IELTS Reading Practice – True/False, Diagram Completion

By | May 27, 2015

In this IELTS reading practice, you learn

  • True/False/Not given
  • Diagram completion


What is your goal on the IELTS Reading Exam? Your goal is to answer the questions. That’s it. Read the questions first!

If you read the questions first, you can focus on your goal of answering the questions. After you read the questions, read the passage. Starting with the questions helps you know what to look for, when you read .


The Mystery of the Shaking Cats

In 1965, in San Joaquin, Bolivia, residents had a strange problem. The cats in their city were dying for no obvious reason. This caused much anxiety in the town because cats were vital to the citizens of San Joaquin. Cats kept the rodents away, helping to keep homes clean and disease-free.

The cats’ behavior would begin strangely. They would first shake all over and then stop eating. After a few days, the cats would die. It was clear to residents of San Joaquin that the cats were afflicted by some strange disease. However, the people were puzzled and had no idea how to identify the cause. In fact, disease was not a major problem in Bolivia. However, like many tropical areas, their main problem was insect pests. Insects were a real threat because they are carriers of serious diseases, such as malaria.

Though the Bolivians were anxious about the death of their cats, they did not suffer from the threat of typical tropical diseases like malaria. It appeared that the Bolivian insect problem, at least, had been solved, due to a new chemical called DDT. In many countries at the time, DDT was a popular insecticide used to kill insects. Low-flying planes would spray the chemical on farms, marshes and forests throughout Bolivia. This brought relief to the Bolivians from the annoyance of insects like mosquitoes and also from the threat of malaria and other diseases.

What the people of San Joaquin did not suspect was that the disappearance of mosquitoes was linked to the problem of the dying cats. After countless cats mysteriously died, small rodents, called lauchas, began to appear all over San Joaquin. These rodents became common and roamed everywhere. Furthermore, there were now no cats to kill them.

Soon after the lauchas appeared, residents were struck with a tragedy. Many residents of San Joaquin were struck by a disease called black typhus and three hundred people, including some children, died from this disease. Residents were stunned and could not imagine how to begin solving this new epidemic. Previously, people would have suspected mosquitoes, but the mosquitoes had been eliminated through the use of DDT.

Doctors came from the United States, Panama, and other countries to investigate the cause of black typhus. After questioning the townspeople, they discovered that the rodents appeared wherever food was stored and also around the town’s water supply. By setting traps and poison, scientists were able to capture the mice and examine them. The mice were carrying black typhus! The entire community set to work to eliminate the rodents, and black typhus disappeared from San Joaquin.

Even with the elimination of black typhus, the mystery was not yet completely solved. It was imperative to understand why the mice appeared in San Joaquin in order to prevent black typhus from reappearing in the future. Doctors questioned the residents further and learned about the affair of the shaking cats. Though they did not suspect that the cats had died from black typhus, they did suspect a possible link. Scientists injected healthy cats with black typhus, but the cats remained well. This proved that black typhus had not killed the shaking cats.

Ielts blog - Laboratory - Shaking cats of San Joaquin

Researchers continued to examine the mystery, and were helped by a stroke of luck. One of the doctors in San Joaquin had preserved some bodies of dead cats. The bodies were shipped to a laboratory and the results soon came back. There was more than enough DDT in the cat’s brain to kill it. Doctors were puzzled as to how DDT entered the cats’ brains and investigated further. They discovered that, when health officials in San Joaquin sprayed the walls of houses with DDT, cats would rub against the walls and picked up DDT through their fur. When the cats licked their fur, they swallowed the poison and died.

Now scientists had all the pieces of the cat puzzle. Once the cats died, there were no animals to keep the rodents in check. The mice began to invade the town, carrying the black typhus disease with them. The disease spread to the citizens of San Joaquin through the food and water, and hundreds became ill and died.

Through the black typhus epidemic, the dangers of pesticides became apparent. The chemists who invented DDT were concerned mainly with making a poison that killed insects. However, in their zeal to rid the world of insects, they failed to remember that everything in the environment is connected. The poison that kills mosquitoes also killed other animals. By solving one problem, many others were created.

DDT is now a controversial chemical, though it is still used. Countries that currently use it realize the possible dangers, but they often do not have the option of safer, more expensive chemicals. Fortunately, DDT is used only in small quantities and is being phased out. The people who use it receive support to transition to safer chemicals to control their insects.


Do the following statements agree with the information in the reading passage?


TRUE if the statement is true according to the passage.

FALSE if the statement contradicts the passage.

NOT GIVEN if there is no information about this in the passage.

  1. The shaking cats was a puzzle to the people of San Joaquin
  2. One of the drawbacks of DDT is that it kills useful insects as well as harmful ones.
  3. Germs on the rodents caused the cats to shake all over and die.
  4. Researchers from foreign countries cooperated to solve the black typhus epidemic.
  5. Preserving the dead cats’ bodies was a major development in solving the cat problem.
  6. The dying cats were related to the problem of black typhus.
  7. DDT is the most dangerous pesticide in use today.


Complete the diagram below. Choose the appropriate statement A-F for each question.

Shaking Cats of San Joaquin - Diagram Completion

A – Residents of San Joaquin contracted black typhus.

B – Farms were sprayed with DDT.

C – Officials sprayed DDT on the walls of houses.

D – Malaria killed more than 300 residents of San Joaquin.

E – Lauchas were caught and killed by the cats.

F – The cats ingested DDT after licking their fur.


  1. True
  2. False
  3. False
  4. True
  5. False
  6. True
  7. Not given
  8. C
  9. F
  10. A


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