The Basic How to of IELTS Writing Task 1

One section in IELTS that may be really challenging is the Writing Section. In the previous test we have learned what criteria have to be met when doing the Writing Section. Today, we are going to learn how to meet those criteria and get a high marks simply by using basic template for writing.

For the Writing Section scoring criteria, go to this link

Criteria of IELTS Writing Section

What To Do In Writing Task 1

In Writing Task 1, test takers should explain a graph, chart, or  picture and write 150 words in 20 minutes. The explanation has to cover an overview, key features, and other relevant information. There are several samples of layout for Writing Task 1, and of course one may prefer to use certain layout to another. But, we will only focus on the basic layout that is, as far as I concern, most commonly used. The layout itself is presented by some material books and I believe I see it some time on the internet. There may be some modifications necessary, but keep it for later. Now, let's see the basic layout.

Writing Task 1 Layout

1. Overview

In the IELTS writing Task 1, we will move from general to specific kind of layout. First, you will have to present everything in general, do not include any percentage, number, information about increase or decrease, because they are supposed to be put in the second and third paragraph. In this part, we need to introduce the graph. The original title for the bar graph is:

The number of travelers using three major airports in New York City between 1995 and 2000.

For the sample bar graph, we can write it down as follows:

The bar graph presents the proportion of passengers in three main airports in New York [active voice], or

The proportion of passengers in three main airports in New York is presented by the bar graph [passive voice]

Blue indicates the introduction of the graph*

Red indicates the paraphrased title*

"In IELTS Writing, we present our ideas by going from a very general information to the more specific one"
2. Key eature
2. Main Features
After we're done with the overview, we need to explain all key features existing in the graph. In the case of bar graph, it should be any information presented in abscissa x (the year) and the ordinate y (the number of people, presented in millions) as well as any other relevant information such as names of the airports (John F. Kennedy, LaGuardia, and Newark) and the city where the airports are located. In the writing, the key feature "name of the airports" is combined with the overview instead, and this is okay. The information about key features is presented as below:

The bar graph presents the proportion of passengers in three main airports in New York, namely John F. Kenndy, La Guardia, and Newark. The number of travelers  from 1995 until 2000 is presented in millions

The full color words are the key features*

3. Major Trend

Now, we're moving on to the next step which is explaining the major trend, in which we will divide the data into

  • Constant [this will be your paragraph 2]
  • Fluctuating [this will be your paragraph 3]

The major trend for this sample bar graph can be written as:
The people who traveled using La Guardia and Newark airports constantly increased while the passengers of John F. Kennedy airport fluctuated

You have to avoid using the same words over and over again, and paraphrasing will surely be an important aspect to consider in your writing. As we can see, I use "the number of people, passengers, the number of airports users, the number of people who traveled, the number of travelers, the proportion of people traveling, etc for the sake of paraphrasing. Try to do the same thing in your writing.

"Paraphrasing is one of the most important aspect in IELTS Writing"

4. Giving Detailed Explanation

In this part, you will start doing the second and the third paragraph of your writing, and you will start talking about the number, percentage, which one is higher which one is lower, which one increases, which one decreases, etc. There are several things we need to present in this part, which are:

  • Starting point, for example:
The passengers taking planes at La Guardia airport comprised of around 35 millions people in 1995
  • Increase and decrease, for example:
...and the number witnessed a 5 million growth
  • Further information about increase and decrease, for example:
The number significantly inclined...
  • Highest and lowest point, for example:
ended up reaching the peak point of around 68 millions at the end of the period
  • Ending point, for example:
...and ended up reaching the peak point of around 68 millions at the end of the period

Blue words indicates some examples of the points I'm referring to

You may also notice that I also use different ways of saying the year. I do not say 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, and 2000 all the time, but rather, I paraphrase them. This is necessary. Take a look at some examples below:

The passengers taking planes at La Guardia airport comprised of around 35 millions people in 1995, and the number witnessed a 5 million growth and accounted for 40 millions in the following year

The number significantly inclined and ended up reaching the peak point of around 68 millions at the end of the period

The travelers then witnessed a slight increase and eventually leveled off in the last three years

The number experienced around 8 million growth in the next two periods...

After that, the airport had a degrading trend of users in two consecutive years...

Red words indicates the paraphrasing of the years

For more detailed explanation on Writing Task 1, go to this link

Material onWriting Task 1


The bar graph presents the proportion of passengers in three main airports in New York, namely John F. Kenndy, La Guardia, and Newark. The number of travelers  from 1995 until 2000 is presented in millions. The people who traveled using La Guardia and Newark airports constantly increased while the passengers of John F. Kennedy airport fluctuated.

The passengers taking planes at La Guardia airport comprised of around 35 millions people in 1995, and the number witnessed a 5 million growth and accounted for 40 millions in the following year. In the next three years, the number of passengers using La Guardia airport experienced a constant level up. The number significantly inclined and ended up reaching the peak point of around 68 millions at the end of the period. In addition, the number of people using Newark airport also experienced an increase. In the first period, around 15 millions people traveled using this airport. In 1996, the number of passengers inclined and represent 25 millions travelers. The travelers then witnessed a slight increase and eventually leveled off in the last three years, representing approximately 41 millions people.

In contrary, John F. Kennedy experienced ups and downs in terms of number of users. At the beginning of the period, the proportion of the users contributed approximately 27 millions people. The number experienced around 8 million growth in the next two periods and reached the highest point of around 47 millions in the year of 1997. After that, the airport had a degrading trend of users in two consecutive years, losing around 11 millions and 5 millions users respectively. The travelers increased again in the year of 2000, comprising of 42 millions people.

For material on Writing Task 2, go to this link

Material on Writing Task 2

Prepare Yourself Better For The Test : Calculating Your IELTS Writing Band Score

Why Score Prediction Is Important?

We have discussed a way of calculating band score of IELTS Speaking. It may not be highly accurate, but that certainly gives you and idea of what has been good and what needs to be improved. Doing all exercise is yet to be enough if you still have no idea how good is your English. Monitoring your progress is quite important when you take IELTS, especially if this is your first attempt.

IELTS Is A Process, Enjoy The Process

For any section in IELTS, Listening, Reading, Speaking or Writing, you may start small by doing some easy-to-do exercise as well as reading the material book. This is good, it is better than never start studying at all, right? As you are becoming more familiar with the test and your initial learning program is showing a good progress and a good progress and a good progress, you may feel it necessary to take a more challenging exercise. You are moving on from beginner-intermediate level C1 to advanced level C2. You got a feeling that it's going to be something good and believe me, it's true.

"The most important aspect that we often overlook when preparing ourselves is progress. Remember, sometimes what you need the most is progress, not perfection"

After you have done dealing with all levels, you may feel like trying the most difficult, bad-ass exercise in IELTS books. Let's say, if you have done Reading Cambridge IELTS book 1 until 9, you may end up doing book number 10,11, and 12 also, despite the fact that they are a way way tougher than the last. You may not reach the desired score, but do not lose your motivation yet. Every time you need motivation, just remember that learning IELTS (well, basicall learning everything) is a process. In this process, try focus more on the progress and not the perfection.

However, you may not have any problems doing the book number 10, 11 and 12, but that's simply because you start from Exercise 1 of those books, and first exercise is usually easier than the last. As you move ahead, you will find it more and more difficult. You have to always remember that IELTS (the material book, exercise, and even the test itself), always keeps the best for the last. So the further you move ahead, the more challenges you will face.

"It is better to start small than to never start at all"

We never say enough for learning, try to find exercise with higher level of difficulty every time you are getting done with an exercise. This is to prepare yourself for the worst case scenario. In IELTS test, the questions are completely random. I mean, some people take the test and find out that it is quite easy, while some other people who are not lucky enough and get an extremely difficult questions. Luck also plays an important role. But it is not a variable that we can control and thus we cannot fully rely on it. Taking precautions is the best move so far.

Let's say, when you do the Listening Section, the first ten numbers are usually the easiest ones so you have to give your best shot and try to have 10 correct numbers when doing the first ten numbers of the test (Remember that each question weighs the same). As you move along, the questions are getting tougher and tougher, and thus perseverance is a key.

"In the process of learning IELTS and doing the test, perseverance is a key concept"

IELTS Reading :  How It Is Scored?

Okay, so that was just a brief introduction about learning and taking IELTS as a process. The first reason why I gave that brief explanation is because the process is closely related to progress, and progress is the reason why we need to keep monitoring our score. The second reason is that I want to motivate you. There are so many people are getting frustrated with the test. If you are being one of them, I can assure you that you are not the only one. In developing countries like mine, English still becomes a challenge. Tragically, it sometimes becomes a barrier and a reason why people give up their dream. I made this blog in the first place is to tackle this problem by facilitating an IELTS self-study.

But don't worry guys, keep learning and stay tuned and everything will just be fine. For those who do not have any problems with IELTS learning, keep it up. Do not forget to study and practice, just in case you have a test with an extremely high level of difficulty. Remember that intelligence never replaces hard work. The two of them are necessary especially when you aim a very high score.

"Intelligence never replaces hard work, no matter how smart and cool you are, give your best effort and do it 100%"

Writing Task 1 And Task 2 Are Graded Separately

The first thing that you need to know about the scoring of IELTS Writing is the fact that you will be doing two types of writing in the test, namely Writing Task 1 (describing data like chart, graph, etc.) and Writing Task 2 (something like argumentative writing). These test are completely different and they will be graded individually. Writing Task 2 has higher score than Writing Task 1, so make sure you do the best in the second writing without compromising the first one.

Criteria Of IELTS Writing

General Criteria
There are 4 criteria that will determine your writing score. Each criteria contributes 25% of your overall score. There are three criteria that are similar in Writing Task 1 and Writing Task 2 which are:
  • Coherence and Cohesion: covering the use of paragraphs, linking words (cohesive device), and referencing
  • Lexical Resource: covering the range and accuracy of your vocabulary, collocations, and spelling (as well as error such as misspelling, typo, the use of incorrect collocations,etc)
  • Grammatical Range and Accuracy: covering sentence structures, tenses, punctuation (as well as any grammatical error that will reduce the score)
Besides these three criteria, there are also several criteria that are specific to certain task which are:

Task-specific Criteria
  • Task achievement for Writing Task 1, including overview, key features, and information (this is only for Writing Task 1)
  • Task response, including the way you address the task, ideas and the way you develop the ideas, and conclusion (this is only for Writing Task 2)

How Task 1 and Task 2 Worth The Point

As I already told you, Writing Task 2 contributes higher score than Writing Task 1. In Writing Task two, the score is doubled while in the Writing Task 1, it is not. We can simply put it this way: Your Writing Task 1 represents 30% of the overall score and your Writing Task 2 represents 60% of the overall score.

"Writing Task 2 contributes higher score, put more effort on it and try to maintain the quality of your Writing Task 1"

How Writing Score Is Calculated

To calculate the score, take a look at this example:

Say you got
8.0 in Writing Task 1 and

7.0 in Writing Task 2

Then the score will be:
1x Writing Task 1 score = 8.0  2x Writing Task 2 score=14

equals 22, divided by 3

equals 7.33333, round it up to .5

your final score is 7.5

Some Other Considerations

Besides all criteria and task achievements, there are some other things that we often overlook but actually need our attention. This includes several technical details such as:

a. You need to have a good handwriting. Make it eligible, use correct punctuation and capitalization

b. At the lower part of your answer sheet, there is a space for assessor and it is always stated there that you are not supposed to write down anything in any way (not even scratch it). Give one or two blank-space, just to avoid any penalty and keep everything safe

c. Do not write something in an extremely close range. If you make any mistake and the mistake is in the middle of your writing (or, when you simply need to add some more information), you will not be able to do it since you have to erase some of the writing and re-write it. This is ugly since it ruins your timing. Better provide some space between words so that you have spare space for any revision. Anyway, it is okay to ask for extra sheet if you need some more (usually due the length of the writing and the use of bigger font)

d. We need to avoid ambiguity since some people write (for example) letter u and o almost similarly, and this is potentially seen as a misspelling

e. Focus and do not be carried away by your writing. Some test takers write 300 words in Writing Task 2 since they make it their first priority, but 300 word writing is too much (even for Writing Task 2) that they eventually run out of time and cannot do Writing Task 1 as expected. Be wise and use your time wisely

That's all for today's advice (was it an advice? 😪) and explanation on Writing Section scoring. If I miss anything about the Writing Section scoring, feel free to add some additional explanation. If you think this post is helpful, please share it because sharing is caring

Cheerio ~

For material on Writing Task 1 and Writing Task 2, please go to this link

Writing Task 1 Material

Writing Task 2 Material


For those who are having exercise with IELTS, it is definitely important to know the score, although it is just a rough prediction. Grading IELTS Listening and Reading Section is not actually difficult since we have the score table. We just need to count the wrong answers (counting the wrong answers is easier because I assume you have more correct answers), and see what band score you get by having that "x number" of correct answers. In contrary, assessing Speaking can be quite challenging especially if you are not a native speaker (me neither, so cheers! 😁 ) or if you are not an official IELTS assessor. I have been looking for the information about how IELTS speaking is scored here and there, and finally formulate a simple way to predict the score. Although, again, it is just a rough estimation.

It is believed that there are four main criteria graded in IELTS Speaking, namely the:

Fluency and Coherence
How fluent is your speech and how you arrange your ideas

How precisely you pronounce the words 

Lexical Resource
How you use a range of vocabulary accurately

Grammatical Range and Accuracy
How you accurately use various English grammar

These main criteria have several sub criteria explained as follows:

Fluency and Coherence

  • Fluency is a combination of:

a. The pace of your speech

b. The length of your answers

c. The use of pauses, intonation, tempo, and other prosodic features

  • Coherence is your ability to:

a. Develop your answers

b. Give a direct answers

c. Add relevant details and additional information

d. Connect your ideas by using cohesive device or linking words

Common Mistakes

You should not speak too slow or too fast. If you speak to slow, you may run out of time, your speech sounds like a prepared speech, and you sound like you are stuttering. If you speak too fast, your pronounciation is compromised and your speech may not sound clear. This is ugly since the main idea of speaking is to have a real sense communication and make other person(s) understand you. Whatever happens, keep everything moderate, including your speech rate.

"The main idea of speaking is to have a real human communication and make the person you are talking to understand what you say. Keep everything moderate" 

You also need to give a real comprehensive answer with a proper length. Giving too short answers will make it not possible for the assessor to grade your skill (you can never give answer like "No, I don't" and expect the assessor to be able to grade your vocabulary and grammar, no way). However, you also need to avoid giving too long and tedious answers since it is more likely that you will digress. 

Let's go back to basic: Be moderate!

Some test takers sometimes really have problems regarding relevancy. They give an answer that does not answer the question at all. I have an IELTS sample video for speaking in which the assessor asked:

In your opinion, can a solitary hobby help a person with their social life?

and the answer was like:

Yes, because staying at home and playing video games or watching movies can help people kill the time.

Bold words indicate keywords*

The answer is not at all relevant since the question needs him to explain whether solitary hobby, a hobby that we can do on your own, can help a person with his/her social life. So, it has to be a solitary hobby and it has to be about social life. The answer contains keywords like staying at home, playing video games, watching TV, and kill the time that do not sound very social (unless you involve other people like inviting your friends, probably?)

Some test takers also find it difficult to link one idea with other ideas. So they speak and speak and speak, explaining idea a and idea b and idea c without realizing that idea a,b, and c are not at all related. To avoid this, remember to use linking words such as In addition, furthermore, besides, etc. (if, say, idea a agrees with idea b) or despite, on the other hand, in contrary, etc. (if, say, idea a contradicts idea b).


Some criteria that make your pronounciation a good pronounciation are:

  • Basic word pronounciation
  • The use of liaison
  • Correct stress
  • Intonation

Common Mistakes and Misconception

Many students are worried about using British or American accent and I always tell them not to worry about accents. This happens since they are not native speakers and the assessor surely understands that accent is particularly retained by the native speakers whose first language is English. As a test taker, what we need to do is having a correct basic pronounciation (although having accent is preferable since you will sound more natural if you do).

For example: 
The first high front unrounded vowel "i" in the word "direction" can be either pronounced using more stressed diphtong which is probably typical to British accent and thus will sound like you are having the sound [ay] between d and r, or simply using a schwa just the way Americans say it so we have [də'rekʃn] instead [daɪrekʃn].

[də'rekʃn] and [daɪrekʃn] are IPA transcription for the word direction, commonly used in the study of phonetics and phonolgy. Just don't bother with it*

Stress is one of many prosodic features that even I, a beginner linguist, find it hard to distinguish. Native speakers, however, have some kind of innate capacity to realize the difference between the stressed and the unstressed. If you are not a native speaker, don't bother with stress, and don't be stressed out.

Lexical Resource

This is where y'all demonstrate your ability to use profound English vocabulary (paraphrasing will be important here) to discuss a range of different topics. You need to use vocabulary accurately and you have to be able to express yourself when you are unable to find the English equivalent that correlates with certain word in your first language.

Major Confusion

I once read somewhere in a book,or was it in a web? or, was I told by somebody? Well I'm not sure. But I  heard a rumour that we need to present 3 uncommon words (should I call it uncommon?) in our speech. Do not jump to any conclusion, this is just a rumour and rumour can be so misleading. If you know anything about the use of fancy words in IELTS Speaking, please let me know.

But, it is definitely a must that you avoid using the same word over and over again. Try to paraphrase the words and make complex sentences. This is actually better since you can get higher score at grammar and lexical resources at once.

Grammatical Range and Accuracy

There are two important points that we have to note here.

  • First, you need to avoid any grammatical error, especially those that are related to tenses. You still remember that English has a strict rule for Verb namely the Tenses and Aspect, right? Please go to this link if you forget English Grammar

  • Second, do not use too simple sentences all the time. This will result in an extremely low score for sentence complexity. But, do not use too stringy sentences either, since it may result in syntactical ambiguity, or worse, the difficulty to understand what you say.

When Your Speech Is Assessed?

The assessor will grade your speaking real time. However, they also use a recorder so I presume they also assess the speaking (more meticulously) by using the recorded speech. It is important that you concentrate from beginning to end.

"In IELTS Speaking, you will mostly be graded real time from beginning to end that you must concentrate all the time"

How The Band Is Calculated?

Each criterion weighs the same, so give your best shot for each criterion. The score range from 0 to 9, as we commonly know. The score for each criterion will be summed up and then divided by 4 to get the average. And voila, that's your final score.

Say, Bobby's score on IELTS Speaking is described as below:

Coherence          4.0 
Pronounciation   7.5
Vocabulary         8.0
Grammar            8.5

The overall score for the four criteria is 28, divided by four and that'd be 7.0

"Each criterion in IELTS Speaking weighs the same, and one rotten apple may destroy a basket of apples"

You see that the scores for Pronounciation, Vocabulary, and Grammar are extremely high and Bobby almost got a real satisfying result. But Coherence kinda drag the other criteria down and Bobby end up getting 7.0. This is why you should not focus on certain criteria and neglect the others.

That's all for now, if you feel like getting more information, please read another post about IELTS Speaking by clicking this link


I have done almost all Reading exercises in Cambridge IELTS, and once in a while, I stumble upon extremely difficult Reading Passage. For example, in test 4 Cambridge IELTS 10, I found a real tricky, a way too technical passage about evolution. Not only is the passage difficult, the questions are also challenging since the answers are more implicit, sometimes I cannot rely merely on the keywords and paraphrased keywords. I have to grab the whole idea and translate the sentence to check whether it makes sense or not. This rarely happens, since the strategy I have previously explained is more than enough to finish IELTS Reading. In most cases, I always spend 40 minutes to answer questions from number 1 until 40 only by strategy, and then spend the last 20 minutes to do extensive reading to re-check the answers.

"In IELTS test, do not be carried out by the passage. Use the strategy first and do the extensive reading later"

Remember: We better do the Reading by using the strategy first and then re-check the answers by reading the whole passage. I never suggest to read the passage first since I personally will be carried away by the passage, forgetting the fact that I only have one and a half minute to answer each question. If you read the whole passage first, I’m afraid that you will run out of time when doing the last part, while the last part is usually the hardest and less do-able part. This is ugly. Running out of time is ugly. That’s the reason why I formulate IELTS Reading strategy.


Let’s go talk about the Reading sample a little bit. Test 4 is the last test in Cambridge IELTS, and since they always keep the best for the last, we can assume that Reading test 4 will be the hardest of the hardest part in the book. And this happens to be true. Please take a look at some examples below:

"Once in a while, you will find the kind of passage that is really difficult and  too technical, and this may require a little background knowledge"

NOTE: I do not include the whole passage and instead, only quote some of the statements that correlate with the answers, only for the sake of academic discussion. The material that I deliver in this post does not represent certain institution whatsoever and is merely a personal approach towards doing the test. I do not guarantee that using this material or any other previous materials will help you pass any test. If you ask me which material will give you a guarantee, then the answer is none. 

There is no such guarantee since doing such test also involves several variables that I, or any other trainers, cannot fully control. Some of them will be your motivation, psychological pressure, different levels of difficulty etc. Please read our terms of service and disclaimer explaining the fair use of intellectual property. For the complete passage and questions, please read the books. Those are good materials anyway, so I’m pretty sure that you will find it really helpful.

Questions 27-31

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

27. When discussing the theory developed by Louis Dollo, the writer says that

a. it was immediately referred to as Dollo’s Law

b. it supported the possibility of evolutionary throwbacks

c. it was modified by biologists in the early twentieth century

d. it was based on many years of research

Okay, let’s start with the first question of Reading test 4 passage 3. In this question, I made the first mistake (there was not any mistake from number 1 until 26, this is pretty much devastating). In this question, I chose option a.  it was immediately referred to as Dollo’s Law without looking carefully at the word “immediately”. 

The word itself may seem insignificant but I was wrong for not paying attention to this word, since it is the reason why option a. it was immediately referred to as Dollo’s Law is actually wrong. If you read the given statement regarding this question, you will find out that Dollo first proposed the theory in 1890 and it was referred to as Dollo’s Law in the early twentieth Century, around the year of 1900. It took ten years for the theory to be called Dollo’s Law, and that’s not immediate. Hence, option a. it was immediately referred to as Dollo’s Law is definitely wrong.

If we refer to answer b. it supported the possibility of evolutionary throwbacks and d. it was based on many years of research, we can already decide that they are all wrong. Dollo’s Law dictates that Evolution can never run backwards and never support the possibility of evolutionary throwbacks. We can cross out option b. Option d, however, is not actually explained in the passage. We cannot get information of how long the research was conducted, so it is not the answer either, we can cross it out.

Strangely enough, the answer for this question is c. it was modified by biologists in the early twentieth century is the correct answer, although information about “modification” is not explicitly stated in the passage. In the first sentence of paragraph 3, it is explained that:

Early 20-th century biologists…in terms of probability, stating that there is no reason why evolution cannot run backwards –it is just very unlikely.

Here, we can see how information about “modification” is implicitly presented. While Dollo believed that reversed evolution is 100% impossible, biologists believe that it is possible, although very unlikely. It is probably just a 1% probability of even less, but the fact that the biologists believe it is possible has explained how Dollo’s belief had been slightly modified.

"In some IELTS Reading cases, the information presented in the passage may be extremely implicit that even 1% probability will make a difference"

28. The humpback whale caught off Vancouver Island is mentioned because of

a. the exceptional size of its body

b. the way it exemplifies Dollo’s Law

c. the amount of local controversy it caused

d. the reason given for its unusual features

In this question, it is obvious that answers a. the exceptional size of its body and b. the way it exemplifies Dollo’s Law and c. the amount of local controversy it caused are definitely wrong. There isn’t any relevant information about its size or local controversy. 

Answer b is also wrong since humpback whales are said to have a pair of legs in the past, and now they lost it which means the evolution is somehow reversed. The fact that its evolution is reversible contradicts the Dollo’s Law instead of exemplifies it. The correct answer is d. the reason given for its unusual features, in which the word “features” refers to a pair of legs that humpback whale used to have, as stated in the passage:

…a humpback whale with a pair of leg-like appendages over a meter long, complete with a full set of limb bones was caught off Vancouver Island in Canada.

The fact that the whale has a pair of legs is considered interesting since it becomes an exception of the case of atavism as previously proposed by Dollo.

29. What is said about ‘silent genes’?

a. Their numbers vary according to species

b. Raff disagreed with the use of the term

c. They could lead to the re-emergence of certain characteristics

d. They can have an unlimited life span

Answer a is wrong since the number of probability of atavism depends on the genetic, not species. In addition, answer b is also wrong since there isn’t any information stating that Raff disagree with the term ‘silent genes’. He just proposed about the idea of gene affecting the probability of atavism, but said nothing about the term itself. Answer d is also wrong it is just explained that atavism may lead to the reappearance of long-lost traits, but it is not said that it is going to happen that way along the life span. 

The answer is c that explains about atavism causing reemergence of certain characteristics that have lost for a long time (without information about how long it will happen). The word ‘re-emergence is paraphrased with the word reappear, the word ‘characteristics’ is paraphrased with the word ‘traits’.

30. The writer mentions the mole salamander because

a. it exemplifies what happens in the development of most amphibians

b. it suggests that Raff’s theory is correct

c. it has lost and regained more than one ability

d. its ancestors have become the subject of extensive research

Answer a is definitely wrong since mole salamander is said to be able to skip certain phase in its development, and this case is quite in contrary with that of most amphibians.  Answer c is also wrong since axoloti only lost and regain one ability which is the ability to metamorphose, it is only one ability. Answer d is also wrong since there isn’t any relevant information about extensive research conducted to analyze the ancestor of mole salamander. 

The correct answer is b. But, we have to refer back to the previous paragraph since Raff’s theory is presented in the preceding paragraph. This makes it difficult since you have to look for the answer by referring to two paragraphs, and you have to decide whether the information in the two paragraphs are relevant to each other, or not.

31. Which one of the following does Wagner claim?

a. Members of Bachia lizard family have lost and regained certain features several times

b. Evidence shows that the evolution of the Bachia lizard is due to the environment

c. His research into South American lizards supports Raff’s assertions

d. His findings will apply to other species of South American lizards

There isn’t any relevant information for answer b and d, they are definitely wrong. Option c is not correct either, since Raff focuses on a premise that certain species of lizards has lost its ability to metamorphose, while Wagner’s premise is that lizard species has genetic information that will make them ‘keep the legs’ or ‘lose the legs’. The answer is a. The word ‘features’ refers to the legs that may disappear or remain.

Question 32-36

Complete each sentence with the correct ending, A-G below

32. For a long time, biologists rejected

33. Opposing views on evolutionary throwbacks are represented by

34. Examples of evolutionary throwbacks have led to

35. The shark and killer whale are mentioned to exemplify

36. One explanation for the findings of Wagner’s research is

A. the question of how certain long-lost traits could reappear

B. the occurrence of a particular feature in different species

C. parallels drawn between behaviour and appearance

D. the continued existence of certain genetic information

E. the doubts felt about evolutionary throwbacks

F. the possibility of evolution being reversible

G. Dollo’s findings and the conviction held by Lombroso

32. For a long time, biologists rejected the possibility of evolution being reversible (F)

This is explained in paragraph 1:
…most biologists have been reluctant to use those words, mindful of a principal of evolution that says ‘evolution cannot run backwards

33. Opposing views on evolutionary throwbacks are represented by Dollo’s findings and the conviction held by Lombroso (G)
This is explained in paragraph 2 and 3:

Criminals were born not made and could be identified by certain physical featuers(conviction held by Lombroso)…in 1890 he proposed that evolution was irreversible (Dollo’s findings)

34. Examples of evolutionary throwbacks have led to the question of how certain long-lost traits could reappear (A)
This is explained in paragraph 4 and 5:

Examples of evolutionary throwbacks refers to the case of humpback whale explained in paragraph 3. The case itself poses a puzzle: how can characteristics that disappeared millions of years ago suddenly reappear? In other words, the case of humpback whale is an example of evolutionary throwbacks that leads to a question why it can retain its legs while they actually have lost them?

35. The shark and killer whale are mentioned to exemplify the occurrence of a particular feature in different species (A)

In answering this question, we have to pay attention to the phrase ‘different species’, remembering that shark and whale are coming from different species (here you need a little background knowledge). Shark is a real fish species while whale is believed to be an alien in the sea world. Whale is a mammal and it breaths using lungs. They are not fish at all yet they live in the sea, although many argue that they once lived on the land. However, it is explained in paragraph 9:

One possibility is that these traits are lost and then simply reappear, in much the same way that similar structures can independently arise in unrelated species, such as the dorsal fins of sharks and killer whales.

36. One explanation for the findings of Wagner’s research is the continued existence of certain genetic information (D)
Wagner states that Bachia lizards have genetic information saying ‘keep the legs’ or ‘lose the legs’, determining the continued existence of certain feature.

Questions 37-40

Do the following statements agree with the claims of the writer in Reading Passage 3?

YES if the statement agrees with the claims of the writer

NO if the statement agrees with the contradicts of the writer

NOT GIVEN if it is impossible to say what the writer thinks about this

37. Wagner was the first person to do research on South American lizards

NOT GIVEN. There is no information about Wagner being the first person to do the research. He just did, but it is not possible to decide whether he was the first person doing it, or not.

38. Wagner believes that Bachia lizards with toes had toeless ancestors

YES. The species of Bachia lizards is believed to come from a toeless ancestor that either keep or lost genetic information regarding their toes.

39. The temporary occurrence of long-lost traits in embryos is rare

NO. It is not temporary at all. It is stated in the last paragraph that silent genes degrade within a time scale of 6 to 10 million years, and that’s not temporary.

40. Evolutionary throwbacks might be caused by developmental problems in the womb

YES. I am rather dubious with the answer though. I mean, there is no clear information about developmental problem, except a statement in the last paragraph saying that:

Later development of these features disappear thanks to developmental programs that say ‘lose the leg’. I cannot decide whether ‘losing a leg’ is a problem for certain species. Well, what do you think?

Red indicates keywords and paraphrased keywords*

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