IELTS Short Answer Questions: Reading Practice

IELTS short answer questions for reading require you to locate answers in the passage. Skim read the passage and then spend time preparing the questions. Pay attention to question words which will help you understand what type of words you need for your answer. The answers for short answer questions always come in order in the passage. This is a reading practice lesson created for IELTS students.

The History of Easter Eggs

Easter eggs, also called Paschal eggs, are special eggs that are often given to celebrate Easter or springtime. The practice of decorating eggshell is ancient. Ostrich eggs with engraved decoration that are 60,000 years old have been found in Africa. In Europe, it was traditional to use dyed and painted chicken eggs at Easter, but a modern custom is to substitute chocolate eggs, or plastic eggs filled with confectionery such as jelly beans.

easter egg reading practice

Easter eggs are a widely popular symbol of new life in Bulgaria, Poland, Romania, Russia, Ukraine, and other Central European countries where they are concealed in the garden for children to find. Eggs, in general, were a traditional symbol of fertility and rebirth. Some magic rituals, these days, often use eggs to promote fertility and restore virility (of the body and mind); and to foresee the future.

Questions 1-3

Answer the questions below. Choose no more than two words from the passage for each answer.

  1.  What is another name for Easter Eggs?
  2. What type of eggs were formerly used at Easter  in Europe?
  3. What did eggs represent on the whole?


Click below to reveal the answers.

  1. Paschal eggs (No capital letters are needed in IELTS listening.)
  2. chicken eggs
  3. fertility   rebirth (no “and” is needed as you can have only two words as your answer)
Vocab Builder
  •  another name = also called
  • oldest tradition = many generations ago
  • in general = on the whole
  • were a symbol of = represent

All reading exercises on have been written by myself to help you prepare for your IELTS test.   




IELTS Listening: Section 4 Practice

The listening exercise below is based on section 4 of IELTS listening and this particular exercise focuses on short answer questions. Read through the tips below before you start to listen.

Section 4 Tips
  • Section 4 is an academic talk by one speaker
  • Academic lectures are usually structured (introduction, main points, examples etc)
  • Notice when the speaker moves from one main point to another
  • Follow the structure of the talk to keep your place in the audio
  • Academic talks contain academic vocabulary
  • Don’t try to understand everything
  • Focus on listening for answers only
  • Predict the type of answer you need to listen for
  • Listen out for paraphrases
  • For this type of question type, answers will come in order
  • Make notes as you listen
  • Section 4 usually has 10 questions – this is a practice exercise

When you finish your listening practice, listening again and read the transcript at the same time. Answers are given below.

Section 4 Practice

Questions 1-5
Write no more than three words and/or a number.

Dolphin Intelligence

1. The lecture will concentrate on tools, communication, sonar and what other aspect of dolphin intelligence?
2. How big is the brain of the bottle-nosed dolphin?
3. What other species use tools?
4. What can dolphins copy from other species?
5. Can dolphins see out of the water?
6. What does a dolphin hear through?

Today I’m going to talk to you about dolphin intelligence and in particular their use of tools, methods of communication, sonar and also their sensory capacity.
But first let’s look at how the dolphin brain compares to the brains of other species in terms of size. The largest brain in the world belongs to the sperm whale. Weighing some 9,000 grams, it is six to seven times larger than the human brain. The second largest brain in the world is the killer whale (or orca) at 6,000 grams. The next largest brain among the marine mammals is the bottlenosed dolphin at 1,500 grams, followed by human brains at approximately 1,200 grams. Strong connections between the sensorial and motive areas of a dolphin’s brain to the body indicate that it is very much sensitive to pain and stress.
Looking at the way dolphin’s use tools, while many believe that primates, such as chimpanzees, are the only species who use tools for activities, dolphins studied in the wild have been seen using sea sponges to protect their snouts from getting scratches as they scavenge for food on the ocean floor. Dependent calves, young baby dophins, are also provided with sponges from their mothers, as research in the wild has seen infant dolphins wearing tiny sponges on their snouts while swimming close to their mothers.
With regards to dolphin communication, dolphins utilize “signature whistles” to identify themselves to others. In other words, these whistles can be seen as representing their names. Furthermore, dolphins also mimic movements, of both humans and other animals.
Another interesting point about dolphins is of course their sonar. It has been suggested by several noted scientists that dolphins may be able to create acoustical holographic images from the interlacing of their sonic output. It is well known that dolphins can see inside the bodies of their fellow dolphins, and other animals in the water. This is because dolphin sonar evolved to pass through water and does not reflect until it hits something like bone or air sacs. Since animal bodies are more than 50% water, their sonar enables them to literally “see” inside other animals.
And finally, dolphins have fantastic sensory capacity. They have the ability to focus their eyesight due to the curvy characteristics of their lenses, thus they are able to see both in and out of water. Moreover, dolphins have little more than a small hole for hearing, as having larger ears would severely affect the creature’s ability to swim. Rather, studies show that sounds are obtained through tiny bones, and then are transferred to the inner ear through the fatty material that surrounds the eardrum. Adapted from here.
1. sensory capacity
2. 1500 grams / 1500g
3. primates / chimpanzees
4. movements
5. yes
6. a small hole / small hole
  • capacity = ability
  • indicate = show / point to
  • primate = monkey
  • snouts = noses (for dolphins and pigs)
  • scavenge = hunt / forage
  • infant = new born / child
  • mimic = copy



More Short Answer Questions Practice
More Section 4 Practice

Short Answer Questions: IELTS Listening Practice

Short Answer Questions

Read through the questions before you listen to the audio. Predict the type of answer you need to listen for and underline any key words that might help you find the answer. Also prepare paraphrases as this is the key to IELTS.

Dashwood Sports Center

Questions 1-5
Write no more than two words and/or a number.

1. What time does the center open?
2. What kind of sports equipment does it sell?
3. How long do you have to return faulty items?
4. Who can give advice?
5. What time does it close on Tuesdays?

So let me show you round our Sports Center. As you can see, it is set in lovely grounds where you can find outdoor tennis courts as well as a swimming pool. The center itself opens daily at 9am and closes at 6pm. To the right here you can see the reception where you can book courts and find more information about the sports center. Further along to the right, just after the reception room, you will find the restaurant which opens at 11am and serves brunch, lunch and light snacks in the afternoon before it closes at 4pm. To the left, opposite the reception, there’s a small shop which sells sports equipment. I’m afraid it’s rather pricy but the quality is excellent as it sells only professional equipment. If you do decide to treat yourself to something, make sure you check it as soon as you get home as you’ll only have three days to get a refund if there’s anything wrong with it. If you go straight ahead, you’ll come to our advice desk. Now it’s only open for a short time each day around lunch time when one of our ex-pros, John Roberts, comes to give help to anyone who needs it. Oh and before I let you go to have a look around on your own, I just have to mention that on Tuesdays we have late night opening until 9pm. Well, that’s all. I hope you enjoy your time here and if you need me at all you can find me in reception.

1. 9am
2. professional / professional equipment
‘…there’s a small shop which sells sports equipment. I’m afraid it’s rather pricy but the quality is excellent as it sells only professional equipment.’
3. 3 days
‘…you’ll only have three days to get a refund if there’s anything wrong with it.’ (faultly = anything wrong with it)
4. John Roberts (capital letters not needed)
5. 9pm
‘…on Tuesdays we have late night opening until 9pm’. This question was a trap because a closing time was given at the beginning of the audio but you can’t answer question 5 before question 2, so you need to wait for another answer to come. Also the information at the beginning was about a daily closing time not specifically on Tuesdays. This is a very common trap in IELTS.



More Short Answer Question Listening Practice, click here

IELTS Listening: Short Answer Questions

Prepare the questions below by underlining keywords and paraphrasing before you listen to the recording.

Reading City Travel Information

Questions 1-3

Answer using no more than two words and/or a number.

1. How long is the journey from Heathrow to Reading by express bus?
2. On the intercity from Paddington, which stop is Reading?
3. How long is the train journey from London to Reading?


  1. AN HOUR
    The length of time is given “it takes….”. It is common to be given two numbers in the same sentence – one number is the length and the other number is the frequency – pay attention to that and don’t get confused. The word “about” can’t be used due to the word limit.
  3. 30 MINS / 30 MINUTES (it is best to write numbers as digits rather than words – this avoids spelling mistakes which can cause you to lose a point)
There are a number of ways to get to Reading if that is your destination. If you are arriving by air the nearest airport is Heathrow and from there you can take the Railair express bus which runs every 20 mins and takes about an hour. Another London airport near Reading is Gatwick which is about 50 mins away by car or you could take the hourly train from the South Terminal which takes about 75mins. From London, you should travel from London Paddington station if you want to get to Reading and catch an intercity train. You should get off at the first stop. There are several trains running each hour and the travel time is about 30mins. ( information from wiki)

You notice that I use all capital letters when I write my answers – this is the best way to write your answers for both reading and listening. See the IELTS Exam FAQ page for more information about IELTS


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