IELTS Reading Practice Test 05 from


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

The “Extinct” Grass in Britain

Bromus interruptus, commonly known as the interrupted brome, is a plant in the true grass family. Called interrupted brome because of its gappy seed-head, this unprepossessing grass was found nowhere else in the world. Sharp-eyed Victorian botanists were the first to notice it, and by the 1920s the odd-looking grass had been found across much of southern England. Yet its decline was just as dramatic. By 1972 it had vanished from its last toehold—two hay fields at Pampisford, near Cambridge. Even the seeds stored at the Cambridge University Botanic Garden as an insurance policy were dead, having been mistakenly kept at room temperature. Botanists mourned: a unique living entity was gone forever.

Yet reports of its demise proved premature. Interrupted brome has come back from the dead, and not through any fancy genetic engineering. Thanks to one greenfingered botanist, interrupted brome is alive and well living as a pot plant. It’s Britain’s dodo, which is about to become a phoenix, as conservationists set about relaunching its career in the wild.

At first, Philip Smith was unaware that the scrawny pots of grass on his bench were all that remained of a uniquely British species. But when news of the “extinction” of Bromus interruptus finally reached him, he decided to astonish his colleagues. He seized his opportunity at a meeting of the Botanical Society of the British Isles in Manchester in 1979, where he was booked to talk about his research on the evolution of the brome grasses. It was sad, he said, that interrupted brome had become extinct. Then he whipped out two enormous pots of it. The extinct grass was very much alive. It turned out that Smith had collected seeds from the brome’s last refuge at Pampisford in 1963, shortly before the species disappeared from the wild altogether. Ever since then, Smith had grown the grass on, year after year. So in the end the hapless grass survived not through some high-powered conservation scheme or fancy genetic manipulation, but simply because one man was interested in it. As Smith points out, interrupted brome isn’t particularly attractive and has no commercial value.

The brome’s future, at least in cultivation, now seems assured. Seeds from Smith’s plants have been securely stored in the state-of-the-art Millennium Seed Bank at Wakehurst Place in Sussex. And living plants thrive at the botanic gardens at Kew, Edinburgh and Cambridge. This year, “bulking up” is under way to make sure there are plenty of plants in all the gardens, and sacksful of seeds are being stockpiled at strategic sites throughout the country. The brome’s relaunch into the British countryside is next on the agenda. English Nature has included interrupted brome in its Species Recovery Programme, and it is on track to be reintroduced into the agricultural landscape, if friendly farmers can be found. The brome was probably never common enough to irritate farmers, but no one would value it today for its productivity or its nutritious qualities. As a grass, it leaves agriculturalists cold.

So where did it come from? Smith’s research into the taxonomy of the brome grasses suggests that interrupts almost certainly mutated from another weedy grass, soft brome, hordeaceus. So close is the relationship that interrupted brome was originally deemed to be a mere variety of soft brome by the great Victorian taxonomist Professor Hackel. But in 1895, George Claridge Druce, a 45-year-old Oxford pharmacist with a shop on the High Street, decided that it deserved species status, and convinced the botanical world. Druce was by then well on his way to fame as an Oxford don, mayor of the city, and a fellow of the Royal Society.

The brome’s parentage may be clear, but the timing of its birth is more obscure. A clue lies in its penchant for growing as a weed in fields sown with a fodder crop— particularly nitrogen-fixing legumes such as sainfoin, lucerne or clover. According to agricultural historian Joan Thirsk, sainfoin and its friends made their first modest appearance in Britain in the early 1600s. Seeds brought in from the Continent were sown in pastures to feed horses and other livestock. And by 1650 the legumes were increasingly introduced into arable rotations, to serve as “green nature” to boost grain yields. A bestseller of its day, Nathaniel Fiennes’s Sainfoin Improved, published in 1671, helped to spread the word.

Although the credit for the “discovery” of interrupted brome goes to a Miss A.M. Barnard, who collected the first specimens at Odsey, Bedfordshire, in 1849, the grass had probably lurked undetected in the English countryside for at least a hundred years. Smith thinks the botanical dodo probably evolved in the late 17th or early 18th century, once sainfoin became established. The brome’s fortunes then declined dramatically over the 20th century, not least because the advent of the motor car destroyed the market for fodder crops for horses.

Like many once-common arable weeds, such as the corncockle, the seeds of interrupted brome cannot survive long in the soil. Each spring, the brome relied on farmers to resow its seeds; in the days before weedkillers and sophisticated seed sieves, an ample supply would have contaminated stocks of crop seed. But fragile seeds are not the brome’s only problem: this species is also reluctant to release its seeds as they ripen. Show it a ploughed field today and this grass will struggle to survive, says Smith. It will be difficult to establish in today’s “improved” agricultural landscape, inhabited by notoriously vigorous competitors.

Interrupted brome’s reluctance to spread under its own steam could have advantages, however. Any farmer willing to foster this unique contribution to the world’s flora can rest assured that the grass will never become an invasive pest. Restoring interrupted brome to its rightful home could bring positive benefits too, once this quirky grass wins recognition as a unique national monument. British farmers made it possible for interrupted brome to evolve in the first place. Let the grass grow once again in its “natural” habitat, say the conservationists, and it could become a badge of honour for a new breed of eco-friendly farmer.

Questions 1 – 8

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

In boxes 1-8 on your answer sheet, write

TRUE if the statement is true

FALSE if the statement is false

NOT GIVEN if the statement is not given in the passage

1. The name of interrupted brome comes from the fact that the unprepossessing grass disappeared from places in the world for a period.

2. Interrupted brome became extinct because they were kept accidentally at room temperature.

3. Philip Smith worked at the University of Manchester.

4. English Nature has planned to recover the interrupted brome with seeds from Kew Botanic Gardens.

5. Farmers in the British countryside were pleased to grow interrupted brome for the agricultural landscape.

6. Legumes were used for feeding livestock and enriching the soil.

7. Interrupted brome grows poorly when competing with other energetic plants.

8. Only weedkillers can stop interrupted brome becoming an invasive pest.

Questions 9 – 13

Use the information in the passage to match the people (listed A-F) with opinions or deeds below.

Write the appropriate letters A—F in boxes 9—13 on your answer sheet.

9. identified interrupted brome as another species of brome.

10. convinced others about the status of interrupted brome in the botanic world.

11. found interrupted brome together with sainfoin.

12. helped farmers know that sainfoin is useful for enriching the soil.

13. collected the first sample of interrupted brome.

A. A.M. Barnard

B. Professor Hackel

C. George Claridge Druce

D. Joan Thirsk

E. Philip Smith

F. Nathaniel Fiennes


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

The culture of Chimpanzees

Humankind’s nearest relative is even doser than we thought: chimpanzees display remarkable behaviours that can only be described as social customs passed on from generation to generation.

A. Researchers have studied the similarities between chimpanzees and humans for years, but in the past decade they have determined that these resemblances run much deeper than anyone first thought. For instance, the nut cracking observed in the Tai Forest is far from a simple chimpanzee behaviour; rather it is a singular adaptation found only in that particular part of Africa and a trait that biologists consider to be an expression of chimpanzee culture. Scientists frequently use the term “culture” to describe elementary animal behaviours, but as it turns out, the rich and varied cultural traditions found among chimpanzees are second in complexity only to human traditions.

B. During the past two years, an unprecedented scientific collaboration, involving every major research group studying chimpanzees, has documented a multitude of distinct cultural patterns extending across Africa, in actions ranging from the animals’ use of tools to their forms of communications and social customs. This emerging picture of chimpanzees not only affects how we think of these amazing creatures but also alters human beings’ conception of our own uniqueness and hints at ancient foundations for extraordinary capacity for culture.

C. Homo sapiens and Pan troglodytes have coexisted for hundreds of millennia and share more than 98 percent of their genetic material, yet only 40 years ago we still knew next to nothing about chimpanzee behaviour in the wild. That began to change in the 1960s, when Toshisada Nishida of Kyoto University in Japan and Jane Goodall began their studies of wild chimpanzees at two field sites in Tanzania. Goodall’s research station at Gombe—the first of its kind—is more famous.

D. In these initial studies, as the chimpanzees became accustomed to close observation, the remarkable discoveries began. Researchers witnessed a range of unexpected behaviours, including fashioning and using tools, hunting, meat eating, food sharing and lethal fights between members of neighbouring communities. In the years that followed, other primatologists set up camp elsewhere, and, despite all the financial, political and logistical problems that can beset African fieldwork, several of these out-posts became truly long-term projects. As a result, we live in an unprecedented time, when an intimate and comprehensive scientific record of chimpanzees’ lives at last exists not just for one but for several communities spread across Africa.

E. As early as 1973, Goodall recorded 13 forms of tool use as well as eight social activities that appeared to differ between the Gombe chimpanzees and chimpanzee populations elsewhere. She ventured that some variations had what she termed a cultural origin. But what exactly did Goodall mean by “culture”? The diversity of human cultures extends from technological variations to marriage rituals, from culinary habits to myths and legends. Animals do not have myths and legends, of course. But they do have the capacity to pass on behavioural traits from generation to generation, not through their genes but by learning. For biologists, this is the fundamental criterion for a cultural trait: it must be something that can be learned by observing the established skills of others and thus passed on to future generations.

F. What of the implications for chimpanzees themselves? We must highlight the tragic loss of chimpanzees, whose populations are being decimated just when we are at last coming to appreciate these astonishing animals more completely. The bushmeat trade is particularly alarming: logging has driven roadways into the forests that are now used to ship wild-animal meat— including chimpanzee meat—to consumers as far afield as Europe. Such destruction threatens not only the animals themselves but also a host of fascinatingly different ape cultures.

G. Perhaps the cultural richness of the ape may yet help in its salvation, however. Some conservation efforts have already altered the attitudes of some local people. A few organizations have begun to show videotapes illustrating the cognitive prowess of chimpanzees. One Zairian viewer was heard to exclaim, “Ah, this ape is so like me, I can no longer eat him.”

H. How an international team of chimpanzee experts conduct the most comprehensive survey of the animals ever attempted? Scientists have been investigating chimpanzee culture for several decades, but too often their studies have contained a crucial flaw. Most attempts to document cultural diversity among chimpanzees have relied solely on officially published accounts of the behaviours recorded at each research site. But this approach probably overlooks a good deal of cultural variation for three reasons.

I. Firstly, scientists typically don’t publish an extensive list of all the activities they do not see at a particular location. Yet this is exactly what we need to know—which behaviours were and were not observed at each site. Second, many reports describe chimpanzee behaviours without saying how common they are; without this information, we can’t determine whether a particular action was a once-in-a-lifetime aberration or a routine event that should be considered part of the animals’ culture. Finally, researchers’ descriptions of potentially significant chimpanzee behaviour frequently lack sufficient detail, making it difficult for scientists working at other spots to record the presence or absence of the activities.

J. To remedy these problems, the two of us decided to take a new approach. We asked field researchers at each site for a list of all the behaviours they suspected were local traditions. With this information in hand, we pulled together a comprehensive list of 65 candidates for cultural behaviours.

K. Then we distributed our list to the team leaders at each site. In consultation with their colleagues, they classified each behaviour in terms of its occurrence or absence in the chimpanzee community studied. The key categories were customary behaviour, habitual, present, absent, and unknown. We should note, however, that certain cultural traits are no doubt passed on by a combination of imitation and simpler kinds of social learning. Either way, learning from elders is crucial to growing up as a competent wild chimpanzee.

Questions 14 – 18

Reading Passage 2 has eleven paragraphs A—K.

Which paragraph contains the following information?

Write the correct letter A—K, in boxes 14—18 on your answer sheet.

14 A problem of research on chimpanzee culture which is only based on official sources

15 A new system designed by two scientists aiming to solve the problem

16 Reasons why previous research on ape culture is inadequate

17 Classification of data observed or collected

18 An example showing cognitive powers of animals leading to indication of change in local people’s attitude toward preservation

Questions 19-22

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

In boxes 19-22 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

19 Research found that chimpanzees will possess the same complex culture as humans.

20 Human and apes ancestors lived together long ago and share most of their genetic substance.

21 Jane Goodall has observed many surprising features of complex behaviours among chimpanzees.

22 Chimpanzees, like humans, derive cultural behaviours mostly from genetic inheritance.

Questions 23 – 26

Answer the questions below.

Choose NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS AND / OR A NUMBER from passage for each answer.

Write your answers in boxes 23-26 on your answer sheet.

23 When did the unexpected discoveries of chimpanzee behaviour start?

24 Which country is the research site of Toshisada Nishida and Jane Goodall?

25 What did the chimpanzees have to get used to in the initial study?

26 What term did Jane Goodall use in 1973 to explain groups of chimpanzees using tools differently?


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

personality and appearance

When Charles Darwin applied to be the “energetic young man” that Robert Fitzroy, the Beagle’s captain, sought as his gentleman companion, he was almost let down by a woeful shortcoming that was as plain as the nose on his face. Fitzroy believed in physiognomy—the idea that you can tell a person’s character from their appearance. As Darwin’s daughter Henrietta later recalled, Fitzroy had “made up his mind that no man with such a nose could have energy”. This was hardly the case. Fortunately, the rest of Darwin’s visage compensated for his sluggardly proboscis: “His brow saved him.”

The idea that a person’s character can be glimpsed in their face dates back to the ancient Greeks. It was most famously popularised in the late 18th century by the Swiss poet Johann Lavater, whose ideas became a talking point in intellectual circles. In Darwin’s day, they were more or less taken as given. It was only after the subject became associated with phrenology, which fell into disrepute in the late 19th century, that physiognomy was written off as pseudoscience.

First impressions are highly influential, despite the well-worn admonition not to judge a book by its cover. Within a tenth of a second of seeing an unfamiliar face we have already made a judgement about its owner’s character—caring, trustworthy, aggressive, extrovert, competent and so on. Once that snap judgement has formed, it is surprisingly hard to budge. People also act on these snap judgements. Politicians with competent-looking faces have a greater chance of being elected, and CEOs who look dominant are more likely to run a profitable company. There is also a wellestablished “attractiveness halo”. People seen as good-looking not only get the most valentines but are also judged to be more outgoing, socially competent, powerful, intelligent and healthy.

In 1966, psychologists at the University of Michigan asked 84 undergraduates who had never met before to rate each other on five personality traits, based entirely on appearance, as they sat for 15 minutes in silence. For three traits—extroversion, conscientiousness and openness—the observers’ rapid judgements matched real personality scores significantly more often than chance. More recently, researchers have re-examined the link between appearance and personality, notably Anthony Little of the University of Stirling and David Perrett of the University of St Andrews, both in the UK. They pointed out that the Michigan studies were not tightly controlled for confounding factors. But when Little and Perrett re-ran the experiment using mugshots rather than live subjects, they also found a link between facial appearance and personality—though only for extroversion and conscientiousness. Little and Perrett claimed that they only found a correlation at the extremes of personality.

Justin Carre and Cheryl McCormick of Brock University in Ontario, Canada studied 90 ice-hockey players. They found that a wider face in which the cheekbone-tocheekbone distance was unusually large relative to the distance between brow and upper lip was linked in a statistically significant way with the number of penalty minutes a player was given for violent acts including slashing, elbowing, checking from behind and fighting. The kernel of truth idea isn’t the only explanation on offer for our readiness to make facial judgements. Leslie Zebrowitz, a psychologist at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts, says that in many cases snap judgements are not accurate. The snap judgement, she says, is often an “overgeneralisation” of a more fundamental response. A classic example of overgeneralisation can be seen in predators’ response to eye spots, the conspicuous circular markings seen on some moths, butterflies and fish. These act as a deterrent to predators because they mimic the eyes of other creatures that the potential predators might see as a threat.

Another researcher who leans towards overgeneralisation is Alexander Todorov. With Princeton colleague Nikolaas Oosterhof, he recently put forward a theory which he says explains our snap judgements of faces in terms of how threatening they appear. Todorov and Oosterhof asked people for their gut reactions to pictures of emotionally neutral faces, sifted through all the responses, and boiled them down to two underlying factors: how trustworthy the face looks, and how dominant. Todorov and Oosterhof conclude that personality judgements based on people’s faces are an overgeneralisation of our evolved ability to infer emotions from facial expressions, and hence a person’s intention to cause us harm and their ability to carry it out. Todorov, however, stresses that overgeneralisation does not rule out the idea that there is sometimes a kernel of truth in these assessments of personality.

So if there is a kernel of truth, where does it come from? Perrett has a hunch that the link arises when our prejudices about faces turn into self-fulfilling prophecies—an idea that was investigated by other researchers back in 1977. Our expectations can lead us to influence people to behave in ways that confirm those expectations: consistently treat someone as untrustworthy and they end up behaving that way. This effect sometimes works the other way round, however, especially for those who look cute. The Nobel prize-winning ethologist Konrad Lorenz once suggested that baby-faced features evoke a nurturing response. Support for this has come from work by Zebrowitz, who has found that baby-faced boys and men stimulate an emotional centre of the brain, the amygdala, in a similar way. But there’s a twist. Babyfaced men are, on average, better educated, more assertive and apt to win more military medals than their mature-looking counterparts. They are also more likely to be criminals; think Al Capone. Similarly, Zebrowitz found baby-faced boys to be quarrelsome and hostile, and more likely to be academic highfliers. She calls this the “self-defeating prophecy effect”: a man with a baby face strives to confound expectations and ends up overcompensating.

There is another theory that recalls the old parental warning not to pull faces, because they might freeze that way. According to this theory, our personality moulds the way our faces look. It is supported by a study two decades ago which found that angry old people tend to look cross even when asked to strike a neutral expression. A lifetime of scowling, grumpiness and grimaces seemed to have left its mark.

Questions 27 – 31

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

In boxes 27-31 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 Robert Fitzroy’s first impression of Darwin was accurate.

28 The precise rules of “physiognomy” have remained unchanged since the 18th century.

29 The first impression of a person can be modified later with little effort.

30 People who appear capable are more likely to be chosen to a position of power.

31 It is unfair for good-looking people to be better treated in society.

Questions 32-36

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

Write your answers in boxes 32—36 on your answer sheet.

32 What’s true about Anthony Little and David Perrett’s experiment?

A. It is based on the belief that none of the conclusions in the Michigan experiment is accurate.

B. It supports parts of the conclusions in the Michigan experiment.

C. It replicates the study conditions in the Michigan experiment.

D. It has a greater range of faces than in the Michigan experiment.

33 What can be concluded from Justin Carre and Cheryl McCormick’s experiment?

A. A wide-faced man may be more aggressive.

B. Aggressive men have a wide range of facial features.

C. There is no relation between facial features and an aggressive character.

D. It’s necessary for people to be aggressive in competitive games.

34 What’s exemplified by referring to butterfly marks?

A. Threats to safety are easy to notice.

B. Instinct does not necessarily lead to accurate judgment.

C. People should learn to distinguish between accountable and unaccountable judgments.

D. Different species have various ways to notice danger.

35 What is the aim of Alexander Todorov’s study?

A. to determine the correlation between facial features and social development

B. to undermine the belief that appearance is important

C. to learn the influence of facial features on judgments of a person’s personality

D. to study the role of judgments in a person’s relationship

36 Which of the following is the conclusion of Alexander Todorov’s study?

A. People should draw accurate judgments from overgeneralization.

B. Using appearance to determine a person’s character is undependable.

C. Overgeneralization can be misleading as a way to determine a person’s character.

D. The judgment of a person’s character based on appearance may be accurate.

Questions 37 – 40

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

Write the correct letter, A-F, in boxes 37-40 on your answer sheet.

37 Perret believed people behaving dishonestly

38 The writer supports the view that people with babyish features

39 According to Zebrowitz, baby-faced people who behave dominantly

40 The writer believes facial features

A. judge other people by overgeneralization,

B. may influence the behaviour of other people,

C. tend to commit criminal acts.

D. may be influenced by the low expectations of other people.

E. may show the effect of long-term behaviours.

F. may be trying to repel the expectations of other people.