How to answer True / False / Not Given on IELTS Reading section?

true false not given on IELTS Reading (1)

We all have encountered the easy True/False questions at school. However, we run into a problem when we appear for the True/False/Not Given question in the IELTS Reading test, thanks to an additional option of marking down a statement as Not Given. As a result, we may misinterpret the words and mark wrong answers.

Format of the question True/False/Not Given on IELTS Reading

The question consists of a few statements based on the information given in the passages. These statements have to be marked either true, false or not by verifying the passage’s information. The attached image can help you to identify the format of the question.

IELTS Reading true false not given

How to Solve True/False/Not Given questions?

We will discuss simple steps to solve ‘Identify the information’ or ‘True/False/Not Given’ questions in the IELTS Reading section.

Step 1: Identify the question.

Obviously, if you know your enemy well, you can plan many strategies against them. Similarly, you should be able to identify the question True/False/Not Given well so that you can better strategise. In the actual IELTS, if you waste time in reading the instructions, you may lag behind others. The format can either be understood from the image above. 

As shown, you will be given a few question statements. You must read the passage carefully and determine whether the information in the question is provided or not. 

We can learn about the question theoretically or by solving an actual question. Personally, taking an example to teach is always useful. So, consider the following passage.

Reading Passage

Bike Ride

The start 

The bike ride starts at Clapham Common tube station. 

  • Your Start Time is indicated by the colour of your body number in this pack. It is also printed on the address label of the envelope. Please arrive no earlier than 30 minutes before that time. 
  • We allocate an equal number of cyclists for each Start Time to ensure a steady flow. Please keep to the time you’ve been given so we can keep to our schedule and avoid delaying other riders and prevent ‘bunching’ further down the route. 
  • An Information Point, toilets and refreshment stands will be open from very early in the day. 

Wear a helmet  

Every year we are delighted to see more riders wearing protective helmets, but we would like to see every cyclist on the ride wearing one. More than half of reported injuries in cycling accidents are to the head, and a helmet gives the best protection when the head hits the ground.

In case of breakdown

Refer to your route map and make your way to a Mechanics Point. Mechanical assistance is free when you show your Rider Identity Card; you just pay for the parts.

Questions 1- 3

Do the following statements agree with the information given in the text?

On your answer sheet, write 

TRUE if the statement agrees with the information 

FALSE if the statement contradicts the information 

NOT GIVEN if there is no information on this  

  1. You should not arrive more than half an hour before your allocated starting time.
  2. Your Rider Identity Card will be sent to you before the event.
  3. Helmets are compulsory for all participants.

Step 2: Find the keyword(s).

To solve the question, you must find one or more keywords in the statement. In simple words, keywords can summarise the main message in the sentence. 

If we consider the first question, the keywords are ‘arrive’ and ‘starting time’ as they help us understand that the organisers of the bike ride want participants to arrive before starting time.

Step 3: Locate the keyword(s) in the passage and read the sentences nearby.

After a glance at the first paragraph, we found the information relevant to the sentence – ‘Please arrive no earlier than 30 minutes before that time.’

Step 4: Interpret the sentence and match it with the question statement.

This line states that the rider must arrive a maximum of thirty minutes before the starting time, as precisely stated in the question. 

Caution:

While comparing the meaning of the question with that of the text, don’t compare just words. Also, ensure that the meaning matches entirely and not partially. 

Step 5: Guess whether the statement is true or false or not given.

On this last step, you have to take the final decision. While doing so, you can follow simple logic as follows.

  1. Ask yourself whether the statement is given or not given. If you find any information about the keyword which either confirms or contradicts the statement, then the statement is given. On the other hand, no concrete information is offered in the text about the information in the question; mark an answer as not given.
  2. In case the information is given, then the statement is either true or false. If the data in the text matches with that given in the statement, then it is true. If it contradicts, then the question statement is false. 

In the first question, as the data in the question and that in the text matches perfectly, the answer is ‘true’.

How to report the answer on True/False/Not Given questions?

We come across many errors while writing the answer to these questions. Many students may just write a response as ‘T’ instead of writing ‘true’, which is unacceptable. You must spell the option you have chosen thoroughly. 

Also, since IELTS Listening and Reading sections are case-insensitive, you need not worry whether the first letter of the answer needs to be capital or not. You may even write a response as ‘FaLsE’. Still, it is acceptable as you completed the answer. 

Solving the second True/False/Not Given question

Question 2: Your Rider Identity Card will be sent to you before the event.

  1. Here, the keywords are ‘rider identity card’ and ‘before the event’.
  2. After skimming, one can find the line – ‘Refer to your route map and make your way to a Mechanics Point. Mechanical assistance is free when you show your Rider Identity Card; you just pay for the parts.’
  3. Though this line mentions a part of the keywords, it does not say anything about the participants receiving the Rider Identity Card before the event. 
  4. Using that logic, one can safely say that this question statement is ‘Not Given’. 

It is important to remember that only statements whose information is not given in the passages can be marked as Not Given. Otherwise, there are only two possible outcomes – True or False. 

The third True/False/Not Given question

Question 3: Helmets are compulsory for all participants.

  1. The statement suggests that the helmets are compulsory for all participants. Using the keyword ‘helmet’, skim the passage.
  2. Here, the writer writes that ‘Every year we are delighted to see more riders wearing protective helmets, but we would like to see every cyclist on the ride wearing one.’ 
  3. So, the author states that we recommend wearing a helmet. Now, recommendation and compulsion are two different things. Recommendations are useful but not mandatory. 
  4. In a way, some information is given about wearing helmets. However, it doesn’t match precisely with that in the question statement. This means that the question statement is false. 

Challenges students face on True/False/Not Given questions and solutions

Let’s discuss typical obstacles the students face while solving the ‘Identify the information’ question, also known as the True/False/Not Given question in the IELTS Reading section.

Problems students face on Identify the information (True/False/Not Given) question

IELTS Reading Problems students face on True False Not Given

The above chart illustrates the problems that IELTS students face while solving this question type. 

Problem 1: I can never guess an answer confidently.

The most common problem students tell us during feedback is that they can never guess an answer to a true/false/not given question confidently. There are two main reasons for this. 

The first reason is most students have already read on social media or IELTS websites that this is one of the most challenging questions to answer. So, mentally they have already accepted their defeat. In such a case, how can one expect you to win? So, simply don’t focus too much on what others have to say.

The second reason for the lack of confidence in students is that they don’t follow the steps we discussed since they already panic, thinking that they have to read such a long passage to make any guess. One can be confident about their answer if they have a methodology for solving an answer. 

Problem 2: I am confused between False and Not Given

This is the second most common problem. With the application of the said strategy, most people can differentiate between true and false statements or true and not given sentences. However, they find it difficult to distinguish between false and not given.

One of the primary reasons for such confusion is people ignore the fifth step. It clearly asks a student first to determine whether the statement is given or not.  Once you find out whether the information in the question is given, only you should proceed to determine whether a statement is true or false. 

Problem 3: Difficulty in locating an answer

Again, if a student cannot find a sentence that may give an answer, they must work on their comprehension skills. As stated already, to locate an answer, the test-taker must discover a keyword that could answer. Once the keyword is found, read the information given and compare it with sentences.

Problem 4: Temptation to change the answer at the last moment.

This could be the last obstacle. Still, it is relatively common among those students who master the strategy. We have seen that even if one master the strategy, they cannot believe that they could find answers to the True/False/Not Given questions so quickly. 

So, not trusting their skills, these test-takers re-check their answers and, in panic, misinterpret the passage and change the answer. After checking their answers, they realise that their previous choice was correct. 

Solutions to problems on True/False/Not Given questions on IELTS Reading

Solution 1: Trust the strategy and your understanding.

Always trust the strategy that you have read here or even a strategy that you have developed by yourself and works for you. Not having a battle plan is a sure way of losing a war. The strategy is your battleplan. It is essential for you.

Solution 2: Don’t use information that you may already have about the topic.

It is important to note here that any knowledge that the students bring with them from outside that is relevant to the paragraph should not be utilised in deciding the answers. Such external knowledge affects decision making heavily. The implied meaning of the passage or a sentence should not be considered at all. If there is nothing stated outright, the answer should be considered as not given.

For example, consider the third question again – ‘Your Rider Identity Card will be sent to you before the event.’ Since most of us are aware that for such public events, identity cards are compulsory, and usually, participants receive them before the occasion, without analysis, many students, unfortunately, mark the answer as true.

However, if you go back to the strategy and ask yourself whether any information about the question statement is given or not, you will find that no such data is available. So the answer is Not Given.

Solution 3: To avoid confusion between false and not given, stick to the strategy.

For example, the third question statement suggests that the helmets are compulsory for all participants. You may even find the correct sentence from the passage that has the answer.

‘Every year, we are delighted to see more riders wearing protective helmets, but we would like to see every cyclist on the ride wearing one.’

 Now, it is tempting to mark this question as ‘not given’ since the author doesn’t use the word compulsory or mandatory. However, if you go a step back and think, you will realise that the information about wearing a helmet is given over here. 

Now, since information is given, you could say you need to select whether the statement is true or false. And, then, it is easy to determine that the statement is false. 

I sincerely hope that this article helps you to study True/False/Not Given questions well.

Summary: True/False/Not Given questions

  • You are presented with a few statements which you must verify based on the text passage given for reading.
  • According to IELTS, the official name of the True/False/Not Given question is ‘Identify the information’. 
  • The question is common in IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training.
  • IELTS Academic has one more variation of the Identify the information question called identify the author’s view. Most people know it as a Yes/No/Not Given question.
  • One can apply the Strategies given here for True/False/Not Given to solve Yes/No/Not Given questions.
  • If the data in a question statement is given in the text as it is, mark the question as True.
  • However, if the data is insufficient or not given at all, you may mark the question as Not Given.
  • Lastly, if the information in the question and that in the passage contradict each other, you may mark the question as False.

Summary Completion question on IELTS Reading

To read the next lesson,

4 Responses

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  3. Why don’t you provide practice excersises? instead of providing practice tasks for True/ False and NG only tips and tricks won’t gonna help students.

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