BEST IELTS Academic Reading Test 18

BEST IELTS Academic Reading Test 18


BEST IELTS Academic Reading Test 18
BEST IELTS Academic Reading Test 18



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

California’s age of Megafires

A. There’s a reason fire squads now battling more than a dozen blazes in southern California are having such difficulty containing the flames, despite better preparedness than ever and decades of experience fighting fires fanned by the notorious Santa Ana winds. The wildfires themselves, experts say, generally are hotter, move faster, and spread more erratically than in the past.

B. The short-term explanation is that the region, which usually has dry summers, has had nine inches less rain than normal this year. Longer term, climate change across the West is leading to hotter days on average and longer fire seasons. Experts say this is likely to yield more megafires like the conflagrations that this week forced evacuations of at least 300,000 residents in California’s southland and led President Bush to declare a disaster emergency in seven counties on Tuesday.

C. Megafires, also called “siege fires,” are the increasingly frequent blazes that bum 500,000 acres or more – 10 times the size of the average forest fire of 20 years ago. One of the current wildfires is the sixth biggest in California ever, in terms of acreage burned, according to state figures and news reports. The trend to more superhot fires, experts say, has been driven by a century-long policy of the US Forest Service to stop wildfires as quickly as possible. The unintentional consequence was to halt the natural eradication of underbrush, now the primary fuel for megafires. Three other factors contribute to the trend, they add. First is climate change marked by a 1 -degree F. rise in average yearly temperature across the West. Second is a fire season that on average is 78 days longer than in the late 1980s. Third is increased building of homes and other structures in wooded areas.

D. “We are increasingly building our homes … in fire-prone ecosystems,” says Dominik Kulakowski, adjunct professor of biology at Clark University Graduate School of Geography in Worcester, Mass. Doing that “in many of the forests of the Western US … is like building homes on the side of an active volcano.” In California, where population growth has averaged more than 600,000 a year for at least a decade, housing has pushed into such areas. “What once was open space is now residential homes providing fuel to make fires bum with greater intensity,” says Terry McHale of the California Department of Forestry firefighters union. “With so much dryness, so many communities to catch fire, so many fronts to fight, it becomes an almost incredible job.”

E. That said, many experts give California high marks for making progress on preparedness since 2003, when the largest fires in state history scorched 750,000 acres, burned 3,640 homes, and killed 22 people. Stung then by criticism of bungling that allowed fires to spread when they might have been contained, personnel are meeting the peculiar challenges of neighborhood – and canyon-hopping fires better than in recent years, observers say.

F. State promises to provide newer engines, planes, and helicopters have been fulfilled. Firefighters unions that then complained of dilapidated equipment, old fire engines, and insufficient blueprints for fire safety are now praising the state’s commitment, noting that funding for firefighting has increased despite huge cuts in many other programs. “We are pleased that the Schwarzenegger administration has been very proactive in its support of us and come through with budgetary support of the infrastructure needs we have long sought,” says Mr. McHale with the firefighters union.

G. Besides providing money to upgrade the fire engines that must traverse the mammoth state and wind along serpentine canyon roads, the state has invested in better command-and-control facilities as well as the strategies to run them. “In the fire sieges of earlier years, we found out that we had the willingness of mutual-aid help from other jurisdictions and states, but we were not able to communicate adequately with them,” says Kim Zagaris, chief of the state’s Office of Emergency Services, fire and rescue branch. After a 2004 blue-ribbon commission examined and revamped those procedures, the state-wide response “has become far more professional and responsive,” he says.

H. Besides ordering the California National Guard on Monday to make 1,500 guardsmen available for firefighting efforts, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger asked the Pentagon to send all available Modular Airborne Fighting Systems to the area. The military Lockheed C- 130 cargo/utility aircraft carry a pressurized 3,000-gallon tank that can eject fire retardant or water in fewer than five seconds through two tubes at the rear of the plane. This load can cover an area 1/4- mile long and 60 feet wide to create a fire barrier. Governor Schwarzenegger also directed 2,300 inmate firefighters and 170 custody staff from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to work hand in hand with state and local firefighters.

I. Residents and government officials alike are noting the improvements with gratitude, even amid the loss of homes, churches, businesses, and farms. By Tuesday morning, the fires had burned 1,200 homes and businesses and set 245,957 acres — 384 square miles — ablaze. Despite such losses, there is a sense that he speed, dedication, and coordination of firefighters from several states and jurisdictions are resulting in greater efficiency than in past “siege fire” situations.

J. “I am extraordinarily impressed by the improvements we have witnessed between the last big fire and this,” says Ross Simmons, a San Diego-based lawyer who had to evacuate both his home and business on Monday, taking up residence at a Hampton Inn 30 miles south of his home in Rancho Bernardo. After fires consumed 172,000 acres there in 2003, the San Diego region turned community wide soul-searching into improved building codes, evacuation procedures, and procurement of new technology. Mr. Simmons and neighbors began receiving automated phone calls at 3:30 a.m. Monday morning telling them to evacuate. “Notwithstanding all the damage that will be caused by this, we will not come close to the loss of life because of what we have … put in place since then,” he says.

Questions 1-6

Complete the following summary of the paragraphs of Reading Passage,using no more than two words from the Reading Passage for each answer. Write your answers in boxes 1-6 on your answer sheet.

Experts point out that blazes in California are having more heat, faster speed and they 1…………………more unpredictably compared with former ones. One explanation is that California’s summer is dry 2……………….. is below the average point. Another long term explanation is that hotter and longer potential days occur due to 3…………………….. . Nowadays, Megafires burn 4………………….. he size of forest area caused by an ordinary fire of 20 years ago. The serious trend is mainly caused by well-grown underbrush, which provides 5………………… for the siege fires. Other contributors are climate change and extended 6………………… .

Questions 7-9

Choose the correct letter, A, B, C or D.
Write your answers in boxes 7-9 on your answer sheet.

7. What is expert’s attitude towards California’s performance after 2003 megafire?
A. They could have done better
B. Blamed them on casualties
C. Improvement made on preparation
D. Serious criticism

8. According to Governor Schwarzenegger, which one is CORRECT about his effort for firefighting?
A. Schwarzenegger requested successfully for military weapons
B. Schwarzenegger led many prison management staff to work together with local fire fighters
C. Schwarzenegger acted negatively in recent megafire in California
D. Schwarzenegger ordered 1,500 office clerks to join firefighting scene.

9 What happened to Ross Simmon on the day of megafire break out?
A. He was sleeping till morning
B. He was doing business at Hampton Inn
C. He suffered employee death on that morning
D. He was alarmed by machine calls

Questions 10-13

Do the following statements agree with the information given in Reading Passage 1? In boxes 10-13 l on your answer sheet, write

TRUE – if the statement is true
FALSE – if the statement is false
NOT GIVEN – if the information is not given in the passage

10. The area of open space in California has declined during the past decade.
11. Fire squad wants to recruit more firefighters this year.
12. Firefighters union declared that firefighters have had more improved and supportive facility by the local government.
13. Before the year of 2004, well coordination and communication between California and other states already existed in fire siege.


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


To be eligible for participation in the Special Olympics an individual with an intellectual disability must agree to observe and abide by the SOC Sports Rules. ‘Mental Retardation’ refers to substantial limitations in present functioning. It is characterised by significantly sub-average intellectual functioning, existing concurrently with related limitations in two or more of the following applicable adaptive skill areas: communication, self-care, home living, social skills, community use, self-direction, health and safety, functional academics, leisure and work. Mental retardation manifests itself before the age of 18. The following four assumptions are essential to the application of the definition:

1. Valid assessment considers cultural and linguistic diversity as well as differences in communication and behavioural factors.
2. The existence of limitations in adaptive skills occurs within the context of community environments typical of the individual’s age-peers and is indexed to the person’s individualised needs for support.
3. Specific adaptive limitations often co-exist with strengths in other adaptive skills or other personal capabilities.
4. With appropriate support over a sustained period, the life functioning of the person with mental retardation will generally improve.

The term ‘mental retardation’ is a diagnostic term used to describe the condition defined above. In keeping with the current language practised within the field, the term ‘mental retardation’ is no longer commonly used. In its place, if it is absolutely necessary to use a label, i.e. in an educational setting or in a SOC/NCCP Technical Programme, then the term that is in keeping with the current practices is a person with an intellectual disability. Special Olympics was created and developed to give individuals with an intellectual disability the opportunity to train and compete in sports activities. No person shall, on the grounds of gender, race, religion, colour, national origin or financial constraint be excluded for participation in, or be denied the benefits of, or otherwise be subjected to discrimination under any programme or activity of Special Olympics. Flexibility is left to the Local, Region/Zone, Chapter and National Special Olympics organisations for determining the eligibility of the participants because of the variety of situations and needs that exist in the many localities where Special Olympics programmes have been and will be instituted. Inclusion is preferred to exclusion when eligibility is in question. Individuals who have both an intellectual disability and multiple disabilities may participate in Special Olympics programmes and competitions.

A  Participation by individuals with Down Syndrome who have Atlantoaxial Instability
There is evidence from medical research that up to 15 percent of individuals with Down Syndrome has a defect in the cervical vertebrae C-1 and C-2 in the neck. This condition exposes Down Syndrome individuals to the heightened possibility of a neck injury if they participate in activities that hyperextend or radically flex the neck or upper spine.

B  SOC requires a temporary restriction of individuals with Down Syndrome from participation in certain activities.

1)  Accredited Programmes may allow all individuals with Down Syndrome to continue in most Special Olympics sports training and competition activities. However, such individuals shall not be permitted to participate in sport training and competitions which, by their nature, result in hyperextension, radical flexion or direct pressure on the neck or upper spine. Such sports training and competition activities include: the butterfly stroke and diving start in swimming, diving, pentathlon, high jump, equestrian sports, artistic gymnastics, soccer, alpine skiing and any warm-up exercise placing undue stress on the head and neck.

2)  Restriction from participation in the above-listed activities shall continue until an individual with Down Syndrome has been examined (including X-ray views of full extension and flexion of the neck) by a physician who has been briefed on the nature of the Atlantoaxial Instability condition, and the results of such an examination demonstrate that the individual does not have the Atlantoaxial Instability condition.

3)  For any individual diagnosed as having Atlantoaxial Instability condition, the examining physician shall notify the athlete’s parents or guardians of the nature and extent of the individual’s condition and such athlete shall be allowed to participate in the activities listed in 1) above only if the athlete submits written certification from two physicians combined with an acknowledgment of the risks signed by the adult athlete or his/her parent or guardian if the athlete is a minor.

4)  It is the responsibility of parents/guardians to monitor the individual and take appropriate action if neurological symptoms appear.

Terminology note: the term intellectual disability is used to replace the clinical term of Mental Retardation. Intellectual disability is not a disease, nor should it be confused with mental illness. People with mental disabilities have both a slower rate of learning and a limited capacity to learn. They may also have difficulty managing the ordinary activities of daily living, understanding the behaviour of others, and determining their own appropriate social responses (adaptive behaviour). Children with intellectual disabilities grow into adults with intellectual disabilities; they do not remain ‘eternal children’.

People with intellectual disabilities constitute one of the largest groups of citizens with disabilities. There are an estimated 156 million individuals in the world who have intellectual disabilities. Intellectual disability cuts across lines of race, education, and social and economic background. It can occur in anyone. Hereditary components are known to account for only a fraction of the cases of intellectual disability. There are well over 350 causes of intellectual disability and in three-quarters of the cases, the specific cause is unknown. About 87 percent of all people with intellectual disabilities are mildly afflicted and in many respects are indistinguishable from people who do not have intellectual disabilities.

Questions 14-20

Do the following statements agree with the information given in Reading Passage 2?
In boxes 14-20 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

14.   To be eligible to take part in the Special Olympics, the athlete has to be not only less than intellectually capable but must also be lacking in a number of other functions. ………………………
15.   People with intellectual disabilities never improve their lives. ………………………..
16.   All people with intellectual disabilities need the written permission of a parent or guardian in order to participate. ………………………..
17.  Down Syndrome participants often excel in their chosen field of athletic activity. ……………………
18.   People with Down Syndrome cannot participate in any swimming events. ……………………….
19.   If you have Down Syndrome, your neck may be at risk of damage in certain sports. …………………….
20.   Participation in sports helps people with intellectual disabilities to improve their communication and social skills. ………………………..

Questions 21-23

Choose the correct letter A, B, C or D.
Write your answer in box 21-23 on your answer sheet.

21. What were the objectives of the Special Olympics document?
A. to inform the public about what they are to expect from the Special Olympics
B. to provide information for future candidates C. to promote awareness in the general population of the plight of disabled people
D. to list the problems intellectually disabled people have

22. What does the passage say about intellectual disability?
A. The majority of cases are inherited.
B. Sufferers of the condition outnumber those with physical disabilities.
C. In most cases, the cause of the condition cannot be determined.
D. It may be determined by race, education, or social and economic background.

23. What word best describes the Special Olympics participation policy?
A. Inconsistent
B. Ambiguous
C. Controversial
D. non-discriminatory

Questions 24-26

Which THREE of the following facts relating to Down Syndrome are mentioned?
Choose THREE letter A-F.

A. It is thought that about one Down Syndrome person in every seven has Atlantoaxial Instability.
B. A person with Down Syndrome cannot participate in any winter competitions.
C. Down Syndrome sufferers with Atlantoaxial Instability who are minors need permission from a guardian to play soccer.
D. Down Syndrome sufferers are unable to flex the upper spine.
E. Down Syndrome athletes need to wear a neck brace to participate in the Special Olympics.
F. Down Syndrome athletes can take in sports that do not directly affect the neck or spine without any preconditions being fulfilled.


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

Population Growth Sentencing Millions to Hydrological Poverty

A. At a time when drought in the United States, Ethiopia, and Afghanistan is in the news, it is easy to forget that far more serious water shortages are emerging as the demand for water in many countries simply outruns the supply. Water tables are now falling on every continent. Literally scores of countries are facing water shortages as water tables fall and wells go dry. We live in a water-challenged world, one that is becoming more so each year as 80 million additional people stake their claims to the Earth’s water resources. Unfortunately, nearly all the projected 3 billion people to be added over the next half century will be born in countries that are already experiencing water shortages. Even now many in these countries lack enough water to drink, to satisfy hygienic needs, and to produce food.

B. By 2050, India is projected to add 519 million people and China 211 million. Pakistan is projected to add nearly 200 million, going from 151 million at present to 348 million. Egypt, Iran, and Mexico are slated to increase their populations by more than half by 2050. In these and other water-short countries, population growth is sentencing millions of people to hydrological poverty, a local form of poverty that is difficult to escape.

C. Even with today’s 6 billion people, the world has a huge water deficit. Using data on over pumping for China, India, Saudi Arabia, North Africa, and the United States, Sandra Postel, author of Pillar of Sand: Can the Irrigation Miracle Last?, calculates the annual depletion of aquifers at 160 billion cubic meters or 160 billion tons. Using the rule of thumb that it takes 1,000 tons of water to produce 1 ton of grain, this 160-billion-ton water deficit is equal to 160 million tons of grain or one half the U.S. grain harvest.

D. Average world grain consumption of just over 300 kilograms or one third of a ton per person per year, this would feed 480 million people. Stated otherwise, 480 million of the world’s 6 billion people are being fed with grain produced with the unsustainable use of water.

E. Over pumping is a new phenomenon, one largely confined to the last half century. Only since the development of powerful diesel and electrically driven pumps have we had the capacity to pull water out of aquifers faster than it is replaced by precipitation. Some 70 percent of the water consumed worldwide, including both that diverted from rivers and that pumped from underground, is used for irrigation, while some 20 percent is used by industry, and 10 percent for residential purposes. In the increasingly intense competition for water among sectors, agriculture almost always loses. The 1,000 tons of water used in India to produce 1 ton of wheat worth perhaps $200 can also be used to expand industrial output by easily $10,000, or 50 times as much. This ratio helps explain why, in the American West, the sale of irrigation water rights by farmers to cities is an almost daily occurrence.

F. In addition to population growth, urbanization and industrialization also expand the demand for water. As developing country villagers, traditionally reliant on the village well, move to urban high-rise apartment buildings with indoor plumbing, their residential water use can easily triple. Industrialization takes even more water than urbanization. Rising affluence in itself generates additional demand for water. As people move up the food chain, consuming more beef, pork, poultry, eggs, and dairy products, they use more grain. A U.S. diet rich in livestock products requires 800 kilograms of grain per person a year, whereas diets in India, dominated by a starchy food staple such as rice, typically need only 200 kilograms. Using four times as much grain per person means using four times as much water.

G. Once a localized phenomenon, water scarcity is now crossing national borders via the international grain trade. The world’s fastest growing grain import market is North Africa and the Middle East, an area that includes Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, and the Middle East through Iran. Virtually every country in this region is simultaneously experiencing water shortages and rapid population growth.

H. As the demand for water in the region’s cities and industries increases, it is typically satisfied by diverting water from irrigation. The loss in food production capacity is then offset by importing grain from abroad. Since 1 ton of grain represents 1,000 tons of water, this becomes the most efficient way to import water.

I. Last year, Iran imported 7 million tons of wheat, eclipsing Japan to become the world’s leading wheat importer. This year, Egypt is also projected to move ahead of Japan. Iran and Egypt have nearly 70 million people each. Both populations are increasing by more than a million a year and both are pressing against the limits of their water supplies.

J. The water required to produce the grain and other foodstuffs imported into North Africa and the Middle East last year was roughly equal to the annual flow of the Nile River. Stated otherwise, the fast-growing water deficit of this region is equal to another Nile flowing into the region in the form of imported grain.

K. It is now often said that future wars in the region will more likely be fought over water than oil. Perhaps, but given the difficulty in winning a water war, the competition for water seems more likely to take place in world grain markets. The countries that will “win” in this competition will be those that are financially strongest, not those that are militarily strongest. The world water deficit grows larger with each year, making it potentially more difficult to manage. If we decided abruptly to stabilize water tables everywhere by simply pumping less water, the world grain harvest would fall by some 160 million tons, or 8 percent, and grain prices would go off the top of the chart. If the deficit continues to widen, the eventual adjustment will be even greater.

L. Unless governments in water-short countries act quickly to stabilize population and to raise water productivity, their water shortages may soon become food shortages. The risk is that the growing number of water-short countries, including population giants China and India, with rising grain import needs will overwhelm the exportable supply in food surplus countries, such as the United States, Canada, and Australia. This in turn could destabilize world grain markets. Another risk of delay in dealing with the deficit is that some low-income, water-short countries will not be able to afford to import needed grain, trapping millions of their people in hydrological poverty, thirsty and hungry, unable to escape.

M. Although there are still some opportunities for developing new water resources, restoring the balance between water use and the sustainable supply will depend primarily on demand-side initiatives, such as stabilizing population and raising water productivity. Governments can no longer separate population policy from the supply of water. And just as the world turned to raising land productivity a half century ago when the frontiers of agricultural settlement disappeared, so it must now turn to raising water productivity. The first step toward this goal is to eliminate the water subsidies that foster inefficiency. The second step is to raise the price of water to reflect its cost. Shifting to more water-efficient technologies, more water-efficient crops, and more water-efficient forms of animal protein offer a huge potential for raising water productivity. These shifts will move faster if the price of water more closely reflects its value.

Questions 27-32

Do the following statements agree with the information given in Reading Passage 3?

In spaces 27-32, below, write.

TRUE – if the statement agrees with the information
FALSE – if the statement contradicts with the information
NOT GIVEN – if there is no information about this

27. Vegetarians drink less water the meat eaters. ………………………
28. A typical Indian diet require less grain than a typical USA diet. ………………………..
29. Growing grain uses more water than raising beef. …………………………..
30. People that move forward the country to the city may increase their water consumption considerably. ……………………………..
31. Future conflicts will be fought as much over a food as they will over oil. ……………………..
32. Egypt and Japan also import 7 million tons of oil annually. ……………………………….

Questions 33- 36

Reading passage 3 has 13 paragraphs A-M.

Which paragraph contains information about the following threats to water supplies?

Write correct letter, A-M in spaces 33-36 below.

33. The volume of water that is needed for irrigation in grain production. Paragraph……………………
34. Over-pumping our underground water supplies. Paragraph………………………
35. Population growth will be responsible for a new type of water-related poverty. Paragraph………………
36. Industrialisation demands greater water supplies. Paragraph…………………….

Questions 37-40

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

37 Our water supply is running low because
A Grain is now exported globally.
B The world’s population is increasing rapidly.
C More people are moving to cities.
D People waste water foolishly.

38 People who have a high-meat diet cause more water to be used because
A It takes more grain to feed livestock than it does a human.
B These industrial processes to produce meat require a lot of water.
C Livestock drink a lot of water.
D Packaging of meat products goes through an intensive washing process.

39 What would reduce the use of water without adversely affecting the food supply?
A Growing fewer crops.
B Increasing water subsidies.
C Diverting water from irrigation.
D Falling population levels.

40 If there is a water war, who will win?
A The direct countries
B The richest countries
C The counties that are more forceful
D The countries that have the biggest population


1 Spread
2 Rain/rainfall
3 Climate change
4 10 times
5 Primary fuel
6 Fire season
7 C
8 B
9 D
21 B
22 C
23 D
24 A
25 C
26 F
33 C
34 E
35 B
36 F
37 B
38 A
39 D
40 B

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