IELTS Reading Practice Test 04 from


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

The Peal

A. Long known as the “Queen of Gems”, pearls possess a history and allure far beyond what today’s wearer may recognize. Throughout much of recorded history, a natural pearl necklace comprised of matched spheres was a treasure of almost incomparable value, in fact the most expensive jewelry in the world. Before the creation of cultured pearls in the early 1900s, natural pearls were so rare and expensive that they were reserved almost exclusively for the noble and very rich. The ancient Egyptians were particularly fond of their pearls. Many Egyptian leaders treasured pearls so much that they were often buried along with their cherished pearl collection. In the Orient and Persian Empire, pearls were ground into costly powders to cure anything from heart disease to epilepsy, with possible aphrodisiac uses as well. China’s long recorded history also provides ample evidence of the importance of pearls.

B. Pearls usually fall into three categories—natural pearls, cultured pearls and simulated pearls. A natural pearl forms when an irritant, such as a piece of sand, works its way into a particular species of oyster, mussel, or clam. As a defense mechanism, the mollusk secretes a fluid to coat the irritant. Layer upon layer of this coating is deposited on the irritant until a lustrous pearl is formed. A cultured pearl undergoes the same process. The only difference between natural pearls and cultured pearls is that the irritant is a surgically implanted bead or piece of shell called Mother of Pearl. Often, these shells are ground oyster shells that are worth significant amounts of money in their own right as irritant-catalysts for quality pearls. The resulting core is much larger than in a natural pearl. Imitation pearls are a different story altogether. In most cases, a glass bead is dipped into a solution made from fish scales. This coating is thin and may eventually wear off. One can usually tell an imitation by biting on it. The island of Mallorca in Spain is known for its imitation pearl industry.

C. Regardless of the method used to acquire a pearl, the process usually takes several years. Mussels must reach a mature age, which can take up to 3 years, and then be implanted or naturally receive an irritant. Once the irritant is in place, it can take up to another 3 years for the pearl to reach its full size. Often, the irritant may be rejected, the pearl will be terrifically misshapen, or the oyster may simply die from disease or countless other complications. By the end of a 5 to 10 year cycle, only 50% of the oysters will have survived. And of the pearls produced, only approximately 5% are of a quality substantial enough for top jewelry makers.

D. How can untrained eyes determine a pearl’s worth? Luster and size are generally considered the two main factors to look for. Luster for instance, depends on the fineness and evenness of the layers. The deeper the glow, the more perfect the shape and surface, the more valuable they are. Size on the other hand, has to do with the age of the oyster that created the pearl (the more mature oysters produce larger pearls) and the location in which the pearl was cultured. The South Sea waters of Australia tend to produce the larger pearls; probably because the water along the coast line is supplied with rich nutrients from the ocean floor. Also, the type of mussel being common to the area seems to possess a predilection for producing comparatively large pearls.

E. In general, cultured pearls are less valuable than natural pearls, whereas imitation pearls almost have no value. One way that jewelers can determine whether a pearl is cultured or natural is to have a gem lab perform an X-ray of the pearl. If the X-ray reveals a nucleus, the pearl is likely a bead nucleated saltwater pearl. If no nucleus is present, but irregular and small dark inner spots indicating a cavity are visible, combined with concentric rings of organic substance, the pearl is likely a cultured freshwater. Among cultured pearls, Akoya pearls from Japan are some of the most lustrous. Although imitation pearls look the part, they do not have the same weight or smoothness as real pearls, and their luster will also dim greatly.

F. Historically, the world’s best pearls came from the Persian Gulf, especially around what is now Bahrain. The pearls of the Persian Gulf were naturally created and collected by breath-hold divers. Unfortunately, the natural pearl industry of the Persian Gulf ended abruptly in the early 1930’s with the discovery of large deposits of oil. The water pollution resulting from spilled oil and indiscriminate over-fishing of oysters essentially ruined the pristine waters of the Gulf once producing pearls. Still, Bahrain remains one of the foremost trading centers for high quality pearls. In fact, cultured pearls are banned from the Bahrain pearl market, in an effort to preserve the location’s heritage. Nowadays, the largest stock of natural pearls probably resides in India. Ironically, much of India’s stock of natural pearls came originally from Bahrain. Unlike Bahrain, which has essentially lost its pearl resource, traditional pearl fishing is still practiced on a small scale in India.

G. Pearls also come in many colours. The most popular colours are white, cream, and pink. Silver, black, and gold are also gaining increasing interest. In fact, a deep lustrous black pearl is one of the rarest finds in the pearling industry, usually only being found in the South Sea near Australia. Thus, they can be one of the more costly items. Nowadays, pearls predominately come from Japan, Australia, Indonesia, Myanmar, China, India, the Philippines, and Tahiti. Japan, however, controls roughly 80% of the world pearl market, with Australia and China coming in second and third, respectively.

Questions 1 – 4

Reading Passage 1 has seven paragraphs, A—G.

Which paragraph contains the following information?

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

1. difficulties in cultivating process

2. causes affecting the size of natural pearls

3. ancient customs around pearls

4. distinctions between cultured pearls and natural ones

Questions 5-10

Complete the summary below. Choose letter from A—K for each answer. Write them in boxes 5-10 on your answer sheet.

Throughout history, people in 5 …………………used pearls for medicine and philtres. There are essentially three types of pearls: natural, cultured and imitation. Natural and cultured pearls share a similar growing process, while imitation pearls are different. And 6 ……………….. owns the reputation for its imitation pearl industry. The country 7………………..usually produces the larger sized pearls due to the favourable environment along the coast line, while the nation of 8………………..manufactures some of the most listening cultured pearls. In the past, the country 9 ……………… the Persian Gulf, produced the world’s best pearls. At present, the major remaining suppliers of natural pearls are in 10…………………

A. America

B. Philippines

C. Australia

D. Bahrain

E. China

F. Japan

G. India

H. Egypt

I. Myanmar

J. Persia

K. Mallorca

Questions 11 – 13

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

In boxes 11-13 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

11. A cultured pearl’s centre is often significantly larger than that in a natural pearl.

12. Imitation pearls are usually the same price as natural ones.

13. The size of pearls produced in Japan is surely smaller than those from Australia.


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

Questions 14-19

Reading Passage 2 has seven paragraphs, A-G.

Choose the correct heading for paragraph A—C and from the list of headings below.

Write the correct number, i-x, in boxes 14-19 on your answer sheet.

List of Headings

i. The subconscious nature of gestures

ii. The example of regional differences

iii. The key factors of gestures

iv. Sending out important signals

v. How a well-known gesture loses its meaning

vi. Performance in a specific setting

vii. Recent research of Gesture Variant

viii. Comparison to an everyday-use object

ix. How will conflict be handled

x. Individual deviation of cultural norms

14. Paragraph A

15. Paragraph B

16. Paragraph C

Example Answer

Paragraph D                      i

17. Paragraph E

18. Paragraph F

19. Paragraph G


A. gesture is any action that sends a visual signal to an onlooker. To become a gesture, an act has to be seen by someone else and has to communicate some pieces of information to them. It can do this either because the gesturer deliberately sets out to send a signal or it can do it only incidentally. The hand-wave is a Primary Gesture,because it has no other existence or function. Therefore, to make it a gesture, first, it should be clear and unambiguous. Others would be able to understand it instantly when it is shown to them. Nor may any component of a gesture, its force, its direction and amplitude of movement, be altered: otherwise, confusion or misunderstanding may occur.

B. Most people tend to limit their use of the term “gesture” to the primary form the hand-wave type—but this misses an important point. What matters with gesturing is not what signals we think we are sending out, but what signals are being received. The observers of our acts will make no distinction between our intentional primary gestures and our unintentional, incidental ones. This is why it is preferable to use the term “gesture” in its wider meaning as an “observed action”. This can be compared to the ring of a telephone. The speed, tone and intensity of a telephone remain the same for any phone call. Even the length of time before being told that the number you are dialing is not answering, unless the caller hangs up, is the same.

C. Some gestures people use are universal. The shoulder shrug is a case in point. The shrug is done by bringing the shoulders up, drawing the head in, and turning the palms upwards so as to reveal that nothing is hidden. The shoulder shrug can also demonstrate submission or that what is being said isn’t understood. Another example is that an angry person usually expresses his rage by waving his clenched fist rapidly and forcefully. Surprisingly, you may find that people of different cultures will do the same when they are offended. That is to say, a commonly accepted gesture is shared by them. But if the way the hand is clenched changes, or the amplitude of force and the direction the fist is waved alters, the gesture no longer means the same.

D. So, is gesture born with us or is it developed as we grow up? Recent research found that gesture is more like a spontaneous reaction when we face certain situations. And we just do that automatically. When people talk, they almost always gesture with their hands. This expressive movement can be coaxed into a choreographic form if observed carefully. People can practice spontaneous gesture by forming pairs, then observing and questioning each other. They then show the group what they have collected from their partners. It is fun to surprise a group using this technique. Because spontaneous gestures are often unconscious, people will sometimes be surprised to have their gestures mirrored back to them, saying “Did I really do that?”

E. The attention of research was also drawn to cultural themes. Researchers discovered that if a person has a good set of teeth, he or she would be prone to have a bigger smile than he or she should when good things happen. And if a person possesses a bad set of teeth, he or she would tend to have his or her mouth shut when being teased. And people’s reaction to the same joke also varies: some laugh out loud while others titter. However, this does not cause confusion and it helps to develop our “behavioural”, which is an important aspect of our identity. It was referred to as a Gesture Variant, which indicates that individuals’ gesture production is a complex process, in which speakers’ internal and external factors and interactions could play a role in multi-modal communication.

F. During the research, an interesting phenomenon soon caught researchers’ attention. A hand purse gesture, which is formed by straightening the fingers and thumb of one hand and bringing them together so the tips touch, pointing upwards and shaping like a cone, carries different meanings in different countries. In Malta, it means heavy sarcasm: “you may seem good, but you are really bad.”; in Tunisia, it is against recklessness, saying “slow down”; in Italy, it means “What’s the matter?” or “What are you trying to say?”; in France, it means “I am afraid”. However, this gesture has no clear meaning in American culture. And of course, the way the gesture is conducted is similar in different countries.

G. But what will happen if the gestures of different countries confront each other? The situation is further complicated by the fact that some gestures mean totally different things in different countries. To take one example, in Saudi Arabia, stupidity can be signalled by touching the lower eyelid with the tip of the forefinger. But this same gesture, in various other countries, can mean disbelief, approval, agreement, mistrust, scepticism, alertness, secrecy, craftiness, danger, or criminality. So people are faced with two basic problems where certain gestures are concerned: either one meaning may be signalled by different actions, or several meanings may be signalled by the same action, as we move from culture to culture. The only solution is to approach each culture with an open mind and learn their gestures as one would learn their vocabulary. These all require considerable skill and training and belong in a totally different world from the familiar gestures we employ in everyday life.

Questions 20 – 22

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

Write your answers in boxes 20—22 on your answer sheet.

20 According to the passage, which aspect of the ringing of a telephone is compared with gestures?

A. The length of the ringing.

B. The unchanging sound of the ringing.

C. The telephone ringing intrudes upon our life.

D. The speed of ringing signals the urgency.

21 Which of the diagrams below shows the gesture “Hand Purse”?

22 In which country should the gesture “Hand Purse” be used with caution?

A. Malta

B. Tusinia

C. Italy

D. France

Questions 23 – 25

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

In boxes 23-25 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

23. Angry people are often in the same age range or group.

24. Personal physical characteristics may affect the gesture used.

25. A Gesture Variant can still be understood by the members of the same culture.

Question 26

According to the passage, what is the writer’s purpose in writing this passage?

Choose the correct letter A, B, C or D

Write you answer in box 26 on your answer sheet.

A. to clarify the origin of gesture-based communication

B. to promote the worldwide use of gestures

C. to investigate whether gesture use affects information content

D. to explain the concept of gesture


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

Grimm’s Fairy Tales

The Brothers Grimm, Jacob and Wilhelm, named their story collection Children’s and Household Tales and published the first of its seven editions in Germany in 1812. The table of contents reads like an A-list of fairy-tale celebrities: Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, Rumpelstiltskin, Hansel and Gretel, the Frog King. Drawn mostly from oral narratives, the 210 stories in the Grimms’ collection represent an anthology of fairy tales, animal fables, rustic farces, and religious allegories that remain unrivalled to this day.

Such lasting fame would have shocked the humble Grimms. During their lifetimes the collection sold modestly in Germany, at first only a few hundred copies a year. The early editions were not even aimed at children. The brothers initially refused to consider illustrations, and scholarly footnotes took up almost as much space as the tales themselves. Jacob and Wilhelm viewed themselves as patriotic folklorists, not as entertainers of children. They began their work at a time when Germany had been overrun by the French under Napoleon, who were intent on suppressing local culture. As young, workaholic scholars, single and sharing a cramped flat, the Brothers Grimm undertook the fairy-tale collection with the goal of saving the endangered oral tradition of Germany.

For much of the 19th century teachers, parents, and religious figures, particularly in the United States, depiored the Grimms’ collection for its raw, uncivilized content. Offended adults objected to the gruesome punishments inflicted on the stories’ villains. In the original “Snow White” the evil stepmother is forced to dance in red-hot iron shoes until she falls down dead. Even today some protective parents shy from the Grimms’ tales because of their reputation for violence.

Despite its sometimes rocky reception, Children’s and Household Tales gradually took root with the public. The brothers had not foreseen that the appearance of their work would coincide with a great flowering of children’s literature in Europe. English publishers led the way, issuing high-quality picture books such as Jack and the Beanstalk and handsome folktale collections, all to satisfy a newly literate audience seeking virtuous material for the nursery. Once the Brothers Grimm sighted this new public, they set about refining and softening their tales, which had originated centuries earlier as earthy peasant fare. In the Grimms’ hands, cruel mothers became nasty stepmothers, unmarried lovers were made chaste, and the incestuous father was recast as the devil.

In the 20th century the Grimms’ fairy tales have come to rule the bookshelves of children’s bedrooms. The stories read like dreams come true: handsome lads and beautiful damsels, armed with magic, triumph over giants and witches and wild beasts. They outwit mean, selfish adults. Inevitably the boy and girl fall in love and live happily ever after. And parents keep reading because they approve of the finger-wagging lessons inserted into the stories: keep your promises, don’t talk to strangers, work hard, obey your parents. According to the Grimms, the collection served as “a manual of manners”.

Altogether some 40 persons delivered tales to the Grimms. Many of the storytellers came to the Grimms’ house in Kassel. The brothers particularly welcomed the visits of Dorothea Viehmann, a widow who walked to town to sell produce from her garden. An innkeeper’s daughter, Viehmann had grown up listening to stories from travellers on the road to Frankfurt. Among her treasures was “Aschenputtel”—Cinderella. Marie Hassenpflug was a 20-year-old friend of their sister, Charlotte, from a well-bred, French-speaking family. Marie’s wonderful stories blended motifs from the oral tradition and from Perrault’s influential 1697 book, Tales of My Mother Goose, which contained elaborate versions of “Little Red Riding Hood”, “Snow White”, and “Sleeping Beauty”, among others. Many of these had been adapted from earlier Italian fairy tales.

Given that the origins of many of the Grimm fairy tales reach throughout Europe and into the Middle East and Orient, the question must be asked: How German are the Grimm tales? Very, says scholar Heinz Rolleke. Love of the underdog, rustic simplicity, creative energy—these are Teutonic traits. The coarse texture of life during medieval times in Germany, when many of the tales entered the oral tradition, also coloured the narratives. Throughout Europe children were often neglected and abandoned, like Hansel and Gretel. Accused witches were burned at the stake, like the evil mother-inlaw in “The Six Swans”. “The cruelty in the stories was not the Grimms’ fantasy”, Rolleke points out. “It reflected the law-and-order system of the old times”.

The editorial fingerprints left by the Grimms betray the specific values of 19th-century Christian, bourgeois German society. But that has not stopped the tales from being embraced by almost every culture and nationality in the world. What accounts for this widespread, enduring popularity? Bernhard Lauer points to the “universal style” of the writing. “You have no concrete descriptions of the land, or the clothes, or the forest, or the castles. It makes the stories timeless and placeless.” “The tales allow us to express ‘our utopian longings’,” says lack Zipes of the University of Minnesota, whose 1987 translation of the complete fairy tales captures the rustic vigour of the original text. “They show a striving for happiness that none of us knows but that we sense is possible. We can identify with the heroes of the tales and become in our mind the masters and mistresses of our own destinies. “

Fairy tales proynde a workout for the unconscious, psychoanalysts maintain. Bruno Bettelheim famously promoted the therapeutic value of the Grimms’ stories, calling fairy tales the “great comforters”. By confronting fears and phobias, symbolized by witches, heartless stepmothers, and hungry wolves, children find they can master their anxieties. Bettelheim’s theory continues to be hotly debated. But most young readers aren’t interested in exercising their unconsciousness. The Grimm tales in fact please in an infinite number of ways. Something about them seems to mirror whatever moods or interests we bring to our reading of them. This flexibility of interpretation suits them for almost any time and any culture.

Questions 27 – 32

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

In boxes 2 7-32 on your answer sheet, write

YES if the statement agrees with the views of the writer

NO if the statement contradicts the views of the writer

NOT GIVEN if it is impossible to say that the writer thinks about this

27. The Grimm brothers believed they would achieve international fame.

28. The Grimm brothers were forced to work in secret.

29. Some parents today still think Grimm’s fairy tales are not suitable for children.

30. The first edition of Grimm’s fairy tales sold more widely in England than in Germany.

31. Adults like reading Grimm’s fairy tales for reasons different from those of children.

32. The Grimm brothers based the story “Cinderella” on the life of Dorothea Viehmann.

Questions 33 – 35

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

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

33, In paragraph 4, what changes happened at that time in Europe?

A. Literacy levels of the population increased.

B. The development of printing technology made it easier to publish.

C. Schools were open to children.

D. People were fond of colleting superb picture books.

34 What changes did the Grimm Brothers make in later editions?

A. They made the stories shorter.

B. They used more oral language.

C. The content of the tales became less violent.

D. They found other origins of the tales.

35 What did Marie Hassenpflug contribute to the Grimm’s Fairy tales?

A. She wrote stories.

B. She discussed the stories with them.

C. She translated a popular book for the brothers using her talent for languages.

D. She told the oral stories that were based on traditional Italian stories.

Questions 36 – 40

Complete each sentence with correct ending, A—H, below.

Write the correct letter, A—H, in boxes 36-40 on your answer sheet.

36 Heinz Rolleke said the Grimm’s tales are “German” because the tales

37 Heinz Rolleke said the abandoned children in tales

38 Bernhard Lauer said the writing style of the Grimm brothers is universal because they

39 Jack Zipes said the pursuit of happiness in the tales means they

40 Bruno Bettelheim said the therapeutic value of the tales means that the fairy tales

A. reflect what life was like at that time.

B. help children deal with their problems.

C. demonstrate the outdated system.

D. tell of the simplicity of life in the German countryside.

E. encourage people to believe that they can do anything.

F. recognize the heroes in the real life.

G. contribute to the belief in nature power.

H. avoid details about characters’ social settings.