Answering True/False/Not Given questions

Many people are confused about True / False / Not given questions so, in this post, I’ll try to make it clear how they work.  If I were to translate the 3 possible answers into symbols, I would write them like this:

True = ✔      False = ✗     Not Given = ?  So,

True means that the statement is correct ()

False means that the statement is wrong () and

Not Given means I can’t check if this statement is correct or incorrect because there isn’t enough information (?).

This image shows how to decide which answer to give:

How to decide if an answer is True, False or Not Given

How to decide if an answer is True, False or Not Given

Try to think of this task as ‘checking facts’.  You are saying:

This fact is true

This fact is wrong, or

I can’t check this fact.

Another common problem with Not Given questions is that people imagine they’re being asked to search and search through the passage for information that isn’t there.  This is not true and would be very unfair.  Instead, the question leads you to a specific sentence or part of the passage and then asks you to show that you understand exactly what the writer is saying in that part.  So, True statements accurately represent what the writer says there.  False statements write the opposite of what the writer says.  Not given statements could be true or they could be false – you cannot say from this information alone – you need to find another source to check this fact.

Here’s an example of based on the first paragraph of the following article:  A Broken Book of Hours (www.medievalists.net)

Task 1) Read the paragraph below and then try to decide which statement is True, which one is False and which one is Not Given – (NB, just use the information in this paragraph, not information from the rest of the article)

‘Last month at an auction house in Germany, a single page from a medieval manuscript went up for sale. Among those who were trying to buy it was David Gura, the Curator of Ancient and Medieval Manuscripts at the University of Notre Dame. It was another chance for him to save part of a 15th century Book of Hours, which only a few years earlier had been broken up. He is now in a race to find the remaining the pages of this manuscript before they disappear.’

  • David Gura is trying to buy a book before it gets broken up.
  • David Gura works for the University of Notre Dame.
  • Only a small number of pages remain of The Book of Hours.

Task 2) In the reading test, these questions ALWAYS come in the same order as the information in the passage.  This helps you to find the relevant part of the passage that you need to read closely.  Write the numbers 1 – 3 next to the statements to show the order they should appear in an IELTS test.

Answers:

Task 1

  • False (the book had been broken up a few years before so this is factually incorrect information)
  • True (the fact is correct, he is the curator there)
  • Not Given (from this information we do not know how many pages are left – it might be true or it might be false – we cannot check from this paragraph alone – we need to find another source)

Task 2

In an IELTS test the questions would be in this order:

  1. David Gura works for the University of Notre Dame.
  2. David Gura is trying to buy a book before it gets broken up.
  3. Only a small number of pages remain of The Book of Hours.