Academic Ielts Reading Material

IELTS Academic Reading Practice Test 117 With Answers

IELTS Academic Reading Practice Test 117 With Answers

IELTS Academic Reading Practice Test 117 With Answers

Reading Passage 1

You should spend about 20 minutes on Questions 1-13, which are based on Reading Passage 1 below:


A millennium ago, stepwells were fundamental to life in the driest parts of India. Although many have been neglected, recent restoration has returned them to their former glory. Richard Cox travelled to north-western India to document these spectacular monuments from a bygone era.

During the sixth and seventh centuries, the inhabitants of the modern-day states of Gujarat and Rajasthan in North-western India developed a method of gaining access to clean, fresh groundwater during the dry season for drinking, bathing, watering animals and irrigation. However, the significance of this invention – the stepwell – goes beyond its utilitarian application.
Unique to the region, stepwells are often architecturally complex and vary widely in size and shape. During their heyday, they were places of gathering, of leisure, of relaxation and of worship for villagers of all but the lowest castes. Most stepwells are found dotted around the desert areas of Gujarat (where they are called vav) and Rajasthan (where they are known as baori), while a few also survive in Delhi. Some were located in or near villages as public spaces for the community; others were positioned beside roads as resting places for travellers.


As their name suggests, stepwells comprise a series of stone steps descending from ground level to the water source (normally an underground aquifer) as it recedes following the rains. When the water level was high, the user needed only to descend a few steps to reach it; when it was low, several levels would have to be negotiated.
Some wells are vast, open craters with hundreds of steps paving each sloping side, often in tiers.

Others are more elaborate, with long stepped passages leading to the water via several storeys built from stone and supported by pillars, they also included pavilions that sheltered visitors from the relentless heat. But perhaps the most impressive features are the intricate decorative sculptures that embellish many stepwells, showing activities from fighting and dancing to everyday acts such as women combing their hair and churning butter.


Down the centuries, thousands of wells had constructed throughout northwestern India, but the majority have now fallen into disuse; many are derelict and dry, as groundwater has been diverted for industrial use and the wells no longer reach the water table. Their condition hasn’t been helped by recent dry spells: southern Rajasthan suffered an eight-year drought between 1996 and 2004.
However, some important sites in Gujarat have recently undergone major restoration, and the state government announced in June last year that it plans to restore the stepwells throughout the state.


In Patan, the state’s ancient capital, the stepwell of Rani Ki Vav (Queen’s Stepwell) is perhaps the finest current example. It had built by Queen Udayamati during the late 11th century, but became silted up following a flood during the 13th century. But the Archaeological Survey of India began restoring it in the 1960s, and today it’s in pristine condition. At 65 metres long, 20 metres wide and 27 metres deep, Rani Ki Vav features 500 distinct sculptures carved into niches throughout the monument, depicting gods such as Vishnu and Parvati in various incarnations. Incredibly, in January 2001, this ancient structure survived a devastating earthquake that measured 7.6 on the Richter scale.
Another example is the Surya Kund in Modhera, northern Gujarat, next to the Sun Temple, built by King Bhima I in 1026 to honour the sun god Surya. It’s actually a tank (kund means reservoir or pond) rather than a well, but displays the hallmarks of stepwell architecture, including four sides of steps that descend to the bottom in a stunning geometrical formation. The terraces house 108 small, intricately carved shrines between the sets of steps.


Rajasthan also has a wealth of wells. The ancient city of Bundi, 200 kilometres south of Jaipur, is renowned for its architecture, including its stepwells. One of the larger examples is Raniji Ki Baori, which was built by the queen of the region, Nathavatji, in 1699. At 46 metres deep, 20 metres wide and 40 metres long, the intricately carved monument is one of 21 baoris commissioned in the Bundi area by Nathavatji.


In the old ruined town of Abhaneri, about 95 kilometres east of Jaipur, is Chand Baori, one of India’s oldest and deepest wells; aesthetically, it’s perhaps one of the most dramatic. Built in around 850 AD next to the temple of Harshat Mata, the baori comprises hundreds of zigzagging steps that run along three of its sides, steeply descending 11 storeys, resulting in a striking geometric pattern when seen from afar.

On the fourth side, covered verandas supported by ornate pillars overlook the steps.Still in public use is Neemrana Ki Baori, located just off the Jaipur–Dehli highway. Constructed in around 1700, it’s nine storeys deep, with the last two levels underwater. At ground level, there are 86 colonnaded openings from where the visitor descends 170 steps to the deepest water source.


Today, following years of neglect, many of these monuments to medieval engineering have been saved by the Archaeological Survey of India, which has recognised the importance of preserving them as part of the country’s rich history. Tourists flock to wells in far-flung corners of northwestern India to gaze in wonder at these architectural marvels from 1,000 years ago, which serve as a reminder of both the ingenuity and artistry of ancient civilisations and of the value of water to human existence.

Questions 1–5

IELTS Academic Reading Practice Test 117 With Answers

Do the following statements agree with the information given in Reading Passage 1?

In boxes 1–5 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. Examples of ancient stepwells can be found all over the world.
2.   Stepwells had a range of functions, in addition to those related to water collection.
3.  The few existing stepwells in Delhi are more attractive than those found elsewhere.
4.   It took workers many years to build the stone steps characteristic of stepwells.
5.  The number of steps above the water level in a stepwell altered during the course of a year.

Questions 6–8

IELTS Academic Reading Practice Test 117 With Answers

Answer the questions below.
Choose ONE WORD ONLY from the passage for each answer.

Write your answers in boxes 6–8 on your answer sheet.
6.   Which part of some stepwells provided shade for people?
7.   What type of serious climatic event, which took place in southern Rajasthan, is mentioned in the article?
8.   Who are frequent visitors to stepwells nowadays?

Question 9-13
Complete the table below

Choose ONE WORD AND /OR A NUMBER from the passage for each answer.
Write your answers in boxes 9-13 on your answer sheet.

StepwellsDateFeaturesOther notes
Rani Ki VavLate 11th centuryAs many as 500 sculptures decorate the monumentRestored in the 1990s
Excellent condition, despite the 9 …………… of 2001.
Surya Kund1026Steps on the 10 …………… produce a geometric pattern
Carved shrines. 
Looks more like a 11 …………… than a well. 
Raniji Ki Baori1699Intricately carved monumentOne of 21 baoris in the area commissioned by Queen Nathavatji
Chand Baori850 ADSteps take you down 11 storeys to the bottomOld, deep and very dramatic
  Has 12 …………… which provide a view to the steps. 
Neemrana Ki Baori1700Has two 13 …………… levels. Used by public today
Reading Passage 2

You should spend about 20 minutes on Questions 14-26, which are based on Reading Passage 2 below:

Questions 14-21

IELTS Academic Reading Practice Test 117 With Answers

Reading Passage 2 has nine paragraphs, A-I.

Choose the correct heading for paragraphs A-E and G-I from the list of headings below.
Write the correct number i-xi, in boxes 14-21 on your answer sheet.

List of Headings

i      A fresh and important long-term goal
ii     Charging for roads and improving other transport methods
iii    Changes affecting the distances goods may be transported
iv    Taking all the steps necessary to change transport patterns
v     The environmental costs of road transport
vi    The escalating cost of rail transport
vii   The need to achieve transport rebalance
viii  The rapid growth of private transport
ix    Plans to develop major road networks
x     Restricting road use through charging policies alone
xi    Transport trends in countries awaiting EU admission

14    Paragraph A

15    Paragraph B

16    Paragraph C

17    Paragraph D

18    Paragraph E

19    Paragraph G

20    Paragraph H

21    Paragraph I

Example:                           Answer:
Paragraph F                          vii


What have been the trends and what are the prospects for European transport systems?


It is difficult to conceive of vigorous economic growth without an efficient transport system. Although modern information technologies can reduce the demand for physical transport by facilitating teleworking and teleservices, the requirement for transport continues to increase. There are two key factors behind this trend. For passenger transport, the determining factor is the spectacular growth in car use. The number of cars on European Union (EU) roads saw an increase of three million cars each year from 1990 to 2010, and in the next decade, the EU will see a further substantial increase in its fleet.


As far as goods transport is concerned, growth is due to a large extent to changes in the European economy and its system of production. In the last 20 years, as internal frontiers have been abolished, the EU has moved from a ”stock” economy to a ”flow” economy. This phenomenon has been emphasised by the relocation of some industries, particularly those which are labour intensive, to reduce production costs, even though the production site is hundreds or even thousands of kilometres away from the final assembly plant or away from users.


The strong economic growth expected in countries which are candidates for entry to the EU will also increase transport flows, in particular, road haulage traffic. In 1998, some of these countries already exported more than twice their 1990 volumes and imported more than five times their 1990 volumes. And although many candidate countries inherited a transport system which encourages rail, the distribution between modes has tipped sharply in favour of road transport since the 1990s. Between 1990 and 1998,road haulage increased by 19.4%, while during the same period rail haulage decreased by 43.5%, although – and this could benefit the enlarged EU – it is still on average at a much higher level than in existing member states.


However, a new imperative-sustainable development – offers an opportunity for adapting the EU’s common transport policy. This objective, agreed by the Gothenburg European Council, has to be achieved by integrating environmental considerations into Community policies, and shifting the balance between modes of transport lies at the heart of its strategy. The ambitious objective can only be fully achieved by 2020, but proposed measures are nonetheless a first essential step towards a sustainable transport system which will ideally be in place in 30 years‟ time, that is by 2040.


In 1998, energy consumption in the transport sector was to blame for 28% of emissions of CO2,the leading greenhouse gas. According to the latest estimates, if nothing is done to reverse the traffic growth trend, CO2 emissions from transport can be expected to increase by around 50% to 1,113 billion tonnes by 2020,compared with the 739 billion tonnes recorded in 1990. Once again, road transport is the main culprit since it alone accounts for 84% of the CO2 emissions attributable to transport. Using alternative fuels and improving energy efficiency is thus both an ecological necessity and a technological challenge.


At the same time, greater efforts must be made to achieve a modal shift. Such a change cannot be achieved overnight, all the less so after over half a century of constant deterioration in favour of road. This has reached such a pitch that today rail freight services are facing marginalisation, with just 8% of market share, and with international goods trains struggling along at an average speed of 18km/h. Three possible options have emerged.


The first approach would consist of focusing on road transport solely through pricing. This option would not be accompanied by complementary measures in the other modes of transport. In the short term, it might curb the growth in road transport through the better loading ratio of goods vehicles and occupancy rates of passenger vehicles expected as a result of the increase in the price of transport. However, the lack of measures available to revitalise other modes of transport would make it impossible for more sustainable modes of transport to take up the baton.


The second approach also concentrates on road transport pricing but is accompanied by measures to increase the efficiency of the other modes (better quality of services, logistics, technology). However, this approach does not include investment in new infrastructure, nor does it guarantee better regional cohesion. It could help to achieve greater uncoupling than the first approach, but road transport would keep the lion‟s share of the market and continue to concentrate on saturated arteries, despite being the most polluting of the modes. It is therefore not enough to guarantee the necessary shift of the balance.


The third approach, which is not new, comprises a series of measures ranging from pricing to revitalising alternative modes of transport and targeting investment in the trans-European network. This integrated approach would allow the market shares of the other modes to return to their 1998 levels and thus make a shift of balance. It is far more ambitious than it looks, bearing in mind the historical imbalance in favour of roads for the last fifty years, but would achieve a marked break in the link between road transport growth and economic growth, without placing restrictions on the mobility of people and goods.

Questions 22-26

IELTS Academic Reading Practice Test 117 With Answers

IELTS Academic Reading Practice Test 117 With Answers
Do the following statements agree with the information given in Reading Passage 2?

In boxes 22-26 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

22. The need for transport is growing, despite technological developments.

23. To reduce production costs, some industries have been moved closer to their relevant consumers.

24. Cars are prohibitively expensive in some EU candidate countries.

25. The Gothenburg European Council was set up 30 years ago.

26. By the end of this decade, CO2 emissions from transport are predicted to reach 739 billion tonnes.

Reading Passage 3

You should spend about 20 minutes on Questions 27-40, which are based on Reading Passage 3 below.

Questions 27-32

IELTS Academic Reading Practice Test 117 With Answers

Reading Passage 3 has six paragraphs, A-F.

Choose the correct heading for paragraphs A-F from the list of headings below.
Write the correct number, i-vii, in boxes 21-32 on your answer sheet.

List of Headings

i. Differences between languages highlight their impressiveness
ii. The way in which a few sounds are organised to convey a huge range of meaning
iii. Why the sounds used in different languages are not identical
iv. Apparently incompatible characteristics of language
v. Even silence can be meaningful
vi. Why language is the most important invention of all
vii. The universal ability to use language

27.  Paragraph A
28.  Paragraph B
29.  Paragraph C
30.  Paragraph D
31.  Paragraph E
32.  Paragraph F

‘This Marvellous Invention’

Of all mankinds manifold creations, language must take pride of place. Other inventions -the wheel, agriculture, sliced bread – may have transformed our material existence, but the advent of language is what made us human. Compared to language, all other inventions pale in significance, since everything we have ever achieved depends on language and originates from it. Without language, we could never have embarked on our ascent to unparalleled power over all other animals, and even over nature itself.


But language is foremost not just because it came first. In its own right it is a tool of extraordinary sophistication, yet based on an idea of ingenious simplicity: ‘this marvellous invention of composing out of twenty-five or thirty sounds that infinite variety of expressions which, whilst having in themselves no likeness to what is in our mind, allow us to disclose to others its whole secret, and to make known to those who cannot penetrate it all that we imagine, and all the various stirrings of our soul’ This was how, in 1660, the renowned French grammarians of the Port-Royal abbey near Versailles distilled the essence of language, and no one since has celebrated more eloquently the magnitude of its achievement.

Even so, there is just one flaw in all these hymns of praise, for the homage to languages unique accomplishment conceals a simple yet critical incongruity. Language is mankind s greatest invention – except, of course, that it was never invented. This apparent paradox is at the core of our fascination with language, and it holds many of its secrets.


Language often seems so skillfully drafted that one can hardly imagine it as anything other than the perfected handiwork of a master craftsman. How else could this instrument make so much out of barely three dozen measly morsels of sound? In themselves, these configurations of mouth p, f, b, v, t, d, k, g, sh, a, e and so on – amount to nothing more than a few haphazard spits and splutters, random noises with no meaning, no ability to express, no power to explain.

But run them through the cogs and wheels of the language machine, let it arrange them in some very special orders, and there is nothing that these meaningless streams of air cannot do: from signing the interminable boredom of existence to unravelling the fundamental order of the universe.


The most extraordinary thing about language, however, is that one doesn’t have to be a genius to set its wheels in motion. The language machine allows just about everybody from pre-modern foragers in the subtropical savannah, to post-modern philosophers in the suburban sprawl – to tie these meaningless sounds together into an infinite variety of subtle senses, and all apparently without the slightest exertion.

Yet it is precisely this deceptive ease which makes language a victim of its own success, since in everyday life its triumphs are usually taken for granted. The wheels of language run so smoothly that one rarely bothers to stop and think about all the resourcefulness and expertise that must have gone into making it tick. Language conceals art.


Often, it is only the estrangement of foreign tongues, with their many exotic and outlandish features, that brings home the wonder of languages design. One of the showiest stunts that some languages can pull off is an ability to build up words of breath-breaking length, and thus express in one word what English takes a whole sentence to say. The Turkish word çehirliliçtiremediklerimizdensiniz, to take one example, means nothing less than ‘you are one of those whom we can’t turn into a town-dweller’. (In case you were wondering, this monstrosity really is one word, not merely many different words squashed together – most of its components cannot even stand up on their own.)


And if that sounds like some one-off freak, then consider Sumerian, the language spoken on the banks of the Euphrates some 5,000 years ago by the people who invented writing and thus enabled the documentation of history. A Sumerian word like munintuma’a (‘when he had made it suitable for her’) might seem rather trim compared to the Turkish colossus above. What is so impressive about it, however, is not its lengthiness but rather the reverse – the thrifty compactness of its construction. The word is made up of different slots, each corresponding to a particular portion of meaning.

This sleek design allows single sounds to convey useful information, and in fact, even the absence of a sound has been enlisted to express something specific. If you were to ask which bit in the Sumerian word corresponds to the pronoun ‘it’ in the English translation ‘when he had made it suitable for her’, then the answer would have to be nothing. Mind you, a very particular kind of nothing: the nothing that stands in the empty slot in the middle. The technology is so fine-tuned then that even a non-sound, when carefully placed in a particular position, has been invested with a specific function. Who could possibly have come up with such a nifty contraption?

Questions 33-36
Complete the summary using the list of words, A-G, below.
Write the correct letter, A-G, in boxes 33-36 on your answer sheet.
The importance of language

The wheel is one invention that has had a major impact on 33……………….. aspects of life, but no impact has been as 34 ……………….. as that of language. Language is very 35……………….. , yet composed of just a small number of sounds.

Language appears to be 36……………….. to use. However, its sophistication is often overlooked.

A difficult
B complex
C original
D admired
E material
F easy
G fundamental

Questions 37-40

IELTS Academic Reading Practice Test 117 With Answers

Do the following statements agree with the views of the writer in Reading Passage 202?

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. Human beings might have achieved their present position without language.

38. The Port-Royal grammarians did justice to the nature of language.

39. A complex idea can be explained more clearly in a sentence than in a single word.

40. The Sumerians were responsible for starting the recording of events.

Answer Key
Academic Reading Test 116

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