IELTS Reading True False Not Given Questions

True, False, Not Given questions are one of the trickiest tasks in the IELTS reading test. In these questions you are provided with a list of statements relating to the text. You must determine whether these statements are true, false, or contain insufficient detail to decide.

Many IELTS candidates struggle with True, False, Not Given questions for two reasons. Firstly, some candidates take too long to find the answer. Secondly, while candidates easily identify true information, they struggle with deciding whether something is false or not given.

For each question, even those that are “not given”, there is a relevant part of the text. For the question to be true, the text must say the same thing (although this will be paraphrased). If it is false, the text will state something that contradicts the question. In the case of not given, the text will not say anything related to this point, or it will not completely agree.

It is useful to understand that the questions often contain at least one word or phrase from the text. Further, the questions follow the order of the text.

Strategy

The key strategy for these questions is to find the part of the text which refers to the question quickly. To do this you need to identify good key words and scan the text for them. You should then read the text around these words and decide whether the questions are in fact true, false or not given.

Step 1: Read the Title

The first step is to read the title of the article and any strapline (sub-title). Words which appear here don’t make good key words because they will appear in the text many times.

For this example we will look at a text called “Measuring Snowfall”. Both of these words will therefore not be good key words.

Step 2: Read the Questions and Identify (Good) Key Words​

Before reading the rest of the text, read the questions and identify the key words which will appear in the text. A good key word is one that will appear only once or twice and is easy to spot. The following are therefore good key words:

  • Proper nouns such as surnames or places (these should have a capital letter at the beginning).
  • The names of organisations, particularly those that are acronyms e.g. RSPCA, WHO, etc.
  • Numbers such as years.
  • Technical words e.g. the name of a technology, piece of equipment or method of doing something.

Look at the questions below and identify the key words.

  1. NCAR accepts the need for more precise methods of measuring snowfall.
  2. Researchers have found ultrasonic sensors more reliable than laser sensors.
  3. The device that uses motor-vehicle antifreeze measures the amount of snow both before and after it melts.
  4. Using GPS technology would be more expensive than using the alternative devices being tried out.
  5. GPS technology could allow snowfall to be measured across a wider range of landscapes.
  6. The use of a snow board is particularly effective in areas with high winds.
  1. NCAR accepts the need for more precise methods of measuring snowfall.
  2. Researchers have found ultrasonic sensors more reliable than laser sensors.
  3. The device that uses motor-vehicle antifreeze measures the amount of snow both before and after it melts.
  4. Using GPS technology would be more expensive than using the alternative devices being tried out.
  5. GPS technology could allow snowfall to be measured across a wider range of landscapes.
  6. The use of a snow board is particularly effective in areas with high winds.

Step 3: Find the Key Words in the Text

The next step is to scan the text to find the key words which you have identified. This means that you do not read every word. Instead you look through the text until you find the key word. When you find it, underline or highlight the key word. It is also a good idea to write the question number in the margin or next to the word.

Measuring Snowfall

Despite the many high-tech instruments now available to scientists who study the weather, one measurement remains relatively difficult to make, and that’s calculating how much snow actually falls in any particular place during a snowstorm. This explains why the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in the USA is experimenting with new ways of achieving a greater level of accuracy in snowfall figures. As their representative Ethan Guttmann points out, ‘You’d think it was just a matter of going out and sticking a ruler in the snow and measuring how much is on the ground. The problem is, if you move the ruler over just a few centimetres, you may get a different reading.’

In fact, the taking of measurements is complicated by a number of factors. For example, the first snowflakes may melt as soon as they hit warm surfaces, while others are whisked away by the wind, leaving some ground bare and other places buried under deep snowdrifts. Guttman’s colleagues have been testing a number of new snow measuring devices, including ultrasonic snow depth sensors, which send out a pulse of noise and measure how long it takes to bounce back from the surface below the snow, and laser sensors which work on the same basic principle but use light instead of sound. Another device for measuring snowfall is a type of open container with motor-vehicle antifreeze inside it. The antifreeze melts the snow as it falls and sensors measure the weight of the resulting liquid.

NCAR scientists have also experimented with using Global Positioning Satellites (GPS) to measure snow depth. It may be possible for signals sent from these satellites to measure the distance to both the surface of the snow and to the ground beneath it. Not only would this method be more cost-effective than other methods, but it might also be particularly useful for measuring the snow in remote locations such as inaccessible upland areas and the highest mountain peaks and ranges. Accurate measurement of snowfall in these areas is important as entire regions may depend on spring run-off of melted snow for their water supply.

The scientists also learned that they could improve the results of both manual and high-tech methods of snow measurement by using something known as a snow board. Basically, this is just a flat piece of white-painted wood on which snow can accumulate. Windshields placed around these can also add to the accuracy of measurements.

  1. Despite the many high-tech instruments now available to scientists who study the weather, one measurement remains relatively difficult to make, and that’s calculating how much snow actually falls in any particular place during a snowstorm. This explains why the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR1) in the USA is experimenting with new ways of achieving a greater level of accuracy in snowfall figures. As their representative Ethan Guttmann points out, ‘You’d think it was just a matter of going out and sticking a ruler in the snow and measuring how much is on the ground. The problem is, if you move the ruler over just a few centimetres, you may get a different reading.’

    In fact, the taking of measurements is complicated by a number of factors. For example, the first snowflakes may melt as soon as they hit warm surfaces, while others are whisked away by the wind, leaving some ground bare and other places buried under deep snowdrifts. Guttman’s colleagues have been testing a number of new snow measuring devices, including ultrasonic2 snow depth sensors, which send out a pulse of noise and measure how long it takes to bounce back from the surface below the snow, and laser2 sensors which work on the same basic principle but use light instead of sound. Another device for measuring snowfall is a type of open container with motor-vehicle antifreeze3 inside it. The antifreeze melts the snow as it falls and sensors measure the weight of the resulting liquid.

    NCAR scientists have also experimented with using Global Positioning Satellites (GPS4,5) to measure snow depth. It may be possible for signals sent from these satellites to measure the distance to both the surface of the snow and to the ground beneath it. Not only would this method be more cost-effective than other methods, but it might also be particularly useful for measuring the snow in remote locations such as inaccessible upland areas and the highest mountain peaks and ranges. Accurate measurement of snowfall in these areas is important as entire regions may depend on spring run-off of melted snow for their water supply.

    The scientists also learned that they could improve the results of both manual and high-tech methods of snow measurement by using something known as a snow board6. Basically, this is just a flat piece of white-painted wood on which snow can accumulate. Windshields placed around these can also add to the accuracy of measurements.

Notice that the key words appear in the order of the questions. Sometimes a question may not have a good key word. In this case you can skip looking for this answer until you have found the others. This will still help to limit the amount of the text you actually need to read.

Step 4: Read the Sentences around the Key Words

The past few steps should not have taken much time to complete. This step is where you should spend more time as you will be reading the text in greater detail.

Read the sentence which relates to the first question: 

This explains why the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in the USA is experimenting with new ways of achieving a greater level of accuracy in snowfall figures.

And read the question:

NCAR accepts the need for more precise methods of measuring snowfall.

Does the text agree, disagree or provide no information on this point?

  1. Hopefully, you agree that it does provide information. This statement is true because the NCAR would not experiment if they didn’t accept the need. If this was unclear, we can read the sentences before and after.

Read the other sentences related to the questions and decide if they are true, false or not given.

QuestionText
(2) Researchers have found ultrasonic sensors more reliable than laser sensors.Guttman’s colleagues have been testing a number of new snow measuring devices, including ultrasonic snow depth sensors, which send out a pulse of noise and measure how long it takes to bounce back from the surface below the snow, and laser sensors which work on the same basic principle but use light instead of sound.
(3) The device that uses motor-vehicle antifreeze measures the amount of snow both before and after it melts.Another device for measuring snowfall is a type of open container with motor-vehicle antifreeze inside it. The antifreeze melts the snow as it falls and sensors measure the weight of the resulting liquid.
(4) Using GPS technology would be more expensive than using the alternative devices being tried out.NCAR scientists have also experimented with using Global Positioning Satellites (GPS) to measure snow depth. It may be possible for signals sent from these satellites to measure the distance to both the surface of the snow and to the ground beneath it. Not only would this method be more cost-effective than other methods, but it might also be particularly useful for measuring the snow in remote locations such as inaccessible upland areas and the highest mountain peaks and ranges.
(5) GPS technology could allow snowfall to be measured across a wider range of landscapes.NCAR scientists have also experimented with using Global Positioning Satellites (GPS) to measure snow depth. It may be possible for signals sent from these satellites to measure the distance to both the surface of the snow and to the ground beneath it. Not only would this method be more cost-effective than other methods, but it might also be particularly useful for measuring the snow in remote locations such as inaccessible upland areas and the highest mountain peaks and ranges.
(6) The use of a snow board is particularly effective in areas with high winds.The scientists also learned that they could improve the results of both manual and high-tech methods of snow measurement by using something known as a snow board. Basically, this is just a flat piece of white-painted wood on which snow can accumulate. Windshields placed around these can also add to the accuracy of measurements.
    1.  True. NCAR are experimenting with new methods of measuring snow, therefore they accept the need for a better method.
    2. Not given. The text mentions both types of sensor, but doesn’t compare.
    3. False. The text only mentions measurement after the antifreeze melts the snow. Further, it seems illogical a sensor would measure the snow before also.
    4. False. The text mentions GPS would be more cost-effective than other methods.
    5. True. GPS would allow measurement in remote and inaccessible locations.
    6. Not given. There is nothing that says this is particularly effective in high winds.

Step 5: Write your Answers

The last step is to write your answers. Remember that when answering questions on the IELTS reading paper you should follow their instructions. For true, false, not given questions that means you should write “true”, “false” or “not given.” Any other answer will be marked incorrect.

Further, unlike listening, there is no time for transferring your answers to the answer sheet. This is therefore best done when you finish each text.

Acknowledgement

The passage and IELTS reading true false not given questions in this post appear in A Complete Guide to IELTS. The full book can be purchased here.

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