One of the task types of the IELTS Reading papers is the True/False/Not Given task or alternatively the Yes/No/Not Given task. These are pretty similar really, the difference being that the True/False/Not Given task focusses on specific information in the text whereas the Yes/No/Not Given task focusses on the writer’s opinions as expressed in the text. Today we will look specifically at identifying the writer’s opinion.
Purpose: This task type assesses the candidate’s ability to recognise opinions, views and claims, to identify ideas and information, to make inferences and to use synonyms. It is often used with discursive or argumentative texts where the writer is expressing views and opinions, rather than established facts.
Format: You will be given a list of numbered statements. The task instructions will say: ‘Do the following statements agree with the views/claims of the writer?’ You must decide if the statements agree with the writer’s view, in which case you answer Yes, or contradict (oppose) the writer’s opinion, in which case your answer is No. If the writer mentions things related to the statement but doesn’t give an opinion or express a view, this means it is Not Given.
The task will look something like this:
Do the following statements agree with the views of the writer in Reading Passage 3?
In boxes 36-40 on your answer sheet, write
YES if the statement agrees with the views of the writer
NO if the statement contradicts the views of the writer
NOT GIVEN if it is impossible to say what the writer thinks about this
- Read the instructions carefully
- Read all the statements BEFORE reading the article so that you have an idea of the topics you need to search for when reading the text
- Read each statement one by one and underline key words
- Skim read the text, looking for key word synonyms, etc until you locate the relevant section (if you come across any information that related to other statements you read, mark them so you can return to them quickly and easily later)
- Read the relevant section carefully
It should be clear if the question statement confirms or contradicts the writer. Somewhere in the text, the writer will express a view or make a claim – this will be either the same as or the opposite of the one given in the question statement. Remember, if it is not clear one way or the other – that is, the view in the statement is neither confirmed nor contradicted – or if you cannot find anything in the text that relates to the statement, your answer should be Not Given.
Read the short text below.
“The good news is that the research showed lying behaviour decreases as children get older. There is less social reinforcement for lying – on the playground for example. So take heart that if your child does lie, at least they are smart.”
Now decide if the statements 1-4 below agree or contradict the writer’s views or neither.
- Telling lies is a sign of intelligence.
- Studies indicated that the occurrence of lying is related to age.
- Teenagers tell more lies than primary school children.
- Parents should encourage their children to lie.
- Yes (agrees with the sentence “…if your child does lie, at least they are smart.”)
- Yes (agrees with the sentence “…the research showed lying behaviour decreases as children get older.”
- No (disagrees with the sentence “…the research showed lying behaviour decreases as children get older.”
- Not Given (the writer doesn’t say anything about this)
Bear in mind that sometimes the statement will use alternative words (synonyms) and paraphrasing to express the same view as the writer, which is why it is helpful to underline key words in stage 3 and to look out for synonyms in stage 4.
Examples of synonyms: lying behaviour – the occurrence of lying; lying – telling lies; smart – intelligence
An example of paraphrasing: …research showed… – Studies indicated…
Remember also that the answer is always in the text. Do not use your own knowledge of the topic or make assumptions. Do not spend too long on each question – if the answer is not clear, have a guess using Not Given and you will have a higher chance of being correct.