related to the regulation of safe body fluid levels. And while we are all familiar with its many uses in cooking, we may not be aware that this element is used in some 14,000 commercial applications. From manufacturing pulp and paper to setting dyes in textiles and fabric, from producing soaps and detergents to making our roads safe in winter, salt plays an essential part in our daily lives.

Salt has a long and influential role in world history. From the dawn of civilization, it has been a key factor in economic, religious, social and political development. In every corner of the world, it has been the subject of superstition, folklore, and warfare, and has even been used as currency.

As a precious and portable commodity, salt has long been a cornerstone of economies throughout history. In fact, researcher M.R. Bloch conjectured that civilization began along the edges of the desert because of the natural surface deposits of salt found there. Bloch also believed that the first war – likely fought near the ancient city of Essalt on the Jordan River – could have been fought over the city’s precious supplies of the mineral.

In 2200 BC, the Chinese emperor Hsia Yu levied one of the first known taxes. He taxed salt. In Tibet, Marco Polo noted that tiny cakes of salt were pressed with images of the Grand Khan to be used as coins and to this day among the nomads of Ethiopia’s Danakil Plains it is still used as money. Greek slave traders often bartered it for slaves, giving rise to the expression that someone was “not worth his salt.” Roman legionnaires were paid in salt – a solarium, the Latin origin of the word “salary.”

Merchants in 12th-century Timbuktu – the gateway to the Sahara Desert and the seat of scholars – valued this mineral as highly as books and gold. In France, Charles of Anjou levied the “gabelle,” a salt tax, in 1259 to finance his conquest of the Kingdom of Naples. Outrage over the gabelle fueled the French Revolution. Though the revolutionaries eliminated the tax shortly after Louis XVI, the Republic of France re-established the gabelle in the early 19th Century; only in 1946 was it removed from the books.

The Erie Canal, an engineering marvel that connected the Great Lakes to New York’s Hudson River in 1825, was called “the ditch that salt built.” Salt tax revenues paid for half the cost of construction of the canal. The British monarchy supported itself with high salt taxes, leading to a bustling black market for the white crystal. In 1 785, the Earl of Dundonald wrote that every year in England, 10,000 people were arrested for salt smuggling. And protesting against British rule in 1930, Mahatma Gandhi led a 200-mile march to the Arabian Ocean to collect untaxed salt for India’s poor.

In religion and culture, salt long held an important place with Greek worshippers consecrating it in their rituals. Further, in the Buddhist tradition, salt repels evil spirits, which is why it is customary to throw it over your- shoulder before entering your house after a funeral: it scares off any evil spirits that may be clinging to your back. Shinto religion also uses it to purify an area. Before sumo wrestlers enter the ring for a match – which is, in reality, an elaborate Shinto rite – a handful is thrown into the center to drive off malevolent spirits.

In the Southwest of the United States, the Pueblo worship the Salt Mother. Other native tribes had significant restrictions on who was permitted to eat salt. Hopi legend holds that the angry Warrior Twins punished mankind by placing valuable salt deposits far from civilization, requiring hard work and bravery to harvest the precious mineral. In 1933, the Dalai Lama was buried sitting up in a bed of salt. Today, a gift of salt endures in India as a potent symbol of good luck and a reference to Mahatma Gandhi’s liberation of India.

The effects of salt deficiency are highlighted in times of war, when human bodies and national economies are strained to their limits. Thousands of Napoleon’s troops died during the French retreat from Moscow due to inadequate wound healing and lowered resistance to disease – the results of salt deficiency.

Questions 1 – 3

Choose THREE letters A-H.
Which THREE statements are true of salt?

AA number of cities take their name from the word salt.

BSalt contributed to the French Revolution.

CThe uses of salt are countless.

DSalt has been produced in China for less than 2000 years.

EThere are many commercial applications for salt.

FSalt deposits in the state of Kansas are vast.

GSalt has few industrial uses nowadays.

HSlaves used salt as a currency.

Questions 4 – 8

Complete the summary.
Choose NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS from the passage for each answer. Write your answers in boxes 4-8 on your answer sheet.

Salt is such a .that people would not be able to live without it. As well as its uses in cooking, this basic mineral has thousands of business .ranging from making paper to the manufacture of soap. Being a prized and , it has played a major part in the economies of many countries. As such, salt has not only led to war but has also been used to raise  by governments in many parts of the world. There are also many instances of its place in religion and culture, being used as a means to get rid of evil .

Questions 9 – 14

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

TRUE.if the statement agrees with the information
FALSE.if the statement contradicts the information
NOT GIVEN.If there is no information on this

9.TRUEFALSENOT GIVEN  It has been suggested that salt was responsible for the first war

10.TRUEFALSENOT GIVEN  The first tax on salt was imposed by a Chinese emperor

11.TRUEFALSENOT GIVEN  Salt is no longer used as a form of currency

12.TRUEFALSENOT GIVEN  Most of the money for the construction of the Erie Canal came from salt taxes

13.TRUEFALSENOT GIVEN  Hopi legend believes that salt deposits were placed far away from civilization to penalize mankind

14.TRUEFALSENOT GIVEN  A lack of salt is connected with the deaths of many of Napoleon’s soldiers during the French retreat from Moscow



You should spend about 20 minutes on Questions 15-27, which are based on Reading Passage 2 below.

Seed Hunting


With a quarter of the world’s plants set to vanish within the next 50 years, Dough Alexander reports on the scientists working against the clock the preserve the Earth’s botanical heritage. They travel the four corners of the globe, scouring jungles, forests and savannas. But they’re not looking for ancient artefacts, lost treasure or undiscovered tombs. Just pods. It may lack the romantic allure of archaeology or the whiff of danger that accompanies going after a big game, but seed hunting is an increasingly serious business. Some seek seeds for profit-hunters in the employ of biotechnology firms, pharmaceutical companies and private corporations on the lookout for species that will yield the drugs or crops of the future. Others collect to conserve, working to halt the sad slide into extinction facing so many plant species.


Among the pioneers of this botanical treasure hunt was John Tradescant, an English royal gardener who brought back plants and seeds from his journeys abroad in the early 1600s. Later, the English botanist Sir Joseph Banks – who was the first director of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew and travelled with Captain James Cook on his voyages near the end of the 18th century – was so driven to expand his collections that he sent botanists around the world at his own expense.


Those heady days of exploration and discovery may be over, but they have been replaced by a pressing need to preserve our natural history for the future. This modern mission drives hunters such as Dr Michiel van Slageren, a good-natured Dutchman who often sports a wide-brimmed hat in the field – he could easily be mistaken for the cinematic hero Indiana Jones. He and three other seed hunters work at the Millennium Seed Bank, an 80 million [pounds sterling] international conservation project that aims to protect the world’s most endangered wild plant species.


The group’s headquarters are in a modern glass-and-concrete structure on a 200-hectare Estate at Wakehurst Place in the West Sussex countryside. Within its underground vaults are 260 million dried seeds from 122 countries, all stored at -20 Celsius to survive for centuries. Among the 5,100 species represented are virtually all of Britain’s 1,400 native seed-bearing plants, the most complete such collection of any country’s flora.


Overseen by the Royal botanic gardens, the Millennium Seed Bank is the world’s largest wild-plant depository. It aims to collect 24,000 species by 2010. The reason is simple: thanks to humanity’s effort, an estimated 25 per cent of the world’s plants are on the verge of extinction and may vanish within 50 years. We’re currently responsible for habitat destruction on an unprecedented scale, and during the past 400 years, plant species extinction rates have been about 70 times greater than those indicated by the geological record as being ‘normal’. Experts predict that during the next 50 years further one billion hectares of wilderness will be converted to farmland in developing countries alone.


The implications of this loss are enormous. Besides providing staple food crops, plants are a source of many machines and the principal supply of fuel and building materials in many parts of the world. They also protect soil and help regulate the climate. Yet, across the globe, plant species are being driven to extinction before their potential benefits are discovered.


The world Conservation Union has listed 5,714 threatened species is sure to be much higher. In the UK alone, 300 wild plant species are classified as endangered. The Millennium Seed Bank aims to ensure that even if a plant becomes extinct in the wild, it won’t be lost forever. Stored seeds can be used the help restore damaged or destroyed the environment or in scientific research to find new benefits for society- in medicine, agriculture or local industry- that would otherwise be lost.


Seed banks are an insurance policy to protect the world’s plant heritage for the future, explains Dr Paul Smith, another Kew seed hunter. “Seed conservation techniques were originally developed by farmers,” he says. “Storage is the basis what we do, conserving seeds until you can use them just as in farming,” Smith says there’s no reason why any plant species should become extinct, given today’s technology. But he admits that the biggest challenge is finding, naming and categorizing all the world’s plants. And someone has to gather these seeds before it’s too late. “There aren’t a lot of people out there doing this,” he says. “The key is to know the flora from a particular area, and that knowledge takes years to acquire.”


There are about 1,470 seedbanks scattered around the globe, with a combined total of 5.4 million samples, of which perhaps two million are distinct non-duplicates. Most preserve genetic material for agriculture use in order to ensure crop diversity; others aim to conserve wild species, although only 15 per cent of all banked plants is wild.


Many seed banks are themselves under threat due to a lack of funds. Last year, Imperial College, London, examined crop collections from 151 countries and found that while the number of plant samples had increased in two-thirds of the countries, the budget had been cut in a quarter and remained static in another 35 per cent. The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization and the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research has since set up the Global Conservation Trust, which aims to raise the US $260 million to protect seed banks in perpetuity.

Questions 26-27

Choose the correct letter, A-E.
Write your answers in boxes 12-13 on your answer sheet.

Which TWO of the following are provided by plants to the human?





Ecommercial products

Questions 15-20

Do the following statements agree with the information given in Reading Passage?
In boxes 15-20 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

15.TRUEFALSENOT GIVEN  The purpose of collecting seeds now is different from the past.

16.TRUEFALSENOT GIVEN  The millennium seed bank is the earliest seed bank.

17.TRUEFALSENOT GIVEN  One of the major threats for plant species extinction is farmland expansion into wildness.

18.TRUEFALSENOT GIVEN  The approach that scientists apply to store seeds is similar to that used by farmers.

19.TRUEFALSENOT GIVEN  Technological development is the only hope to save plant species.

20.TRUEFALSENOT GIVEN  The works of seed conservation are often limited by financial problems.

Questions 21 – 25

Complete the following summary of the paragraphs of Reading Passage,

Using NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS from the Reading Passage for each answer.

Write your answers in boxes 21-25 on your answer sheet.

Some people collect seeds for the purpose of protecting certain species from ; others collect seeds for their ability to produce . They are called seed hunters. The . Of them included both gardeners and botanists, such as , who financially supported collectors out of his own pocket. The seeds collected are usually stored in seed banks, one of which is the famous millennium seed bank, where seeds are all stored in the  at a low temperature.



You should spend about 20 minutes on Questions 28-40, which are based on Reading Passage 3 below.

Designed to Last

Designed To Last

Could better design cure our throwaway culture?

A. Jonathan Chapman, a senior lecturer at the University of Brighton, UK, is one of a new breed of “sustainable designers’. Like many of us, they are concerned about the huge waste associated with Western consumer culture and the damage this does to the environment. Some, like Chapman, aim to create objects we will want to keep rather than discard. Others are working to create more efficient or durable consumer goods or goods designed with recycling in mind. The waste entailed in our fleeting relationships with consumer durables is colossal

B. Domestic power tools, such as electric drills, are a typical example of such waste. However much DIY the purchaser plans to do, the truth is that these things are thrown away having been used, on average, for just ten minutes. Most will serve conscience time, gathering dust on a shelf in the garage; people are reluctant to admit that they have wasted their money. However, the end is inevitable for thousands of years in landfill waste sites. In its design, manufacture, packaging, transportation, and disposal, a power tool consumes many times its own weight in resources, all for a shorter active lifespan than that of the average small insect.

C. To understand why we have become so wasteful, we should look to the underlying motivation of consumers. ‘People own things to give expression to who they are and to show what group of people they feel they belong to’ Chapman says. In a world of mass production, however, that symbolism has lost much of its potency. For most of human history, people had an intimate relationship with objects they used or treasured. Often they made the objects themselves, or family members passed them on. For more specialist objects, people relied on expert manufacturers living close by, whom they probably knew personally. Chapman points out that all these factors gave objects a history – a narrative – and an emotional connection that today’s mass production cannot match. Without these personal connections, consumerist culture instead of idolizes novelty. We know we can’t buy happiness, but the chance to remake ourselves with glossybox-fresh products seems irresistible. When the novelty fades we simply renew the excitement by buying more new stuff: what John Thackara of Doors of Perception, a network for sharing ideas about the future of design, calls the “schlock of the new”.

D. As a sustainable designer, Chapman’s solution is what he calls “emotionally durable design”. Think about your favourite old jeans. They just don’t have the right feel until they have been worn and washed a hundred times, do they? It is like they are sharing your life story. You can fake that look, but it isn’t the same. Chapman says the gradual unfolding of a relationship like this transforms our interactions with objects into something richer than simple utility. Swiss industrial analyst Walter Stahel, visiting professor at the University of Surrey, calls it the “teddy-bear factor”. No matter how ragged and worn a favourite teddy becomes, we don’t rush out and buy another one. As adults, our teddy bear connects us to our childhoods, and this protects it from obsolescence Stahel says this is what sustainable design needs to do.

E. It is not simply about making durable items that people want to keep. Sustainable design is a matter of properly costing the whole process of production, energy use, and disposal. “It is about the design of systems, the design of culture,” says Tim Cooper from the Centre for Sustainable Consumption at Sheffield Hallam University in Britain. He thinks sustainable design has been “surprisingly slow to take off” but says looming environmental crises and resource depletion are pushing it to the top of the agenda.

F. Thackara agrees. For him, the roots of impending environmental collapse can be summarized in two words: weight and speed. We are making more stuff than the planet can sustain and using vast amounts of energy moving more and more of it around ever faster. The Information Age was supposed to lighten our economies and reduce our impact on the environment, but the reverse seems to be happening. We have simply added information technology to the industrial era and hastened the developed world’s metabolism, Thackara argues.

G. Once you grasp that, the cure is hardly rocket science: minimize waste and energy use, stop moving stuff around so much and use people more. EZIO MANZINI, Professor of industrial design at Politecnico di Milano University, Italy, describes the process of moving to a post-throwaway society as “changing the engine of an aircraft in mid-flight’ Even so, he believes it can be done, and he is not alone.

H. Manzini says a crucial step would be to redesign our globalized world into what he calls the “multi-local society”. His vision is that every resource, from food to electricity generation, should as far as possible be sourced and distributed locally. These local hubs would then be connected to national and global networks to allow the most efficient use and flow of materials.

I. So what will post-throwaway consumerism look like? For a start, we will increasingly buy sustainably designed products. This might be as simple as installing energy-saving light bulbs, more efficient washing machines, or choosing locally produced groceries with less packaging.

J. We will spend less on material goods and more on services. Instead of buying a second car, for example, we might buy into a car-sharing network. We will also buy less and rent a whole lot more: why own things that you hardly use, especially things that are likely to be updated all the time? Consumer durables will be sold with plans already in place for their disposal. Electronic goods will be designed to be recyclable, with the extra cost added to the retail price as prepayment. As consumers become increasingly concerned about the environment, many big businesses are eagerly adopting sustainable design and brushing up their green credentials to please their customers and stay one step ahead of the competition.

Question 28 – 32

Choose the correct letter, A, B, C or D
Write your answers in boxes 1-5 on your answer sheet.

28. What does ‘conscience time’ imply in paragraph 2?

APeople feel guilty when they throw things away easily.

BThe shelf in the garage needs cleaning.

CThe consumers are unaware of the waste problem.

DThe power tool should be placed in the right place after being used

29. Prior to mass production, people own things to show

Atheir quality

Btheir status

Ctheir character

Dtheir history

30. The word ‘narrative’ in paragraph 3 refers to

Athe novelty culture pursued by the customers

Bthe motivation of buying new products

Cobject stories that relate personally and meaningfully to the owners

Dthe image created by the manufacturers

31. Without a personal connection, people buy new stuff for




Dfamily members

32. The writer quotes the old jeans and teddy bear to illustrate that

Athe products are used for simple utility.

Bproducers should create more special stuff to attract consumers.

CChapman led a poor childhood life.

Dthe emotional connections make us to keep the objects for longer.

Question 33 – 36

Complete the summary using the list of words, A-H, below.

Write the correct letter, A-H, in boxes 6-9 on your answer sheet.

Tim Cooper claims that although sustainable design proceeds 33.ABCDEFGH  the coming problems are pushing the move. In accordance with Tim Cooper, Thackara believes that the origins of the looming environmental crises are weight and 34.ABCDEFGH . The technology which was assumed to have a positive effect on our society actually accelerates the world’s 35.ABCDEFGH . To cure this, Manzini proposes a ‘multi-local society’ which means every resource should be located and redeployed 36.ABCDEFGH .

Question 37 – 40

Do the following statements agree with the claims of the writer in Reading Passage?
In boxes 37-40 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

37.YESNONOT GIVEN  People often buy things that are seldom used and throw them away.
38.YESNONOT GIVEN  In a post-throwaway society, we will pay extra money after disposing of electronic goods.
39.YESNONOT GIVEN  Some businesses have jumped on the sustainability bandwagon.
40.YESNONOT GIVEN  Company will spend less on repairs in the future.



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