Thursday, April 21, 2016

True, False, Not given: Which to choose in the IELTS reading test

One of the most confusing types of questions in the IELTS reading test is the true, false, or not given question. Candidates usually mix up false and not given that makes this type of question tricky and difficult. When faced with this type of question, what should one do?

When we say true, the statement clearly appears in the test. It could be a paraphrased version of the original text, yet the content is the same. False is for statements that are in direct contrast to what has been written in the passage. It says the exact opposite of a particular statement. Not Given are statements that are either true or false. These are statements that cannot be found in the reading passage.

Below is an excerpt in a reading passage in the IELTS test:

For many years now, smoking has been put many lives in danger because of the illnesses it can brought about to any smoker. These diseases include respiratory diseases like asthma and lung cancer.

Below are statements about the given passage.

Smoking is dangerous and can lead to lung cancer. This particular statement is true as it is clearly stated above that the activity of smoking has put lives in danger and has caused several respiratory diseases.

There is no clear evidence whether smoking is dangerous to one’s health. This statement is false since according to the reading passage, smoking is dangerous and can cause a number of diseases.

Men smokers are more prone to cancer as they smoke more than females. This information cannot be found in the passage. Then, the answer should be not given.

Another example:

Chiles originate in South America and have been eaten for at least 9,500 years.

Chiles come from South America. This statement is considered true as it is obviously indicated in the passage that Chiles is from South America.

People began eating Chiles in the last few centuries. In the last few centuries is too short compared with the 9,500 years written in the passage. Therefore, this statement is false.

South Americans were the first people to start eating Chiles. This is clearly a not given mention. There is no mentioning in the passage whether South Americans were the first to consume Chiles.


This type of question is tricky, yet there are a number of ways to help you answer this question:
  • Avoid making assumptions. All your answers should base on what you have read. Sometimes, you have this prior knowledge on a given topic that you assume it is the right answer. Remember that answers are found in the reading text alone.

  • Look out for words such as “only”, “all”,  and “some”. These words will play tricks on your mind as they can change the meaning of the passage.

  • Do not look for the exact vocabulary used in the statement and in the passage. Some items are paraphrased so you have to understand the content well.

  • Do not spend a lot of time looking for the answer in the passage. If a specific detail cannot be found, ten it is surely a not given option. 

  • Read the questions carefully. You cannot identify what kind of statement it is unless you have fully grasped its content. 

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