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December 03, 2012


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Thank you for your effort.

Anyway,I want to share a useful links with other student

they are related to the reading section, the site contains a great amount of passages " scientific ones i guess " which are noticeably resemble those in the reading test.

there is another one for psychology, students can use it to be familiar with mental and psychological information and disorders. Again the passages are almost similar to those in the actual reading test.

for me, I always find it hard to read any thing related to climate and psychology " there was a very difficult passage in book 8 about genius nature I really couldn't interpret it ".

Then again, Thank you for your priceless work Mr,Simon.

Respected sir,
I just want to ask you that I am giving test on 15th of december in IDP and i have practised all 8 cambridge books may be 3 times for all four sections is it ok for writing test and what about reading level they are easy or diificult in IDP.If anyone had given test in IdP they have prepared from which books..If possible can you give some tips and suggestions. thank you for your efforts and I am continually following your lessons.Its worth doing and following it.

Thanks for the useful links Saeed.


Hi Rukhsar,

The test is the same. Cambridge, IDP and the British Council work together to produce it. You don't need to use any special/different books for IDP - the Cambridge ones are perfect.

Hi Simon,

Cambridge 3, I could not understand reading passage 2 about question number 25. please help me, This weekend I will take my ielts exam, but my feelings are a bit complex.

Ibrahim from Turkey, sincerely.

Dear Simon
I took my exam on November. However my Reading score annoyed me!! I got 5.5 in Reading (General), Could you please give me some source in order to enhance my reading skill?

I await for your prompt response

Thank you in advance

Thank you simon for your advice

@Ibrahim, In cambridge book-3, question 25, but which test are you talking about? or may be page no.

@ Rukshar Patel,
I took test from IDP before and as Simon stated earlier there are no difference in test.
But my little advice:
IDP sent me a book when I registered with them, and reading module in the book seems to confusing, so don't worry about it, and Cambridge books are good enough.

By the way, from where will you attend your test? I booked mine in Ahmedabad, though from British Council.
Good Luck!

Thank you,

I have read an e-book written by Mark Kaufman. I came across through this, while I was reading an article writtenby the same author" MARS ROVER DETECTS SIMPLE ORGANIC COMPOUNDS" This author has also written a book" First contact" scientific breakthroughs in the hunt for life beyond Earth. This is fascinating book in the quest of life beyond the Earth. Can you make some reading test from the passage of this book? I am pasting some of the tesxts from this book.
The field of astrobiology in its modern form came into existence in the late 1990s, following an announcement by NASA that its researchers had found likely signatures of life in an ancient Martian meteorite that landed in Antarctica. The proof supporting that conclusion was contested by many scientists, but the study of meteorites from Mars and elsewhere has blossomed anyway. Since then, increasingly sophisticated instruments have allowed researchers to tease more widely accepted secrets from the rocks. All these very concrete discoveries—and the fact that interstellar space is full of potentially life-supporting, carbon-based compounds that constantly rain down on us and on other celestial bodies—have convinced scientists around the world that it’s highly unlikely that Earth is the only place in the universe where life arose.

This is heady stuff, and it has scientists moving in all directions. If primitive life forms can exist miles below the Earth’s surface in the mines of South Africa without contact with the sun or its products, why couldn’t the same be true on Mars, or on the moons of Jupiter and Saturn, or on the untold number of rocky planets we now know exist across the universe? The same logic applies to extremophiles in the abyss of the deep sea, in glaciers tens of thousands of years old, in Spain’s acidic Rio Tinto or California’s alkaline and arsenic-laced Mono Lake. Extremophiles even survive in the upper atmosphere of our planet.

Perhaps you’re thinking that the discovery of bacteria deep underground does not seem all that earth-shattering. Perhaps you’re thinking, too, that even if Mars or a moon in our solar system turns out to have comparable subterranean life, that would prove little except that primitive life forms come into being and survive in all kinds of places. Astrobiologists see things very differently. As they are quick to point out, life has existed on Earth for at least 3.8 billion years, and for more than 3 billion of those years single-celled bacteria and related microbes were the only living things around. In other words, butterflies, tree sloths, saber-toothed tigers, and humans all evolved from single-celled organisms too small to see without a microscope. Astrobiologists today have a deep respect for the significance of bacteria and other single-celled creatures—and their ability to evolve into intelligent life.

Searching for and understanding extremophiles is almost universally embraced by the scientific community as essential and revelatory science now, but as late as the mid-1990s it was seen as quixotic and something of a career ender. Tullis Onstott is the man who changed the field by descending into deep gold mines in South Africa and coming back with remains of bacteria that have lived down there in their own peculiar worlds for millions of years. Onstott, a geobiologist at Princeton University, initially couldn’t get funding for his research, and his first expeditions were paid for out of his own pocket.

Stories like his are common in astrobiology. The early extrasolar planet hunters were told in the 1980s and early 1990s that they were wasting their time, that there was no way to detect their quarry through the blinding glare of parent stars hundreds or thousands of light-years away. So they developed other techniques based on measuring the slightest movements of those suns, minuscule course corrections caused by the gravity of the orbiting exoplanets. Now, through those methods, planets beyond our solar system are found regularly and the expectation is that billions more remain to be mapped. What we know of them remains limited to their orbits, their mass, and a little about their component parts. The new challenge is to characterize them much better, especially the smaller Earthlike planets expected to be discovered in the years ahead. But these planets are minute at such great distances and are blotted out by the intense light from their parent stars.

So how can astronomers compensate? One proposal, years in the making, involves sending into deep space a football-field-sized sunshade, that would then work in tandem with an orbiting telescope 35,000 to 50,000 miles away to create an “occulter.” The flower-petal-shaped screen would block light from the star and thereby allow the telescope to see and study orbiting planets, their atmospheres, and any signatures of possible life. The long process of transforming an idea like this into a space-faring reality got a big boost in 2010 when a panel of the National Academy of Sciences gave its highest priority to exploring exoplanets and their atmospheres in the next decade. An occulter system may ultimately not be the technology selected for the job, but it is a serious contender.

The sunshade might sound like a far-fetched project to pursue, but many of the most successful results in astrobiology began as pursuits that sounded impractical or extreme. Take, for instance, the work of Sara Seager, the astrophysicist who first opened my eyes to the breakthroughs and great promise of astrobiology. Her mind easily visits places where few of us can follow. Raised in Toronto, she puzzled her father with an early interest in outer space, which later turned into degrees in math, physics, and astronomy. Her pioneering work on the atmospheres of exoplanets is what persuaded MIT to offer her tenure and an endowed chair in planetary science. She was thirty-four at the time. She is a theorist rather than a hands-on planet hunter: her scientific specialty is to predict and refine ways to identify the elements and compounds in the atmospheres of extrasolar planets, work that she began before the first extrasolar planet was detected. She was told when she started that her ideas were theoretically interesting but couldn’t be tested in her lifetime. But little more than a decade later, we know that the gas methane exists on a giant planet orbiting a star 63 light-years away, that sodium exists on a planet orbiting a sunlike star 150 light-years away, and that evidence of both oxygen and carbon has been detected enveloping another planet in that solar system. Now Seager is convinced that extraterrestrial life will be detected within her lifetime, and she wants to be part of that triumph.

Given the size of the challenges taken on by astrobiology, however, the big break won’t come from the inspired minds of one or two great thinkers, as they did with Galileo, Copernicus, Newton, Darwin, Einstein, and Watson and Crick. This search is more of a broad-based, inexorable, but oddly unheralded Apollo program, an undertaking that requires thousands of researchers with very different backgrounds, technical skills, and obsessions. The enterprise is playing out in plain view, yet is so big it is almost invisible.

Some astrobiologists (and astrobiology fans) no doubt dream of a “Eureka!” moment when life is discovered beyond Earth or synthesized here—an equivalent to Neil Armstrong’s giant step on the moon, or the unraveling of the structure of DNA. Someday that may come, but science generally works incrementally, and takes much smaller bites. Even the biggest, hottest research questions in astrobiology involve work akin to crime-scene forensics, often drawing on small left-behind clues to help put together pieces of the larger puzzle. These are the kinds of questions absorbing, inspiring, and at times dividing the inherently fractious tribe that constitutes the field of astrobiology.

That tribe is fractious because it’s attempting to answer a set of unavoidable and obnoxious questions—obnoxious because they appear so simple, yet actually are so complex: What, when all is said and done, is life? Could we encounter it elsewhere and simply pass it by? Are we blinded to extraterrestrial life by our Earth-based assumptions of what life must be? We have a substance on Earth—a blackish rock coating called desert varnish found in many arid places and often used as a background for Native American petroglyphs. Experts in the field going back to Charles Darwin have studied it, and they still sharply disagree about where it comes from: whether it is a product of microbial biology or of geology and chemistry. Getting a better sense of what is living and what is not on Earth seems pretty essential to the quest for life beyond Earth, and so these borderland cases attract lots of attention. Desert varnish is especially intriguing because something that looks similar to it has been seen during several Mars missions, or so some scientists contend.

Nobody knows how or why, but virtually all the amino acids—molecules that make up essential building blocks of proteins (and therefore of life as we know it)—share a necessary quality that is otherwise seldom seen on Earth: Their molecules are all organized in a formation that scientists


I'm afraid I no longer have time to answer everyone's questions individually. However, I do still read them all, and I try to answer some questions in a lesson once a week (usually Saturdays).

No rain at all = drought
A thousand years = ten centuries
enough food to last = self-sufficient in grain and livestock
human impact on climate = land clearance released carbon dioxide triggering global warming
documentation is limited = incomplete written accounts
relevance today = help shape the modern world
rather than = far from
some periods of = cycles of
respond to climate change

Could anyone help me to check this?
It is my first time to comment on this site and it is certainly one of the best websites that I have ever found.

Thank you Simon for your honest contribution.

Sorry for the mistake of my writing above text. I thought,I had to match them each other, but Simon has already matched them. It is my first time that I visited to this site, that is way I
missed it.

Thanks for all,

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