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How to Answer an IELTS True/False/Not Given Question Type

Madison Oster November 3rd, 2019
 

In your IELTS preparation, you’ll need to practice a total of 11 IELTS reading question types. In this post, we’ll look at the Identify Information (also known as TRUE/FALSE/NOT GIVEN) IELTS reading question type in detail and provide you with many IELTS reading Identifying Information practice questions. Our IELTS Instructor Tina will also show you exactly how you should approach IELTS reading Identifying Information questions in a lesson video.

Table Of Contents

IELTS Reading Identify Information Question Introduction

A lot of people also call this question type “TRUE/FALSE/NOT GIVEN”, because in this question type, you will see a lot of statements about factual information and your job is to figure out if the statement (fact) is true, false, or not given according to the reading passage. Simply put:

  • If the fact matches the reading, then it is TRUE.
  • If the fact contradicts the information in the reading in some way, then it is FALSE.
  • If the fact is not mentioned or cannot be inferred in the reading, then it is NOT GIVEN.

This question type is one of the most difficult question types on the IELTS reading test because you need to spend time finding the correlating information in the reading passage.  This tests your speed reading skills. In addition, you need to have strong logic in order to answer correctly. Even many native English speakers find this question type challenging because they cannot logically distinguish between “FALSE” and "NOT GIVEN".   But don’t worry! We will help you in this post.

3 common problems answering “TRUE/FALSE/NOT GIVEN” questions

In general, there are 3 common problems students have when answering “TRUE/FALSE/NOT GIVEN” questions.

Common problem 1

A common mistake students make is if the statement is similar to the information in the text, they think the answer is “FALSE”. This is wrong. “True” means that the meaning is the same. If it is just similar, then it is “FALSE”. Remember we are dealing with factual information, so there is no room for saying similar is true. The most common way IELTS examiners try to trick you is by adding qualifying words such as mainly, all, often, some, occasionally, and always. These words can completely change the meaning of a sentence. You need to be aware of them. Here is a typical example.

Identifying Information Example Question
Do the following statements agree with the information given in the reading passage? In boxes 1–5 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. All glaciers exist near the north and south poles of the earth.
2. ...
The majority of the earth’s glaciers are located near the poles. The reason glaciers are generally formed in high alpine regions is that they require cold temperatures throughout the year. In these areas where there is little opportunity for summer ablation (loss of mass), snow changes to compacted fim and then crystallized ice. During periods in which melting and evaporation exceed the amount of snowfall, glaciers will retreat rather than progress. While glaciers rely heavily on snowfall, other climatic conditions including freezing rain, avalanches, and wind, contribute to their growth. One year of below average precipitation can stunt the growth of a glacier tremendously. With the rare exception of surging glaciers, a common glacier flows about 10 inches per day in the summer and 5 inches per day in the winter. The fastest glacial surge on record occurred in 1953, when the Kutiah Glacier in Pakistan grew more than 12 kilometers in three months.

The statement “All glaciers exist near the north and south poles of the earth.” is FALSE because the sentence in the text is “The majority of the earth’s glaciers are located near the poles.

You also need to be very careful about some small details. Here is an example.

Identifying Information Example Question
Do the following statements agree with the information given in the reading passage? In boxes 1–5 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. Thirty percent of deaths in the United States are caused by smoking-related diseases
2. ...
Discovered in the early 1800s and named nicotianine, the oily essence now called nicotine is the main active ingredient of tobacco. Nicotine, however, is only a small component of cigarette smoke, which contains more than 4,700 chemical compounds, including 43 cancer-causing substances. In recent times, scientific research has been providing evidence that years of cigarette smoking vastly increases the risk of developing fatal medical conditions.

In addition to being responsible for more than 85 percent of lung cancers, smoking is associated with cancers of, amongst others, the mouth, stomach and kidneys, and is thought to cause about 14 percent of leukemia and cervical cancers. In 1990, smoking caused more than 84,000 deaths, mainly resulting from such problems as pneumonia, bronchitis and influenza. Smoking, it is believed, is responsible for 30 percent of all deaths from cancer and clearly represents the most important preventable cause of cancer in countries like the United States today.

The statement is “Thirty percent of deaths in the United States are caused by smoking-related diseases”. The correlating reading passage is: “Smoking, it is believed, is responsible for 30 percent of all deaths from cancer.

A lot of students might have quickly answered this question as a TRUE because the ignore the words “deaths from cancer”. However, the correct answer is FALSE as only 30 percent of deaths from cancer in the United States are caused by smoking-related diseases. Some students might have answered this question as “NOT GIVEN”. However, logically,  if smoking accounts for 30% of deaths from cancer, then it is responsible for less than 30% of total deaths from all diseases. So the answer is FALSE.

Common problem 2

The second scenario where people often go wrong is when the statement does not look like the information in the text at all, but the answer is still “TRUE”. This is either because

  1. the statement paraphrases sentences from the text or
  2. the information in the statement is not explicitly stated on the texts. (You have to further infer a deeper meaning from texts)

In either case, you have to completely understand the text and use your logic in order to give the correct answer. Here is an example. In this example, the statement is implied information from the highlighted text. The answer is TRUE.

Identifying Information Example Question
Do the following statements agree with the information given in the reading passage? In boxes 1–5 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. The amount of information that can be sent in a given time period is determined with reference to the signal strength and noise level.
2. ...
Noise usually means unwanted sounds which interfere with genuine information. Information theory generalises this idea via theorems that capture the effects of noise with mathematical precision. In particular, noise sets a limit on the rate at which information can pass along communication channels while remaining error-free. This rate depends on the relative strengths of the signal and noise travelling down the communication channel, and on its capacity (its ‘bandwidth’). The resulting limit, given in units of bits per second, is the absolute maximum rate of error-free communication given signal strength and noise level. The trick is to find ways of packaging up - ‘coding’ - information to cope with the ravages of noise, while staying within the information-carrying capacity - ‘bandwidth’ - of the communication system being used.

Here is another example. In this example, the statement is a paraphrase of highlighted texts. The answer is TRUE.

Identifying Information Example Question
Do the following statements agree with the information given in the reading passage? In boxes 1–5 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. Rainforest species appear unable to adapt to frequent fires, but evidence from the past suggests that rainforests sometimes do burn.
2. ...
Most savannas probably experience mild fires frequently and major burns every two years or so. Many savanna and dry-forest plant species are called pyrophytes, meaning they are adapted in various ways to withstand occasional burning. Frequent fire is a factor to which rain forest species seem unable to adapt, although ancient charcoal remains from Amazon forest soils dating prior to the arrival of humans suggest that moist forests also occasionally burn. Experiments suggest that if fire did not occur in savannas in the Americas, species composition would change significantly. When burning occurs, it prevents competition among plant species from progressing to the point where some species exclude others, reducing the overall diversity of the ecosystem. But in experimental areas protected from fire, a few perennial grass species eventually come to dominate, outcompeting all others. Evidence from other studies suggests that exclusion of fire results in markedly decreased plant-species richness, often with an increase in tree density. There is generally little doubt that fire is a significant factor in maintaining savanna, certainly in most regions.

Common problem 3

A lot of students think if words match then it must be TRUE or FALSE. Not really! If the answer is NOT GIVEN, it means they don’t have enough information to answer the question as a whole. Also, many students confuse NOT GIVEN with FALSE because they assume too much.

Here is a great example. The highlighted sentences show why the answer is “NOT GIVEN”.

Identifying Information Example Question
Do the following statements agree with the information given in the reading passage? In boxes 1–5 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. All large chilies grow high off the ground.
2. ...
Chilies originate in South America and have been eaten for at least 9,500 years. Organised cultivation began around 5,400 BC. Christopher Columbus was the first European to encounter chilies, when he landed on the island of Hispaniola in 1492. He thought it was a type of pepper and called it the “red pepper”, a name still used today. After their introduction to Europe they were an immediate sensation and were quickly incorporated into the diet. From there they spread to Africa, India and East Asia. The reason for the chili’s “hotness” lies in a chemical called Capsaisin. Capsaisin causes temporary irritation to the trigeminal cells, which are the pain receptors in the mouth, nose and throat. After the pain messages are transmitted to the brain, endorphins, natural pain killers, are released and these not only kill the pain but give the chili eater a short lived natural high. Other side effects include: an increased heart rate, a running nose and increased salivation and sweating, which can have a cooling effect in hot climates. The reason for the presence of Capsaisin is thought to be to deter animals from eating the fruit. Only mammals feel the burning effects; birds feel nothing. As birds are a better method of distributing the seeds, which pass intact through their guts, Capsaisin would seem to be a result of natural selection. The smaller chilies tend to be the hottest. This may reflect the fact that they tend to grow closer to the ground and are therefore more vulnerable to animals. The heat of a chili is measured on the Scoville scale. The hottest types such as the Habenero and the Scotch Bonnet rate between 100,000 and 300,000, the world famous Tabasco sauceÒ rates at 15,000 to 30,000, about the same as the Thai prik khee nu, while the popular Jalapeno is between 5,000 and 15,000. Powdered chili is 500 to 1,000 and the mild capsicins and paprikas can range between 100 and 0.

From the highlighted sentence, we know that since small chilies tend to grow closer to the ground, we can then infer that many of the large ones are higher off the ground. However, the statements says 'all large chilies grow high off the ground'. We are not given any information to say all of them grow high off the ground, so the answer is NOT GIVEN. Many students might choose to answer “FALSE” because they assume too much.

IELTS Reading Exam Tips & Strategies: How to Answer “TRUE/FALSE/NOT GIVEN” Questions

Now that you’re aware of the common mistakes made answering “TRUE/FALSE/NOT GIVEN” questions, it’s time to teach you some IELTS reading tips & strategies for successfully answering a “TRUE/FALSE/NOT GIVEN” question.

  1. Step 1: Read the First Question - Take a look at the first sentence. As you read the first question, underline any key words that you think will help you identify in the information in the text.
  2. Step 2: Scan for the first answer - Now take a look at the passage and see if you can find the first answer. Because it's sequential order, once you find the first answer, you'll be in a good spot to scan and find the other answers.

    Also pay attention to synonyms since they will be used in the passage. That means the words used in the statements most likely will not appear directly in the passage.
  3. Step 3: Continue Reading the Statements and Scanning for Answers - Now that you completed the first answer, you will just need to keep reading the remaining statements, scanning the remaining parts of the passage, and answering the remaining statements. Again, as you answer each statement, make marks in the passage(such as a line or dot to signify where the answer can be found). This way you know what to reference when you want to double check if your answer is correct..

Using this strategy, you’re certain to find answers efficiently, saving yourself precious time ensuring you answer every question before time runs out.

IELTS Reading Identify Information Practice List

Now it is time to practice! Check out the following Identify Information practice questions.

IELTS Academic Reading - Identify Information Questions Practice List

identifying information Practice 1 - 16
Practice 1Practice 2Practice 3Practice 4Practice 5Practice 6Practice 7Practice 8Practice 9Practice 10Practice 11Practice 12Practice 13Practice 14Practice 15Practice 16
identifying information Practice 17 - 32
Practice 17Practice 18Practice 19Practice 20Practice 21Practice 22Practice 23Practice 24Practice 25Practice 26Practice 27Practice 28Practice 29Practice 30Practice 31Practice 32
identifying information Practice 33 - 48
Practice 33Practice 34Practice 35Practice 36Practice 37Practice 38Practice 39Practice 40Practice 41Practice 42Practice 43Practice 44

IELTS General Reading - Identify Information Questions Practice List

identifying information Practice 1 - 16
Practice 1Practice 2Practice 3Practice 4Practice 5Practice 6Practice 7Practice 8Practice 9Practice 10Practice 11Practice 12Practice 13Practice 14Practice 15Practice 16

 

 

 

 
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