Academic Ielts Reading Material

IELTS Academic Reading Practice Test 126 With Answers

IELTS Academic Reading Practice Test 126 With Answers

Reading Passage 1

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

The History of Glass


From our earliest origins, man has been making use of glass. Historians have discovered that a type of natural glass – obsidian – formed in places such as the mouth of a volcano as a result of the intense heat of an eruption melting sand – was first used as tips for spears. Archaeologists have even found evidence of man-made glass which dates back to 4000 BC; this took the form of glazes used for coating stone beads. It was not until 1500 BC, however, that the first hollow glass container was made by covering a sand core with a layer of molten glass.


Glass blowing became the most common way to make glass containers from the first century BC. The glass made during this time had highly coloured due to the impurities of the raw material. In the first century AD, methods of creating colourless glass were developed, which was then tinted by the addition of colouring materials. The secret of glass making was taken across Europe by the Romans during this century. However, they guarded the skills and technology required to make glass very closely, and it was not until their empire collapsed in 476 AD that glass-making knowledge became widespread throughout Europe and the Middle East. From the 10th century onwards, the Venetians gained a reputation for technical skill and artistic ability in the making of glass bottles, and many of the city’s craftsmen left Italy to set up glassworks throughout Europe.


A major milestone in the history of glass occurred with the invention of lead crystal glass by the English glass manufacturer George Ravenscroft (1632 – 1683). He attempted to counter the effect of clouding that sometimes occurred in blown glass by introducing lead to the raw materials used in the process. The new glass he created was softer and easier to decorate, and had a higher refractive index, adding to its brilliance and beauty, and it proved invaluable to the optical industry. It is thanks to Ravenscroft’s invention that optical lenses, astronomical telescopes, microscopes and the like became possible.

In Britain, the modem glass industry only really started to develop after the repeal of the Excise Act in 1845. Before that time, heavy taxes had been placed on the amount of glass melted in a glasshouse, and were levied continuously from 1745 to 1845. Joseph Paxton’s Crystal Palace at London’s Great Exhibition of 1851 marked the beginning of glass as a material used in the building industry. This revolutionary new building encouraged the use of glass in public, domestic and horticultural architecture. Glass manufacturing techniques also improved with the advancement of science and the development of better technology.


From 1887 onwards, glass making developed from traditional mouth-blowing to a semi-automatic process, after factory- owner HM Ashley introduced a machine capable of producing 200 bottles per hour in Castleford, Yorkshire, England – more than three times quicker than any previous production method. Then in 1907, the first fully automated machine was developed in the USA by Michael Owens – founder of the Owens Bottle Machine Company (later the major manufacturers Owens- Illinois) – and installed in its factory. Owens’ invention could produce an impressive 2,500 bottles per hour Other developments followed rapidly, but it | was not until the First World War when Britain became cut off from essential glass suppliers, that glass became part of the scientific sector. Previous to this, glass had been seen as a craft rather than a precise science.


Today, glass making is big business. It has become a modem, hi-tech industry operating in a fiercely competitive global market where quality, design and service levels are critical to maintaining market share. Modem glass plants are capable of making millions of glass containers a day in many different colours, with green, brown and clear remaining the most popular. Few of us can imagine modem life without glass. It features in almost every aspect of our lives – in our homes, our cars and whenever we sit down to eat or drink. Glass packaging is used for many products, many beverages are sold in glass, as are numerous foodstuffs, as well as medicines and cosmetics.

The glass is an ideal material for recycling, and with growing consumer concern for green issues, glass bottles and jars are becoming ever more popular. Glass recycling is good news for the environment. It saves used glass containers being sent to landfill. As less energy is needed to melt recycled glass than to melt down raw materials, this also saves fuel and production costs. Recycling also reduces the need for raw materials to be quarried, thus saving precious resources.

Questions 1-8

IELTS Academic Reading Practice Test 126 With Answers

Complete the notes below.

Choose ONE WORD ONLY from the passage for each answer.

Write your answers in boxes 1-8 on your answer sheet.

The History of Glass
  • Early humans used a material called 1…………………………… to make the sharp points of their 2……………………………
  • 4000 BC: 3…………………………… made of stone were covered in a coating of man-made glass.
  • First century BC: glass was coloured because of the 4…………………………… in the material.
  •   Until 476 AD: Only the 5…………………………… knew how to make glass.
  •  From 10th century: Venetians became famous for making bottles out of glass.
  • 17th century: George Ravenscroft developed a process using 6…………………………… to avoid the occurrence of 7…………………………… in blown glass    Mid-19th century: British glass production developed after changes to laws concerning 8……………………………
Questions 9-13

IELTS Academic Reading Practice Test 126 With Answers

In boxes 9-13 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

9. In 1887, HM Ashley had the fastest bottle-producing machine that existed at the time.
10. Michael Owens was hired by a large US company to design a fully-automated bottle manufacturing machine for them.
11. Nowadays, most glass is produced by large international manufacturers.
12. Concern for the environment is leading to an increased demand for glass containers.
13. It is more expensive to produce recycled glass than to manufacture new glass.

Reading Passage 2

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

Bring back the big cats

It’s time to start returning vanished native animals to Britain, says John Vesty There is a poem, written around 598 AD, which describes hunting a mystery animal called a llewyn. But what was it? Nothing seemed to fit, until 2006, when an animal bone, dating from around the same period, was found in the Kinsey Cave in northern England. Until this discovery, the lynx – a large spotted cat with tassel led ears – was presumed to have died out in Britain at least 6,000 years ago, before the inhabitants of these islands took up farming. But the 2006 find, together with three others in Yorkshire and Scotland, is compelling evidence that the lynx and the mysterious llewyn were, in fact, one and the same animal. If this is so, it would bring forward the tassel-eared cat’s estimated extinction date by roughly 5,000 years.


However, this is not quite the last glimpse of the animal in British culture. A 9th- century stone cross from the Isle of Eigg shows, alongside the deer, boar and aurochs pursued by a mounted hunter, a speckled cat with tasselled ears. Were it not for the animal’s backside having worn away with time, we could have been certain, as the lynx’s stubby tail is unmistakable. But even without this key feature, it’s hard to see what else the creature could have been. The lynx is now becoming the totemic animal of a movement that is transforming British environmentalism: rewilding.


Rewilding means the mass restoration of damaged ecosystems. It involves letting trees return to places that have been denuded, allowing parts of the seabed to recover from trawling and dredging, permitting rivers to flow freely again. Above all, it means bringing back missing species. One of the most striking findings of modern ecology is that ecosystems without large predators behave in completely different ways from those that retain them Some of them drive dynamic processes that resonate through the whole food chain, creating niches for hundreds of species that might otherwise struggle to survive. The killers turn out to be bringers of life.


Such findings present a big challenge to British conservation, which has often selected arbitrary assemblages of plants and animals and sought, at great effort and expense, to prevent them from changing. It has tried to preserve the living world as if it were a jar of pickles, letting nothing in and nothing out, keeping nature in a state of arrested development. But ecosystems are not merely collections of species; they are also the dynamic and ever-shifting relationships between them. And this dynamism often depends on large predators.

At sea the potential is even greater: by protecting large areas from commercial fishing, we could once more see what 18th-century literature describes: vast shoals of fish being chased by fin and sperm whales, within sight of the English shore. This policy would also greatly boost catches in the surrounding seas; the fishing industry’s insistence on scouring every inch of seabed, leaving no breeding reserves, could not be more damaging to its own interests.


Rewilding is a rare example of an environmental movement in which campaigners articulate what they are for rather than only what they are against. One of the reasons why the enthusiasm for rewilding is spreading so quickly in Britain is that it helps to create a more inspiring vision than the green movement’s usual promise of ‘Follow us and the world will be slightly less awful than it would otherwise have been.

The lynx presents no threat to human beings: there is no known instance of one preying on people. It is a specialist predator of roe deer, a species that has exploded in Britain in recent decades, holding back, by intensive browsing, attempts to re-establish forests. It will also winkle out sika deer: an exotic species that is almost impossible for human beings to control, as it hides in impenetrable plantations of young trees. The attempt to reintroduce this predator marries well with the aim of bringing forests back to parts of our bare and barren uplands. The lynx requires deep cover, and as such presents little risk to sheep and other livestock, which are supposed, as a condition of farm subsidies, to be kept out of the woods.


On a recent trip to the Cairngorm Mountains, I heard several conservationists suggest that the lynx could be reintroduced there within 20 years. If trees return to the bare hills elsewhere in Britain, the big cats could soon follow. There is nothing extraordinary about these proposals, seen from the perspective of anywhere else in Europe. The lynx has now been reintroduced to the Jura Mountains, the Alps, the Vosges in eastern France and the Harz mountains in Germany, and has re-established itself in many more places.

The European population has tripled since 1970 to roughly 10,000. As with wolves, bears, beavers, boar, bison, moose and many other species, the lynx has been able to spread as farming has, left the hills and people discover that it is more lucrative to protect charismatic wildlife than to hunt it, as tourists will pay for the chance to see it. Large-scale rewilding is happening almost everywhere – except Britain.


Here, attitudes are just beginning to change. Conservationists are starting to accept that the old preservation-jar model is failing, even on its own terms. Already, projects such as Trees for Life in the Highlands provide a hint of what might be coming. An organisation is being set up that will seek to catalyse the rewilding of land and sea across Britain, its aim being to reintroduce that rarest of species to British ecosystems: hope.

Questions 14-18

IELTS Academic Reading Practice Test 126 With Answers

Write the correct letter, A, B, C or D, in boxes 14-18 on your answer sheet.

14.  What did the 2006 discovery of the animal bone reveal about the lynx?

    A. Its physical appearance was very distinctive.
    B. Its extinction linked to the spread of farming.
    C. It vanished from Britain several thousand years ago.
    D. It survived in Britain longer than had previously thought.

15.  What point does the writer make about large predators in the third paragraph?

    A. Their presence can increase biodiversity.
    B. They may cause damage to local ecosystems.
    C. Their behaviour can alter according to the environment.
    D. They should be reintroduced only to areas where they were native.

16.  What does the writer suggest about British conservation in the fourth paragraph?

    A. It has failed to achieve its aims.
    B. It is beginning to change direction.
    C. it has taken a misguided approach.
    D. It has focused on the most widespread species.

17.  Protecting large areas of the sea from commercial fishing would result in

    A. practical benefits for the fishing industry.
    B. some short-term losses to the fishing industry.
    C. widespread opposition from the fishing industry.
    D. certain changes to techniques within the fishing industry.

18. According to the author, what distinguishes rewilding from other environmental campaigns?

    A. Its objective is more achievable.
    B. Its supporters are more articulate.
    C. Its positive message is more appealing.
    D. It is based on sounder scientific principles.

Questions 19-22

IELTS Academic Reading Practice Test 126 With Answers

Complete the summary using the list of words and phrases A-F below.
Write the correct letter, A-F, in boxes 19-22 on your answer sheet.

Reintroducing the lynx to Britain

There would be many advantages to reintroducing the lynx to Britain. While there is no evidence that the lynx has ever put 19………………….
in danger, it would reduce the numbers of certain 20…………………. whose populations have increased enormously in recent decades. It would present only a minimal threat to 21…………………., provided these had kept away from lynx habitats. Furthermore, the reintroduction programme would also link efficiently with initiatives to return native 22…………………. to certain areas of the country.

A  trees
B  endangered species
C  hillsides
D  wild animals
E  humans
F  farm animals

Questions 23-26

IELTS Academic Reading Practice Test 126 With Answers

Do the following statements agree with the claims of the writer in Reading Passage 2?

In boxes 23-26 on your answer sheet, write

YES    if the statement agrees with the claims of the writer
NO    if the statement contradicts the claims of the writer
NOT GIVEN if it is impossible to say what the writer thinks about this

23. Britain could become the first European country to reintroduce the lynx.
24. The large growth in the European lynx population since 1970 has exceeded conservationists’ expectations.
25. Changes in agricultural practices have extended the habitat of the lynx in Europe.
26. It has become apparent that species reintroduction has commercial advantages.

Reading Passage 3

You should spend about 20 minutes on Questions 14 – 26, which are based on Passage 3 below.

When evolution runs backwards

Evolution isn’t supposed to run backwards – yet an increasing number of examples show that it does and that it can sometimes represent the future of a species.


The description of any animal as an ‘evolutionary throwback’ is controversial. For the better part of a century, most biologists have been reluctant to use those words, mindful of a principle of evolution that says ‘evolution cannot run backwards. But as more and more examples come to light and modern genetics enters the scene, that principle is having to be rewritten. Not only are evolutionary throwbacks possible, they sometimes play an important role in the forward march of evolution. 

The technical term for an evolutionary throwback is an ‘atavism’, from the Latin atavus, meaning forefather. The word has ugly connotations thanks largely to Cesare Lombroso, a 19th-century Italian medic. He argued that criminals had born not made and could be identified by certain physical features that were throwbacks to a primitive, sub-human state.


While Lombroso was measuring criminals, a Belgian palaeontologist called Louis Dollo was studying fossil records and coming to the opposite conclusion. In 1890 he proposed that evolution was irreversible: that ‘an organism is unable to return, even partially, to a previous stage already realised in the ranks of its ancestors. Early 20th-century biologists came to a similar conclusion, though they qualified it in terms of probability, stating that there is no reason why evolution cannot run backwards -it is just very unlikely. And so the idea of irreversibility in evolution stuck and came to be known as ‘Dollo’s law.

If Dollo’s law is right, atavisms should occur only very rarely, if at all. Yet almost since the idea took root, exceptions have been cropping up. In 1919, for example, a humpback whale with a pair of leglike appendages over a metre long, complete with a full set of limb bones, had caught off Vancouver Island in Canada. Explorer Roy Chapman Andrews argued at the time that the whale must be a throwback to a land-living ancestor. ‘I can see no other explanation, he wrote in 1921.


Since then, so many other examples have been discovered that it no longer makes sense to say that evolution is as good as irreversible. And this poses a puzzle: how can characteristics that disappeared millions of years ago suddenly reappear? In 1994, Rudolf Raff and colleagues at Indiana University in the USA decided to use genetics to put a number on the probability of evolution going into reverse. They reasoned that while some evolutionary changes involve the loss of genes and are therefore irreversible, others may be the result of genes being switched off. If these silent genes have somehow switched back on, they argued, long lost traits could reappear.

Raff’s team went on to calculate the likelihood of it happening. Silent genes accumulate random mutations, they reasoned, eventually rendering them useless. So how long can a gene survive in a species if it is no longer used? The team calculated that there is a good chance of silent genes surviving for up to 6 million years in at least a few individuals in a population, and that some might survive as long as 10 million years. In other words, throwbacks are possible, but only to the relatively recent evolutionary past.


As a possible example, the team pointed to the mole salamanders of Mexico and California. Like most amphibians these begin life in a juvenile ‘tadpole’ state, then metamorphose into the adult form – except for one species, the axolotl, which famously lives its entire life as a juvenile. The simplest explanation for this is that the axolotl lineage alone lost the ability to metamorphose, while others retained it. From a detailed analysis of the salamanders’ family tree, however, it is clear that the other lineages evolved from an ancestor that itself had lost the ability to metamorphose. In other words, metamorphosis in mole salamanders is an atavism. The salamander example fits with Raff’s 10million-year time frame.


More recently, however, examples have been reported that break the time limit, suggesting that silent genes may not be the whole story. In a paper published last year, biologist Gunter Wagner of Yale University reported some work on the evolutionary history of a group of South American lizards called Bachia. Many of these have minuscule limbs; some look more like snakes than lizards and a few have completely lost the toes on their hind limbs. Other species, however, sport up to four toes on their hind legs. The simplest explanation – the toed lineages never lost their toes, but Wagner begs to differ. According to his analysis of the Bachia family tree, the toed species re-evolved toes from toeless ancestors and, what is more, digit loss and gain has occurred on more than one occasion over tens of millions of years.


So what’s going on? One possibility is that these traits are lost and then simply reappear, in much the same way that similar structures can independently arise in unrelated species, such as the dorsal fins of sharks and killer whales. Another more intriguing possibility is that the genetic information needed to make toes somehow survived for tens or perhaps hundreds of millions of years in the lizards and was reactivated. These atavistic traits provided an advantage and spread through the population, effectively reversing evolution.

But if silent genes degrade within 6 to million years, how can long-lost traits be reactivated over longer timescales? The answer may lie in the womb. Early embryos of many species develop ancestral features. Snake embryos, for example, sprout hind limb buds. Later in development these features disappear thanks to developmental programs that say ‘lose the leg’. If for any reason this does not happen, the ancestral feature may not disappear, leading to an atavism.

Questions 27-31

IELTS Academic Reading Practice Test 126 With Answers

Choose the correct letter, A, B, C or D. Write the correct letter in boxes 27-31 on your answer sheet.

27. When discussing the theory developed by Louis Dollo, the writer says that

   A. it had immediately referred to as Dollo’s law.
   B. it supported the possibility of evolutionary throwbacks.
   C. it had modified by biologists in the early twentieth century.
   D. it was based on many years of research.

28. The humpback whale caught off Vancouver Island is mentioned because of

   A. the exceptional size of its body.
   B. the way it exemplifies Dollo’s law.
   C. the amount of local controversy it caused.
   D. the reason given for its unusual features.

29. What is said about ‘silent genes’?

   A. Their numbers vary according to species.
   B. Raff disagreed with the use of the term.
   C. They could lead to the re-emergence of certain characteristics.
   D. They can have an unlimited life span.

30. The writer mentions the mole salamander because

   A. it exemplifies what happens in the development of most amphibians.
   B. it suggests that Raffs theory is correct.
   C. it has lost and regained more than one ability.
   D. its ancestors have become the subject of extensive research.

31. Which of the following does Wagner claim?

   A. Members of the Bachia lizard family have lost and regained certain features several times.
   B. Evidence shows that the evolution of the Bachia lizard is due to the environment.
   C. His research into South American lizards supports Raffs assertions.
   D. His findings will apply to other species of South American lizards.

Questions 32-36

IELTS Academic Reading Practice Test 126 With Answers

Complete each sentence with the correct ending, A-G, below. Write the correct letter, A-G, in boxes 32-36 on your answer sheet.

32. For a long time biologists rejected

33. Opposing views on evolutionary throwbacks are represented by

34. Examples of evolutionary throwbacks have led to

35. The shark and killer whale are mentioned to exemplify

36. One explanation for the findings of Wagner’s research is

A. the question of how certain long-lost traits could reappear.
B. the occurrence of a particular feature in different species.
C. parallels drawn between behaviour and appearance.
D. the continued existence of certain genetic information

E. the doubts felt about evolutionary throwbacks.
F. the possibility of evolution being reversible.
G. Dollo’s findings and the convictions held by Lombroso..

Questions 37 – 40

IELTS Academic Reading Practice Test 126 With Answers

Do the following statements agree with the claims of the writer in Reading Passage 3 ? In boxes 37 – 40 on your answer sheet, write –

YES     if the statement agrees with the claims of the writer
NO       if the statement contradicts the claims of the writer
NOT GIVEN    if it is impossible to say what the writer thinks about this

37. Wagner was the first person to do research on South American lizards.
38. Wagner believes that Bachia lizards with toes had toeless ancestors.
39. The temporary occurrence of long-lost traits in embryos is rare.
40. Evolutionary throwbacks might be caused by developmental problems in the womb.

Answer Key
Academic Reading Test 125

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