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IELTS TFNG Practice: History of Clocks

True False Not Given questions are very common questions in IELTS reading and are also one of the
most difficult. You must read the statement in each question and decide if the information can be found in
the passage (true), if the information is contrary to what is written in the passage (false) or if the
statement cannot be found (not given) in the passage. Answers can be written as either a full word (True
False Not Given) or a letter, for example T/F/NG.
This practice exercise is slightly easier than in the academic test and is similar to GT passage 3. But it will
still provide you all with good practice. Download the free PDF of this passage: IELTS Reading Practice
The History of Clocks
The History of Clocks
The movement of the sun through the sky makes possible a simple estimate of time, from the length and
position of a shadow cast by a vertical stick. If marks are made where the suns shadow falls, the time of
day can be recorded in a consistent manner. The result is the sundial. An Egyptian example survives
from about 800 BC, but the principle may have been familiar to astronomers a few centuries before.
However it is difficult to measure time precisely on a sundial, because the suns path through the sky
changes with the seasons. Earlier attempts at precision in time-keeping rely on a different principle.
The water clock, known from a Greek word as the clepsydra, attempts to measure time by the amount of
water which drips from a tank. This would be a reliable form of clock if the flow of water could be perfectly
controlled. In practice it cannot. The clepsydra has an honourable history from perhaps 1400 BC in
Egypt, through Greece and Rome and the Arab civlizations and China, and even up to the 16th century
in Europe. But it is more of a toy than a timepiece.
The hourglass, using sand on the same principle, has an even longer career. It is a standard feature on
18th-century pulpits in Britain, ensuring a sermon of sufficient length. In a reduced form it can still be
found timing an egg.
Questions 1-5
Decide if the following questions are true, false or not given.
True = the statement matches the information in the passage
False = the statement contradicts the information in the passage
Not Given = the information is not found in the passage
1. Sundials are able to provide accurate time using the suns paths through the skies.
2. The existing Egyptian sundial was entirely new at that time.
3. Water clocks provide a more reliable method of telling the time than sundials.
4. The water clock is older than the sundial.
5. Water clocks make good toys.
6. Hourglasses work using sand to measure time.
7. Hourglasses were found in Britain earlier than the 18th century.
8. Hourglasses are no longer used by modern people.
Click below to reveal the answers and vocabulary
1. False

2. False
3. Not Given
4. True.
1. Message from Liz: I have a lot of students writing to me because they dont understand this answer.
1400BC, which is the date for the water clock, is older than 800BC. These dates are BC, not AD. If
you dont understand dates which are BC, please see this page: Understanding AD and BC dates
5. Not Given (this is a difficult question. Although it does compare the water clock to a toy, it does not
give information about the water clock being a good toy)
6. True
7. Not Given
8. False
consistent = regular
principle = theory / notion
attempts = endeavors
it is more of a toy = it is not used in a functional manner
time piece = clock
sermon = lecture / oration / reading
a reduced form = a simplification of something