IELTS Reading Test Practice – Kauri gum
This test practice example is a General Training Test Section 3, so it’s exactly like an Academic Reading Test.
Notice that the structure is chronological – everything goes in order of TIME, from the origins of the gum and how it was formed, what it was used for by the original inhabitants of New Zealand, how it then became a commodity and was exported, commercially uses and then what happened in more recent times.
An awareness of this style of IELTS Reading text will help you find the answers much more quickly.
Download the test at the bottom of the page and listen to my podcast for clear explanations.
Then do the vocabulary practice – check the words, write them in a special IELTS notebook, and review them regularly!
Kauri gum – a piece of New Zealand’s history.
ANSWERS Questions 28 – 33
28 an example of a domestic product made of high-quality gum E
The first major commercial use of kauri gum was in the manufacture of high-grade furniture varnish, a kind of clear paint used to treat wood.. The best and purest gum that was exported prior to 1910 was used in this way.
29 factors affecting gum quality A
Gum fresh from the tree was soft and of low value but most of the gum which was harvested had been buried for thousands of years. This gum came in a bewildering variety of colours, degree of transparency and hardness, depending on the length and location of burial, as well as the health of the original tree and the area of the bleeding. Highest quality gum was hard and bright and was usually found at shallow depth on the hills. Lowest quality gum was soft, black or chalky and sugary and was usually found buried in swamps, where it had been in contact with water for a long time. Long periods in the sun or bush fires could transform dull cloudy lumps into higher quality transparent gum.
30 how kauri gum is formed A
…it was the tree’s sap (the thick liquid which flows inside a tree) which, when hardened into gum…
After running from rips or tears in the bark of trees, the sap hardens to form the lumps of gum which eventually fall to the ground and are buried under layers of forest litter. The bark often splits where branches fork from the trunk, and gum accumulates there also.
(the Present Simple Active and Passive tenses here show us that this is a PROCESS – the sap hardens… which eventually fall…. and are buried…. the bark splits…. gum accumulates…..)
31 how gum was gathered B
In Maori and early European times up until 1850, most gum collected was simply picked up from the ground, but, after that, the majority was recovered by digging.
32 the main industrial uses of the gum E
The first major commercial use of kauri gum was in the manufacture of high-grade furniture varnish, a kind of clear paint used to treat wood.
33 recent uses of kauri gum F
In the last decades, it has had a very limited use in the manufacture of extremely high-grade varnish for violins, but the gum of the magnificent tree remains an important part of New Zealand’s history.
Answers to Questions 34 – 39
34 Kauri gum was first used in New Zealand.
A before the 1800s
(Para C) The original inhabitants of New Zealand, the Maori, had experimented with kauri gum well before Europeans arrived at the beginning of the nineteenth century.
35 The amount of kauri gum sent overseas peaked.
B in 1900
(Para D ) The increasing number of diggers resulted in rapid growth of the kauri gum exports from 1000 tons in 1860 to a maximum of over 10,000 tons in 1900.
36 The collections of kauri gum supplemented farmers’ incomes.
D between the late 1800s and the early 1900s
(Para D) By the 1890s, there were 20,000 people engaged in gum-digging. Although many of these, such as farmers, women and children, were only part-time diggers, nearly 7,000 were full-timers.
37 Kauri gum was made into jewellery.
E between the 1830s and 1900
(Para F) In the time of Queen Victoria of England (1837 – 1901) some pieces were made into fashionable amber beads that women wore around their necks. The occasional lump that contained preserved insects was prized for use in necklaces and bracelets.
38 Kauri gum was used in the production of string instruments.
I in recent times
(Para F) In the last decades, it has had a very limited use in the manufacture of extremely high-grade varnish for violins…
39 Most of the kauri gum was found underground.
G after 1850
(Para B) In Maori and early European times up until 1850, most gum collected was simply picked up from the ground, but, after that, the majority was recovered by digging.
Answer Question 40
40. What was most likely to reduce the quality of kauri gum?
A how long it was buried
B exposure to water
C how deep it was buried
D exposure to heat
(Para A) Lowest quality gum was soft, black or chalky and sugary and was usually found buried in swamps, where it had been in contact with water for a long time.
Key Vocab for IELTS – learn 12 words a day.
Guess these words first from context (look at the sentences that surround them) and then check in a dictionary:
- Kauri once formed vast forests.
- Early European settlers collected the gum.
- The gum was harvested by hand.
- It had been buried for many years.
- The quality depended on the location of their burial.
- The original inhabitants of New Zealand were the Maori.
- Sometimes the gum was ignited.
- Exports peaked in 1900.
- Gum-digging was a way to earn a living.
- Poor quality gum was discarded as waste.
- It was displaced by synthetic alternatives in the 1930s.
- In the last decades it has had limited use.
To know a word, you need to know:
- The meaning (synonyms, opposites, connotation etc)
- The pronunciation
- The spelling
- The different forms (verb, noun, adjective, adverb)
- The grammar (how to use it in a sentence, past tense etc).
- Some common collocations (which words usually go with it)
‘To bury something’
- To put something underground.
- | ˈberi |
- Bury – buried (past tense)
- Burial (noun) buried (adjective)
- The gum was buried (Passive) under the tree
- A burial site, buried treasure, buried at sea.