IELTS General Reading Test – Timed – B-2
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Reading Passage 1
Read the text below and answer Questions 1-14.
Sustainable School Travel Strategy
Over the last 20 years, the number of children being driven to school in England has doubled. National data suggests that one in five cars on the road at 8.50 am is engaged in the school run. Children are subject to up to 3.9 times more pollution in a car that is standing in traffic than when walking or cycling to school. Reducing cars around schools makes them safer places, and walking and cycling are better for health and the environment. It has been noted by teachers that children engaging in active travel arrive at school more alert and ready to learn.
The County Council has a strong commitment to supporting and promoting sustainable school travel. We collect data annually about how pupils get to school, and our report on the Sustainable School Travel Strategy sets out in detail what we have achieved so far and what we intend to do in the future. Different parts of the County Council are working together to address the actions identified in the strategy, and we are proud that we have been able to reduce the number of cars on the daily school run by an average of 1% in each of the last three years, which is equivalent to taking approximately 175 cars off the road annually, despite an increase in pupil numbers.
All schools have a School Travel Plan, which sets out how the school and the Council can collaborate to help reduce travel to school by car and encourage the use of public transport. Contact your school to find out what they are doing as part of their School Travel Plan to help you get your child to school in a sustainable, safe way.
Read the text below and answer Questions 7-14.
Flu: the facts
A. Flu (influenza) is an acute viral respiratory infection. It spreads easily from person to person: at home, at school, at work, at the supermarket or on the train.
B. It gets passed on when someone who already has flu coughs or sneezes and is transmitted through the air by droplets, or it can be spread by hands infected by the virus.
C. Symptoms can include fever, chills, headache, muscle pain, extreme fatigue, a dry cough, sore throat and stuffy nose. Most people will recover within a week but flu can cause severe illness or even death in people at high risk. It is estimated that 18,500-24,800 deaths in England and Wales are attributable to influenza infections annually.
D. Vaccination is the most effective way to prevent infection. Although anyone can catch flu, certain people are at greater risk from the implications of flu, as their bodies may not be able to fight the virus. If you are over 65 years old, or suffer from asthma, diabetes, or certain other conditions, you are considered at greater risk from flu and the implications can be serious. If you fall into one of these ‘at- risk’ groups, are pregnant or a carer, you are eligible for a free flu vaccination.
E. If you are not eligible for a free flu vaccination, you can still protect yourself and those around you from flu by getting a flu vaccination at a local pharmacy.
F. About seven to ten days after vaccination, your body makes antibodies that help to protect you against any similar viruses that may infect you. This protection lasts about a year.
G. A flu vaccination contains inactivated, killed virus strains so it can’t give you the flu. However, a flu vaccination can take up to two weeks to begin working, so it is possible to catch flu in this period.
H. A flu vaccination is designed to protect you against the most common and potent strains of flu circulating so there is a small chance you could catch a strain of flu not contained in the flu vaccine.
I. The influenza virus is constantly changing and vaccines are developed to predicted strains each year so it is important to get vaccinated against the latest strains.
Speak to your GP or nurse today to book your flu vaccination.
Do the following statements agree with the information given in the text:
1. – More children are injured when walking or cycling to school than when travelling by car.
2. – Children who are driven to school are more ready to learn than those who walk or cycle.
3. – Every year the Council gathers information about travel to schools.
4. – The Council is disappointed with the small reduction in the number of cars taking children to school.
5. – The number of children in schools has risen in recent years.
6. – Parents can get help with paying for their children to travel to school by public transport.
The text below has nine sections, A-l.
Which sections contain the following information?
Write the correct letter, A-H, in spaces 7-14.
NB – You may use any answer more than once.
7. – Examples of people who are likely to be particularly badly affected by flu
8. – How to get a vaccination if you choose to pay for it
9. – Why new vaccines become available
10. – How long a vaccine remains effective
11. – Reference to the possibility of catching a different type of flu from the ones in the vaccine
12. – Categories of people who do not have to pay for vaccination
13. – Information about what a vaccine consists of
14. – Signs that you might have flu
Reading Passage 2
Read the text below and answer Questions 15-27.
Tips for giving an effective business presentation
Get someone else to evaluate your performance and highlight your best skills. For example, go through your presentation in front of a colleague or relative. Think about who your audience is and what you want them to get out of the presentation. Think about content and style.
Go into the presentation room and try out any moves you may have to make, for example, getting up from your chair and moving to the podium. Errors in the first 20 seconds can be very disorientating.
Familiarise yourself with the electronic equipment before the presentation and also have a backup plan in mind, should there be an unexpected problem like a power cut.
Dealing with presentation nervousness
A certain amount of nervousness is vital for a good presentation. The added adrenaline will keep your faculties sharp and give your presentation skills extra force. This can, however, result in tension in the upper chest. Concentrate on your breathing. Slow it right down and this will relax you. Strangely, having something to pick up and put down tends to help you do this.
It may seem an odd idea, but we seem to feel calmer when we engage in what’s referred to as a displacement activity, like clicking a pen or fiddling with jewelery. A limited amount of this will not be too obvious and can make you feel more secure at the start.
Interacting with your audience
Think of your presentation as a conversation with your audience. They may not actually say anything, but make them feel consulted, questioned, challenged, then they will stay awake and attentive.
Engage with your present audience, not the one you have prepared for. Keep looking for reactions to your ideas and respond to them. If your audience doesn’t appear to be following you, find another way to get your ideas across. If you don’t interact, you might as well send a video recording of your presentation instead!
Structuring effective presentations
Effective presentations are full of examples. These help your listeners to see more clearly what you mean. It’s quicker and more colourful. Stick to the point using three or four main ideas. For any subsidiary information that you cannot present in 20 minutes, try another medium, such as handouts.
End as if your presentation has gone well. Do this even if you feel you’ve presented badly.
And anyway, a good finish will get you some applause – and you deserve it!
Read the text below and answer Questions 23-27.
How to get a job in journalism
You can get a good qualification in journalism, but what employers actually want is practical, rather than theoretical, knowledge. There’s no substitute for creating real stories that have to be handed in by strict deadlines. So write for your school magazine, then maybe try your hand at editing. Once you’ve done that for a while, start requesting internships in newspapers in the area. These are generally short-term and unpaid, but they’re definitely worthwhile, since, instead of providing you with money, they’ll teach you the skills that every twenty-first century journalist has to have, like laying out articles, creating web pages, taking good digital pictures and so on.
Most reporters keep a copy of every story they’ve had published, from secondary school onwards. They’re called cuttings, and you need them to get a job — indeed a few impressive ones can be the deciding factor in whether you’re appointed or not. So start creating a portfolio now that will show off your developing talent.
It seems obvious that research is an important part of an effective job hunt, but it’s surprising how many would-be journalists do little or none. If you’re thorough, it can help you decide whether the job you’re thinking about applying for is right for you. And nothing impresses an editor more than an applicant who knows a lot about the paper.
There are two more elements to an application – your covering letter and curriculum vitae. However, your CV is the thing that will attract an editor’s attention first, so get it right. The key words are brevity (no more than one page), accuracy (absolutely no spelling or typing errors) and clarity (it should be easy to follow).
In journalism, good writing skills are essential, so it’s critical that the style of your letter is appropriate. Moreover, make sure it conveys your love of journalism and your eagerness to do the work.
Complete the sentences below.
Choose NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS from the text for each answer.
Write your answers in spaces 15-22.
Practising your presentation on a 15. or a family member is helpful.
Be prepared for a problem such as a 16.
One way to overcome pre-presentation nerves is 17. to make you less rapid.
It is acceptable to do something called a 18. at the start of the presentation to reassure you.
Your presentation should be like a 19. with the people who have come to hear you.
Check constantly for 20. to the points you are making.
Make sure you use plenty of 21. to communicate your message effectively.
To keep the presentation short, use things like 22. to provide extra details.
Complete the flow chart below.
Choose ONE WORD ONLY from the text for each answer.
Write your answers in spaces 23-27.
Reading Passage 3
Read the text below and answer Questions 28-40
What is it like to run a large supermarket?
Jill Insley finds out.
A – You can’t beat really good service. I’ve been shopping in the Thamesmead branch of supermarket chain Morrisons, in south-east London, and I’ve experienced at first hand, the store’s latest maxim for improving the shopping experience – help, offer, thank.
This involves identifying customers who might need help, greeting them, asking what they need, providing it, thanking them and leaving them in peace. If they don’t look like they want help, they’ll be left alone. But if they’re standing looking lost and perplexed, a member of staff will approach them. Staff are expected to be friendly to everyone.
My checkout assistant has certainly said something to amuse the woman in front of me, she’s smiling as she leaves. Adrian Perriss, manager of the branch, has discussed the approach with each of his 387 staff. He says it’s about recognising that someone needs help, not being a nuisance to them. When he’s in another store, he’s irritated by someone saying, ‘Can I help you?’ when he’s only just walked in to have a quick look at the products.
B – How anyone can be friendly and enthusiastic when they start work at dawn beats me. The store opens at 7 am, Monday to Saturday, meaning that some staff, including Perriss, have to be here at 6 am to make sure it’s clean, safe and stocked up for the morning rush. Sometimes he walks in at 6 am and thinks they’re never going to be ready on time, but they always are. There’s so much going on overnight – 20 people working on unloading three enormous trailers full of groceries.
C – Perriss has worked in supermarkets since 1982, when he became a trolley boy on a weekly salary of £76. ‘It was less money than my previous job, but I loved it. It was different and diverse. I was doing trolleys, portering, bread, cakes, dairy and general maintenance.’ After a period in the produce department looking after the fruit and vegetables, he was made produce manager, then assistant store manager before reaching the top job in 1998. This involved intensive training and assessment through the company’s future store manager programme, learning how to analyse and prioritise sales, wastage, recruitment and many other issues. Perriss’ first stop as store manager was at a store which was closed soon afterwards, though he was not to blame.
D – Despite the disappointing start, his career went from strength to strength and he was put in charge of launching new stores and heading up a ‘concept’ store, where the then new ideas of preparing and cooking pizzas in store, having a proper florist and fruit and vegetable ‘markets’ were trialled. All Morrisons’ managers from the whole country spent three days there to see the new concept. That was hard work,’ he says, ‘long days, seven days a week, for about a year.’
E – Although he oversees a store with a large turnover, there is a strongly practical aspect to Perriss’s job. As we walk around, he chats to all the staff while checking the layout of their counters and the quality of the produce. He examines the baking potato shelf and rejects three, one that has split virtually in half and two that are beginning to go green.
He then pulls out a lemon that looks fine to me. When I ask why, he picks up a second lemon and says: ‘Close your eyes and just feel and tell me which you would keep.’ I do and realise that while one is firm and hard, the other is going a bit squashy.
F – Despite eagle-eyed Perriss pulling out fruit and vegetable that most of us would buy without a second thought, the wastage each week is tiny: produce worth £4,200 is marked down for a quick sale, and only £400-worth is scrapped. This, he explains, is down to Morrisons’ method of ordering, still done manually rather than by computer. Department heads know exactly how much they’ve sold that day and how much they’re likely to sell the next, based on sales records and allowing for influences such as the weather.
G – Perriss is in charge of 1,000 man-hours a week across the store. To help him, he has a key team of four, who each have direct responsibility for different departments. He is keen to hear what staff think. He recently held a ‘talent’ day, inviting employees interested in moving to a new job within the store to come and talk to him about why they thought they should be promoted, and discuss how to go about it. ‘We had twenty- three people come through the door, people wanting to talk about progression,’ he says. ‘What do they need to do to become a supervisor? Twenty-three people will be better members of staff as a result of that talk.’
H – His favourite department is fish, which has a four-meter-long run by Debbie and Angela, who are busy having a discussion about how to cook a particular fish with a customer. But it is one of just 20 or so departments around the store and Perriss admits the pressure of making sure he knows what’s happening on them all can be intense. ‘You have to do so much and there could be something wrong with every single one, every day,’ he says. ‘You’ve got to minimise those things and shrink them into perspective. You’ve got to love the job.’ This is what Perriss certainly does.
The text below has eight sections, A-H.
Choose the correct heading for each section from the list of headings below.
Write the correct number i—x, in spaces 28-35.
28. – Section A
29. – Section B
30. – Section C
31. – Section D
32. – Section E
33. – Section F
34. – Section G
35. – Section H
Do the following statements agree with the information given in the text above?
36. – Perriss encourages staff to offer help to all customers.
37. – Perriss is sometimes worried that customers will arrive before the store is ready for them.
38. – When Perriss first became a store manager, he knew the store was going to close.
39. – On average, produce worth £4,200 is thrown away every week.
40. – Perriss was surprised how many staff asked about promotion on the ‘talent’ day.