IELTS Reading Practice



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

John Franklin: “the discovery of the slowness”


John Franklin (1786-1847) was the most famous vanisher of the Victorian era. He joined the Navy as a midshipman at the age of 14 and fought in the battles of Copenhagen and Trafalgar. When peace with the French broke out. he turned his attention to, and in particular to solve the conundrum of the Northwest Passage, the mythical clear-water route which would, if it existed, link the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans above the northern coast of the American continent. The first expedition Franklin led to the Arctic was an arduous overland journey from Hudson Bay to the shores of the so-called Polar Ocean east of the Coppermine River. Between 1819 and 1822. Franklin and his twenty-strong team covered 5550 miles on foot. Their expedition was a triumph of surveying – they managed to chart hundreds of miles of previously unknown coastline.


There followed a career as a travel writer and salon-goer {‘the man who ate his boots’ was Franklin’s tag-line), a second long Arctic expedition, and a controversial spell as Governor of Van Diemen’s Land. Then, in May 1845, Franklin set off with two ships – the Erebus and the Terror – and 129 men on the voyage that would kill him. In July, the convoy was seen by two whalers, entering Lancaster Sound. Nothing more would be heard of it for 14 years. Had the ships sunk or been iced in? Were the men dead, or in need of rescue? Or had they broken through to the legendary open polar sea, beyond the ‘ice barrier’?


In his personal correspondence and in his published memoirs. Franklin comes across as a man dedicated to the external duties of war and exploration, who kept introspection and self-analysis to a minimum. His blandness makes him an amenably malleable subject for a novelist, and Sten Nadolny has taken full advantage of this licence. Most important, he has endowed his John Franklin with a defining character trait for which there is no historical evidence: (‘slowness’, or ‘calmness’).


Slowness influences not only Franklin’s behaviour but also his vision, his thought and his speech. The opening scene of The Discovery of Slowness (The Discovery of Slowness by Sten Nadolny) – depicts Franklin as a young boy. playing catch badly because his reaction time is too slow. Despite the bullying of his peers, Franklin resolves not to fall into step with ‘their way of doing things’. For Nadolny. Franklin’s fated fascination with the Arctic stems from his desire to find an environment suited to his peculiar slowness.


He describes Franklin as a boy dreaming of the ‘open water and the time without hours and days’ which exist in the far north, and of finding in the Arctic a place ‘where nobody would find him too slow’. Ice is a slow mover. Ice demands a corresponding patience from those who venture onto it. The explorers who have thrived at high latitude and at high altitudes haven’t usually been men of great speed. They have tended instead to demonstrate unusual self-possession, a considerable capacity for boredom, and a talent for what the Scots call ‘tholing’, the uncomplaining endurance of suffering.


These were all qualities which the historical Franklin possessed in abundance, and so Nadolny’s concentration and exaggeration of them isn’t unreasonable. Even as an adult, his slowness of thought means that he is unable to speak fluently, so he memorises ‘entire fleets of words and batteries of response’, and speaks a languid, bric-a-brac language. In the Navy, his method of thinking first and acting later initially provokes mockery from his fellow sailors. But Franklin persists in doing things his way. and gradually earns the respect of those around him. To a commodore who tells him to speed up his report of an engagement, he replies: ‘When I tell something, sir. I use my own rhythm.’ A lieutenant says approvingly of him: ’Because Franklin is so slow, he never loses time.’


Since it was first published in Germany in 1983. The Discovery of Slowness has sold more than a million copies and been translated into 13 languages. It has been named as one of German literature’s twenty ‘contemporary classics’, and it has been as a manual and by European pressure groups and institutions representing causes as diverse as sustainable development, the Protestant Church, management science, motoring policy and pacifism.


The various groups that have taken the novel up have one thing in common: a dislike of the high-speed culture of Postmodernity. Nadolny’s Franklin appeals to them because he is immune to ‘the compulsion to be constantly occupied’, and to the idea that ‘someone was better if he could do the same thing fast.’ Several German churches have used him in their symposia and focus groups as an example of peacefulness, piety and self-confidence. A centre scheme (a ‘march of slowness’ or ‘of the slow’), inspired by the novel. Nadolny has appeared as a guest speaker for RIO, a Lucerne-based organisation which aims to reconcile management principles with ideas of environmental sustainability. The novel has even become involved in the debate about speed limits on German roads. Drive down an autobahn today, and you will see large road-side signs proclaiming ‘unhurriedness’ a slogan which deliberately plays off the title of the novel.


A management journal in the US described The Discovery of Slowness is a ‘major event not only for connoisseurs of fine historical fiction but also for those of us who concern themselves with leadership, communication and systems-thinking, issues’. It’s easy to see where the attraction lies for the management crowd. The novel is crammed with quotations about time-efficiency, punctiliousness and profitability: ‘As a rule, there are always three points in time: the right one. the lost one and the premature one’. ‘What did too late mean? They hadn’t waited for it long enough, that’s what it meant.’

Questions 1-6

Reading Passage 3 has seven paragraphs A-H.

Which paragraph contains the following information?

Write the correct letter A-H, in boxes 1-6 on your answer sheet.

NB You may use any letter more than once.


1.ABCDEFGH  What was Sir John Franklin’s occupation before he went on a career of the arctic exploration?

2.ABCDEFGH  A story John Franklin reacted strangely when he met bullies by other children.

3.ABCDEFGH  Reason of popularity for the book The Discovery of Slowness.

4.ABCDEFGH  A depiction that Sten Nadolny’s biography on John Franklin is not much based on facts.

5.ABCDEFGH  The particular career Sir John Franklin took after his expedition unmatched before.

6.ABCDEFGH  what is the central scheme and environment conveyed by the book The Discovery of Slowness.

Questions 7-10

Complete the Summary paragraph described below.

In boxes 7-10 on your answer sheet

Write the correct answer with ONE WORD chosen from the box below


In his personal correspondence to and in his published memoirs by Sten Nadolny, John Franklin was depicted as a man dedicated to the exploration, and the word of “slowness” was used to define his 7.ABCDEFGHIJK  when Franklin was in his childhood, his determination to the 8.ABCDEFGHIJK  of the schoolboys was too slow for him to fall into step. And Franklin was said to be a boy dreaming finding in a place he could enjoy the 9.ABCDEFGHIJK  in the Arctic. Later in 20th, His biography of the discovery of slowness has been adopted as a 10.ABCDEFGHIJK  as for the movement such as sustainable development, or management science, motoring policy.

Questions 11-14

Choose the correct letter, ABC or D.

Write your answers in boxes 11-14 on your answer sheet

11. Why does the author mention “the ice is a slow mover” in the geological arctic, to demonstrate the idea

Aof the difficulties Franklin conquered

Bthat Franklin had a dream since his childhood

Cof fascination with the Arctic exploration

Dthat explorer like Franklin should possess the quality of being patient

12. When Franklin was on board with sailors, how did he speak to his follow sailors

Ahe spoke in a way mocking his followers

Bhe spoke a bric-a-brac language to show his languish attitude

Che spoke in the words and phrases he previously memorized

Dhe spoke in a rhythmical tune to save chatting time

13. he spoke in a rhythmical tune to save chatting time

Aunderstanding of his personality better

Bcapacity for coping with boredom

Crespect for him as he insisted to overcome his difficulties

Dvaluable time he can use to finish a report

14. Why is the book The Discovery of Slowness sold more than a million copies

Ait contains aspects of the life people would like to enjoy

Bit contains the information for the flag language applied in ships

Cit induces a debate about speed limits German

Dit contains the technique for symposia German churches



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

How Fair is Fair Trade?

The fair-trade movement began in Europe in earnest in the post-war period, but only in the last 25 years has it grown to include producers and consumers in over 60 countries.

In the 1950s and 60s, many people in the developed world felt passionately about the enormous disparities between developed and developing countries, and they believed the system of international trade shut out African, Asian, and South American producers who could not compete with multinational companies or who came from states that, for political reasons, were not trading with the West. The catchphrase ‘Trade Not Aid’ was used by church groups and trade unions – early supporters of fair trade – who also considered that international aid was either a pittance or a covert form of subjugation. These days, much fair trade does include aid: developed-world volunteers offer their services, and there is free training for producers and their workers.

Tea, coffee, cocoa, cotton, flowers, handicrafts, and gold are all major fair-trade items, with coffee being the most recognisable, fund on supermarket shelves and at café chains throughout the developed world.

Although around two million farmers and workers produce fair-trade items, this is a tiny number in relation to total global trade. Still, fair-trade advocates maintain that the system has positively impacted upon many more people worldwide, while the critics claim that if those two million returned to the mainstream trading system, they would receive higher prices for their goods or labour.

Fair trade is supposed to be a trade that is fair to producers. Its basic tenet is that developed-world consumers will pay slightly more for end products in the knowledge that developing-world producers have been equitably remunerated, and that the products have been made in decent circumstances. Additionally, the fair-trade system differs from that of the open market because there is a minimum price paid for goods, which may be higher than that of the open market. Secondly, a small premium, earmarked for community development, is added in good years; for example, coffee co-operatives in South America frequently receive an additional 25c per kilogram. Lastly, purchasers of fair-trade products may assist with crop pre-financing or with the training of producers and workers, which could take the form of improving product quality, using environmentally friendly fertilisers, or raising literacy. Research has shown that non-fair-trade farmers copy some fair-trade farming practices, and, occasionally, encourage social progress. In exchange for ethical purchase and other assistance, fair-trade producers agree not to use child or slave labour, to adhere to the United Nations Charter on Human Rights, to provide safe workplaces, and to protect the environment despite these not being legally binding in their own countries. However, few non-fair-trade farmers have adopted these practices, viewing them as little more than rich-world conceits.

So that consumers know which products are made under fair-trade conditions, goods are labelled, and, these days, a single European and American umbrella organisation supervises labelling, standardisation, and inspection.

While fair trade is increasing, the system is far from perfect. First and foremost, there are expenses involved in becoming a fair-trade-certified producer, meaning the desperately poor rarely participate, so the very farmers fair-trade advocates originally hoped to support are excluded. Secondly, because conforming to the standards of fair-trade certification is costly, some producers deliberately mislabel their goods. The fair-trade monitoring process is patchy, and unfortunately, around 12% of fair-trade-labelled produce is nothing of the kind. Next, a crop may genuinely be produced under fair-trade conditions, but due to a lack of demand cannot be sold as fair trade, so goes onto the open market, where prices are mostly lower. It is estimated that only between 18-37% of fair-trade output is actually sold as fair trade. Sadly, there is little reliable research on the real relationship between costs incurred and revenue for fair-trade farmers, although empirical evidence suggests that many never realise a profit. Partly, reporting from producers is inadequate, and ways of determining profit may not include credit, harvesting, transport, or processing. Sometimes, the price paid to fair-trade producers is lower than that of the open market, so while a crop may be sold, elsewhere it could have earnt more, or where there are profits, they are often taken by the corporate firms that buy the goods and sell them on to retailers.

There are problems with the developed-world part of the equation too. People who volunteer to work for fair-trade concerns may do so believing they are assisting farmers and communities, whereas their labour serves to enrich middlemen and retailers. Companies involved in West African cocoa production have been criticised for this. In the developed world, the right to use a fair-trade logo is also expensive for packers and retailers, and sometimes a substantial amount of the money received from sale is ploughed back into marketing. In richer parts of the developed world, notably in London, packers and retailers charge high prices for fair-trade products. Consumers imagine they are paying so much because more money is returned to producers when profit-taking by retailers or packers is a more likely scenario. One UK café chain is known to have passed on 1.6% of the extra 18% is charged for fair-trade coffee to producers. However, this happens with other items at the supermarket or cafe, so perhaps consumers are naive to believe fair-traders behave otherwise. In addition, there are struggling farmers in rich countries, too, so some critics think fair-trade associations should certify them. Other critics find the entire fair-trade system flawed – nothing more than a colossal marketing scam- and they would rather assist the genuinely poor in more transparent ways, but this criticism may be overblown since fair trade has endured for and been praised in the developing world itself.

Questions 15-19

Answer the questions below.

Choose NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS from the passage for each answer

Write your answers in boxes 1-5 on your answer sheet.

1. What was an early slogan about addressing the imbalance between the developed and

developing worlds? 

2. What is probably the most well-known fair-trade commodity? 

3. According to the writer, in terms of total global trade, what do fair-trade producers represent? 

4. How do its supporters think fair trade has affected many people? 

5What do its critics think fair-trade producers would get if they went back to mainstream trade? 

Questions 20-23

Complete each sentence with the correct ending, A-H, below.

Write the correct letter A-H, in boxes 20-23 on your answer sheet. or training for producers and employees.
B.although they may not be obliged to do so in their own country
C.for the various social benefits fair trade brings. pay more for what they see as ethical products.
E.has influenced non-fair-trade producers.
F.because these are United Nations obligations.
G.too much corruption.
H.have been adopted by non-fair-trade producers.

20.ABCDEFGH  Consumers of fair-trade products are happy

21.ABCDEFGH  The fair-trade system may include

22.ABCDEFGH  Some fair-trade practices

23.ABCDEFGH  Fair-trade producers must adopt international employment standards

Questions 24-27

Do the following statements agree with the claims of the writer in Reading Passage?

In boxes 24-27 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

24.YESNONOT GIVEN  The fair-trade system assists farmers who are extremely poor.

25.YESNONOT GIVEN  Some products labelled as fair-trade is in fact not.

26.YESNONOT GIVEN  UK supermarkets and cafes should not charge such high prices for fair-trade items.

27.YESNONOT GIVEN  Fair trade is mainly a marketing ploy and not a valid way of helping the poor.



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

The Flavour Industry

A. Read through the nutritional information on the food in your freezer, refrigerator or kitchen pantry, and you are likely to find a simple, innocuous-looking ingredient recurring on a number of products: “natural flavour”. The story of what natural flavour is, how it got into your food, and where it came from is the result of more complex processes than you might imagine.

B. During the 1980s, health watchdogs and nutritionists began turning their attention to cholesterol, a waxy steroid metabolite that we mainly consume from animal-sourced products such as cheese, egg yolks, beef, poultry, shrimp, and pork. Nutritionists blamed cholesterol for contributing to the growing rates of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and several cancers in Western societies. As extensive recognition of the matter grew amongst the common people, McDonald’s stopped cooking their French fries in a mixture of cottonseed oil and beef tallow, and in 1990, the restaurant chain began using 100% vegetable oil instead.

C. This substantially lowered the amount of cholesterol in McDonald’s fries, but it created a new dilemma The beef tallow and cottonseed oil mixture gave the French fries high cholesterol content, but it also gifted them with a rich aroma and “mouth-feel” that even James Beard, an American food critic, admitted he enjoyed. Pure vegetable oil is bland in comparison. Looking at the current ingredients list of McDonald’s French fries, however, it is easy to see how they overcame this predicament. Aside from a few preservatives, there are essentially three main ingredients: potato, soybean oil, and the mysterious component of “natural flavour”.

D. Natural flavour also entered our diet through the rise in processed foods, which now make up over 90% (and growing) of the American diet, as well as representing a burgeoning industry in developing countries such as China and India Processed foods are essentially any foods that have been boxed, bagged, canned or packaged, and have a list of ingredients on the label. Sometimes, the processing involves adding a little sodium or sugar, and a few preservatives. Often, however, it is coloured, bleached, stabilized, emulsified, dehydrated, odour-concealed, and sweetened. This process typically saps any original flavour out of the product, and so, of course, flavour must be added back in as well.

E. Often this is “natural flavour”, but while the term may bring to mind images of fresh barley, hand-ground spices, and dried herbs being traded in a bustling street market, most of these natural sources are, in fact, engineered to culinary perfection in a set of factories and plants of the New Jersey Turnpike outside of New York. Here, firms such as International Flavors & Fragrances, Harmen & Keimer, Flavor Dynamics, Frutarom and Elan Chemical isolate and manufacture the tastes that are incorporated in much of what we eat and drink. The sweet, summery burst of naturally squeezed orange juice, the wood-smoked aroma in barbeque sauces, and the creamy, buttery, fresh taste in many dairy products do not come from sun-drenched meadows or backyard grills but are formed in the labs and test tubes of these flavour industry giants.

F. The scientists – dubbed “flavourists” who create the potent chemicals that set our olfactory senses to overdrive use a mix of techniques that have been refined over many years. Part of it is dense, intricate chemistry: spectrometers, gas chromatographs, and headspace-vapor analyzers can break down components of a flavor in amounts as minute as one part per billion. Not to be outdone, however, the human nose can isolate aromas down to three parts per trillion. Flavourists, therefore, consider their work as much an art as a science, and flavorism requires a nose “trained” with a delicate and poetic sense of balance.

G. Should we be wary of the industrialization of natural flavour? On its own, the trend may not present any clear reason for alarm. Nutritionists widely agree that the real assault on health in the last few decades stems from an “unholy trinity” of sugar, fat, and sodium in processed foods. The natural flavour on its own is not a health risk. It does play a role, however, in helping these processed foods to taste fresh and nutritious, even when they are not. So, while the natural flavor industry should not be considered the culprit, we might think of it as a willing accomplice.

Question 28 – 35

eading Passage has seven paragraphs, A-G.

Which paragraph contains the following information?

Write the correct letter. A-G, in boxes 28-35 on your answer sheet.

NB You may use any letter more than once.

28.ABCDEFG  Examples of companies that create natural flavors

29.ABCDEFG  An instance of a multinational franchise responding to public pressure

30.ABCDEFG  A statement on the health effects of natural flavors

31.ABCDEFG  An instance where a solution turns into a problem

32.ABCDEFG  A place in the home where one may encounter the term “natural flavor”

33.ABCDEFG  Details about the transformation that takes place in processed grocery items

34.ABCDEFG  A comparison of personal and technological abilities in flavor detection

35.ABCDEFG  Examples of diet-related health conditions

Questions 36-39

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

In boxes 36-39 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

36.TRUEFALSENOT GIVEN  On their own, vegetable oils do not have a strong flavor.

37.TRUEFALSENOT GIVEN  Soybean oil is lower in cholesterol than cottonseed oil.

38.TRUEFALSENOT GIVEN  Processed foods are becoming more popular in some Asian countries.

39.TRUEFALSENOT GIVEN  All food processing involves the use of natural flavors.

Question 40

Choose the correct letter. A B, C, or D and write it on your answer sheet.

40. The writer of Reading Passage concludes that natural flavors…………………..

Aare the major cause of dietary health problems

Bare unhealthy, but not as had as sugar, fat, and sodium.

Chave health benefits that other ingredients tend to cancel out.

Dhelp make unhealthy foods taste better.



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