IELTS Reading: A smart and the best strategy to handle YES/NO/NOT GIVEN

In IELTS Reading exam, students often face the problem of dealing with different types of questions. One of these questions is YES, NO, NOT GIVEN which is also known as TRUE, FALSE, NO INFORMATION. This is a question where many students, who have weakness in English reading, become utterly confused. Especially it becomes difficult to decide on whether the answer should be NO or NOT GIVEN.  In this post, I’ll provide a simple yet the best powerful trick to solve this problem. This may be helpful for everyone if you think about this question in a different way.

IELTS Reading: A smart strategy to handle YES/NO/NOT GIVEN

I’ve named this technique as method 3210. The name suggests that the answer has some sort of relation to numbers. Actually, there is a tiny trick which we can apply here. If you look at any YES/ NO/ NOT GIVEN question, you may find some individual parts. We shall try to break the question into 3 individual parts and then try to find them in the passage. If we can match all the 3, the answer will be YES. If we can match 2 parts, it will be NO. In the same way, if we find only 1 or no match, the answer will be NOT GIVEN.

TRUE: if all 3 parts are found.

FALSE: if any 2 of the 3 parts are found.

NOT GIVEN: if any 1 of the 3 or no parts is found. Also, if the most important information of the question is not discussed in the passage, the answer will be NOT GIVEN.

Let’s have a look at it in details and apply it in some real IELTS Reading questions.

Find a copy of CAMBRIDGE 10 and open at page 19. Here, you will find the first set of questions of READING TEST 1 PASSAGE 1 (Stepwells), which are TRUE/FALSE/NOTGIVEN. I know many of you know about finding answers from a keyword. But, this might not work for many students, who just know how to read, nothing more. So, how can we find the answer more easily?

The first question says,

“Examples of ancient stepwells can be found all over the world.”

Let’s break the question.

We can break it like the following pattern:

Examples of ancient stepwells           can be found                     all over the world.

Now, let’s read the passage. As this is the first set of questions, we shall look at the first paragraph of the passage.

Phrases like “During the sixth and seventh centuries” indicate that the stepwells are ancient. So, we can give a tick (√) for the first part of the question.

Line 7 of the second paragraph says, “Most stepwells are found…. …. … .. ”. This confirms that the setpwells can be found. So, we can give a tick (√) for the second part of the question.

But, interestingly, Line 1 of the second paragraph says, “Unique to this region”. Then, from line 7 to 14 indicates that the stespwells are clustered around Gujrat, Rajasthan and Delhi, all of which are located in India. So, this information contradicts or doesn’t match with the third part of the question. So, we can give a cross (X) for the third part of the question.

Now, we have two ticks(√) and one cross(X) for this question. So, the answer is FALSE.

Let’s see if it works for the other questions.

  1. Stepwells had      a range of functions,    in addition to those related to water collection.

Clues: Line 5-10 of Para 1 matches with part 1 and 3 in the question. “method of gaining access to clean, fresh groundwater during the dry season for drinking, bathing, watering animals and irrigation. However, the significance of this invention – the stepwellgoes beyond its utilitarian application.”  It proves that Stepwells had the main function related to water collection. So, we can give two ticks(√).

Line 12-14 of Para 2 says, “Some were located in or near villages as public spaces for the community; others were positioned beside roads as resting places for travellers.” So, this is a clear match to the part 2 in the question. So, we can give one tick(√).

Three ticks () = TRUE.

  1. The few existing stepwells in Delhi    are more attractive     than those found elsewhere.

Clues: Part 1 and part 3 of the question can be found in the second paragraph of the passage. But, remember that the 3rd part has a word “than” which means there is a comparison. If you search the 2nd paragraph, you won’t find any comparison regarding the attractiveness of the stepwells. So, technically, we can find a single match in the passage with the 1st part of the question only. So, we can give only one tick(√).

One tick () = NOT GIVEN.

  1. It took workers many years to build the stone steps characteristic of stepwells.

Clues: Scanning the third and fourth paragraph, we find a match with the 3rd part, “As their name suggests, stepwells comprise a series of stone steps descending from the ground level … . .. . . ..”.  But there is no mention of the 1st and 2nd part in the paragraphs. So, again, we can give only one tick(√).

One tick () = NOT GIVEN.

  1. The number of steps above the water level in a stepwell        altered          during the course of a year.

Clues: Lines 6-9 in Paragraph 3 clearly says, “When the water level was high, the user needed only to descend a few steps to reach it; when it was low, several levels would have to be negotiated.”

Here, the high and low levels of water indicating the changes happening during the course of a year. “To descend” and “negotiated” means that the changes of position of the steps. Thus, all the parts match with the passage. So, we can give three ticks (√).

Three ticks () = TRUE.

Thus, you can easily match all the key information with the question to match the three parts. It may be difficult for you at first. Just keep practicing; after doing it a couple of times, you will become used to with it. It really worked for me and I made it easier by practicing from most of the Reading Passages 1 from different Cambridge IELTS books. Reading Passage 1 generally focuses easier passages. So, you can start from here.

Hope, this trick helps you.

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2 years ago

Nice tips – easy to work on… I will try this on my practice test. this question type and Matching heading have been my worst nightmare. Can you do something like this for matching heading questions?
Thank you.


[…] Click here to learn more on how best to tackle this type of question. […]

2 years ago

Hi admin, have you posted these type strategy on heading of paragraphs?


IELTS Academic Reading: Cambridge 4 Test 1 Reading passage 2; What Do Whales Feel?; with best solutions and best explanations

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