Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Monday, August 2, 2010

IELTS -Sample Tests

• Listening Test
• Speaking Test
• Reading Test
• Writing Test

Academic Reading sample

The Academic reading test is 60 minutes long. It has three sections with 40 questions to answer. Below is a sample of one section. (Note that candidates for the Academic module do a different reading test to the General training module).

Wind Power in the US

Prompted by the oil crises of the 1970s, a wind-power industry flourished briefly in the United States. But then world oil prices dropped, and funding for research into renewable energy was cut. By the mid 1980s US interest in wind energy as a large-scale source of energy had almost disappeared. The development of wind power at this time suffered not only from badly designed equipment, but also from poor long-term planning, economic projections that were too optimistic and the difficulty of finding suitable locations for the wind turbines.

Only now are technological advances beginning to offer hope that wind power will come to be accepted as a reliable and important source of electricity. There have been significant successes in California, in particular, where wind farms now have a capacity of 1500 megawatts, comparable to a large nuclear or fossil-fuelled power station, and produce 1.5 per cent of the state's electricity.

Nevertheless, in the U.S., the image of wind power is still distorted by early failures. One of the most persistent criticisms is that wind power is not a significant energy resource. Researchers at the Battelle Northwest Laboratory, however, estimate that today wind turbine technology could supply 20 per cent of the electrical power the country needs. As a local resource, wind power has even greater potential. Minnesota's energy commission calculates that a wind farm on one of the state's south western ridges could supply almost all that state's electricity. North Dakota alone has enough sites suitable for wind farms to supply more than a third of all electricity consumed in the continental US.

The prevailing notion that wind power is too costly results largely from early research which focused on turbines with huge blades that stood hundreds of meters tall. These machines were not designed for ease of production or maintenance, and they were enormously expensive. Because the major factors influencing the overall cost of wind power are the cost of the turbine and its supporting systems, including land, as well as operating and maintenance costs, it is hardly surprising that it was thought at the time that wind energy could not be supplied at a commercially competitive price. More recent developments such as those seen on California wind farms have dramatically changed the economic picture for wind energy. These systems, like installations in Hawaii and several European countries, have benefited from the economies of scale that come through standardized manufacturing and purchasing. The result has been a dramatic drop in capital costs: the installed cost of new wind turbines stood at $1000 per kilowatt in 1993, down from about $4000 per kilowatt in 1980, and continues to fall. Design improvements and more efficient maintenance programs for large numbers of turbines have reduced operating costs as well. The cost of electricity delivered by wind farm turbines has decreased from about 30 cents per kilowatt-hour to between 7 and 9 cents, which is generally less than the cost of electricity from conventional power stations. Reliability has also improved dramatically. The latest turbines run more than 95 per cent of the time, compared with around 60 per cent in the early 1980s. Another misconception is that improved designs are needed to make wind power feasible. Out of the numerous wind turbine designs proposed or built by inventors or developers, the propeller-blade type, which is based on detailed analytical models as well as extensive experimental data, has emerged as predominant among the more than 20,000 machines now in commercial operation world-wide. Like the gas-driven turbines that power jet aircraft, these are sophisticated pieces of rotating machinery. They are already highly efficient, and there is no reason to believe that other configurations will produce major benefits. Like other ways of generating electricity, wind power does not leave the environment entirely unharmed. There are many potential problems, ranging from interference with telecommunications to impact on wildlife and natural habitats. But these effects must be balanced against those associated with other forms of electricity generation. Conventional power stations impose hidden costs on society, such as the control of air pollution, the management of nuclear waste and global warming. As wind power has been ignored in the US over the past few years, expertise and commercial exploitation in the field have shifted to Europe. The European Union spends 10 times as much as the US government on research and development of wind energy. It estimates that at least 10 per cent of Europe's electrical power could be supplied by land-based wind-turbines using current technology. Indeed, according to the American Wind Energy Association, an independent organization based in Washington, Denmark, Britain, Spain and the Netherlands will each surpass the US in the generating capacity of wind turbines installed during the rest of the decade.


fossil fuel: coal, oil and natural gas kilowatt: 1,000 watts; a watt is a unit of power kilowatt-hour: one kilowatt for a period of one hour megawatt: one million watts wind farm: a group of wind turbines in one location producing a large amount of electricity wind turbine: a machine which produces energy when the wind turns its blades

Questions 1 – 5

Complete the summary below using words from the box. Write your answers in boxes 1-5 on your answer sheet.

There are more words or phrases than you will need to fill the gaps. You may use any word or phrase more than once.

The failure during the late 1970s and early 1980s of an attempt to establish a widespread wind power industry in the United States resulted largely from the ...(1)... in oil prices during this period. The industry is now experiencing a steady ...(2)... due to improvements in technology and an increased awareness of the potential in the power of wind. The wind turbines that are now being made, based in part on the ...(3)... of wide-ranging research in Europe, are easier to manufacture and maintain than their predecessors. This has led wind-turbine makers to be able to standardize and thus minimize ...(4)... . There has been growing ...(5)... of the importance of wind power as an energy source.


design fall

Questions 6 – 10

Look at the following issues (Questions 6-10) and the list of implications below (A-C). Match each issue with the correct implication. Write the correct letter A-C in boxes 6-10 on your answer sheet. You may use any letter more than once.


A provides evidence against claims that electricity produced from wind power is relatively expensive. B supports claims that wind power is an important source of energy. C opposes the view that wind power technology requires further development.


The current price of one wind-generated kilowatt... Answer A


6. The recent installation of systems taking advantage of economies of scale ...
7. The potential of meeting one fifth of current US energy requirements by wind power ...
8. The level of acceptance of current wind turbine technology ...
9. A comparison of costs between conventional and wind power sources ...
10. The view of wind power in the European Union ...

Sources › Test Takers Information.02.08.2010

Speaking sample
In the speaking test, you have a conversation with a certified examiner. It is interactive and as close to a real-life situation as a test can get.

The test is 11 to 14 minutes long with three parts. In Part 1, you answer questions about yourself and your family. In Part 2, you speak about a topic. In Part 3, you have a longer discussion on the topic. Below is a sample of Part 2 – speaking on a topic.

Speaking- Part 2

Describe a teacher, who has greatly influenced you in your education.

You should say:

1. where you met him
2. what subjects he taught
3. what was special about him
4. explain why this person influenced you so much.

You will have to talk about the topic for 1 to 2 minutes. You have one minute to think about what you are going to say. You can make some notes if you wish.

Sources › Test Takers Information.02.08.2010

Academic Writing sample

The Academic writing test is 60 minutes long. It has two writing tasks of 150 words and 250 words. Below are samples of Task 1 and Task 2.

Writing Task 1

You should spend about 20 minutes on this task.

The graph below shows the different modes of transport used to travel to and from work in one European city in 1960, 1980 and 2000.

Summarize the information by selecting and reporting the main features, and make comparisons where relevant.

Write at least 150 words.

Writing Task 2
You should spend about 40 minutes on this task.

Write about the following topic:

It is inevitable that as technology develops so traditional cultures must be lost. Technology and tradition are incompatible - you cannot have both together.

To what extent do you agree or disagree?

Give reasons for your answer and include any relevant examples from your own knowledge or experience.

Write at least 250 words.

Sources › Test Takers Information.02.08.2010

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Thomas Hardy


Thomas Hardy
Thomas Hardy was born at Higher Bockhampton, Dorset, on June 2, 1840, where his father worked as a master mason and builder. From his father, he gained an appreciation of music and from his mother an appetite for learning and the delights of the countryside about his rural home.
Hardy was frail as a child, and did not start at the village school until he was eight years old. One year later, he was transferred to a new school in the county town of Dorchester.
At the age of 16, Hardy helped his father with the architectural drawings for a restoration of Woodsford Castle. The owner, architect James Hicks, was impressed by younger Hardy's work, and took him on as an apprentice.
Hardy later, moved to London to work for prominent architect Arthur Bloomfield. He began writing, but his poems were rejected by a number of publishers. Although he enjoyed life in London, Hardy's health was poor, and he was forced to return to Dorset.
In 1870 Hardy was sent to plan a church restoration at St. Juliot in Cornwall. There, he met Emma Gifford, sister-in-law of the vicar of St.Juliot. She encouraged him in his writing, and they were married in 1874.
Hardy published his first novel, Desperate Remedies in 1871, to universal disinterest. But, the following year Under the Greenwood Tree brought Hardy popular acclaim for the first time. As with most of his fictional works, Greenwood Tree incorporated real places around Dorset into the plot, including the village school of Higher Bockhampton that Hardy had first attended as a child.
The success of Greenwood Tree brought Hardy a commission to write a serialized novel, A Pair of Blue Eyes, for Tinsley's Magazine. Once more Hardy drew upon real life, and the novel mirrors his own courtship of Emma.
Hardy followed this with Far From the Madding Crowd, set in Puddletown (renamed Weatherby), near his birthplace. This novel finally netted Hardy the success that enabled him to give up his architectural practice and concentrate solely on writing.
The Hardys lived in London for a short time, then in Yeovil, then in Sturminster Newton (Stourcastle), which Hardy described as "idyllic". It was at Sturminster Newton that Hardy penned Return of the Native, one of his most enduring works.
Finally, the Hardys moved to Dorchester, where Thomas designed their new house, Max Gate, into which they moved in 1885. One year later Hardy published The Mayor of Casterbridge, followed in 1887 by The Woodlanders and in 1891 by one of his best works, Tess of the d'Urbervilles.
Tess provoked interest, but his next work, Jude the Obscure (1896), catapulted Hardy into the midst of a storm of controversy. Jude outraged Victoria morality and was seen as an attack upon the institution of marriage. Its publication caused a rift between Thomas and Emma, who feared readers would regard it as describing their own marriage.
Of course, the publicity did no harm to book sales, but reader's hid the book behind plain brown paper wrappers, and the Bishop of Wakefield burned his copy! Hardy himself was bemused by the reaction his book caused, and he turned away from writing fiction with some disgust.
For the rest of his life Hardy focussed on poetry, producing several collections, including Wessex Poems (1898).
Emma Hardy died in November 1912, and was buried in Stinsford churchyard. Thomas was stricken with guilt and remorse, but the result was some of his best poetry, expressing his feelings for his wife of 38 years.
All was not gloom, however, for in 1914 Hardy remarried, to Florence Dugdale, his secretary since 1912. Thomas Hardy died on January 11, 1928 at his house of Max Gate in Dorchester. He had expressed the wish to be buried beside Emma, but his wishes were only partly regarded; his body was interred in Poet's Corner, Westminster Abbey, and only his heart was buried in Emma's grave at Stinsford.

Sources - United Kingdom 01.08.2010

Thomas Hardy (1840-1928)

The Man He Killed

Had he and I but met
By some old ancient inn,
We should have set us down to wet
Right many a nipperkin!

But ranged as infantry,
And staring face to face,
I shot at him as he at me,
And killed him in his place.

I shot him dead because--
Because he was my foe,
Just so: my foe of course he was;
That's clear enough; although

He thought he'd 'list, perhaps,
Off-hand like--just as I--
Was out of work--had sold his traps--
No other reason why.

Yes; quaint and curious war is!
You shoot a fellow down
You'd treat, if met where any bar is,
Or help to half a crown.

“The Man He Killed" was written in 1902 by Thomas Hardy, an English Victorian poet and writer of fiction. The poem, in the form of a dramatic monologue, is a wonderful example of Hardy's belief in meliorism and his anti-war sentiments.
The poem is spoken in first person, using a young soldier as the speaker. To summarize, the speaker is attempting to explain to others and to himself why he killed another soldier, one from the opposing side.
Many of Hardy's poems, including this one, reflect Hardy's belief in meliorism. Meliorists believe that society is constantly improving, but only through man's efforts. He felt that either there was not god to save us, or if there were a supreme being, He did not concern himself about man's fate. In other words, we had to save ourselves by helping one another and by being kind to all our fellow creatures.
Hardy was very concerned with man's inhumanity to man, and he felt that war was the ultimate form of this, being planned and organized inhumanity. The poem specifically addresses the Boer War, which Hardy was vehemently against.
The Boer War took place in South Africa, which was largely populated by Dutch farmers. Great Britain was in possession of lands surrounding the Boers. When gold and diamonds were discovered in the Boers' land, however, Britain desired the area, and the Boer War ensued.
"The Man He Killed" basically tells the story of a young soldier who off-handedly enlists into the infantry because he needs the salary. He does not fight for some lofty patriotic reason or because he believes in "the cause." After killing his foe, he ponders if perhaps the other young man entered the army for similar reasons:
He thought he'd [en]list, perhaps,
Off-hand, like, just as I -
Was out of work - had sold his traps -
No other reason why.
He explains that had he and the other soldier met under different circumstances, they would probably be buying each other pints in a pub instead of trying to kill each other:
Had he and I but met
By some old ancient inn,
We should have set us down to wet
Right many a nipperkin!
The poem makes it obvious that the speaker understands the senselessness and futility of the war, yet he rationalizes his killing of the man:
I shot him dead because -
Because he was my foe.
Just so: my foe of course he was;
That's clear enough; although...
The last stanza sums up the speaker's views on the whole incident:
Yes; strange and curious war is!
You shoot a fellow down
You'd treat, where any bar is,
Or help to half a crown.
Most of Hardy's poems are pessimistic, reflecting the dark side of man, especially his capacity for violence and cruelty, and this poem is no exception. In fact, "The Man He Killed" is probably one of the poet's most disturbing set of verses. It forces the reader to examine the brutality and inhumanity of war, and to ponder how humans are often victims of sheer circumstance and fate.


General English

My Family
There are four members in my family. My husband is Kumara Alwis. He is employed. He is a doctor. He works at the Department of Ayurveda, NCP. He is also the Commissioner of Ayurveda, NCP. He also works at Panchchakarma Unit of the Ayurvedic Hospital, Anuradhapura. We have two children, a son and daughter. They are Pasindu and Sachini. Sachini is the eldest and studies at Anuradhapura Swarnapali Balika M.V. She is in Grade 12. Pasindu is the youngest and studies at Anuradhapura Central College. He is in Grade 06. We live in Anuradhapura.

General English

I am Roshan. I am from Anuradhapura. I am employed. I am a clerk. I work at Ceylon Electricity Board, Anuradhapura. I am married. My wife is Shanika. She is unemployed. She is a housewife. We have two children. They go to school.

General English

I am Roshan. I am from Anuradhapura. I am employed. I am a clerk. I work at Ceylon Electricity Board, Anuradhapura. I am married. My wife is Shanika. She is also employed. She is a nurse. She works at Teaching Hospital, Anuradhapura. We have two children. They go to school.