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Reading Exercise 2

Answer the following questions on the passage Hidden history; the beetle's secret cycle of life.

Time: 5 minutes

Questions 5-10

Complete the summary below by choosing a maximum of three words from the passage to fill the spaces 5-10. Write your answers on the answer sheet.


The deathwatch beetle is found most often in 1 ............. and 2 .............. They infest damp-prone timber which has been affected 3 .............. Adults do not feed, so they survive 4 ............. and live for only two or three months. The larvae, on the other hand, live for up to 5 ............., feeding on the timbers during that time. They pupate in 6 ............. but the adult does not emerge until the following spring.

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Most of the questions in the reading test ask you to find specific information. The best way to prepare yourself for this is by going through the first two processes properly:

  • survey the text
  • analyse the question

For example, because you have surveyed the text you should know exactly which paragraphs to look at for the answers to each question. This saves a lot of time. Also from analysing the questions you can often see what sort of information to look for. It is clear, for example, that the answer to question 9 must be a period of time.

So the first two processes are very important: you survey the text and you analyse the questions. Then:

Preparation Tip

Go back to the text to find the answers to the questions

Do not read every word and do not worry if you do not understand everything. Remember you are reading for a purpose. Be clear about what information you need to find and just look for that information. You will need to do this quickly.

Exercise 2 is an example of a typical gap-filling exercise. There are several important points to note:

  • the passage in the exercise is a summary of the reading passage, so you will find many changes from the original;
  • even if you find specialized words in the reading passage (e. g. ‘pupate’) you will be able to answer the questions (e.g. question 10); as stated in the introduction, IELTS is a test of your understanding and use of English, not your specialized knowledge;
  • the question states that you must use a maximum of three words - therefore yon have to reduce the text to answer Q10. You should keep only the important words;
  • the question states the words must come from the passage - you cannot use your own words.

The last two points show how important it is to read the instructions carefully and to check that you have done so. This brings us to the final process in doing the reading test:

Check your answers

Allow a short period of time for checking.
Look at any answers you are not sure of.
Read all the instructions again and make sure you have followed them exactly.

These are all the major skills you need to know and the things you need to do for the reading test. In the next exercises you will practise these skills and processes on other reading passages, and you will also meet some other types of question.

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