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In the IELTS Reading test, one of the challenging task types is True, False or Not Given (or Yes, No, Not Given). Do you find the ‘Not Given’ option tricky? Do you struggle to decide between ‘False’/’No’ and ‘Not Given’? Let’s look at some handy tips to help make the choice easier for you.

Task type examples

Let’s imagine the following are a set of True, False or Not Given questions for an article:

  1. The amount of foreign language users has increased in recent years.

  2. Learning a second language is now seen as being beneficial for cognitive development.

  3. The uptake of second languages in Australian schools has developed quickly.

  4. Children from migrant families had a more positive attitude towards second languages before they attended school for the first time.

  5. Only a few of the migrant children in the survey had difficulty in pronunciation.

First of all, it is useful to just focus on whether the answer is True or False as an initial step. Only use Not Given as your last option if you can’t decide between the first two.

Use ‘True’ if the statement matches the information in the article.

Use ‘False’ if the statement contradicts the information in the article.

So, let’s look at the key words in the statements, particularly the ones we can make opposite to each other:

1. The amount of foreign language users has increased in recent years.

In this case, your first two options are:

True (if the amount has increased)

False (if the amount has stayed the same or decreased)

If you are unable to find out if the amount has increased or not, then use your other option of ‘Not Given’.

2. Learning a second language is now seen as being beneficial for cognitive development.

In this case, your first two options are:

True (if it is now beneficial)

False (if it is now harmful)

If you are unable to find out whether it is now beneficial or harmful for cognitive development, then use your other option of ‘Not Given’.

3. The uptake of second languages in Australian schools has developed quickly.

In this case, your first two options are:

True (if it has developed quickly)

False (if it has developed slowly)

If you are unable to find out anything about the speed of the uptake in Australian schools, then use your other option of ‘Not Given’.

4. Children from migrant families had a more positive attitude towards second languages before they attended school for the first time.

In this case, your first two options are:

True (if the attitude was more positive before attending school)

False (if the attitude was more positive after attending school)

If the article doesn’t mention when they had a more positive attitude, then use your other option of ‘Not Given’.

5. Only a few of the migrant children in the survey had difficulty in pronunciation.

In this case, your first two options are:

True (if only a few of them had difficulty)

False (if some or a lot of them had difficulty)

If there is no mention of the proportion of the children with difficulty, then choose ‘Not Given’.

From these examples, we can consider using the following approach:

  • Highlight the verbs, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions and proportion words in the statements.

  • Determine if the answer is ‘True’ or ‘False’ first, but looking for detail that matches the key words or contradicts the key words.

  • Don’t use ‘Not Given’ as your first option – only use it as a last choice

  • The main difference between ‘False’ or ‘No’ and ‘Not Given’, is that ‘False’ and ‘No’ can be proven (that is, there is evidence in the article).

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In conclusion, remember that all of the information in the statement needs to be mentioned in the article, not just one or two words. If you don't find the whole meaning of the statement in the passage, chances are 'NOT GIVEN' isn't the correct answer. For example, in Question 5, the article can mention migrant children and their difficulty with pronunciation, but if it does not mention the proportion of them, then it is impossible to choose ‘True’ or ‘False’.