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Emigration to the US IELTS Reading Answers

Updated on 27 February, 2024

upGrad Abroad Team

upGrad Abroad Team

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The 60-minute-long 2024 IELTS Reading test requires candidates to quickly and accurately comprehend a given passage and demonstrate their understanding of the material. To help prospective applicants ace the examination, here is a free sample of the commonly occurring 'Emigration to the US' Reading Passage, along with the correct answers and explanations. 

“Emigration to the US”

American history has been largely the story of migrations. That of the hundred years or so between the Battle of Waterloo and the outbreak of the First World War must certainly be reckoned the largest peaceful migration in recorded history; probably the largest of any kind, ever. It is reckoned that some thirty-five million persons entered the United States during that period, not to mention the large numbers who were also moving to Argentina and Australia. Historians may come to discern that in the twentieth and later centuries this movement was dwarfed when Africa, Asia and South America began to send out their peoples; but if so, they will be observing a pattern, of a whole continent in motion, that was first laid down in nineteenth-century Europe. Only the French seemed to be substantially immune to the virus. Otherwise, all caught it, and all travelled. English, Irish, Welsh, Scots, Germans, Scandinavians, Spaniards, Italians, Poles, Greeks, Jews, Portuguese, Dutch, Hungarians, Czechs, Croats, Slovenes, Serbs, Slovaks, Ukrainians, Lithuanians, Russians, Basques. There were general and particular causes.

As regards the general causes, the rise in population meant that more and more people were trying to earn their living on the same amount of land; inevitably, some were squeezed off it. The increasing cost of the huge armies and navies, with their need for up-to-date equipment, that every great European power maintained, implied heavier and heavier taxes which many found difficult or impossible to pay, and mass conscription, which quite as many naturally wanted to avoid. The opening up of new, superbly productive lands in the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, coupled with the availability of steamers and steam trains to distribute their produce, meant that European peasants could not compete effectively in the world market: they would always be undersold, especially as the arrival of free trade was casting down the old mercantilist barriers everywhere. Steam was important in other ways too. It became a comparatively easy matter to cross land and sea, and to get news from distant parts. The invention of the electric telegraph also speeded up the diffusion of news, especially after a cable was successfully laid across the Atlantic in 1866. New printing and paper­making machines and a rapidly spreading literacy made large-circulation newspapers possible for the first time. In short, horizons widened, even for the stay-at-home. Most important of all, the dislocations in society brought about by the French Revolution, the Industrial Revolution and the various wars and tumults of nineteenth-century Europe shattered the old ways. New states came into being, old ones disappeared, frontiers were recast, the laws of land- tenure were radically altered, internal customs barriers and feudal dues both disappeared, payment in money replaced payment in kind, new industries stimulated new wants and destroyed the self-sufficiency of peasant households and the sale ability of peasant products. The basic structure of rural Europe was transformed.

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Bad times pushed, good times pulled American factories were usually clamouring for workers): small wonder that the peoples moved.

Particular reasons were just as important as these general ones. For example: between 1845 and 1 848 -eland suffered the terrible potato famine. A million people died of starvation or disease, a million more emigrated (1846-51). Matters were not much better when the Great Famine was over: it was followed by lesser ones, and the basic weaknesses of the Irish economy made the outlook hopeless anyway. Mass emigration was a natural resort, at first to America, then, in the twentieth century, increasingly, to England and Scotland. Emigration was encouraged, in me Irish case as in many others, by letters sent home and by remittances of money. The first adventurers thus helped to pay the expenses of their successors. Political reasons could sometimes drive Europeans across the Atlantic too. In 1848 some thousands of Germans fled the failure of the liberal revolution of mat year (but many thousands emigrated for purely economic reasons).

If such external stimuli faltered, American enterprise was more than willing to fill the gap. The high cost of labour had been a constant in American history since the first settlements; now, as the Industrial Revolution made itself felt, the need for workers was greater than ever. The supply of Americans was too small to meet the demand: while times were good on the family farm, as they were on the whole until the 1880s, or while there was new land to be taken up in the West, the drift out of agriculture (which was becoming a permanent feature of America, as of all industrialized, society) would not be large enough to fill the factories. So employers looked for the hands they needed in Europe, whether skilled, like Cornish miners, or unskilled, like Irish navvies. Then, the transcontinental railroads badly needed settlers on their Western land grants, as well as labourers: they could not make regular profits until the lands their tracks crossed were regularly producing crops that needed carrying to market. Soon every port in Europe knew the activities of American shipping lines and their agents, competing with each other to offer advantageous terms to possible emigrants. They stuck up posters, they advertised in the press, they patiently answered inquiries, and they shepherded their clients from their native villages, by train, to the dockside, and then made sure they were safely stowed in the steerage.

Read more about: Tips For Reading in IELTS Exam | IELTS Academic Reading | IELTS Reading Tips And Tricks | IELTS Reading Band Score IELTS General Reading Test | IELTS Reading Section |

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Emigration to the US: Questions & Answers

Question 1

Choose the correct letter A, B, C or D. Write it in the box on your answer sheet.

Guidelines/Tip for Answering These Types of Questions: Candidates need to read through the text and then choose the correct answer.

1) Which of the following does the writer state in the first paragraph?

A. The extent of emigration in the nineteenth century is unlikely to be repeated.

B. Doubts may cast on how much emigration there really was in the nineteenth century.

C. It is possible that emigration from Europe may be exceeded by emigration from outside Europe

D. Emigration can prove to be a better experience for some nationalities than for others.

1)CBecause the passage states that, ‘Historians may come to discern that in the twentieth and later centuries this movement was dwarfed when Africa, Asia and South America began to send out their peoples; which means that emigration from Africa, Asia and South America exceeded the emigration from Europe.

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Questions 2-9

Complete the sentences below with words taken from Reading Passage 1.Use NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS for each.

Write answers, your answers in boxes 2-9 on your answer sheet.

Guidelines/Tip for Answering These Types of Questions: Candidates need to carefully read through the text and then write the correct answer in not more than three words.


Population increases made it impossible for some to live from agriculture. In Europe, countries kept 2)………………………… that were both big, and this resulted in increases in 3)……………………………… and in 4)……………………………….. , which a lot of people wanted to escape. It became impossible for 5)………………………………….. in Europe to earn a living because of developments in other countries and the introduction of 6)…………………………………… People knew more about the world beyond their own countries because there was greater 7)…………………….  8)…………………………….. had been formed because of major historical events. The creation of 9)……………………………………………………………. caused changes in demand.

2)armies and naviesThe passage states that every great European power 'maintained'  'huge armies and navies', which became costlier due to the rising need of keeping 'up-to-date equipment'.‘
3)taxes The passage states that Big armies and navies resulted in 'heavier' taxes to maintain them, which many people couldn't afford to pay.
4)mass conscriptionThe passage states that to maintain big armies and navies, people were forced by law to join them, and many didn’t want that.
5)peasantsThe passage states that  agricultural developments in other countries became too expensive to pay peasants in Europe.
6)free tradeThe passage states that the introduction of free trade cast down the 'cold mercantilist barriers everywhere.' 
7)literacyThe passage states that  the increase in literacy among the people led them to read the newspaper and widen their knowledge of different aspects of the world.
8)new statesThe passage states that a series of significant events in Europe resulted in the formation of new states and the extinction of old ones. 
9)new industriesThe passage states that the ‘new wants’ were generated due to the creation of new industries.

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Questions 10-13

Complete each sentence with the correct ending A-H from the box below.

Write the correct letter A-H in boxes 10-13 on your answer sheet.

Guidelines/Tip for Answering These Types of Questions: Candidates need to carefully read through the text to find the correct answer.

10)  The end of the potato famine in Ireland

11)  People who had emigrated from Ireland

12)  Movement off the land in the US

13)  The arrival of railroad companies in the West of the US

A. made people reluctant to move elsewhere.

B. resulted in a need for more agricultural workers.

C. provided evidence of the advantages of emigration.

D. created a false impression of the advantages of moving elsewhere.

E. did little to improve the position of much of the population.

F. took a long time to have any real effect.

G. failed to satisfy employment requirements.

H. created a surplus of people, who had emigrated.

Question AnswerExplanation
10)EThe passage mentions that the situation after the Great Famine was "not much better," which means that it did not improve because other famines followed, and the Irish economy was crippled. These issues impacted the people of Ireland.
11)CThe passage mentions that emigration was encouraged in the people of Ireland when they received letters and money from the people who had emigrated from the country.
12)GThe passage mentions that there was a "drift" of American people away from agriculture, but it was not enough to supply enough workers for factories and thus could not satisfy employment needs.
13)BThe passage mentions that the 'transcontinental' railroad companies 'needed settlers' on the land as they couldn't make extra money if people weren't growing crops on the land near the railroads, which resulted in the need for more agricultural workers.

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