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IELTS Reading Lesson: Death of the High Street

A 2019 IELTS lesson 🙂 A reading exercise for matching headings practice about the “Death of the High Street”. This is an easy lesson to help you develop confidence. There are two exercises in this lesson.

  1. Exercise 1 = Matching Headings
  2. Exercise 2 = Synonyms (Vocabulary practice)

Death of the High Street: Reading for IELTS

Exercise 1: Matching Headings

Questions 1-5. Match the heading with the relevant paragraph below. Write a letter for each answer.

  1.  Changing Tastes
  2.  Rising Overheads
  3. Squeezed Incomes
  4. Too Much Debt
  5. E-commerce

A) A big factor has been a fall in discretionary spending, spurred by rising shop prices and weak wage growth. A near 15% fall in the pound since the Brexit vote has pushed inflation over 3% – way above the Bank of England’s 2% target. This has made imported goods more expensive, with those costs passed on to consumers. Couple that with the fact that wages have been rising at a slower pace than inflation – and shoppers have less disposable income to spend in stores and restaurants.

B) Online giants such as Amazon have had a huge impact on the high street as more consumers see online shopping as cheaper and easier than going to the shops. And while overall retail sales growth is weak, online sales continue to shoot up. If shops fail to do either “value, convenience, or experience” well, they will struggle, Mr Martin says.

C) Toy store “Toys R Us” fell short in all three areas, according to Simon Thomas of Moorfields Advisory, the toy chain’s administrators. He says it was “unlikely” the retailer can be saved because its business model “isn’t what consumers really want now”. “We’ve got very large stores which are fairly impersonal. People are looking now to have a better shopping experience, and we were unable to deliver that.”

D) Inflation is not the only cost pressure retailers face. The National Minimum Wage and new National Living Wage for over-25s go up each year, pushing up payroll costs. “Business rates are deterring investment in local communities, causing shop closures and job losses in hard-pressed communities and preventing retailers from delivering what their customers want in an efficient and cost-effective way.”

E) As a consequence of over expansion, many retailers are shouldering “high debt burdens”, says KPMG’s Mr Martin. Just before its collapse, Toys R Us UK faced a looming VAT debt payment deadline of ÂŁ15m. It would have been unable to pay it without a cash injection from an outside investor.

Source: Passage from BBC News Photo sourced online.

Exercise 2: Synonyms Practice

Questions 6-12. Find the following synonyms in the passage above. The answers will come in order in the passage. No more than two words for each answer. This question type does not come in the test. I have created it to give you essential practice with synonyms.

  • 6. triggered
  • 7. combine
  • 8. expendable
  • 9. soar
  • 10. discouraging
  • 11. imminent
  • 12. boost


Click below for Answers:


Please remember that in the real IELTS test, if you are asked to write a letter, you must write the letter and not the word. Always following instructions very carefully.

  1. A = 3
  2. B = 5
  3. C = 1
  4. D = 2
  5. E = 4
  6. triggered = spurred
  7. combine = couple that
  8. expendable = disposable
  9. soar = shoot up
  10. discouraging = deterring
  11. imminent = looming
  12. boost = injection


Hope you find the lesson useful 🙂

All the best


Migrating Birds: IELTS Synonyms Practice

Finding Synonyms: In IELTS reading, you need to develop the skill of spotting synonyms in the reading passage.

This lesson helps you develop this skill. There is no specific question like this in the IELTS reading test, but all question types require this skill. So, I have made this lesson to help you practice spotting paraphrases.

Bird Migration Synonyms Practice

Birds migrate to move from areas of low or decreasing resources to areas of high or increasing resources. The two primary resources being sought are food and nesting locations.

While short-distance migration probably developed from a fairly simple reason such as for food, the origins of long-distant migration patterns are much more complex. They’ve evolved over thousands of years and are controlled at least partially by the genetic makeup of the birds. They also incorporate responses to weather, geography, food sources, day length, and other factors.

Migrating birds can cover thousands of miles in their annual travels, often travelling the same course year after year with little deviation. First-year birds often make their very first migration independently. Somehow they can find their winter home despite never having seen it before, and return the following spring to where they were born.

The secrets of their amazing navigational skills aren’t fully understood, partly because birds combine several different types of senses when they navigate. Birds can get compass information from the sun, the stars, and by sensing the earth’s magnetic field. They also get information from the position of the setting sun and from landmarks seen during the day. There’s even evidence that sense of smell plays a role, at least for homing pigeons.

Notice: This article has been adapted from this page: The Basics of Bird Migration. It is always useful to read original articles.

Find the Synonyms

Find the word(s) in the reading passage above that have the same meaning as the words below. Answers will come in the order of the questions. This means you find the answer to question 1 first and the other answers will follow in order.

  1. breeding sites
  2. relatively
  3. developed gradually
  4. include
  5. departing from an established course
  6. on their own
  7. distinct feature noticeable from a distance


Click below to reveal the answers:

  1. breeding sites = nesting locations
  2. relatively = fairly
  3. developed gradually = evolved
  4. include = incorporate
  5. departed from an established course = deviation
  6. on their own = independently
  7. distinct feature noticeable from a distance = landmark


I hope you found this lesson useful 🙂

All the best


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Desertification Reading Exercise & Useful Vocab

Reading lesson on Desertification to develop ideas and vocabulary for IELTS.  This lesson will provide you with ideas and vocabulary for IELTS writing task 2, speaking part 3 and the reading test.

Desertification: IELTS Environmental Topic

Desertification is a type of land degradation in which a relatively dry land region becomes increasingly arid, typically losing its bodies of water as well as vegetation and wildlife. It is caused by a variety of factors, such as climate change and human activities. Desertification is a significant global ecological and environmental problem.

Questions 1 – 8

Match each paragraph below to a title from the list. Not all letters will be used.

  • A) Overgrazing
  • B) Mass migration
  • C) Overpopulation
  • D) Polluted drinking water
  • E) Famine
  • F) Extinction of species
  • G) Deforestation
  • H) Poverty
  • I) Unsustainable agriculture techniques
  • J) Soil infertility

Reading Passage: Desertification Causes and Effects

Causes of Desertification

1) Trees are being cut down at much larger scale than ever before to be used as fuel, to provide products we use in our daily life, or to simply create more space for agriculture to sustain growing human population. Once the trees and other vegetation in an area are gone, there is nothing left to hold the soil in place.

2) Our planet’s ecosystems sustain life only when balanced. They can cope with incremental challenges and adapt but beyond a certain tipping point they collapse. A rapid increase in the number of people demands higher amounts of natural resources and expands more and more over the landscape, leading to increased desertification.

3) Improper irrigation methods used in arid areas, such as canal irrigation, lead to a buildup of salt in the soil and make it difficult for crops and other plants to grow, increasing desertification. Similarly harmful is cultivation of already deteriorated lands. Through inconsiderate farming methods, farmers only speed up the process of desertification in exchange for poor quality crops with low economic value.

4) In arid regions, grass and other vegetation is necessary to keep the soil in place. If such vegetation is used as feed for cattle without sustainable control, there is nothing that remains to prevent soil from blowing or washing away, and if this process occurs long enough, it can lead to desertification.

Effects of Desertification

5) As desertification occurs, the soil can be blown or washed away, and valuable soil nutrients are lost. As the soil dries out, it hardens and it becomes difficult for any rainfall that does occur to penetrate below the soil’s surface. And what remains left is a lifeless pile of dust instead of a life-giving medium.

6) Due to drought conditions and a loss of productive land, local people find themselves and their livestock experiencing starvation.

7) Desertification events have been a major driver behind the movement of large human populations throughout history. When soils are not able to support their civilisation, people set on the move to look for better locations.

8) Species that once lived in a fertile and productive climate may not survive in a newly desertified region.


The answers are now available for this reading lesson. Click below for Answers:


Please remember that in the real IELTS test, if you are asked to write a letter, you must write the letter and not the word. Always following instructions very carefully for IELTS.

  1. G
    1. Deforestation. Keywords: Trees are being cut down
  2. C
    1. Overpopulation. Keywords: A rapid increase in the number of people
  3. I
    1. Unsustainable agriculture techniques. Keywords: Improper irrigation methods / inconsiderate farming methods
  4. A
    1. Overgrazing. Keywords: feed for cattle without sustainable control
  5. J
    1. Soil infertility. Keywords: valuable soil nutrients are lost /  soil dries out / lifeless pile of dust
  6. E
    1. Famine. Keywords: people find themselves and their livestock experiencing starvation.
  7. B
    1. Mass migration. Keywords: movement of large human populations
  8. F
    1. Extinction of species. Keywords: Species …………………. may not survive …

All reading exercises on ieltsliz.com have been designed by myself to help you prepare for your IELTS test.   


All the best


How Nilay Scored IELTS 8.5 Overall

Nilay scored 8.5 Overall in the IELTS Academic test this month. Below are his tips for his great score in IELTS.

Nilay’s Scores: Overall 8.5

  • Listening: 9
  • Reading: 9
  • Writing: 8
  • Speaking: 8

Nilay’s Tips for IELTS 8.5

Nilay here. I am an orthopedic surgeon from India and currently trying to specialize in spine surgery. I appeared for the IELTS to register with the Canadian medical boards for which I needed minimum 7 in each of the four categories. This was the academic version.

To summarize the prep, I gave it around 12-14 days part time. I had been aware of your videos and thought to just concentrate on that during last 3 to 4 days and I attribute a large part of my writing score to your tips. I didn’t opt for paid tutorials but I feel that the content you generously provide is more than enough in most cases. Having said that, I was planning to get your paid tutorials if I couldn’t cross the required threshold of 7/9 in writing; I was reasonably certain I would cross 7 in RW and S. My tips are summarized here.
Reading Tips- As a compulsive reader, I was a bit overconfident when I started out the prep and expected to score a perfect 9 each time. My behind was handed back to me promptly by the No/Not Given dilemma. Your tips on that cleared out the webs and I highly recommend that video to polish the reading score. One thing I realized in the exam is that the reading paragraphs can be difficult and must not be underestimated even if you are good at reading to begin with. I consider myself a very fast reader and still had only 8-10 mins left at the end. I would advise underlining key words and phrases as it makes it easier to fish out the answers.  I wrote in all caps as advised.
Listening Tips – Tricky proposition. I feel that IELTS listening section doesn’t evaluate your listening capability but rather evaluates your presence of mind and multi-tasking ability to listen, note and paraphrase at the same time. I am very well versed with major accents and still made mistakes in answers due to missing plurals, not catching the exact words and sometimes missing paraphrases at the end of tests. I would really advise going through Cambridge practice tests to refine this. They are the real counterparts to the exam. I can’t stress enough on scanning the questions in advance, predicting answers and using the 30 seconds given to go over your last batch of answers to scan the questions ahead instead.  Presence of mind is really important or you would make a mess of it. Also, all caps again.
Speaking Tips –  Didn’t prepare much for it except for going through your tips and speaking to a local instructor I knew. I am fluent but I speak too fast and maybe that reflected on what I consider a lower score on my speaking test. Also, this is a live interaction test and your score will depend upon your rapport with and impression upon the examiner even if they are trained to disregard those factors. I more or less had  a friendly conversation and was asked questions about skilled and unskilled jobs in last part. I think the trick here is to fill up the time allotted and keep on speaking. I attribute the shavings in my score to speed and my roundabout answer to a bizarre question about soft and hard skills. I could have done better here.
Writing Tips – Last but not the least. I have BAD handwriting which live up to all the cliches about illegibility of doctors. This was a big issue for me with IELTS being a written exam. I realized that all my writing skills would be for naught if it looked like someone dipped ants in ink pot and let them loose on the paper. So I ditched the cursive, zoomed in the fonts and increased the space between words and made several people go through it till their satisfaction. I was confident about my vocabulary and grammar, so that helped but this exam is all about sticking to the format.  I can not stress enough how helpful your writing section videos are. I stuck to the outline stressed upon by you for both the tasks and I was rewarded. I made sure to follow the cite-support-example format for body paragraphs on task two; it really eased the though organization process. Task one is straightforward but it’s important not to get mired into details and just focus on major trends and data points. I didn’t have problem with time and word count. But even if you do, I really suggest taking 2 minutes to read the task and then a minute or so to jot down writing points on paper; paragraph wise. Also keep a minute or two at the end to go over your writing. Do not try to correct or improve large sections of a sentence but concentrate on spell check, grammatical gaffes and punctuation marks.
  To conclude [the format ,the format!], I am satisfied with my result and would thank you for your generous online help. I really stress upon test takers to go through your videos which I consider the best resource available online for this test. I hope my experience helps future test takers. Best of luck to you all!
Message to Nilay: Thanks so much for sharing your tips! I know students will be inspired by your results and also grateful for the experiences you have shared. Well done again with your excellent score 🙂

Reading Practice: Ancient City Caral

True False and Not Given reading practice for IELTS students based on a topic that was reported by students in their reading test in January 2018. To see all my reading lessons, click here: Main Reading Page. Other main pages are accessed through the red bar at the top of the website.

Passage: Pyramid City Caral

The Norte Chico civilization of Supe, Peru, was the first known civilisation of the Americas. Their capital was the Sacred City of Caral – a 5,000-year-old metropolis complete with complex agricultural practices, rich culture, and monumental architecture, including six large pyramidal structures, stone and earthen platform mounds, temples, amphitheatre,  sunken circular plazas, and residential areas.

Caral is situated on a dry desert terrace overlooking the lush valley of the Supe River. Exceptionally well-preserved, the site is impressive in terms of its design and the complexity of its architecture. The city’s plan and some of its features, including pyramidal structures and residences of the elite, show clear evidence of ceremonial functions, signifying a powerful religious ideology.

The centre of the Caral complex consists of a central public area with six large pyramids (platform mounds) arranged around a huge plaza. The largest of the mounds, located in a dominating position within the urban plan of Caral, is 60 feet high and measures 450 x 500 feet at the base, covering an area nearly the size of four football fields. From the top of the great pyramid, the rulers of Caral would have been able to monitor the entire city. In total, it is estimated that Caral was home to a population of about 3,000 people. Researchers believe the model of the city was used by many civilizations that came after the Norte Chico. In 2001, the Sacred City of Caral in Supe was inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

Notice: This passage has been adapted from the website ancient-origins.net. You can read the full passage here: Pyramid City of Caral. The picture above is also from the same article.

Questions: Are the following statements True False or Not Given based on the passage above?

  1. The city did not include housing for its citizens.
  2. As far as the eye could see, the landscape was arid.
  3. The largest pyramid is 60 feet in height in Caral.
  4. Caral had a bigger population than most cities at that time.
  5. Caral is thought to have provided a prototype for subsequent civilisations.

Notice from Liz: I will be taking a break from posting lessons in Feb, Mar and Apr. I will post a notice when my holiday begins. Some pages will be kept open during my break.


The answers to this lesson are now available:

Click here for the answers: Answers to Caral Reading Lesson

All the best



Reading Practice Magnetic Therapy

This is a practice reading lesson for IELTS students that focuses on sentence completion questions. This topic was reported in the IELTS test this month. Tip: make sure your sentences are grammatically correct when complete.

Reading Passage: Magnetic Therapy

Magnetic therapy is an alternative medical practice that uses static magnets to alleviate pain and other health concerns. So-called therapeutic magnets are typically integrated into bracelets, rings, or shoe inserts, though therapeutic magnetic mattresses and clothing are also on the market.

Many well-conducted studies over the past three decades have shown that static magnetic devices offer no more or no less benefit than sham devices devoid of a magnet. These studies suggest that static magnetic therapy devices may not work at all beyond having a placebo effect on those who wear them. Despite a lack of scientific evidence to support claims that commercially available magnetic therapy devices work, wearable magnets remain extremely popular. Global sale of therapeutic magnets is estimated to be at least $1 billion a year.

Magnetic therapy dates back at least 2,000 years. Folk healers in Europe and Asia are believed to have used magnets to try to treat a variety of ailments. These healers may have believed that magnets could actually draw disease from the body. Regardless, the therapeutic magnets sold to ease aches and pains have magnetic fields that are generally too weak to penetrate your skin. This can be tested by observing the weak interaction between a magnetic shoe insert and a paperclip when separated by a sock. Human skin is about 3mm deep, thicker than some socks.

Questions 1-6

Complete the sentences using no more than one word and/or a number from the passage above.

  1. Magnetic therapy aims to ease ………
  2. It is possible to buy ………… to wear on the wrist that contain therapeutic magnets.
  3. Devices using magnetic therapy are considered to have only a …….. effect.
  4. The magnetic therapy market is said to be worth at least ……….. per annum.
  5. Magnets have been historically used to ………. disease from a sick person.
  6. The magnetic fields are unable to ……… human skin which is approximately …….. in thickness.

You can download the passage here:  Reading Passage However questions must be viewed online.

Notice: The passage above has been adapted from a livescience.com article. You can read the full article here: Magnetic Therapy. The picture is from www.emfscience.com. You can read their article on this page: Does magnetic therapy work


The answers are now available.

Click here: Answers to Magnet Therapy Reading

All the best


For more reading practice lessons for IELTS preparation, see my Main IELTS Reading Page


Answers for Medical Robots Reading

Below you will find the questions and answers for the IELTS reading lessons about medical robots.

If you haven’t done this lesson, please complete it before looking at the answers. Click here: Medical Robots Reading


  1.  The accuracy and calculation of robots is unparalleled.
  2. Robots are used in medical practices in all countries.
  3. Robots can view a very small camera to coordinate movements.
  4. Medical robots have reduced the size of cuts needed on the body.
  5. More people recover from surgery when it is performed by a medical robot.


  1. TRUE
    1. With unmatched precision ………. one of the most useful applications of robotic technology.
    2. Unmatched precision = unparalleled accuracy and calculation.
    1. No information is given about using medical robots in ALL countries.
    2. “These robots are widely used in various medical practices” means robots are used for different medical reasons. This is not about how many countries use them.
  3. FALSE
    1. “The surgeon maneuvers the system’s robotic arms while viewing a tiny, high-resolution endoscopic camera…” This means the surgeon looks through the tiny camera to move the robot – not the robot looking through the camera. This means the passage shows the statement is wrong = false.
  4. TRUE
    1. “Successful surgery patients have therefore reported smaller incisions,”. Because robots preform the surgery, the incision (the cut) is smaller.
    1. No information is given about how many people recover. The passage does not show more people recover or less people recover.
    2. “faster healing time ” this is about how fast people recover – not how many people recover.

I hope you found this lesson useful 🙂

All the best



Reading Lesson for IELTS: Medical Robots

Practice your IELTS reading skills with these True, False, Not Given questions. Remember the meaning of T,F & NG:

  • T = the statement is correct
  • F = the statement is wrong
  • NG = we don’t know if it is wrong or right because there isn’t enough information given.

Reading Practice for IELTS

Passage Topic: Medical Robots

Nowadays, it is no longer surprising to learn that a hospital’s top performing surgeon is not human. With unmatched precision and the ability to work without fatigue, medical robots are obviously one of the most useful applications of robotic technology. These robots are widely used in various medical practices, including difficult surgical procedures, and have completely revolutionised the speed and efficiency of health care services in several parts of the world.

The surgeon maneuvers the system’s robotic arms while viewing a tiny, high-resolution endoscopic camera inserted through an incision. The robot’s jointed-wrist capability surpasses the human hand’s range of motion, allowing for movement in a much smaller space. Successful surgery patients have therefore reported smaller incisions, less blood, pain and trauma and a faster healing time than regular surgery.

Questions: T, F or NG?

  1.  The accuracy and calculation of robots is unparalleled.
  2. Robots are used in medical practices in all countries.
  3. Robots can view a very small camera to coordinate movements.
  4. Medical robots have reduced the size of cuts needed on the body.
  5. More people recover from surgery when it is performed by a medical robot.

Notice & Disclaimer: This reading passage has been adapted from this article: Medical Robots. All lessons have been produced to provide free practice for IELTS students. They are not IELTS tests. Wishing you all the best, from IELTS Liz.

Answers are now available for this lesson.

All the best



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