Academic Ielts Reading Material

IELTS Academic Reading Practice Test 127 With Answers

IELTS Academic Reading Practice Test 127 With Answers

Reading Passage 1

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

Research using twins


To biomedical researchers all over the world, twins offer a precious opportunity to untangle the influence of genes and the environment – of nature and nurture. Because identical twins come from a single fertilized egg that splits into two, they share virtually the same genetic code. Any differences between them -one twin having younger looking skin, for example – must be due to environmental factors such as less time spent in the sun.


Alternatively, by comparing the experiences of identical twins with those of fraternal twins, who come from separate eggs and share on average half their DNA, researchers can quantify the extent to which our genes affect our lives. If identical twins are more similar to each other with respect to an ailment than fraternal twins are, then vulnerability to the disease must be rooted at least in part in heredity.


These two lines of research – studying the differences between identical twins to pinpoint the influence of environment, and comparing identical twins with fraternal ones to measure the role of inheritance – have been crucial to understanding the interplay of nature and nurture in determining our personalities, behavior, and vulnerability to disease.

The idea of using twins to measure the influence of heredity dates back to 1875, when the English scientist Francis Galton first suggested the approach (and coined the phrase ‘nature and nurture’). But twin studies took a surprising twist in the 1980s, with the arrival of studies into identical twins who had been separated at birth and reunited as adults. Over two decades 137 sets of twins eventually visited Thomas Bouchard’s lab in what became known as the Minnesota Study of Twins Reared Apart. Numerous tests were carried out on the twins, and they were each asked more than 15,000 questions.


Bouchard and his colleagues used this mountain of data to identify how far twins were affected by their genetic makeup. The key to their approach was a statistical concept called heritability. in broad terms, the heritability of a trait measures the extent to which differences among members of a population can be explained by differences in their genetics. And wherever Bouchard and other scientists looked, it seemed, they found the invisible hand of genetic influence helping to shape our lives.

Lately, however, twin studies have helped lead scientists to a radical new conclusion: that nature and nurture are not the only elemental forces at work. According to a recent field called epigenetics, there is a third factor also in play, one that in some cases serves as a bridge between the environment and our genes, and in others operates on its own to shape who we are.


Epigenetic processes are chemical reactions tied to neither nature nor nurture but representing what researchers have called a ‘third component’. These reactions influence how our genetic code is expressed: how each gene is strengthened or weakened, even turned on or off, to build our bones, brains and all the other parts of our bodies.

If you think of our DNA as an immense piano keyboard and our genes as the keys – each key symbolizing a segment of DNA responsible for a particular note, or trait, and all the keys combining to make us who we are – then epigenetic processes determine when and how each key can be struck, changing the tune being played.


One way the study of epigenetics is revolutionizing our understanding of biology is by revealing a mechanism by which the environment directly impacts on genes. Studies of animals, for example, have shown that when a rat experiences stress during pregnancy, it can cause epigenetic changes in a fetus that lead to behavioral problems as the rodent grows up. Other epigenetic processes appear to occur randomly, while others are normal, such as those that guide embryonic cells as they become heart, brain, or liver cells, for example.

Geneticist Danielle Reed has worked with many twins over the years and thought deeply about what twin studies have taught us. ‘It’s very clear when you look at twins that much of what they share is hardwired,’ she says. ‘Many things about them are absolutely the same and unalterable. But it’s also clear, when you get to know them, that other things about them are different. Epigenetics is the origin of a lot of those differences, in my view.’


Reed credits Thomas Bouchard’s work for today’s surge in twin studies. ‘He was the trailblazer,’ she says. ‘We forget that 50 years ago things like heart disease were thought to be caused entirely by lifestyle. Schizophrenia was thought to be due to poor mothering. Twin studies have allowed us to be more reflective about what people are actually born with and what’s caused by experience.’

Having said that, Reed adds, the latest work in epigenetics promises to take our understanding even further. ‘What I like to say is that nature writes some things in pencil and some things in pen,’ she says. ‘Things written in pen you can’t change. That’s DNA. But things written in pencil you can. That’s epigenetics. Now that we’re actually able to look at the DNA and see where the pencil writings are, it’s sort of a whole new world.’

Questions 1-4

IELTS Academic Reading Practice Test 127 With Answers

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

In boxes 1-4 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. There may be genetic causes for the differences in how young the skin of identical twins looks.
2. Twins are at greater risk of developing certain illnesses than non-twins.
3. Bouchard advertised in newspapers for twins who had been separated at birth.
4. Epigenetic processes are different from both genetic and environmental processes.

Questions 5-9

IELTS Academic Reading Practice Test 127 With Answers

Look at the following statements (Questions 5-9) and the list of researchers below.

Match each statement with the correct researcher, A, B or C.

Write the correct letter, A, B or C, in boxes 5-9 on your answer sheet.

NB You may use any letter more than once.

List of Researchers

A.  Francis Galton
B.  Thomas Bouchard
C.  Danielie Reed

5. invented a term used to distinguish two factors affecting human characteristics
6. expressed the view that the study of epigenetics will increase our knowledge
7. developed a mathematical method of measuring genetic influences
8. pioneered research into genetics using twins
9. carried out research into twins who had lived apart

Questions 10-13

IELTS Academic Reading Practice Test 127 With Answers

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

Write the correct letter, A-F, in boxes 10-13 on your answer sheet.

Epigenetic processes

In epigenetic processes, 10 ……………….. influence the activity of our genes, for example in creating our internal 11 ……………….. . The study of epigenetic processes is uncovering a way in which our genes can be affected by our 12 ……………….. . One example is that if a pregnant rat suffers stress, the new-born rat may later show problems in its 13 ……………….. .

A. nurture
B. organs
C. code
D. chemicals
E. environment
F. behaviour

Reading Passage 2

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

The Intersection of Health Sciences and Geography


While many diseases that affect humans have been eradicated due to improvements in vaccinations and the availability of healthcare, there are still areas around the world where certain health issues are more prevalent. In a world that is far more globalised than ever before, people come into contact with one another through travel and living closer and closer to each other. As a result, super-viruses and other infections resistant to antibiotics are becoming more and more common.


Geography can often play a very large role in the health concerns of certain populations. For instance, depending on where you live, you will not have the same health concerns as someone who lives in a different geographical region. Perhaps one of the most obvious examples of this idea is malaria-prone areas, which are usually tropical regions that foster a warm and damp environment in which the mosquitos that can give people this disease can grow. Malaria is much less of a problem in high-altitude deserts, for instance.


In some countries, geographical factors influence the health and well-being of the population in very obvious ways. In many large cities, the wind is not strong enough to clear the air of the massive amounts of smog and pollution that cause asthma, lung problems, eyesight issues and more in the people who live there. Part of the problem is, of course, the massive number of cars being driven, in addition to factories that run on coal power. The rapid industrialisation of some countries in recent years has also led to the cutting down of forests to allow for the expansion of big cities, which makes it even harder to fight the pollution with the fresh air that is produced by plants.


It is in situations like these that the field of health geography comes into its own. It is an increasingly important area of study in a world where diseases like polio are re-emerging, respiratory diseases continue to spread, and malaria-prone areas are still fighting to find a better cure. Health geography is the combination of, on the one hand, knowledge regarding geography and methods used to analyse and interpret geographical information, and on the other, the study of health, diseases and healthcare practices around the world.

The aim of this hybrid science is to create solutions for common geography-based health problems. While people will always be prone to illness, the study of how geography affects our health could lead to the eradication of certain illnesses, and the prevention of others in the future. By understanding why and how we get sick, we can change the way we treat illness and disease specific to certain geographical locations.


The geography of disease and ill health analyses the frequency with which certain diseases appear in different parts of the world, and overlays the data with the geography of the region, to see if there could be a correlation between the two. Health geographers also study factors that could make certain individuals or a population more likely to be taken ill with a specific health concern or disease, as compared with the population of another area. Health geographers in this field are usually trained as healthcare workers, and have an understanding of basic epidemiology as it relates to the spread of diseases among the population.


Researchers study the interactions between humans and their environment that could lead to illness (such as asthma in places with high levels of pollution) and work to create a clear way of categorising illnesses, diseases and epidemics into local and global scales. Health geographers can map the spread of illnesses and attempt to identify the reasons behind an increase or decrease in illnesses, as they work to find a way to halt the further spread or re-emergence of diseases in vulnerable populations.


The second subcategory of health geography is the geography of healthcare provision. This group studies the availability (of lack thereof) of healthcare resources to individuals and populations around the world. In both developed and developing nations, there is often a very large discrepancy between the options available to people in different social classes, income brackets, and levels of education. Individuals working in the area of the geography of healthcare provision attempt to assess the levels of healthcare in the area (for instance, it may be very difficult for people to get medical attention because there is a mountain between their village and the nearest hospital). These researchers are on the frontline of making recommendations regarding the policy to international organisations, local government bodies and others.


The field of health geography is often overlooked, but it constitutes a huge area of need in the fields of geography and healthcare. If we can understand how geography affects our health no matter where in the world we are located, we can better treat disease, prevent illness, and keep people safe and well. 

Questions 14-19

IELTS Academic Reading Practice Test 127 With Answers

Reading Passage 2 has eight sections, A-H.

Which paragraph contains the following information?

Write the correct letter, A-H, in boxes 14-19 on your answer sheet

NB You may use any letter more than once.

14. an acceptance that not all diseases can be totally eliminated
15. examples of physical conditions caused by human behaviour
16. a reference to classifying diseases on the basis of how far they extend geographically
17. reasons why the level of access to healthcare can vary within a country
18. a description of health geography as a mixture of different academic fields
19. a description of the type of area where a particular illness is rare

Questions 20-26

IELTS Academic Reading Practice Test 127 With Answers

Complete the sentences below.

Choose ONE WORD ONLY from the passage for each answer.

20. Certain diseases have disappeared, thanks to better and ………………. healthcare.
21. Because there is more contact between people, ………………. are losing their usefulness.
22. Disease-causing ………………. are most likely to be found in hot, damp regions.
23. One cause of pollution is ………………. that burn a particular fuel.
24. The growth of cities often has an impact on nearby ……………….
25. ………………. is one disease that is growing after having been eradicated.
26. A physical barrier such as a ………………. can prevent people from reaching a hospital.

Reading Passage 3

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

Travel Books


There are many reasons why individuals have travelled beyond their own soci­eties. Some travellers may have simply desired to satisfy curiosity about the larger world. Until recent times, however, travellers did start their journey for reasons other than mere curiosity. While the travellers’ accounts give much valuable information on these foreign lands and provide a window for the understanding of the local cultures and histories, they are also a mirror to the travellers themselves, for these accounts help them to have a better under­standing of themselves.


Records of foreign travel appeared soon after the invention of writing, and fragmentary travel accounts appeared in both Mesopotamia and Egypt in an­cient times. After the formation of large, imperial states in the classical world, travel accounts emerged as a prominent literary genre in many lands, and they held especially strong appeal for rulers desiring useful knowledge about their realms.

The Greek historian Herodotus reported on his travels in Egypt and Anatolia in researching the history of the Persian wars. The Chinese envoy Zhang Qian described much of central Asia as far west as Bactria (modern- day Afghanistan) on the basis of travels undertaken in the first century BCE while searching for allies for the Han dynasty. Hellenistic and Roman geog­raphers such as Ptolemy, Strabo, and Pliny the Elder relied on their own travels through much of the Mediterranean world as well as reports of other travellers to compile vast compendia of geographical knowledge.


During the post-classical era (about 500 to 1500 CE), trade and pilgrimage j? emerged as major incentives for travel to foreign lands. Muslim merchants sought trading opportunities throughout much of the eastern hemisphere. They described lands, peoples, and commercial products of the Indian Ocean basin from East Africa to Indonesia, and they supplied the first written accounts of societies in sub-Saharan West Africa. While merchants set out in search of trade and profit, devout Muslims travelled as pilgrims to Mecca to make their hajj and visit the holy sites of Islam. Since the prophet Muhammad’s origin­al pilgrimage to Mecca, untold millions of Muslims have followed his exam­ple, and thousands of hajj accounts have related their experiences.

East Asian travellers were not quite so prominent as Muslims during the post-classical era, but they too followed many of the highways and sea lanes of the eastern hemisphere. Chinese merchants frequently visited South-East Asia and India, occasionally venturing even to East Africa, and devout East Asian Buddhists undertook distant pilgrimages. Between the 5th and 9th centuries CE, hundreds and possibly even thousands of Chinese Buddhists travelled to India to study with Buddhist teachers, collect sacred texts, and visit holy sites. Written ac­counts recorded the experiences of many pilgrims, such as Faxian, Xuanzang, and Yijing. Though not so numerous as the Chinese pilgrims, Buddhists from Japan, Korea, and other lands also ventured abroad in the interests of spiritual enlightenment.


Medieval Europeans did not hit the roads in such large numbers as their Muslim and East Asian counterparts during the early part of the post-classical era, al­though gradually increasing crowds of Christian pilgrims flowed to Jerusalem, Rome, Santiago de Compostela (in northern Spain), and other sites. After the 12th century, however, merchants, pilgrims, and missionaries from medieval Europe travelled widely and left numerous travel accounts, of which Marco Polo’s description of his travels and sojourn in China is the best known. As they became familiar with the larger world of the eastern hemisphere – and the profitable commercial opportunities that it offered – European peoples worked to find new and more direct routes to Asian and African markets. Their efforts took them not only to all parts of the eastern hemisphere, but eventually to the Americas and Oceania as well.


If Muslim and Chinese peoples dominated travel and travel writing in post- classical times, European explorers, conquerors, merchants, and missionaries took centre stage during the early modern era (about 1500 to 1800 CE). By no means did Muslim and Chinese travel come to a halt in early modern times. But European peoples ventured to the distant corners of the globe, and European printing presses churned out thousands of travel accounts that described foreign lands and peoples for a reading public with an apparently insatiable appetite for news about the larger world. The volume of travel litera­ture was so great that several editors, including Giambattista Ramusio, Rich­ard Hakluyt, Theodore de Biy, and Samuel Purchas, assembled numerous travel accounts and made them available in enormous published collections.


During the 19th century, European travellers made their way to the interior regions of Africa and the Americas, generating a fresh round of travel writing as they did so. Meanwhile, European colonial administrators devoted numer­ous writings to the societies of their colonial subjects, particularly in Asian and African colonies they established. By mid-century, attention was flowing also in the other direction. Painfully aware of the military and technological prowess of European and Euro-American societies, Asian travellers in particu­lar visited Europe and the United States in hopes of discovering principles useful for the organisation of their own societies. Among the most prominent of these travellers who made extensive use of their overseas observations and experiences in their own writings were the Japanese reformer Fukuzawa Yu-kichi and the Chinese revolutionary Sun Yat-sen.


With the development of inexpensive and reliable means of mass transport, the 20th century witnessed explosions both in the frequency of long-distance travel and in the volume of travel writing. While a great deal of travel took place for reasons of business, administration, diplomacy, pilgrimage, and mis­sionary work, as in ages past, increasingly effective modes of mass transport made it possible for new kinds of travel to flourish. The most distinctive of them was mass tourism, which emerged as a major form of consumption .for individuals living in the world’s wealthy societies.

Tourism enabled consumers to get away from home to see the sights in Rome, take a cruise through the Caribbean, walk the Great Wall of China, visit some wineries in Bordeaux, or go on safari in Kenya. A peculiar variant of the travel account arose to meet the needs of these tourists: the guidebook, which offered advice on food, lodging, shopping, local customs, and all the sights that visitors should not miss seeing. Tourism has had a massive economic impact throughout the world, but other new forms of travel have also had considerable influence in contemporary times.

Questions 27-28

IELTS Academic Reading Practice Test 127 With Answers

Choose the correct letter A, B, C or D.
Write your answers in boxes 27-28 on your answer sheet.

27. What were most people travelling for in the early days?

    A. Studying their own cultures
    B. Business
    C. Knowing other people and places better
    D. Writing travel books

28. Why did the author say writing travel books is also “a mirror” for travellers themselves?

    A. Because travellers record their own experiences.
    B Because travellers reflect upon their own society and life.
    C Because it increases knowledge of foreign cultures.
    D Because it is related to the development of human society.

Questions 29-36

IELTS Academic Reading Practice Test 127 With Answers
Complete the table on the next page.
Choose NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS from Reading Passage 234 for each answer.

Classical GreeceHerodotusEgypt and AnatoliaTo gather information for the study of (29) ………………..
Han DynastyZhang QianCentral AsiaTo seek (30) ………………..
Roman EmpirePtolemy, Strabo, Pliny the ElderThe MediterraneanTo acquire (31) ………………..
Post-classical era (about 500 to 1500 CE)MuslimsFrom East Africa to Indonesia, MeccaFor trading and (32) ………………..
5th – 9thCenturies CEChinese Buddhists(33) ………………..To collect Buddhist texts and for spiritual enlightenment
Early modern era (about 1500 to 1800 CE)European explorersThe New WorldTo satisfy public curiosity for the New World
During 19th centuryColonial administrators Asia, Africa  To provide information for the (34) ………………..
By mid-century of the 1800sSun Yat-sen, Fukuzawa YukichiEurope and the United States To study the (35) ……………….. of their societies
20th centuryPeople from (36) ……………….. countriesMass tourism For entertainment and pleasure 
Questions 37-40

IELTS Academic Reading Practice Test 127 With Answers

Choose the correct letter A, B, C or D.

Write your answers in boxes 37-40 on your answer sheet.

37. Why were the imperial rulers especially interested in these travel stories?

    A. Reading travel stories was a popular pastime.
    B. The accounts are often truthful rather than fictional.
    C. Travel books played an important role in literature.
    D. They desired knowledge of their empire.

38. Who were the largest group to record their spiritual trips during the post-classical era?

    A. Muslim traders
    B. Muslim pilgrims
    C. Chinese Buddhists
    D. Indian Buddhist teachers

39. During the early modern era, a large number of travel books were published to

    A. meet the public’s interest.
    B. explore new business opportunities.
    C. encourage trips to the new world.
    D. record the larger world.

40. What’s the main theme of the passage?

    A. The production of travel books
    B. The literary status of travel books
    C. The historical significance of travel books
    D. The development of travel books

Answer Key
Academic Reading Test 126

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