You should spend about 20 minutes on Question 1-13 which are based on Reading Passage 1 below.


What is it and where does it come from?

Ambergris was used to perfume cosmetics in the days of ancient Mesopotamia and almost every civilization on the earth has a brush with Ambergris. Before 1,000 AD, the Chinese names ambergris as lung sien hiang, "dragon's spittle perfume,” as they think that it was produced from the drooling of dragons sleeping on rocks at the edge of a sea. The Arabs knew ambergris as anbar who believed that it is produced from springs near seas. It also gets its name from here. For centuries, this substance has also been used as a flavouring for food.

During the Middle Ages, Europeans used ambergris as a remedy for headaches, colds, epilepsy, and other ailments. In the 1851 whaling novel Moby-Dick, Herman Melville claimed that ambergris was "largely used in perfumery." But nobody ever knew where it really came from. Experts were still guessing its origin thousands of years later, until the long ages of guesswork ended in the 1720's, when Nantucket whalers found gobs of the costly material inside the stomachs of sperm whales. Industrial whaling quickly burgeoned. By 20th century ambergris is mainly recovered from inside the carcasses of sperm whales.

Through countless ages, people have found pieces of ambergris on sandy beaches. It was named grey amber to distinguish it from golden amber, another rare treasure. Both of them were among the most sought-after substances in the world, almost as valuable as gold. (Ambergris sells for roughly $20 a gram, slightly less than gold at $30 a gram.) Amber floats in salt water, and in old times the origin of both these substances was mysterious. But it turned out that amber and ambergris have little in common. Amber is a fossilized resin from trees that was quite familiar to Europeans long before the discovery of the New World, and prized for jewelry. Although considered a gem, amber is a hard, transparent, wholly-organic material derived from the resin of extinct species of trees, mainly pines.

To the earliest Western chroniclers, ambergris was variously thought to come from the same bituminous sea founts as amber, from the sperm of fishes or whales, from the droppings of strange sea birds (probably because of confusion over the included beaks of squid) or from the large hives of bees living near the sea. Marco Polo was the first Western chronicler who correctly attribute ambergris to sperm whales and its vomit.

As sperm whales navigate in the oceans, they often dive down to 2 km or more below the sea level to prey on squid, most famously the Giant Squid. It's com- monly accepted that ambergris forms in the whale's gut or intestines as the creature attempts to "deal" with squid beaks. Sperm whales are rather partial to squid, but seemingly struggle to digest the hard, sharp, parrot-like beaks. It is thought their stomach juices become hyper-active trying to process the irritants, and eventually hard, resinous lumps are formed around the beaks, and then expelled from their innards by vomiting. When a whale initially vomits up ambergris, it is soft and has a terrible smell. Some marine biologists compare it to the unpleasant smell of cow dung. But after floating on the salty ocean for about a decade, the substance hardens with air and sun into a smooth, waxy, usually rounded piece of nostril heaven. The dung smell is gone, replaced by a sweet, smooth, musky and pleasant earthy aroma.

Since ambergris is derived from animals, naturally a question of ethics arises, and in the case of ambergris, it is very important to consider. Sperm whales are an endangered species, whose populations started to decline as far back as the 19th century due to the high demand for their highly emollient oil, and today their stocks still have not recovered. During the 1970's, the Save the Whales movement brought the plight of whales to international recognition. Many people now believe that whales are “saved". This couldn't be further from the truth. All around the world, whaling still exists. Many countries continue to hunt whales, in spite of international treaties to protect them. Many marine researchers are concerned that even the trade in naturally found ambergris can be harmful by creating further incentives to hunt whales for this valuable substance.

One of the forms ambergris is used today is as a valuable fixative in perfumes to enhance and prolong the scent. But nowadays, since ambergris is rare and expensive, and big fragrance suppliers that make most of the fragrances on the market today do not deal in it for reasons of cost, availability and murky legal issues, most perfumeries prefer to add a chemical derivative which mimics the properties of ambergris. As a fragrance consumer, you can assume that there is no natural ambergris in your perfume bottle, unless the company advertises this fact and unless you own vintage fragrances created before the 1980s. If you are wondering if you have been wearing a perfume with this legendary ingredient, you may want to review your scent collection. Here are a few of some of the top ambergris containing perfumes: Givenchy Amarige, Chanel No. 5, and Gucci Guilty.

Questions 1-6

Classify the following information as referring to

A  ambergris only

B  amber only

C  both ambergris and amber

D  neither ambergris nor amber

Write the correct letter, A, B, C, or D in boxes 1-6 on your answer sheet.

1  being expensive

2  adds flavor to food

3  used as currency

4  being see-through

5  referred to by Herman Melville

6  produces sweet smell


Questions 7-9

Complete the sentences below with NO MORE THAN ONE WORD from the passage.

Write your answers in boxes 7-9 on your answer sheet.

7  Sperm whales can’t digest the ________ of the squids.

8  Sperm whales drive the irritants out of their intestines by _________.

9  The vomit of sperm whales gradually ________ on contact of air before having pleasant smell.

Questions 10-13

Do the following statements agree with the information given in Reading Passage 1?

In boxes 10-13 on your answer sheet, write

TRUE                      if the statement agrees with the information

FALSE                    if the statement contradicts the information

NOT GIVEN            if there is no information on this

10  Most ambergris comes from the dead whales today.

11  Ambergris is becoming more expensive than before.

12  Ambergris is still a popular ingredient in perfume production today.

13  New uses of ambergris have been discovered recently.


You should spend about 20 minutes on Question 14-26 which are based on Reading Passage 2 below.

Tackling Hunger in Msekeni


There are not enough classrooms at the Msekeni primary school, so half the lessons take place in the shade of yellow-blossomed acacia trees. Given this shortage, it might seem odd that one of the school’s purpose-built classrooms has been emptied of pupils and turned into a storeroom for sacks of grain. But it makes sense. Food matters more than shelter.


Msekeni is in one of the poorer parts of Malawi, a landlocked southern African country of exceptional beauty and great poverty. No war lays waste Malawi, nor is the land unusually crowed or infertile, but Malawians still have trouble finding enough to eat. Half of the children under five are underfed to the point of stunting. Hunger blights most aspects of Malawian life, so the country is as good a place as any to investigate how nutrition affects development, and vice versa.


The headmaster at Msekeni, Bernard Kumanda, has strong views on the subject. He thinks food is a priceless teaching aid. Since 1999, his pupils have received free school lunches. Donors such as the World Food Programme (WFP) provide the food: those sacks of grain (mostly mixed maize and soya bean flour, enriched with vitamin A) in that converted classroom. Local volunteers do the cooking – turning the dry ingredients into a bland but nutritious slop and spooning it out on to plastic plates. The children line up in large crowds, cheerfully singing a song called “We are getting porridge”.


When the school’s feeding programme was introduced, enrolment at Msekeni doubled. Some of the new pupils had switched from nearby schools that did not give out free porridge, but most were children whose families had previously kept them at home to work. These families were so poor that the long-term benefits of education seemed unattractive when setting against the short-term gain of sending children out to gather firewood or help in the fields. One plate of porridge a day completely altered the calculation. A child fed at school will not howl so plaintively for food at home. Girls, who are more likely than boys to be kept out of school, are given extra snacks to take home.


When a school takes in a horde of extra students from the poorest homes, you would expect standards to drop. Anywhere in the world, poor kids tend to perform worse than their better-off classmates. When the influx of new pupils is not accompanied by an increase in the number of teachers, as was the case at Msekeni, you would expect standards to fall even further. But they have not. Pass rates at Msekeni improved dramatically, from 30% to 85%. Although this was an exceptional example, the nationwide results of school feeding programmes were still pretty good. On average, after a Malawian school started handing out free food it attracted 38% more girls and 24% more boys. The pass rate for boys stayed about the same, while for girls it improved by 9.5%.


Better nutrition makes for brighter children. Most immediately, well-fed children find it easier to concentrate. It is hard to focus the mind on long division when your stomach is screaming for food. Mr Kumanda says that it used to be easy to spot the kids who were really undernourished. “They were the ones who stared into space and didn’t respond when you asked the question,” he says. More crucially, though, more and better food helps brains grow and develop. Like any other organ in the body, the brain needs nutrition and exercise. But if it is starved of the necessary calories, proteins and micronutrients, it is stunted, perhaps not as severely as a muscle would be, but stunted nonetheless. That is why feeding children at schools work so well. And the fact that the effect of feeding was more pronounced in girls than in boys gives a clue to who eats first in rural Malawian households. It isn’t the girls.


On a global scale, the good news is that people are eating better than ever before. Homo sapiens has grown 50% bigger since the industrial revolution. Three centuries ago, chronic malnutrition was more or less universal. Now, it is extremely rare in rich countries. In developing countries, where most people live, plates and rice bowls are also fuller than ever before. The proportion of children under five in the developing world who are malnourished to the point of stunting fell from 39% in 1990 to 30% in 2000, says the World Health Organisation (WHO). In other places, the battle against hunger is steadily being won. Better nutrition is making people cleverer and more energetic, which will help them grow more prosperous. And when they eventually join the ranks of the well off, they can start fretting about growing too fast.


Questions 14-20

Reading passage 2 has seven paragraphs, A-G.

Choose the correct heading for each paragraph from the list of headings below.

Write the correct number, i-xi, in boxes 14-20 on your answer sheet.

List of Headings

  1.    Why better food helps students’ learning
  2.    Becoming the headmaster of Msekeni
  3.    Surprising use of school premises
  4.    Global perspective
  5.    Why students were undernourished
  6.    Surprising academic outcome
  7.    An innovative program to help girls
  8.    How food program is operated
  9.    How food program affects school attendance
  10.    None of the usual reasons
  11.    How to maintain academic standard

14  Paragraph A

15  Paragraph B

16  Paragraph C

17  Paragraph D

18  Paragraph E

19  Paragraph F

20  Paragraph G


Questions 21-24

Complete the sentences below using NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS AND/OR A NUMBER from the passage.

Write your answers in boxes 21-24 on your answer sheet.

21  In Kumanda’s school ________ are given to girls after the end of the school day.

22  Many children from poor families were sent to collect  from the field.

23  Thanks to the free food program,  of students passed the test.

24  The modern human is  bigger than before after the industrial revolution.


Questions 25-26

Choose TWO letters, A-F.

Write the correct letters in boxes 25 and 26 on your answer sheet.

Which TWO of the following statements are true?

A  Some children are taught in the open air.

B  Bernard Kumanda became the headmaster in 1991.

C  No new staffs were recruited when attendance rose.

D  Girls are often treated equally with boys in Malawi.

E  Scientists have devised ways to detect the most underfed students in school.

F  WHO is worried about malnutrition among kids in developing countries.


You should spend about 20 minutes on Question 27-40 which are based on Reading Passage 3 below.

Being Left-handed in a Right-handed World

The world is designed for right-handed people. Why does a tenth of the population prefer the left?

A The probability that two right-handed people would have a left-handed child is only about 9.5 percent. The chance rises to 19.5 percent if one parent is a lefty and 26 percent if both parents are left-handed. The preference, however, could also stem from an infant’s imitation of his parents. To test genetic influence, starting in the 1970s British biologist Marian Annett of the University of Leicester hypothesized that no single gene determines handedness. Rather, during fetal development, a certain molecular factor helps to strengthen the brain’s left hemisphere, which increases the probability that the right hand will be dominant, because the left side of the brain controls the right side of the body, and vice versa. Among the minority of people who lack this factor, handedness develops entirely by chance. Research conducted on twins complicates the theory, however. One in fivesets of identical twins involves one right-handed and one left-handed person, despite the fact that their genetic material is the same. Genes, therefore, are not solely responsible for handedness.

B Genetic theory is also undermined by results from Peter Hepper and his team at Queen’s University in Belfast, Ireland. In 2004 the psychologists used ultrasound to show that by the 15th week of pregnancy, fetuses already have a preference as to which thumb they suck. In most cases, the preference continued after birth. At 15 weeks, though, the brain does not yet have control over the body’s limbs. Hepper speculates that fetuses tend to prefer whichever side of the body is developing quicker and that their movements, in turn, influence the brain’s development. Whether this early preference is temporary or holds up throughout development and infancy is unknown. Genetic predetermination is also contradicted by the widespread observation that children do not settle on either their right or left hand until they are two or three years old.

C But even if these correlations were true, they did not explain what actually causes left-handedness. Furthermore, specialization on either side of the body is common among animals. Cats will favor one paw over another when fishing toys out from under the couch. Horses stomp more frequently with one hoof than the other. Certain crabs motion predominantly with the left or right claw. In evolutionary terms, focusing power and dexterity in one limb is more efficient than having to train two, four or even eight limbs equally. Yet for most animals, the preference for one side or the other is seemingly random. The overwhelming dominance of the right hand is associated only with humans. That fact directs attention toward the brain’s two hemispheres and perhaps toward language.

D Interest in hemispheres dates back to at least 1836. That year, at a medical conference, French physician Marc Dax reported on an unusual commonality among his patients. During his many years as a country doctor, Dax had encountered more than 40 men and women for whom speech was difficult, the result of some kind of brain damage. What was unique was that every individual suffered damage to the left side of the brain. At the conference, Dax elaborated on his theory, stating that each half of the brain was responsible for certain functions and that the left hemisphere controlled speech. Other experts showed little interest in the Frenchman’s ideas. Over time, however, scientists found more and more evidence of peopleexperiencing speech difficulties following injury to the left brain. Patients with damage to the right hemisphere most often displayed disruptions in perception or concentration. Major advancements in understanding the brain’s asymmetry were made in the 1960s as a result of so-called split-brain surgery, developed to help patients with epilepsy. During this operation, doctors severed the corpus callosum—the nerve bundle that connects the two hemispheres. The surgical cut also stopped almost all normal communication between the two hemispheres, which offered researchers the opportunity to investigate each side’s activity.

E  In 1949 neurosurgeon Juhn Wada devised the first test to provide access to the brain’s functional organization of language. By injecting an anesthetic into the right or left carotid artery, Wada temporarily paralyzed one side of a healthy brain, enabling him to more closely study the other side’s capabilities. Based on this approach, Brenda Milner and the late Theodore Rasmussen of the Montreal Neurological Institute published a major study in 1975 that confirmed the theory that country doctor Dax had formulated nearly 140 years earlier: in 96 percent of right-handed people, language is processed much more intensely in the left hemisphere. The correlation is not as clear in lefties, however. For two thirds of them, the left hemisphere is still the most active language processor. But for the remaining third, either the right side is dominant or both sides work equally, controlling different language functions. That last statistic has slowed acceptance of the notion that the predominance of right-handedness is driven by left-hemisphere dominance in language processing. It is not at all clear why language control should somehow have dragged the control of body movement with it. Some experts think one reason the left hemisphere reigns over language is because the organs of speech processing—the larynx and tongue—are positioned on the body’s symmetry axis. Because these structures were centered, it may have been unclear, in evolutionary terms, which side of the brain should control them, and it seems unlikely that shared operation would result in smooth motor activity. Language and handedness could have developed preferentially for very different  reasons  as  well.  For  example,  some  researchers,  including evolutionary psychologist Michael C. Corballis of the University of Auckland in New Zealand, think that the origin of human speech lies in gestures. Gestures predated words and helped language emerge. If the left hemisphere began to dominate speech, it would have dominated gestures, too, and because the left brain controls the right side of the body, the right hand developed more strongly.

 Perhaps we will know more soon. In the meantime, we can revel in what, if any, differences handedness brings to our human talents. Popular wisdom says right-handed, left-brained people excel at logical, analytical thinking. Lefthanded, right-brained individuals are thought to possess more creative skills and may be better at combining the functional features emergent in both sides of the brain. Yet some neuroscientists see such claims as pure speculation. Fewer scientists are  ready to claim that left-handedness means greater creative potential. Yet lefties are prevalent among artists, composers and the generally acknowledged great political thinkers. Possibly if these individuals are among the lefties whose language abilities are evenly distributed between hemispheres, the intense interplay required could lead to unusual mental capabilities.

G Or perhaps some lefties become highly creative simply because they must be more clever to get by in our right-handed world. This battle, which begins during the very early stages of childhood, may lay the groundwork for exceptional achievements.

Questions 27-31

Reading Passage has seven sections A-G.

Which section contains the following information?

Write the correct letter A-G in boxes 1-5 on your answer sheet.

27 Preference of using one side of the body in animal species.

28 How likely one-handedness is born.

29 The age when the preference of using one hand is settled.

30 Occupations usually found in left-handed population.

31 A reference to an early discovery of each hemisphere’s function.


Questions 32-35

Look at the following researchers (Questions 6-9) and the list of findings below. Match each researcher with the correct finding.

Write the correct letter A-G in boxes 6-9 on your answer sheet.

List of Findings

A Early language evolution is correlated to body movement and thus affecting the preference of use of one hand.

B No single biological component determines the handedness of a child.

C Each hemisphere of the brain is in charge of different body functions.

D Language process is mainly centered in the left-hemisphere of the brain.

E Speech difficulties are often caused by brain damage.

F The rate of development of one side of the body has influence on hemisphere preference in fetus.

G Brain function already matures by the end of the fetal stage.


32 Marian Annett

33 Peter Hepper

34 Brenda Milner & Theodore Rasmussen

35 Michael Corballis


Questions 36-40

Do the following statements agree with the information given in Reading Passage? In boxes 10-13 on your answer sheet write

YES if the statement agrees with the information

NO if the statement contradicts the information

NOT GIVEN if there is no information on this

36 The study of twins shows that genetic determinations not the only factor for left- handedness.

37 Marc Dax’s report was widely accepted in his time.

38 Juhn Wada based his findings on his research of people with language problems.

39 There tend to be more men with left-handedness than women.

40 People who suffer from left hemisphere impairment may have problems with perception and concentration.

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