This is the next in my series of practice IELTS readings. This one is in the format of True/False/Not Given and is on a scientific theme of birds and fossils. You will find an online version of the practice or you can (which I recommend) download the test and do it on paper.
How to approach these questions
Reading is a skill. My advice is not just to try and “find” the answers. That way you make mistakes. Rather try and improve your reading skills with these questions. There are different types of IELTS reading question. It helps to understand how they work. If you are uncertain, try my True, False, Not Given reading tutorial.
This text is about half the length of a full IELTS reading and contains 5 questions. This is realistic exam practice as one set of T/F/NG questions typically covers around half an IELTS text.
- If you want exam practice, I suggest you take around 7/8 minutes
- If you are just in training, I suggest you take as long as possible to get the answers right. You will learn more that way than by doing it quickly and getting the answers wrong
This text contains some quite difficult language. If you find a word you don’t understand, move on. Do not look it up in the dictionary. You need to be able to read through hard words and try and guess what they mean from the context. One unexpected word in this text is:
Look at it and see if you recognise any part of it. The clue is in “-ologist”. You should know a few words that end like that and that is really all you need to know.
Another possibly new word is:
Here you can use a different strategy and see what other words in the sentences before and after refer to the word “fossil”. You should see that “bone fragments” relates to the same idea and again that is really all you need to know.
What to do after the reading
- One thing to do of course is see why you made the mistakes you did. Take 3/4 minutes to check – this is learning time.
- You could also consider going to read this article from the Guardian Newspaper which I used as a source for the text: The Giant Phoenix Bird. This is exactly the sort of article that is good for IELTS candidates: general interest, intelligent reading.
Question 4 contains a trap – skim read the text first
My very strong advice is to skim read the text first for general meaning. In this text, you are very likely to make a mistake with question 4 if you don’t understand the general meaning of the text. To get the answer right, you need to understand how the relationship between the second and third paragraphs.
Question 5 is a trick too – don’t just look for key words
If you just try and match key words and don’t read the whole question, you are very likely to make a mistake with question 5. Looking for key words in a text and question is extremely dangerous advice. What you need to do is understand the meaning of the whole question and the meaning of the text: if you focus on individual words, you won’t do that.
The reading practice questions
What was the largest bird ever to live on Earth? Opinion remains divided and there are a variety of potential candidates, given there are different criteria of measurement such as volume, mass, height or length. One of the favourites among palaeontologists is the elephant bird of Madagascar, an ancestor of the ostrich that became extinct around the end of 18th century, weighing in at almost 500 kilograms and being over 3 metres in height. This monstrous bird was dwarved, however, by, another extinct bird, the Giant Moa of New Zealand which stood at a good 3.7 metres tall, but only tipped the scales at a comparatively modest 250 kilograms thanks to its much slighter build. Neither of these birds was capable of flight, though, and it is thought that Argentavis magnificens, which had a wingspan of over 3 metres, may have been the largest flying bird.
The discovery of some fossilised remains in Central Asia has renewed debate into this issue. While no complete skeleton has been discovered, two lengths of bone belonging to the lower jaw of a bird have been unearthed and they seem to indicate that there were birds as large, if not larger, than ostriches in what is now Kazakhstan 100 million years ago. Palaeontologists estimate from the size of the bones, more than 27cm-long each, that the bird was in the region of two to three metres tall. This has come as something of a surprise to the experts who had assumed that giant size in birds was something that evolved relatively late in the history, not least because most of the other birds in the age of dinosaurs were approximately the size of chickens.
It should be emphasised that much of what we know about this bird, which has been named Samrukia nessovi, is no more than speculation. For instance, it is estimated that it had a wingspan in excess of four metres, which would make it longer than the albatross, but it is wholly uncertain whether it could fly. This lack of certainty, which originates from the incomplete nature of the skeleton, has been complicated by the circumstances of the discovery of the bone fragments and their subsequent history. The fragments were first found in Shakh-Shakh about 372 miles east of the Aral Sea during a Soviet-East German expedition in the 1970s. They were then reconstructed using plaster, glue and paint, to make them look like a complete jaw and went on display in a Belgian museum. Only now has serious research into the fossils begun at University College, Dublin, where the plaster and other materials used to reconstruct the bone fragments with solvents has been dissolved. Even after that work, the experts will only suggest that the remains belong to a bird whose skull was 30cm from front to back.
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questionsTrue/False/Not Given reading practice - Samrukia Nessovi - Questions (7531)
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