IELTS Academic Reading Practice Test 2 – Text 3


The following text is from enotes.

You should spend about 20 minutes on Questions 27-40, which are based on reading text 3.

What is the main theme in Jane Austen’s writings?


One of the most important themes in Jane Austen’s writings is society and a woman’s place in it. To deliver this theme she uses satire to get her female readers (and her male ones) to see themselves in the comical and small-minded antics of her characters and to relate to that and think how they can improve in the elements that apply to them – each reader as an individual. For example, are they like fluffy and empty-headed and short-sighted like Mrs Bennet? Or perhaps they are Lydia (impetuous, naive, impulsive and similarly short-sighted? perhaps they are a tad arrogant and full of themselves to the extent that they are thoughtlessly hurtful to others (‘badly done Emma, badly done!) For other readers, perhaps a female reader may recognize Mr Wickham as some irresponsible, self-serving youth as someone they know – a male reader may, of course, recognize himself! With gentle humour, Austen gets us to see society in a new way.


Austen was born in a rectory and died, unmarried, at the age of 41. She is buried in Winchester Cathedral, which she probably would have preferred to the Poets’ Corner in Westminster. Austen’s life is easily summarised because we don’t know much about it. We can assume, however, that nothing much happened in her life other than the writing of her novels. Unlike her contemporary Mary Wollstonecraft, Austen seems not to have held fierce views on the rights of women. She accepted the world into which she had been born and the status of women within it.


The heroine of her first novel, Northanger Abbey, Catherine Morland, is just 15, growing from a tomboyish adolescence into womanhood. The plot of Northanger Abbey revolves around the question: Who will Catherine marry, and how will she get to the altar? The theme, however, focuses on a different question: What is it to be grown up? What is it to be morally mature? How does one become the kind of person who can deal with the complicated issues of life? Austen intertwines that question with another question: What, in the process of growing up, is the function of the English novel? Austen believed that the novel could help readers mature; it could serve as a moral instructor, with a similar role as the weekly sermons the author would have heard in church. ion, which is romantic, addicting, light-headed, and corrupting. The point for Austen, though, is how fiction is used and, more importantly, the relationship of the novel to moral maturity and growth.


In another early novel, Sense and Sensibility, Austen pondered, in the characterization of the two Dashwood sisters, which was the road to maturity—sense and rationalism, as embodied in the elder sister, Eleanor, or sensibility and passion, as embodied in the younger sister, Marian? In typically English fashion, the answer lies in the middle road.


In a later novel, Mansfield Park, probably composed around 1810, Austen debates a central issue for her: Should a woman marry for love or for interest, prudently, that is, with an eye toward finances? The ironic opening of Mansfield Park recalls the decisions on this all-important question of three sisters of the Ward family. The novel tells us that there is no magic formula for happiness. This opening sets the stage for the novel proper, the story of Fanny Price, the namesake daughter of Frances, adopted from her impoverished house in Portsmouth to Mansfield Park, a grand estate, where she is never quite accepted. In the course of the novel, Fanny manages to resist pressures and make the right marriage choices. She becomes the mistress of Mansfield Park and a leading figure in society. These are the questions that Jane Austen asks: sense or sensibility, love in a cottage or love in a castle, marriage or independence? Time is an enemy here; a woman has only a few years in which to make these important choices.


In Austen’s last completed novel, Persuasion, the heroine, Anne Elliott, at age 28, has lost her bloom. Will she be able to marry at her age? In her novels, Austen asks the most important questions in a woman’s life. How does any woman determine the course that her life will take? Such decisions depend on the situation in which the woman finds herself. For Austen, novels, particularly great works of morality such as her own, can help women negotiate these paths.

Questions 27-32

Reading text 3 has six paragraphs, A-F.

Which paragraph contains the following information?

Write the correct letter, A-F, in boxes 27-32 on your answer sheet.

NB You may use any letter more than once.

27. The author questioned how one should navigate their growth.

28. The author loved to write.

29. The author thought about the personality traits of the two main characters.

30. There is no alchemy that can create bliss.

31. The character of this book showed the immaturity of their youth.

32. Characters were created in a playful way.

Questions 33 and 34

Choose TWO letters, A-E.

Write the correct letters in boxes 33 and 34 on your answer sheet.

Which TWO of these points are made by the writer of the text of the novel Mansfield Park by Jane Austen?

A. Crucial decisions must be made in good time in order to have a happy life.

B. Choosing to be secure over love is key.

C. A woman has the right to choose her own destiny.

D. Women should always be dependent.

E. Choosing marriage should always be the right choice.

Questions 35 and 36

Choose two letters, A-E.

Write the correct letters in boxes 35 and 36 on your answer sheet.

Which TWO of the following themes are regularly included in Jane Austen’s Novels?

A. Feminism.

B. Women and their place in the community.

C. Friendships.

D.  Love, marriage and money.

E. The themes are all very similar.

Questions 37-40

Complete the summary below.

Choose ONE WORD ONLY from the passage for each answer.

Write your answers in boxes 37-40 on your answer sheet.

The Themes in Austen’s Work

The themes within Jane Austen’s novels were as relevant in the 1800’s as they are today. One of the most regular themes is that of 37. …………………………….. and their place in society. Austen liked to develop characters that her readers could identify with and perhaps recognise their characteristics within themselves. Many of the novel’s themes centre on love, finding a good match to 38. ………………………… and financial security. Many of the author’s heroines are faced with the dilemma of marrying or having 39. …………………………………… The novels look at how women make 40. …………………………… to shape their lives, by giving in to the pressures to marry and be with someone who can provide or to make it on their own, without anyone to depend on. 

If you need help to answer these questions with extra practice please read the posts below >>

Answers >> 

Questions 27-32

27 – F

28 – B

29 – D

30 – E

31 – C

32 – A

Questions 33 and 34

33 – A

34 – C

Questions 35 and 36

35 – B

36 – D

Questions 37-40

37. women

38. marry

39. independence

40. decisions

Part One of Academic Reading Test 2

Part Two of Academic Reading Test 2

Academic Reading Band Scores

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