Academic Reading – SHORT ANSWER QUESTIONS (National Geographic)


A. Reading Recommendation


The type of texts you will find in the Academic Reading exam are often similar in terms of technical vocabulary as those found in the popular magazine National Geographic.  These texts are about various subjects ranging from travel, wildlife, society and science and will almost certainly contain words that are unfamiliar to you.


Apart from being very useful to doing well in IELTS and improving your English, we would really recommend reading a few of these magazines as they are fascinating and beautiful.


EPSON scanner image


B. Short Answer Questions


Short Answer questions are typical examination questions found in many types of reading exams. They are a simple Question/Answer format but may differ from other exams because of the word limit. You will see the typical IELTS instruction about the number of words you should use.  Underline this number to make you remember.

Use no more than X words and/or a number.



  • You must take your answer directly from the text. Don’t change it in any way (make it plural, add an article that is not in the text, forget capital letters) and certainly DO NOT spell it incorrectly.
  • Don’t worry about words you don’t understand. Read around them. The chances are they are not important and if necessary make a guess at the meaning from context. Lots of practice with a magazine such as National Geographic will help expand you vocabulary.
  • The answers may not be in the same order as the questions so answer them as you find the answer. Ask yourself what kind of word you are looking for. A verb, a date, a measurement, a name, a noun, an adjective……?
  • Read the questions first and underline keywords.



C. Questions


Use no more than 3 words and/or a number.


1. What resources are polluted by using industrialized farming methods?

2. When was food first mass produced mechanically?

3. What do sustainable farmers  do alongside growing a variety of crops each year in order to improve soil quality?

4. What are provided by the state in order to make food cheaper and plentiful?

5. What do all forms of sustainable farming practices try to do?

6. How would critics describe the lack of food in the world  if everyone were to abandon industrial farming for sustainable?

7. What should sustainable agriculture result in for the farmer?

8. Other than the need for larger areas of land, what may be another negative effect of sustainable farming?



TEXT - Sustainable Agriculture


Sustainable agriculture takes many forms, but at its core is a rejection of the industrial approach to food production developed during the 20th century.

This system, with its reliance on monoculture, mechanization, chemical pesticides and fertilizers, biotechnology, and government subsidies, has made food abundant and affordable. However, the ecological and social price has been steep: erosion; depleted and contaminated soil and water resources; loss of biodiversity; deforestation; labor abuses; and the decline of the family farm.

The concept of sustainable agriculture embraces a wide range of techniques, including organic, free-range, low-input, holistic, and biodynamic.

The common thread among these methods is an embrace of farming practices that mimic natural processes. Farmers minimize tilling and water use; encourage healthy soil by planting fields with different crops year after year and integrating croplands with livestock grazing; and avoid pesticide use by nurturing the presence of organisms that control crop-destroying pests.

Beyond growing food, the philosophy of sustainability also espouses broader principles that support the just treatment of farm workers and food pricing that provides the farmer with a livable income.

Critics of sustainable agriculture claim, among other things, that its methods result in lower crop yields and higher land use. They add that a wholesale commitment to its practices will mean inevitable food shortages for a world population expected to exceed 8 billion by the year 2030. There’s recent evidence, though, suggesting that over time, sustainably farmed lands can be as productive as conventional industrial farms.

The effect of monoculture farming on the environment is not considered sustainable.

The effect of monoculture farming on the environment is not considered sustainable.

Text Taken from the National Geographic website 


D. Solutuions



1. soil and water

2. the 20th century

3. integrate livestock grazing

4. (government) subsidies

5. mimic natural processes

6. inevitable

7. a liveable income

8. lower crop yields