Answering "Yes/No/Not Given" & "True/False/Not Given" Questions
Yes/No/Not Given and True/False/Not Given
For both the Academic and General version of the IELTS test, this type of question occurs frequently. Many candidates lose confidence or even second guess themselves because they struggle with answering Yes/No/Not Given and True/False/Not Given questions. The key to success is learning about each type of question and how to answer them.
Yes/No/Not Given vs. True/False/Not Given
What is the difference between Yes/No/Not Given and True/False/Not Given?
On the IELTS test, the question type will be True/False/Not Given when the reading passage is giving factual information about a topic. For example, read about ‘Aphantasia’ here. The passage has facts about the disease, so the question type is True/False/Not Given. You should ask yourself if the facts are true, false, or not given when answering this type of question.
The question will be Yes/No/Not Given when the passage is discussing the opinion of the author, another person, or group of people. For example, read ‘How Babies Learn Language’ here. The passage is about the opinion of the author, so the question type is Yes/No/Not Given. You should ask yourself if the person’s opinion on the subject is true, false, or not given when answering this question type. If it is true, you can answer ‘Yes’ and if it is false, you can answer with ‘No’.
Candidates vs. Yes/No/Not Given and True/False/Not Given
The strategy for answering these question types are the same although the questions look different.
The information in the passage and the question must match completely when answering ‘True’ or ‘Yes’ to a question.
For example, the reading states:
It has been calculated that 17 percent of cases of lung cancer can be attributed to high levels of exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke during childhood and adolescence.
While the question states:
Teenagers whose parents smoke are at risk of getting lung cancer at some time during their lives.
Both sentences are referring to teenagers or adolescents being at a higher risk of getting lung cancer. Because of this, the statement is ‘True’ or ‘Yes’.
The answer would be changed to ‘False’ or ‘No’ if there is a piece of information in the question that is different from the passage. If information is missing, it may also be ‘False’.
For example, the passage states:
Smoking, it is believed, is responsible for 30 percent of all deaths from cancer.
While the question states:
Thirty percent of deaths in the United States are caused by smoking-related diseases.
The reading is discussing deaths related to cancer. However, the question is discussing all deaths in general, so therefore, the answer is ‘False’ or ‘No’.
The answer could also be ‘Not Given’ if information in either the text or the question is missing. This could be a whole idea or just a piece of information.
For example, the passage reads:
As an illustration of the health risks, in the case of a married couple where one partner is a smoker and one a non-smoker, the latter is believed to have a 30 per cent higher risk of death from heart disease because of passive smoking. The risk of lung cancer also increases over the years of exposure and the figure jumps to 80 per cent if the spouse has been smoking four packs a day for 20 years.
The question that is asked is:
If one partner in a marriage smokes, the other is likely to take up smoking.
Here, the reading speaks about partners in marriage, but it doesn’t discuss the likelihood of a partner taking up smoking. For this reason, the answer is ‘Not Given’. Here, a piece of information is the same in the reading as well as the question. However, there is a piece of information missing.
In another example, the question reads:
Opponents of smoking financed the UCSF study.
Nowhere in the reading does it discuss whether or not opponents finance the study, so this answer would be ‘Not Given’.
The reading and questions can be found here.
Stay focused and keep it simple when doing Yes/No/Not Given and True/False/Not Given questions. Compare the reading only to the questions related to it. Do not think about your previous knowledge on the topic. Decide if the question is true (yes), false (no), or not given once you have assessed only the question.