Main Menu Top Menu


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


Brunel: ‘The Practical Prophet’


In the frontispiece of his book on Brunel, Peter Hay quotes from Nicholson’s British Encyclopaedia of 1909 as follows: ‘Engineers are extremely necessary for these purposes; wherefore it is requisite that, besides being ingenious, they should be brave in proportion.’ His father, Sir Marc Isambard Brunel (1769-1849), was himself a famous engineer, of French parents. He eventually settled in Britain and married the Sophia Kingdom, an English woman whom he had known in France in earlier days. Their only son Isambard was born on 9 April 1806. He was sent to France at the age of 14 to study mathematics and science and was 16 when he returned to England to work with his father. Sir Marc was then building his famous tunnel under the River Thames. Isambard was recuperating near Bristol from injuries received in a tunnel cave-in when he became involved with his own first major project.

–The Suspension Bridge ion the Avon Gorge


The span of Brunel’s bridge was over 700ft, longer than any existing when it was designed, and the height above water about 245ft. The technical challenges of this engineering project were immense, and Brunel dealt with them with his usual, thoroughness and ingenuity. Two design competitions were held, and the great bridge designer Thomas Telford was the committee’s expert. Brunel presented four designs. He went beyond technicalities to include arguments based on, among other things, the grace of his tower design. Unfortunately, he only got so far as to put up the end piers in his lifetime. The Clifton Suspension Bridge was completed in his honor by his engineering friends in1864 and is still in use.

The Great Western Railway


While Brunel was still in Bristol, and with the Avon Bridge project stopped or going slowly, he became aware that the civic authorities saw the need for a railway link to London. Railway location was controversial since private landowners and towns had to be dealt with. Mainly, the landed gentry did not want a messy, noisy railway anywhere near them. The Duke of Wellington (of Waterloo fame) was certainly against it. Again Brunel showed great skill in presenting his arguments to the various committees and individuals. BruneI built his railway with a broad gauge (7ft) instead of the standard 4ft 8½in, which had been used for lines already installed. There is no doubt that the broad gauge gave superior ride and stability, but it was fighting a standard.

Atmospheric railway:


Brunel’s ready acceptance of new ideas overpowered good engineering judgment (at least in hindsight) when he advocated the installation of an atmospheric railway in South Devon. It had the great attraction of doing away with the locomotive and potentially could deal with steeper gradients. Since this connecting arm had to run along the slit, it had to be opened through a flap as the train progressed, but closed airtight behind it. Materials were not up to it, and this arrangement was troublesome and expensive to keep in repair. After a year of frustration, the system was abandoned. Brunel admitted his failure and took responsibility. He also took no fee for his work, setting a good professional example.

Brunel’s ships:


The idea of using steam to power ships to cross the ocean appealed to Brunel. When his GWR company directors complained about the great length of their railway (it was only about 100 miles), Isambard jokingly suggested that they could even make it longer—why not go all the way to New York and call the link the Great Western. The “Great Western” was the first steamship to engage in transatlantic service. Brunel formed the Great Western Steamship Company and construction started on the ship in Bristol in 1836. Built of wood and 236ft long, the Great Western was launched in 1837 and powered by sail and paddlewheels. The first trip to New York took just 15 days, and 14 days to return. This was a great success, a one way trip under sail would take more than a month. The Great Western was the firsts steamship to engage in transatlantic service and made 74 crossings to New York.


Having done so well with the Great Western, Brunel immediately got to work on an even bigger ship. Great Britain was made of iron and also built-in Bristol, 322ft in length. The initial design was for the ship to be driven by paddle wheels, but Brunel had seen one of the first propeller-driven ships to arrive in Britain, and he abandoned his plans for paddlewheel propulsion. The ship was launched in 1843 and was the first screw-driven iron ship to cross the Atlantic. Great Britain ran aground early in its career but was repaired, sold, and sailed for years to Australia, and other parts of the world, setting the standard for ocean travel. In the early 1970s, the old ship was rescued from the Falklands and is now under restoration in Bristol.


Conventional wisdom in Brunel’s day was that steamships could not carry enough coal to make long ocean voyages. But he correctly figured out that this was a case where size mattered. He set out to design the biggest ship ever, five times larger than any ship built up to that time. Big enough to carry fuel to get to Australia without refueling, in addition, it would carry 4,000 passengers.

The Great Eastern was 692ft long, with a displacement of about 32,000 tons. Construction began in 1854 on the Thames at Millwall. Brunel had chosen John Scott Russell to build the ship. He was a well-established engineer and naval architect, but the contract did not go well. Among other things, Scott Russell was very low in his estimates and money was soon a problem. Construction came to a standstill in 1856 and Brunel himself had to take over the work. But Brunel was nothing if not determined and by September 1859, after a delayed and problem -ridden  launch,  the Great Eastern was ready for the maiden voyage, Brunei was too sick to go, but it was just as well because only a few hours out there was an explosion in the engine room which would have destroyed a lesser ship. Brunel died within a week or so of the accident. The great ship never carried 4,000 passengers (among other things, the Suez Canal came along) and although it made several transatlantic crossings, it was not a financial success. Shortly after the Great Eastern began working life, the American entrepreneur Cyrus Field and his backers were looking for a ship big enough to carry 5,000 tons of telegraphic cable, which was to be laid on the ocean floor from Ireland to Newfoundland. Although Brunel did not have it in mind, the Great Eastern was an excellent vessel for this work on July 27, 1866. It successfully completed the connection and a hundred years of transatlantic communication by cable began. The ship continued this career for several years, used for laying cables in many parts of the world.




Questions 1-6

Use the information in the passage to match the project Brunel did (listed A-G) with opinions or deeds below.

Write the appropriate letters A-G, in boxes 1-6 on your answer sheet.

A    River Thames Tunnel

B    Clifton Suspension Bridge

C    Atmospheric Railway

D    Great Britain

E    The Great Western

F    Great Western Railway

G    The Great Eastern


1   The project of construction that I.K.Brunel was not responsible for.

2   The project had stopped due to inconvenience and high maintaining cost.

3   The project was honored to yet not completed by Brunel himself.

4   The project had a budget problem although built by a famous engineer.

5   Serious problem happened and delayed repeatedly.

6   The first one to cross the Atlantic Ocean in mankind history.



Questions 7-9

The reading Passage has seven paragraphs A-G.

Which paragraph contains the following information?

Write the correct letter A-G, in boxes 7-9 on your answer sheet

NB  You may use any letter more than once.


7   There was a great ship setting the criteria for the journey of the ocean.

8   An ambitious project which seemed to be applied in an unplanned service later.

9   Brunel showed his talent of inter-personal skills with landlords and finally, the project had been gone through.



Questions 10-13

Complete the following summary of the paragraphs of Reading Passage

Using NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS from the Reading Passage for each answer.

Write your answers in boxes 10-13 on your answer sheet.


The Great Eastern was specially designed with a 10……………….. for carrying more fuels and was to take a long voyage to 11………………..; However due to physical condition, Brunel couldn’t be able to go with the maiden voyage. Actually, the Great Eastern was unprofitable and the great ship never crossed 12……………….. But soon after there was an ironic opportunity for the Great Eastern which was used to carry and to lay huge 13……………….. in Atlantic Ocean floor.




You should spend about 20 minutes on Questions 14-26 which are based on Reading Passage 2 below. 

The Farmers! parade of history


History of Fanner trading company: In 1909 Robert Laidlaw establishes mail-order company Laidlaw Leeds in Fort Street, Auckland. Then, Branch expansion: purchase of Green and Colebrook chain store; further provincial stores in Auckland and Waikato to follow. Opening of first furniture and boot factory. In 1920, Company now has 29 branches; Whangarei store purchased. Doors open at Hobson Street for direct selling to public. The firm establishes London and New York buying offices. With permission from the Harbour Board, the large FARMERS electric sign on the Wyndham Street frontage is erected.


In 1935, if the merchandise has changed, the language of the catalogues hasn’t Robert Laidlaw, the Scottish immigrant who established die century-old business, might have been scripting a modern-day television commercial when he told his earliest customers: Satisfaction, or your money back. “It was the first money back guarantee ever offered in New Zealand by any firm,” says Ian Hunter, business historian. “And his mission statement was, potentially, only the second one ever found in the world.” Laidlaw’s stated aims were simple to build the greatest business in New Zealand, to simplify every transaction, to eliminate all delays, to only sell goods it would pay the customer to buy.


This year, the company that began as a mail-order business and now employs 3500 staff across 58 stores turns 100. Its centenary will be celebrated with the release of a book and major community fundraising projects, to be announced next week. Hunter, who is writing the centenary history, says “coming to a Fanners store once a week was a part of the New Zealand way of life”. By 1960, one in every 10 people had an account with die company. It was the place where teenage girls shopped for their first bra, where newlyweds purchased their first dinner sets, where first pay cheques were used to pay off hire purchase furniture, where Santa paraded every Christmas.


Gary Blumenthal’s mother shopped there, and so does he. The fondest memory for the Rotorua resident? “We were on holiday in Auckland… I decided that upon the lookout tower on top of the Farmers building would be a unique place to fit the ring on my new fiancee’s finger.” The lovebirds, who had to wait for “an annoying youth” to leave the tower before they could enjoy their engagement kiss, celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary in June.


Farmers, says Hunter, has always had a heart. This, from a 1993 North & South interview with a former board chairman, Rawdon Busfield: “One day I was in the Hobson Street shop and I saw a woman with two small children. They were clean and tidily dressed, but poor, you could tell. That week we had a special on a big bar of chocolate for one shilling. I heard the woman say to her boy, ‘no, your penny won’t buy that’. He wasn’t wearing shoes. So I went up to the boy said,’ Son, have you got your penny? ‘He handed it to me. It was hot he’d had it in his hand for hours. I took the penny and gave him the chocolate.”


Farmers was once the home of genteel tearooms, children’s playgrounds and an annual sale of celebration for birthday of Hector the Parrot (the store mascot died, aged 131, in the 1970s his stuffed remains still occupy pride of place at the company’s head office). You could buy houses from Farmers. Its saddle factory supplied the armed forces, and its upright grand overstrung pianos offered “the acme of value” according to those early catalogues hand-drawn by Robert Laidlaw himself. Walk through a Farmers store today and get hit by bright lights and big brands. Its Albany branch houses 16 international cosmetics companies. It buys from approximately 500 suppliers, and about 30% of those are locally owned.


“Eight, 10 years ago,” says current chief executive Rod McDermott, “lots of brands wouldn’t partner with us. The stores were quite distressed. We were first price point focused, we weren’t fashion focused. “Remove the rose-tinted nostalgia, and Farmers is, quite simply, a business, doing business in hard times. Dancing with the Stars presenter Candy Lane launches a clothing line? “We put a trial on, and we thought it was really lovely, but the uptake wasn’t what we thought it would be. It’s got to be what the customer wants,” says McDermott.


He acknowledges retailers suffer in a recession: “We’re celebrating 100 years because we can and because we should.” Farmers almost didn’t pull through one economic crisis. By the mid 1980s, it had stores across the country. It had acquired the South Island’s Calder Mackay chain of stores and bought out Haywrights. Then, with sales topping $375 million, it was taken over by Chase Corporation. Lincoln Laidlaw, now aged 88, and the son of the company’s founder, remembers the dark days following the stock market crash and the collapse of Chase. “I think, once, Farmers was like a big family and all of the people who worked for it felt they were building something which would ultimately be to their benefit and to the benefit of New Zealand… then the business was being divided up and so that kind of family situation was dispelled and it hasn’t been recovered.” For a turbulent few years, the stores were controlled, first by a consortium of Australian banks and later Deka, the Maori Development Corporation and Foodland Associated Ltd. In 2003, it went back to “family” ownership, with the purchase by the James Pascoe Group, owned by David and Anne Norman the latter being the great-granddaughter of James Pascoe, whose first business interest was jewellery.


“Sheer power of the brand,” says McDermott, “pulled Farmers through and now we’re becoming the brand it used to be again.” Farmers was the company that, during World War n, topped up the wages of any staff member disadvantaged by overseas service. Robert Laidlaw a committed Christian who came to his faith at a 1902 evangelistic service in Dunedin concluded his original mission statement with the words, “all at it, always at it, wins success”. Next week, 58 Farmers stores across the country will announce the local charities they will raise funds for in their centenary celebration everything from guide dog services to hospices to volunteer fire brigades will benefit. Every dollar raised by the community will be matched by the company. “It’s like the rebirth of an icon,” says McDermott.



Questions 14-18

The reading Passage has seven paragraphs A-I

Which paragraph contains the following information?

Write the correct letter A-I, in boxes 15-18 on your answer sheet.


14    Generosity offered in an occasion.

15    Innovation of offer made by the head of company.

16    Fashion was not its strong point.

17    A romantic event on the roof of farmers.

18    Farmers were sold to a private owned company.



Questions 19-23

Complete the sentence below.

Complete the following summary of the paragraphs of Reading Passage

Using NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS from the Reading Passage for each answer.

Write your answers in boxes 19-23 on your answer sheet.


19    Farmers was first founded as a……………………… in Auckland by Mr Laidlaw.

20    Farmers developed fast and bought one……………………… then.

21    During oversea expansion, Farmers set up……………………… in cities such as London.

22    Farmers held a……………………… once a year for the well-known parrot.

23    In the opinion of Lincoln Laidlaw, Farmers is like a ______for employees, not just for themselves but for the whole country.



Questions 24-26

Use the information in the passage to match the people (listed A-C) with opinions or deeds below.

Write the appropriate letters A-C in boxes 24-26 on your answer sheet.

NB  You may use any letter more than once.

A    Lincoln Laidlaw

B    Rod McDermott

C    Ian Hunter

24      Product became worse as wrong aspect focused.

25      An unprecedented statement made by Farmers in New Zealand.

26      Character of the company was changed.





You should spend about 20 minutes on Questions 27-40 which are based on Reading Passage 3 below.


Nature works for Nature WorksTM PLA


A dozen years ago, scientists at Cargill got the idea of converting lactic acid made from corn into plastic while examining possible new uses for materials produced from corn wet milling processes. In the past, several efforts had been made to develop plastics from lactic acid, but with limited success. Achieving this technological breakthrough didn’t come easily, but in time the efforts did succeed. A fermentation and distillation process using com was designed to create a polymer suitable for a broad variety of applications.


As an agricultural based firm, Cargill had taken this product as far as it could by 1997. The company needed a partner with access to plastics markets and polymerization capabilities, and began discussions with The Dow Chemical Company. The next step was the formation of the joint venture that created Cargill Dow LLC. Cargill Dow’s product is the world’s first commercially available plastic made from annually renewable resources such as com:

  • Nature Works™ PLA is a family of packaging polymers (carbon-based molecules) made from non-petroleum based resources.
  • Ingeo is a family of polymers for fibers made in a similar manner.


By applying their unique technology to the processing of natural plant sugars, Cargill Dow has created a more environmentally friendly material that reaches the consumer in clothes, cups, packaging and other products. While Cargill Dow is a stand-alone business, it continues to leverage the agricultural processing, manufacturing and polymer expertise of the two parent companies in order to bring the best possible products to market.


The basic raw materials for PLA are carbon dioxide and water. Growing plants, like com, take these building blocks from the atmosphere and the soil. They are combined in the plant to make carbohydrates (sucrose and starch) through a process driven by photosynthesis. The process for making Nature Works PLA begins when a renewable resource such as corn is milled, separating starch from the raw material. Unrefined dextrose, in turn, is processed from the starch.


Cargill Dow turns the unrefined dextrose into lactic acid using a fermentation process similar to that used by beer and wine producers. This is the same lactic acid that is used as a food additive and is found in muscle tissue in the human body. Through a special condensation process, a lactide is formed. This lactide is purified through vacuum distillation and becomes a polymer (the base for NatureWorks PLA) that is ready for use through a solvent-free melt process. Development of this new technology allows the company to “harvest” the carbon that living plants remove from the air through photosynthesis. Carbon is stored in plant starches, which can be broken down into natural plant sugars. The carbon and other elements in these natural sugars are then used to make NatureWorks PLA.


Nature Works PLA fits all disposal systems and is fully compostable in commercial composting facilities. With the proper infrastructure, products made from this polymer can be recycled back to a monomer and re-used as a polymer. Thus, at the end of its life cycle, a product made from Nature Works PLA can be broken down into its simplest parts so that no sign of it remains.


PLA is now actively competing with traditional materials in packaging and fiber applications throughout the world; based on the technology’s success and promise, Cargill Dow is quickly becoming a premier player in the polymers market. This new polymer now competes head-on with petroleum-based materials like polyester. A wide range of products that vary in molecular weight and crystallinity can be produced, and the blend of physical properties of PLA makes it suited for a broad range of fiber and packaging applications. Fiber and non-woven applications include clothing, fiberfill, blankets and wipes. Packaging applications include packaging films and food and beverage containers.


As Nature Works PLA polymers are more oil- and grease-resistant and provide a better flavor and aroma barrier than existing petroleum-based polymers, grocery retailers are increasingly using this packaging for their fresh foods. As companies begin to explore this family of polymers, more potential applications are being identified. For example, PLA possess two properties that are particularly useful for drape fabrics and window furnishings. Their resistance to ultraviolet light is particularly appealing as this reduces the amount of fading in such fabrics, and their refractive index is low, which means fabrics constructed from these polymers can be made with deep colors without requiring large amounts of dye. In addition, sportswear makers have been drawn to the product as it has an inherent ability to take moisture away from the skin and when blended with cotton and wool, the result is garments that are lighter and better at absorbing moisture.


PLA combines inexpensive large-scale fermentation with chemical processing to produce a value-added polymer product that improves the environment as well. The source material for PLA is a natural sugar found in plants such as com and using such renewable feedstock presents several environmental benefits. As an alternative to traditional petroleum-based polymers, the production of PLA uses 20%-50% less fossil fuel and releases a lower amount of greenhouse gasses than comparable petroleum-based plastic; carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is removed when the feedstock is grown and is returned to the earth when the polymer is degraded. Because the company is using raw materials that can be regenerated year after year, it is both cost-competitive and environmentally responsible.





Questions 27-30

Write the letters A-F in boxes 27-30 on your answer sheet.

27   scientists manage to

28   Cargill needs to have contacts with

29   Nature work is used for

30   Ingeo is used to

A     make things like clothes

B     produce plastic from plant

C     selling plastic in market

D     fermentation process

E     drape fabrics

F     wrapping products



Questions 31-34

Complete the following summary of the paragraphs of Reading Passage.

Using NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS from the Reading Passage for each answer.

Write your answers in boxes 31-34 on your answer sheet.

Process: the production of PLA





Questions 35-40

Choose the correct letter, ABC or D.

Write your answers in boxes 35-40 on your answer sheet.


35   Why did choose the PLA as material for food packaging?

A   It smells good

B   It can save food freshness

  It can be used on other materials

D   Some other things need to be revised about it.


36   What is PLA packaging is used for?

A   absorbing moisture

B   composting facilities

  Packaging fresh food

D   manufacturing


37-38   Which two features of PLA are correct?

A   It takes in moisture of skin

B   It is waterproof

  comfortable sportswear

D   It’s fading under the sun

E   It is only made in deep color


39-40   Which two features of PLA are correct?

A   It is made of renewable raw materials

B   It involves the removal of carbon dioxide

  It is no use of fossil fuel product

D   It uses renewable raw resources

E   It is sustenance which can absorb the CO2 in the atmosphere