Time Saver Strategy for IELTS Reading
Reading
Time-saver strategy for IELTS Reading: True/False/Not Given

Welcome back to my blog series on saving time in the IELTS Reading test! In my last blog, we looked at how to deal with matching headings to paragraphs and my top tip was to read the questions as you go along. Today, we're going to look at True/False/Not Given questions. With this type of question, you should do some preparation before answering.    True/False/Not Given When looking at this question type, make sure to read each question carefully and find the key idea. Then set an ‘alarm’ in your head, which goes off when you see a ‘trigger’ idea in the text. Be careful to look for the ideas rather than the word, as the reading passage may use synonyms. You should also make sure that the idea you’re looking for is not too general. For example, in a text about trees, the word ‘tree’ isn’t a very useful idea to look for, as it will be mentioned in the full text many times.  It’s also really important to look at the relationship between ideas in the text. Once you’ve identified the section of the text where the answer can be found, slow down and check the meaning of both question statement and the information in the text very carefully.  Here is an example from IELTS 12 Academic (part of our Authentic Practice Tests series). I thought you might find it useful if I do the reading test as I write, so you can follow my thought process. I promise, I’d never seen this text before.  Download Reading Passage to complete the task with me below. (Click to enlarge) 1. The cork oak has the thickest bark of any living tree. In this text, the word ‘thickest’ is really important, as we’re looking for a superlative, here. The group in which it is the ‘thickest’ is also important so if the text mentions ‘thickest’ in combination with an extinct tree, but not with a living one this will impact the answer. As I read the first paragraph of the text, I see that ‘thick’ is mentioned, but it never says ‘thickest’ (or another word meaning thickest), so the alarm bell in my head never even goes off. The answer to the question is therefore ‘Not Given’. 2. Scientists have developed a synthetic cork with the same cellular structure as natural cork.  The alarm bell in my head goes off at the word cellular structure, so I slow down my reading  and I see this: ‘Developed most probably as a defence against forest fires, the bark of the cork oak has a particular cellular structure – with about 40 million cells per cubic centimetre – that technology has never succeeded in replicating.” The text says that there is no synthetic version of cork with the same cellular structure. The question statement and the information in the text are mutually exclusive and the answer is therefore ‘False’.  3. Individual cork oak trees must be left for 25 years between the first and second harvest. This is a great question, as 25 years should be a fairly easy idea to find. However, be careful, the word ‘must’ is potentially important. If the text says ‘usually’, it’s not the same as ‘must’. My alarm bell goes off when I read “From the planting of a cork sapling to the first harvest takes 25 years, and a gap of approximately a decade must separate harvests…” So, as it turns out ‘must’ was not important after all, but it is always worth noting these things. The answer is ‘False’, as the gap between harvests is only 10 years.    4. Cork bark should be stripped in dry atmospheric conditions. As I read on, my internal alarm is triggered by the word ‘stripped’. “If the bark is stripped on a day when it’s too cold – or when the air is damp – the tree will be damaged.” This is a tricky question, as it depends on your knowledge of the word ‘damp’ (meaning wet). You could try to work it out from the context, but remember that for the vast majority of test takers it’s perfectly acceptable to drop a few points, so remember your time management, take your best guess and move on. The answer is ‘True’, by the way.  5. The only way to remove the bark from cork oak trees is by hand.  This is another tricky question because the text uses synonyms for all three key ideas. However, the text has taught you that ‘stripping’ is a synonym for ‘removing’ so my alarm is triggered as I read “No mechanical means of stripping cork bark has been invented, so the job is done by teams of highly skilled workers.” Although ‘mechanical’ may also be a new word for you in this context, you can probably work out from the context that it’s the opposite of ‘by hand’, so the answer is ‘True’.  Remember, that it’s important to move on to the next set of questions to make sure you get all the points for the questions you can answer. Don’t spend too much time on difficult questions.  If you want to find out more about managing your time in completing other types of questions in the IELTS Reading test, make sure to check out future blogs in this series! The point in the ‘not given’ option is that the answer is simply not there in the text, so don’t waste your time looking for it. If you can’t say that a question is definitely ‘true’ or definitely ‘false’, the answer is most likely ‘not given’.  Sophie

Sophie Hodgson

9 April, 2020

Time-saver strategy for IELTS Reading: True/False/Not Given

Time Saver Strategy for IELTS Reading

Welcome back to my blog series on saving time in the IELTS Reading test!
In my last blog, we looked at how to deal with matching headings to paragraphs and my top tip was to read the questions as you go along. Today, we're going to look at True/False/Not Given questions. With this type of question, you should do some preparation before answering. 

 

True/False/Not Given

When looking at this question type, make sure to read each question carefully and find the key idea. Then set an ‘alarm’ in your head, which goes off when you see a ‘trigger’ idea in the text. Be careful to look for the ideas rather than the word, as the reading passage may use synonyms. You should also make sure that the idea you’re looking for is not too general. For example, in a text about trees, the word ‘tree’ isn’t a very useful idea to look for, as it will be mentioned in the full text many times. 

It’s also really important to look at the relationship between ideas in the text. Once you’ve identified the section of the text where the answer can be found, slow down and check the meaning of both question statement and the information in the text very carefully. 

Here is an example from IELTS 12 Academic (part of our Authentic Practice Tests series). I thought you might find it useful if I do the reading test as I write, so you can follow my thought process. I promise, I’d never seen this text before. 

Download Reading Passage to complete the task with me below.

Listening Exercise

(Click to enlarge)

1. The cork oak has the thickest bark of any living tree.

In this text, the word ‘thickest’ is really important, as we’re looking for a superlative, here. The group in which it is the ‘thickest’ is also important so if the text mentions ‘thickest’ in combination with an extinct tree, but not with a living one this will impact the answer. As I read the first paragraph of the text, I see that ‘thick’ is mentioned, but it never says ‘thickest’ (or another word meaning thickest), so the alarm bell in my head never even goes off. The answer to the question is therefore ‘Not Given’.

2. Scientists have developed a synthetic cork with the same cellular structure as natural cork. 

The alarm bell in my head goes off at the word cellular structure, so I slow down my reading  and I see this: ‘Developed most probably as a defence against forest fires, the bark of the cork oak has a particular cellular structure – with about 40 million cells per cubic centimetre – that technology has never succeeded in replicating.” The text says that there is no synthetic version of cork with the same cellular structure. The question statement and the information in the text are mutually exclusive and the answer is therefore ‘False’. 

3. Individual cork oak trees must be left for 25 years between the first and second harvest.

This is a great question, as 25 years should be a fairly easy idea to find. However, be careful, the word ‘must’ is potentially important. If the text says ‘usually’, it’s not the same as ‘must’. My alarm bell goes off when I read “From the planting of a cork sapling to the first harvest takes 25 years, and a gap of approximately a decade must separate harvests…” So, as it turns out ‘must’ was not important after all, but it is always worth noting these things. The answer is ‘False’, as the gap between harvests is only 10 years.   

4. Cork bark should be stripped in dry atmospheric conditions.

As I read on, my internal alarm is triggered by the word ‘stripped’. “If the bark is stripped on a day when it’s too cold – or when the air is damp – the tree will be damaged.” This is a tricky question, as it depends on your knowledge of the word ‘damp’ (meaning wet). You could try to work it out from the context, but remember that for the vast majority of test takers it’s perfectly acceptable to drop a few points, so remember your time management, take your best guess and move on. The answer is ‘True’, by the way. 

5. The only way to remove the bark from cork oak trees is by hand. 

This is another tricky question because the text uses synonyms for all three key ideas. However, the text has taught you that ‘stripping’ is a synonym for ‘removing’ so my alarm is triggered as I read “No mechanical means of stripping cork bark has been invented, so the job is done by teams of highly skilled workers.” Although ‘mechanical’ may also be a new word for you in this context, you can probably work out from the context that it’s the opposite of ‘by hand’, so the answer is ‘True’

Remember, that it’s important to move on to the next set of questions to make sure you get all the points for the questions you can answer. Don’t spend too much time on difficult questions. 

If you want to find out more about managing your time in completing other types of questions in the IELTS Reading test, make sure to check out future blogs in this series!

The point in the ‘not given’ option is that the answer is simply not there in the text, so don’t waste your time looking for it. If you can’t say that a question is definitely ‘true’ or definitely ‘false’, the answer is most likely ‘not given’. 

Sophie

Sophie Hodgson

Sophie has been supporting students on their IELTS journey since 2003 and feels privileged to have watched them succeed. While most people probably do not like taking tests, Sophie believes that preparing for the IELTS exam can be both interesting and fun. She loves language and structure and enjoys exploring both with her students to help them achieve their aims.

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