Could you pass the IELTS exam?

In order to study internationally, Myanmar students need to gain a recognised English language qualification, such as the IELTS or the TOEFL. This is just one of many criteria that they have to meet in order to gain admittance to Universities around the world. For many of our students, English will be their third or fourth language, and it is incredibly different to all of the native Myanmar languages. So do you think you have what it takes to pass? Take a look at Prospect Burma’s sample reading test below. Please note – this is a mock test question created by the Prospect Burma team; it is not an official test question and should not be used for preparation by anyone wishing to take the IELTS.

Reading Test instructions

Read through the passage below and then answer the corresponding questions. You have twenty minutes.

The Origin of the World’s Languages

There are over 7,000 spoken languages around the world today. According to Ethnologue, an online compendium of the world’s languages, there are exactly 7,111. Interestingly, around half of them are spoken by approximately three billion people, and it is believed they come from the same root, a language called Proto-Indo-European, or PIE for short.

The difficulties of recreating a proto-language of this antiquity are further compounded by the fact that there are no written records of the language. Despite this, experts have managed to recreate this ancestor of the Indo-European languages and it is the most widely understood of all proto-languages of its era.

In 2013 Andrew Byrd, who is the Associate Professor of Linguistics at the University of Kentucky, recorded an example of PIE. While we cannot be certain that this is exactly how PIE would have sounded when spoken approximately 4,500 – 2,500 BC, it is an educated approximation. The section of text orated by Andrew Byrd is a text called The Parable of the Horse and the Sheep. This was originally written in 1868 by linguist August Schleicher, who was the first scholar to write in PIE. Now known as Schleicher’s fable, the tale has been edited and expanded over time, as academic knowledge and beliefs about PIE have changed.


Questions 1–4

Do the following statements agree with the information given in Reading passage 1? Answer True, False or Not given to questions 1–7.

True if the statement agrees with the information
False if the statement contradicts the information
Not given if there is no information on this

1. PIE is short for Proto-Indigenous-European.

2. PIE is the only proto-language that we do not have written records for.

3. Andrew Byrd wrote a story in PIE called The Parable of the Horse and the Sheep.

4. PIE is the only proto-language which is fully understood by linguists today.

Question 5

Choose the correct letter, A, B, C or D.

5. Half of the world’s languages probably come from PIE and are spoken by how many people?
A Two billion
B Three billion
C Four billion
D Five billion


So, how did you find it? The actual IELTS test contains many more sections, including reading, writing, listening and speaking tests. This is a much shorter, simplified version of a reading test than you would find if you were to take the IELTS. We hope it has given you an insight into how challenging university preparation is for our Myanmar students.