IELTS Reading Sample Question # Big Pharma

 

READING PASSAGE 1 

You should spend about 20 minutes on Questions 1–13, which are based on Reading Passage 1 below.

Big Pharma Is So 2015. Welcome to the Era of Big Software

KELLOGG’S USES A cartoon tiger and elves to sell $14 billion dollars worth of refined carbohydrates each year. But this calorie-laden corporation was once an idealistic startup. Created by the eccentric Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, Corn Flakes were intended as a health food that made it easier for the masses to adopt a vegetarian lifestyle. Kellogg’s was the Soylent of its day.

Today, Pfizer is a $188 billion dollar drug conglomerate. But there was a time when the biggest of “Big Pharma” companies was a lot like today’s Young Turks. At the time of its founding in 1849, when it produced small batch citric acid, the company was based in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and its founder favored funky facial hair.

These companies that we now think of as the epitomes of “Big Food” and “Big Pharma” were once humble startups. But as success beget success, they managed to dominate their markets for over a century. Over the next hundred years, we could see the same thing happen with the most high-minded tech of tech companies. Google, Amazon, Apple, and Facebook could grow to dominate the market in the same way Pfizer and Kellogg’s have dominated theirs. We could be witnessing the dawn of a new era: “Big Software.”

The Future of Apps

Pfizer and the majority of the top 25 global pharma companies were founded in the period between 1849 and 1901. Notable companies sprung up in the 20th century, but to put it in perspective, as many top pharma companies were formed prior to 1781 as after 1981.

First mover advantage is debatable, but it is clear there is value to being early to an emerging industry. These companies built solid products, established distribution channels, and value accrued to their businesses as a result. Regulation also played a role. In 1906, the US Government established the Food and Drug Administration, and the increased regulatory scrutiny to ensure safer medicines made it to market, but this oversight also made it harder for upstart companies to enter the market.

This pattern is seen in most industries as they develop—food, automobiles, banks, TV network—all followed a similar pattern. A new technology, distribution channel, or demographic trend created a boom of startups. In relatively short order, a small group of companies enjoyed outsize success and bought their former competitors, or otherwise went on to dominate their industries. Market dynamics and regulations helped to cement the winners.

This could happen with tech as well. Intel was founded in 1968, Snapchat in 2011—roughly 50 years apart. Don’t be surprised if our great grandchildren still use Google products 100 years from now.

We’ve seen so much upheaval in tech over the last few decades that there’s always an assumption that past is prologue. Apple is doomed to lose to Android because it failed to embrace “openness.” Friendster and Myspace became uncool, making it a fait accompli that Facebook is doomed to do so once the patina of popularity wears off.

Plenty of big tech companies have failed, but many of those examples can be chalked up to the immaturity of the tech stack, a lack of infrastructure to support a web-based business model, e.g. AdTech, or even just poor management.

Digital Durability

Paul Graham’s essay, “The Refragmentation,” makes a case that the era of big companies is coming to a close. Don’t be so sure. Craig Newmark and a team of hippies in the Haight upended print journalism across the country by decoupling classifieds from reporting. For the last decade, hundreds of millions of dollars have been invested in companies chipping away at Craigslist’s services.

Airbnb alone is worth tens of billions of dollars. Yet Craigslist, with its laissez-faire approach to product improvement, remains the number 11 site in the United States. The value of liquidity in a marketplace, often earned by solving a problem early on, shouldn’t be underestimated. Can you imagine the longevity that Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon will have?

How certain are you that a company will be able to upend Apple’s manufacturing prowess? Who will be able to outthink Google’s massive machine learning engine? Amazon has spent 20 years building the foundation of a retail empire that could last a century. These are not inconsequential advantages.

Yahoo would seem to be a counterexample, but looked at another way, it’s amazing that a company whose entire raison d’être disappeared in 2007 has been able to survive for 20 years without a clear direction and saddled with a series of CEOs who were ill suited to the business.

Instead of assuming these companies will fail, entertain the alternate position. Imagine we’ve just seen the establishment of companies that will dominate their industries for the next century, in much the way that General Electric, Ford, and Disney have only become more powerful and influential in the absence of their iconic founders. Some might view the age of “Big Software” as a bad development. In fact, this could be an amazing development for entrepreneurs and investors alike.

Accelerating Innovation

Conglomeration hasn’t hurt entrepreneurship in pharma or food. In fact, it has accelerated it. In the biotech world, it’s not uncommon for a startup to go from drawing board to multi-billion dollar IPO in a few short years. Editas was founded in 2013, IPO’d in 2015, and currently has a market cap in excess of $1B. In the first half of 2015, there were six biotech IPOs in Boston, and the average employee count was just 17.5. This analogy isn’t perfect—bits and biologics have big differences—but the general trend is instructive. Mature industries tamp down outlier exits, but make entrepreneurship more efficient.

big pharma

Questions 1-11

Do the following statements agree with the information given in Reading Passage 1?

In boxes 1–7 on your answer sheet, write

TRUE                          if the statement agrees with the information

FALSE                        if the statement contradicts the information

NOT GIVEN               if there is no information on this

  1. The reason behind creating Corn Flakes was to drift the masses towards a vegetarian lifestyle.
  2. In the founding year of Pfizer i.e. 1850, Pfizer produced critic acid.
  3. Majority of the global pharma companies were built in the late 1800.
  4. The increased regulatory pressure on pharma companies led to the fall of Pfizer.
  5. The failure of apple can be devoted to the success of Android.
  6. It was in the year 1968 that Intel was found and then Snapchat in 2012.
  7. The only reason behind the failure of companies is AdTech.

Questions 8–13

Choose the correct letter, A, B, C or D.

Write the correct letter in boxes 8–13 on your answer sheet.

8. Who has acknowledged that the era of big companies will be soon overlaped by something else?

                 A. Paul Graham

                 B.Paul Grahem

                 C.Craig Newmark

                 D.Dr. John Harvey Kellogg

9. What is the ranking of Craglist in United States?

               A. 10

               B.112

               C.11

              D. 42

10. In which year was Editas founded?

            A. 2010

            B.2011

            C.1932

            D.2013

11. What different dating sites are owned by Match Group?

             A.Tinder

             B. OkCupid

             C.Plenty Of Fish

             D.All of the above

ANSWERS

1. True

2. False

3. True

4. Not given

5. False

6. False

7. False

8. A

 9. C

10.D

11.D

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IELTS Reading Sample Question # Crime And Science

READING PASSAGE 1

You should spend about 20 minutes on Questions 1–11, which are based on Reading Passage 1 below.

On the morning of November 23, 2009, a cyclist riding near Lake Charles, Louisiana, discovered the body of a young woman lying near a country road. Her face had been beaten beyond recognition, but an unusual tattoo led the police to identify her as 19-year-old Sierra Bouzigard. Investigators from the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office, headed by Sheriff Tony Mancuso, immediately set about reconstructing her final hours. The people who last saw Bouzigard alive had let her use their phone. The number she dialed gave police a lead.

Bouzigard’s assailant had also left behind a promising clue. From tissue caught under her fingernails as she struggled for her life, the detectives were able to pick up a clear DNA sample. To find the killer, all they needed was a match. The number she had dialed led police to a crew of undocumented Mexican workers. “So we started getting warrants for DNA swabs, getting translators, working with immigration,” Mancuso recalls.

But none of the Mexicans’ DNA matched the sample from the crime scene. Nor was there a hit in the FBI’s database of prior felons, missing persons, and arrestees, a system known as CODIS—the Combined DNA Index System. The investigators continued to issue calls for people with any information to come forward, and Bouzigard’s family offered a $10,000 reward. But the case grew cold.

Then, in June 2015, Monica Quaal, a lead DNA analyst at the lab that works with the sheriff’s office, learned about an intriguing new way of exploiting the information contained in a DNA sample—one that would not require a suspect’s DNA or a match in a database. Called DNA phenotyping, the technique conjures up a physical likeness of the person who left the sample behind, including traits such as geographic ancestry, eye and natural hair color, and even a possible shape for facial features. Quaal immediately thought of the Bouzigard case, in which the DNA left at the scene was virtually the only lead. She contacted Mancuso and Lt. Les Blanchard, a detective on the case, and they sent their sample to Ellen Greytak, director of bioinformatics at Parabon NanoLabs, a company specializing in DNA phenotyping.

crime and science

Here the investigation took an unexpected turn. Based on the available evidence, the detectives still believed her killer was likely Hispanic—perhaps a member of the Mexican crew who had fled the area soon after committing the crime. But the person in the DNA-generated portrait Parabon produced had pale skin and freckles. His hair was brown, and his eyes were probably green or blue. His ancestry, the analysis said, was northern European.

“We kind of had to take a step back and say all this time, we’re not even in the right direction,” Mancuso says. But armed with this new evidence, he is optimistic. “I think at some point we can solve this case, because we have such a good DNA sample and this profile,” he says. “We know who the killer is. We just don’t know who the killer is.”

DNA phenotyping is a relatively recent arrival in forensic science, and some critics question how useful it will be. The facial composites it produces are predictions from genetics, not photographs. Many aspects of a person’s appearance are not encoded in DNA and thus can never be unearthed from it, like whether someone has a beard, or dyed hair. Nevertheless, Parabon, which calls its facial composite service Snapshot, has had more than 40 law enforcement organizations as customers. Human genome pioneer Craig Venter, as part of his new personalized health company called Human Longevity, is also investigating facial reconstruction from DNA, as are many academic labs.

Meanwhile other high-tech forensic methods are coming on the scene. CT scanners allow doctors to perform virtual autopsies, peering into bodies for signs of murder undetected by standard autopsies. Researchers are studying whether bacteria on corpses can provide a more accurate clock to gauge when death occurred. And they’re even investigating whether culprits might be identified not just by the DNA left at a crime scene but also by the microbial signature of the bacteria they leave behind.

The forensic techniques we’re more familiar with from movies and television shows such as CSI have far longer histories. In 1910 Thomas Jennings became the first American convicted of murder based primarily on fingerprint evidence. He was accused of shooting one Clarence Hiller during a bungled burglary. The culprit had left his fingerprints behind on a freshly painted windowsill, and the testimony of four fingerprint experts was nearly the entire basis on which Jennings was found guilty and sentenced to death. In response to his appeal, a higher court pointed both to the long heritage of using fingerprints for identification—pharaohs employed thumbprints as signatures, they said—and to “the great success of the system in England, where it has been used since 1891 in thousands of cases without error.” The court did caution that because such evidence fell beyond the purview of the average person’s experience, it must be presented by experts who could explain it to the jury. The verdict was upheld, and Jennings was hanged.

By the late 20th century, there were numerous investigative techniques in the courtroom. FBI analysts gave testimony comparing hairs found at a crime scene with those from suspects. Hair-analysis experts note the shape of the microscopic scales that coat hairs, the thickness and coloration of the hair, and the organization of pigment granules in it, among other qualities. Bite-mark analysis, in which experts compare the pattern left by a bite on a victim to a suspect’s teeth, was widely adopted in the early 1970s, including a 1974 court case that hinged on marks identified on a dead woman’s nose after she’d been exhumed. Other visual comparisons—between tire tracks, shoe prints, and patterns on bullet casings—also made their way from being clues used by law enforcement to identify suspects to becoming evidence presented in court to help prove guilt. In thousands of cases, judges tasked with deciding whether evidence is reliable have leaned on ample precedent to allow such forensic results to be admitted in court. Experts with years of experience at their craft have testified with assurance.

Kirk Odom was convicted of rape after an expert testified that a hair on the victim’s nightgown matched his. Odom spent more than 22 years in prison and eight on parole before DNA tests proved his innocence and fingered the real culprit. The FBI is now reviewing hundreds of other cases where the value of hair analysis may have been overstated.

Do the following statements agree with the information given in Reading Passage 1?

In boxes 1–7 on your answer sheet, write

TRUE if the statement agrees with the information

FALSE if the statement contradicts the information

NOT GIVEN if there is no information on this

  1. It was with the help of a body mark that police was able to find the name of the unknown body.
  2. CODIS is the system of ISA which keeps records of prior felons, missing person and likewise people.
  3. To find out the details of the murderer, the family of  Sierra Bouzigard announced a reward of $10,000.
  4. The technique using which one can find out the natural colour, ancestory etc using the DNA sample is called DNA phenotyping.
  5. The murderer of Sierra Bouzigard was expected to be a green or blue eyed man, initially.
  6. DNA phenotyping uses photographs to figure out the possible details.
  7. CT scanners allow the doctors to undergo virtual autopsies.

Questions 8-11

Complete the sentences below.

Write NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS from the passage for each answer.

Write your answers in boxes 8-13 on your answer sheet.

8. ___________________ was the fist person to be convicted of murder on the basis of finger print.

In (9)___________________, the investigators look for the kind of bite marks left on the body of the analysis to decide the criminal.

The investigating teams look for (10)__________________ , organization of (11)___________ and many other qualities when doing search on the basis of strands of hairs available.

ANSWERS

  1. True
  2. False
  3. True
  4. True
  5. False
  6. False
  7. True
  8. Thomas Jennings
  9. Bite mark analysis
  10. coat hairs
  11. pigment granules

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Source – National Geographic

France Vs Portugal # Improve Vocabulary

FRANCE VS PORTUGAL

Source – WhoScored

With the showpiece event now decided as France take on Portugal, most are leaning towards the hosts to secure glory on home turf for the third time in their history. The Portuguese, meanwhile, are aiming for their first major international trophy anywhere having narrowly missed out as hosts themselves back in 2004, and will be aiming to avenge defeat to Greece by replicating what would be another success for the underdog.

While Fernando Santos’ side haven’t exactly thrilled en route to the final, to put it mildly, they’ve proven defensively resolute to answer some doubters in that regard ahead of the tournament. That said they’ve yet to face a side of les Bleus’ quality thus far, so whether Portugal can stop France in their tracks just as they have seemingly hit their stride will be dependent on some key battle across the pitch, and we take a look at four crucial match ups.

Pepe vs Olivier Giroud

He may have missed out on the win over Wales last time out through injury but Pepe will be determined to prove his fitness ahead of Sunday’s final and that much may prove decisive. The Real Madrid centre-back is not a popular figure but when he does let his football do the talking few would question his ability and commitment at the back. The 33-year old not only distributes with accuracy from defence but reads the game exceptionally well, which will be key to cutting the supply line to Olivier Giroud having averaged the second most interceptions per game of players to make more than three appearances this summer.

Giroud, meanwhile, isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but his ability to bring others into play – most notably Griezmann – has been pivotal to France’s improvements as the tournament has progressed. A threat when balls are delivered into feet or in the air, his battle with Pepe, assuming the latter is fit, will be key. Both players have won the most aerial duels for their respective sides this summer (Pepe – 4 per game, Giroud – 4.6) but who will come out on top at the Stade de France?

William Carvalho vs Antoine Griezmann

There’s no question as to the man of the moment right now, and little doubt as to the favourite for the Player of the Tournament gong regardless of Sunday’s outcome, with Antoine Griezmann hitting top form just when it has mattered most. After a disappointing start to his Euro 2016 campaign, somewhat wasted out on the right of a 4-3-3 formation and consequently dropped in France’s second group game against Albania, the Atletico forward has found his feet since a switch to a 4-2-3-1 system in support of Olivier Giroud.

Following a move infield after the interval as the hosts trailed to Ireland in the round of 16, Griezmann has fired off 14 shots (8 on target), created 7 chances and completed 6 dribbles in 225 minutes of action. That’s opposed to tallies of 10 shots (4 on target), 4 key passes and one dribble in 209 minutes from a right-sided berth. He’s profiting from Giroud’s hold up play in the middle, and the link between the two will need to be restricted.

That will likely be the job of William Carvalho, who should return to the side having missed the semi-final with Wales through suspension. There’s a sense that the Sporting midfielder has never quite come good on his potential but this summer he has been key to Portugal’s success. After sitting out of the opener with Iceland the 24-year old has claimed his place at the base of the midfield, making more tackles (11) than any teammate this summer and completing the most passes (235) for Santos’ side.

Renato Sanches vs Paul Pogba

While Paul Pogba is yet to convince a worldwide audience of the hype that has built around him for some time and culminated ahead of this tournament, he is a model midfielder when it comes to youngsters who are unfazed by those around them. Now 23, the Juventus powerhouse is an experienced pro by contrast to Renato Sanches, though the latter perhaps looks more likely than any young player since Pogba’s emergence to emulate the success of the former Manchester United man.

At 18 he has already earned a huge transfer to Bayern Munich and proven in his brief outings this summer just why so many people are excited to watch his progression. Both players are comfortable under pressure and willing to prove themselves in a physical contest should an opponent attempt to dispossess them. Sanches has completed a dribble marginally more often than Pogba (every 32.8 minutes to 37.1) so it will be interesting to watch these two go head-to-head this weekend.

Cristiano Ronaldo vs Samuel Umtiti

There’s no avoiding Cristiano Ronaldo, he just won’t let you, so when it comes to a key battle in Saint Denis this Sunday his clash with Samuel Umtiti may well be pivotal. The two are set to be rivals beyond this weekend given the latter’s impending switch to Barcelona, so this may not be the last time Umtiti has to try and limit Ronaldo’s influence. The young defender has equipped himself excellently for les Bleus thus far, only making his international debut a week ahead of the final. In the two matches he has played the 22-year old has complemented Koscielny well, putting his body on the line to make a number of crucial interventions against Germany. Moreover, having misplaced just 2 of 94 pass attempts thus far it’s little surprise a switch to Camp Nou has materialized.

Nevertheless, Ronaldo will no doubt be confident of exploiting any understandable anxiety or nervousness from the young defender. Now extremely well-versed in such high profile matches, despite flattering to deceive in a number of those, the Portugal captain may well view this as the biggest achievement of his career should he fire his nation to their first ever major international trophy. The incentive of potentially becoming the top scoring player in European Championship history having equalled Michel Platini’s record of 9 last time out should mean that the 31-year old is pumped up for this one.

WORD MEANING SYNONYM
1.      Showpiece Something that is displayed or exhibited Display, masterpiece, model, work of art
2.      Turf A layer of matted Earth formed by grass and plant roots Grass, lawn, sod, soil, peat, sward
3.      Avenge To take vengeance or exact satisfaction for. Vindicate, chasten, chastise, punish, redress, repay, requite, revenge
4.      Replicating Folded, bent back on itself Clone, depict, duplicate, imitate, mirror, reflect, repeat, reproduce, simulate
5.      underdog A person who is expected to lose in a contest or conflict Dark horse, longshot, bottom dog, out-of-towner
6.      Thrilled To affect with a sudden wave of keen emotion or excitement, as to produce a tremor or tingling sensation through the body Elated, atingle
7.      En route On the way Advancing, along the way, bound, driving, en voyage, entrained, flying, heading toward, in passage, in transit, making headway
8.      resolute Firmly resolved or determined; set in purpose or opinion Adamant, bold, courageous, obstinate, persistent, relentless, serious, staunch, steadfast, strong, stubborn, tenacious, uncompromising, unflinching, unshakable, unwavering, unyielding
9.      stride To walk with long steps, as with vigor, haste, impatience or arrogance Stalk, stomp, traipse, tramp, clump, drill, march, pace, parade, pound, stamp, stump
10.  decisive Having the power or quality of deciding Conclusive, critical, crucial, definitive, determined, fateful, forceful, influential, momentous, positive, resolute, significant
11.  commitment The act of committing Engagement, guaranteed, need, pledge, promise, responsibility, charge, committal, devoir, duty, liability, must, undertaking, vow, word
12.  exceptionally Forming an exception or rare instance; unusual; extraordinary Abnormally, especially, particularly
13.  interceptions To take possession of (a ball or puck) during an attempted pass by an opponent team Interference, stopping, interfering with, interposing
14.  pivotal A vital or critical importance Central, climatic, critical, crucial, decisive, essential, momentous, vital
15.  aerial Reaching far into the air; high; lofty Flying, aeriform, aeronautical, airy, atmospheric, birdlike, ethereal, lofty, pneumatic, up above vapours
16.  of the moment Of importance at this time  
17.  trailed To tread down or make a path through Chase, fall behind, falter, lag, pull, dally, dangle, dawdle, delay, dog, drag, draggle, draw, droop, extend, flag, halt, hang, haul, hunt, linger, loiter, plod, poke, procrastinate, pursue, shadow, shag, spook, spoor, stalk, straggle, stream, tail, tarry, tow, trace, track, traipse, trudge
18.  dribbled To move (the ball or puck) along by rapid succession of short kicks or pushes Drizzle, ooze, squirt, distill, drip, drivel, drool, drop, leak, run, salivate, seep, slaver, slobber, spout, trill, weep, fall in drops
19.  tallies An account or reckoning; a record or debit and credit, of the score of a game, or the like Poll, total, account, mark, reckoning, score, summation, tab, running total
20.  suspension Something on or by which something else is suspended or hung Break, freeze, halt, interruption, layoff, moratorium, period, postponement, stoppage, termination, abeyance, adjournment, breather, cessation, conclusion, cutoff, deferment, disbarment, discontinuation, doldrums, dormancy, downtime, end, ending, finish, five, intermission, latency, letup, pause, quiescence, remission, respite, stay, suspense, ten, time-out
21.  unfazed Not dismayed or disconcerted; undaunted Undaunted, unperturbed, calm, collected, composed, cool, nonchalant, casual, detached, placid, serene, tranquil, unvexed, unworried
22.  emulate To try to equal or excel; imitate with effort to equal or surpass Follow suit, imitate, mimic, mirror, challenge, compete, contend, ditto, do, follow, outvie, rival, do like, follow in footsteps, follow the example of, rivalize
23.  dispossess To put( a person) out of possession, especially of real property Evict, appropriate, eject, expel, expropriate, ousts, put of, throw into the street
24.  marginally At the outer or lower limits; minimal requirements; almost insufficient Kind of, lightly, somewhat, hardly, insignificantly, more or less, on a small scale, to some extent, scarcely any
25.  impending About to happen; imminent Approaching, brewing, imminent, looming, coming, gathering, hovering, menacing, near, nearing, overhanging, portending, threatening
26.  complemented Something that completes or make perfect Accompaniment, addition, aggregate, augmentation, balance, capacity, completion, consummation, correlate, correlative, counterpart, enhancement, enrichment, entirety, filler, makeweight, pendant, quota, remainder, rest, supplement, total, totality
27.  crucial Involving an extremely important decision or result; decisive; critical Central, compelling, deciding, decisive, essential, imperative, momentous, necessary, pivotal, pressing, touchy, urgent, vital, acute, clamorous, climacteric, desperate, dire, hanging by thread, high-priority, insistent, on thin ice, searching, showdown touch and go
28.  interventions Interposition or interference of one state in the affairs of other Interference, meditation, arbitration, intercession, interposition, interruption
29.  misplaced To put it in a wrong place Gone, lost, mislaid
30.  materialized To come into perceptible existence; appear; become actual or real; be realized or carried out Appear, emerge, happen, occur, realize, take place, turn up, unfold, actualize, coalesce, develop, embody, evolve, exteriorize, externalize, hypostatize, manifest, metamorphose, objectify, personalize, personify, reify, substantiate, symbolize, typify, visualize
31.  exploiting To utilize, especially for profit; turn to a practical account Abuse, apply, capitalize on, employ, handle, manipulate, mine, profit from, use, utilize, bleed, exercise, finesse, fleece, jockey, maneuver, milk, play, skin, soak, stick, work, avail oneself of, cash in on, get mileage out of
32.  anxiety Distress or uneasiness of mind caused by fear of danger or misfortune Angst, apprehension, concern, disquiet, doubt, dread, jitters, misery, misgiving, mistrust, nervousness, panic, restlessness, suffering, suspense, trouble, uncertainty, unease, botheration, butterflies, care, creeps, disquietude, distress, downer, drag, fidgets, flap, foreboding, fretfulness, fuss, heebie-jeebies, jumps, needles, shakes, shivers, solicitude, watchfulness, willies, worriment
33.  flattering To try to please by complimentary remarks or attention Complimentary, favorable
34.  deceive To mislead by false appearance or statement Betray, cheat, circumvent, defraud, delude, disappoint, dupe, entrap, falsify, fool, hoodwink, swindle, trick, victimize, bamboozle, beat, beguile, bilk, buffalo, burn, clip, con, cozen, ensnare, fake, fleece, gouge, gull, hoax, humbug, outwit, rob, scam, screw, sell, skin
35.  achievement Something accomplished, especially by superior ability, special effort or great courage Accomplishment, attainment, creation, deed, effort, feat, performance, realization, success, triumph, victory, acquirement, acquisition, act, actualization, completion, conquest, consummation, contrivance, effectuation, enactment, encompassment, execution, exploit, fulfillment, hit, masterpiece, production, stroke, tour de force
36.  incentive Something that incites or tends to incite to action or greater effort as a reward offered for increased productivity Encouragement, enticement, impetus, motivation, reason, stimulus, allurement, bait, carrot, catalyst, come-on, consideration, determinant, drive, excuse, exhortation, goad, ground, impulse, incitement, influence, insistence, inspiration, instigation, motive, persuasion, provocation, purpose, rationale, spring, spur, stimulant, stimulation, temptation, urge, whip, reason why

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IELTS Reading Sample Question # Victims

Victims of Their Own Success

[A] Young men, spurred on by religious beliefs and encouraged by their peers, gathered on the edges of Asia Minor, waiting to attack the Christian world to the west. Immense kudos was to be won within the Muslim world from inflicting pain and damage on innocent victims: men, women and children who were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Launching attacks could and did cause untold damage to the economy, driving fear and changing the way people lived, moved and thought. Training bases in northern Syria prepared eager would-be soldiers, teaching them the survival techniques needed to infiltrate enemy territory and, of course, how to launch their attacks. And spiritual rewards were on offer too: a place in paradise, if you met your end during the mission. That was Asia Minor 11 centuries ago.

[B]The Roman Empire splintered in two spectacular explosions. First, Rome itself was sacked in 410 and then its western provinces and many of those of North Africa collapsed later in the fifth century. Two hundred years later, ‘the most important parts of the Empire’ did not just remain standing, but were flourishing. Centred on the great city of Constantinople, the East Roman (or Byzantine) Empire, controlled the wealthy grain basket of the Nile delta, as well as Anatolia (modern Turkey), much of the Balkans, Greece, Palestine and Syria. Life looked rosy, as the numismatic  and archaeological records show.

[C]The second expansion brought the Byzantine Empire to its knees as followers of the Prophet Muhammad poured out of the Arabian peninsula in the 630s, forging a vast new world that linked Spain with the Middle East and Central Asia, pushing right up to the border with China by 751. The Empire hung on for dear life, pouring resources into a frontier network across Asia Minor to hold back the tide.

[D]Byzantine generals were realistic about how secure the border could be: there was no hope of stopping bands of motivated, fast-moving individuals from penetrating under the cover of darkness or otherwise: policing a frontier in this way required (and still requires) money, time, resources and people to maintain it. Instead, the Byzantines had to learn how to deal with attacks.

[E]They identified patterns. Timing was predictable; so, too, were the targets: the attackers were more keen on glory than death, on the bragging rights in this world than the next and more keen on enriching themselves than finding out what paradise had to offer. The best approach was to adapt to the reality and prepare for regular pin-pricks, rather than becoming the target of more powerful forces further away. As seen from Constantinople, there would always be problems on the periphery, so it was important to build relations with Baghdad and Cairo and to use official channels to try to rein in troublesome warlords in border zones, whose successes could destabilise not just the Byzantine Empire but the Abbasid Caliphate, too.

[F]In the 10th century, however, the balance began to change. A series of economic shocks rattled the economies of the Middle East and Central Asia, result of a period of climate change. Soul searching in Baghdad opened the door for daring Byzantine raids that knocked out the attack bases that had been used to such great effect for almost 200 years. That, in turn, changed the make-up and fighting practices of the imperial military. Having pioneered defensive tactics to prevent raids causing too much damage, attention now turned to big targets: fortified towns and cities.

[G]Within the space of a generation, the Byzantines had rolled the frontier back hundreds of miles, recovering places long lost to Muslims. The jewel in the crown was Antioch in northern Syria, the gateway to Palestine, but also the protecting valve to defend Asia Minor and the interior. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the century that followed saw an astonishing period of economic and demographic growth, as well as an intellectual and cultural flowering, as artists, scholars and writers like Michael Psellos created some of the treasures of Byzantine culture.

[I]The problem was that when a new threat appeared in the form of the Sekjuk Turks in the 11th century, it took the Byzantines too long to remember how to fight a rearguard action. Instead of dealing swiftly with nimble attackers, a ploy that had worked in the past, the response was to send large, heavy armies that took too long to move and were left chasing shadows.

[J]A similar problem, it seems, is facing the US Air Force today. In a recently published report, Lt General David Barno, former Commander of Military Operations in Afghanistan, argued that the USAF – like the Byzantine army of the 10th and 11th centuries – is a victim of its own success. Not a single American warplane has been shot down by an enemy aircraft since 1991; and not one has been lost to enemy air defences since 2003. ‘As a result’, General Bardo notes, ‘the risk to aircraft and airmen in combat has become nearly negligible’.

[I]At a time when the US is acutely aware of growing ambition and military expenditure by China and Russia, the fact that pilots have never experienced ‘contested air war’ means that investment is needed to prepare for threats of the future and not those of the present. It also means that skills need to be taught and developed in advance, rather than when it is too late. ‘Resilience’, for example, to enable soldiers and airmen to cope when ‘more and more squadrons of their mates don’t come home’, should be impressed on serving a military that has got used to undisputed superiority.

[J]When the going had been good in Constantinople 1,000 years ago, there were voices like those of General Barno, too, who warned about under-funding in the armed forces and the fact that young people did not want to serve the emperor but to feather their own nests by becoming lawyers and making money. By the time anyone listened, it was too late. Whether General Barno’s warning meets the same deaf ears remains to be seen.

VOCABULARY

spurred – a thing that prompts or encourages someone

infiltrate – enter or gain access to surreptitiously and gradually, especially to gain secret information

splintered – break or cause to break into smaller fragments

sacked – dismissed

numismatic – relating to or consisting of coins and medals

squadrons – a number of persons grouped together for some purpose

rattled -knocked or shattered

 

Questions 14-19

Sample Passage 7 has ten paragraphs labelled A-J

Which paragraphs contain the following information?

Write the correct letter A-J in boxes 14-19 in your answer sheet.

NB You may use any letter more than once

  1. During the 4th and 5th century, Rome was divided into two parts.
  2. Bryzantines were in danger from Sekjuk Turks during the period of 1001 to 1100.
  3. General Barno gave a signal that in future the young people of the country will be more interested in working for themselves rather than the country.
  4. The Americans have not lost a single aircraft to enemies in the 20th
  5. The soldiers were convinced to join army saying if they die during the war, they would certainly go to heaven.
  6. Bryzantine dealt with attacks by figuring out patters in them.

Questions 20-24 Choose the appropriate letters A, B, C or D.  Write your answers in boxes 20-24 on your answer sheet.

  1. What caused the shattering of economies of the Middle East and central Asia during the 10th century?
  1. Climate change
  2. War
  3. Both A and B
  4. Neither A or B

 

  1. What kind of army did Byzantines send when they were attacked by the Sekjuk Turks in 11th century?
  1. Small and nimble
  2. Large and slow
  3. Foreign attackers
  4. Neither of the above
  1. What was the warning given by general Barno?
  1. Soldiers will stop working of army
  2. People will prefer working for themselves rather than army
  3. People are more likely to become businessman
  4. There will be no need of army in later years
  1. What was offered to the future soldiers in the Syrian training camps?
  1. Place in paradise
  2. lot of money
  3. security
  4. financial support to the family
  1. How did Bryzantines dealt with the possible terrors possible in the border?
  1. Stopped bands of individuals marching towards border.
  2. Identified patterns of war.
  3. Predicting the timing and targets
  4. Both C and D

 

ANSWERS

  1. B
  2. I
  3. J
  4. J
  5. A
  6. E
  7. A
  8. A
  9. B
  10. A
  11. D

 

 

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