Cambridge 15 IELTS General Reading Test 1


Questions 1-14
Read the text below and answer Questions 1-6

Consumer advice

What to do if something you ordered hasn’t arrived

If something you’ve ordered hasn’t arrived, you should contact the seller to find out where it is. It’s legal responsibility to make sure the item is delivered to you. They should chase the delivery company and let you know what’s happened to your item. If your item wasn’t delivered to the location you agreed (e.g. if it was left with your neighbour without your consent), it’s the seller’s legal responsibility to sort out the issue.

If the item doesn’t turn up, you’re legally entitled to a replacement or refund. You can ask for your money back if you don’t receive the item within 30 days of buying it. If the seller refuses, you should put your complaint in writing. If that doesn’t work, you could contact their trade association – look on their website for this information, or contact them to ask.

You might also be able to get your money back through your bank or payment provider – this depends on how you paid.

●   If you paid by debit card, contact your bank and say you want to use the ‘chargeback’ scheme. If the bank agrees, they can ask the seller’s bank to refund the money to your account. Many bank staff don’t know about the scheme, so you might need to speak to a supervisor or manager. You should do this within 120 days of when you paid.

●   If you paid by credit card and the item cost less than £100, you should contact your credit card company and say you want to use the ‘chargeback’ scheme. There’s no time limit for when you need to do this. If the item cost more than £100 but less than £30,000, contact your credit card company and say that you want to make a ‘section 75’ claim.

●   If you paid using PayPal, use PayPal’s online resolution centre to report your dispute. You must do this within 180 days of paying.

Rice cookers

What’s the best rice cooker for you?

A   Ezy Rice Cooker

This has a 1.8 litre pot and a stainless steel exterior. It has a separate glass lid, and the handle on the lid stays cool. It produces perfectly cooked white rice, but tends to spit when cooking brown rice. There are slight dirt traps around the rim of the lid, and neither the pot nor the lid is dishwasher safe.

B   Family Rice Cooker

This has a plastic exterior and a flip-top lid. The lid locks when closed and becomes a secure handle to carry the cooker. The aluminium interior pot is quite difficult to clean, and it can’t be put in a dishwasher. It’s programmed to adjust the temperature once the rice is done so that it stops cooking but doesn’t get cold.

C   Mini Rice Cooker

This has a flip-top lid and a 0.3 litre capacity. The interior pot is made of non-stick aluminium and is dishwasher safe. This rice cooker is ideal when cooking for one. However it does not have any handles at the side, and water sometimes overflows when cooking brown rice.

D   VPN Rice Cooker

This has a painted steel exterior with a handle on each side and a steel inner pot. It has a lift-off lid and comes with a booklet including a range of ideas for rice dishes. However, the keep-warm setting must be manually selected and the handles are tricky to grip.

E   S16 Rice cooker

This is simple to use, not spitting or boiling over even when cooking brown rice. The exterior stays cool when in use, so there’s no danger of burning your hand. However, the lack of handles is a nuisance, and a recipe book would have been useful.


Questions 15-27

Read the text below and answer Questions 15-22

Safety when working on roofs

A fall from height is the most serious hazard associated with roof work. Preventing falls from roofs is a priority for WorkSafe New Zealand. Investigation by WorkSafe into falls that occur while working at height show that more than 50 percent of falls are from under three metres, and most of these are from ladders and roofs. The cost of these falls is estimated to be $24 million a year – to say nothing of the human costs that result from these falls. More injuries happen on residential building sites than any other workplace in the construction sector.

In order to prevent such injuries, a hazard assessment should be carried out for all work on roofs to assess potential dangers. It is essential that the hazards are identified before the work starts, and that the necessary equipment, appropriate precautions and systems of work are provided and implemented. Hazard identification should be repeated periodically or when there is a change in conditions, for example, the weather or numbers of staff onsite.

The first thing to be considered is whether it is possible to eliminate this hazard completely, so that workers are not exposed to the danger of falling. This can sometimes be done at the design, construction planning, and tendering stage. If the possibility of a fall cannot be eliminated, some form of edge protection should be used to prevent workers from falling. It may be possible to use the existing scaffolding as edge protection. If this is not practicable, then temporary work platforms should be used. In cases where such protection is not possible, then steps should be taken to minimise the likelihood of any harm resulting. This means considering the use of safety nets and other similar systems to make it less likely that injury will be caused if a fall does occur.

Ladders should only be employed for short-duration maintenance work such as touching up paint. People using ladders should be trained and instructed in the selection and safe use of ladders. There should be inspection of all ladders on a regular basis to ensure they are safe to use.

Maternity Allowance for working women

You can claim Maternity Allowance once you’ve been pregnant for 26 weeks. Payments start 11 weeks before the date on which your baby is due.

The amount you can get depends on your eligibility. You could get either:

●   £140.98 a week or 90% of your average weekly earnings (whichever is less) for 39 weeks
●   £27 a week for 14 weeks

Maternity Allowance for 39 weeks

You might get Maternity Allowance for 39 weeks if one of the following applies:

● you’re employed
● you’re self-employed and pay Class 2 National Insurance (including voluntary National Insurance)
● you’ve recently stopped working

You may still qualify even if you’ve recently stopped working. It doesn’t matter if you had different jobs, or periods when you were unemployed.

Maternity Allowance for 14 weeks

You might get Maternity Allowance for 14 weeks if for at least 26 weeks in the 66 weeks before your baby is due:
● you were married or in a civil partnership
● you were not employed or self-employed
● you took part in the business of your self-employed spouse or civil partner

How to claim

You’ll need an MA1 claim form, available online. You can print this and fill it in, or fill it in online. You also need to provide a payslip or a Certificate of Small Earnings Exemption as proof of your income, and proof of the baby’s due date, such as a doctor’s letter.

You should get a decision on your claim within 24 working days.

You should report any changes to your circumstances, for example, if you go back to work, to your local Jobcentre Plus as they can affect how much allowance you get.


Questions 28-40

Read the text below and answer Questions 28-40.

The California Gold Rush of 1849

The discovery of gold in the Sacramento Valley sparked the Gold Rush, arguably one of the most significant events to shape American history in the 19th century

On January 24, 1848, James Wilson Marshall, a carpenter, found small flakes of gold in the American River near Coloma, California. At the time, Marshall was working to build a water-powered sawmill for businessman John Sutter. As it happens, just days after Marshall’s discovery, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed, ending the Mexican-American War and transferring California, with its mineral deposits, into the ownership of the United States. At the time, the population of the territory consisted of 6,500 Californios (people of Spanish or Mexican descent); 700 foreigners (primarily Americans); and 150,000 Native Americans.

Though Marshall and Sutter tried to keep news of the discovery quiet, word got out, and by mid-March 1848 at least one newspaper was reporting that large quantities of gold were being found. Though the initial reaction in San Francisco was disbelief, storekeeper Sam Brannan set off a frenzy when he paraded through town displaying a small bottle containing gold from Sutter’s Creek. By mid-June, some three-quarters of the male population of San Francisco had left town for the gold mines, and the number of miners in the area reached 4,000 by August.

As news spread of the fortunes being made in California, the first migrants to arrive were those from lands accessible by boat, such as Oregon, the Sandwich Islands (now Hawaii), Mexico, Chile, Peru and even China. Only later would the news reach the East Coast, where press reports were initially skeptical. Throughout 1849, thousands of people around the United States (mostly men) borrowed money, mortgaged their property or spent their life savings to make the arduous journey to California. In pursuit of the kind of wealth they had never dreamed of, they left their families and local areas; in turn, their wives had no option but to shoulder different responsibilities such as running farms or businesses, and many made a real success of them.

By the end of the year, the non-native population of California was estimated at 100,000 (as compared with 20,000 at the end of 1848 and around 800 in March 1848). To accommodate the needs of the ‘49ers, as the gold miners were known, towns had sprung up all over the region, complete with shops and other businesses seeking to make their own Gold Rush fortune. The overcrowded chaos of the mining camps and towns grew ever more lawless. San Francisco, for its part, developed a bustling economy and became the central metropolis of the new frontier.

How did all these would-be miners search for gold? Panning was the oldest way. The basic procedure was to place some gold-bearing material, such as river gravel, into a shallow pan, add some water, and then carefully swirl the mixture around so the water and light material spilled over the side. If all went well, the heavier gold nuggets or gold dust would settle to the bottom of the pan. Gold panning was slow even for the most skillful miner. On a good day, one miner could wash about 50 pans in the usual 12-hour workday.

Another way was to use what was called a ‘rocker’. Isaac Humphrey is said to have introduced it to the California gold fields. It was simply a rectangular wooden box, set at a downward angle and mounted on a rocking mechanism. The dirt and rock was dumped into the top, followed by a bucket of water. The box was rocked by hand to agitate the mixture. The big rocks were caught in a sieve at the top, the waste exited the lower and with the water, and the heavy gold fell to the bottom of the box.

The rocker had advantages and disadvantages. The advantages were that it was easily transportable; it did not require a constant source of water; and, most importantly, a miner could process more dirt and rock than with a pan. The primary disadvantage was that the rocker had difficulty in trapping the smallest particles of gold, commonly known as ‘flour’. Some miners added small amounts of mercury to the bottom of the rocker. Due to its chemical composition, it had a facility to trap fine gold. Periodically, the miners would remove and heat it. As it vaporized, it would leave gold behind.

After 1850, the surface gold in California had largely disappeared, even as miners continued to reach the gold fields. Mining had always been difficult and dangerous labor, and striking it rich required good luck as much as skill and hard work. Moreover, the average daily pay for an independent miner had by then dropped sharply from what it had been in 1848. As gold became more and more difficult to reach, the growing industrialization of mining drove more and more miners from independence into wage labor. The new technique of hydraulic mining, developed in 1853, brought enormous profits, but destroyed much of the region’s landscape.

Though gold mining continued throughout the 1850s, it had reached its peak by 1852, when gold worth some 81 million dollars was pulled from the ground. After that year, the total take declined gradually, leveling off to around 45 million dollars per year by 1857. Settlement in California continued, however, and by the end of the decade the state’s population was 380,000.

It appears that this quiz is not set up correctly


7 D
8 E
9 B
10 A

11 D
12 B
13 E
14 C
15 3 / three metres / meters
16 residential building sites
17 eliminate
18 (temporary) (work) platforms
19 safety nets
20 (maintenance) work

21 selection
22 inspection
23 140.98
24 unemployed
25 payslip
26 doctor’s letter
27 circumstances
28 D
29 C
30 C

31 D
32 C
33 F
34 B
35 A
36 G
37 gravel
38 nuggets
39 sieve
40 mercury

5 1 vote
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