IELTS Reading: IELTS True/False/Not Given Question Type

IELTS Reading Strategies for True/False/Not Given Questions

Whether it’s IELTS Academic or the IELTS General test, most people across the board seem to say that the most challenging question type for the IELTS reading test is the IELTS True/False/Not Given question type.

So lets look at some IELTS reading strategies to tackle this famously tricky question type and then practice applying them together to see how we can steer our exam ship into safe and calm waters!

ielts reading true / false / not given
Learn how to navigate the treacherous IELTS waters with our IELTS reading strategy!

‘Switch on’ During Your Exam

Before we begin on our potentially treacherous ‘journey’ into the world of IELTS reading questions, an important piece of general advice to mention, which is a universal IELTS reading strategy that can be used for each and every question type, is to use your brain!

Really – and I’m not trying to be being rude or condescending, but it seems that in exam conditions we can, and do unfortunately, forget to really ‘think’ or use our brain, or even worse, become unable to think or ‘switch on’ our brain and go into some panicked ‘fight or flight’ state, otherwise known as a brain freeze or shut down!  Not much fun.

So to avoid both of the above and gain access to all the wonderful skills and abilities we all have at our disposal thanks to our amazing brains, lets have a look at some techniques to tap into our full IELTS reading strategy potential and power through the test!!

IELTS Reading Strategies

Some overall IELTS reading strategy tips:

  • Utilise our rewording or paraphrasing skills to fully absorb and clearly interpret the meaning of a statement when we read the question and answer options
  • Use our analytical or critical thinking skills to ask ourselves: what is going on in this paragraph, and then learn to separate the main idea from the supporting ideas and detail.
  • Remember to use our common sense and background knowledge on a subject to make a logical deduction or guess at a meaning of an unknown word or message/idea on a topic (just because it’s a formal academic test, doesn’t mean we can’t think for ourselves and trust our own judgment!)

IELTS True/False/Not Given Reading Strategy:

So first of all we need to read the given statement carefully and then cross check it in the text or passage and to do this we can use the following steps:

Step 1.

Focus on the statement.

Step 2.

Identify the key words and interpret meaning of the statement.

Step 3.

Locate the area in the text that talks about this particular information.

Step 4.

Decide if it is saying the same thing (True), a different thing (False) or is not mentioned or referred to at all (Not Given).

So lets try this strategy with the IELTS True/False/Not Given statements below (in the following text the relevant information has been located and highlighted for you to guide you how to use this strategy):

Practice Your IELTS True/False/Not Given Question Type

Are the Following Statements True/ False or Not Given about koalas according to the text below:

  1. Koalas are vegetarian
  2. There are more koalas in the south parts of Australia
  3. Koalas may have 1-3 babies during their lifetime
  4. Koalas are mainly awake at night
  5. Koalas get drunk from gum leaves
  6. Koalas do not drink water normally

The Real Story about Koalas

Q.1 & 2. Although bear-like, koalas are not bears. They are mammals, so feed their young milk and are marsupials, which means that their babies are born immature and they develop further in the safety of a pouch. They are a tree-dwelling, herbivorous marsupial, which averages about 9kg in weight and live on gum leaves. Their fur is thick and usually ash grey with a tinge of brown in places. Koalas in the southern parts of Australia are considerably larger and have thicker fur than those in the north. This is thought to be an adaptation to keep them warm in the colder southern winters.

Q.3. Younger breeding females usually give birth to one joey each year, depending on a range of factors. The joey stays in its mother’s pouch for about 6 or 7 months, drinking only milk. After venturing out of the pouch, the joey rides on its mother’s abdomen or back, although it continues to return to her pouch for milk until it is too big to fit inside. The joey leaves its mother’s home range between 1 and 3 years old, depending on when the mother has her next joey.

Q.4 & 5. Koalas are mostly nocturnal. They sleep for part of the night and also sometimes move about in the daytime. They often sleep for up to 18-20 hours each day. There is a myth that koalas sleep a lot because they ‘get drunk’ on gum leaves. However, most of their time is spent sleeping because it requires a lot of energy to digest their toxic, fibrous, low-nutrition diet and sleeping is the best way to conserve energy.

Q.6. The koala gets its name from an ancient Aboriginal word meaning “no drink” because it receives over 90% of its hydration from the eucalyptus leaves (also known as gum leaves) it eats, and only drinks when ill or times when there is not enough moisture in the leaves i.e. during droughts, etc.

Check Your Answer to IELTS True/False/Not Given Question Types

ielts true/false/not given
Check the answers after you have re-read the questions in the above example!
  1. Koalas are vegetarian= T (herbivorous means only eats plants; eats gum leaves)
  2. There are more koalas in the south parts of Australia = NG (koalas are bigger in size in southern Australia but the number of koalas is not mentioned)
  3. Koalas may have 1-3 babies during their life-time =NG (they do not talk about how many joeys they have)
  4. Koalas are mainly awake at night = T (mostly nocturnal, which means awake at night time)
  5. Koalas get drunk from gum leaves = F (they sleep a lot, but it doesn’t state that they become drunk)
  6. Koalas do not drink water normally = T (they usually get their water from gum leaves)
So how did you go with IELTS True/False/Not Given practice?! Tell us your thoughts in the comments below!

Remember, the IELTS reading strategy to keep carefully checking to see if it is saying the same thing, something different or they do not talk about it in the text, and above all use your brain!

For more IELTS reading tips, take a sneak peak at the IELTS Preparation: Maximising Your IELTS Reading Test Score!

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Written by Danielle, E2Language Master Tutor.  

IELTS Reading Tips: How to Improve your Score

I once talked to a near-native English speaker who approached me about IELTS reading tips because she failed the reading section. She had a 7.5 band score or higher in the other sections, and frankly we were both shocked with her reading score at first! However, when I asked her how she had prepared for IELTS reading, she just looked at me blankly. It turned out that she hadn’t prepared for this section at all! Why? She is an avid reader and she figured that this alone would be enough to get her through the IELTS reading section with flying colours.

The thing about the IELTS reading test is this: it’s more than just a test of your reading ability. It’s about using a combination of skills to problem-solve and answer a question. Just because you enjoy reading for pleasure, it doesn’t mean you’re all set to ace the test. It’s incredibly important to practice and perfect the reading skills you’ll be tested on, and I’d like to give you a couple of tips to help you get started.

IELTS Reading Tips
Unfortunately, a love of reading doesn’t always translate into a high IELTS reading score.

IELTS Reading Tips: Know the Format!

This one should go without saying, but I’ve met quite a few test-takers who didn’t research the IELTS reading format before they took the test for the first time. Again, they were just relying on their love of reading to translate into the reading skills needed for this section. The thing is though- you only have one hour to read three texts and answer 40 questions. That is a tall order for anyone! You need to spend every minute of this time tackling the content of the questions, not wasting time on working out what the questions are asking in the first place!

It’s quite simple to find the breakdown of the IELTS reading section online, so I won’t go into too much detail here. If you need an explanation of any of the different tasks in particular, I recommend you visit our IELTS reading lessons on YouTube.

Here is a list of the different tasks you will see on the reading section:

  1. Matching Questions
    • Matching Information
    • Matching Headings
    • Matching Features
    • Matching Sentence Endings
  2. Multiple Choice/ Identify Information Tasks
    • A/B/C/D
    • True/False/Not given
    • Yes/No/Not Given
  3. Completion Tasks
    • Sentence Completion Task
    • Summary, Notes, Table, Flow-chart Completion Tasks
    • Diagram Completion Task
  4. Short Answer Task

If any of these tasks are unfamiliar to you (and you haven’t practiced each one extensively!), you are not yet ready to take IELTS. If you want to get a sense of the difficulty of these question types, you can find practice questions for IELTS reading in the E2Language free trial course.

IELTS Reading Tips: Find the “Needle in the Haystack”

In the IELTS reading section, you will be presented with a complete overload of information. It’s your job to sift through this information to find only the most important points. But what are the most important points, and how the heck do you find them? It’s simple:

The most important points in a passage are the ones that relate directly to the questions being asked of you.

Therefore, you can learn everything you need to look for by reading the questions and answer options before you read the text. Just from doing this, you’ll have a sense of what the passage is about.

For example:

A question might read: “What was the primary reason for the fall of the Roman empire?”

Let’s look at the information we now have, thanks to this question:

  1. The text will talk about the fall of the Roman empire
  2. The text will probably identify several reasons contributing to the fall of the Roman empire
  3. It’s our job to find the most important reason for the fall of the Roman empire for this question

See how this information can help us focus our energy on what’s important in the passage already?

The answer options can be helpful too:

The answer options might read:

  1. Economic troubles
  2. Over expansion
  3. The invasion of the Barbarian tribes
  4. The rise of the Eastern Empire
  5. All of the above

By reading the answer options, you already know what to look for when you read the passage. You can then use the process of elimination to find the answer. Make sure you don’t just choose the first answer option you find in the text! Remember, the question is asking for the primary (or most important) reason for the fall of the Roman empire. That means you should be looking for clues in the text that suggest importance. 

For example:

  1. “The biggest contributor to the fall of the Roman empire was likely the rise of the Eastern empire….”
  2. “The Eastern empire appears to be the greatest reason behind the fall of the Roman empire..”
  3. “Although economic troubles and general over expansion contributed to the failing of the Roman empire, the rise of the Eastern empire was the causal factor…”

Note: very rarely will the answer options use the same key words as the passage. This is why it’s incredibly important to work on your vocabulary as much as possible. The more synonyms you know, the better! Get comfortable using a thesaurus when you read and write- it will make a big difference to your vocabulary skill.

IELTS Reading Tips: Make Your Own Practice Test

Although it’s definitely important to try practice questions from reliable sources (like E2Language!) on the internet, there is a lot of junk out there too. Why waste your time? Here is something you should try that will boost your reading skill AND your understanding of how each reading question works:

Step 1:

Go to or BBC news and pick an article that interests you.

Step 2:

Read the article carefully, making notes about what you consider the most important points to be.

Step 3:

Write a question about the article you just read using the different IELTS reading question formats.

For example, if the article was about the effect of food advertising on obesity in America, your question could look like this:

Junk food advertisements are found to impact Americans’ health more than healthy eating campaigns.

  1. True
  2. False
  3. Not Given

Or this:

Food advertising has proven to have a profound effect on the …………

Or this:

The advertisement of unhealthy foods in America has led to:

a) Higher obesity in the general public

b) No marked change in obesity since 1990

c) An increase in a sedentary lifestyle, which has been linked to obesity

d) An increase in junk food purchases

e) Both c and d

When you create your own questions with the information you think is most important about the passage, you’re not only practicing your reading-deduction skills, but also the format of the test. You’ll be surprised how effective this trick is. And why is it effective? Because it makes you do the work that the IELTS creators do. And like any work- the task gets easier with practice.

Any questions?

If you have any further questions about IELTS reading (or IELTS academic in general), be sure to visit our free forum! We’re always available to answer your questions.

Make sure you also check out our IELTS practice test webinar for more useful IELTS reading tips.

Do you know any IELTS reading tips If so, we’d love to hear them!


Written by: Kaia Myers-Stewart