IELTS Reading Practice: Diagnostic Quiz

How good are you at IELTS Reading, right now? If you haven’t taken an IELTS Reading assessment yet, you may not really know. Don’t worry, though—Magoosh has you covered. You can take a quick measure of your IELTS Reading skills right here, right now. Take our free IELTS Reading Diagnostic Quiz!

IELTS Reading Practice Test for Diagnostic Purposes

This quiz is shorter than a full IELTS Reading section. It contains the one task you’ll find on both IELTS Academic Reading and IELTS General Training Reading: an educational article followed by 10-14 questions. (This article and question set come for our full-length free IELTS practice test.)

The passage itself appears below. After the passage, you can click to “Start Quiz” to answer the questions. Feel free to read the whole passage first, or skim first, or go straight to the questions and check for answers. Different methods work for different students.

IELTS Reading Score Calculator

One great reason to take this IELTS Reading diagnostic is to estimate your baseline IELTS Reading score. This can help you understand how much studying you need to do in order to achieve your target score.

Once you’ve read the passage and completed the diagnostic questions, you’ll receive your answer key, raw score, and estimated IELTS band via email. Review that information and save it for later so that you can revisit it at a later date to see how much progress you’ve made in your IELTS prep. If you’re unfamiliar with IELTS scoring, you can learn all about IELTS Reading band scores in our post What is a good IELTS score?

ielts reading practice

IELTS Reading Assessment: Start of Quiz


Section A
Cicadas are insects famous for their ability to generate a distinct sound with an auditory power that can rival the decibel level of a rock music concert and exceed the engine roar of a motorcycle. With close to 3,000 species of cicada identified and documented, this family of insect is found worldwide. For the majority of its life, the cicada remains underground, where it is nourished and sustained through sap secreted by the roots of trees. When mature, the insect tunnels to the surface and sheds its skin to reveal its adult form. This life cycle varies among the species, with certain types maturing and ready to reproduce in just one year. One of the most eagerly anticipated and studied species of cicada is Magicicada Septendecim, a periodical brood that attracts plenty of media attention for its emergence every 13 or 17 years across the Midwestern United States in vast, swarming numbers. In these swarms, the cicadas generate their “music,” signaling their presence, and the onset of summer, for anyone and anything to hear for miles and miles around.

Section B
Only male cicadas are able to generate the sound their species is known for, utilizing a unique physical trait and noise-making process that differentiates them from crickets, which many people incorrectly assume to be similar to cicadas. While crickets generate their distinctive chirp through stridulation, or the rubbing together of body parts, cicadas essentially produce a drumbeat amplified very much in the same way that the sound of an acoustic guitar is created. Males are blessed with a body part known as a tymbal, which is a rigid and pliable exoskeleton-based appendage that can move in a wave-like manner, producing a clicking when it strikes the inside of the abdomen of the cicada. Because the abdomen of the cicada is for the most part hollow, the clicking sound is amplified, giving the cicada’s song its famous power.

Section C
The primary purpose of the male cicada’s song is to attract a female with which to breed. Cicadas tend to be very well camouflaged, and can blend into their surrounding tree-based environments easily. The song of the cicada provides the clues through which the female cicada can find the nearest male. However, the cicada also appears to use its song for defensive purposes in a unique way. Whereas most insects and animals aim to scare off potential dangers by increasing the volume of their warning sounds (e.g. the rattlesnake), cicadas, when threatened, actually diminish the noise that they make. The reason for this is that cicadas are hardly ever alone in a given area, and thus it is difficult for a hunter to pick out the song of an individual insect while distracted by its neighbors. Should a predator be detected, nearby cicadas become very quiet to decrease the odds that they will be singled out among the roar of their more distant kin.

Section D
Scientists who study the cicada raise interesting observations about the evolutionary development of the cicada song and the cicada’s short breeding period. Cicadas live underground for most of their lives and only rise to the surface for several days or weeks at most to find a mate and then die. The reason for this lies in the sedentary nature of the cicada, which makes the insect an easy target for birds and other predators, which consume the insects in great numbers. However, by emerging in the millions all at once, cicadas increase their chance of survival as a species into the next generation, as predators simply cannot significantly impact the numbers of their prey in such a brief period. Meanwhile, the power of the cicada song has proven to be an effective tool for collective breeding, as each insect must locate a mate quickly while outlasting potential predators.

Section E
Cicadas garner the attention, adoration, and sometimes scorn of the general public for the distinctive sound that they create and their occasionally suffocating abundance. In temperate environments all over the world, the ubiquitous buzz of the cicada’s song dominates the backdrop. One must be careful not to come too close to the most powerful of cicadas, whose sound, if heard from just outside the human ear, is known to cause long-term or irreversible physical damage. The cicada’s unique tymbal structure, hollow abdomen, and stamina allow it to generate noise for up to 24-hour cycles, leading to the love/hate relationship people may have with the insect. The cicada plays to its evolutionary strength, with the power and majesty of its song as the key to its survival.

Start the quiz below to answer the questions about this passage. Submit an answer to move on to the next question. You will still be able to see the full passage as you go from question to question.

Questions 1-8

The essay “The Cicada’s Song” has five sections, A – E.

Which section contains the following information?

Choose the correct letter, A – E, in boxes 1 – 8.

NB You may use any letter more than once.

1) cicadas can be very difficult to see among the trees, where they live while mating

2) cicadas become quieter when they perceive danger

3) an insect that is often compared to cicadas by mistake

4) a specific species of cicada that periodically attracts a lot of human attention

5) a way that cicadas can harm humans

6) The process by which cicadas produce sound is similar to certain musical instruments

7) the approximate number of different types of cicadas worldwide

8) cicadas do not move around very much, so they are easily hunted

Question 1 of 2

Questions 9-14

Do the following statements agree with the information given in the text?

In the boxes below, write:

TRUE if the statement agrees with the information (You can also just write T.)
FALSE if the statement contradicts the information (You can also just write F.)
NOT GIVEN if there is no information on this (You can also just write NG.)

9 Cicadas are well known for the unique noise they can produce very loudly.

10 Cricket and cicada noises seem similar to many people, but the sounds they produce serve very different purposes.

11) At most, cicadas can take up to 12 months to develop to full maturity.

12) Cicadas spend most of their lives hiding from predators in trees.

13) Cicadas appear above ground at the same time in very large numbers as a survival strategy.

14) When necessary, a cicada can move quickly enough to evade predators like birds.

Question 2 of 2


Additional Resources for IELTS Reading Prep

How’d you do on the quiz? If you want to improve your score, or make sure you maintain your score, Magoosh can help. Check out our Complete Guide to IELTS Reading, our IELTS Vocabulary flashcards, and our IELTS Test Prep product.

To measure your other IELTS skills, see our diagnostic quizzes for Listening, Writing, and Speaking!

By the way, improve your IELTS score with Magoosh!

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