Top tips to tackle true or false questions in IELTS Reading
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Useful tips to tackle true or false questions in IELTS Reading

Most of the students and candidates consider this type of questions in IELTS Reading to be the trickiest. Have you already guessed which one it is? They are ‘True-False-Not Given’ or ‘Yes-No-Not Given’ questions. You must admit that it would be good if there were only true and false statements. However, what shall we do with the third option? Such questions often cause problems because of the difficulty in understanding the difference between answers that are ‘false’ or ‘not given’. Today, we are going to share some tricks and show some patterns that will help you find answers to those questions without much effort.

Almost all tests contain such questions, and chances are high that you will have them in your reading exam as well. Usually, True-False-Not Given questions come in the first passage, which is believed to be the easiest one, or sometimes in the second. Yes-No-Not Given questions appear in the second or the third passage most of the time. There are 3 to 5 questions of this type in a set, and you have to use all the answers.

Understanding the questions

What do we have to do for this type of questions? In the exam, you will get the paper where there will be the article you need to read and the questions. Here is the official sample task from the IELTS Academic exam.

READ ABOUT: How to deal with multiple choice questions in IELTS Reading

As you can see, each question is a statement. You need to look at that statement, read through the passage, and decide if this information is in the passage:

  • if you can find the information in the text, then the answer is ‘TRUE’;
  • if the information in the passage is opposite to the statement, then it is ‘FALSE’;
  • if you cannot find the information as you’ve read through the passage, the answer is ‘NOT GIVEN’. Why? It is simply because that you cannot tell if the statement is true or false from looking at the text or the information to make the decision as regards true or false is not there.

One more thing to remember is that ‘True-False-Not Given’ questions are about factual information while the ‘Yes-No-Not Given’ questions are all about the writer’s opinion.

Those are the basic requirements of this type of questions. Read further, and we will look at the difference between ‘True’, ‘False’ and ‘Not Given’ as well as at some examples.

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4 steps to take before giving the answer

The action plan for tackling ‘Yes-No-Not Given’ and ‘True-False-Not Given’ questions is exactly the same.

Step 1. Read the passage for a general idea. 

This is a step for all types of questions in IELTS Reading if they go first in the passage. It helps you find answers to questions in it more easily later on when you will need to read in detail the part of the text where you think the answer is.

Step 2. Look at the first statement and underline the keywords.

For example: Marie became interested in science when she was a child.

Step 3. Locate and choose the answer in the passage.

For this, you will need to scan the text and find similar words and synonyms in it. The same words help locate facts in the passage. Synonyms help us choose the answer.

The only paragraph where we can read about her childhood, goes like this:

Step 4. Read carefully and choose T, F or NG.

Now, let us read more carefully and watch out for the synonyms or the opposite meanings to choose the answer.

‘From childhood’ has the same meaning as ‘when she was a child’. Then we read about ‘medical studies’ which is also related to ‘interested in science’. However, does this information coincide with what we read in the statement? No, it doesn’t. Does the passage say anything that contradicts with our statement? Not really. What we can learn about Marie as a child is that she ‘was remarkable for her prodigious memory’, and it was her sister whose medical studies Marie financed. Can we find any information about what she was interested in when she was younger? No, we can’t. What does this mean? The answer is simply NOT GIVEN in the reading passage.

After you have chosen the answer, return to Step 2 with the rest of the statements and follow the same procedure.

In our course, we look at more examples in detail and analyse various answers for this type of questions in the IELTS Reading exam. Our IELTS experts share other useful tips on tackling ‘True-False-Not Given’ questions. Join our course if you want to know all of them and skyrocket your IELTS result.

Other things to remember

  • Questions may not be in order but in most tests they are.
  • Names and dates help locate the correct answers too. Highlight them whenever you see them.
  • Look for synonyms and paraphrasing. You already know that you are not going to find exactly the same words in the passage.
  • If you can’t find the answer to the question, mark it as ‘NOT GIVEN’. Usually, you cannot find it because it is not given. Do not waste too much time on any single question and move on.
  • Remember what type of question you are answering. Don’t write ‘False’ instead of ‘No’, or ‘Yes’ instead of ‘True’. Read instructions carefully and keep them in mind.
  • Do not overthink. This type of questions is not about your background knowledge. It is about what is in the text. Once you have found the answer, go for it.

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