IELTS Academic Reading Practice Test 171 with Answers


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



In any ordinary kitchen, there are numerous items made from stainless steel, including cutlery, utensils, and appliances. ‘Inox’ or ’18/10′ may be stamped on the base of a good stainless steel pot: ‘Inox’ is short for the French inoxydable; while 18 refers to the percentage of chromium in the stainless steel, and 10 to its nickel content.

In hospitals, laboratories and factories, stainless steel is used for many instruments and pieces of equipment because it can easily be sterilised, and it remains relatively bacteria-free, thus improving hygiene. Since it is mostly rust-free, stainless steel also does not need painting, so proves cost-effective.

As a decorative element, stainless steel has been incorporated into skyscrapers, like the Chrysler Building in New York, and the Jin Mao Building in Shanghai, the latter considered one of the most stunning contemporary structures in China. Bridges, monuments, and sculptures are often stainless steel; and, cars, trains, and aircraft contain stainless steel parts.

Recent alloys

As most pure metals serve little practical purpose, they are often combined or alloyed. Some examples of ancient alloys are bronze (copper + tin) and brass (copper + zinc). Carbon steel (iron + carbon), first made in small quantities in China in the sixth century AD, was produced industrially only in mid-nineteenth-century Europe. Stainless steel, which retains the strength of carbon steel with some added benefits, consists of iron, carbon, chromium, and nickel, and may contain trace elements. Stainless steel is a new invention – Austenitic stainless steel was patented by German engineers in 1912, the same year that Americans created ferritic stainless steel, while Martensitic stainless steel was patented as late as 1919.


The name, stainless steel, is misleading since, where there is very little oxygen or a great amount of salt, the alloy will, indeed, stain. In addition, stainless steel parts should not be joined together with stainless steel nuts or bolts as friction damages the elements; another alloy, like bronze, or pure aluminium or titanium must be used.

In general, stainless steel does not deteriorate as ordinary carbon steel does, which rusts in air and water. Rust is a layer of iron oxide that forms when oxygen reacts with the iron in carbon steel. Because iron oxide molecules are larger than those of iron alone, they wear down the steel, causing it to flake and eventually snap. Stainless steel, however, contains between 13-26% chromium, and, with exposure to oxygen, forms chromium oxide, which has molecules the same size as the iron ones beneath, meaning they bond strongly to form an invisible film that prevents oxygen or water from penetrating. As a result, the surface of stainless steel neither rusts nor corrodes. Furthermore, if scratched, the protective chromium-oxide layer of stainless steel repairs itself in a process known as passivation, which also occurs with aluminium, titanium, and zinc.


There are over 150 grades of stainless steel with various properties, each distinguished by its crystalline structure. Austenitic stainless steel, comprising 70% of global production, is barely magnetic, but ferritic and Martensitic stainless steel function as magnets because they contain more nickel or manganese. Ferritic stainless steel – soft and slightly corrosive – is cheap to produce, and has many applications, while Martensitic stainless steel, with more carbon than the other types, is incredibly strong, so it is used in fighter jet bodies but is also the costliest to produce.


Stainless steel can be recycled completely, and these days, the average stainless steel object comprises around 60% of recycled material.

Cutting-edge application

In the last few years, 3D printers have become widespread, and stainless steel infused with bronze is the hardest material that a 3D printer can currently use.

In 3D printing, an inkjet head deposits alternate layers of stainless steel powder and organic binder into a build box. After each layer of binder is spread, overhead heaters dry the object before another layer of powder is added. Upon completion of printing, the whole object, still in its build box, is sintered in an oven, which means the object is heated to just below the melting point, so the binder evaporates. Next, the porous object is placed in a furnace so that molten bronze can replace the binder. To finish, the object is blasted with tiny beads that smooth the surface.


In less than a century, stainless steel has become essential due to its relatively cheap production cost, its durability, and its renewability. Used in the new manufacturing process of 3D printing, its future looks bright.

Questions 1-4

IELTS Academic Reading Practice Test 171 with Answers

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

Write the correct letter in boxes 1-4 on your answer sheet.

1   A stainless steel pot with ’18/10′ stamped on it contains

A   18% carbon and 10% iron.

B   18% iron and 10% carbon.

C   18% chromium and 10% nickel.

D   18% nickel and 10% chromium.

2   Hospitals and laboratories use stainless steel equipment because it

A   is easy to clean.

B   is inexpensive.

C   is not disturbed by magnets.

D   withstands high temperatures.

3   Stainless steel has been used in some famous buildings for its

A   durability.

B   beauty.

C   modernity.

D   reflective quality.

4   The first type of stainless steel was patented in

A   China in 1912.

B   Germany in 1912.

C   the UK in 1919.

D   the US in 1919.

Questions 5-11

IELTS Academic Reading Practice Test 171 with Answers

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

In boxes 5-11 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.

5   Stainless steel does not stain.

6   Carbon steel rusts as its surface molecules are smaller than those of iron oxide.

7   Passivation is unique to stainless steel.

8   Austenitic stainless steel is the most commonly produced type.

9   These days, Martensitic stainless steel is mainly produced in China.

10   Currently, the recycling of stainless steel takes place in many countries.

11   Close to two-thirds of a stainless steel object is made up of recycled metal.

Questions 12-14

IELTS Academic Reading Practice Test 171 with Answers

Label the diagrams below.

Choose NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS from the passage for each answer.

Write your answers in boxes 12-14 on your answer sheet.

3D printing using stainless steel and bronze


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

Growing up in New Zealand

It has long been known that the first one thousand days of life are the most critical in ensuring a person’s healthy future; precisely what happens during this period to any individual has been less well documented. To allocate resources appropriately, public health and education policies need to be based upon quantifiable data, so the New Zealand Ministry of Social Development began a longitudinal study of these early days, with the view to extending it for two decades. Born between March 2009 and May 20I0, the 6,846 babies recruited came from a densely populated area of New Zealand, and it is hoped they will be followed until they reach the age of 21.

By 2014, fur reports, collectively known as Growing Up in New Zealand (GUiNZ), had been published, showing New Zealand to be a complex, changing country, with the participants and their families’ being markedly different from those of previous generations.

Of the 6,846 babies, the majority were identified as European New Zealanders, but one quarter was Maori (indigenous New Zealanders), 20% were Pacific (originating in islands in the Pacific), and one in six were Asian. Almost 50% of the children had more than one ethnicity.

The first three reports of GUiNZ ae descriptive, portraying the cohort before birth, at nine months, and at two years of age. Already, the first report, Before we are born, has made history as it contains interviews with the children’s mothers and fathers. The fourth report, which is more analytical, explores the definition of vulnerability for children in their first one thousand days.

Before we are born, published in 2010, describes the hopes, dreams, and realities that prospective parents have. It shows that the average age of both parents having a child was 30, and around two-thirds of parents were in legally binding relationships. However, one-third of the children were born to either a mother or a father who did not grow up in New Zealand – a significant difference from previous longitudinal studies in which a vast majority of parents were New Zealanders born and bred. Around 60% of the births in the cohort were planned, and most families hoped to have two or three children. During pregnancy, some women changed their behaviour, with regard to smoking, alcohol, and exercise, but many did not. Such information will be useful for public health campaigns.

Now we are born is the second report. Fifty-two percent of its babies were male and 48% female, with nearly a quarter delivered by caesarean section. The World Health Organisation and New Zealand guidelines recommend babies be breastfed exclusively for six months, but the median age for this in the GUiNZ cohort was fur months since almost one-third of mothers had returned to full-time work. By nine months, the babies were all eating solid food. While 54% of them were living in accommodation their families owned, their parents had almost all experienced a drop in income, sometimes a steep one, mostly due to mothers’ not working.

Over 90% of the babies were immunised, and almost all were in very good health. Of the mothers, however, 11% had experienced post-natal depression – an alarming statistic, perhaps, but, once again, useful for mental health campaigns. Many of the babies were put in childcare while their mothers worked or studied, and the providers varied by ethnicity: children who were Maori or Pacific were more likely to be looked after by grandparents; European New Zealanders tended to be sent to daycare.

Now we are two, the third report, provides more insights into the children’s development – physically, emotionally, behaviourally, and cognitively. Major changes in home environments are documented, like the socio-economic situation, and childcare arrangements. Information was collected both from direct observations of the children and from parental interviews. Once again, a high proportion of New Zealand two-year-olds were in very good health. Two-thirds of the children knew their gender, and used their own name or expressed independence in some way. The most common first word was a variation on ‘Mum’, and the most common favourite first food was a banana. Bilingual or multi-lingual children were in a large minority of 40%. Digital exposure was high: one in seven two-year-olds had used a laptop or a children’s computer, and 80% watched TV or DVDs daily; by contrast, 66% had books read to them each day.

The fourth report evaluates twelve environmental risk factors that increase the likelihood of poor developmental outcomes for children and draws on experiences in Western Europe, where the specific factors were collated. This, however, was the first time for their use in a New Zealand context. The factors include: being born to an adolescent mother; having one or both parents on income-tested benefits; and, living in cramped conditions.

In addition to descriptive ones, future reports will focus on children who move in and out of vulnerability to see how these transitions affect their later life.

To date, GUiNZ has been highly successful with only a very small dropout rate for participants – even those living abroad, predominantly in Australia, have continued to provide information. The portrait GUiNZ paints of a country and its people are indeed revealing.

Questions 15-20

IELTS Academic Reading Practice Test 171 with Answers

Do the following statements agree with the information given in Passage 2?

In boxes 15-20 on your answer sheet, write:

TRUE               if the statement agrees with the information.

FALSE              if the statement contradicts the information.

NOT GIVEN    if there is no information on this.

15   Findings from studies like GUiNZ will inform public policy.

16   Exactly 6,846 babies formed the GUiNZ cohort.

17   GUiNZ will probably end when the children reach ten.

18   Eventually, there will be 21 reports in GUiNZ.

19   So far, GUiNZ has shown New Zealanders today to be rather similar to those of 25 years ago.

20   Parents who took part in GUiNZ believe New Zealand is a good place to raise children.

Questions 21-27

IELTS Academic Reading Practice Test 171 with Answers

Classify the following things that relate to:

A     Report 1.

B     Report 2.

C     Report 3.

D     Report 4.

Write the correct letter A, B, C, or D, in boxes 21-27 on your answer sheet.

21   This is unique because it contains interviews with both parents.

22   This looks at how children might be at risk.

23   This suggests having a child may lead to financial hardship.

24   Information for this came from direct observations of children.

25   This shows many children use electronic devices.

26   This was modelled on criteria used in Western Europe.

27   This suggests having a teenage mother could negatively affect a child.


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



‘Incandescent light bulbs lit the 20th century; the 21st will be Jit by LED lamps.’ So stated the Nobel Prize Committee on awarding the 2014 prize for physics to the inventors of light-emitting diodes (LEDs).

Around the world, LED systems are replacing most kinds of conventional lighting since they use about half the electricity, and the US Department of Energy expects LEDs to account for 74% of US lighting sales by 2030.

However, with lower running costs, LEDs may be left on longer, or installed in places that were previously unlit. Historically, when there has been an improvement in lighting technology, far more outdoor illumination has occurred. Furthermore, many LEDs are brighter than other lights, and they produce a blue-wavelength light that animals misinterpret as the dawn.

According to the American Medical Association, there has been a noticeable rise in obesity, diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease in people like shift workers exposed to too much artificial light of any kind. It is likely more pervasive LEDs will contribute to a further rise.


In some cities, a brown haze of industrial pollution prevents enjoyment of the night sky; in others, a yellow haze from lighting has the same effect, and it is thought that almost 70% of people can no longer see the Milky Way.

When a small earthquake disabled power plants in Los Angeles a few years ago, the director of the Griffith Observatory was bombarded with phone calls by locals who reported an unusual phenomenon they thought was caused by the quake – a brilliantly illuminated night sky, in which around 7,000 stars were visible. In fact, this was just an ordinary starry night, seldom seen in LA due to light pollution!

Certainly, light pollution makes professional astronomy difficult, but it also endangers humans’ age-old connection to the stars. It is conceivable that children who do not experience a truly starry night may not speculate about the universe, nor may they learn about nocturnal creatures.


Excessive illumination impacts upon the nocturnal world. Around 30% of vertebrates and over 60% of invertebrates are nocturnal; many of the remainders are crepuscular – most active at dawn and dusk. Night lighting, hundreds of thousands of times greater than its natural level, has drastically reduced insect, bird, bat, lizard, frog, turtle, and fish life, with even dairy cows producing less milk in brightly-lit sheds.

Night lighting has a vacuum-cleaner effect on insects, particularly moths, drawing them from as far away as 122 metres. As insects play an important role in pollination, and in providing food for birds, their destruction is a grave concern. Using low-pressure sodium-vapour lamps or UV-filtered bulbs would reduce insect mortality, but an alternative light source does not help amphibians: fogs exposed to any night light experience altered feeding and mating behaviour, making them easy prey.

Furthermore, birds and insects use the sun, the moon, and the stars to navigate. It is estimated that around 500 million migratory birds are killed each year by collisions with brightly-lit structures, like skyscrapers or radio towers. In Toronto, Canada, the Fatal Light Awareness Program educates building owners about reducing such deaths by darkening their buildings at the peak of the migratory season. Still, over 1,500 birds may be killed within one night when this does not happen.

Non-migratory birds are also adversely affected by light pollution – sleep is difficult, and waking up only occurs when the sun has overpowered artificial lighting, resulting in the birds’ being too late to catch insects.

Leatherback turtles, which have lived on Earth for over 150 million years, are now endangered as their hatchlings are meant to follow light reflected from the moon and stars to go from their sandy nests to the sea. Instead, they follow street lamps or hotel lights, resulting in death by dehydration, predation, or accidents, since they wander onto the road in the opposite direction from the sea.


Currently, eight percent of all energy generated in the US is dedicated to public outdoor lighting, and much evidence shows that lighting and energy use are growing at around four percent a year, exceeding population growth. In some newly-industrialised countries, lighting use is rising by 20%. Unfortunately, as the developing world urbanises, it also lights up brightly, rather than opting for sustainability.


There are several organisations devoted to restoring the night sky: one is the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA), based in Arizona, US. The IDA draws attention to the hazards of light pollution and works with manufacturers, planners, legislators, and citizens to encourage lighting only what is necessary when necessary.

With 58 chapters in sixteen countries, the IDA has been the driving force behind the establishment of nine world reserves, most recently the 1,720-square-kilometre Rhon Biosphere Reserve in Germany. IDA campaigns have also reduced street lighting in several US states and changed national legislation in Italy.


Except in some parks and observatory zones, the IDA does not defend complete darkness, acknowledging that urban areas operate around the clock. For transport, lighting is particularly important. Nonetheless, there is an appreciable difference between harsh, glaring lights and those that illuminate the ground without streaming into the sky. The US Department of Transportation recently conducted research into highway safety and found that a highway lit well only at interchanges was as safe as one lit along its entire length. In addition, reflective signage and strategic white paint improved safety more than adding lights.

Research by the US Department of Justice showed that outdoor lighting may not deter crime. Its only real benefit is in citizens’ perceptions: lighting reduces the fear of crime, not crime itself. Indeed, bright lights may compromise the safety, as they make victims and property more visible.

The IDA recommends that where streetlights stay on all night, they have a lower lumen rating, or are controlled with dimmers; and, that they point downwards, or are fitted with directional metal shields. For private dwellings, low-lumen nightlights should be activated only when motion is detected.


It is not merely the firefly, the fruit bat, or the fog that suffers from light pollution – many human beings no longer experience filling stars or any but the brightest stars, nor consequently ponder their own place in the universe. Hopefully, prize-winning LED lights will be modified and used circumspectly to return to us all the splendour of the night sky.

Questions 28-32

IELTS Academic Reading Practice Test 171 with Answers

Reading Passage 3 has seven sections, A-G.

Which section contains the following information?

Write the correct letter A-G, in boxes 28-32 on your answer sheet.

28   A light-hearted example of ignorance about the night sky

29   An explanation of how lighting may not equate with safety

30   A description of the activities of the International Dark-sky Association

31   An example of baby animals affected by too much night light

32   A list of the possible drawbacks of new lighting technology  

Questions 33-35

IELTS Academic Reading Practice Test 171 with Answers

Complete the sentences below.

Choose ONE WORD OR A NUMBER from the passage for each answer.

Write your answers in boxes 33-35 on your answer sheet.

33   Too much ……………….. light has led to a rise in serious illness.

34   Approximately ……………….. % of humans are unable to see the Milky Way.

35   About ……………… million migratory birds die crashing into lit-up tall buildings each year. 

Questions 36-39

IELTS Academic Reading Practice Test 171 with Answers

Do the following statements agree with the claims of the writer in Passage 3?

In boxes 36-39 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.

36   It is alarming that so many animals are killed by night lighting.

37   It is good that developing countries now have brighter lighting.

38   Italians need not worry about reduced street lighting.

39   Bright lights along the road are necessary for safe driving. 

Question 40

IELTS Academic Reading Practice Test 171 with Answers

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

Write the correct letter in box 40 on your answer sheet.

According to the writer, how much night lighting should there be in relation to what there is?

A     Much more

B     A little more

C     A little less

D     Much less

Answer Key
Academic Reading Practice Test 170