IELTS Academic Reading – 7

IELTS Academic Reading – 7

The Great Fire of London

Paragraph A

The Great Fire of London swept through London in September 1666, devastating many buildings, including 13,200 houses and 87 parish churches. The Royal Exchange, the Guildhall and St. Paul’s Cathedral, all built during the Middle Ages, were also all totally destroyed. Although the verified death toll was only six people, it is unknown how many people died in the Great Fire of London, because many more died through indirect causes. The financial losses caused by the fire were estimated to be £10 million, at a time when London’s annual income was only £12,000. Many people were financially ruined and debtors’ prisons became over-crowded.

Paragraph B

The Great Fire of London started on Sunday, 2 September 1666 in a baker’s shop in Pudding Lane, belonging to Thomas Farynor. Although he claimed to have extinguished the fire, three hours later, at 1 a.m., his house was a blazing inferno. It is not certain how the fire actually began, but it is likely that it may have been caused by a spark from Farynor’s oven falling onto a pile of fuel nearby. In 1979, archaeologists excavated the remains of a burnt out shop on Pudding Lane that was very close to the bakery where the fire started. In the cellar, they found the charred remnants of 20 barrels of pitch. Pitch burns very easily and would have helped to spread the fire.

Paragraph C

The fire spread quickly down Pudding Lane and carried on down Fish Hill and towards the Thames. The fire continued to spread rapidly, helped by a strong wind from the east. When it reached the Thames, it hit warehouses that were stocked with combustible products, such as oil and rope. Fortunately, the fire could not spread south of the river, because a previous blaze in 1633 had already wrecked a section of London Bridge. As the fire was spreading so quickly, most Londoners concentrated on escaping rather than fighting the fire.

Paragraph D

In the 17th century, people were not as aware of the dangers of fire as they are today. Buildings were made of timber covered in pitch and tightly packed together. The design of buildings meant flames could easily spread from building to building. Following a long, dry summer, the city was suffering a drought; water was scarce and the wooden houses had dried out, making them easier to burn.

Paragraph E

Samuel Pepys, a diarist of the period and Clerk to the Royal Navy, observed the fire and recommended to the King that buildings should be pulled down, as it could be the only way to stop the fire. The Mayor made the order to pull down burning houses using fire hooks, but the fire continued to spread. Pepys then spoke to the Admiral of the Navy and they agreed that they should blow up houses in the path of the fire. The hope was that by doing this, they would create a space to stop the fire spreading from house to house. The Navy carried out the request and by the next morning, the fire has been successfully stopped.

Paragraph F

London had to be almost totally reconstructed and many people went to the fields outside London. They stayed there for many days, sheltering in tents and shacks and some people were forced to live in this way for months and even years. Throughout 1667, people cleared rubble and surveyed the burnt area. Much time was spent planning new street layouts and drawing up new building regulations. Public buildings were paid for with money from a new coal tax, but by the end of the year, only 150 new houses had been built. The new regulations were designed to prevent such a disaster happening again. Houses now had to be faced in brick instead of wood. Some streets were widened and two new streets were created. Pavements and new sewers were laid, and London’s quaysides were improved. Initially, however, only temporary buildings were erected that were ill-equipped, and this enabled the plague, which was common in London at that time, to spread easily. Many people died from this and the harsh winter that followed the fire.

Paragraph G

In 1666, there was no organised fire brigade. Fire fighting was very basic with little skill or knowledge involved. Leather buckets, axes and water squirts were used to fight the fire, but they had little effect. As a result of the Great Fire of London, early fire brigades were formed by insurance companies. Building insurance was very profitable and many more insurance companies were set up, establishing their own fire brigades. These brigades were sent to insured properties if a fire occurred to minimise damage and cost. Firemarks were used to identify – and advertise – different insurance companies. They were placed on the outside of an insured building and brigades would use them to determine whether a building was insured by them. If a building was on fire, several brigades would attend. If they did not see their specific firemark attached to the building, they would leave the property to burn. Some old firemarks can still be seen on London buildings today. Also, fire fighters wore brightly coloured uniforms to distinguish themselves from rival insurance brigades. Although this was a step in the right direction, fire fighters received little training and the equipment used remained very basic.


Pitch – A thick liquid made from petroleum or coal tar.

Questions 1-7

The text on the reading passage has 7 paragraphs (A-G).

Choose the correct heading for each paragraph from the list of headings below.

Write the correct number (i-x) in boxes 1-7 on your answer sheet.

i Vulnerable Buildings

  1. The Effect on Trade
  1. How it Started
  1. A Positive from the Ashes
  1. Food Shortages
  1. The Movement of the Fire
  1. The Effects of the Smoke
  1. Extinguishing the Fire
  1. The Costs
  1. A New London

Questions 8-11

Choose FOUR letters, A-G.

What FOUR of the following were effects of the Great Fire of London?

Write the correct letter, A-G, in any order in boxes A-G on your answer sheet.

A. Officially, only six people died.

B. The French economy benefitted from the destruction of businesses in London.

C. Some people had to live rough in fields for years following the fire.

D. The English royal family were forced to live outside London for 18 months.

E. Disease spread more easily.

F. An enquiry was completed by the government into why the damage was so bad.

G. Fire fighting services were launched.

Questions 12-13

Complete the sentences below.

Write NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS from the text for each answer.

Write your answers in boxes 12-13 on your answer sheet.

12. One measure to prevent further fires was to ensure that London houses wouldhave………………………….. facades in the future.

13. People could differentiate the fire brigades from different insurance companies bytheir…………………………..

The Psychology of Wealth

What stops people from succeeding financially and having on-going prosperity in their life? The answer is generally focused around the belief that financial success is not a possibility. There are many people who have unconscious barriers that prevent them from having the wealth and abundance that they deserve.

At a conscious level, most people think they are doing everything possible to achieve their goals. However, there still might be some unwitting part of them that does not believe they can obtain success. The more that unconscious part is avoided, the more a person will be blocked in their everyday life. Another problem is that, instead of focusing on all the possible ways to get rich, many people have an obsession about what they do not have. An interesting pattern develops in which they can become angry or resentful over their situation and this, in turn, can limit these people in their lives more and more. Individuals would find it so much easier to get ahead in life with a peaceful state of mind, rather than an angry or resentful one.

A first step in understanding the unconscious patterning of a person’s financial situation is to explore the deeper nature of how they represent money. For example, a person with money issues may have had parents who lived in poverty, and they subsequently formed a ‘Depression Era’ mentality. An unconscious belief can develop that he or she will always have to struggle financially, because

that is what their parents did. Alternatively, the person might have had a parent tell them over and over again that they will never be successful, and eventually they begin to believe it.

It is very common for children to unconsciously form limiting beliefs around money at an early age. In the field of Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP), these types of limiting beliefs are referred to as ‘imprints.’ An imprint is basically a memory that is formed at an early age, and can serve as a root for both the limiting and empowering beliefs that people form as children. Some of the beliefs that people may develop at early ages are not always healthy, and are created as a result of a traumatic or confusing experience that they have forgotten. How we unconsciously and consciously view the world in terms of money is often based on such beliefs.

A primary and fundamental psychological difference between those who do well financially and those who do not revolves around beliefs. For example, many people do not even view financial success as an option. They do not have the capability to open themselves up to all of the possibilities that are available for achieving prosperity and they will nearly always get stuck in a monthly routine, so that they are unwilling to take risks or try something different, because they are afraid that they will end up being even worse off than before.

Another issue can be that people become over-absorbed with the idea of making money and this can be extremely unhealthy. Money does not determine who you are; it’s simply a resource. There is a term called ‘affluenza,’ which has been defined as “a painful, contagious, socially transmitted condition of overload, debt, anxiety and waste resulting from the dogged pursuit of more.” Affluenza is an unsustainable and seriously unhealthy addiction to personal and societal economic growth. It is most acute in those who inherit wealth and seem to have no purpose or direction. For those with wealth or for those who desire it more than anything, abandoning the urge for more can often be the key to being more successful, and certainly happier. Once people stop equating their self-worth with money, then the doors of possibility can swing open for them, because they are willing to try more things. Once they start feeling better about themselves, they become less fearful and can be open to trying something completely different.

So, can money make people happy? Research shows that it does up to a point, after which there are diminishing returns, so that the extremely wealthy are no happier than the comfortably well off. Rich nations are generally happier than poor ones, but the relationship is far from consistent; other factors like political stability, freedom and security also play a part. Research likewise shows that the money-happiness connection seems to be stronger for people paid hourly than those on a salary. This is presumably because salaried people can more easily compensate with career satisfaction. Money can also impair the ability to enjoy the simple things in life, which rather offsets the happiness that wealth brings.

Money can also impair people’s satisfaction in their play and humanitarian works. When someone has done something out of the goodness of their heart, they can be insulted by offers of payment. Cognitive dissonance experiments show that paying people derisory amounts of money for their work results in them enjoying it less and doing it less well than if they had no pay at all. The capacity for monetary reward to undermine a person’s intrinsic pleasure in work performance has been demonstrated neurologically.

In conclusion, people need to realise that their own attitudes to wealth can affect their chances of acquiring both money and happiness. As a person begins to embrace self worth and opens himself or herself up to the idea of what is possible, he or she will attract wealth and prosperity into their life. The outer world is truly a reflection of people’s inner worlds. If someone feels good inside, generally it will show on the outside and they will draw positive experiences into their life.

Questions 14-16

Complete the notes below.

Write NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS for each answer.

Write your answers in boxes 14-16 on your answer sheet.

Some people unwittingly reject the prospect of becoming rich; these 14……………….. stop them from

financial success.

Most people believe they do the best they can, but sometimes they don’t really believe in their potential.

If people do not face up to this lack of self-belief, they’ll encounter more and more obstacles.

People can also have an 15……………….. about their lack of possessions.

Anger is a result, which hinders their progress as well.

People whose parents were poor may feel they will also be poor.

A 16……………….. who is always negative about a child’s prospects may also be eventually believed.

Questions 17-21

Do the following statements agree with the views of the writer of the text?

In boxes 17-21 on your answer sheet write:

YES if the statement agrees with the writer’s views

NO if the statement doesn’t agree with the writer’s views

NOT GIVEN if it is impossible to say what the writer thinks about this

17. A person can develop unhelpful imprints about money when a child.

18. Although important, belief is not a key part of whether someone can become financiallysuccessful.

19. Those people stuck in a monthly routine are the most likely to try something different.

20. The problem of ‘affluenza’ has been in the media a lot recently.

21. ‘Affluenza’ is more common in people who have not had to work for their money

Questions 22-27

Complete the summary below.

Write NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS from the text for each answer.

Write your answers in boxes 22-27 on your answer sheet.

Money and Happiness

(22)……………….. mean people are not happier with wealth beyond a certain amount. Rich countries

are happier than poor ones, but this is simplistic, due to other relevant (23)……………….. . Salaried

workers have been shown to be happier than wage-paid workers, maybe due to (24)……………….. .

Rich people also sometimes do not enjoy life’s (25)……………….. .

Money can also relate to how people approach doing things and (26)……………….. have proved this.

The complex relationship between a (27)……………….. and enjoyment of work has also been proved.

Changing their attitudes to wealth can make some people happier and allow them to acquire money more easily.

Collecting as a hobby

Collecting must be one of the most varied of human activities, and it’s one that many of us psychologists find fascinating.

Many forms of collecting have been dignified with a technical name: an archtophilist collects teddy bears, a philatelist collects postage stamps, and a deltiologist collects postcards. Amassing hundreds or even thousands of postcards, chocolate wrappers or whatever, takes time, energy and money that could surely to much more productive use. And yet there are millions of collectors around the world. Why do they do it?

There are the people who collect because they want to make money – this could be called an instrumental reason for collecting; that is, collecting as a means to an end. They’ll look for, say, antiques that they can buy cheaply and expect to be able to sell at a profit. But there may well be a psychological element, too – buying cheap and selling dear can give the collector a sense of triumph. And as selling online is so easy, more and more people are joining in.

Many collectors collect to develop their social life, attending meetings of a group of collectors and exchanging information on items. This is a variant on joining a bridge club or a gym, and similarly brings them into contact with like-minded people. Another motive for collecting is the desire to find something special, or a particular example of the collected item, such as a rare early recording by a particular singer.

Some may spend their whole lives in a hunt for this. Psychologically, this can give a purpose to a life that otherwise feels aimless. There is a danger, though, that if the individual is ever lucky enough to find what they’re looking for, rather than celebrating their success, they may feel empty, now that the goal that drove them on has gone.

If you think about collecting postage stamps another potential reason for it – Or, perhaps, a result of collecting is its educational value. Stamp collecting opens a window to other countries, and to the plants, animals, or famous people shown on their stamps.

Similarly, in the 19th century, many collectors amassed fossils, animals and plants from around the globe, and their collections provided a vast amount of information about the natural world. Without those collections, our understanding would be greatly inferior to what it is.

In the past – and nowadays, too, though to a lesser extent – a popular form of collecting, particularly among boys and men, was trainspotting. This might involve trying to see every locomotive of a particular type, using published data that identifies each one, and ticking off each engine as it is seen. Trainspotters exchange information, these days often by mobile phone, so they can work out where to go to, to see a particular engine. As a by-product, many practitioners of the hobby become very knowledgeable about railway operations, or the technical specifications of different engine types.

Similarly, people who collect dolls may go beyond simply enlarging their collection, and develop an interest in the way that dolls are made, or the materials that are used. These have changed over the centuries from the wood that was standard in 16th century Europe, through the wax and porcelain of later centuries, to the plastics of today’s dolls. Or collectors might be inspired to study how dolls reflect notions of what children like, or ought to like.

Not all collectors are interested in learning from their hobby, though, so what we might call a psychological reason for collecting is the need for a sense of control, perhaps as a way of dealing with insecurity. Stamp collectors, for instance, arrange their stamps in albums, usually very neatly, organising their collection according to certain commonplace principles-perhaps by country in alphabetical order, or grouping stamps by what they depict -people, birds, maps, and so on.

One reason, conscious or not, for what someone chooses to collect is to show the collector’s individualism. Someone who decides to collect something as unexpected as dog collars, for instance, may be conveying their belief that they must be interesting themselves. And believe it or not, there is at least one dog collar museum in existence, and it grew out of a personal collection.

Of course, all hobbies give pleasure, but the common factor in collecting is usually passion: pleasure is putting it far too mildly. More than most other hobbies, collecting can be totally engrossing, and can give a strong sense of personal fulfilment. To non-collectors, it may appear an eccentric, if harmless, way of spending time, but potentially, collecting has a lot going for it.

Questions 28-35

Complete the sentences below.

Choose ONE WORD ONLY from the passage for each answer.

Write your answers in boxes 28-35 on your answer sheet.

28. The writer mentions collecting ……………………. as an example of collecting in order to make


29. Collectors may get a feeling of ……………………. from buying and selling items.

30. Collectors’ clubs provide opportunities to share……………………..

31. Collectors’ clubs offer ……………………. with people who have similar interests.

32. Collecting sometimes involves a life-long ……………………. for a special item.

33. Searching for something particular may prevent people from feeling their life is


34. Stamp collecting may be ……………………. because it provides facts about different countries.

35. ……………………. tends to be mostly a male hobby.

Questions 36-40

Do the following statements agree with the information given in the reading passage? In boxes 36-40 on your answer sheet, write

TRUE if the statement agrees with the information

FALSE if the statement contradicts the information

NOT GIVEN if there is no information on this

36. The number of people buying dolls has grown over the centuries.

37. Sixteenth century European dolls were normally made of wax and porcelain.

38. Arranging a stamp collection by the size of the stamps is less common than other methods.

39. Someone who collects unusual objects may want others to think he or she is also unusual.

40. Collecting gives a feeling that other hobbies are unlikely to inspire.


1. ix

2. iii

3. vi

4. i

5. viii

6. x

7. iv

8. A

9. C

10. E

11. G

[Answers from 8 to 11 in any order]


13. (brightly) (coloured) uniforms

14. (unconscious) barriers

15. obsession

16. parent

17. YES

18. NO

19. NO


21. YES

22. diminishing returns

23. factors

24. career satisfaction

25. simple things

26. (Cognitive) (dissonance) experiments

27. (monetary) reward

28. antiques

29. triumph

30. information

31. contact

32. hunt/desire

33. aimless/empty

34. educational

35. trainspotting




39. TRUE

40. TRUE

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