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This is an IELTS Reading True/False/Not given questionpicture.


Steam ships posed a growing threat to clippers, as their speed and cargo capacity increased. In addition, the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869, the same year that Cutty Sark was launched, had a serious impact. While steam ships could make use of the quick, direct route between the Mediterranean and the Red Sea, the canal was of no use to sailing ships, which needed the much stronger winds of oceans, and so had to sail a far greater distance. Steam ships reduced the journey time between Britain and China by approximately two months.


If you read the paragraph, it states that steam ships "posed a growing threat to clippers" and "...the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869, the same year that Cutty Sark (this is a clipper) was launched, had a serious impact". Although the last sentence mentions that the journey time reduced by approximately two months, it does not state whether it made the steam ships faster than clippers. Therefore, I answered this as "Not given". However, the answer keys say that it is "True". I can't figure out why it is "True"?


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  • Could you write the question of the test, please? Dec 15, 2020 at 20:08

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The text states that "the canal was of no use to sailing ships, which needed the much stronger winds of oceans, and so had to sail a far greater distance." It also states that "Steam ships reduced the journey time between Britain and China by approximately two months." Thus the following information is provided: 1. Sailing ships could not use the Suez canal. 2. Steam ships, which could use the canal, could sail from Britain to China in two months less time than sailing ships. If something takes less time to do something, it is faster at doing that thing. Thus the correct answer was "True".

You are not being asked if the canal made steam ships move faster through the water than sailing ships (how could it?). You are being asked if the canal made steam ships travel between Britain and China faster (in less time) than sailing ships. It did do this.

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    This is an astute catch. Travel faster does not have to mean a higher speed, which steam had. It says you get places quicker in time, for speed, shortcuts, not relying on weather. Dec 15, 2020 at 22:27
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    The canal made steamships that went though it get to China faster than identical steamships that went all the way around Africa. Dec 15, 2020 at 22:39

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