IELTS Reading: True / False / Not Given

Learn about True / False / Not Given questions in IELTS reading, including an overview, recommended strategy and practice questions.

IELTS Reading: True / False / Not Given

Overview

True / False / Not Given questions test your ability to locate and identify specific information in the reading passage.

Here are some key points about True / False / Not Given questions:

  • You’ll be asked to read a series of statements, and decide whether they’re True, False or Not Given based on the information given in the reading passage.
  • The information in the passage follows the order of the questions. This means that the information you need to answer the first question will come before the information you need to answer the second one.
  • They’re generally used with more factual passages.

Here are some example True / False / Not Given questions from a passage about the relationship between dinosaurs and birds:

Questions 1–5

Do the following statements agree with the information given in the reading passage?

In boxes 1–5 on your answer sheet, write

TRUE   if the statement agrees with the information
FALSE   if the statement contradicts the information
NOT GIVEN   if there is no information on this

1     Only one Archaeopteryx fossil has been found.

2     Scientists are certain that Archaeopteryx could fly.

3     Sinosauropteryx prima was discovered by a scientist.

4     The first Vegavis iaai fossil was found in 2005.

5     Researchers believe that Vegavis iaai sounded like a duck.

You’ve probably seen many True/False questions before in other tests. However, the concept of Not Given might be new to you, and the difference between False and Not Given can sometimes be confusing. To answer these questions correctly, it’s very important to understand the difference between True, False and Not Given.

Here’s an overview:

AnswerMeaning
TRUEThere's information in the passage that confirms that the statement is true.
FALSEThere's information in the passage that contradicts the statement, proving that it's false.
NOT GIVENThere isn't enough information in the passage for you to be able to decide whether the statement is true or false.

It’s also very important to remember that you should not use any existing knowledge when answering True / False / Not Given questions. Your answers need to be based on the information given in the passage only.

Recommended strategy

Here’s my recommended strategy for answering True / False / Not Given questions. We’ll use Question 1 to demonstrate the steps you need to take.

Step 1  >  Identify key words in the question

Key words are the important words that help you understand the focus of the question. Key words include names, places and figures, as well as nouns, verbs and adjectives.

Here’s the first question with the key words highlighted:

1     Only one Archaeopteryx fossil has been found.

Step 2  >  Scan the passage to find the key words

Once you’ve identified the key words, you can scan for them in the passage. It’s important to keep in mind that synonyms – words and phrases with the same or a similar meaning – are often used in the passage rather than the actual key words from the question, so you need to look for them, too.

Here’s the reading passage. You can see that the key words and/or synonyms for this question have been highlighted:

Here are the key words from the question as well as the words used in the passage:

QuestionPassage
oneunique
ArchaeopteryxArchaeopteryx
fossilfossil, specimens
founddiscovery, dug up

Step 3  >  Read carefully

Once you’ve found the relevant part of the passage, read it carefully and decide on your answer. You should always read the sentences before and after the sentences that contain key words to make sure you don’t miss anything.

In our example, unique is a distractor because it sometimes means the only one of its kind, but here it means special or unusual. The passage refers to a fossil that was found in 1861, which also makes it sound as though only one Archaeopteryx fossil has been found. However, careful reading of the following sentence reveals that a dozen or so (i.e. about twelve) Archaeopteryx fossils have been dug up (i.e. found) since this initial discovery.

We now have evidence that contradicts the statement, which means that the correct answer is False.

Final tips

Here are some important final tips:

  • If you find key words (or synonyms) from a statement in the passage, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the answer is True or False; it could still be Not Given. You should expect to find key words in the passage for all of the statements.
  • If you think an answer is Not Given, you don’t need to read the entire passage to make sure – you only need to read the part of the passage where you’d expect to find evidence. It can be helpful to remember that the information in the passage follows the order of the questions. If there isn’t enough evidence in the relevant part of the passage to decide whether an answer is True or False, the answer must be Not Given.
  • Pay attention to any qualifying words in the statements (believe, suggest, only, always, etc.).
  • For each set of True / False / Not Given questions, you should expect at least one answer to be True, at least one to be False, and at least one to be Not Given.

Practice questions

Now it’s your turn to practise. Answer the remaining True / False / Not Given questions from the passage using the steps outlined above.

The Dinosaurs Among Us


Most of us were taught in school that dinosaurs went extinct millions of years ago, but around 10,000 species still roam the Earth: we call them birds. It might be surprising, but the current scientific consensus is that modern birds descended from a group of two-legged dinosaurs called theropods, whose members include the formidable Tyrannosaurus Rex and the velociraptors made famous by the Hollywood film Jurassic Park.

The close relationship between dinosaurs and birds was first put forward after the discovery of a unique fossil named Archaeopteryx in southern Germany in the summer of 1861. This creature, a dozen or so specimens of which have since been dug up, was hailed as a clear transitional step between dinosaurs and birds because of its telling mix of attributes. It had jaws full of sharp teeth – all of today’s birds are toothless – three fingers with claws, as well as the long bony tail characteristic of most other dinosaurs from its time. But it also had prominent feathered wings. The question of whether or not Archaeopteryx was capable of flight had long been the subject of doubt, but recent research has confirmed that indeed it was. By using a special machine called a synchrotron, an international team of researchers was able to determine that Archaeopteryx’s bones, like those of modern birds, were almost hollow.

For decades, Archaeopteryx remained the only link between dinosaurs and modern birds. But in the 1990s, an influx of new dinosaur fossils discovered in China – mainly in Liaoning Province – shed more light on birds’ evolutionary journey. A treasure trove of non-avian dinosaurs and their primitive bird contemporaries were uncovered during this period, often by local farmers rather than palaeontologists. The most significant find of this era was undoubtedly Sinosauropteryx prima, the first known fossil of a non-avian dinosaur with evidence of feathers. This specimen, which had very simple filament-like feathers, taught scientists that it was not only bird-like dinosaurs that had feathers.

Despite these discoveries in Liaoning, scientists still faced gaps in the fossil record, which resulted in disagreement about whether birds pre-dated the mass extinction of the dinosaurs. But it would not be long before an exciting new species was thrown into the mix. Spotted in the rocks of Vega Island in the Antarctic over a decade earlier, Vegavis iaai was finally classified by Julia Clarke and her team from the University of Texas at Austin in 2005. The researchers dated the fossil to around 67 million years ago, just before the asteroid strike that wiped out the non-avian dinosaurs. What makes Vegavis iaai so remarkable is the fact that it looked like a modern duck. Anatomical analyses and a digital reconstruction of the bones revealed that its skeleton has traits that only exist in today’s birds. Examination of a second, more complete Vegavis iaai specimen also revealed the presence of a syrinx, a vocal organ like the ones found in today’s waterfowl. This led Clarke and her team to conclude that the creature not only resembled a duck, but probably quacked like one, too.

In addition to feathers and wings, fossil evidence has demonstrated many other features shared by birds and certain dinosaurs. Although some scientists have maintained that dinosaurs would have had lungs similar to those of today’s crocodiles and other reptiles, Patrick O’Connor from Ohio University believes that some dinosaurs breathed like birds. O’Connor analysed a 67-million-year-old fossil of Majungatholus atopus, a primitive theropod, and compared it to data collected from more than 200 living birds. Based on his findings, he argues that theropods, like birds, probably had air sacs to supply their lungs with air. There also appear to be parallels between birds and certain dinosaurs in relation to reproduction. It is an accepted fact that dinosaurs laid eggs like birds do. Female birds grow medullary bone in their limbs so as to have enough calcium to make the eggshells needed to form eggs. Evidence of this has also been found in the fossils of a number of dinosaurs, including Tyrannosaurus Rex and Allosaurus. In terms of skeletal structure, there are similarities, too. Wishbones are common to all bird species, but they have also been seen in the fossils of some theropods. This part of the skeleton is formed by the fusion of the two clavicles, which, in humans, are also referred to as collarbones.

Certain dinosaurs also exhibited behaviours similar to those of today’s birds. Fossils of the bird-like dinosaurs Sinornithoides and Mei revealed that they probably slept with their heads tucked under their arms, which is a characteristic of modern birds. It is believed that, like birds, these dinosaurs did this to maintain their body temperature overnight. There is also evidence that some dinosaurs, such as Caudipteryx zoui, a small theropod discovered in Liaoning Province in 1998, ingested gizzard stones to break down food. These probably functioned as a gastric mill for grinding up tough plant material and the exoskeletons of insects. This behaviour is present not only in today’s birds, but also in a number of other species including crocodiles and seals.

Questions 1–5

Do the following statements agree with the information given in the reading passage?

In boxes 1–5 on your answer sheet, write

TRUE   if the statement agrees with the information
FALSE   if the statement contradicts the information
NOT GIVEN   if there is no information on this

1     Only one Archaeopteryx fossil has been found.

2     Scientists are certain that Archaeopteryx could fly.

3     Sinosauropteryx prima was discovered by a scientist.

4     The first Vegavis iaai fossil was found in 2005.

5     Researchers believe that Vegavis iaai sounded like a duck.

Answer sheet

Write your answers in the boxes.
__________

Feedback

Click below for explanations.
__________

Question 1

The correct answer is “FALSE”.

Here’s the revelant part of the passage:

“The close relationship between dinosaurs and birds was first put forward after the discovery of a unique fossil named Archaeopteryx in southern Germany in the summer of 1861. This creature, a dozen or so specimens of which have since been dug up, was hailed as a clear transitional step between dinosaurs and birds because of its telling mix of attributes.”
Question 2

The correct answer is “TRUE”.

Here’s the revelant part of the passage:

“The question of whether or not Archaeopteryx was capable of flight had long been the subject of doubt, but recent research has confirmed that indeed it was. By using a special machine called a synchrotron, an international team of researchers was able to determine that Archaeopteryx’s bones, like those of modern birds, were almost hollow.”
Question 3

The correct answer is “NOT GIVEN”.

Here’s the revelant part of the passage:

“A treasure trove of non-avian dinosaurs and their primitive bird contemporaries were uncovered during this period, often by local farmers rather than palaeontologists. The most significant find of this era was undoubtedly Sinosauropteryx prima, the first known fossil of a non-avian dinosaur with evidence of feathers. This specimen, which had very simple filament-like feathers, taught scientists that it was not only bird-like dinosaurs that had feathers.”

The passage tells us that many fossils were found by local farmers, but there’s no evidence that Sinosauropteryx prima was found by one. The passage mentions palaeontologists, which is a scientist who studies fossils, as well as scientists towards the end of the paragraph, but there’s nothing that tells us who discovered Sinosauropteryx prima. Therefore, the answer must be NOT GIVEN.
Question 4

The correct answer is “FALSE”.

Here’s the revelant part of the passage:

Spotted in the rocks of Vega Island in the Antarctic over a decade earlier, Vegavis iaai was finally classified by Julia Clarke and her team from the University of Texas at Austin in 2005.”
Question 5

The correct answer is “TRUE”.

Here’s the revelant part of the passage:

“Examination of a second, more complete Vegavis iaai specimen also revealed the presence of a syrinx, a vocal organ like the ones found in today’s waterfowl. This led Clarke and her team to conclude that the creature not only resembled a duck, but probably quacked like one, too.”

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