Cambridge IELTS 15, Test 3, Reading Passage 3: Why Fairy Tales are Really Scary Tales, Solution with Answer Key

Cambridge IELTS 15, Test 3: Reading Passage 3 – Why Fairy Tales are Really Scary Tales with Answer Key. Here we will discuss detailed explanation of all the questions of the passage. Here is step by step Solution with Tips and Strategies. This post is for educational purpose only. If you find difficulties in reading passage to find the right answer in the exam, just read the post carefully. Tips and strategies will help you find the right answer.


Why Fairy Tales are Really Scary Tales

IELTS Cambridge 15, Test 3, Academic Reading Module, Reading Passage 3


** Tips: How to Solve Sentence Completion Questions in IELTS Reading Module


27. Answer: C

Key words: fairy tales, details, plot

The very first sentence of the passage mentions that: “[…] the same story often takes a variety of forms in different parts of the world”.

Thus, the matching answer is C, and the complete sentence is “In fairy tales, details of the plot show considerable global variation.”

  • global = world
  • variation = variety = different
  • Answer: C.

28. Answer: B

Key words: Tehrani, rejects, useful, lessons, life

Paragraph 2 mentions: “the idea that they contain cautionary messages”. Here, ‘cautionary messages’ refer to the warnings or lessons for life, such as listening to your mother and avoid talking to strangers. This idea may be “what we find interesting” about fairy tales, and why it has survived till this day. However, Tehrani’s research suggests otherwise. Therefore, it can be understood that : Tehrani rejects the idea that the useful, survival-relevant lessons in fairy tales are the reason for their survival.

  • Answer: B.

29. Answer: F

Key words: theories, social, significance, fairy tales

Still in paragraph 2: “That hasn’t stopped anthropologists, folklorists and other academics devising theories to explain the importance of fairy tales in human society”.

Thus, there are various theories about the social significance of fairy tales devised by various academics. However, according to Tehrani, “’We have this huge gap in our knowledge about the history and prehistory of storytelling”, which implies that such theories are developed without full knowledge on the topic, i.e. without factual basis.  So, the complete sentence is:  Various theories about the social significance of fairy tales have been developed without factual basis.

  • develop = devise
  • significance = importance
  • social = in society
  • factual basis = knowledge
  • Answer: F.

30. Answer: A

Key words: insights, development, fairy tales

It is stated in the last sentence of paragraph 2 that: “Now Tehrani has found a way to test these ideas, borrowing a technique from evolutionary biologists”. What Tehrani wants to discover is how fairy tales have “evolved” and “survived”, using the same methods of ‘phylogenetic analysis’ used by biologists (paragraph 3). Therefore, it can be understood that the development or evolution of fairy tales can be studied through methods used by biologists.  This gives the correct sentence:  Insights into the development of fairy tales may be provided through methods used in biological research.

  • development = evolution (evolve)
  • biological research = biologist
  • Answer: A.

31. Answer: E

Key words: analysed, Tehrani

Paragraph 4 mentions that Tehrani focused on analysing variants of two fairy tales: Little Red Riding Hood and The Wolf and The Kids, and “he ended up with 58 stories recorded from oral traditions”. Thus, it can be inferred that these fairy tales were traditionally spoken rather than written.  The complete sentence is:  All the fairy tales analysed by Tehrani were originally spoken rather than written.

  • analyse = analysis
  • spoken = oral
  • originally = tradition (traditionally)
  • Answer: E.


** Tips: How to Solve Completing Summaries with and without a wordlist in IELTS Reading Module

32. Answer: D

Key words: techniques, evolutionary biologists, existed, 58 stories

Tehrani’s use of ‘phylogenetic analysis’ can be found from paragraph 3 onwards.  This process is used by biologists to “work out the evolutionary history, development and relationships among groups of organisms…”

Paragraph 4: “Once his phylogenetic analysis had established that they (the stories) were indeed related, he used the same methods to explore how they have developed and altered over time”, meaning that the phylogenetic analysis was aimed at testing the relations, or links, among these 58 stories. Thus, the answer for this question is D – ‘links’.

  • links = relationships
  • Answer: D.

33. Answer: F

Key words: aspects, fewest, believed, these, most important

Paragraph 5: “First he tested some assumptions about which aspects of the story alter least as it evolves, indicating their importance”. This sentence can be paraphrased into “he tested some assumptions about which aspects of the story had fewest alterations/variations, as this would indicate the most important aspects”.

  • variation = alter (alteration)

Therefore, the answer is F – ‘variations’.

  • Answer: F.

34. Answer: B

Key words: contrary, beliefs, some, included, change,

There is a contrast between what folklorists believe and what Tehrani found. Still in paragraph 5, it is stated: “Folklorists believe that what happens in a story is more central to the story than the characters in it”, while we find in paragraph 6 that “Tehrani found no significant difference in the rate of evolution of incidents compared with that of characters”. This means that he found both incidents (what happens) and characters in a story change over time, not just the characters as suggested by folklorists. Thus, the answer should be something synonymous to ‘incidents’, which can only be B – ‘events’.

  • change over time = evolve (rate of evolution)
  • events = incidents
  • Answer: B.

35. Answer: C

Key words: surprised, parts, story, provide, unimportant

In paragraph 7, what was a “really big surprise” for Tehrani was that he found cautionary elements to be “just as flexible as seemingly trivial details” in “hunter-gatherer folk tales”.

This means that the elements which seem to provide cautionary, survival-relevant information may also be trivial, or unimportant, because they are not always fixed in the story.  Although they may warn of “possible dangers” that may be faced in the environment, these parts of a story have surprisingly changed over time.  Thus, the answer should be synonymous to ‘caution’ or ‘survival’. The most appropriate would be C – ‘warning’.

  • story = tale
  • unimportant = trivial
  • Answer: C.

36. Answer: G

Key words: aspect, most important, story’s survival

The end of paragraph 7 features a rhetorical question: “What, then, is important enough to be reproduced from generation to generation?”. If a story is “reproduced from generation to generation, this means that the story survives for a long time. The answer, which was previously thought to be cautionary information/warnings, is actually “fear” (paragraph 8). The stories which survive are usually “blood-thirsty and gruesome”, adjectives that we associate with horror and fear. Thus, the answer must be G – ‘horror’ because it has a similar meaning.

  • horror = fear
  • Answer: G.

37. Answer: B He looked at many different forms of the same basic story.

Key words:  method, Tehrani, test, ideas, fairy tales

As mentioned in paragraph 4, Tehrani analysed 58 variants of two fairy tales in their oral form: “he ended up with 58 stories recorded from oral traditions”. Thus, the answer is clearly B, because these stories are variants of the same basic story.  A is incorrect because he only examined oral stories; C is also incorrect as the stories are clearly related; D is not discussed in the passage.

  • Answer: B.


** Tips: How To Solve Multiple Choice Questions in IELTS Reading Module

38. Answer: D features of stories only survive if they have a deeper significance

Key words:  Tehrani’s views, Jack Zipes, suggests

By skimming the proper noun ‘Jack Zipes’, we can find his opinion in paragraph 9: “’Even if they’re gruesome, they won’t stick unless they matter”. Here, ‘gruesome’ is synonymous to ‘fearful, horrific’. Zipes argues that such gruesome features/details of fairy tales will not last long unless they have some meaning or significance in the story.

  • stick = survive
  • have significance = matter

Thus, the answer must be D.

  • Answer: D.

39. Answer: A to indicate that Jack Zipes’ theory is incorrect

Key words: Tehrani, Chinese, Japanese, fairy tales

Still in paragraph 9, Tehrani defends his idea against the view of Jack Zipes. Tehrani “points out that although this is often the case in Western versions, it is not always true elsewhere”. The case here refers to the opinion of Jack Zipes that all fairy tales have “the perennial theme of women as victims”. Tehrani shows that this theme is not present in Chinese and Japanese fairy tales, in which the woman is often actually the villain, instead of victim. Thus, Tehrani refers to these fairy tales to argue that Jack Zipes’ theory is incorrect.

  • Answer: A.

40. Answer: A They are a safe way of learning to deal with fear.

Key words: Mathias Clasen, believe

The last paragraph mentions Mathias Clasen’s belief: “scary stories teach us what it feels like to be afraid without having to experience real danger”. In other words, fairy tales let us learn about fear in a safer way (rather than experiencing real danger). The answer is therefore A.

The other answers are incorrect for the following reasons:

B is incorrect because “we seek out entertainment that’s designed to scare us”. This means humans seek out, not avoid, fairy tales with fearful details.

C is irrelevant. While it is mentioned that “’Habits and morals change”, Mathias Clasen does not say these are reflected in fairy tales.

D is incorrect because fairy tales with fearful features help us to “build up resistance to negative emotions”, thereby INCREASING (not REDUCING) our ability to deal with real-world problems.

  • Answer: A.

Answer Key – Why Fairy Tales are Really Scary Tales

Why Fairy Tales are Really Scary Tales Reading Answers

27. C
28. B
29. F
30. A
31. E
32. D
33. F
34. B
35. C
36. G
37. B
38. D
39. A
40. A



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