Mock Test 2.1 (Academic Reading)


You should spend about 20 minutes on Questions 1-13, which are based on Reading Passage 1 below.




A.  Ice Age Symbol: The stencilled hand and red dots on a boulder shown opposite are probably 20,000 years old. They were made in a cave at Pech Merle, in Lot, in southern France. Numerous examples of Ice Age painting and drawing – on cae walls and on objects – have turned up in southern France over the last century or so, some of which carry unexplained signs. Is all this writing? [Crack IELTS with Rob] If we mean – is it part of a  “system of a graphic symbol that can be used to convey any and all thought – then the answer is no. Let us call the Ice Age signs and other forms of partial writing “proto-writing”. Endless varieties of “proto-writing” exist, coming from all periods, including our own age.


B.  Tallies: Tallies are among the oldest types of proto-writing, Ice age bones have been discovered bearing series of neat notches. Microscopic examination suggests that the notches were made with various tools over a period of time. A plausible explanation is that the bones are lunar notations: by keeping track of the phase of the moon, Ice Age humans created useful calendars.


C.   Inca Quipus: The Inca civilisation is a celebrated exception to the general picture which emerges, of empires requiring writing. There is no script of the Incas, unlike the Aztecs and the Maya. [Crack IELTS with Rob] Instead, a knotted arrangement of rope and cords called a “quipu” kept track of the movement of goods in the Inca empire, Quipus were the sole bureaucratic recording device of the Incas; it was the job of the “quipucamayocs”, or knot keepers, in each town, to tie and interpret the knot records. The system worked well, and was retained for some time after the arrival of the Spanish “conquistadores” in the 16th century. “Guaman Poma de Ayala” is an Inca imperial clerk with a quipu and quipu from Peru. There were many types of knot in a quipu, each type representing a value in a decimal system.


D.   Amerindian Pictograms: The above pictograms were “written” in 1883 by the chief of the Oglala Sioux, at the behest of the US Indian agent in Dakota Territory. They list warriors. Their names are given by the signs above their heads, for instance, the Bear-Spares-Him, Iron-Hawk, Red-Horn-Bull, charging-Hawk, Wears-the-feature, and Red-Crow. There are also very few examples of pictographic “letters” sent by American Indian. Quote marks around the word letter are necessary because the “letters” are not true letters: they are more like secrete code letters that can be understood only by those “in the know”.


E.   This letter was the work of a Cheyenne man called Turtle-Following-His-Wife and was addressed to his son Little-Man. It said that he was sending his son $53 represented by 53 little circles and asking him to return home. [Crack IELTS with Rob] The letter was mailed by Turtle-Following-His-Wife, but the money was given to Agent Dyer with an explanation of the letter’s meaning. Dyer sent the money and a covering explanation to Agent McGillycuddy so that the agent was able to hand over the money to Little-man on presentation of his father’s letter. Presumably, father and son had agreed on a letter in a similar style before the son had gone away from his father.


F.   Other Pictographs: Siberian Love Letter: A glance tells us that we cannot make much sense of this document, simply by studying its constituent shapes and interrelationships. The explanation is as follows. The conifer-shaped objects represent people. Conifer c is the writer (female), conifer b the addressee (male), who was formerly the writer’s lover but is now living with conifer a, a Russian woman, away from the Yukaghir village. This has naturally disrupted the relationship between the writer and the addressee, hence the line x from the head of the Russian woman which cuts through the line joining b and c. But the a-b manage is a stormy one, and the writer is unhappy alone in her house; she is still thinking of the addressee.


G.   It is a charming design, once explained, which was, not surprisingly, seduced many willing scholars into thinking it a true letter, an example of language-free pictographic communication. [Crack IELTS with Rob] But this is a fallacy. A recent careful investigation of original Russian sources has revealed that the “letter” was really a sort of Yukaghir party game with songs, cut into birchbark by a love-lorn girl. As she carved, other young Yukaghir would gather round, banter with her, and try to guess the meaning. This was made much easier by the fact that everyone knew each other. The “letter” was never designed to be sent; its contents were conveyed orally to the addressee, either by the girl herself or by someone else.


H.   Clay Tokens: Excavation in the middle east has yielded, besides clay tablets, large numbers of small, nondescript clay objects. According to the stratigraphy of the excavations, the objects date from 8000 BC to as late as 1500 BC, though the number of finds dated after 3000 BC tails off. No one knows their purpose for sure. The most probable explanation is that they were counting units I accountancy. Different shapes could have been used for different entities, such as a sheep from a flock, or a specified measure of a certain product such as a bushel of grain. [Crack IELTS with Rob] The number and variety of shapes could have been extended so that no one object of a particular shape could stand for, ten sheep or a hundred sheep, or black sheep as opposed to white ones.


I.   Clay Envelopes: The most interesting finds of clay tokens are those in which the tokens have been enclosed in a clay envelope, generally shaped as a ball and known as a “bulla”, the outer surface has been sealed, and impressions have been made in its surface, which sometimes correspond to the contents. There are some 80 bullae known to exist with tokens intact: picked up and shaken, they rattle; X-rayed, they reveal the outlines of tokens within. A few bullae have been opened, while others have been found broken during excavation and the contents dispersed without proper records. But despite the limited evidence, certain conclusions can be drawn.


Questions 1 - 7

Matching the information below.

Use the information in the passage to match the type of proto-writing with correct information each contains below.

Write the appropriate letters A-D in boxes on your answer sheet.

NB   You may use any letter more than once


A       Tallies

B       Inca Quipus

C       Amerindian Pictograms

D       Other Pictographs


  • 1.  Operation of trained worker.

  • 2.  Music and songs.

  • 3.  Knowledge of nature.

  • 4.  The writing of correspondence.

  • 5.  Record of numbers.

  • 6.  Family relationship.

  • 7.  Courtship and romantic story.


Questions 8 - 13

Do the following statements agree with the information given in Reading Passage 1?

In boxes 8-13 on your answer sheet, write


TRUE                 if the statement is true

FALSE                if the statement is false

NOT GIVEN        if the information is not given in the passage


  • 8.  There is still no satisfying answer about when and where human’s writing started.

  • 9.  Inca Quipus were recorded in the field of buying and selling.

  • 10.  Inca Empire has more advanced writing system than Aztecs and Maya.

  • 11.  Inca Quipus were handled by a group of special workers to record.

  • 12.  Not only pictogram expert investigated pictograms but people from other field participatedAmerindian pictogram research.

  • 13.  During excavation, researchers found that most clay envelopes were preserved well.





Please click the red words below for other Sections of this Mock Test:

Mock Test 2 | Listening Test
Mock Test 2 | Academic Reading Passage 2
Mock Test 2 | Academic Reading Passage 3


Result: / Exit

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