IELTS Reading Resolutions: Is it TRUE/FALSE or NOT GIVEN? A successful strategy to defeat these tricky questions

Many people have highlighted that it’s hard for them to determine whether a statement is True, False or Not given. In fact,  the way words are used in these types of questions are tricky and people always confuse between False and Not given (or No and Not given). I have to admit that I used to fall into the traps that these question had made many times. So, after doing some research about the way to solve these tricky questions, I find a simple strategy but effective which could help you answer these questions correctly.

In this blog, I will show you the difference between TRUE/FALSE/NOT GIVEN and YES/NO/NOT GIVEN as well as the strategy to tackle them.

What is the difference between TRUE/FALSE/NOT GIVEN and YES/NO/NOT GIVEN?

Basically, True, False or Not given is about identifying information when the passage is about facts. This means you have to evaluate whether a statement is true according to the infirmation in the passage. In contrast, Yes/No/Not given requires you to identify writer’s views/claims when the passage is about writer’s views/claims.  In the other words, you have to assess whether a statement AGREE with the views expressed by the writer. However, you should remember that the difference between them is not important and the technique to solve them is the same.  Remember that the only thing you should do is just determining whether a statement is correct, incorrect or not given.

A simple but useful approach to succeed in T/F/NG (or Y/N/NG)

In the previous blog, I introduced you the “keywords technique” which is fundamental to address all question types in IELTS reading test. As a result, I will adopt this approach to this type of questions step by step. Additional, you should be confident that answers always come in the correct order in the passage. Now let’s start.

Step 1: Question skimming and keyword underlining

Assuming that you have read the topic heading (if any), the next step is skimming over the questions and underlining keywords in the questions. You should note that this type of question requires absolute precision to be answered TRUE, otherwise, it will be FALSE or Not Given. Therefore, to determine whether a statement is correct, you have to focus on every small word in that statement. It is also vital to be specific in underlining keywords as the more specific the keywords you define, the more correct the answer you may find. Therefore, I will classify keywords into 2 categories: Main and supporting keywords.

For example:

“It is possible, but not normal, to say “powerful tea”.

Main keyword: “powerful tea” – this is used to locate keywords into reading passage

Supporting keywords: “possible”, “not normal” – they help you to determine whether the statement correct.

Step 2: Locating these keywords into reading passage and comparing these keywords to find the correct answer.

Before moving to this step, I expect that you have finished skimming through the reading passage and underlining keywords. Now, what you should do next is integrating keywords in questions and in reading passage to find the relevant paragraphs and sentences (I called this as “locating keywords”). After that, use your scanning skill (names, dates, etc.) or read in detail to find the answer.

One thing you should know is the fact that the keywords in reading passage may not be exactly the same with the keywords in questions, but equivalent in meaning. In the other words, they are synonyms or something but results in the same idea. For instance, looking at the above example, the writer may use “could be” in replacement for “possible”.

Alright, I have shown you 2-step approach to solve a T/F/NG or Y/N/NG question. Now, I will guide you how to decide a statement is True, False, or Not Given (or Yes, No, Not Given).

Identifying TRUE/YES statement 

A statement is true if the passage tells us this is correct. Similarly, you give a statement a YES if it agrees with writer’s view/claim.

To be correct, a statement has to meet two requirements at the same time which are Existence (E) and Accuracy (A). In particular, existence means the information mentioned in the question must appear in reading passage and Accuracy means this information is true according to the reading passage or it agrees with writer’s views/claims.

For example:

  1. True statement

Question (Q): It is possible, but not normal, to say “powerful tea”.

Reading passage (RP): While the same meaning could be conveyed through the roughly equivalent powerful tea, the fact is that English prefers to speak of teas in terms of being strong rather than in terms of being powerful.

Now let’s do some keywords matching

(1) possible = could be (supporting keyword)

(2) powerful tea = powerful tea (main keyword)

(3) prefers, strong => not normal

(2) => Existence

(1) & (3) => Accuracy

Now when you do some matching like this, you can decide the statement in the question is TRUE.

2. Yes statement

Q: The information age is characterised by our exposure to an abundance of data.

RP: The information age now buries us in data coming at us from every which way.

Keywords matching:

Information age = information age (main keyword) => Existence

our exposure, abundance of data = buries us in data (supporting keywords) => Accuracy

All information is matched so the answer is YES

Identifying FALSE/NO statement

A statement is false if the passage tells us this is incorrect. In the same way, you give a statement a NO if it disagrees with writer’s view/claim. Like True statement, you can only determine a statement false when it meets Existence (E) and Fallacy (F) requirements. Specifically, the information mentioned in the question must appear in reading passage (E) and this information is contradicting according to the reading passage (F).

Tips: If the sentence in a question contains one of the following words: usually, often, many, some, all, almost, most of, always, never, hardly, unique, only or can, could, likely, probably, possibly, may, must, should, the answer is normally False or No. However, beware of exception so please read carefully.


  1. FALSE statement

Q: He dedicated the whole day to his work.

RP: At noon, he ceased work for the day and spent half an hour practicing flute, on which he became quite a skill performer.

Keywords matching:

work = work (main keyword) => Existence

dedicated, whole day >< at noon, cease work for the day => Fallacy

So the answer is FALSE

2. NO statement

Q: The majority of choices we make on a daily basis are conscious decisions.

RP: Most of the choices we make each day may feel like the product of well-considered decision making, but they’re not. They’re habit.

Keywords matching:

(1) Majority of choices = most of the choices (main keyword)

(2) daily = each day (main keyword)

(3) conscious >< they’re not, well-considered (supporting keywords) (1)&(2) => Existence

(3) => Fallacy

So the answer is NO


Identifying NOT GIVEN statement

As said before, to determine whether a statement is False or Not given is tricky because sometimes, which seems not given but actually false and vice versa. In general, you may mark a statement Not Given if you cannot say for sure that it’s true or false with only the given information in the passage (lack of information).

A not given statement may have the following characteristics:

– No information regarding it can be found in reading passage.


– The subject matter of the statement is mentioned in the passage, but the information agreeing or contradicting the statement cannot be found. It means the information in the reading passage can not be used to determine whether the statement in a question is true or false.

For example:

Q; Houdini was more successful in Europe than in America.

RP: He first attracted attention as “Harry Handcuff Houdini” on a tour of Europe, where he challenged police forces to keep him locked up.

Keywords matching:

Houdini = Houdini (Main keyword) => Existence

Europe = Europe (Main keyword) => Existence

more successful -> cannot found comparable words

America -> cannot found comparable words

So the answer is not given.

What we have learned fo far…

Now, let’s summary which we have learned in this post.

  1. Dont’ worry about the difference between T/F/NG and Y/N/NG question types because you can use the same technique to solve them
  2. Adopting the 2-step approach to solve these types of questions. Start by (1) skimming and underlining keywords (main and supporting) in the questions then continue by (2) locating them in the reading passage to find the answers.
  3. Checking whether a statement meets 2 requirements to be marked as T/F/Y/N. A statement is True(Yes) if it is E and A while it will be False(No) if it is E and F.  E can be checked by main keyword and A or F could be verified by supporting keywords.
  4. A statement is not given if no information regarding it can be found in reading passage OR the subject matter of the statement is mentioned in the passage, but the information agreeing or contradicting the statement cannot be found. If it is not E, it’s Not given. But if it’s E but we do not have information to determine whether it’s A or F, so it’s also not given

I hope this blog can help you succeed in these types of questions.

Thank you for visiting my page

See you in my next posts


I would like to say thank to IELTS Simon whose lectures inspiring me to write this post. I took some text examples from his lecture.



You may also like...

2 Responses

  1. May 12, 2017

    […] For the full article, please visit:… […]

  2. May 15, 2017

    […] Examples of this technique can be found in my previous posts such as Is it TRUE/FALSE or NOT GIVEN? A successful strategy to defeat these tricky questions […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *