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

Madison Oster April 15th, 2020

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 Identifying Information IELTS reading question type in detail and provide you with many IELTS reading Identifying Information practice questions.

First, join IELTS Instructor Tina below to learn how to approach an IELTS reading Identifying Information question. Click either General Training or Academic to watch the associated video lesson.


Table Of Contents

IELTS Reading Identifying 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 "TRUE". 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 sauceo 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.

Below is a sample practice. Give it a try! Remember to click either General Training or Academic based on the IELTS test you are taking or plan to take.

Questions 1-6
Do the following statements agree with the information given in the reading passage? In boxes 1-6 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. Business Basics is appropriate for beginners.

2. Bookkeeping has no practical component.

3. Bookkeeping is intended for advanced students only.

4. The New Enterprise Module can help your business become more profitable.

5. Social Networking focuses on a specific website to help your business succeed.

6. The Communication class involves speaking in front of an audience.


  • spellcheck Answers
    1. TRUE
    2. FALSE
    3. NOT GIVEN
    4. NOT GIVEN
    5. FALSE
    6. TRUE

Read the text below and answer Questions 9-14.

Community Education - Short Courses:  Business

Business Basics

Gain foundation knowledge for employment in an accounts position with bookkeeping and business basics through to intermediate level; suitable for anyone requiring knowledge from the ground up.

  1. Code B/ED011
  2. 16th or 24th April 9am–4pm
  3. Cost $420

Bookkeeping

This course will provide students with a comprehensive understanding of bookkeeping and a great deal of hands-on experience

  1. Code B/ED020
  2. 19th April 9am–2.30pm (one session only so advance bookings essential)
  3. Cost $250

New Enterprise Module 

Understand company structures, tax rates, deductions, employer obligations, profit and loss statements, GST and budgeting for tax.

  1. Code B/ED030
  2. 15th or 27th May 6pm–9pm
  3. Cost $105

Social Networking – the Latest Marketing Tool 

This broad overview gives you the opportunity to analyse what web technologies are available and how they can benefit your organisation.

  1. Code B/ED033
  2. 1st or 8th or 15th June 6pm–9pm
  3. Cost $95

Communication 

Take the fear out of talking to large gatherings of people. Gain the public-speaking experience that will empower you with better communication skills and confidence.

  1. Code B/ED401
  2. 12th or 13th or 14th July 6pm–9pm
  3. Cost $90
 
9. TRUE - The information provided under “Business Basics” will be necessary in finding the answer to this question. When scanning for the key words “beginners” while also thinking of our synonyms, we should be drawn to this phrase: “suitable for anyone requiring knowledge from the ground up.” Luckily, we had prepared for different ways to say “beginners”, and “ground up” is an excellent synonym. Therefore, this would be TRUE.
 
10. FALSE - The information provided under “Bookkeeping” will be necessary in finding the answer to this question. When scanning for the absolute word “no” and the key word “practical” while also thinking of our synonyms, we should be drawn to this phrase: “and a great deal of hands-on experience”. Luckily, we had prepared for different ways to say “practical”, and “hands-on” is an excellent synonym. Therefore, this would be FALSE, since the passage states that there is a great deal of this.
 
11. NOT GIVEN - We will need to remain in the “Bookkeeping” section for this specific question. Scanning for our key word “advanced” and the absolute word “only” does not bring up any results in the information. Nothing regarding the exclusivity of this course is presented in the information. However, nothing states that the course is only for beginner or intermediate students. Therefore, this is NOT GIVEN.
 
12. NOT GIVEN - The information provided under “New Enterprise Model” will be necessary in finding the answer to this question. Although the word “profit” is included in the passage (which is similar to our key word, “profitable” in the question), nothing in the information states that the course will help one's business become more profitable or become commercially successful. However, nothing states the contrary. Therefore, this is also NOT GIVEN.
 
13. FALSE - The information provided under “Social Networking” will be necessary in finding the answer to this question. When scanning for the key word “specific” while also thinking of our synonyms, we should be drawn to this phrase: “This broad overview gives you the opportunity to analyse what web technologies are available and how they can benefit your organisation.” The fact that the word “broad” is included, and the fact that the information states that “technologies” will be used, we can understand that the course will not focus on one specific type of website. Since this is contradictory information, it is FALSE.
 
14. TRUE - The information provided under “Communication” will be necessary in finding the answer to this question. When scanning for the key words “speaking” and “audience”, while also thinking of our synonyms, we should be drawn to these phrases: “talking to large gatherings of people” and “Gain the public-speaking experience”. The fact that the information tells potential participants that they will gain the experience of talking to large gatherings of people shows that this can be considered TRUE.

Practice this sample practice on our IELTS App

Questions 1-7
Do the following statements agree with the information given in the reading passage? In boxes 1-7 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. Michael Faraday was the first person to recognise Perkin's ability as a student of chemistry.

2. Michael Faraday suggested Perkin should enrol in the Royal College of Chemistry.

3. Perkin employed August Wilhelm Hofmann as his assistant.

4. Perkin was still young when he made the discovery that made him rich and famous.

5. The trees from which quinine is derived grow only in South America.

6. Perkin hoped to manufacture a drug from a coal tar waste product.

7. Perkin was inspired by the discoveries of the famous scientist Louis Pasteur.


  • spellcheck Answers
    1. FALSE
    2. NOT GIVEN
    3. FALSE
    4. TRUE
    5. NOT GIVEN
    6. TRUE
    7. NOT GIVEN
Reading Passage

William Henry Perkin was born on March 12,1838, in London, England. As a boy, Perkin's curiosity prompted early interests in the arts, sciences, photography, and engineering. But it was a chance stumbling upon a run-downt, yet functional, laboratory in his late grandfather's home that solidified the young man's enthusiasm for chemistry.

As a student at the City of London School, Perkin became immersed in the study of chemistry. His talent and devotion to the subject were perceived by his teacher, Thomas Hall, who encouraged him to attend a series of lectures given by the eminent scientist Michael Faraday at the Royal Institution. Those speeches fired the young chemist's enthusiasm further, and he later went on to attend the Royal College of Chemistry, which he succeeded in entering in 1853, at the age of 15.

At the time of Perkin's enrolment, the Royal College of Chemistry was headed by the noted German chemist August Wilhelm Hofmann. Perkin's scientific gifts soon caught Hofmann's attention and, within two years, he became Hofmann's youngest assistant. Not long after that, Perkin made the scientific breakthrough that would bring him both fame and fortune.

At the time, quinine was the only viable medical treatment for malaria. The drug is derived from the bark of the cinchona tree, native to South America, and by 1856 demand for the drug was surpassing the available supply. Thus, when Hofmann made some passing comments about the desirability of a synthetic substitute for quinine, it was unsurprising that his star pupil was moved to take up the challenge.

During his vacation in 1856, Perkin spent his time in the laboratory on the top floor of his family's house. He was attempting to manufacture quinine from aniline, an inexpensive and readily available coal tar waste product. Despite his best efforts, however, he did not end up with quinine. Instead, he produced a mysterious dark sludge. Luckily, Perkin's scientific training and nature prompted him to investigate the substance further. Incorporating potassium dichromate and alcohol into the aniline at various stages of the experimental process, he finally produced a deep purple solution. And, proving the truth of the famous scientist Louis Pasteur's words 'chance favours only the prepared mind', Perkin saw the potential of his unexpected find.

Historically, textile dyes were made from such natural sources as plants and animal excretions. Some of these, such as the glandular mucus of snails, were difficult to obtain and outrageously expensive. Indeed, the purple colour extracted from a snail was once so costly that in society at the time only the rich could afford it. Further, natural dyes tended to be muddy in hue and fade quickly. It was against this backdrop that Perkin's discovery was made.

Perkin quickly grasped that his purple solution could be used to colour fabric, thus making it the world's first synthetic dye. Realising the importance of this breakthrough, he lost no time in patenting it. But perhaps the most fascinating of all Perkin's reactions to his find was his nearly instant recognition that the new dye had commercial possibilities.

Perkin originally named his dye Tyrian Purple, but it later became commonly known as mauve (from the French for the plant used to make the colour violet). He asked advice from Scottish dye works owner Robert Pullar, who assured him that manufacturing the dye would be well worth it if the colour remained fast (i.e. would not fade) and the cost was relatively low. So, over the fierce objections of his mentor Hofmann, he left college to give birth to the modern chemical industry.

With the help of his father and brother, Perkin set up a factory not far from London. Utilising the cheap and plentiful coal tar that was an almost unlimited byproduct of London's gas street lighting, the dye works began producing the world's first synthetically dyed material in 1857. The company received a commercial boost from the Empress Eugenie of France when she decided the new colour flattered her. Very soon, mauve was the necessary shade for all the fashionable ladies in that country. Not to be outdone, England's Queen Victoria also appeared in public wearing a mauve gown, thus making it all the rage in England as well. The dye was bold and fast, and the public clamoured for more. Perkin went back to the drawing board.

Although Perkin's fame was achieved and fortune assured by his first discovery, the chemist continued his research. Among other dyes he developed and introduced were aniline red (1859) and aniline black (1863) and, in the late 1860s, Perkin's green. It is important to note that Perkin's synthetic dye discoveries had outcomes far beyond the merely decorative. The dyes also became vital to medical research in many ways. For instance, they were used to stain previously invisible microbes and bacteria, allowing researchers to identify such bacilli as tuberculosis, cholera, and anthrax. Artificial dyes continue to play a crucial role today. And, in what would have been particularly pleasing to Perkin, their current use is in the search for a vaccine against malaria.

 
1. FALSE – In the second paragraph, the sentence “His talent and devotion to the subject were perceived by his teacher, Thomas Hall, who encouraged him to attend a series of lectures given by the eminent scientist Michael Faraday at the Royal Institution.” Therefore, Thomas Hall was the first person to recognize Perkin's ability as a student of chemistry, not Michael Faraday. Therefore, this is False.
 
2. NOT GIVEN – In the second paragraph, the sentence “Those speeches fired the young chemist's enthusiasm further, and he later went on to attend the Royal College of Chemistry, which he succeeded in entering in 1853, at the age of 15.” It does not state that Michael Faraday suggested Perkin should enroll in the Royal College of Chemistry, nor does it state that someone else suggested Perkin should enroll in the Royal College of Chemistry. Therefore, the information is Not Given.
 
3. FALSE – In the third paragraph, the sentence “Perkin's scientific gifts soon caught Hofmann's attention and, within two years, he became Hoffmann's youngest assistant.” This is clearly the opposite of the statement question, and is therefore False.
 
4. TRUE – In the following sentence in the third paragraph, it states “Not long after that, Perkin made the scientific breakthrough that would bring him both fame and fortune.” Therefore, the statement question is True.
 
5. NOT GIVEN – In the fourth paragraph, the sentence “The drug is derived from the bark of the cinchona tree, native to South America...”. While it states that the tree is native to South America, nothing states that the tree is found only in South America. Keep in mind that “native” and “grow only in” are not similar. Therefore, this information is Not Given.
 
6. TRUE – In the fifth paragraph, the sentence “He was attempting to manufacture quinine from aniline, an inexpensive and readily available coal tar waste product.” Therefore, it is clear that Perkin was hoping to manufacture a drug (quinine) from the coal tar waste product, and the answer is True.
 
7. NOT GIVEN – Louis Pasteur is mentioned at the end of the fifth paragraph, but it simply states “...proving the truth of the famous scientist Louis Pasteur's words...Perkin saw the potential of his unexpected find.” Nothing in the paragraph states or disproves the fact that Pasteur was the source of inspiration for Perkin's discoveries. Therefore, the answer is Not Given.

Practice this sample practice on our IELTS App

Now that you're familiar with the Identifying Information question type, it's time to teach you some IELTS reading tips & strategies for successfully answering a Identifying Information question.

How to Answer Identifying Information Questions

  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.

Recap

Here are some brief tips to remember when approaching this question type:

Do:

  • Read the first statement, underline key words, and scan. Do the following for the rest of the questions.
  • Remember that answers will most likely come in order.
  • Remember the difference between FALSE and NOT GIVEN.
  • Make marks in your passage as to where you’ve found various answers.
  • Skip a question if it is difficult and move on. Then, you should be able to better locate the answer to a difficult question in the text, since it will most likely be between some of your marked information.
  • Write only TRUE, FALSE, or NOT GIVEN on your answer sheets.

Don’t:

  • Read the entire passage first.
  • Forget to scan for the key words from the statements.
  • Confuse FALSE and NOT GIVEN.

IELTS Reading Identifying Information Practice List

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

Academic Reading - Identifying 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 44Practice 45

General Reading - Identifying 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 17


 
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