IELTS Academic Reading Test 13 with Answers | The History of Woodlands in Britain | The Ingenuity Gap | Texting the Television
Reading Passage 1
You should spend about 20 minutes on Questions 1-13, which are based on Reading Passage 1 below.
The History of Woodlands in Britain
The climate in Britain has been arctic for the last several million years, punctuated by relatively warm timespans, or interglacials of thousands of years, one of which we are in as of now. Since the last glaciation, British woodland history is considered quite short in terms of geological time spans, and is also closely related to the human civilization developing.
At the peak of the last glaciation (100,000 – 12,000 BC), the majority of Britain would have had no trees. Birch and willow scrub may have grown along the lower reaches of the ice, with pine in some areas. It’s possible that remnants of pre-glacial flora were sheltered along the western bays of Great Britain and Ireland’s coasts, but as far as the southern parts of England, the ice kept any land barren. Information regarding the development of Britain’s flora following glaciation can be found by studying the deposits of pollen and seed in peat, as well as by the use of radiocarbon dating. Tundra and moorland followed the retreating ice, which lead to phases of different tree species spreading from the south. First came birch, aspen and sallow, followed by pine and hazel continuing to spread north as of 8500 BC, replacing birch to make it less commonly found for the next few thousand years. Oak and alder came after pine, then lime, elm, beech, and maple, all spreading northwards one after the other. From the moment lime arrived, in about 7300, to about 4500 BC the climate remained stable for a length of time known as the Atlantic Period, a time in which numerous species grew to form a series of wildwood or wilderness types.
What did the wilderness or wildwood look like, before man started interfering with it? One theory holds that Britain and Western Europe in Palaeolithic times was covered from coast to coast in a wildwood of continuous trees. However, a modern theory proposed by Francis Vera holds that Western Europe wilderness was a combination of grassland, scrub, and clusters or groves of trees. It was not a dense, impassable wildwood, but instead, an area similar to a park, kept up by wild herbivores eating the plants and grass. Throughout earlier interglacial periods, this may also have been the case in Britain, as creatures of the Palaeolithic era needed to roam large areas of grassland to survive. A variety of grassland plants continued to live there in the last interglacial, as according to pollen records. However, since the last glaciation, the bison, elk and other large herbivores which persisted on mainland Europe were extinct in Britain, so Vera’s theory may not apply so well to Britain.
Meanwhile, throughout the period since it’s spread northwards after the last glaciation, the sustained growth of oak in Britain demonstrates that the wildwood was not as continual as once believed. Oak is a pioneer species, which requires vacant space to generate more of itself. Grazing animals are also present to keep areas open, so Oak regenerates in the thorny brush as a protective measure from their grazing. Archaeological evidence indicates that red deer, who graze on grass as well as browse from trees, were essential to the economy in Mesolithic Britain, with people utilizing them for meat, skins, antlers and bones.
As the Mesolithic (10,000-3000 BC) era ended, evidence of the beginnings of agriculture emerges. Agricultural weeds, such as plantain and stinging nettle, were also increasing in number. Nearly all the wildwood was cut down as the population increased rapidly. However, the falling elm population around 4,000 BC all across Europe has been attributed not to the clearing of trees, but to what’s referred to as Elm disease.
Throughout the Bronze Age (2400-750 BC), people were cutting down trees more than ever before, until the prevalence of the practice “coppicing” peaked, likely at some point during the early Iron Age. Oliver Rackham (1990) theorizes that nearly 50% of land throughout England was no longer wildwood by 500 BC. The regrowth from a stump grows more readily than the original tree, and Neolithic man had discovered this practice, known as coppicing. Much of the remaining woods were maintained by way of this method during the Bronze Age.
The Celtic peoples living in the Iron Age were able to master woodworking as an artform. Today, Celtic woodworking can be seen in houses, boats, wheels and other artifacts of the time. Coppicing as a means to manage woodland was of massive importance throughout two millennia that followed. Buildings, roads, fences, carts, and the fuel for heating, cooking, metalworking and pottery were all made possible due to wood materials gained from the vital practice of coppicing.
A clear divide has existed between wooded and non-wooded regions of Britain since the time of the Romans. As evidenced by The Domesday Book (1086), all the wood in England had an economic value and was the property of either an individual or community owner. Woods were the territories, or ‘exclaves’ of communities who lived some miles away. Even though it had to be transported over long distances, the materials which woodlands produced were of obvious value, and their ownership was long before established. Merely around 15% of land in England was represented by woodland or wood-pasture in the year 1086.
English woodlands produced mostly underwood used as fuel along with other things, with small oaks being used to construct buildings. The average wood-framed houses of the Medieval era mostly used oaks shorter than 18” in diameter. Longer pieces of timber were hard to come by, and kept only for elaborate buildings intended for the Church. Imported boards of thin oak or wainscot from Central Europe were brought in for the purpose of domestic building. Woodland cover was as low as 15% in 1086, and continued to decline from as a result of an ever-growing population to 10% by 1350. This stopped suddenly with the plague of the Black Death of 1349 wiping out some of the human population. Woods which had persisted up to 1350 mostly prospered over the next 500 years.
Do the following statements agree with the information given in the reading passage? In boxes 1-9 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.
1. An understanding of Britain’s pre-glacial flora’s development has been deduced from studies of pollen and seed deposits in peat.
2. Various species of wildwood types began growing in Britain in around the year 8500 BC.
3. Beech and lime did not spread beyond southern Britain.
4. The extinction of large herbivores in Europe adds to speculation that Vera’s theory might not be as applicable to Britain.
5. The persistence of oak in Britain supports Francis Vera’s theory.
6. The sharp decline in elm around 4000 BC is more likely to be the result of clearance than elm disease.
7. The first evidence of clearance of land for agriculture appears at the end of the Bronze Age.
8. The practice of coppicing is traceable back to the Neolithic period.
9. The Black Death negatively impacted growth of forests of Europe.
Look at the following items (Questions 10-14) and a list of periods of time below.
Match each item with the period of time it best corresponds with
Write the correct number A-F in boxes Questions 10-14 on your answer sheet.
NB You may use any letter more than once.
A list of periods of time
A. The Palaeolithic era
B. The Bronze age
C. The Iron age
D. The Medieval era
E. The Mesolithic age
F. Roman times
10. Every type of wood in England belonged to some person or some community.
11. People used woodworking to create elaborate boats, houses, and wheels.
12. Animals kept expansive areas of land clear without human interference.
13. Coppicing was first used for woodland management.
14. Houses were made with short pieces of wood, and longer pieces were used for religious buildings.
Reading Passage 2
The Ingenuity Gap
Ingenuity, as I define it here, consists not only of ideas for new technologies like computers or drought-resistant crops but, more fundamentally, of ideas for better institutions and social arrangements, like efficient markets and competent governments.
How much and what kinds of ingenuity a society requires depends on a range of factors, including the society’s goals and the circumstances within which it must achieve those goals—whether it has a young population or an ageing one, an abundance of natural resources or a scarcity of them, an easy climate or a punishing one, whatever the case may be.
How much and what kinds of ingenuity a society supplies also depends on many factors, such as the nature of human inventiveness and understanding, the rewards an economy gives to the producers of useful knowledge, and the strength of political opposition to social and institutional reforms.
A good supply of the right kind of ingenuity is essential, but it isn’t, of course, enough by itself. We know that the creation of wealth, for example, depends not only on an adequate supply of useful ideas but also on the availability of other, more conventional factors of production, like capital and labor. Similarly, prosperity, stability and justice usually depend on the resolution, or at least the containment, of major political struggles over wealth and power. Yet within our economies ingenuity often supplants labor, and growth in the stock of physical plant is usually accompanied by growth in the stock of ingenuity. And in our political systems, we need great ingenuity to set up institutions that successfully manage struggles over wealth and power. Clearly, our economic and political processes are intimately entangled with the production and use of ingenuity.
The past century’s countless incremental changes in our societies around the planet, in our technologies and our interactions with our surrounding natural environments, have accumulated to create a qualitatively new world. Because these changes have accumulated slowly, it’s often hard for us to recognize how profound and sweeping they’ve been. They include far larger and denser populations; much higher per capita consumption of natural resources; and far better and more widely available technologies for the movement of people, materials, and especially information.
In combination, these changes have sharply increased the density, intensity, and pace of our interactions with each other; they have greatly increased the burden we place on our natural environment; and they have helped shift power from national and international institutions to individuals in subgroups, such as political special interests and ethnic factions.
As a result, people in all walks of life—from our political and business leaders to all of us in our day-to-day—must cope with much more complex, urgent, and often unpredictable circumstances. The management of our relationship with this new world requires immense and ever-increasing amounts of social and technical ingenuity. As we strive to maintain or increase our prosperity and improve the quality of our lives, we must make far more sophisticated decisions, and in less time, than ever before.
When we enhance the performance of any system, from our cars to the planet’s network of financial institutions, we tend to make it more complex. Many of the natural systems critical to our well-being, like the global climate and the oceans, are extraordinarily complex, to begin with. We often can’t predict or manage the behavior of complex systems with much precision, because they are often very sensitive to the smallest of changes and perturbations, and their behavior can flip from one mode to another suddenly and dramatically. In general, as the human-made and natural systems, we depend upon becoming more complex, and as our demands on them increase, the institutions and technologies we use to manage them must become more complex too, which further boosts our need for ingenuity.
The good news, though, is that the last century’s stunning changes in our societies and technologies have not just increased our need for ingenuity; they have also produced a huge increase in its supply. The growth and urbanization of human populations have combined with astonishing new communication and transportation technologies to expand interactions among people and produce larger, more integrated, and more efficient markets. These changes have, in turn, vastly accelerated the generation and delivery of useful ideas.
But—and this is the critical “but”—we should not jump to the conclusion that the supply of ingenuity always increases in lockstep with our ingenuity requirement: while it’s true that necessity is often the mother of invention, we can’t always rely on the right kind of ingenuity appearing when and where we need it. In many cases, the complexity and speed of operation of today’s vital economic, social, and ecological systems exceed the human brain’s grasp. Very few of us have more than a rudimentary understanding of how these systems work. They remain fraught with countless “unknown unknowns,” which makes it hard to supply the ingenuity we need to solve problems associated with these systems.
In this book, I explore a wide range of other factors that will limit our ability to supply the ingenuity required in the coming century. For example, many people believe that new communication technologies strengthen democracy and will make it easier to find solutions to our societies’ collective problems, but the story is less clear than it seems. The crush of information in our everyday lives is shortening our attention span, limiting the time we have to reflect on critical matters of public policy, and making policy arguments more superficial.
Modern markets and science are an important part of the story of how we supply ingenuity. Markets are critically important because they give entrepreneurs an incentive to produce knowledge. As for science, although it seems to face no theoretical limits, at least in the foreseeable future, practical constraints often slow its progress. The cost of scientific research tends to increase as it delves deeper into nature. And science’s rate of advance depends on the characteristic of the natural phenomena it investigates, simply because some phenomena are intrinsically harder to understand than others, so the production of useful new knowledge in these areas can be very slow. Consequently, there is often a critical time lag between the recognition between a problem and the delivery of sufficient ingenuity, in the form of technologies, to solve that problem. Progress in the social sciences is especially slow, for reasons we don’t yet understand; but we desperately need better social scientific knowledge to build the sophisticated institutions today’s world demands.
Complete each sentence with the appropriate answer, A, B, C, or D.
Write the correct answer in boxes 15-18 on your answer sheet
15. The definition of ingenuity
16. The requirement for ingenuity
17. The creation of social wealth
18. The stability of society
A. depends on many factors including climate.
B. depends on the management and solution of disputes.
C. is not only of technological advance but more of institutional renovation.
D. also depends on the availability of some traditional resources.
Choose the correct letter, A, B, C or D.
Write your answers in boxes 19-21 on your answer sheet
19. What does the author say about the incremental change of the last 100 years?
A. It has become a hot scholastic discussion among environmentalists.
B. Its significance is often not noticed.=
C. It has reshaped the natural environments we live in.
D. It benefited a much larger population than ever.
20. The combination of changes has made life:
D. less sophisticated
21. What does the author say about the natural systems?
A. New technologies are being developed to predict change with precision.
B. Natural systems are often more sophisticated than other systems.
C. Minor alterations may cause natural systems to change dramatically.
D. Technological developments have rendered human being more independent of natural systems.
Do the following statements agree with the information given in the Reading Passage?
In boxes 22-28 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
22. The demand for ingenuity has been growing during the past 100 years.
23. The ingenuity we have may be inappropriate for solving problems at hand.
24. There are very few who can understand the complex systems of the present world.
25. More information will help us to make better decisions.
26. The next generation will blame the current government for their conduct.
27. Science tends to develop faster in certain areas than others.
28. Social science develops especially slowly because it is not as important as natural science.
Reading Passage 3
You should spend about 20 minutes on Questions 29-40 which are based on Reading Passage 3 below.
Texting the Television
A Once upon a time, if a television show with any self-respect wanted to target a young audience, it needed to have an e-mail address. However, in Europe’s TV shows, such addresses are gradually substituted by telephone numbers so that audiences can text the show from their mobile phones. Therefore, it comes as no shock that according to Gartner’s research, texting has recently surpassed Internet usage across Europe. Besides, among the many uses of text messaging, one of the fastest-growing uses is to interact with television. The statistics provided by Gartner can display that 20% of French teenagers, 11% in Britain and 9% in Germany have responded to TV programmes by sending a text message.
B This phenomenon can be largely attributed to the rapid growth of reality TV shows such as ‘Big Brother’, where viewers get to decide the result through voting. The majority of reality shows are now open to text-message voting, and in some shows like the latest series of Norway’s ‘Big Brother’, most votes are collected in this manner. But TV-texting isn’t just about voting. News shows encourage viewers to, comment by texting messages; game shows enable the audience to be part of the competition; music shows answer requests by taking text messages; and broadcasters set up on-screen chatrooms. TV audiences tend to sit on the sofa with their mobile phones right by their sides, and ‘it’s a supernatural way to interact.’ says Adam Daum of Gartner.
C Mobile service providers charge appreciable rates for messages to certain numbers, which is why TV-texting can bring in a lot of cash. Take the latest British series of ‘Big Brother’ as an example. It brought about 5.4m text-message votes and £1.35m ($2,1m) of profit. In Germany, MTV’s ‘Videoclash’ encourages the audience to vote for one of two rival videos, and induces up to 40,000 texts per hour, and each one of those texts costs €0.30 ($0.29), according to a consultancy based in Amsterdam. The Belgian quiz show ‘1 Against 100’ had an eight-round texting match on the side, which brought in 110,000 participants in one month, and each of them paid €0.50 for each question. In Spain, a cryptic-crossword clue invites the audience to send their answers through text at the expense of €1, so that they can be enrolled in the poll to win a €300 prize. Normally, 6,000 viewers would participate within one day.
At the moment, TV-related text messaging takes up a considerable proportion of mobile service providers’ data revenues. In July, Mm02 (a British operator) reported an unexpectedly satisfactory result, which could be attributed to the massive text waves created by ‘Big Brother’. Providers usually own 40%-50% of the profits from each text, and the rest is divided among the broadcaster, the programme producer and the company which supplies the message-processing technology. So far, revenues generated from text messages have been an indispensable part of the business model for various shows. Obviously, there has been grumbling that the providers take too much of the share. Endemol, the Netherlands-based production firm that is responsible for many reality TV, shows including ‘Big Brother’, has begun constructing its own database for mobile-phone users. It plans to set up a direct billing system with the users and bypass the providers.
D How come the joining forces of television and text message turn out to be this successful? One crucial aspect is the emergence of one-of-a-kind four-, five- or six-digit numbers known as ‘short codes’. Every provider has control over its own short codes, but not until recently have they come to realise that it would make much more sense to work together to offer short codes compatible with all networks. The emergence of this universal short codes was a game-changer, because short codes are much easier to remember on the screen, according to Lars Becker of Flytxt, a mobile-marketing company.
E Operators’ co-operation on enlarging the market is by a larger trend, observes Katrina Bond of Analysys, a consultancy. When challenged by the dilemma between holding on tight to their margins and permitting the emergence of a new medium, no provider has ever chosen the latter WAP, a technology for mobile-phone users to read cut-down web pages on their screens, failed because of service providers’ reluctance towards revenue sharing with content providers. Now that they’ve learnt their lesson, they are altering the way of operating. Orange, a French operator, has come such a long way as to launch a rate card for sharing revenue of text messages, a new level of transparency that used to be unimaginable.
F At a recent conference, Han Weegink of CMG, a company that offers the television market text-message infrastructure, pointed out that the television industry is changing in a subtle yet fundamental way. Instead of the traditional one-way presentation, more and more TV shows are now getting viewers’ reactions involved.
Certainly, engaging the audiences more has always been the promise of interactive TV. An interactive TV was originally designed to work with exquisite set-top devices, which could be directly plugged into the TV. However, as Mr Daum points out, that method was flawed in many ways. Developing and testing software for multiple and incompatible types of set-top box could be costly, not to mention that the 40% (or lower) market penetration is below that of mobile phones (around 85%). What’s more, it’s quicker to develop and set up apps for mobile phones. ‘You can approach the market quicker, and you don’t have to go through as many greedy middlemen,’ Mr Daum says. Providers of set-top box technology are now adding texting function to the design of their products.
G The triumph of TV-related texting reminds everyone in the business of how easily a fancy technology can all of a sudden be replaced by a less complicated, lower-tech method. That being said, the old-fashioned approach to interactive TV is not necessarily over; at least it proves that strong demands for interactive services still exist. It appears that the viewers would sincerely like to do more than simply staring at the TV screen. After all, couch potatoes would love some thumb exercises.
Reading Passage 3 has seven sections, A-G.
Choose the correct heading for sections B-E and G from the list of headings below.
Write the correct number, i-ix, inboxes 28-32 on your answer sheet.
List of Headings
i An application of short codes on the TV screen
ii An overview of a fast-growing business
iii The trend that profitable games are gaining more concerns
iv Why Netherlands takes the leading role
v A new perspective towards sharing the business opportunities
vi Factors relevant to the rapid increase in interactive TV
vii The revenue gains and bonus share
viii The possibility of the complex technology replaced by the simpler ones
ix The mind change of set-top box providers
Section A ii
Section F ix
29 Section C
30 Section D
31 Section E
32 Section G
Choose the correct letter, A, B, C or D.
Write the correct letter in boxes 33-35 on your answer sheet.
33 In Europe, a research hints that young audiences spend more money on
A thumbing text messages.
B writing e-mails.
C watching TV programmes.
D talking through mobile phones.
34 What would happen when reality TV shows invite the audience to vote?
A Viewers would get attractive bonus.
B They would be part of the competition.
C Their questions would be replied.
D Their participation could change the result.
35 Interactive TV will change from concentrating on set-top devices to
A increasing their share in the market.
B setting up a modified set-top box.
C building an embedded message platform.
D marching into the European market.
Look at the following descriptions (Questions 36-40) and the list of companies below.
Match each description with the correct company, A-F.
Write the correct letter, A-F, in boxes 36-40 on your answer sheet.
List of Companies
36 offered mobile phone message technology
37 earned considerable amount of money through a famous programme
38 expressed the view that short codes are convenient to remember when turning up
39 built their own mobile phone operating applications
40 indicated that it is easy for people to send message in an interactive TV