A common problem in IELTS A.Reading is NOT GIVEN confusion. There is usually a great deal of ambiguity between FALSE and NOT GIVEN answers and sometimes it is really hard to distinguish their difference in order to answer the tasks correctly.
To be honest, there are no tips or rules that can guarantee 100% success no matter what. The nature of these tasks prevents that. They are meant to be tricky and confusing. The best thing you can do is to try to understand the logic of A.Reading concerning these tasks if that makes any sense. The following tips are based on my teaching experience and hopefully they will help you to tell the difference between FALSE and NOT GIVEN answers.
1st Tip: Beware of implications!
Sometimes an idea or a statement is IMPLIED in the text; you assume it is or it is not that way BUT it is never clearly stated. When you cannot find proof; you cannot be specific on something but you generally think it must be true or false, be careful because it is probably NG. For example, let’s take this statement over here:
“People that suffer from depression try to attain the same standard of success in their career as people that do not suffer from any psychological disorder.”
All over the text it may be implied that depressive people are not concerned with achieving success in their career, but it is never clearly stated in the text that they do or don’t try to attain the same standard of success in their career as non-depressive people, so it is not False: it is Not Given.
2nd tip: Lack of discussion!
If you see a statement not being discussed or analysed enough in the text as an issue in a paragraph or half a paragraph, you should start thinking that this statement might be a Not Given one. In other words, if the focus of a paragraph is on something else and just happens to mention a part of the statement, be careful. For example,
“Homeschooling is part of a self-study procedure that has more to offer than it is generally known”
In the text, the notion of homeschooling is analysed along with its advantages but the writer never states that it is part of a self-study procedure. And this example takes us to the next tip.
3rd Tip: If you can’t see it, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist!
What do I mean by that? Let’s check out the previous example again. It is never stated in the text that home-schooling is a self-study procedure. This doesn’t mean that the statement is False, right? For all I know, it could be part of a self-study procedure, it is just not stated here in this text. Thus, we are NOT GIVEN this information. It is a NG statement. It would be false only if we were told in the text something like that: “Homeschooling is thought to be part of a self-study procedure but this couldn’t be far from the truth”. Similarly, we move on to the next tip.
4th Tip: Beware of omissions!
Pay attention to what is omitted between the text and the statement rather than what they have in common. For example, if the passage says something like “Having a family makes people feel secure because…. etc” AND the statement says “Having a large family enhances security” this is NG. Why? Because no one talked about the size of the family; no one mentioned that large or small would make any difference. The writer wrote about any family and told us nothing in terms of size. It can’t be false (as any family enhances security) but we don’t know if it is entirely true in terms of size: this information is NG. It is kind of tricky, I know, but this is how it is supposed to be. This is A.Reading and you just have to get used to this logic.
5th Tip: Beware of explanations!
All parts of a statement must agree or disagree with the text. For example, let’s see the following statement:
“The population of wild ants increases at such a fast rate because they constantly need more members in the ant community”
Let’s just say that in the text there is a whole paragraph saying that the population of wild ants is indeed increasing at a very fast rate but it never gives any reason for that; it never tells us why. It could be the aforementioned reason, but we don’t know! So, it is NG. Be very careful of parts that are absolutely true, BUT the explanation given for that is not the same as in the text in which case the statement is FALSE, or it is not stated at all, in which case it is NG.
6th Tip: Beware of comparisons!
Extreme opinions, views, and statements should raise your attention. As we said in a previous example, we don’t know if the size of a family makes any difference. Similarly, let’s check out this statement:
“Bus is the most convenient form of public transportation”.
In the text, convenience is not mentioned at all. It is mentioned that buses are used the most but not in terms of convenience, but in terms of frequency. So, it is—yes, you guessed right—NOT GIVEN.
At this point if you are not frustrated with A.Reading, good for you, that’s a good sign! If you are frustrated, fair enough, but please don’t take it out on me like my students sometimes do as if I have invented IELTS, I assure you I have not. Just try to see it like a game; it really helps to play with it.
• Most mistakes take place when part of the statement is correct but the other part is either not mentioned at all or it is mentioned for another reason, so pay attention to these statements.
• Keep in mind that the order of the statements determines where you are going to find them in the text. This makes things a little bit easier.
These tips are out of my teaching experience so they may not work for all of you but give them a shot and I do hope they will!
If you prefer watching than reading, here you go: