IELTS MASTER | IELTS Reading Test 122

IELTS Reading Test 122

Jumping spiders

A For a stalking predator, the element of surprise is crucial. And for jumping spiders that sneak onto other spiders’ webs to prey on their owners, it can be the difference between having lunch and becoming it. Now zoologists have discovered the secret of these spiders’ tactics: creeping forward when their prey’s web is vibrating.

B The fifteen known species of Portia jumping spiders are relatively small, with adults being about two centimeters long (that’s smaller than the cap on most pens). They habitually stay in the webs of other spiders, and in an area of these webs that is as out-of-the-way as possible. Portia spiders live mostly in tropical forests, where the climate is hot and humid. They hunt a range of other spiders, some of which could easily turn the tables on them. ‘They will attack something about twice their own size if they are really hungry,’ says Stimson Wilcox of Binghamton University in New York State. Wilcox and his colleague, Kristen Gentile of the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand, wanted to find out how Portia spiders keep the upper hand.

C All jumping spiders have large eyes that look like binocular lenses, and they function pretty much the same way. Most jumping spiders locate their prey visually, and then jump and capture from one centimeter to over ten centimeters away. Only a few species of jumping spiders invade the webs of other spiders, and the Portia spider is among them. Jumping spiders, including Portia spiders, prey on insects and other arthropods by stalking. Sometimes the spiders lure their victims by vibrating the web to mimic the struggles of a trapped insect. But many web-weaving spiders appear to be wise to these tricks, so stalking is often a better strategy. Sometimes, the researchers found, Portia spiders take advantage of the vibrations created in the web by a gentle breeze. But if necessary, they will make their own vibrations.

D The researchers allowed various prey spiders to spin webs in the laboratory and then introduced Portia spiders. To simulate the shaking effect of a breeze the zoologists used either a model aircraft propeller or attached a tiny magnet to the centre of the web which could be vibrated by applying a varying electrical field. The researchers noticed that the stalking Portia spiders moved more when the webs were shaking than when they were stilt and they were more likely to capture their prey during tests in which the webs were penorncally shaken than in those where the webs were undisturbed. If the spiders were placed onto unoccupied webs, they would make no attempt to change their movements.

E It is the Portia spider’s tactic of making its victims’ webs shake that has most intrigued the researchers, They noticed that the spiders would sometimes shake their quarry’s web violently, then creep forwards up to five millimeters before the vibrations died down. ‘They’d make a big pluck with one of their hind legs,’ says Wilcox. These twangs were much more powerful than the gentler vibrations Portia spiders use to mimic a trapped insect, and the researchers were initially surprised that the prey spiders did not respond to them in any way. But they have since discovered that the violent twanging produces a pattern of vibrations that match those caused by a twig falling onto the web.

F Other predators make use of natural ‘smokescreens’ or disguise to hide from their prey: lions hunting at night, for example, move in on their prey when clouds obscure the moon. ‘But this is the first example of an animal making its own smokescreen that we know of,’ says Wilcox. ‘Portia spiders are clearly intelligent and they often learn from their prey as they are trying to capture it. They do this by making different signals on the web of their prey until the prey spider makes a movement. In general, Portia spiders adjust their stalking strategy according to their prey and what the prey is doing. Thus, Portia spiders use trial-and-error learning in stalking. Sometimes they will even take an indirect route to reach a prey spider they can see from a distance. This can sometimes take one to two hours following a predetermined route. When it does this, the Portia spider is actually solving problems and thinking ahead about its actions.’

Questions 1-9
The Reading Passage has six paragraphs labelled A-F.
Which paragraph contains the following information?

Write the correct letter A-F in your answer sheet.
NB You may use any letter more than once.

1. the reaction of the Portia spider’s prey to strong web vibrations
2. a description of how the researchers set up their experiment
3. a comparison between Portia spiders and another animal species
4. an explanation of how the researchers mimicked natural conditions
5. a comparison between Portia spiders and their prey
6. the reason why concealment is important to Portia spiders
7. a description of the Portia spider’s habitat
8. the number of species of Portia spiders
9. an example of the Portia spider’s cleverness

Questions 10-13
Choose the correct letter, A, B, C or D and write in your answer sheet.

10) In their laboratory experiments, the researchers found that the Portia spiders moved most when the web was
A vibrating.
B motionless.
C undisturbed.
D unoccupied.

11) What discovery did the researchers make about Portia spiders?
A They make very strong vibrations with one leg.
B They move 5 mm at a time on a still web.
C They move slowly when vibrations stop.
D They use energetic vibrations to mimic a trapped insect.

12) Portia spiders are the only known animal to
A use the weather to disguise themselves.
B mimic other prey-eating animals.
C create their own smokescreen.
D stalk using ‘trial and error’.

13) The Portia spider demonstrates ‘thinking ahead’ when it
A chooses prey that is a short distance away.
B takes a longer route to reach its prey.
C reaches its prey in a short time.
D solves the problem of locating its prey.

100 Years of the Western Workplace

A Conditions in the working environment of Western countries changed significantly over the 20th century. Though not without some associated problems, these changes may be viewed generally as positive: child labour all but ceased, wages rose, the number of working hours in a week decreased, pension policies became standard, fringe benefits multiplied and concerns over health and safety issues were enforced.

B The collection of data relating to work conditions also became a far more exact science. In particular, there were important developments in methodology and data gathering. Additionally, there was a major expansion of the data collection effort – more people became involved in learning about the workplace; and, for the first time, results started to be published. This being the case, at the end of the century, not only were most workers better off than their early 20th century predecessors had been, but they were also in a position to understand how and why this was the case. By carefully analyzing the statistical data made available, specific changes in the workplace – not least regarding the concept of what “work” should involve – became clearly discernible.

C The most obvious changes to the workplace involved the size and composition of the countries’ workforces. Registering only 24 million in 1900 (and including labourers of age ten and up) and 139 million (aged 16 and older), the size of America’s workforce, for instance, increased by almost six-fold – in line with its overall population growth. At the same time, the composition of the workforce shifted from industries dominated by primary production occupations, such as farmers and foresters, to those dominated by professional, technical and, in particular, service workers. At the beginning of the 20th century, 38% of all American workers were employed on farms, by the end of the same century, that figure had fallen to less than 3 %.

D In Europe, much the same process occurred. In the 1930’s, in every European country, bar Britain and Belgium, more than 20 per cent of the population worked in agriculture. By the 1980’s, however, the farming populations of all developed countries, excluding Eastern Europe, had dropped to ten per cent and often even lower. At the same time, capital intensive farming using highly mechanized techniques dramatically reduced the numbers needed to farm there.

E And therein lay the problem. While the workplace became a safer and more productive environment, a world away from the harsh working conditions of our forefathers, the switch from an agricultural to a modern working environment also created massive unemployment in many countries. Fundamental to this problem was the widespread move from the countryside to the city. Having lost their livelihoods, the world’s peasant populations amassed in ever larger numbers in already crowded communities, where rates of job growth failed to keep up with internal migration. As a result, thousands were left squatting in shanty towns on the periphery of cities, waiting for jobs that might never arrive. While this was (and is) particularly true of Third World countries, the same phenomenon could also be witnessed in several American, French, English and German cities in the late 20th century.

F From a different and more positive perspective, in the 20th century, women became visible and active members of all sectors of the Western workplace. In 1900, only 19% of European women of working age participated in the labour force; by 1999, this figure had risen to 60%. In 1900, only 1% of the country’s lawyers and 6% of its physicians were female; by contrast, the figures were 29% and 24% in 1999. A recent survey of French teenagers, both male and female, revealed that over 50% of those polled thought that, in any job (bar those involving military service), women make better employees, as they are less likely to become riled under stress and less overtly competitive than men.

G The last and perhaps most significant change to the 20th-century workplace involved the introduction of technology. The list of technological improvements in the workplace is endless: communication and measuring devices, computers of all shapes and sizes, x-ray, lasers, neon lights, stainless steel, and so on and on. Such improvements led to a more productive, safer work environment. Moreover, the fact that medicine improved so dramatically led to an increase in the average lifespan among Western populations. In turn, workers of very different ages were able to work shoulder to shoulder, and continue in their jobs far longer.

H By the end of 20th century, the Western workplace had undergone remarkable changes. In general, both men and women worked fewer hours per day for more years under better conditions. Yet, the power of agriculture had waned as farmers and foresters moved to cities to earn greater salaries as annalists and accountants. For those who could not make this transition, however, life at the dawn of the new century seemed less appealing.

Questions 14 – 18
Choose NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS from the reading paragraph for each answer.
Write the answer on your answer sheet from 1-5.

Several changes took place in the working environment in the 20th century: 14……………………….. stopped almost completely in most countries, salaries increased while the number of working hours in a week decreased.

Because of the improvement in both the methodology and the carrying out of data collection, 15……………………….. at the end of the century were in a better position to understand how and why their lives had been made easier.

The most significant changes to the work environment in the West concerned its 16…………………………

In 1999, 17……………………….. of European women of working age participated in the workforce.

A particularly significant change to the 20th-century workplace came via 18……………………….. which brought about a long list of innovations and improvements.

Questions 19 – 23
Do the following statements agree with the information given in the passage?

TRUE                            if the statement agrees with the writer
FALSE                          if the statement contradicts the writer
NOT GIVEN               if there is no specific information about this in the passage

19. No significant drawbacks accompanied changes in the work environment during the 20th century.
20. America and Europe shared the same overall trends in terms of the development of the workplace over the last century.
21. The appearance of shanty towns after farmers move into city areas occurred primarily in the Third World.
22. In 1900, 19% of North American women of working age participated in the workforce.
23. Improvements in medicine led to workers earning more over a longer period.

Questions 24 – 28
Below is a summary of the passage. Using information from the passage, complete the summary.
Choose NO MORE THAN FOUR WORDS from the passage to complete each space

The Western workplace changed dramatically in the course of the 20th century. Most of these changes should be viewed as positive; and, thanks to important developments in 24……………………….. more people than ever were able to appreciate the improvements made. The most obvious changes concerned the 25……………………….. of the workforce.

Another major trend was the gradual urbanization of countries, as farmers and other primary producers left their homes and went to the cities in search of work. Sadly, 26……………………….. grew up as many waited on the outskirts of cities throughout both developing and developed countries, waiting for work.

Another significant difference between the beginning and close of the 20th century was the number of 27 ……………………….. that chose to take jobs. Impressively, moreover, many of the professions they chose had previously been considered the preserve of men alone.

The last great change was the introduction of technology. Technological improvements in the field of 28 ……………………….. led to an increase in the average lifespan and, not surprisingly, also resulted in an older working population.

Lessons from the Titanic

A From the comfort of our modern lives we tend to look back at the turn of the twentieth century as a dangerous time for sea travellers. With limited communication facilities, and shipping technology still in its infancy in the early nineteen hundreds, we consider ocean travel to have been a risky business. But to the people of the time it was one of the safest forms of transport. At the time of the Titanic’s maiden voyage in 1912, there had only been four lives lost in the previous forty years on passenger ships on the North Atlantic crossing. And the Titanic was confidently proclaimed to be unsinkable. She represented the pinnacle of technological advance at the time. Her builders, crew and passengers had no doubt that she was the finest ship ever built. But still, she did sink on April 14, 1912, taking 1,517 of her passengers and crew with her.

B The RMS Titanic left Southampton for New York on April 10, 1912. On board were some of the richest and most famous people of the time who had paid large sums of money to sail on the first voyage of the most luxurious ship in the world. Imagine her placed on her end: she was larger at 269 metres than many of the tallest buildings of the day. And with nine decks, she was as high as an eleven storey building. The Titanic carried 329 first class, 285-second class and 710 third class passengers with 899 crew members, under the care of the very experienced Captain Edward J. Smith. She also carried enough food to feed a small town, including 40,000 fresh eggs, 36,000 apples, 111,000 lbs of fresh meat and 2,200 lbs of coffee for the five-day journey.

C RMS Titanic was believed to be unsinkable because the hull was divided into sixteen watertight compartments. Even if two of these compartments flooded, the ship could still float. The ship’s owners could not imagine that, in the case of an accident, the Titanic would not be able to float until she was rescued. It was largely as a result of this confidence in the ship and in the safety of ocean travel that the disaster could claim such a great loss of life.

D In the ten hours prior to the Titanic’s fatal collision with an iceberg at 11.40pm, six warnings of icebergs in her path were received by the Titanic’s wireless operators. Only one of these messages was formally posted on the bridge; the others were in various locations across the ship. If the combined information in these messages of iceberg positions had been plotted, the ice field which lay across the Titanic’s path would have been apparent. Instead, the lack of formal procedures for dealing with information from a relatively new piece of technology, the wireless, meant that the danger was not known until too late. This was not the fault of the Titanic crew. Procedures for dealing with warnings received through the wireless had not been formalised across the shipping industry at the time. The fact that the wireless operators were not even Titanic crew, but rather contracted workers from a wireless company, made their role in the ship’s operation quite unclear.

E Captain Smith’s seemingly casual attitude in increasing the speed on this day to a dangerous 22 knots or 41 kilometres per hour, can then be partly explained by his ignorance of what lay ahead. But this only partly accounts for his actions, since the spring weather in Greenland was known to cause huge chunks of ice to break off from the glaciers. Captain Smith knew that these icebergs would float southward and had already acknowledged this danger by taking a more southerly route than at other times of the year. So why was the Titanic travelling at high speed when he knew, if not of the specific risk, at least of the general risk of icebergs in her path? As with the lack of coordination of the wireless messages, it was simply standard operating procedure at the time. Captain Smith was following the practices accepted on the North Atlantic, practices which had coincided with forty years of safe travel. He believed, wrongly as we now know, that the ship could turn or stop in time if an iceberg was sighted by the lookouts.

F There were around two and a half hours between the time the Titanic rammed into the iceberg and its final submersion. In this time 705 people were loaded into the twenty lifeboats. There were 473 empty seats available on lifeboats while over 1,500 people drowned. These figures raise two important issues. Firstly, why there were not enough lifeboats to seat every passenger and crew member on board. And secondly, why the lifeboats were not full.

G The Titanic had sixteen lifeboats and four collapsible boats which could carry just over half the number of people on board her maiden voyage and only a third of the Titanic’s total capacity. Regulations for the number of lifeboats required were based on outdated British Board of Trade regulations written in 1894 for ships a quarter of the Titanic’s size, and had never been revised. Under these requirements, the Titanic was only obliged to carry enough lifeboats to seat 962 people. At design meetings in 1910, the shipyard’s managing director, Alexander Carlisle, had proposed that forty-eight lifeboats be installed on the Titanic, but the idea had been quickly rejected as too expensive. Discussion then turned to the ship’s décor, and as Carlisle later described the incident … ’we spent two hours discussing carpet for the first class cabins and fifteen minutes discussing lifeboats’.

H The belief that the Titanic was unsinkable was so strong that passengers and crew alike clung to the belief even as she was actually sinking. This attitude was not helped by Captain Smith, who had not acquainted his senior officers with the full situation. For the first hour after the collision, the majority of people aboard the Titanic, including senior crew, were not aware that she would sink, that there were insufficient lifeboats or that the nearest ship responding to the Titanic’s distress calls would arrive two hours after she was on the bottom of the ocean. As a result, the officers in charge of loading the boats received a very halfhearted response to their early calls for women and children to board the lifeboats. People felt that they would be safer, and certainly warmer, aboard the Titanic than perched in a little boat in the North Atlantic Ocean. Not realising the magnitude of the impending disaster themselves, the officers allowed several boats to be lowered only half full.

I Procedures again were at fault, as an additional reason for the officers’ reluctance to lower the lifeboats at full capacity was that they feared the lifeboats would buckle under the weight of 65 people. They had not been informed that the lifeboats had been fully tested prior to departure. Such procedures as assigning passengers and crew to lifeboats and lifeboat loading drills were simply not part of the standard operation of ships nor were they included in crew training at this time.

J As the Titanic sank, another ship, believed to have been the Californian, was seen motionless less than twenty miles away. The ship failed to respond to the Titanic’s eight distress rockets. Although the officers of the Californian tried to signal the Titanic with their flashing Morse lamp, they did not wake up their radio operator to listen for a distress call. At this time, communication at sea through wireless was new and the benefits not well appreciated, so the wireless on ships was often not operated around the clock. In the case of the Californian, the wireless operator slept unaware while 1,500 Titanic passengers and crew drowned only a few miles away.

K After the Titanic sank, investigations were held in both Washington and London. In the end, both inquiries decided that no one could be blamed for the sinking. However, they did address the fundamental safety issues which had contributed to the enormous loss of life. As a result, international agreements were drawn up to improve safety procedures at sea. The new regulations covered 24-hour wireless operation, crew training, proper lifeboat drills, lifeboat capacity for all on board and the creation of an international ice patrol.

Questions 29 – 37
Complete the summary below. Choose your answers from the box at the bottom of the page and write them in boxes 29-37 on your answer sheet.

NB There are more words than spaces so you will not use them all. You may use any of the words more than once.

List of words

passengers                    happy                           float                            advanced
lifeboats                        confident                     dangers                      ocean
worried                         inadequate                  enormous                   excitement
fast                                 handbook                    water                           afloat
record                            fast                                procedures                orders
drown                            size                                sink                             safety

The Finest Ship Ever Built
The North Atlantic Ocean crossing on the Titanic was expected to set a new standard for 29………… travel in terms of comfort and 30……….… The shipping industry had an excellent safety 31…………. on the North Atlantic Crossing over the previous forty years and the Titanic was the finest and safest liner ever built. The Titanic combined the greatest technology of the day with sheer 32………..…, luxury and new safety features. The Titanic’s owners were 33……………… that even if the Titanic were letting in 34………..… she would 35………… indefinitely until help arrived. In hindsight, we know that the Titanic was not unsinkable and that technology alone could not save lives when facilities were 36………… and humans did not follow safe 37….…….… whether because of arrogance or ignorance.

Questions 38 – 42
Choose the heading which best sums up the primary cause of the problem described in paragraphs D, E, G, H and I of the text.
Write the appropriate numbers (i – x) in the boxes ( 10-14) on your answer sheet.

List of Headings

i Ignorance of the impending disaster
ii Captain’s orders ignored
iii Captain’s over-confidence
iv Rough sea conditions
v Faulty design
vi Iceberg locations not plotted
vii Low priority placed on safety
viii Number of lifeboats adequate
ix Inadequate training
x Ice warnings ignored

38 Paragraph D
39 Paragraph E
40 Paragraph G
41 Paragraph H
42 Paragraph I


1. E
2. D
3. F
4. D
5. B
6. A
7. B
8. B
9. F
10. A
11. A
12. C
13. D
14. child labor
15. workers
16. size and composition
17. 60%
18. technology
19. False
20. Not given
21. True
22. False
23. Not given
24. methodology and data gathering
25. size
26. shanty towns
27. women
28. medicine
29. ocean
30. safety
31. record
32. size
33. confident
34. water
35. float
36. inadequate
37. procedures
38. vi
39. iii
40. vii
41. 1
42. ix