IELTS Reading Yes No Not Given Questions

Yes, No, Not Given questions look very similar to True, False, Not Given questions on the IELTS reading paper. However, Yes, No, Not Given questions are in fact a trickier variation of this already tricky IELTS question type.

In these questions you are provided with a list of statements relating to a text. You must decide whether these statements match the opinion of the author, or if there is insufficient information to decide.

IELTS candidates have several problems with answering yes, no, not given questions including taking too long to find the answer and determining the writer’s opinion.

For an answer to be yes, the statement should paraphrase the writers view in the text. To be no, the writer must give a contrary position to the text. For not given, it is not clear what the writer believes in relation to this point.

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 answers are in fact yes, no 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 “Is this the end of the High Street?”. “The High Street” will therefore not be a good key word.

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. Not only are supermarkets getting bigger, there are more of them than ever.
  2. People have less money now, so they try to buy cheaper goods via the Internet.
  3. People shop because they have to, but also because it is fun.
  4. The younger generation may feel unwelcome in certain towns.
  5. Although most towns have the same shops, there are many features that make them unique.
  6. Although a large number of stores are closing, the number of shops that offer services is increasing.
  1. Not only are supermarkets getting bigger, there are more of them than ever.
  2. People have less money now, so they try to buy cheaper goods via the Internet.
  3. People shop because they have to, but also because it is fun.
  4. The younger generation may feel unwelcome in certain towns.
  5. Although most towns have the same shops, there are many features that make them unique.
  6. Although a large number of stores are closing, the number of shops that offer services is increasing.

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 or a paraphrase of that 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.

Is this the end of the High Street?

Take a walk down any ‘High Street’, normally places full of shops, and you’ll notice signs that all is not well: they will say ‘To Let’.

The High Street faces real competition from out-of-town retail parks and the steady growth of supermarkets, both in number and in size. There is also the growing trend for people to shop online, combined with a reduction in many families’ finances, which has affected customer confidence.

Retailing (the sale of goods from a fixed location) is changing too: shopping is becoming a leisure activity as much as a necessity, along with the rise of home delivery services saving time and journeys. Convenience is a powerful motivator for shoppers’ behaviour. Is the traditional High Street dying out?

During the last two years, independent retailers have struggled more than the chain stores. Research suggests over 12,000 independent stores closed in 2009. Economies of scale (it is cheaper to buy stock in bulk, so big shops can charge lower prices) are one part of the issue.

Supermarkets have a stronger control over the supply chain and can manipulate prices more effectively. As a result of the decline in smaller stores, there are now many empty shops in most town centres, some of which have been vacant for some time, and have whitewashed windows. What impact do they have on the overall ‘feel’ of the town for visitors and residents?

More importantly, how does the loss of a familiar shop, which has perhaps served decades of local residents, affect people at a time when so many other familiar aspects of daily life are under threat? When a shopping mall is being planned, it is very important to secure the key ‘anchor’ tenants: the big names that can guarantee customers through the doors. Is the disappearance of these familiar local shops and small department stores like losing a link with the past?

The growth of CCTV cameras, use of private security firms and blurring of public and private land has also been an issue in cities such as Exeter. This can result in young people feeling that they are being victimized and forced out of city centres.

Another feature of many city centres is that they are beginning to look very similar to each other. The New Economics Foundation introduced the term ‘clone town’ in a report published in 2004. This suggests that many High Streets have few individual characteristics – the same shops can be seen in most towns. This was also followed up by a report in 2010, which identified Cambridge as the most ‘cloned’ city in the UK: one with very few independent stores in the centre.

Vacant shops are another issue for town centres. These can end up as charity shops, ‘pop-up’ shops ( especially around Christmas) or attract vandals and graffiti. Some cities such as Portsmouth have made an effort to revamp empty store-fronts to improve those areas where they are found. This is important for cities which attract large numbers of tourists, such as Bath, York and Chester.

Services are perhaps more resilient to these changes, particularly those that offer something that is not available online. As one person commented: ‘You can’t have your hair cut online … ‘ – well, not yet anyway. This partly explains the growth of coffee shops and nail bars in some town centres, which are going against the general trend.

Finally, out on the edges of our towns, the supermarkets continue to grow – they’ve got the town centre surrounded. A report published in late 2010 said that around 55p of every £1 that we spend is spent in supermarkets, and there have been a large number of planning applications for further stores.

Take a walk down any ‘High Street’, normally places full of shops, and you’ll notice signs that all is not well: they will say ‘To Let’.

The High Street faces real competition from out-of-town retail parks and the steady growth of supermarkets1, both in number and in size. There is also the growing trend for people to shop online2, combined with a reduction in many families’ finances, which has affected customer confidence.

Retailing (the sale of goods from a fixed location) is changing too: shopping is becoming a leisure activity3 as much as a necessity, along with the rise of home delivery services saving time and journeys. Convenience is a powerful motivator for shoppers’ behaviour. Is the traditional High Street dying out?

During the last two years, independent retailers have struggled more than the chain stores. Research suggests over 12,000 independent stores closed in 2009. Economies of scale (it is cheaper to buy stock in bulk, so big shops can charge lower prices) are one part of the issue.

Supermarkets have a stronger control over the supply chain and can manipulate prices more effectively. As a result of the decline in smaller stores, there are now many empty shops in most town centres, some of which have been vacant for some time, and have whitewashed windows. What impact do they have on the overall ‘feel’ of the town for visitors and residents?

More importantly, how does the loss of a familiar shop, which has perhaps served decades of local residents, affect people at a time when so many other familiar aspects of daily life are under threat? When a shopping mall is being planned, it is very important to secure the key ‘anchor’ tenants: the big names that can guarantee customers through the doors. Is the disappearance of these familiar local shops and small department stores like losing a link with the past?

The growth of CCTV cameras, use of private security firms and blurring of public and private land has also been an issue in cities such as Exeter. This can result in young people4 feeling that they are being victimized and forced out of city centres.

Another feature5 of many city centres is that they are beginning to look very similar5 to each other. The New Economics Foundation introduced the term ‘clone town’ in a report published in 2004. This suggests that many High Streets have few individual characteristics – the same shops can be seen in most towns. This was also followed up by a report in 2010, which identified Cambridge as the most ‘cloned’ city in the UK: one with very few independent stores in the centre.

Vacant shops are another issue for town centres. These can end up as charity shops, ‘pop-up’ shops (especially around Christmas) or attract vandals and graffiti. Some cities such as Portsmouth have made an effort to revamp empty store-fronts to improve those areas where they are found. This is important for cities which attract large numbers of tourists, such as Bath, York and Chester.

Services6 are perhaps more resilient to these changes, particularly those that offer something that is not available online. As one person commented: ‘You can’t have your hair cut online … ‘ – well, not yet anyway. This partly explains the growth of coffee shops and nail bars in some town centres, which are going against the general trend.

Finally, out on the edges of our towns, the supermarkets continue to grow – they’ve got the town centre surrounded. A report published in late 2010 said that around 55p of every £1 that we spend is spent in supermarkets, and there have been a large number of planning applications for further stores.

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: 

The High Street faces real competition from out-of-town retail parks and the steady growth of supermarkets, both in number and in size.

And read the question:

Not only are supermarkets getting bigger, there are more of them than ever.

Does the writer agree, disagree or provide no information about their opinion on this point?

The writer agrees with this statement – supermarkets are growing in number (i.e. there are more of them) and size (i.e. they are getting bigger).

Read the other sentences related to the questions and decide if they agree with the writers opinion.

QuestionText
(2) People have less money now, so they try to buy cheaper goods via the Internet.There is also the growing trend for people to shop online, combined with a reduction in many families’ finances, which has affected customer confidence.
(3) People shop because they have to, but also because it is fun.Retailing (the sale of goods from a fixed location) is changing too: shopping is becoming a leisure activity as much as a necessity, along with the rise of home delivery services saving time and journeys.
(4) The younger generation may feel unwelcome in certain towns.The growth of CCTV cameras, use of private security firms and blurring of public and private land has also been an issue in cities such as Exeter. This can result in young people feeling that they are being victimized and forced out of city centres.
(5) Although most towns have the same shops, there are many features that make them unique.Another feature of many city centres is that they are beginning to look very similar to each other. The New Economics Foundation introduced the term ‘clone town’ in a report published in 2004. This suggests that many High Streets have few individual characteristics – the same shops can be seen in most towns. This was also followed up by a report in 2010, which identified Cambridge as the most ‘cloned’ city in the UK: one with very few independent stores in the centre.
(6) Although a large number of stores are closing, the number of shops that offer services is increasing.Services are perhaps more resilient to these changes, particularly those that offer something that is not available online. As one person commented: ‘You can’t have your hair cut online … ‘ – well, not yet anyway. This partly explains the growth of coffee shops and nail bars in some town centres, which are going against the general trend.
  1. Yes. Supermarkets are growing in number and size.
  2. Not given. The text mentions a growing trend to buy online and also that families have less money. However, the writer does not say that this is the reason for buying online.
  3. Yes. Shopping is becoming a leisure activity as much as a necessity.
  4. Yes. CCTV cameras and security may young people feel victimised.
  5. No. The writer is emphasising the similarities.
  6. Yes. The writer refers to an increase in several examples.

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 yes, no, not given questions that means you should write “yes”, “no” 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 passage.

Acknowledgement

The reading passage and yes, no, not given questions in this post appear in Get Ready for IELTS. The full book can be purchased here.

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