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IELTS Reading: True / False / Not Given

IELTS Reading: True/ False/ Not Given

 

Many candidates find the True / False / Not Given question one of the most challenging tasks in the Reading test. In fact, the biggest problem is the ‘Not Given’ option. Most candidates are not used to having this option and it confuses them a lot. They spend too much time making sure that it is ‘Not Given’ and this affects the rest of their test.

Well, what does True / False / Not Given actually mean?

  • True means that the text agrees with or confirms the information in the statement.
  • False means that the text contradicts or is the opposite to the information in the statement.
  • Not Given means that there is no information or it is impossible to know.

Try a True / False / Not Given exercise

Here’s an example. First read the text. Then answer the three questions below.

  1. Children under 12 cannot leave the camp without an adult.
    a. True
    b. False
    c. Not Given
  2. Children aged 11 go to bed at 9.30 on Friday evenings.
    a. True
    b. False
    c. Not Given
  3. Only parents are allowed to visit.
    a. True
    b. False
    c. Not Given

Answers

The answer to question 1 is True because it is stated clearly in the passage: ‘Children under 12 must not leave the camp unless accompanied by an adult.’ The answer to the second question is False because in the passage it is mentioned that ‘Bedtime is at 10.30 for children under 12’ and ‘On Friday and Saturday nights bedtime is an hour later.’ The answer for question 3 is Not Given as there is no such information in the passage. It says ‘visitors’ and does not specify what kind of visitors.

Lessons to learn

So, what are the key strategies when answering this question?

  • Read the instructions and all the statements carefully. Try to understand what the whole statement means, and do not focus only on key words.
  • Identify any words that qualify the statement, for example some, all, mainly, often, always and occasionally. These words are there to test if you have read the whole statement because they can change the meaning.
  • Don’t skim and scan the text to find the final answer. You will have to read the appropriate part of the text very carefully in order to understand what the writer means.
  • Try to think of what synonyms might be in the text. This will help you identify the matching part of the text.
  • The answers will be sequential with the passage. This means that the answer to the first question will come first in the passage, the second question after and the last one or two, near the end.
  • Do not spend a long time looking for the answer to one question; if you have no idea what the answer is, put ‘Not Given’. You probably have no idea because the answer is not there.

And finally:

  • Don’t assume anything based on your knowledge and experience. Read the text and find the answers there.
  • Don’t overthink your answer. You could start building long logical sequences that will lead you to the wrong answer.

More practice

The reason Yes / No / Not Given questions seem so difficult is that most candidates haven’t seen them before. These questions don’t appear in typical school English exams. That’s true of other task types in the IELTS Reading test too: matching headings to paragraphs, sentence completion, and so on. That’s why it is so important to understand the task types first. It doesn’t matter how good your English is, if you don’t understand how to answer the question, you’re going to have a tough time on test day.

Better still, practise every element of the Reading test with the British Council’s official online IELTS preparation course, Road to IELTS. You will find resources, tutorials and tips, and practice tests for you to use.

Further reading

In this post I have covered Yes / No / Not Given questions. If you found it useful, you can also learn more about other question types like multiple choice questions and matching headings to paragraphs.

17 comments

  1. Bill says:

    I got three. This is practically easy to go. I wish all questions could be as simple as this. “If wishes were horses everybody would ride”.

  2. David says:

    Hi, The answers to those questions was not that stressful to get cos, i got them all. Kindly explain more on multiple choice, matching heading and more. Reading is always my challenge. Thanks

  3. Mangaliso says:

    I am struggling to understand this question below.
    It is a True/False/Not Given question.
    Any advice on how to tackle this?

    Question: There are three main kinds of identity theft.

    Identity crime is a generic term used to describe offences in which someone uses a
    fabricated or fictitious identity, a manipulated identity (the alteration of one’s own identity)
    or a stolen identity to commit a crime. The third of these, identity theft, knows no
    geographical boundaries and is on the increase as more people conduct business and social
    interactions over the internet. This type of crime produces substantial profits for criminals
    and causes extensive economic losses to governments, private corporations and individuals.
    Much of the money lost by individuals stems from credit card fraud, identity theft and scams.

    • It is a tricky question. If we look only to this paragraph, ‘Not Given’ will be the answer. Although it is stated that identity theft is the third type of identity crime, the text never says how many kinds of identity crimes are there (there could be fourth/fifth and so on)

  4. HAMOU AIT AMER says:

    Parfait,
    Maintenant je me suis fait une idée sur la manière de poser les questions dans IELTS et je la trouve très intéressante et très logique. Le plus important, c’est que je suis arrivé à répondre aux 03 questions et c’est très encourageant pour moi.

    Merci beaucoup pour cet éclaircissement

    Très cordialement,

    Ait Amer Hamou
    Alger

  5. Sonia says:

    Hello, I need to know about academic ielts ukvi, which is planned for health care assistants. Difference between general ielts and academic ukvi ielts.

    • Hi there,
      It is worth looking at the official IELTS website for the answer to this question but generally speaking, the IELTS and IELTS for UKVI are the same test in terms of format, content, scoring and difficulty. However, in IELTS for UKVI you may have a different report form to make sure you have all the requirements to be approved by the UK Home Office.

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