B2 First (FCE)
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Test 1 / 30

 The study of families

Genealogy is a branch of history. It concerns family history, rather than the national or world history studied at school. It doesn’t merely involve drawing a family tree, however – tracing your family history can also result in learning about your roots and your identity. The internet enables millions of people worldwide to access information about their family history, without great expense.

People who research their family history often remark that it’s a fascinating hobby which reveals a lot about where they come from and whether they have famous ancestors. According to a survey involving 900 people who had researched their family history, the chances of discovering a celebrity in your past are one in ten. The survey also concluded that the further back you follow your family line, the more likely you are to find a relation who was much wealthier than you are. However, the vast majority of people who participated in the survey discovered they were better off than their ancestors.

Test 2 / 30

Is parrot really a pet?

All parrots have one thing in common. They are wild creatures. Unlike domesticated dogs and cats that have been bred in captivity for  thousands of years, and are genetically programmed to accept us and to live with us  on our terms, most parrots have been breeding readily in captivity for only the last 15 years. In all  probability, the parents or grandparents of the hand-fed baby parrot that you purchase today from a breeder or pet-store were wild-caught, imported birds.

A baby parrot born in captivity may be tame, but it is still far better equipped psychically and emotionally to  deal  with life in the wild than with life as someone’s pet. A parrot may live 30 to 60 years or more, so it is a  lifetime  job teaching it to successfully and happily coexist with people. Someone unprepared for this kind of commitment would be better  off  with a more complaint companion  animal.

Test 3 / 30

The city of canals

Venice, the world’s only pedestrian city, is easily walkable, and the absence of cars makes this a particularly pleasant experience. However, walking and standing  all  day can also be exhausting, so it is best to  pace  yourself. The Rialtine islands – the ‘main’ part of Venice – are small enough to walk from one end to the  other  in about an hour, provided you don’t get lost (a common occurrence). If you want to get around a bit more quickly, there are numerous vaporetti (water buses) and water taxis. The vaporetti are generally the best way to get around,  even  if the service route map changes frequently.

If you are going to be in Venice for a few days visiting, it is a lot cheaper to use vaporetti than private water taxis. If you want to have a romantic ride along the canals,  go  for a gondola ride, although they  tend  to exist for more scenic purposes, rather  than  getting people from point A to point B.

Test 4 / 30

The performing arts

In the past, British children were frequently encouraged to try out their performing skills for the benefit of adults. They did this by reading aloud, acting or playing a musical instrument. As they grew up they were taken to public places of entertainment – the theatre, opera, circus or ballet. They looked forward to these occasions with great excitement and would remember and discuss what they had seen for many weeks afterwards. But nowadays television and computers supply an endless stream of easily available entertainment, and children quickly accept these marvellous inventions as a very ordinary part of their everyday lives. For many children, the sense of witnessing a very special live performance is gone forever.

But all is not lost. The presence of a TV set may have encouraged a very lazy response from viewers in their own homes, but the desire of those with ambitions to become performing artists themselves does not seem to have been at all diminished. And live performances in public are still relatively popular, albeit with an older, more specialist audience.