IELTS Practice Reading # Winters

The following passage has been taken from THE TIME magazine.


In 2016, the first day of winter in the Northern Hemisphere is Wednesday. The season will begin at 10:44 UTC or 5:44 a.m. Eastern Time.

That means Wednesday is the day with the fewest hours and minutes of sunlight for the whole year, also known as the winter solstice. The word “solstice,” which means the sun has stopped moving, comes from the Latin solstitium, “from sol meaning ‘sun’ and ‘stit-‘ meaning ‘stopped, stationary’ from the verb sistere” according to the Oxford English Dictionary.

But the idea of the first day of winter is more complicated than you may think.

The reason Earth has seasons is because the planet is tilted, which causes the impact of the light from the sun to change throughout the year for different regions. Astronomical seasons are based on the sun’s position relative to the tilted Earth, and the winter solstice on Wednesday is a key part of that astronomical cycle.

“Think of the sun as traveling between what is called the winter solstice and summer solstice,” explains Ken Heideman, the Director of Publications at the American Meteorological Society. “The sun keeps moving northward until [on or around] June 21, when the sun’s rays are directly over the Tropic of Cancer. That’s astronomical summer. That’s as high in the sky as the sun is going to get for us. Then it starts moving towards the equator, and when it reaches the equator, that’s the autumnal equinox. Then it keeps going south until the sun is directly over the Tropic of Capricorn, as far south as it’s going to go and as far away from us as its going to be. That’s winter time.”

However, for meteorologists and climatologists, winter already began. By their count, it started on Dec. 1, 2016, in the Northern Hemisphere.

‘The alignment of the Earth’s axis doesn’t line up with traditional weather, or the common-sense idea of weather,” as James R. Fleming, a professor at Colby College in Waterville, Maine, who specializes in the history of geophysical science and meteorology, puts it. That’s because weather data is usually based on monthly temperatures. Since December, January, and February typically have the coldest temperatures on average in the Northern Hemisphere, these scientists consider that three-month period the winter season.

The winter solstice is also not to be confused with the coldest day of the year. There is about a one month lag (27.5 days to be exact) between the winter solstice and the day predicted to be the coldest the year, because it takes a while for the land to cool down, according to Greg Hammer, a meteorologist at NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information. “It’s like putting a pot of water on the stove,” says Kevin Trenberth, a senior scientist in the Climate Analysis Section at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, who calculates that the coldest day of winter 2016-2017 in the U.S. is expected to be around January 15th or 16th.

“A lot of warmth has been accumulating over July, August, September, October and November leading up to the winter solstice, so the really cold air hasn’t set in right [at the solstice],” Heideman explains. “It’s really the beginning of it.”

So when did humans start tracking winter and the winter solstice?

The answer is lost in prehistory. As TIME has previously reported, ancient monuments are the only clue as to when humans started tracking solstices. “An ancient person in Africa, England or North America, might have sat cold and shivering in a certain point where they had natural mountains or boundaries, and looked off in the horizon waiting for sunrise,” says astronomer Mary Kay Hemenway, formerly of the University of Texas at Austin. “You do this for a long time, and you’ll be aware of which stars you see in the sky and anticipate where the sun is going to be each day. What they were doing is making a calendar. The solstice is the origin of having a calendar system.”

Real comprehension of the solstices and the astronomical seasons came later, after the heliocentric model of the solar system was introduced by Copernicus in 1543, adds Volker Bromm, professor of astronomy at the University of Texas at Austin.

Who defined meteorological winter may also not be totally clear either, but it may have been devised at some point during the early-to-mid 20th century when climatology became more quantitative, according to Fleming. He argues that “the need for the statisticians to generate seasonal averages” may date back to prominent Austrian meteorologist Julius von Hann, who, in 1897, stated that climate is sum of the average weather conditions.

But, whether or not people understood the reasons why winter had come, its beginning has long been noticed. Many cultures had feast days around the date of the winter solstice—including Christmas and Hanukkah. As Fleming puts it, many consider the winter solstice “a moment for celebration because from that point on, the days keep getting longer until we get back to summer.”

complicatedconsisting of many interconnecting parts or elements; intricate.
seasonseach of the four divisions of the year (spring, summer, autumn, and winter) marked by particular weather patterns and daylight hours, resulting from the earth's changing position with regard to the sun.
tiltedmove or cause to move into a sloping position
regionsan area, especially part of a country or the world having definable characteristics but not always fixed boundaries.
Astronomicalrelating to astronomy.
relativeconsidered in relation or in proportion to something else.
equatora line notionally drawn on the earth equidistant from the poles, dividing the earth into northern and southern hemispheres and constituting the parallel of latitude 0°.
equinoxthe time or date (twice each year) at which the sun crosses the celestial equator, when day and night are of equal length (about 22 September and 20 March).
meteorologistsan expert in or student of meteorology
climatologistsThe scientific study of climates, including the causes and long-term effects of variation in regional and global climates. Climatology also studies how climate changes over time and is affected by human actions.
alignmentarrangement in a straight line or in correct relative positions
Atmosphericrelating to the atmosphere of the earth.
researchthe systematic investigation into and study of materials and sources in order to establish facts and reach new conclusions.
warmththe quality, state, or sensation of being warm; moderate heat.
accumulatinggather together or acquire an increasing number or quantity of.
trackingthe maintenance of a constant difference in frequency between two or more connected circuits or components.
prehistorythe period of time before written records.
monumentsa statue, building, or other structure erected to commemorate a notable person or event.
anticipateregard as probable; expect or predict
comprehensionthe ability to understand something.
heliocentrichaving or representing the sun as the centre, as in the accepted astronomical model of the solar system.
devisedplan or invent (a complex procedure, system, or mechanism) by careful thought.
quantitiverelating to, measuring, or measured by the quantity of something rather than its quality.
statisticiansan expert in the preparation and analysis of statistics.
culturesthe arts and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement regarded collectively

IELTS Practice Reading # Christmas Pickle

The below passage has been taken from the below link –


A great many people in the American Midwest have family roots in Germany, and a good number of them can tell you all about a beloved old-country holiday tradition: the Weihnachtsgurke, or Christmas Pickle.

They will tell you that an ornament in the shape of a pickle is always the last one hung on the tree on Christmas Eve, camouflaged somewhere among the pine needles. It might be shiny or matte; it might have gold swirls or a little Santa hat. But whatever the style, the story goes that the first child to find the pickle in the morning is assured of good luck in the coming year and a special gift.

It sounds plausible: Germans tend to love traditions, Christmas and pickles. Versions of the story and speculation over its origins proliferate on the internet. There is only one snag: It is all but unknown in Germany.

The Statista polling agency surveyed 2,057 Germans in November and found that 91 percent had never even heard of this holiday legend attributed to their country.

Sascha Müller of the Lauscha glass center, in the eastern German region where the making of glass Christmas ornaments started in the mid-19th century, said he had learned of the Christmas pickle for the first time in the 1990s, on a trip to Frankenmuth, Mich.

He brought the story home with him, and his artisans now churn out 50,000 pickle ornaments a year, making it a best seller behind only Santa Claus and colored glass balls.

Dieter Dressler, a glass artisan in Weimar, also makes glossy green pickle ornaments, slightly curved and as thick as a large man’s thumb. He said there could be something to the idea that people in the Spreewald region, where cucumbers are grown and pickled, might have once been so poor that they had nothing else to hang on their trees, and that émigrés took the memory with them.

Mr. Dressler said that over the past three years he had been selling more and more pickle ornaments to Germans, who laugh when they hear the story of the Weihnachtsgurke.

“Lots of people ask me if I have a smaller one,” Mr. Dressler said. But being German, he knows you cannot go against tradition. “I tell them: ‘No, that wouldn’t be a pickle. It would be a cornichon.’”

Given below are the meaning of the tough words highlighted in the passage above. So, practice reading and increase chances of getting high band.


beloveddearly loved.
traditionthe transmission of customs or beliefs from generation to generation, or the fact of being passed on in this way.
ornamenta thing used or serving to make something look more attractive but usually having no practical purpose, especially a small object such as a figurine.
picklea relish consisting of vegetables or fruit preserved in vinegar or brine.
camouflagedthe disguising of military personnel, equipment, and installations by painting or covering them to make them blend in with their surroundings.
matteÊdull and flat; without a shine.
swirlsmove in a twisting or spiralling pattern.
plausible(of an argument or statement) seeming reasonable or probable.
proliferateincrease rapidly in number; multiply.
snagan unexpected or hidden obstacle or drawback.
artisana worker in a skilled trade, especially one that involves making things by hand.
cucumbersa long, green-skinned fruit with watery flesh, usually eaten raw in salads or pickled.
ŽmigrŽsa person who has left their own country in order to settle in another, typically for political reasons.
cornichona sour gherkin usually flavored with tarragon.


IELTS Reading Sample Questions # Climate Change


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

[A]Temperatures in the Arctic in the last two months have hit more than 20C above normal for the time of year. Temperatures that unusual in the UK and Europe would produce 45C summers. As a result, sea ice has shrunk to levels that scientists describe as “off the scale”. Mapping the changes to the extent of sea ice over the last 40 years confirms that: on a graph, the lines are clustered together like threads in a hank of silk, warming and cooling in line with each other – until this year. This year’s line drops down like a thin thread dangling into the void.

[B]Extrapolating data from a single year must be done with caution. When El Niño boosted global temperatures to make 1998 the hottest year on record, a position it held until 2014, deniers claimed that this showed that global warming had “paused”. In fact, several years after 1998 came within 0.3C of the record. The rise of a huge 20C over normal in the Arctic, the region that acts as one of the most important regulators in the global climate system, means that all expectations must now be rewritten.

[C]Arctic snow and ice reflect heat back into space – the albedo effect. When there is less ice, less sunlight is reflected and the sea, newly exposed, absorbs more heat, which melts more ice, and so on in a cycle. This is of vital importance: it could represent a tipping point, beyond which the Arctic ice cap, by some projections, might soon disappear altogether in summer and this is not the only crucial climate role the Arctic plays. Sea and air currents swirling over and under the ice cool the globe and affect weather systems on the other side of the world, sometimes in ways that are still not fully understood.

[D]Arctic sea ice has recovered in extent from previous lows. But that does not tell the whole story. When temperatures are less volatile, sea ice forms in layers over multiple years to a thick and solid mass. Ice that forms under this year’s conditions is likely to be thinner and less stable than what it replaces, more vulnerable to another year’s warming and less effective as a temperature regulator. For these reasons, the current drastic melting of the Arctic cannot be regarded merely as an outlier. While the effects of an ice-free Arctic on global weather systems are still in the realm of known unknowns, it is a known known that they will be disruptive. Also, the current Arctic temperature and sea ice charts look like the beginning of a whole new trend, one that could change the global climate system for ever.

[E]The imperative for action is therefore overwhelming. Reducing carbon dioxide is vital, and it is encouraging that annual emissions have been flat for three years. But now it is necessary to move further, faster. Some experts advocate cutting the amount of black, unburnt carbon – soot – as a matter of urgency. Much of this soot is borne by air currents to the Arctic, depositing it on pristine snow that turns black, and so more heat-absorbent. Some measures to stop soot, like capping coal-fired power stations and banning agricultural burning, are relatively easy. Others – cleaner vehicles and spreading the use of solar cookers in developing countries – might take longer.

[F]Getting rid of potent hydrofluorocarbon gases, commonly used in refrigeration, has the broad backing of governments and industry, and will buy time. Methane, often a byproduct of fossil fuel exploration, should be used as an energy source, or at least flared, which is less harmful. Cutting these “short-lived climate pollutants” could prevent 0.5C of warming over the next 30 years, the research suggests. These are opportunities that must be taken; they are necessary, though not sufficient. And, so governments should also convene an Arctic council to explore other ways of protecting the region.

[G]Driving progress demands just the kind of leadership that looks very much to have disappeared from the global scene. Vladimir Putin’s Russia has been laying claim to vast Arctic areas, anticipating the realms of new possibility for commerce – new shipping lanes, cutting thousands of miles from current journeys – as well as oil and gas exploration that an ice-free Arctic would open up. For Donald Trump, such an unfrozen Arctic might allow the US to control key shipping routes, and find new oilfields and gas fields. Mr. Trump’s choice of Rex Tillerson, former head of Exxon Mobil and cheerleader for Mr. Putin, as secretary of state is deeply worrying. Two friendly world leaders facing one an other across a vanishing Arctic ice cap and the thawing of the cold war is no longer a metaphor.

Which paragraph contains the following information? Write the correct letter, A–F, in boxes 14-20 on your answer sheet.

14. Methane is a good alternative for fuel exploration.

15. Changing Arctic temperatures can lead to complete change in the world temperature.

16. A rise of a score was observed  in less than a decade after the world hit its highest temperature.

17. A drop in the level of sea ice has been observed by scientists.

18. The ice and the snow in Arctic reflect back the heat into space.

19. We have a long way before developing countries massively use cleaner vehicles.

20. There are lot of commercial opportunities in Arctic, according to Russia.


14. F

15. D

16. B

17. A

18. C

19. E

20. G


IELTS Band7 Dehradun

IELTS Band7 Dehradun



IELTS Practice Reading # New Nation

The article below has been taken from TIME. You can read the entire article by clicking on the link. Today, we are looking at a part of it and try to cover the vocabulary that we come across.

Movies, and sometimes the people who make them, work on us at strange, subterranean levels we can’t even begin to comprehend. That’s why, even though relatively few people have seen it, few know quite how to feel about Nate Parker’sBirth of a Nation, which premiered here at the Toronto International Film Festival on Friday to a rousing response from the audience, some seven months after its sensational Sundance unveiling. Parker’s debut picture—about Nat Turner, the enslaved African American who led a violent revolt against slave owners in 1831—is distinctive for one notable reason: Movies about the history of blacks in this country are rarely made, and if you rule out the usual suspects like Spike Lee and Lee Daniels—and count back to the days before 12 Years a Slave and Selma—they have rarely been made by people of color. But months ahead of its release in the United States, in October, The Birth of a Nation has also become infamous for a thornier reason: In 1999, while they were students at Penn State University, Parker and his roommate and wrestling teammate Jean Celestin—cowriter of The Birth of a Nation—were accused of raping a fellow student. Parker was acquitted. Celestin was found guilty, though the verdict was overturned. Their accuser committed suicide in 2012. In the context of this terrible blot, should Parker be lauded as a filmmaker? Should people show tacit support of him and his actions by seeing the film? Is his work, or his view on anything, in any way trustworthy?

 strange unusual or surprising; difficult to understand or explain.
 subterranean existing, occurring, or done under the earth's surface.
 comprehend grasp mentally; understand.
 relatively in relation, comparison, or proportion to something else.
 premiered give the first performance of.;(of a musical or theatrical work or a film) have its first performance
 rousing exciting; stirring;(of a fire) blazing strongly.
 response a verbal or written answer.;a reaction to something.
 audience the assembled spectators or listeners at a public event such as a play, film, concert, or meeting.;a formal interview with a person in authority.
 sensational causing great public interest and excitement.;very good indeed; very impressive or attractive.
 unveiling remove a veil or covering from, in particular uncover (a new monument or work of art) as part of a public ceremony.;show or announce publicly for the first time.
 enslaved make (someone) a slave.;cause (someone) to lose their freedom of choice or action.
 violent using or involving physical force intended to hurt, damage, or kill someone or something;(especially of an emotion or a destructive natural force) very strong or power
 revolt take violent action against an established government or ruler; rebel.;cause to feel disgust.
 slave a person who is the legal property of another and is forced to obey them.;work excessively hard.
 distinctive characteristic of one person or thing, and so serving to distinguish it from other
 notable worthy of attention or notice; remarkable.;a famous or important person
 thornier having many thorns or thorn bushes.;causing distress, difficulty, or trouble.
 accused a person or group of people who are charged with or on trial for a crime.
 acquitted free (someone) from a criminal charge by a verdict of not guilty.
conduct oneself or perform in a specified way.
 verdict a decision on an issue of fact in a civil or criminal case or an inquest.
 overturned tip (something) over so that it is on its side or upside down.;abolish, invalidate, or reverse (a previous system, decision, situation, etc.)
 blot a dark mark or stain made by ink, paint, dirt, etc.;a procedure in which proteins or nucleic acids separated on a gel are transferred directly to an immobilizing medium for identification.
 tacit understood or implied without being stated.

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