Main Menu Top Menu


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

Isambard Kingdom Brunel


Isambard Kingdom Brunel was born on 9 April 1806 in Portsmouth. His father Mark was a French engineer who had fled France during the Revolution. Brunel was educated both in England and in France. When he returned to England he went to work for his father. Brunel’s first notable achievement was the part he played with his father in planning the Thames Tunnel from Rotherhithe to Wapping completed in 1843. In 1831 Brunel’s designs won the competition for the Clifton Suspension Bridge across the River Avon. Construction began the same year but it was not completed until 1864.

The work for which Brunel is probably best remembered is his construction of a network of tunnels, bridges and viaducts for the Great Western Railway. In 1833, he was appointed chief engineer of the Great Western Railway, one of the wonders of Victorian Britain, running from London to Bristol and later Exeter. At that time, Brunel made two controversial decisions: to use a broad gauge of 2,140 mm for the track, which he believed would offer superior running at high speeds; and to take a route that passed north of the Marlborough Downs, an area with no significant towns, though it offered potential connections to Oxford and Gloucester and then to follow the Thames Valley into London. His decision to use board gauge for the line was controversial in that almost all British railways to date had used standard gauge. Brunel said that this was nothing more than a carry-over from the mine railways that George Stephenson had worked on prior to making the world’s first passenger railway. Brunel worked out through mathematics and a series of trials that his broader gauge was the optimum railway size for providing stability and a comfortable ride to passengers, in addition to allowing for bigger carriages and more freight capacity. He surveyed the entire length of the route between London and Bristol himself. Drawing on his experience, the Great Western contained a series of impressive achievements – soaring viaducts, specially designed stations, and vast tunnels including the famous Box Tunnel, which was the longest railway tunnel in the world at that time.

Many difficulties were met with and overcome. The Brent Valley, the Thames at Maidenhead and the hill at Sonning between Twyford and Reading had to be crossed on the stretch of track that was to be laid from London to Reading. Brent Valley was crossed by a 960 ft. long viaduct, costing £40,000. Where the railway had to cross the Thames, Brunel built a brick bridge with two main spans of 128 ft. with a rise of only 2412 ft., and the elliptical spans of Maidenhead Bridge are probably the most remarkable over constructed in brickwork. The high ground between Twyford and Reading necessitated a two-mines cutting, sometimes of 60 ft. in depth.

Brunel’s solo engineering feats also started with bridges. And he perhaps best remembered for the Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol. Spanning over 700 ft. (213m), and nominally 200 ft. (61m) above the River Avon, it had the longest span of any bridge in the world at the time of construction. Brunel submitted four designs to a committee headed by Thomas Telford and gained approval to commence with the project. Afterwards, Brunel wrote to his brother-in-law, the politician Benjamin Hawes: “Of all the wonderful feats I have performed, since I have been in this part of the world, I think yesterday I performed the most wonderful. I produced unanimity among 15 men who were all quarrelling about that most ticklish subject –taste.” He did not live to see it built, although his colleagues and admires at the Institution of Civil Engineers felt the bridge would be a fitting memorial, and started to raise new funds and to amend the design. Work started in 1862 and was completed in 1864, five years after Brunel’s death.

Even before the Great Western Railway was opened, Brunel was moving on to his next project: transatlantic shipping. He used his prestige to convince his railway company employers to build the Great Western, at the time by far the largest steamship in the world, and the much longer the Great Eastern, fitted out with the most luxurious appointments and capable of carrying over 4,000 passengers.

The Great Eastern was designed to be able to cruise under her own power nonstop from London to Sydney and back since engineers of the time were under the misapprehension that Australia had no coal reserves, and she remained the largest ship built until the turn of the century. Like many of Brunel’s ambitious projects, the ship soon ran over budget and behind schedule in the face of a series of momentous technical problems. She has been portrayed as a white elephant, but it can be argued that in this case Brunel’s failure was principally one of economics – his ships were simply years ahead of their time. His vision and engineering innovations made the building of large-scale, screw-driven, all-metal steamships a practical reality, but the prevailing economic and industrial conditions meant that it would be several decades before transoceanic steam-ship travel emerged as a viable industry. Great Eastern was built at John Scott Russell’s Napier Yard in London, and after two trial trips in 1859, set forth on her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York on 17 June 1860.

Though a failure at her original purpose of passenger travel, she eventually found a role as an oceanic telegraph cable layer, and the Great Eastern remains one of the most important vessels in the history of shipbuilding – the Trans – Atlantic cable had been laid, which meant that Europe and America now had a telecommunications link.

Brunel died at the relatively early age of fifty-seven, had led a charmed life, for on several occasions his life was in danger. In 1838, while aboard the steamer Great Western, he fell down a ladder, and was found unconscious with his face in a pool of water. Twice he was nearly killed on the Great Western Railway; and he had yet another escape when he swallowed a half-sovereign which, after being six weeks in his windpipe, was at last extracted by means of an apparatus designed by the engineer himself. The patient was attached to an enlarged edition of a looking-glass frame and then the frame and the patient quickly inverted. After several attempts the coin fell into his mouth. While his life was in danger, public excitement was intense, so high was his place in public estimation.



Question 1-7

Classify the following statements with the corresponding project designed by Brunel.

Clifton Suspension Bridge            C

Great Eastern Steamship              E

Great Western Railway                 W

Thames Tunnel                               T


  _________ adopted broader gauge for tracks than normal.

  _________ had not been completed before the death of Brunel.

  _________ started a telecommunications link between Europe and America by the laying an underseas cable.

  _________ contained the longest railway tunnel in the world at that time.

  _________ is believed to be the first famous architectural project Brunel took part in.

  _________ was selected and modified from four of Brunel’s original designs.

  _________ was compared to a white elephant.



Question 8-13

Complete the summary of the Great Eastern.

Choose NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS from the passage for each answer.


Before the Great Western Railway was opened, Brunel convinced his railway company employers to build the Great Western. The Great Eastern was planned to be outfitted with the capability of carrying 8 _________, cruising to the destination of 9 _________ without any breaks. The project was almost considered a failure due to its limited 10 _________ and postponed 11 _________ due to technological difficulties. Despite transoceanic travel was undeveloped and had not been considered as a viable industry, Brunel’s innovation made the outdated steamships a 12 _________. And even the original concept of passenger travel was not fully implemented, the Great Eastern played a role as an 13 _________, connecting Europe with America.




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

Storytelling, From Prehistoric Craves To Modern Cinemas



It was told, we suppose, to people crouched around a fire: a tale of adventure, most likely—relating some close encounter with death: a remarkable hunt, an escape from mortal danger; a vision, or something else out of the ordinary. Whatever its thread, the weaving of this story was done with a prime purpose. The listeners must be kept listening. They must not fall asleep. So, as the story went on, its audience should be sustained by one question above all: What happens next?


The first fireside stories in human history can never be known. They were kept in the heads of those who told them. This method of storage is not necessarily inefficient. From documented oral traditions in Australia, the Balkans and other parts of the world we know that specialised storytellers and poets can recite from memory literally thousands of lines, in verse or prose, verbatim – word for word. But while memory is rightly considered an art in itself, it is clear that a primary purpose of making symbols is to have a system of reminders or mnemonic cues – signs that assist us to recall certain information in the mind’s eye.


In some Polynesian communities, a notched memory stick may help to guide a storyteller through successive stages of recitation. But in other parts of the world, the activity of storytelling historically resulted in the development or even the invention of writing systems. One theory about the arrival of literacy in ancient Greece, for example, argues that the epic tales about the Trojan War and the wanderings of Odysseus traditionally attributed to Homer were just so enchanting to hear that they had to be preserved. So the Greeks, c. 750-700BC. borrowed an alphabet from their neighbors in the eastern Mediterranean, the Phoenicians.


The custom of recording stories on parchment and other materials can be traced in many manifestations around the world, from the priestly papyrus archive of ancient Egypt to the birch-bark scrolls on which the North American Ojibway Indians set down their creation myth. It is a well-tried and universal practice: so much so that to this day storytime is probably most often associated with words on paper. The formal practice of narrating a story aloud would seem – so we assume – to have given way to newspapers, novels and comic strips. This, however, is not the case. Statistically it is doubtful that the majority of humans currently rely upon the written word to get access to stories. So what is the alternative source?


Each year, over 7 billion people will go to watch the latest offering from Hollywood. Bollywood and beyond. The supreme storyteller of today is cinema. The movies, as distinct from still photography, seem to be an essentially modern phenomenon. This is an illusion, for there are, as we shall see, certain ways in which the medium of film is indebted to very old precedents of arranging ‘sequences’ of images. But any account of visual storytelling must begin with the recognition that all storytelling beats with a deeply atavistic pulse: that is, a ‘good story’ relies upon formal patterns of plot and characterisation that have been embedded in the practice of storytelling over many generations.


Thousands of scripts arrive every week at the offices of the major film studios. But aspiring screenwriters really need look no further for essential advice than the fourth-century BC Greek Philosopher Aristotle. He left some incomplete lecture notes on the art of telling stories in various literary and dramatic modes, a slim volume known as The Poetics. Though he can never have envisaged the popcorn-fuelled actuality of a multiplex cinema, Aristotle is almost prescient about the key elements required to get the crowds flocking to such a cultural hub. He analyzed the process with cool rationalism. When a story enchants us, we lose the sense of where we are; we are drawn into the story so thoroughly that we forget it is a story being told. This is. in Aristotle’s phrase, ‘the suspension of disbelief.


We know the feeling. If ever we have stayed in our seats, stunned with grief, as the credits roll by, or for days after seeing that vivid evocation of horror have been nervous about taking a shower at home, then we have suspended disbelief. We have been caught, or captivated, in the storyteller’s wet). Did it all really happen? We really thought so for a while. Aristotle must have witnessed often enough this suspension of disbelief. He taught at Athens, the city where theater developed as a primary form of civic ritual and recreation. Two theatrical types of storytelling, tragedy and comedy, caused Athenian audiences to lose themselves in sadness and laughter respectively. Tragedy, for Aristotle, was particularly potent in its capacity to enlist and then purge the emotions of those watching the story unfold on the stage, so he tried to identify those factors in the storyteller’s art that brought about such engagement. He had, as an obvious sample for analysis, not only the fifth-century BC masterpieces of Classical Greek tragedy written by Aeschylus. Sophocles and Euripides. Beyond them stood Homer. Whose stories oven then had canonical status: The Iliad and The Odyssey were already considered literary landmarks-stories by which all other stories should be measured. So what was the secret of Homer’s narrative art?


It was not hard to find. Homer created credible heroes. His heroes belonged to the past, they were mighty and magnificent, yet they were not, in the end, fantasy figures. He made his heroes sulk, bicker, cheat and cry. They were, in short, characters – protagonists of a story that an audience would care about, would want to follow, would want to know what happens next. As Aristotle saw, the hero who shows a human side some flaw or weak-ness to which mortals are prone is intrinsically dramatic.



Questions 14-18

Reading Passage 2 has eight paragraphs, A-H.

Which paragraph contains the following information?

Write the correct letter, A-H, in boxes 14-18 on your answer sheet.


14   A misunderstanding of how people today get stories

15   The categorisation of stories

16   The fundamental aim of storytelling

17   A description of reciting stories without any assistance

18   How to make story characters attractive



Questions 19-22

Classify the following information as referring to

A   adopted the writing system from another country

B   used organic materials to record stories

C   used tools to help to tell stories

Write the correct letter, AB or C in boxes 19-22 on your answer sheet.

19   Egyptians

20   Ojibway

21   Polynesians

22   Greek



Questions 23-26

Complete the sentences below with ONE WORD ONLY from the passage.

Write your answers in boxes 23-26 on your answer sheet.


23   Aristotle wrote a book on the art of storytelling called the ________.

24   Aristotle believed the most powerful type of story to move listeners is ________.

25   Aristotle viewed Homer’s works as ________.

26   Aristotle believed attractive heroes should have some ________.






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

High speed photography



Photography gained the interest of many scientists and artists from its inception. Scientists have used photography to record and study movements, such as Eadweard Muybridge’s study of human and animal locomotion in 1887. Artists are equally interested by these aspects but also try to explore avenues other than the photo-mechanical representation of reality, such as the pictorialist movement. Military, police, and security forces use photography for surveillance, recognition and data storage. Photography is used by amateurs to preserve memories, to capture special moments, to tell stories, to send messages, and as a source of entertainment. Various technological improvements and techniques have even allowed for visualising events that are too fast or too slow for the human eye.


One of such techniques is called fast motion or professionally known as time-lapse. Time-lapse photography is the perfect technique for capturing events and movements in the natural world that occur over a timescale too slow for human perception to follow. The life cycle of a mushroom, for example, is incredibly subtle to the human eye. To present its growth in front of audiences, the principle applied is a simple one: a series of photographs are taken and used in sequence to make a moving-image film, but since each frame is taken with a lapse at a time interval between each shot, when played back at normal speed, a continuous action is produced and it appears to speed up. Put simply: we are shrinking time. Objects and events that: would normally take several minutes, days or even months can be viewed to completion in seconds having been sped up by factors of tens to millions.


Another commonly used technique is high-speed photography, the science of taking pictures of very fast phenomena. High-speed photography can be considered to be the opposite of time-lapse photography. One of the many applications is found in biology studies to study birds, bats and even spider silk. Imagine a hummingbird hovering almost completely still in the air, feeding on nectar. With every flap, its wings bend, flex and change shape. These subtle movements precisely control the lift its wings generate, making it an excellent hoverer. But a hummingbird flaps its wings up to 80 times every second. The only way to truly capture this motion is with cameras that will, in effect, slow down time. To do this, a greater length of film is taken at a high sampling frequency or frame rate, which is much faster than it will be projected on screen. When replayed at normal speed, time appears to be slowed down proportionately. That is why high-speed cameras have become such a mainstay of biology.


In common usage, high-speed photography can also refer to the use of high-speed cameras that the photograph itself may be taken in a way as to appear to freeze the motion, especially to reduce motion blur. It requires a sensor with good sensitivity and either a very good shuttering system or a very fast strobe light. The recent National Geographic footage—captured last summer during an intensive three-day shoot at the Cincinnati Zoo—is unprecedented in its clarity and detail. “I’ve watched cheetahs run for 30 years,” said Cathryn Milker, founder of the zoo’s Cat Ambassador Program. “But I saw things in that super slow-motion video that I’ve never seen before.” The slow-motion video is entrancing. Every part of the sprinting cat’s anatomy—supple limbs, rippling muscles, hyperflexible spine—works together in a symphony of speed, revealing the fluid grace of the world’s fastest land animal.


But things can’t get any more complicated in the case of filming a frog catching its prey. Frogs can snatch up prey in a few thousandths of a second—striking out with elastic tongues. Biologists would love to see how a frog’s tongue roll out, adhere to prey, and roll back into the frog’s mouth. But this all happened too fast, 50 times faster than an eye blink. So naturally people thought of using high-speed camera to capture this fantastic movement in slow motion. Yet one problem still remains—viewers would be bored if they watch the frog swim in slow motion for too long. So how to skip this? The solution is a simple one—adjust the playback speed, which is also called by some the film speed adjustment. The film will originally be shot at a high frame (often 300 frames per second, because it can be converted to much lower frame rates without major issues), but at later editing stage this high frame rate will only be preserved for the prey catching part, while the swimming part will be converted to the normal speed at 24 frames per second. Voila, the scientists can now sit back and enjoy watching without having to go through the pain of waiting.


Sometimes taking a good picture or shooting a good film is not all about technology, but patience, like in the case of bat. Bats are small, dark-colored; they fly fast and are active only at night. To capture bats on film, one must use some type of camera-tripping device. Photographers or film-makers often place camera near the bat cave, on the path of the flying bats. The camera must be hard-wired with a tripping device so that every time a bat breaks the tripping beam the camera fires and it will keep doing so through the night until the camera’s battery runs out. Though highly-advanced tripping device can now allow for unmanned shooting, it still may take several nights to get a truly high quality film.


Is it science? Is it art? Since the technique was first pioneered around two hundred years ago, photography has developed to a state where it is almost unrecognisable. Some people would even say the future of photography will be nothing like how we imagine it. No matter what future it may hold, photography will continue to develop as it has been repeatedly demonstrated in many aspects of our life that “a picture is worth a thousand words.”



Questions 27-30

Look at the following organisms (Questions 27-30) and the list of features below.

Match each organism with the correct feature, A-D.

Write the correct letter, A-D, in boxes 27-30 on your answer sheet.

27   Mushroom

28   Hummingbird

29   Frog

30   Bat

A    too fast to be perceived

B     film at the place where the animal will pass

C    too slow to be visible to human eyes

D    adjust the filming speed to make it interesting



Questions 31-35

Complete the summary below.

Choose NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS from the passage for each answer.

Write your answers in boxes 31-35 on your answer sheet.


Fast motion (professionally known as time-lapse photography) and slow motion (or high-speed photography) are two commonest techniques of photography. To present before audiences something that occurs naturally slow, photographers take each picture at a 31 ________ before another picture. When these pictures are finally shown on screen in sequence at a normal motion picture rate, audiences see a 32 ________ that is faster than what it naturally is. This technique can make audiences feel as if 33 ________ is shrunk. On the other hand, to demonstrate how fast things move, the movement is exposed on a 34 ________ of film, and then projected on screen at normal playback speed. This makes viewers feel time is 35 ________.



Questions 36-40

Reading Passage 3 has seven paragraphs, A-G.

Which paragraph contains the following information?

Write the correct letter, A-G, in boxes 36-40 on your answer sheet.


36   a description of photography’s application in various fields

37   a reference to why high-speed photography has a significant role in biology

38   a traditional wisdom that assures readers of the prospects of photography

39   a reference to how film is processed before final release

40   a description of filming shooting without human effort