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Reading

One of the reasons why the IELTS Reading test can be challenging is due to the time limit to complete all the tasks.  Therefore, being able to identify keywords is a useful way to save time.

Let’s look at True, False and Not Given questions as an example:

Do the following statements agree with the information in the passage?

TRUE                  if the statement agrees with the information

FALSE                 if the statement contradicts the information

NOT GIVEN      if there is no information on this

1. When Smith was discussing her research, she challenged the standard theory.

2. The evidence scientists collected in Finland was reliable.

3. The weather during the winter months was unusually cold for that time of year.

4. Few of the attendees were able to arrive on time for the presentation.

5. The report from the conference was sent to the Brisbane office before the publication of the research.

First of all, when dealing with True, False or Not Given questions, remember that the answers usually appear in order in the text. Therefore, it is best to start with the questions that are easy to locate in the passage first. In this case, you could start with Questions 1, 2 or 5 because the words “Smith”, “Finland” and “Brisbane” are easy to scan and find in the article.  Questions 3 and 4 can be tackled later as they would appear somewhere between Questions 2 and 5.  So, basically use the names of people or places to help locate the answer in the text.  Other nouns are useful too, such as “winter months”, “attendees” and “presentation” but are not as easy to locate compared to the others.

Once you have found the approximate location of the answer, it is then useful to look at the keywords which can help decide the answer. These keywords can include:

  • Verbs

  • Adjectives

  • Adverbs

  • Proportion words

  • Prepositions

Look at the 5 questions again and see if you can identify the keywords. Remember that a ‘True’ answer and a ‘False’ answer are opposite, so look for words that you can easily make opposite to each other.

Here are the keywords which can help decide the answer:

1. When Smith was discussing her research, she challenged the standard theory.

Smith either challenged the theory (True) or supported the theory (False).

2. The evidence scientists collected in Finland was reliable.

The evidence was either reliable (True) or unreliable (False).

3. The weather during the winter months was unusually cold for that time of year.

The weather was either unusually cold (True) or typically cold (False).

4. Few of the attendees were able to arrive on time for the presentation.

Either few of them arrived on time (True) or many/most/all of them arrived on time (False).

5. The report from the conference was sent to the Brisbane office before the publication of the research.

It was sent to the Brisbane office either before the publication(True) or after the publication (False).

Of course, you would use ‘Not Given’ as an option only when you can’t find evidence to support or contradict these keywords.

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