IELTS Reading Resolutions: Multiple choice question – From MANY to ONLY

The multiple choice questions should be familiar to most candidates because they have seen them not only in the IELTS test but also other tests such as SAT, GMAT, GRE, etc. However, this does not make multiple choice questions easy. In many ways, the skills needed to tackle this type of questions are the same as those for the True/False/Not Given type. But it may be harder since you get 4 options and not 3. In this post, I will show you the successful method to handle multiple choice questions

Basic characteristics of Multiple choice questions

  • The questions will go in order so question 2 will come between 1 and 3
  • Require very close reading of one or two paragraphs of the text
  • At least 3 of the 4 possible answers may look ok until you read them closely
  • Two types of question: one asks you for the writer’s opinion while the other ask you to find factual information

Strategy to find the correct choice

Step 1: Topic heading skimming (if any)

As said in the previous posts, the purpose of doing this is to help you identify keywords later in questions and reading passage.

Step 2: Question skimming and keywords underlining

Before skimming the whole passage, what you should do first is looking at the questions because this will help you see what topics you need to look for. While you are skimming, remember to underline keywords as you may have to look for synonyms of them in the reading passage.

Step 3: Passage skimming and keywords underlining and finding the correct section of the text 

While you skimming the text, you should focus on strong words (transition words), key subjects, verbs, special nouns (names, places, dates, etc.).

To find the correct part of the text that the questions related to, you should use the keywords in the questions and scan them in the text. Focusing on proper names and dates is often a good approach

Step 4: Spotting the correct choice

In this step, you should read the correct part of the paragraph carefully and then re-read the question. Remember to look at each option in turn and eliminate choices you know to be incorrect. Finally, underline the words in the text that give you the correct answer.


Useful tips for Multiple choice questions

Tip 1: Don’t stop reading too soon

An answer may seem right but if the next word is something like “but/however”, the meaning will change completely.

For example:

Reading passage:

[1]Different people read for different reasons. [2]For example, the attraction of reading detective fiction can be in the intellectual challenge of finding out who did it, in an autobiography we can eavesdrop on the conversations of the great and good or we can laugh at folly in the celebrity magazine. [3]For many children, it is a magic gateway to some other world. [4]Sadly, that is one of the greatest mistakes they can make.


According to the author, the attraction of reading for young people is:

A- they find out about other countries

B- different from other generations

C- escaping into another world

D- foolish

It’s easy to eliminate A and B because there is no information regarding them in the reading passage. Many people may choose C and they may correct if sentence [4] were not in the passage. So the correct answer is D.

Tip 2: Always go back and re-read the question before you answer

This helps you avoid the trap of the examiner because sometimes they give you answer choices that can be found in the passage but do not answer the question stated.

Tip 3: Always make sure you look at all answers, don’t guess too soon. You may find a better answer later.

Sometimes when you begin reading the very first answer choices and you think it’s true immediately and stop reading the remaining answer choices. In fact, that answer choice is probably true but you’re guessing information.

We might be able to guess that this is true, but if it doesn’t say so in the text the answer is not correct.

Tip 4: Always refocus on the exact wording of the question before giving the answer. Be suspicious of answers that contain almost the same language as the text.

Examiner may sometimes use words in answer choices that exactly the same with ones in reading passage, but the meanings is different. If you only focus on matching word, you probably walk into the trap. Instead, you should matching meanings. For example, “almost a third” = “30%” and “18-24 age group” matches “young people”.

Tip 5: Guessing

If time is up and you cannot find the correct answer for some multiple choice questions, it’s possible to guess and choose one answes as there is no penalty for wrong answer.

Post summary

In this post I have shown you:

  • Basic characteristics of Multiple choice questions
  • 4-step approach to solve Multiple choice questions
  • 5 tips you can apply in doing Multiple choice questions

I hope this post can help you in your IELTS post. If you find it helpful, please give it a comment, like, or share 🙂

Thank you very much





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  1. May 12, 2017

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