IELTS General: Reading Tips

IELTS Reading Tips: True, False, Not Given Question Types

For me, this category of questions was the trickiest to scale when practising for the General IELTS exam. To give myself some direction, I’ve compiled a number of tips to help me scale this section. I hope you find them useful:

  1. The answer to a statement is not always in one sentence. You may need to read wide and around the passage to understand what it’s really about before you start answering the questions
  2. To answer false, the statement must contradict (or be the opposite of) what was stated in the passage.
  3. ALL of the statement has to tally with what has been given in the passage for it to be considered true. Otherwise, the answer could be false or not given. The fact that the statement does not match exactly what is in the passage does not mean that it is false. It could just mean that sufficient information is not available for you to conclude on what is in the statement, in which case your answer should always be “Not given”.
  4. Understand the statement completely before you try to find answers for it in the passage though some would ask that you read the passage first. Find out what works for you and stick with it.
  5. Read the whole question. Do NOT focus on key words. Think about the meaning of the question.
  6. Be especially careful with words such as “often”, “All”and “some”. They can change the meaning of the question dramatically.
  7. Be careful with questions beginning “The writer says”. Here, you are asked to decipher the writer’s opinion and not facts
  8. The questions will follow the order of the text. This will help you refer to relevant sections of the text if you are confused.
  9. Be aware that keeping to time is a choice. If you are genuinely confused, skip the question, place a mark on it and come back to it at the end.
  10. Do not spend too long on any one question. If the answer is “Not Given”, there may be nothing for you to find.
  11. One possibility is to mark all the “True” answers you are sure of and all the “False” answers and then guess “Not Given” for the others. This is however, a last ditch effort approach.
  12. Always look out for synonyms when reading and answering questions
  13. Don’t make connections between sentences where there are none. The fact that one sentence follows another does not necessarily mean that one implies another e.g.“Skating & Ice-hockey were successfully included in the Games in 1920. But generally winter sports were felt to be too specialized.” The statement “Antwerp Games proved that winter sports were too specialised” is clearly wrong. Don’t be deceived!
  14. Whenever you have identified a sentence to be true. Don’t hang on to the truth of it! Read the entire paragraph to see if there’s anything that contradicts it. You don’t need to understand the contradiction - you will waste time. Any conflicting information in the same paragraph should be marked as false. If you don’t know where to check in the text for the answer you need, use the clues in the question to guide you to specific areas in the text. The answer you need may involve combining separate portions of the text to arrive at the correct meaning
  15. Be comfortable with skimming text to get the overall meaning and underlining keywords – this will help you find answers with ease when you need to.
  16. Always read with a question in mind or you will waste valuable time
  17. This might seem obvious but you should read the instructions and examples carefully.