The Meaning and Power of Smell - IELTS Reading Answers

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Mrunmayai Bobade
Updated on May 06, 2023 11:23 AM IST

The IELTS Reading section passages consist of extensive academic writings similar to the type of reading you might expect at university, such as the passage 'The Meaning and Power of Smell.' These are from academic journals, magazines, books, and newspapers.

Reading is the second section of the IELTS exam, which test takers must complete in 60 minutes. It includes three or four reading sections of increasing difficulty, as well as 40 questions to answer. The IELTS Reading section passages will assess a variety of skills, such as producing a diagram, table, or summary, finding specific information, identifying the writer's opinion or purpose, and so on.

If you want to ace your IELTS Reading test on the first try, the Meaning and Power of Smell reading answers and questions are the best way to become acquainted with and learn more about how to answer different types of questions asked in the IELTS Reading section, such as sentence completion, multiple choice questions, list of headings, and more.

The Meaning and Power of Smell Reading Passage Sample in IELTS Reading

Olfaction, or the sense of smell, is extremely powerful. Odours have psychological, social, and even bodily effects on us. Most of the time, though, we breathe in ambient fragrances/aromas without realising their significance. When our sense of smell is hampered or compromised for whatever reason, we begin to grasp its essential role in guaranteeing our well-being, or at least our perception of it. Before discussing the Meaning and Power of Smell reading answers, let us have a look at some IELTS reading passages given below:

1. At Concordia University in Montreal, Anthony Synott polled students about the importance of smell in their daily lives. It became apparent that aroma has the power to stir up powerful emotions. Any scent or aroma that is connected to a good or enjoyable experience can make us happy. On the other hand, disgust can be evoked by any repulsive or horrible odour or even one connected to a bad experience or memory. In response to survey participants, a large portion of their olfactory preferences — that is, what they liked or disliked — were also motivated by emotional attachments. These relationships can occasionally lead us to categorise ordinarily harsh scents as more acceptable and otherwise pleasant or fragrant scents as absolutely repugnant for particular people. As a consequence, the smells and their perceptions, in addition to the feelings, experiences, and remembrance connected to them, all play a role in how we interpret smells.

2. Odours have significant indicators for preserving positive social connections. One survey respondent believed that lacking the power of touch and scent, there is no real or full psychological connection to someone you cherish. After birth, babies can smell their mothers' odours, and adults can smell their spouses' or kids' aromas. Men and women were able to discriminate between clothing worn by their husbands versus comparable clothes worn by others in one widely recognised test of this kind. Most participants had never considered odour as a cue for acknowledgement or determination of family members before this test. On the other hand, the results of this study proved that scents have a way to be recorded in our cerebral cortex regardless of whether we as a species have no awareness of them as well.

3. The sense of smell is likely the most undervalued throughout many regions and civilizations, regardless of its significance in perceptual and psychological linkages. This is because, among the five senses, smell is typically given a low priority. The sense that humans have are less developed and less important than it is for mammals. Our olfactory skills pale in comparison to certain animals' extraordinary smelling capabilities. Our nostrils can detect even very small quantities of dozens of disparate aromas with simplicity.

4. The aroma is still a mysterious phenomenon. Odours, unlike colours, do not translate into different names across dialects and civilizations. This results from a lack of specific nomenclature. When describing any aroma, we must employ the general phrase "it smells like", and we are unable to adequately convey the feeling of smell. Odours cannot be properly preserved or portrayed over time since it is incapable to record them. We are limited to our memories and vivid interpretations, which inexorably shape the field of olfactory research

5. The majority of research on smell has been conducted, taking into account its scientific and physical elements. Although progress has been made in understanding the chemical and biological aspects of olfaction, numerous key questions remain unresolved. Researchers are still unsure if the scent is a single sense or a combination of senses, i.e., one involves odour responses and the other involves being able to record all odourless substances in the air. Is the nose the only part of the body that is affected by odours? How can odours be measured objectively while accounting for non-physical factors? These questions show how the study of smell and its psychology is influencing scholars in the field.

6. However, smell is not merely any psychological or biological element or phenomenon. It has social, historical, and cultural undertones as well. Many scents, for example, are considered disgusting/insulting in some groups but acceptable in others. Cultural values are frequently inextricably linked to scents. Our sense of smell represents and serves as a model for our involvement or interaction with the world around us. Different smells can help us connect with emotionally charged and personal ideas and experiences. The value we assign to it will be assimilated in a personalised manner by members of society. Most importantly, our shared perceptions or views about odours may help distinguish us from a variety of other civilizations. The study of odours' cultural histories is an investigation of human cultures and their very essence.

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The Meaning and Power of Smell Reading Answers

After reading the above passage, here are some IELTS reading questions and answers for test-takers to practice:

Questions 1-6: The given reading passage contains six paragraphs, from A to F. Choose the appropriate heading for each paragraph from the list below.

List of Headings

  1. The difficulties of talking about smells.

  2. The role of smell in personal relationships.

  3. Future studies into the smell.

  4. The relationship between the brain and the nose.

  5. The interpretation of smells as a factor in defining groups.

  6. Why our sense of smell is not appreciated?

  7. The smell is our superior sense.

  8. The relationship between smell and feelings.


  1. Para A

Explanation: The third line of this text plainly states that 'Smell can generate intense emotional responses,' implying that scent can produce feelings.

  1. Para B

Explanation: It is said in the second sentence of this paragraph that "there is no meaningful emotional connecting without touching and smelling a loved one," which suggests that a smell is essential to build a strong connection between two individuals in any relationship.

  1. Para C

Explanation: The second sentence of this paragraph mentions that humans' sense of smell is underdeveloped.

  1. Para D

Explanation: It is stated in the first and second lines of this paragraph that the odours cannot be specified but must be described by saying "it smells like...". It signifies that a smell lacks the ability to convey itself verbally.

  1. Para E

Explanation: The third sentence of this paragraph makes it apparent that the smell investigation is still ongoing and that it has yet to be determined if the smell is one or two senses.

  1. Para F

Explanation: The first line of the paragraph states that smell is a social and historical phenomenon that is not solely tied to emotion or biology. This means that smell has always been related to cultures throughout history. Our perceptions of odour distinguish us from other groups of humans.

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Questions 7-10: Choose the correct letter in the questions given below, A, B, C or D.

  1. According to the introduction, we realise the significance of fragrance when ____

A. We discover a new smell

B. We experience a powerful smell

C. Our ability to smell is damaged

D. We are surrounded by odours

  1. Paragraph B describes an experiment that is

A. It shows how we make use of smell without realizing it.

B. Demonstrates that family members have a similar smell.

C. Proves that a sense of smell is learnt.

D. Compares the sense of smell in males and females.

  1. In paragraph C, what is the writer doing?

A. Supporting other research

B. Making a proposal

C. Rejecting a common belief

D. Describing limitations

  1. In paragraph E, what does the author recommend about the research on smell in the atmosphere?

A. The measurement of smell is becoming more accurate.

B. Researchers believe smell is a purely physical reaction.

C. Most smells are inoffensive.

D. Smell is yet to be defined.


  1. C

Explanation: Yes, we will realise the importance of scent when our ability to smell is impaired, because we will not be aware that we can detect the odour until then.

  1. A

Explanation: In a relationship, the odour is very essential. Children recognise their mother's odours shortly after birth, while adults use smell to identify family members.

  1. C

Explanation: The majority of individuals believe that humans' olfactory abilities are inferior to those of animals. However, humans do have powerful olfactory abilities that allow us to recognise thousands of different odours.

  1. D

Explanation: The smell has yet to be identified because there is no scientific evidence that odour affects simply the nose in our bodies. There is considerable debate about whether the smell is a single or dual sense.

Questions 11-14: Complete the sentences given below: Choose ONE WORD ONLY from the passage for each answer. 

  1. According to studies, odours can help people recognise the ______ of their spouses and wives.

  2. Certain linguistic groups may struggle to describe smell because they lack the necessary ______.

  3. The sense of smell may involve a response to ________ which does not smell, in addition to obvious odours.

  4. Odours regarded as unpleasant in certain ________ are not regarded as unpleasant in others.


  1. Clothing 

Explanation: Odours have been shown in studies to assist people to identify apparel belonging to their husbands and wives.

  1. Vocabulary 

Explanation: Certain linguistic groups may struggle to describe smell because they lack the necessary vocabulary.

  1. Chemicals 

Explanation: In addition to visible odours, the sense of smell may include a response to substances that do not smell.

  1. Cultures 

Explanation: Certain odours are considered unpleasant in some cultures but not in others.

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FAQs on IELTS The Meaning and Power of Smell

How to solve the IELTS Meaning and Power of Smell reading answers’ for the list of heading types of questions?

To answer the IELTS Meaning and Power of Smell reading answers for the list of heading types of questions, follow a simple step-by-step procedure to answer the correct heading for the paragraph. Matching titles to paragraphs assesses your understanding of broad knowledge. Always look for the most general heading. This could be the opening or last paragraph. Always begin exercises with headings since headings summarise the text. They assist you in scanning the answers to the other questions.

How to solve the Meaning and Power of Smell reading answers for the multiple choice questions?

Here are some helpful hints for solving Meaning and Power of Smell reading answers for MCQs:

  • Check the instructions to see how many letters you need to circle.
  • Skim through all of the questions and answer options fast.
  • While doing so, highlight the keywords.
  • Return to the first question. Determine whether you are looking for specific information or if the query requires you to understand the entire text. Then, as necessary, scan or skim the material to find the answer.

How to solve the Meaning and Power of Smell reading answers for the sentence completion types of questions?

Here are some helpful hints for understanding the Meaning and Power of Smell reading answers for sentence complete questions:

  • Highlight the keywords.
  • Determine what information you require.
  • Consider the grammatical form as well as the vocabulary that should immediately follow the stem.
  • Find the location in the text where the information should be and read it attentively.
  • Because the questions are unlikely to utilise the same words as those in the text, look for synonyms and comparable formulations.

How long should one spend on reading and solving the Meaning and Power of Smell answers in IELTS Reading?

IELTS experts generally advise spending no more than 20 minutes on each passage of the IELTS Reading section test. Hence, test-takers must spend not more than 20 minutes on the Meaning and Power of Smell passage too. However, if you find the first passage simple, you may finish it in less time, giving you more time to answer questions in the next two passages.

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