Category Archives: Esl/efl Book Reviews

IELTS past papers, book 9 – where do the practice texts come from?

Those who are studying for IELTS frequently wonder where most of the practice tests originally come from. That is a rather easy question to answer if you have the time to read all the fine print and acknowledgements.

Let us examine Book 9, for instance:

Some of texts there come from newspapers and magazines, such as

  • the Guardian
  • Focus Magazine
  • the Times

Yet, quite a few are adaptations from books, for example:


IELTS 9 adapts some texts from the 2nd Edition of the Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language by David Crystal (the link above will take you to the page where the 3rd edition is available – I guess that if someone wants to acquire a copy of a book like this, they should go for the most recent edition available). In the same way, I was not able to trace the right edition of the Energy Outlook, but I imagine that if the aim is to learn some vocabulary on the topic, it does not really matter which edition of this type of publication it is.

It is also interesting to note that some texts, including the one about Marie Curie, are adapted from the renowned Encyclopedia Britannica. It can be argued, therefore, that drawing on this fundamental body of knowledge might well be a good idea when exploring such topics as “distinguished scholars and scientists”.

Although it is difficult to argue that reading off paper usually feels greater than doing this off the screen, my recommendation is to get yourself some Britannica Software if the purpose is to use this encyclopedia as a point of reference:

Some of the texts referred to in the Acknowledgements section seem to be unavailable via , so it might be a good idea to explore similar titles.  IELTS Book 9 features an adaptation from a United Nations report about some of the youngest and oldest countries for 2000 and 2050 . The broader focus of the text must be on “population statistics” , so an encyclopedia covering such a topic may well serve as a source of extra reading assignments:

Not all texts are from books and the news media, some are from regular websites that feature quality content.  As a case in point, texts discussing dress codes and other employment issues are originally from such internet sites as

  • (dress codes)
  •  (benefits)
  • (educational credential evaluation)

It should also be noted that the topics of Space Exploration and Robotics are getting more and more attention in IELTS Preparation Materials. There is a text adapted from Ray P. Norris’s “Is there anybody out there?” in one of the academic tests, and the text itself is originally from the October 1993 edition of the Current Affairs Bulletin published by Australia Telescope National Facility .

Regrettably, I have not been able to trace anything remotely similar to Norris’s text, but I have stumbled upon a most interesting read about Planetary Defense (!) by the same publisher. I am not sure it could be very useful for IELTS , but I would definitely want to read it for personal development for the title is most engaging and reminds of all kinds of sci-fi films , such as “Star Wars”.