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Reading Practice: About Ants

The following is a lesson for IELTS reading practice based on the topic of ants. This reading exercise is to practise diagram completion and also TFNG questions for IELTS reading.

There are 8 questions below. Questions 1-5 are diagram completion and questions 6 – 8 are true, false, not given. The answer link is provided below the questions.

Reading Practice Lesson for IELTS: 

Passage: About Ants There are more than 10,000 known species of ants living throughout the world. Ants can be identified by the constriction that looks like a waist between the abdomen, at the end of the body, and the part of the body called the thorax , which is located before the head. Their bodies are covered with a hard armour called the exoskeleton. While the exoskeleton is their defensive weapon, their rear abdominal stinger is their offensive one. Like other insects, they have six legs; each with three joints. Ants have large heads with compound eyes, elbowed antennae, and powerful pincers known as mandibles. These are an ant’s most useful tools which are used for holding, carrying and cutting.

There are three types of adult ants living in the colony: the queen, female ants, and male ants. Queen ants are the largest ants in the colony. They have wings and their purpose is to lay eggs. The queens can live up to 30 years. Depending on the ant species and the nest community size, there may be one or more queens in the colony. The ant life cycle has four stages of development: egg, larva, pupa and adult. The queen lays the eggs, which will hatch into larvae in a couple of days. The helpless larva are fed and groomed by the worker ants until they pass through the pupal stage. In a little more than a week, an adult ant will emerge and the metamorphosis is complete.

You can DOWNLOAD the reading passage here but the 8 questions must be viewed online: Reading Passage Ants. The answers are linked below.

Questions 1 – 5

Complete the diagram below using no more than two words from the passage for each question.

Questions 6 – 8
Are the following statements True, False or Not Given according to the information given in the passage above?

  • 6. The antennae of an ant cannot bend.
  • 7. Only queen ants have wings.
  • 8. Larva undergo metamorphosis in the pupal stage.


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

Answers to About Ant IELTS Reading Practice 


Notice & Disclaimer: This reading passage has been adapted from the following article: all about ants  The diagram was adapted from this article: External Ant Anatomy.  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.


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Reading Lesson for IELTS: Exercise 2

This is a reading lesson to practice TFNG questions. It is not an IELTS test.

Passage: Impact of Hunting

Humans have long hunted wild game from forests, but over the past 50 years commercialisation of killing has triggered a rapid increase in wildlife depletion. Hunting and poaching cause damage to the rain forest ecosystem by removing species key to the system’s functioning. The loss of a certain single species can mean extinction for many others. Hunting of seed dispersers and pollinators can influence the structure of a forest.

This passage is from rainforests.mongabay.com. You can view the full article on this page: Impact of hunting & poaching

Questions for TFNG practice.

Are the sentences below True, False or Not Given according to the information in the passage above.

  1. Commercialised hunting is mainly focused in forests.
  2. The falling numbers in wildlife have been brought about by the commercialisation of hunting.
  3. Hunting negatively impacts the world’s ecosystem.
  4. One species in decline can adversely affect other species.
  5. The structure of forests can be altered by the hunting of seeds.


You can access the answers for this lesson by clicking here: Answers to Reading Exercise 2


Reading Skills for IELTS: Paraphrasing Exercise 2

This lesson is to help you develop the reading skill of paraphrasing which is an essential skill in IELTS reading. This is not a IELTS reading test. This is a lesson for spotting paraphrases – identifying synonyms (words with similar meaning).


More than 200 canary birds are being phased out of Britain’s mining pits, according to new plans by the government. Modern technology is being favoured over the long-serving yellow feathered friend of the miner in detecting harmful gases which may be present underground.

New electronic detectors will replace the bird because they are said to be cheaper in the long run and more effective in indicating the presence of pollutants in the air otherwise unnoticed by miners. The gas detectors will be hand-held and carry a digital reading which appears on a screen alerting miners to the extent of the gases.

Notice: This passage comes from news.bbc.co.uk. You can read the full article on this page: BBC On the day: Coal Mines

Spot the paraphrases:

Choose a word or words from the passage above which are synonyms for the words below. Answers do not come in order.

  1. preferred
  2. gradually stop using
  3. substitute
  4. employed since way back
  5. existence
  6. portable
  7. bird (canary)
  8. ultimately

Remember that a synonym is a word that has exactly OR nearly the same meaning. This means a synonym may not be 100% the same – it may be only very similar in meaning.


The answers can be viewed on this link. Click to open: Answers for paraphrasing exercise 2


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Reading Skills for IELTS: Paraphrasing

In IELTS reading, you will need to pay attention to synonyms and paraphrasing. This is a vocabulary exercise to help you matching synonyms and become aware of the problems using them. This is not an IELTS test, it is a reading lessons to develop skills of paraphrasing for IELTS.

Paraphrasing Practice

Passage: Ancient Egyptian Powder

Crime scene investigators are about to get an assist from the land of the pharaohs. New research has shown that a pigment called Egyptian blue, formulated some 5,250 years ago, can be used as dusting powder to detect fingerprints on complicated surfaces. The earliest known synthetic pigment, Egyptian blue is found in some of the paint that still colours ancient statues, coffins, and tomb walls. Modern scientists were intrigued by this long-lasting tint and figured out its chemical components decades ago. More recently they discovered that it emits near-infrared radiation when exposed to a certain kind of light.

Notice: This passage is from a National Geographic magazine. You can read the full article on this page: NatGeo Ancient Egyptian Powder

Filling the Gaps with Synonyms

Below is a summary of the passage above. Fill in the gaps using the word list given below. Make sure the summary is grammatically correct when you insert the word.

The pigment (1)………. Egyptian blue, which was formulated (2) ……….. 5,250 years ago, can now be used to (3)……… finger prints on complicated surfaces.  This pigment was used in the painting of statues and tomb wall reliefs in Ancient Egypt. However, it has now been (4)……….. that, when it is it exposed to a (5)……….. light, it emits near-infrared radiation.

Word List:

Choose words to fill in the gaps above. The meaning should be the same as the original paragraph.

make     /        identify     /      observe      /   revealed    /     about     /     names      /      found       /      using        /    creates         /     known as          /      particular      /      over


Click link below to reveal answers:

Answer to Reading Paraphrasing Lesson

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Student Tips for Getting IELTS Band 8.5 Overall

My Tips for IELTS Overall 8.5

This page gives you my tips for how I got IELTS band score 8.5 overall in 3 steps. And also my tips for getting band 8 in IELTS writing and band score 9 in IELTS speaking.

by Deeksha

My IELTS Test Results

24th June; United States; First Attempt. I just received my IELTS score:

  • Listening – 7.5
  • Reading – 8.5
  • Writing – 8.0
  • Speaking – 9.0
  • Overall – 8.5

I barely had 5 days to prepare. 70% of my preparation included watching the videos on your blog, answering your sample questions, and going through your tips! For the rest 30%, I printed some of the full-fledged tests and
sample answer sheets from the Cambridge IELTS books and just practised using those.

For anyone of you who has a very little time to prepare, I hope that the process I followed can help you lay out a basic schedule.

My 3 Step Tips for IELTS Band Score 8.5

See my 3 steps:

Step -1 (Know the test)

– Go through the test format.
– Spend some time and understand the question patterns in each segment.
– Keep in mind the time limit for every segment.
– Do an initial sample test (download from IELTS official website) just to see where you stand.


Step-2 (Prepare using Liz’s blog)

– Go through every one of the 4 segments (L, R, W, S) in this blog, one after the other. Links: Listening Tips, /Reading / Writing T1 /  Writing T2 / Speaking
– In each segment, read every tip and watch every video.
– Make notes of the points that you would like to keep in mind.
– Try and answer every sample question that Liz has laid out there. She has specified at least one sample question for every possible pattern that could appear on the test.
– Look at the answers and compare with yours. Figure out what you got wrong and more importantly, “analyze why you got them wrong.” This helps you understand how you approached the question, and how you should have.

Step-3 (Practice)

– Download all the versions of Cambridge IELTS books (you can just google them out).
– From these books, print out the full-fledged tests and sample answer sheets.
– Take these tests using a clock and write your answers in the sample answer sheets.
– Grade your tests and find out your weak areas.
– Make notes of your analysis and try to keep it in mind during the following tests.

In addition, go through the comments in this blog and find out what the recent test takers said about their tests. Know about the tips that helped them, learn from their experiences and be prepared.

Writing Tips for Band Score 8

On my test:

  1. Write a letter to your friend who is going to stay in your apartment during the next month while you are away on vacation
  2. Tell your friend where to get the keys
  3. Tell your friend about the equipment in your apartment
  4. Tell your friend about some places to visit in the area
  5. Advancement of technology has obliterated libraries and hard copies of books. Do you agree or disagree?

–          Apart from your writing skills and the topic at hand, it may help to do this section in a way that encompasses all the elements that the examiner is looking for. Liz’s writing section mentions specific guidelines for content organization, format, tone, logical reasoning, titles, signatures and many other tips. Go through them and try to follow all those tips as you write. In other words, you will have a shell prepared in your mind even before you know what the questions are. Click here: IELTS GT Letter Tips 

–          I didn’t have time to practice this section at all so I had a bit of an issue managing time on the test. If you have very little time to prepare for IELTS, make sure you squeeze in at least a few writing tests and see where you stand with the time limit.

Speaking Tips for Band Score 9

On my test (to the best of my recollection):

  • –          Where are you from?
  • –          Do you work or study?
  • –          Is there anything significant about the place you were born in?
  • –          Do you enjoy it?
  • –          What is special about it?
  • –          Do you have any challenges at work/school? How do you resolve them?
  • –          Where do you live?
  • –          Where would you like to live in the future?
  • –          Do you usually shop online?
  • –          How is it better than shopping in the stores?
  • –          Is there any difference between living in rural and urban areas?
  • –          How do you cope up with the challenges of urban life?
  • –          What do you do on your birthdays?
  • –          Are your birthdays the same as they were when you were a child?
  • –          Is any specific birthday considered significant in your country?
  • –          Do you have a favorite rock star?
  • –          Would you enjoy meeting your favorite rock star?

Cue card:

  • –          Talk about a crowded place that you visited recently.
  • –          Did you or did you not like it? Why?
  • –          Would you revisit it again in the future?

Go through Liz’s list of sample topics, sample answers (Liz’s Speaking Page), comments from recent test takers (Recent Topics) on this blog and questions from IELTS Cambridge speaking tests. Try to answer them. These should be more than enough to help you familiarize with the test pattern and to understand what to expect on the test. From the comments, I also found out that most of these questions are being repeated so make sure you go through them. Almost all the questions that my examiner (whose name was coincidentally Liz) asked me were also from the above lot.

As Liz mentioned, they expect you to be casual and test you only for your language and not for your knowledge on the topic at hand. Think about this segment like you just bumped into a fan who would like to know some of your opinions and experiences. Well, you don’t simply meet a fan every day, so this is your chance – talk her ear off! J Be casual, funny, and confident and you’ll do just fine.

Try to book your test in a test center that does not use hallway speakers to play the audio in the listening section. There is a definite distinction in terms of quality compared to headphones. There is always a possibility of noise and distraction. I didn’t know about this while booking my test and I certainly experienced the difference.



Good Luck!

Liz – Thanks again for the effort you are putting in, to assist so many test-takers all over the world, each with their own questions and training needs. It must feel incredible to know that most of these people credit their success to you. Keep up the good work!


Message from Liz

Deeksha, you’ve done exceedingly well. Congratulations!! I love your tips! They are logical and very helpful for all IELTS students. Tackling IELTS methodically is essential and Deeksha has really hit the nail on the head !!! 🙂

Reading Practice Question

Below is a short reading passage with questions to help you practice your IELTS reading TFNG. This topic was reported in the test this month, July 2017.  This is an IELTS Liz reading exercise, not a test paper.


  • True = the passage shows the statement is correct
  • False = the passage shows the statement is incorrect
  • Not Given = not enough information is given to know if it is correct or incorrect

Reading Exercise: Pterosaurs

Neither birds nor bats, pterosaurs were reptiles, close cousins of dinosaurs who evolved on a separate branch of the reptile family tree. They were also the first animals after insects to evolve powered flight—not just leaping or gliding, but flapping their wings to generate lift and travel through the air. They evolved into dozens of species. Some were as large as an F-16 fighter jet, and others as small as a paper airplane.

Pterosaurs were an extremely successful group of reptiles. They flourished all through the age of dinosaurs, a period of more than 150 million years. Over time, the earliest pterosaurs—relatively small flying reptiles with sturdy bodies and long tails—evolved into a broad variety of species. Some had long, slender jaws, elaborate head crests, or specialized teeth, and some were extraordinarily large.

This passage is from amnh.org (American Museum of Natural History) See the full reading passage: What is a Pterosaur?

Questions: Are the following statements True/ False or Not Given according to the information in the passage?

  1. Pterosaurs were the first creatures to be able to fly by creating lift.
  2. Pterosaurs were able to fly as high as modern aeroplanes.
  3. The shape and the size of pterosaurs varied over time.


The answers are now available. Click to see answers: Answers to pterosaur reading exercise


IELTS Reading Practice: Google’s Self Drive Car

This is a practice lesson for TFNG questions in IELTS reading.

Google’s Self Driving Car


Google has finally built its own car from scratch. And it looks similar to a gondola with wheels. The two-seater prototype vehicle is Google’s idea of what the modern automobile should look and feel like if you took the human out of the transportation equation and designed something solely to chauffeur passengers from point A to B.

The car — which was conceived and designed by Google, unlike the ones it previously modified — lacks many of the trappings of a normal car, and that includes three of the most essential parts. It has no steering wheel, no accelerator pedal and no brake pedal. The company that designed the world’s simplest home page also decided to lose the mirrors, the backseat, the glove compartment and the stereo. What’s left are lots of sensors, and a transplant of the self-driving software system Google has built to use on the Toyota Priuses and Lexus SUVs it has trained to drive on highways and city streets over the past five years.

Passage from recode.net

Questions 1-3

Decide if the statements below are true, false or not given according to the information in the passage above.

  1. The Italian gondola was used as a design model for the new car.
  2. The new car is aimed at transporting passengers from one place to another using a chauffeur.
  3. The new car has more features than the modern car.



Click below to reveal the answers

  1. Not Given
    1. There is no mention of what Google used as a  design model. It does mention that it likes like a gondola but not that this was a design model.  So, the answer is NG.
  2. False
    1. The answer comes from “designed something solely to chauffeur passengers from point A to B“. The questions says “The new car is aimed at transporting passengers from one place to another…” this part of the sentence is the same as the passage. The word “chauffer” in the passage is a verb = to transport. So, this part of the sentence is correct.
    2. However, the second part of the question sentence “using a chauffer” is wrong. In the question statement, the word “chauffeur” is a noun and it means a person who is paid to drive the car. The passage clearly contradicts this because the new car has no human driver. Therefore the answer is FALSE.
    3. This question is really testing your vocabulary. Do you know the difference between “chauffer” and “chauffeur” = one is a verb = transport / one is a noun = a person who is a paid driver
    4. A false answer means that part of the question statement is contradicted in the passage. The passage shows that it the statement is written incorrectly.
  3. NG
    1. The passage says that the new car doesn’t have many of the features of the modern car – steering wheel, mirror etc. The passage also says that the new car has many new features such as a lot of new sensors and new software. But the passage does not compare the number of features. The passage does not clearly state that the new car has more features than the modern car. There is plenty of information about the features but no clear comparison of the number of features. This means the answer is NG
    2. Always look out for comparison statements in TFNG questions.


More Reading Practice for IELTS

You can find more reading practice and tips on the main reading page: IELTS Reading Lessons & Tips

If you want to learn IELTS writing task 2 or speaking etc, just visit the main pages of this website through the red bar at the top of each page.

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IELTS Reading Skills: Keywords Practice


Keywords can help you locate answers in IELTS reading. Try this lesson and see if it helps you.

Can you see the keywords in the question that help you spot the answer in the passage?

Alexander Fleming and Penicillin

Alexander Fleming was born in Ayrshire on 6 August 1881, the son of a farmer. He moved to London at the age of 13 and later trained as a doctor. In 1928, while studying influenza, Fleming noticed that mould had developed accidentally on a set of culture dishes being used to grow the staphylococci germ. The mould had created a bacteria-free circle around itself. Fleming experimented further and decided to call the active substance penicillin. It was two other scientists however, Australian Howard Florey and Ernst Chain, a refugee from Nazi Germany, who developed penicillin further so that it could be produced as a drug. At first supplies of penicillin were very limited, but by the 1940s it was being mass-produced by the American drugs industry.

Notice: This passage is from BBC History. You can read the full article on this page: BBC History Alexander Fleming

Key words

Find the key words in the questions which help you locate the answers:

  1. Where did Fleming study medicine?
    1. (what are this keywords in the question that help you find the answer?
  2. What was Fleming studying when he realised that mould grew on a set of culture dishes?
    1. (what are the keywords in this question that help you find the answer?)
  3. Who gave penicillin its name?
    1. (what keywords in this question help you locate the answer?)

Quote from Fleming: “When I woke up just after dawn on September 28, 1928, I certainly didn’t plan to revolutionise all medicine by discovering the world’s first antibiotic, or bacteria killer. But I suppose that was exactly what I did.“.  


Click below to reveal the answers:

  1. keywords:
    1. where – this shows you are looking for a name of a place. So, you should scan the passage for a place name.
    2. other key words are: study medicine – this is paraphrased as “training to be a doctor”
    3. Answer to question: London
  2. keywords
    1. what – this key words shows the answer must be a noun.
    2. culture dishes –  VERY useful key words to locate the answer in the passage. These types of words can’t be paraphrased so you can find them easily and quickly.
    3. Answer to question: influenza
  3. keywords
    1. who: this shows you are looking for a name or names.
    2. other key word: name – this is paraphrased as “call” in the passage.
    3. Answer to question: Fleming


You can see that keywords are vitally important to find answers. But be careful as some keywords can be paraphrased so be prepared for that.

I hope you found this lesson useful 🙂