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IELTS Academic Reading

Time: Approximately 20 minutes


  • Answer all the questions.
  • You can change your answers at any time during the test.


  • There are 13 questions in this test.
  • Each question carries one mark.

Do not click 'Start test' until you are told to do so.

minute left
Passage 1

Read the text below and answer Question 1-13

Save Salmon

A. The Columbia River Basin is North America's fourth largest, draining about 250,000 square miles and extending throughout the Pacific Northwest and into Canada. There are over 250 reservoirs and around 150 hydroelectric projects in the basin, including 18 main stem dams on the Columbia and its main tributary, the Snake River. The US Army Corps of Engineers operates nine of ten major federal projects on the Columbia and Snake rivers, and Dworshak Dam on the Clearwater River, Libby Dam on the Kootenai River, and Albeni Falls Dam on the Pend Oreille River. The federal projects are a major source of power in the region, and provide flood control, navigation, recreation, fish and wildlife, municipal and industrial water supply, and irrigation benefits.

B. The Columbia River Basin provides habitat for five species of salmon (chinook, coho, chum, sockeye and pink), steelhead, shad, smelt and lamprey. Salmon hatch in freshwater rivers and tributaries where they rear for a year or two. They then migrate to and mature in the ocean and return to their place of origin as adults to spawn. Salmon live two to five years in the ocean before returning to spawning areas. A number of factors have contributed to the decline of salmon stocks in the Columbia and Snake River Basin. Overharvesting in the late 1800s into the early 1900s, effects on habitat from farming, cattle grazing, mining, logging, road construction, and industrial pollution, and the complex of tributary and main stem dams all have had an impact. A variety of ocean conditions including currents, pollution, temperature changes, and nutrient base affect salmon survival. Dams clearly have had a significant impact, particularly those that eliminated access to freshwater habitat (preventing adult fish from returning to spawn), and those through which fish passage is provided but at reduced levels from natural conditions.

C. The dams impede juvenile and adult migrations to and from the ocean by their physical presence and by creating reservoirs. The reservoirs behind the dams slow water velocities, alter river temperatures, and increase predation potential. Reduced water velocity increases the time it takes juveniles to migrate downstream, higher water temperatures may have adverse effects on juvenile and adult behavior, and predators find prey more easily in slower moving water. The Corps operates a series of eight dams on the lower Columbia and Snake rivers that affect the habitat and migration of salmon. These dams are equipped with adult and juvenile fish passage facilities. Adult fish ladders at all eight lower Columbia and Snake dams were integrated into the design of the dams beginning with Bonneville in 1938. These ladders consist of a series of steps and which provide a gradual upward climb over the dams for returning adults. To steer the adults to the ladders, "attraction" flows at the downstream ladder entrances simulate conditions that would be found at the base of natural waterfalls. The concept has proved effective for adult fish passage.

D. Currently, juvenile fish can migrate past the dams by several routes: through the turbine;through the juvenile fish bypass system; or over the dam spillway. Some fish are transported past the dams by barge and truck under the juvenile fish transportation program. At the Dalles Dam, fish are bypassed through the ice and trash sluiceway. The juvenile fish bypass systems in place at seven of the eight lower Columbia and Snake River dams guide fish away from turbines by means of submerged screens positioned in front of the turbines. The juvenile fish are directed up into a gate well, where they pass through orifices into channels that run the length of the dam. The fish are then either routed back out to the river below the dam, which is called "bypassing" or, at the four dams with fish transport facilities, fish can be routed to a holding area for loading on specially equipped barges or trucks for transport downriver. The juvenile bypass systems guide 80 to 90 percent of steelhead salmon and 60 to 70 percent of spring/summer chinook salmon away from the turbines and upward through the bypass channel. This percentage measure is called fish guidance efficiency, and the rates vary from dam to dam. The fish guidance efficiency for fall chinook salmon is about 30 percent.

E. Three of the four Snake River dams, and McNary Dam on the Columbia River, have fish transport facilities. At these four dams, juvenile fish that go through the bypass systems can be routed either directly back into the river below the dam, or to holding and loading facilities for loading into barges or trucks for transport. The transport barges and trucks carry the fish past the remaining projects for release below Bonneville dam. River water circulates through the barges allowing the fish to imprint the chemicals and smells of the water during the trip downriver. The barges have a closed-circuit recirculation system which can shut off water intake in case of contamination in the river. They also have pumping systems which can help degas the water in areas where gas supersaturation is a problem.

F. The Corps runs the Juvenile Fish Transportation Program in cooperation with National Marine Fisheries Service, and in accordance with the National Marine Fisheries Service hydropower Biological Opinion for salmon. Fifteen to 20 million salmon and steelhead have typically been transported each year over the past several years. The program has come under criticism in recent years from state and tribal fishery agencies and environmental groups, who believe that rather than putting fish in barges, efforts should concentrate on improving in-river migration conditions. Hydropower operations can be modified to improve in-river migration conditions for fish. During the juvenile fish migration seasons, from late March until fall, flows in the river are augmented, and water is spilled at the dams, to aid juvenile migration.

Questions 1-4

Answer the questions below. Using NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS from the passage, answer the following questions.

  • 1. How many rivers are mentioned in the second paragraph?
  • 2. How many different kinds of fish are mentioned in the third paragraph?
  • 3. How old are salmon when they return to their place of origin?
  • 4. Apart from ocean conditions and dams, how many factors have contributed to the decline of salmon stocks?

Questions 5-8

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

  • Reservoirs slow down the rate of
    and encourage predators. Eight dams on the lower Columbia and Snake rivers have
    to cope with these problems. Fish ladders began in
    for the returning adult fish.

Questions 9-13

Choose YES if the statement agrees with the claims of the writer, choose NO if the statement contradicts the claims of the writer, or choose NOT GIVEN if it is impossible to say what the writer thinks about this.

9 There are now juvenile fish bypass systems at all of the lower Columbia and Snake River dams.
  • YES

  • NO


10 Summer is a better time than autumn for returning Chinook salmon.
  • YES

  • NO


11 There are more barges than trucks for juvenile fish.
  • YES

  • NO


12 The Juvenile Fish Transport Program has been criticized by three distinct groups lately.
  • YES

  • NO


13 Enlarged river flows from late March to fall can help juvenile migration.
  • YES

  • NO



Question Your Answer Correct Answer
1 Five
2 Five
3 3 to 7
4 Seven
5 Salmon migration/water velocity
6 River/water temperature
7 Fish pssage facilities
8 1938
9 NO
10 YES
12 YES
13 YES