DOING IELTS READING IN TIME: WHY IS IT DIFFICULT?

WHAT IS WRONG WITH IELTS READING?
I have done almost all Reading exercises in Cambridge IELTS, and once in a while, I stumble upon extremely difficult Reading Passage. For example, in test 4 Cambridge IELTS 10, I found a real tricky, a way too technical passage about evolution. Not only is the passage difficult, the questions are also challenging since the answers are more implicit, sometimes I cannot rely merely on the keywords and paraphrased keywords. I have to grab the whole idea and translate the sentence to check whether it makes sense or not. This rarely happens, since the strategy I have previously explained is more than enough to finish IELTS Reading. In most cases, I always spend 40 minutes to answer questions from number 1 until 40 only by strategy, and then spend the last 20 minutes to do extensive reading to re-check the answers.


“In IELTS test, do not be carried out by the passage. Use the strategy first and do the extensive reading later”


Remember: We better do the Reading by using the strategy first and then re-check the answers by reading the whole passage. I never suggest to read the passage first since I personally will be carried away by the passage, forgetting the fact that I only have one and a half minute to answer each question. If you read the whole passage first, I’m afraid that you will run out of time when doing the last part, while the last part is usually the hardest and less do-able part. This is ugly. Running out of time is ugly. That’s the reason why I formulate IELTS Reading strategy.


SAMPLE OF IELTS READING

Let’s go talk about the Reading sample a little bit. Test 4 is the last test in Cambridge IELTS, and since they always keep the best for the last, we can assume that Reading test 4 will be the hardest of the hardest part in the book. And this happens to be true. Please take a look at some examples below:

“Once in a while, you will find the kind of passage that is really difficult and  too technical, and this may require a little background knowledge”



NOTE: I do not include the whole passage and instead, only quote some of the statements that correlate with the answers, only for the sake of academic discussion. The material that I deliver in this post does not represent certain institution whatsoever and is merely a personal approach towards doing the test. I do not guarantee that using this material or any other previous materials will help you pass any test. If you ask me which material will give you a guarantee, then the answer is none. 

There is no such guarantee since doing such test also involves several variables that I, or any other trainers, cannot fully control. Some of them will be your motivation, psychological pressure, different levels of difficulty etc. Please read our terms of service and disclaimer explaining the fair use of intellectual property. For the complete passage and questions, please read the books. Those are good materials anyway, so I’m pretty sure that you will find it really helpful.



Questions 27-31

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

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

a. it was immediately referred to as Dollo’s Law

b. it supported the possibility of evolutionary throwbacks

c. it was modified by biologists in the early twentieth century

d. it was based on many years of research

Okay, let’s start with the first question of Reading test 4 passage 3. In this question, I made the first mistake (there was not any mistake from number 1 until 26, this is pretty much devastating). In this question, I chose option a.  it was immediately referred to as Dollo’s Law without looking carefully at the word “immediately”. 

The word itself may seem insignificant but I was wrong for not paying attention to this word, since it is the reason why option a. it was immediately referred to as Dollo’s Law is actually wrong. If you read the given statement regarding this question, you will find out that Dollo first proposed the theory in 1890 and it was referred to as Dollo’s Law in the early twentieth Century, around the year of 1900. It took ten years for the theory to be called Dollo’s Law, and that’s not immediate. Hence, option a. it was immediately referred to as Dollo’s Law is definitely wrong.

If we refer to answer b. it supported the possibility of evolutionary throwbacks and d. it was based on many years of research, we can already decide that they are all wrong. Dollo’s Law dictates that Evolution can never run backwards and never support the possibility of evolutionary throwbacks. We can cross out option b. Option d, however, is not actually explained in the passage. We cannot get information of how long the research was conducted, so it is not the answer either, we can cross it out.

Strangely enough, the answer for this question is c. it was modified by biologists in the early twentieth century is the correct answer, although information about “modification” is not explicitly stated in the passage. In the first sentence of paragraph 3, it is explained that:

Early 20-th century biologists…in terms of probability, stating that there is no reason why evolution cannot run backwards –it is just very unlikely.

Here, we can see how information about “modification” is implicitly presented. While Dollo believed that reversed evolution is 100% impossible, biologists believe that it is possible, although very unlikely. It is probably just a 1% probability of even less, but the fact that the biologists believe it is possible has explained how Dollo’s belief had been slightly modified.


“In some IELTS Reading cases, the information presented in the passage may be extremely implicit that even 1% probability will make a difference”



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

In this question, it is obvious that answers a. the exceptional size of its body and b. the way it exemplifies Dollo’s Law and c. the amount of local controversy it caused are definitely wrong. There isn’t any relevant information about its size or local controversy. 


Answer b is also wrong since humpback whales are said to have a pair of legs in the past, and now they lost it which means the evolution is somehow reversed. The fact that its evolution is reversible contradicts the Dollo’s Law instead of exemplifies it. The correct answer is d. the reason given for its unusual features, in which the word “features” refers to a pair of legs that humpback whale used to have, as stated in the passage:

…a humpback whale with a pair of leg-like appendages over a meter long, complete with a full set of limb bones was caught off Vancouver Island in Canada.

The fact that the whale has a pair of legs is considered interesting since it becomes an exception of the case of atavism as previously proposed by Dollo.

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

Answer a is wrong since the number of probability of atavism depends on the genetic, not species. In addition, answer b is also wrong since there isn’t any information stating that Raff disagree with the term ‘silent genes’. He just proposed about the idea of gene affecting the probability of atavism, but said nothing about the term itself. Answer d is also wrong it is just explained that atavism may lead to the reappearance of long-lost traits, but it is not said that it is going to happen that way along the life span. 

The answer is c that explains about atavism causing reemergence of certain characteristics that have lost for a long time (without information about how long it will happen). The word ‘re-emergence is paraphrased with the word reappear, the word ‘characteristics’ is paraphrased with the word ‘traits’.

30. The writer mentions the mole salamander because

a. it exemplifies what happens in the development of most amphibians

b. it suggests that Raff’s theory is correct

c. it has lost and regained more than one ability

d. its ancestors have become the subject of extensive research

Answer a is definitely wrong since mole salamander is said to be able to skip certain phase in its development, and this case is quite in contrary with that of most amphibians.  Answer c is also wrong since axoloti only lost and regain one ability which is the ability to metamorphose, it is only one ability. Answer d is also wrong since there isn’t any relevant information about extensive research conducted to analyze the ancestor of mole salamander. 

The correct answer is b. But, we have to refer back to the previous paragraph since Raff’s theory is presented in the preceding paragraph. This makes it difficult since you have to look for the answer by referring to two
paragraphs, and you have to decide whether the information in the two paragraphs are relevant to each other, or not.

31. Which one of the following does Wagner claim?

a. Members of 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 Raff’s assertions

d. His findings will apply to other species of South American lizards

There isn’t any relevant information for answer b and d, they are definitely wrong. Option c is not correct either, since Raff focuses on a premise that certain species of lizards has lost its ability to metamorphose, while Wagner’s premise is that lizard species has genetic information that will make them ‘keep the legs’ or ‘lose the legs’. The answer is a. The word ‘features’ refers to the legs that may disappear or remain.

Question 32-36

Complete each sentence with the correct ending, A-G below

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 conviction held by Lombroso

32. For a long time, biologists rejected the possibility of evolution being reversible (F)

This is explained in paragraph 1:
…most biologists have been reluctant to use those words, mindful of a principal of evolution that says ‘evolution cannot run backwards

33. Opposing views on evolutionary throwbacks are represented by Dollo’s findings and the conviction held by Lombroso (G)
This is explained in paragraph 2 and 3:

Criminals were born not madeand could be identified by certain physical featuers(conviction held by Lombroso)…in 1890 he proposed that evolution was irreversible (Dollo’s findings)

34. Examples of evolutionary throwbacks have led to the question of how certain long-lost traits could reappear (A)
This is explained in paragraph 4 and 5:

Examples of evolutionary throwbacks refers to the case of humpback whale explained in paragraph 3. The case itself poses a puzzle: how can characteristics that disappeared millions of years ago suddenly reappear? In other words, the case of humpback whale is an example of evolutionary throwbacks that leads to a question why it can retain its legs while they actually have lost them?

35. The shark and killer whale are mentioned to exemplify the occurrence of a particular feature in different species (A)

In answering this question, we have to pay attention to the phrase ‘different species’, remembering that shark and whale are coming from different species (here you need a little background knowledge). Shark is a real fish species while whale is believed to be an alien in the sea world. Whale is a mammal and it breaths using lungs. They are not fish at all yet they live in the sea, although many argue that they once lived on the land. However, it is explained in paragraph 9:

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.

36. One explanation for the findings of Wagner’s research is the continued existence of certain genetic information (D)
Wagner states that Bachia lizards have genetic information saying ‘keep the legs’ or ‘lose the legs’, determining the continued existence of certain feature.

Questions 37-40

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

YES if the statement agrees with the claims of the writer


NO if the statement agrees with the contradicts 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

NOT GIVEN. There is no information about Wagner being the first person to do the research. He just did, but it is not possible to decide whether he was the first person doing it, or not.

38. Wagner believes that Bachia lizards with toes had toeless ancestors

YES. The species of Bachia lizards is believed to come from a toeless ancestor that either keep or lost genetic information regarding their toes.

39. The temporary occurrence of long-lost traits in embryos is rare

NO. It is not temporary at all. It is stated in the last paragraph that silent genes degrade within a time scale of 6 to 10 million years, and that’s not temporary.

40. Evolutionary throwbacks might be caused by developmental problems in the womb

YES. I am rather dubious with the answer though. I mean, there is no clear information about developmental problem, except a statement in the last paragraph saying that:



Later development of these features disappear thanks to developmental programs that say ‘lose the leg’. I cannot decide whether ‘losing a leg’ is a problem for certain species. Well, what do you think?

Red indicates keywords and paraphrased keywords*


For more material on IELTS Reading, go to this link


READING: LIST OF HEADINGS


READING: TRUE FALSE NOT GIVEN


READING FILL IN THE BLANK

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