IELTS|Adults|Advanced|Unit 8|2. Science and discoveries

1. Discuss these questions.

  • Can you identify ways in which human beings use the oceans?
  • Do you consider that life is less interesting, now that a great deal is known about the Earth, the oceans and space?
  • How would you account for the fact that explorers used to be willing to take great risks, by sailing across the sea without navigational instruments?


Useful language

leisure activities deep-sea diving storage underwater familiarity courageous

Sentence and note completion

(Academic Reading, General Training Reading and Listening Modules)

Notes usually focus on one part of the passage. Sentences in the Reading Modules may relate to different parts of the passage.

The questions follow the order of information in the passage.

The sentences or notes normally use different words from the words in the passage to express the same ideas. If you have to choose words from the passage, you will be told the maximum number of words to use for each answer.

If you have to choose words from a box, there will be more words than spaces, and they are usually different from the words in the passage. In the Reading Modules a box may contain the endings of sentences.

Words must be spelt correctly to gain marks.


Reading Modules

  • Skim the whole passage before you start working on any of the tasks and work out what it is about.
  • Read the first sentence or note. Then find the relevant part of the passage, and look for something that means the same. Find the words (in the passage or box) that fit the question. Consider allthe words in the box, or all the words in the relevant part of the passage. Think about both the meaning and the
  • Remember that you must use the exact word(s) from the passage or box. Copy your answer carefully.

Listening Module

  • You will be given time to read the sentences or notes before you listen. Consider what information is likely to fit each space. Think about both the meaningand the
  • Listen for each answer in turn. If you miss one, go on to the next question or you may miss that too.

All modules

  • Check that your answers fit both the meaning and grammar, that the spelling is correct, and that you haven’t written more than the maximum number of words.

1. This passage is about 625 words long and is similar to those in Section 3 of General Training Reading and in Academic Reading.

Exploration through the ages

One of the key reasons for early explorations was probably the need to find food or to move away from areas where climate change caused environmental changes. While modern technology allows water to be stored so that people can stay in areas for longer periods of time, this would not have been so in prehistoric times. When the water ran out, it would be time to move on.

Many of the earliest explorations were therefore probably accidental. As the hunters followed a source of food, they may have finished in a previously unvisited area. If the new area had adequate supplies, the hunters may even have decided to stay there.


More organized exploration began in the Middle East. The first recorded voyage into unknown seas was a four-year expedition around 4,500 years ago, to search for and buy valuable goods, including gold, incense and myrrh.

Some of the earliest sea voyages were undertaken by the Polynesians. The island areas they’ occupied were relatively small and they also had immediate and easy’ contact with the ocean. As they spread from island to island, their navigational skills and knowledge of the area grew. While the original Vikings — from Norway — were initially prepared to loot and plunder throughout Northern Europe, others soon demonstrated a desire to settle in the new lands. Settlements were soon established throughout Europe, and it was found that the previously aggressive settlers were quite the opposite once they’ had some land and security.

One of the areas that the Vikings explored and settled was Iceland. As they spread through the island, they came across Irishmen who had beaten them there, but who moved away, as they were not willing to share the place with the newcomers. Although the Vikings managed to set foot in North America, they had little idea of what exactly they had achieved.They, like many others, stumbled there thinking they had in fact found just another small island. Often the explorations of a curious traveller would open the eyes of others to new things that might then be used in their home country. Marco Polo travelled horn Italy, spending a considerable period of time in Asia, and reaching as far as China. He had a head for business, and an eye for the novel and unusual while on his journeys. He encountered and reported on many unusual plants and animals as well as the use of petroleum-based oils in the Middle East.The success of his expeditions inspired many others to follow in his footsteps.

Trade has provided one of the key reasons for exploration throughout the years. Much of the exploration by Europeans in the 15th and 16th centuries was motivated by commerce and trade in exotic goods, as well as by the need to find faster trade routes. Several governments negotiated treaties so that their nationals could trade in other countries.

Massive changes were now taking place in Europe, with new ideas affecting many traditional areas of life. Politics, economics, religion and social organisation were all undergoing huge upheavals.The population grew rapidly, creating an increased demand for food. Among the workforce, there was a trend towards developing a particular expertise, which included a rapid growth in the number of merchants. With growing wealth, the old barter economy was no longer efficient. Instead, there was a demand for gold and other precious metals, some of which was turned into coins and used for buying and selling.

Probably even more prized at this time were spices, which were used for preserving and flavouring meats. This was important at a time when even fresh food, if available, could be rather tasteless. These items, such as pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves, were only found growing naturally in India and certain areas of the east.

Questions 1-7

Complete each sentence with the correct ending A-J from the box below.

A imitation by others.
B a change from warlike to peaceful behaviour.
C the people’s geographical location.
D a misunderstanding of what they had found.
E settlers in the normal sense of the word.
F a lack of the basic necessities of life.
G the first people to reach the area.
H a suspicious attitude towards the local population.
I improvements in the design of boats.
J a desire for trade.

Questions 8-13

Complete the notes below.

Choose NO MORE THAN ONE WORD from the passage for each answer

1. This listening passage, which is typical of Section 4, continues the history of European exploration from the passage opposite.


You will hear part of a lecture about the history of European exploration.

First you have some time to look at questions 1 to 6. (pause)

Now listen carefully and answer questions 1 to 6.

Explorations by Christopher Columbus and other Europeans during the 15th and 16th centuries showed subtle difference from earlier journeys.  A new element in the ethos of the time was a thirst for glory and recognition of the individual, which joined religion and reaches as a major in exploration.

Regardless of the explorers’ motives, those who crossed the oceans where able to navigate much more accurately than before, thanks to the development of the quadrant and other instruments, as well as a better understanding of the functioning of the magnetic compass. This, along with improvements in cartography, made voyages somewhat less dangerous.

During the 18th century there was a renewed emphasis on exploration for scientific purposes and to improve their stock of information and understanding that was available. European intellectuals became aware of there ignorance about certain aspects of the physical and natural world and where keen to do something about it.  Many ocean voyages were on vessels that were basically floating scientific laboratories. They had trained scientists on board, as well as a vast array of equipment and skilled artists and draughtsman to take accurate records of the voyage.

In the 20th century, countries completed to gain prestige. Who less and less lend to discover and claim, there were races to the North Pole, the South Pole, Everest, depth of the oceans, the Moon and Mars.

The equivalent of expression in the 21st Century often has more to do with overcoming physical challenges event discovering the unknown:  not simply to reach the peak of Everest, but to reach it alone, or without oxygen, or in the shortest possible time.  Exploration has turned inwards: once we explored what is ‘out there’, now we explore the limits of what we can withstand.

Complete the sentences below using words from the box.

endurance fame knowledge nationalism nature religion research ships technology wealth

Science and discoveries


1. Choose and write the answer that best fits each space.

2. Complete each statement about the text in exercise 1 with a form of the word in CAPITALS. Then decide if the statement is true (T), false (F) or not given (NG) according to the text.

3. Mark the two words or phrases in italics which are similar in meaning.


1. Complete each sentence by choosing the most suitable adjective from the box that collocates with the noun in italics. More than one answer may be possible.

underlying controversial reliable concrete feasible
biased ground-breaking empirical

2. Choose and write the answer that best fits each space.

Looking into space