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The Impact of the Potato, Ancient Chinese Chariots, Stealth Forces in Weight Loss – IELTS Reading Answers
The Impact of the Potato, Ancient Chinese Chariots, Stealth Forces in Weight Loss – IELTS Reading Answers

The Impact of the Potato, Ancient Chinese Chariots, Stealth Forces in Weight Loss – IELTS Reading Answers

Daily IELTS Reading Practice Test 11 (3 Reading Passages) extracted from Test 1– IELTS Reading Recent Actual Tests (Volume 4) – the latest edition of IELTS Reading Recent Actual Tests Series.

You can also download IELTS Reading Recent Actual Tests Volume 2, Volume 3 Volume 4, topractice at home to check your current level for IELTS Reading and be well-prepared before taking the IELTS exam. 


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

The Impact of the Potato

Jeff Chapman relates the story of history’s most important vegetable

The potato was first cultivated in South America between three and seven thousand years ago, though scientists believe they may have grown wild in the region as long as 13,000 years ago. The genetic patterns of potato distribution indicate that the potato probably originated in the mountainous west-central region of the continent.


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Early Spanish chroniclers who misused the Indian word batata (sweet potato) as the name for the potato noted the importance of the tuber to the Incan Empire. The Incas had learned to preserve the potato for storage by dehydrating and mashing potatoes into a substance called Chuno. Chuno could be stored in a room for up to 10 years, providing excellent insurance against possible crop failures. As well as using the food as a staple crop, the Incas thought potatoes made childbirth easier and used it to treat injuries.

The Spanish conquistadors first encountered the potato when they arrived in Peru in 1532 in search of gold, and noted Inca miners eating Chuno. At the time the Spaniards failed to realise that the potato represented a far more important treasure than either silver or gold, but they did gradually begin to use potatoes as basic rations aboard their ships. After the arrival of the potato in Spain in 1570, a few Spanish farmers began to cultivate them on a small scale, mostly as food for livestock.

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Throughout Europe, potatoes were regarded with suspicion, distaste and fear. Generally considered to be unfit for human consumption, they were used only as animal fodder and sustenance for the starving. In northern Europe, potatoes were primarily grown in botanical gardens as an exotic novelty. Even peasants refused to eat from a plant that produced ugly, misshapen tubers and that had come from a heathen civilisation. Some felt that the potato plant’s resemblance to plants in the nightshade family hinted that it was the creation of witches or devils.

In meat-loving England, farmers and urban workers regarded potatoes with extreme distaste. In 1662, the Royal Society recommended the cultivation of the tuber to the English government and the nation, but this recommendation had little impact. Potatoes did not become a staple until, during the food shortages associated with the Revolutionary Wars, the English government began to officially encourage potato cultivation. In 1795, the Board of Agriculture issued a pamphlet entitled Hints Respecting the Culture and Use of Potatoes this was followed shortly by pro-potato editorials and potato recipes in The Times, Gradually, the lower classes began to follow the lead of the upper classes.

A similar pattern emerged across the English Channel in the Netherlands, Belgium and France. While the potato slowly gained ground in eastern France (where it was often the only crop remaining after marauding soldiers plundered what fields and vineyards), it did not achieve widespread acceptance until the late 1700s. The peasants remained suspicious, in spite of a 1771 paper from the Faculté de Paris testifying that the potato was not harmful but beneficial. The people began to overcome their distaste when the plant received  the royal seal of approval: Louis XVI began 10 sport a potato flower in his buttonhole, and Manc-Antoinette wore the purple potato blossom in her hair.

Frederick the Great of Prussia saw the potato’s potential to help feed his nation and lower the price of bread, but faced the challenge of overcoming the people’s prejudice against the plant. When he issued a 1774 order for his subjects to grow potatoes as protection against famine, the town of Kolberg replied: “The things have neither smell nor taste, not even the dogs will eat them, so what use are they to us?” Trying a less direct approach to encourage his subjects to begin planting potatoes, Frederick used a bit of reverse psychology: he planted a royal field of potato plants and stationed a heavy guard to protect this field from thieves. Nearby peasants naturally assumed that anything worth guarding was worth stealing, and so snuck into the field and snatched the plants for their home gardens. Of course, this was entirely in line with Frederick’s wishes.

Historians debate whether the potato was primarily a cause or an effect of the huge population boom in industrial-era England and Wales. Prior to 1800, the English diet had consisted primarily of meat, supplemented by bread, butter and cheese. Few vegetables were consumed, most vegetables being regarded as nutritionally worthless and potentially harmful. This view began to change gradually in the late 1700s. The Industrial Revolution was drawing an ever increasing percentage of the populace into crowded cities, where only the richest could afford homes with ovens or coal storage rooms, and people were working 12-16 hour days which left them with little time or energy to prepare food. High yielding, easily prepared potato crops were the obvious solution to England’s food problems.

Whereas most of their neighbours regarded the potato with suspicion and had to be persuaded to use it by the upper classes, the Irish peasantry’ embraced the tuber more passionately than anyone since the Incas. The potato was well suited to the Irish soil and climate, and its high yield suited the most important concern of most Irish fanners: to feed their families.

The most dramatic example of the potato’s potential to alter population patterns occurred in Ireland, where the potato had become a staple by 1800. The Irish population doubled to eight million between 1780 and 1841, this without any significant expansion of industry or reform of agricultural techniques beyond the widespread cultivation of the potato. Though Irish land- holding practices were primitive in comparison with those of England, the potato’s high yields allowed even the poorest farners to produce more healthy food than they needed with scarcely any investment or hard labour. Even children could easily plant, harvest and cook potatoes, which of course required no threshing, curing or grinding. The abundance provided by potatoes greatly decreased infant mortality and encouraged early marriage.

Questions 1-5

Do the following statements agree with the information given in Reading Passage 1?
In boxes 1-5 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. The early Spanish called potato as the Incan name ‘Chuno’.
  2. The purpose of Spanish coming to Peru was to find potatoes.
  3. The Spanish believed that the potato has the same nutrients as other vegetables.
  4. Peasants at that time did not like to eat potatoes because they were ugly.
  5. The popularity of potatoes in the UK was due to food shortages during the

Questions 6-13

Complete the sentences below.

Choose ONE WORD ONLY from the passage for each answer.

Write your answers in boxes 6-13 on your answer sheet.

6. In France, people started to overcome their disgusting about potatoes because the King put a potato _________ in his button hole.

7. Frederick realised the potential of potato but he had to handle the ___________ potatoes from ordinary people.

8. The King of Prussia adopted some __________  psychology to make people accept potatoes.

9. Before 1800, the English people preferred eating __________ with bread, butter and cheese.

10. The obvious way to deal with England food problems was to grow high yielding potato _________.

11. The Irish and _______ climate suited potatoes well.

12. Between 1780 and 1841, based on the ___________ of the potatoes, the Irish population doubled to eight million.

13. The potato’s high yields helped the poorest farmers to produce more healthy food almost without ________ or hard physical work.

See also: 


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


Ancient Chinese Chariots

The Shang Dynasty or Yin Dynasty, according to traditional historiography, ruled in the Yellow River valley in the second millennium BC. Archaeological work at the Ruins of Yin (near modern-day Anyang), which has been identified as the last Shang capital, uncovered eleven major Yin royal tombs and the foundations of palaces and ritual sites, containing weapons of war and remains from both animal and human sacrifices.

The Tomb of Fu Hao is an archaeological site at Yinxu, the ruins of the ancient Shang Dynasty’s capital Yin, within the modern city of Anyang in Henan Province, China. Discovered in 1976, it was identified as the final resting place of the queen and military general Fu Hao. The artefacts unearthed within the grave included jade objects, bone objects, bronze objects etc. These grave goods are confirmed by the oracle texts, which constitute almost all of the first hand written record we possess of the Shang Dynasty. Below the corpse was a small pit holding the remains of six sacrificial dogs and along the edge lay the skeletons of human slaves, evidence of human sacrifice.

The Terracotta Army was discovered on 29 March 1974 to the east of Xi’an In Shaanxi. The terracotta soldiers were accidentally discovered when a group of local farmers was digging a well during a drought around 1.6 km (1 mile) east of the Qin Emperor’s tomb around at Mount Li (Lishan), a region riddled with underground springs and watercourses. Experts currently place the entire number of soldiers at 8,000 – with 130 chariots (130 cm long), 530 horses and 150 cavalry horses helping to ward off any dangers in the afterlife. In contrast, the burial of Tutankhamun yielded six complete but dismantled chariots of unparalleled richness and sophistication. Each was designed for two people (90 cm long) and had its axle sawn through to enable it to be brought along the narrow corridor into the tomb.

Excavation of ancient Chinese chariots has confirmed the descriptions of them in the earliest texts. Wheels were constructed from a variety of woods: elm provided the hub, rose-wood the spokes and oak the felloes. The hub was drilled through to form an empty space into which the tempered axle was fitted, the whole being covered with leather to retain lubricating oil. Though the number of spokes varied, a wheel by the fourth century BC usually had eighteen to thirty-two of them. Records show how elaborate was the testing of each completed wheel: flotation and weighing were regarded as the best measures of balance, but even the empty spaces in the assembly were checked with millet grains. One outstanding constructional asset of the ancient Chinese wheel was dishing. Dishing refers to the dish-like shape of an advanced wooden wheel, which looks rather tike a flat cone. On occasion they chose to strengthen a dished wheel with a pair of struts running from rim to rim on each of the hub. As these extra supports were inserted separately into the felloes, they would have added even greater strength to the wheel. Leather wrapped up the edge of the wheel aimed to retain bronze.

Within a millennium, however, Chinese chariot-makers had developed a vehicle with shafts, the precursor of the true carriage or cart. This design did not make its appearance in Europe until the end of the Roman Empire. Because the shafts curved upwards, and the harness pressed against a horse’s shoulders, not his neck, the shaft chariot was incredibly efficient. The halberd was also part of a chariot standard weaponry. This halberd usually measured well over 3 metres in length, which meant that a chariot warrior wielding it sideways could strike down the charioteer in a passing chariot. The speed of the chariot which was tested on the sand was quite fast. At speed these passes were very dangerous for the crews of both chariots.

The advantages offered by the new chariots were not entirely missed They could see how there were literally the Warring States, whose conflicts lasted down the Qin unification of China. Qin Shi Huang was buried in the most opulent tomb complex ever constructed in China, a sprawling, city-size collection of underground caverns containing evening the emperor would need for the afterlife. Even a collection of terracotta armies called Terra-Cotta Warriors was buried in it. The ancient Chinese, along with many cultures including ancient Egyptians, believed that items and even people buried with a person could be taken with him to the afterlife.

Questions 14-17

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

In boxes 14-17 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

14. When Tomb of Fu Hao was discovered, the written records of the grave goods proved to be accurate.

15. Human skeletons in Anyang tomb were identified as soldiers who were killed in the war.

16. The Terracotta Army was discovered by people who lived nearby by chance.

17. The size of the King Tutankhamun’s tomb is bigger than that of Qin Emperor’s tomb.

Questions 18-23

Complete the notes below 

Choose NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS AND/OR NUMBERS from the passage for each answer.

Write your answer in boxes 18-23 on your answer sheet.


18. The hub is made of wood from the tree of __________.

19. The room through the hub was to put tempered axle, which is wrapped up by leather, aiming to retain _______.

20. The number of spokes varies from __________.

21. The shape of wheel resembles a __________.

22. Two ________ was used to strengthen the wheel.

23. The edge of the wheel was wrapped up by leather aiming to retain ________.

Questions 24-26

Answer the questions below.

Choose NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS from the passages for each answer.

Write your answers in boxes 24-26 on your answer sheet.

24. What body part of the horse was released from pressure to the horse shoulder after the appearance of the shafts?

25. What kind of road surface did the researchers measure the speed of the chariot on?

26. What part of the afterlife palace was the Emperor Qin Shi Huang buried in?


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

Stealth Forces in Weight Loss

The field of weight loss is like the ancient fable about the blind men and the elephant. Each man investigates a different part of the animal and reports back, only to discover their findings are bafflingly incompatible.

A. The various findings by public-health experts, physicians, psychologists, geneticists, molecular biologists, and nutritionists are about as similar as an elephant’s tusk is to its tail. Some say obesity is largely predetermined by our genes and biology; others attribute it to an overabundance of fries, soda, and screen-sucking; still others think we’re fat because of viral infection, insulin, or the metabolic conditions we encountered in the womb. “Everyone subscribes to their own little theory,” says Robert Berkowitz, medical director of the Center for Weight and Eating Disorders at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. We’re programmed to hang onto the fat we have, and some people are predisposed to create and carry more fat than others. Diet and exercise help, but in the end the solution
will inevitably be more complicated than pushing away the plate and going for a walk. “It’s not as simple as ‘You’re fat because you’re lazy’ says Nikhil Dhurandhar, an associate professor at Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge. “Willpower is not a prerogative of thin people. It’s distributed equally.”

B. Science may still be years away from giving us a miracle formula for fat-loss. Hormone leptin is a crucial player in the brain’s weight-management circuitry. Some people produce too little leptin; others become desensitised to it. And when obese people lose weight, their leptin levels plummet along with their metabolism. The body becomes more efficient at using fuel and conserving fat, which makes it tough to keep the weight off. Obese dieters’ bodies go into a state of chronic hunger, a feeling Rudolph Leibel, an obesity researcher at Columbia University, compares to thirst. “Some people might be able to tolerate chronic thirst, but the majority couldn’t stand it”, says Leibel. “Is that a behavioural problem – a lack of willpower? I don’t think so.”

C. The government has long espoused moderate daily exercise – of the evening-walk or take-the-stairs
variety – but that may not do much to budge the needle on the scale. A 150-pound person burns only 150 calories on a half-hour walk, the equivalent of two apples. It’s good for the heart, less so for the gut. “Radical changes are necessary,” says Deirdre Barrett, a psychologist at Havard Medical School and author of Waistland. “People don’t lose weight by choosing the small fries or talking a little walk every other day.” Barrett suggests taking a cue from the members of the Nation Weight Control Registry (NWCR), a self-selected group of more than 5,000 successful weight-losers who have shed diets an average 66 pounds and kept it off 5.5 years. Some registry members lost weight using low-carb diets; some went low-fat; other eliminated refined foods. Some did it on their own; others relied on counselling. That said, not everyone can lose 66 pounds and not everyone needs to. The goal shouldn’t be getting thin, but getting healthy. It’s enough to whittle your weight down to the low end of your set range, says Jeffrey Friedman, a geneticist at Rockefeller University. Losing even 10 pounds vastly decreases your risk of diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure. The point is to not give up just because you don’t look like a swimsuit model.

D. The negotiation between your genes and the environment begins on day one. Your optimal weight, writ by genes, appears to get edited early on by conditions even before birth, inside the womb. If a woman has high blood-sugar levels while she’s pregnant, her children arc more likely to be overweight or obese, according to a study of almost 10,000 mother-child pairs. Maternal diabetes may influence a child’s obesity risk through a process called metabolic imprinting, says Teresa Hillier, an endocrinologist with Kaiser Permanente’s Center for Health Research and the study’s lead author. The implication is clear: Weight may be established very early on, and obesity largely passed from mother to child. Numerous studies in both animals and humans have shown that a mother’s obesity directly increases her child’s risk for weight gain. The best advice for moms-to-be: Get fit before you get pregnant. You’ll
reduce your risk of complications during pregnancy and increase your chances of having a normal-weight child.

E. It’s the $64,000 question: Which diets work? It got people wondering: Isn’t there a better way to diet? A study seemed to offer an answer. The paper compared two groups of adults: those who, after eating, secreted high levels of insulin, a hormone that sweeps blood sugar out of the bloodstream and promotes its storage as fat, and those who secreted less. Within each group, half were put on a low-fat diet and half on a low-glycemic-load diet. On average, the low-insulin-secreting group fared the same on both diets, losing nearly 10 pounds in the first six months — but they gained about half of it back by the end of the 18-month study. The high-insulin group didn’t do as well on the low-fat plan, losing about 4.5 pounds, and gaining back more than half by the end. But the most successful were the high-insulin-secretors on the low-glycemic-load diet. They lost nearly 13 pounds and kept it off.

F.  What if your fat is caused not by diet or genes, but by germs — say, a virus? It sounds like a sci-fi horror movie, but research suggests some dimension of the obesity epidemic may be attributable to infection by common viruses, says Dhurandhar. The idea of “infectobesity” came to him 20 years ago when he was a young doctor treating obesity in Bombay. He discovered that a local avian virus, SMAM-1, caused chickens to die, sickened with organ damage but also, strangely, with lots of abdominal fat. In experiments, Dhurandhar found that SMAM-1 -infected chickens became obese on the same diet as uninfected ones, which stayed svelte.

G. He later moved to the U.S. and onto a bona fide human virus, adenovirus 36 (AD-36). In the lab, every species of animal Dhurandhar infected with the virus became obese — chickens got fat, mice got fat, even rhesus monkeys at the zoo that picked up the virus from the environment suddenly gained 15 percent of their body weight upon exposure. In his latest studies, Dhurandhar has isolated a gene that, when blocked from expressing itself, seems to turn off the virus’s fattening power. Stem cells extracted from fat cells and then exposed to AD-36 reliably blossom into fat cells — but when stem cells are exposed to an AD-36 virus with the key gene inhibited, the stems cells don’t differentiate. The gene appears to be necessary and sufficient to trigger AD-36-related obesity, and the goal is to use the research to create a sort of obesity vaccine.

Questions 27-31

Reading Passage 3 has seven paragraphs, A-G.

Which paragraph contains the following information ?

Write the Correct letter, A-G, in boxes 27-31 on your answer sheet.

NB You may use any letter more than once 

27. evaluation on the effect of weight loss on different kinds of diets

28. an example of a research which includes the relatives of the participants

29. an example of a group of people who did not regain weight immediately after weight loss

30. long-term hunger may appear to be acceptable to some of the participants during the period of losing weight program

31. a continuous experiment may lead to a practical application besides diet or hereditary resort

Questions 32-36

Look at the following findings (Question 32-36) and the list of researchers below.

Match each finding with the correct researcher, A-F

Write the correct letter, A-F, in boxes 32-36 on your answer sheet.

NB You may use any letter more than once 

32. A person’s weight is determined by the interaction of his/her DNA and the

33. Pregnant mothers who are overweight may risk their fetus in gaining weight.

34. The aim of losing weight should be keeping healthy rather than being attractive.

35. Small changes in lifestyle will not help in reducing much weight.

36. Researchers can be divided into different groups with their own point of view
about weight loss.

List of Researchers

A. Robert Berkowitz.
B. Rudolph Leibel.
C. Nikhil Dhurandhar.
D. Deirdre Barret.
E. Jeffrey Friedman.
F. Teresa Hillier.

Questions 37-40

Complete the sentences below 

Choose ONE WORD AND/OR A NUMBER from the passage for each answer.

Write your answers in boxes 37-40 on your answer sheet.

In Bombay Clinic, a young doctor who came up with the concept ‘infectobesity’ believed that the obesity is caused by a kind of virus. For years, he conducted experiments on 37________ . Finally, later as he moved to America, he identified a new virus named 38_________ which proved to be a significant breakthrough in inducing more weight. Although there seems no way to eliminate the virus till now, a kind of 39___________ can be separated as to block the effectiveness of the virus. In the future, the doctor is aiming at developing a new 40________ which might effectively combat against the virus.

Answer key

Each question correctly answered scores 1 mark. CORRECT SPELLING IS NEEDED IN ALL ANSWERS.

Reading Passage 1, Question 1-13

  1. FALSE
  2. FALSE
  4. TRUE
  5. TRUE
  6. flower
  7. prejudice
  8. reverse
  9. meat
  10. crops
  11. soil
  12. cultivation
  13. investment

    Reading Passage 2, Questions 14-26

  14. TRUE
  15. FALSE
  16. TRUE
  18. elm
  19. lubricating oil
  20. 18 to 32
  21. dish/flat cone
  22. struts
  23. bronze
  24. neck
  25. sand
  26. tomb complex

    Reading Passage 3, Questions 27-40

  27. E
  28. D
  29. C
  30. B
  31. G
  32. F
  33. F
  34. E
  35. D
  36. A
  37. chickens
  38. adenovirus 36/AD-36
  39. gene
  40. vaccine

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hi, dear Admin! Thank you for your useful materials. I would like to ask you to send me the link of two books IELTS Reading Recent Actual Test 1 With Answers and IELTS Reading Recent Actual Tests Volume 4 (Ebook). Unfortunately, i couldn’t download them. Could you please send to me email [email protected]

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I downloaded IELTS Reading Recent Actual Test Vol. 1 but it is exactly as same as IELTS Reading Recent Actual Test Vol. 2 with the same reading passages. Could you please send me the correct link for Vol 1 to my email address: [email protected]. Thank you.

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