IELTS Reading: Yes, No, Not Given Questions
Updated: May 3
Yes, No, Not Given questions are common in the IELTS Reading test. There’s a good chance you’ll get one of these or a True/False/Not Given question which is very similar.
It’s important that you understand the difference between the two so here’s a quick explanation.
Yes/No/Not Given vs True/False/Not Given questions
The difference is in the type of information contained in the text.
Yes/No/Not Given – the text will contain the opinions, views or beliefs of the writer or other people who are mentioned.
True/False/Not Given – the text will contain factual information about a topic.
For Yes/No/Not Given questions, you will be given a set of statements and a text. Your task is to decide which of the following applies to the information in each statement:
it agrees with the views of the writer – YES (Y)
it disagrees with or contradicts what the writer thinks – NO (N)
it is impossible to know what the writer’s point of view is – NOT GIVEN (NG)
Here’s a set of sample instructions & questions from a real past IELTS Reading test paper for illustration.
So, you need to do two things:
1) Understand the information in the statements.
2) Decide if it matches the information in the text (Yes), disagrees with it (No) or isn’t given (Not Given).
The big challenge
The challenge with a Y/N/NG type question is that for some statements, the NOT GIVEN ones, you will be searching for information that’s not there.
This is the first reason why some people fear it.
You can easily waste a lot of time going over and over the text to check that you haven’t missed the information.
The second challenge is the unfamiliarity of this type of question. Most people will have looked for YES & NO statements in texts back in their school days but many have no experience of NOT GIVEN statements.
Hence, it’s extra important to have a strategy that gives you the confidence to make your decision and move swiftly on.
8 Top tips
1) The answers appear in the same order in the text as the order of the statements.
2) You don’t need to read the whole text. First, you will scan for keywords and then you’ll read in detail the section in which they're located to find the answer.
3) There will be at least one of each answer type – Yes, No, Not Given. So, if you don’t have at least one of each when you’ve completed the question, you’ve made a mistake.
4) Watch out for distractors. Be aware that the test setters love to use ‘distractors’ to really test you. A prime example is qualifying words such as:
every a few
These single words can completely change the meaning of a sentence.
E.g. Julio often goes to the gym after work.
Julio occasionally goes to the gym after work.
In Y/N/NG questions, the meaning of the statement must be an exact match with the opinion of the writer for the answer to be YES.
5) Also be on the lookout for qualifying words that express possibility or doubt such as:
Again, they can totally alter the meaning of a statement.
E.g. He claimed that profits had gone up by 10%.
He knew that profits had gone up by 10%.
6) The view or opinion of the writer may not be immediately clear from the text. You may have to determine this through what they say.
7) The statements will contain synonyms and paraphrasing so be on the lookout for these.
8) Remember that at least one answer will be NG. This means that you will be searching for information that is not there.
As already mentioned, it’s easy to waste time searching and searching for the information you’re never going to find because it isn’t there. Use the strategy I’m about to show you to quickly come to a decision about each statement and move on.
# 1 Read the instructions carefully. Double-check whether it is a YES/NO/NOT GIVEN or a TRUE/FALSE/NOT GIVEN question.
# 2 Read the statements and try to understand the meaning of each. Do this before reading the text.
# 3 Think about possible synonyms that might appear in the text and note any qualifying words in the statements such as, all, some, always, often. This will make your brain alert for them when you scan the text.
# 4 Underline keywords. You won’t necessarily find the exact words in the text due to the extensive use of synonyms and paraphrasing in Y/N/NG questions but enough will be present to make doing this worthwhile.
# 5 Re-read statement 1 and scan the first paragraph, maybe two, for the key words or synonyms of them. Scanning will locate where the answer is but a detailed reading of this section of the text is now needed to determine the opinion of the writer in relation to the statement.
# 6 Make your decision. Remember to consider these three things:
To be YES, the view of the writer must exactly match the statement even if the words are different.
Look carefully for qualifying words that might change the meaning.
If you are struggling to find the writer’s opinion it’s probably because it isn’t there, i.e. it’s NOT GIVEN.
# 7 Repeat this process for the remaining questions.