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Unveiling the Colors of Autumn Leaves: - IELTS Reading Passage with Questions & Answers

Updated on 06 December, 2023

Akansha Semwal

Akansha Semwal

Sr. Content Writer & Study Abroad Expert


Autumn is a season of change, celebrated for its rich tapestry of colors that transform the landscape into a painter's palette. Understanding this seasonal phenomenon not only enriches one’s appreciation of nature but also serves as an excellent topic for IELTS reading comprehension. The following passage delves into the science behind the changing colors of autumn leaves, presenting an opportunity for learners to practice reading for detail, skimming, scanning, and inferential comprehension—all crucial skills for the IELTS reading section.


As the days shorten and the nights grow longer, a crisp coolness laces the air, heralding the arrival of autumn. This is the time when forests shed their verdant summer attire and don a spectrum of yellows, oranges, and reds. But what triggers this magnificent transformation of autumn leaves?

The phenomenon begins at the cellular level, with the diminishment of chlorophyll, the pigment responsible for the leaves' green hue and crucial for photosynthesis. Throughout spring and summer, chlorophyll absorbs sunlight, converting it into the sugars that fuel a tree's growth. As autumn approaches, certain biochemical processes within the tree prepare it for the upcoming cold. These changes signal chlorophyll to break down, slowly revealing other pigments that have been present in the leaf all along, but masked by the dominant green.

Carotenoids, responsible for the yellow and orange hues, become visible, painting leaves in warm tones that signal the changing season. Meanwhile, anthocyanins, which are produced in response to the cooler temperatures and reduced daylight, give leaves their red and purple tints. This interplay of pigments results in the vibrant array of colors that is synonymous with autumn's beauty.

But this is more than a mere visual feast. The transformation of leaves serves a critical ecological purpose. The shedding of leaves is a strategic retreat, allowing trees to conserve water and energy as they enter a state of dormancy to survive the winter. The fallen leaves, in turn, become a rich source of nutrients for the forest floor, fostering a new cycle of growth.


Questions & Answers:

Q1. What triggers the change in leaf color during autumn?

A) Longer days and shorter nights

B) Increased chlorophyll production

C) Breakdown of chlorophyll

D) Rise in temperature

Answer: C) Breakdown of chlorophyll

A1. Explanation: The passage states that the change in color is due to the breakdown of chlorophyll, the green pigment in leaves, allowing other pigments to become visible.

Q2. Fill in the blank: The pigments known as __________ are responsible for the yellow and orange hues in autumn leaves.

Answer: Carotenoids

A2. Explanation: Carotenoids are mentioned in the passage as the pigments that become visible when chlorophyll diminishes, giving leaves their yellow and orange colors.

Q3. True or False: Anthocyanins are present in leaves throughout the year.

Answer: False

A3. Explanation: The passage specifies that anthocyanins are produced in response to cooler temperatures and reduced daylight, suggesting that they are not present year-round but are rather triggered by the conditions of autumn.

Q4. What is the ecological purpose of leaves changing color and eventually falling?

A) To provide food for wildlife

B) To conserve water and energy for the tree

C) To attract tourists

D) To increase photosynthesis

Answer: B) To conserve water and energy for the tree

A4. Explanation: The passage explains that the shedding of leaves allows trees to conserve water and energy as they prepare to survive the winter.

Q5. Fill in the blank: Leaves obtain their green color from a pigment called __________.

Answer: Chlorophyll

A5. Explanation: Chlorophyll is described in the passage as the pigment that gives leaves their green color and is crucial for photosynthesis.

Q6. Multiple Choice: What role do anthocyanins play in the autumnal leaf color change?

A) They extend the process of photosynthesis.

B) They protect the leaf from excess sunlight.

C) They contribute to the red and purple tints.

D) They prevent the leaf from falling off prematurely.

Answer: C) They contribute to the red and purple tints.

A6. Explanation: The passage details that anthocyanins give leaves their red and purple colors in response to cooler temperatures and reduced daylight during autumn.

Q7. Fill in the blank: As trees prepare for winter, they enter a state of __________ to survive the colder months.

Answer: dormancy

A7. Explanation: The passage mentions that trees prepare for the upcoming cold by entering a state of dormancy, which is a period of inactivity to conserve resources.

Q8. True or False: Carotenoids are only produced during autumn.

Answer: False

A8. Explanation: The passage indicates that carotenoids are present in the leaf throughout the year but are masked by the green chlorophyll. They become visible when the chlorophyll breaks down in the autumn.

Q9. Multiple Choice: What happens to the leaves after they fall to the forest floor?

A) They decompose and become a source of nutrients.

B) They are gathered and disposed of by forest animals.

C) They hinder the growth of new plants.

D) They reattach to the trees in spring.

Answer: A) They decompose and become a source of nutrients.

A9. Explanation: According to the passage, the fallen leaves enrich the forest floor as they decompose, becoming a source of nutrients that foster new growth.

Q10. Fill in the blank: In the autumn, the diminishing daylight and cooler temperatures signal the tree to reduce __________ production.

Answer: chlorophyll

A10. Explanation: The passage describes that with the approach of autumn, biochemical processes within the tree signal a reduction in chlorophyll production, leading to the breakdown of this pigment and the subsequent change in leaf color.

IELTS Reading Exam Tips:

Tip 1: Always read the passage thoroughly before attempting the questions, focusing on understanding the main ideas and supporting details.

Tip 2: For multiple-choice questions, eliminate options that you can clearly identify as incorrect based on information from the passage.

Tip 3: Pay attention to keywords in fill-in-the-blank questions and identify the part of the passage where these details are discussed.

Tip 4: When approaching true/false questions, remember that the answer must be supported by information in the passage. If it's not mentioned or contradicts the passage, it's false.

Tip 5: Practice making inferences based on the information given. Some questions may require you to read between the lines and deduce answers that are not explicitly stated.

By understanding the techniques of IELTS reading questions and familiarizing yourself with passages like the one on autumn leaves, you'll be better equipped to handle the IELTS reading section with confidence. Remember, practice is key to recognizing patterns, building speed, and enhancing comprehension skills.

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Akansha Semwal

Sr. Content Writer & Study Abroad Expert

Akansha Semwal is a content marketer at upGrad and has also worked as a social media marketer & sub-editor. Experienced in creating impressive Statement of Purpose, Essays, and LOR, she knows how to captivate the attention of Admissions Committee. Her research-driven;study-abroad articles helps aspirants to make the prudent decision. She holds a bachelor's & master's degree in Literature from the University of Delhi.

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