IELTS Reading Practice 2


Discovered in the early 1800s and named ‘nicotianine’, the oily essence now called nicotine is the main active ingredient of tobacco. Nicotine, however, is only a small component of cigarette smoke, which contains more than 4,700 chemical compounds, including 43 cancer-causing substances. In recent times, scientific research has been providing evidence that years of cigarette smoking vastly increases the risk of developing fatal medical conditions.

In addition to being responsible for more than 85 per cent of lung cancers, smoking is associated with cancers of, amongst others, the mouth, stomach and kidneys, and is thought to cause about 14 per cent of leukemia and cervical cancers. In 1990, smoking caused more than 84,000 deaths, mainly resulting from such problems as pneumonia, bronchitis and influenza. Smoking, it is believed, is responsible for 30 per cent of all deaths from cancer and clearly represents the most important preventable cause of cancer in countries like the United States today.

Passive smoking, the breathing in of the side-stream smoke from the burning of tobacco between puffs or of the smoke exhaled by a smoker, also causes a serious health risk. A report published in 1992 by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) emphasized the health dangers, especially from side-stream smoke. This type of smoke contains more smaller particles and is therefore more likely to be deposited deep in the lungs. On the basis of this report, the EPA has classified environmental tobacco smoke in the highest risk category for causing cancer.

As an illustration of the health risks, in the case of a married couple where one partner is a smoker and one a non-smoker, the latter is believed to have a 30 per  cent  higher  risk  of  death  from  heart  disease  because  of  passive  smoking.   The risk of lung cancer also increases over the years of exposure and the figure jumps      to 80 per cent if the spouse has been smoking four packs a day for 20 years.   It      has been calculated that 17 per cent of cases of lung cancer can be attributed to      high levels of exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke during childhood and adolescence.

A more recent study by researchers at the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF) has shown that second-hand cigarette smoke does more harm to non-smokers than to smokers. Leaving aside the philosophical question of whether anyone should have to breathe someone else’s cigarette smoke, the report suggests that the smoke experienced by many people in their daily lives is enough to produce substantial adverse effects on a person’s heart and lungs.

The report, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (AMA), was based on the researchers’ own earlier research but also includes a review of studies over the past few years. The American Medical Association represents about half of all US doctors and is a strong opponent of smoking. The study suggests that people who smoke cigarettes are continually damaging their cardiovascular system, which adapts in order to compensate for the effects of smoking.  It further states that people who do not smoke do not have the benefit of their system adapting to the smoke inhalation. Consequently, the effects of passive smoking are far greater on non-smokers than on smokers.

This report emphasizes that cancer is not caused by a single element in cigarette smoke; harmful effects to health are caused by many components. Carbon monoxide, for example, competes with oxygen in red blood cells and interferes with the blood’s ability to deliver life-giving oxygen to the heart. Nicotine and other toxins in cigarette smoke activate small blood cells called platelets, which increases the likelihood of blood clots, thereby affecting blood circulation throughout the body.

The researchers criticize the practice of some scientific consultants who work with the tobacco industry for assuming that cigarette smoke has the same impact on smokers as it does on non-smokers. They argue that those scientists are underestimating the damage done by passive smoking and, in support of their recent findings, cite some previous research which points to passive smoking as the cause for between 30,000 and 60,000 deaths from heart attacks each year in the United States. This means that passive smoking is the third most preventable cause of death after active smoking and alcohol-related diseases.

The study argues that the type of action needed against passive smoking should be similar to that being taken against illegal drugs and AIDS (SIDA). The UCSF researchers maintain that the simplest and most cost-effective action is to establish smoke-free work places, schools and public places.

Do the following statements reflect the claims of the writer in the reading passage?


YES                             if the statement reflects 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


  • Thirty per cent of deaths in the United States are caused by smoking-related diseases.
  • If one partner in a marriage smokes, the other is likely to take up
  • Teenagers whose parents smoke are at risk of getting lung cancer at some time during their
  • Opponents of smoking financed the UCSF

IELTS Reading Practice 1


A There are now over 700 million motor vehicles in the world – and the number is rising by more than 40 million each The average distance driven by car users is growing too – from 8km a day per person in western Europe in 1965 to 25 km a day in 1995. This dependence on motor vehicles has given rise to major problems, including environmental pollution, depletion of oil resources, traffic congestion and safety.

B While emissions from new cars are far less harmful than they used to be, city streets and motorways are becoming more crowded than ever, often with older trucks, buses and taxis which emit excessive levels of smoke and fumes. This concentration of vehicles makes air quality in urban areas unpleasant and sometimes dangerous to breathe.Even Moscow has joined the list of capitals afflicted by congestion and traffic fumes. In Mexico City, vehicle pollution is a major health hazard.

C Until a hundred years ago, most journeys were in the 20km range, the distance conveniently accessible by horse. Heavy freight could only be carried by water or rail. Invention of the motor vehicle brought personal mobility to the masses and made rapid freight delivery possible over a much wider area. In the United Kingdom, about 90 per cent of inland freight is carried by road. The world cannot revert to the horse-drawn wagon. Can it avoid being locked into congested and polluting ways of transporting people and goods?

D In Europe most cities are still designed for the old modes of Adaptation to the motor car has involved adding ring roads, one-way systems and parking lots. In the United States, more land is assigned to car use than to housing. Urban sprawl means that life without a car is next to impossible.  Mass use of motor vehicles has also killed or injured millions of people. Other social effects have been blamed on the car such as alienation and aggressive human behaviour.

E A 1993 study by the European Federation for Transport and Environment found that car transport is seven times as costly as rail travel in terms of the external social costs it entails – congestion, accidents, pollution, loss of cropland and natural habitats, depletion of oil resources, and so on. Yet cars easily surpass trains or buses as a flexible and convenient mode of personal transport. It is unrealistic to expect people to give up private cars in favour of mass transit.

F Technical solutions can reduce the pollution problem and increase the fuelled efficiency of engines. But fuel consumption and exhaust emissions depend on which cars are preferred by customers and how they are driven. Many people buy larger cars than they need for daily purposes or waste fuel by driving aggressively. Besides, global car use is increasing at a faster rate than the improvement in emissions and fuel efficiency which technology is now making possible.

G Some argue that the only long-term solution is to design cities and neighbourhoods so that car journeys are not necessary – all essential services being located within walking distance or easily accessible by public transport. Not only would this save energy and cut carbon dioxide emissions, it would also enhance the quality of community life, putting the emphasis on people instead of  cars. Good local government is already bringing this about in some places. But few democratic communities are blessed with the vision – and the capital – to make such profound changes in modern lifestyles.

H A more likely scenario seems to be a combination of mass transit systems for travel into and around cities, with small ‘low emission’ cars for urban use and larger hybrid or lean burn cars for use elsewhere. Electronically tolled highways might be used to ensure that drivers pay charges geared to actual road use.  Better integration of transport systems is also highly desirable – and made more feasible by modern computers. But these are solutions for countries which can afford them.  In most developing countries, old cars and old technologies continue to predominate.

Which paragraphs contains the following information?

NB       You may use any letter more than once.

  • a comparison of past and present transportation methods
  • how driving habits contribute to road problems
  • the relative merits of cars and public transport
  • the writer’s prediction on future solutions
  • the increasing use of motor vehicles
  • the impact of the car on city development

Sample Essays for IELTS

Houses and apartments

Some people prefer to live in a house, while others think that there are more advantages living in an apartment. Are there more advantages than disadvantages to living in a house rather than in an apartment?


Unemployment is one of the most serious problems facing developed nations today. What are the advantages and/or disadvantages of reducing the working week to thirty five hours?


Everyone should stay in school until the age of eighteen. To what extent do you agree or disagree?

Nuclear Technology

The threat of nuclear weapons maintains world peace. Nuclear power provides cheap and clean energy. The benefits of nuclear technology far outweigh the disadvantages. Do you agree or disagree? Give reasons for your answer.

The environment

The best way to solve the worldʼs environmental problems is to increase the cost of fuel. To what extent do you agree or disagree?


Should museums and art galleries be free of charge for the general public, or should a charge, even a voluntary charge, be levied for admittance? Discuss this issue, and give your opinion.

Some people prefer to live in a house, while others think that there are more advantages living in an apartment.

Are there more advantages than disadvantages to living in a house rather than in an apartment? 

Many people nowadays face a difficult decision when they buy their own home. The question is whether they should buy a house or an apartment. There would seem to be clear benefits and drawbacks to both options.

Perhaps the major advantage of living in a house is the issue of privacy. Typically, there is more opportunity for peace and quiet, if you live in a house. This is particularly the case if it is a detached house. Other significant advantages are that houses are generally more spacious and on the whole have gardens. This is especially important if there is a family so that the children can have a safe environment to play in. If, however, you live in a tower block, then the children may have to play outside on the pavement.

There are, of course, negative aspects to living in houses. The greatest of these is that they tend to be more expensive to purchase and to maintain. Indeed, a large majority of people choose to live in apartments because they cannot afford the mortgage to buy a house. Another possible problem is that there are fewer houses in cities than the countryside. So if you like urban life, it may be preferable to live in an apartment. A second reason to avoid living in a house is that there is a greater sense of community to life in an apartment.

My conclusion would be that this is a well-balanced issue. There are probably an equal number of pros and cons to making either choice. Ultimately, whether you decide to live in a cottage in the countryside or a duplex in the city depends on your own personality, family and financial circumstances.

(285 words)

Unemployment is one of the most serious problems facing developed nations today. What are the advantages and/or disadvantages of reducing the working week to thirty five hours?

It is unquestionable that rising unemployment is one of the most pressing issues in the industrial world. One solution that has been put forward is to cut the working week to a maximum of 35 hours. However, this solution is somewhat controversial as it has both positive and negative effects.

It is fairly easy to understand the reasons why this proposal has been made. The reasoning is that if workers are not allowed to work for more than 35 hours weekly, then employers will be forced to engage more staff. There would be at least two advantages to this. Not only would unemployment be reduced, but the working conditions of employees on very long shifts would also be significantly improved. For example, a factory employing 300 manual workers doing 10 hours a day might employ 450 workers.

There is also, however, a strong argument not to implement this proposal. This  argument is based on economic competitiveness. If a company was forced to employ more workers to produce the same amount of goods, then its wage bill would rise and its products might become more expensive and less competitive compared to companies with longer working weeks. In this case, it is possible that the company either might become insolvent or it would have to make some employees redundant. As a result, the intended benefit to the personnel would not happen.

In summary, we can see that this is clearly a complex issue as there are significant advantages and disadvantages to the proposal. My own personal view is that it would be better not to introduce the shortened working week because it works only in theory and not in practice.

(278 words)

Everyone should stay in school until the age of eighteen. To what extent do you agree or disagree?

It is often said that if you want to succeed in life, you need a proper education. I would agree with this, but it is debatable whether a proper education means having to stay in school until you are 18.

Perhaps the strongest reason not leaving school early is that it prepares you for your working career. If you leave school early with only a basic education, you are unlikely to be able to find any skilled work. Indeed, the education you receive between the ages of 16 and 18 is crucial for anyone who does not want a lifetime of unskilled work in a factory.

Another compelling reason for remaining in school until 18 is that school provides moral and social education too. This is particularly important for people between 16 and 18 who have many temptations and benefit from the organised framework that school provides. Young people who stay in school until the age of 18 tend to be more responsible and help build a stronger society.

There are, however, equally strong arguments against making school compulsory until the age of 18. One such argument is that not everyone is academic and that some people benefit more from vocational training. For instance, someone who wants to become a car mechanic may find better training and more satisfaction in an apprentice scheme. Another related argument is that, in todayʼs world, young people are maturing ever more quickly and are able to make their own life decisions by the age of 16.

As I see it, everyone should be encouraged to stay in school until 18. However, I believe it would be a mistake to make this compulsory.

(277 words)

The threat of nuclear weapons maintains world peace. Nuclear power provides cheap and clean energy. The benefits of nuclear technology far outweigh the disadvantages. Do you agree or disagree? Give reasons for your answer.

One question that has caused a great deal of controversy over the years is nuclear technology. Although it offers a number of advantages in world peace and green power,  it is also a dangerous technology. In this essay I intend to show how these benefits outweigh that disadvantage.

The opponents of nuclear power generally base their arguments on the danger it represents to the world. There are two main dangers: the risk of nuclear warfare and the nuclear disasters. If one thinks about Chernobyl, it is easy to understand why people are worried about nuclear power, as it can cause major suffering.

There are, however, two good reasons for believing that nuclear technology is generally advantageous. The first of these is that there has not been a major world conflict since the invention of nuclear weapons. While there have been wars, they have not been on the same scale as the Second World War. It is possible to say that the world is a safer place because of nuclear weapons.

The other most significant benefit relates to the environment. Perhaps the greatest danger facing our world today is a combination of global warming and the greenhouse effect. This danger is caused partly by burning fossil fuels which leads to our polluted atmosphere. Nuclear power, however, is a much greener alternative which does not have such negative effects. Furthermore, in the last 50 years there have not been too many nuclear disasters and many experts claim that it is in fact a safe technology.

In conclusion I would say that nuclear technology is better than the current alternatives. However, I also believe we should keep looking for ways to make it safer.

(281 words)

The best way to solve the worldʼs environmental problems is to increase the cost of fuel. To what extent do you agree or disagree?

Most people would accept that one of the highest priorities today is to find a solution to the various environmental problems facing mankind. It has been suggested that best way to achieve this is for governments to raise the price of fuel. I am, however, not sure that this is necessarily the case.

One reason why this approach may not work is that there is not just one environmental problem the world faces today. If governments did make fuel more expensive, it might well help reduce the amount of carbon dioxide we produce and so slow down the rate of global warming and air pollution. However, it would not help with other major problems such as intensive farming, overpopulation, the hole in the ozone layer or water pollution. For these problems we need to find other solutions.

A second reason why this policy may not be the most appropriate is that it places the emphasis on governmental policy and not individual responsibility. Ultimately, most environmental problems are the result of the way we as individuals live our lives. If we wish to find a long-term and lasting solution to them, we need to learn to live in a way that it is greener or kinder to the environment. What governments need to do to make this happen is to ensure there is a global programme to educate people of all ages about the environmental consequences to their actions.

In summary, I believe that increasing the level of taxation on fuel is at best a short-term solution to only one environmental problem. If we wish to provide a home for our childrenʼs children, education is likely to be the key to making this happen.

(283 words)

Should museums and art galleries be free of charge for the general  public, or should a charge, even a voluntary charge, be levied for admittance? Discuss this issue, and give your opinion.

One very complex issue in todayʼs world is the funding of museums and art galleries. There is an argument that they should be free to the general public and funded by governments, but there is also a case for saying that they should charge an entrance fee like other attractions. In this essay, I am going to examine both sides of this issue.

Those who argue that museums should be free typically make one of two arguments. The first argument is that institutions like museums are a public service and therefore there should be free access to the man in the street. If for example there was a charge only the wealthy could afford to enjoy works of art. The second, and related, argument is that if they did levy a charge fewer people would go to museums. This would be serious as they are educational institutions and standards would fall.

In contrast, there is only one major argument on the other side of the debate. This is that both museums and art galleries need to charge an entrance fee if they are to survive in the modern world. Governments do not have sufficient funds to subsidise all such institutions and there are other priorities for public money. Therefore these galleries and museums need to charge their customers not only to survive but to update their exhibitions and make new purchases. By way of illustration, the Tate Modern in London could not have been founded without revenue from admissions.

My personal position is that there is no clear answer to this question as there are such strong arguments on both sides. Perhaps it is possible for some museums and galleries to charge fees and for others not to.

(288 words)

IELTS Advantages and Disadvantages Lesson

ielts advantage and disadvantage task 2

These kinds of questions normally give you a statement and ask you to comment on the advantages and disadvantages of that statement.

The problem is that there are 3 different types of advantage and disadvantage question and they each require a different approach. If you answer them in a different way then you risk losing lots of easy marks.

This lesson will look at each of the three question types and suggest a standard sentence-by-sentence structure for each of them.  There will also be samples answers for each of the three questions to help you compare and understand the three approaches.

Question 1

In some countries young people are encouraged to work or travel for a year between finishing high school and starting university studies.

Discuss the advantages and disadvantages for young people who decided to do this.

Question 2

Some experts believe that it is better for children to begin learning a foreign language at primary schools rather than secondary school.

Do the advantages of this outweigh the disadvantages?

Question 3

Computers are becoming an essential part of school lessons.

Discuss the advantages and disadvantages and give your own opinion.

Question 1 simply asks us to discuss the advantages and disadvantages. It does not ask for our opinion or say which side is better or worse, so we should not include this information in our answer.

This requires a simple structure in which the student will look at the advantages in one paragraph and the disadvantages in the other.

Question 2 is different because we have to say if the advantages are stronger than the disadvantages. Notice I didn’t say ‘if there are more advantages than disadvantages’. The question is not asking you to talk about numbers, but comment on the overall weight of the advantages or disadvantages.  For example, there are a huge number of advantages to travelling by private jet, but there is one huge disadvantage (the cost) that stops most people from flying that way and therefore the disadvantages outweigh the advantages.

In this example we will have to decide which side (advantages or disadvantages) is stronger and this will affect our structure. If you choose advantages then you will have to say why these are much stronger than the advantages and why the disadvantages don’t hold much weight. You would also have to make this clear in your thesis statement.

Question 3 is different again because it is more like an opinion essay and a discussion essay at the same time. Your structure will reflect this by having a paragraph for advantages and disadvantages, but also having a clear position on the statement.

Structure for Essay 1


Sentence 1- Paraphrase question

Sentence 2- Outline sentence

Supporting Paragraph 1 (Advantages)

Sentence 3- Topic sentence (Advantage 1)

Sentence 4- Explain how this is an advantage

Sentence 5- Example

Supporting Paragraph 2 (Disadvantages)

Sentence 6- Topic sentence (Disadvantage 1)

Sentence 7- Explain how this is an disadvantage

Sentence 8- Example


Sentence 9- Summary of main points

Structure for Essay 2


Sentence 1- Paraphrase question

Sentence 2- Thesis statement (state which one outweighs the other)

Sentence 3- Outline sentence

Main Body Paragraph 1 (Stronger Side)

Sentence 4- Topic Sentence

Sentence 5- Explain why it is strong

Sentence 6- Example

Sentence 7- Topic Sentence

Sentence 8- Explain why it is strong

Sentence 9- Example

Main Body Paragraph 2 (Weaker Side)

Sentence 10- Topic Sentence

Sentence 11- Explain why it is not strong

Sentence 12- Example


Sentence 13- Summary of main points and restate position.

Structure for Essay 3


Sentence 1- Paraphrase question

Sentence 2- Thesis statement (your opinion)

Sentence 3- Outline sentence

Main Body Paragraph 1 (Advantages)

Sentence 4- Topic Sentence

Sentence 5- Explain

Sentence 6- Example

Main Body Paragraph 2 (Disadvantages)

Sentence 7- Topic Sentence

Sentence 8- Explain

Sentence 9- Example

Main Body Paragraph 3 (Opinion)

Sentence 10- Explain opinion

Sentence 11- Explain or give example


Sentence 12 – Summary of main points


IELTS Listening Practice Test:

The IELTS Listening test is 30 minutes long (plus 10 minutes transfer time) and is four separate recordings. The Listening test is the same for both Academic and General Training tests.

IELTS Listening test sections: 

There are four sections:
Section 1 is a conversation between two people set in an everyday context (eg. a conversation in an accommodation agency)
Section 2 is a monologue set in an everyday social context (eg. a speech about local families)
Section 3 is a conversation between up to four people set in an educational or training context (eg. a university tutor and student discussing an assignment)
Section 4 is a monologue on an academic subject (eg. a university lecture)

IELTS Academic Reading Practice Test

The IELTS Academic Reading test is 60 minutes long.

IELTS Academic Reading Test Parts:

There are 3 sections. The total text length is 2,150-2,750 words.

  • Each section contains one long text.
  • Texts are authentic and are taken from books, journals, magazines and newspapers. They have been written for a non-specialist audience and are on academic topics of general interest.
  • Texts are appropriate to, and accessible to, test-takers entering undergraduate or postgraduate courses, or seeking professional registration.
  • Texts range from descriptive and factual to the discursive and analytical.
  • Texts may contain non-verbal materials, such as diagrams, graphs or illustrations.
  • If texts contain technical terms, a simple glossary is provided.

IELTS Academic Reading Question types

A variety of questions is used, chosen from the following types: multiple choice, identifying information, identifying writer’s views/claims, matching information, matching headings, matching features, matching sentence endings, sentence completion, summary completion, note completion, table completion, flow-chart completion, diagram label completion, short-answer questions.


Each correct answer receives 1 mark. Scores out of 40 are converted to the IELTS 9-band scale. Scores are reported in whole and half bands.

IELTS Academic Writing Practice Test

The IELTS Academic Writing test is 60 minutes long.

IELTS Academic Test Sections 

The IELTS Academic test consists of two tasks. Candidates are required to write at least 150 words for Task 1 and at least 250 words for Task 2.  Both responses should be written in a formal style.

Task 1
You will be asked to describe some visual information (graph/table/chart/diagram), and to present the description in your own words. You may be asked to describe and explain data, describe the stages of a process, how something works, or describe an object or event. You need to write 150 words in about 20 minutes.

Task 2

You will be presented with a point of view, argument or problem. You need to write 250 words in about 40 minutes.

IELTS Speaking Practice Test

In the IELTS Speaking test, you have a discussion with a certified Examiner. It is interactive and as close to a real-life situation as a test can get.

The test is 11 to 14 minutes long with three parts:

  • In Part 1, you answer questions about yourself, your family, your work and your interests.
  • In Part 2, you speak about a topic. You will be given a task card which asks you to speak about a particular topic and includes points that you can cover in your talk. You will be given 1 minute to prepare your talk. You will then speak for 1-2 minutes.
  • In Part 3, you have a longer discussion on the topic. The examiner will ask you further questions connected to the topic in Part 2.