Do you have trouble with the IELTS Reading Section, True, False, Not Given type questions?  Don’t worry, many students find this type of question one of the most challenging in the reading part. There are a few simple strategies that you can use to help you improve your accuracy and score. Here are some DOs and DONTs when solving T/F/NG questions during the IELTS:
First, you need to know that reading T/F/NG (also known as Yes, No, Not Given) before you read the passage is a bad idea! Why? Because if you read this type of question before the passage, chances are you just read lots of information which is false or not in the passage. Clearly, reading this type of information before the passage is confusing and bad for comprehension. In fact, it can even decrease your scores for other questions for that passage. So, don’t read T/F/NG questions before the passage.
Second, skimming and scanning the passage is NOT an effective strategy for T/F/NG. Why? Well, how can you skim or scan for an idea that is not given? You can’t – instead, you will waste a lot of valuable time before you realize it is not in the passage! So don’t do it.
Now for the strategies that can help you to get the correct answer to these tricky questions:
First, use your logic and the knowledge that you already have. This means that you should read the passage first and then look at the T/F/NG questions. Remember, the answers will be sequential with the passage. This means that the answer to the first question will come first in the passage, the second question after and the last one or two, near the end. Also remember, the IELTS is a progressive test. This means that the first few questions will be easier than the last few. So, make sure to focus on the first few questions and get them right. Don’t worry too much about the last one or two if they seem very difficult, do your best and move on.
Second, use questions to solve the answers. When you read a T/F/NG question ask yourself,
1. “Is this information important or relevant to the topic and main idea of the passage?” If “No” then the answer will most likely be ‘Not Given’ -> answer this and move on, don’t think too much
2. If the answer to the question is, “Yes, the information is relevant and important to the topic and main idea” then the answer will be either ‘True or False’ -> often you can figure out whether it’s ‘True or False’ just by common sense.
***For this strategy to work, it is important to ask full sentence questions from yourself and to practice lots at home.
Now here is a sample passage for you to practice what you just read:
Lotteries, Positive Good or Unnecessary Wrong?
A         A lottery is a form of gambling where contestants purchase tickets, with one or more tickets being drawn as winners at the end of the competition period. Often, there is a jackpot winner who wins most or all of the prize pool. Today, national lottery jackpots can range from millions to hundreds of millions of dollars. It wasn’t long ago that lotteries were outlawed almost everywhere in the world. Today, lotteries are legal in North America, Australia, and much of Europe and Asia. A question is raised over what has changed to make something previously seen as negative for society, become common across the globe. If gambling is bad, why are lotteries so popular, and why do governments support them?
B         People buy lottery tickets for one chief reason – they want to win the jackpot. In the long run, lotteries are a “bad bet”. The odds of winning are always stacked against the player – that is to say, the long-term expected return on the player’s money is significantly less than the money paid for the tickets. This is how the lottery corporations make money on the lottery – the payout is far less than the revenue of the ticket sales, and the government takes the difference. If one million tickets are sold at five dollars apiece, and the jackpot is three million dollars, then the government has made two million dollars of profit in the process. We are forced to question why lotteries are so popular given their poor value for players. It’s because of the thrill of possibly winning the jackpot – the anticipation of a life-changing win for the ticket purchaser is worth the money. It’s the same reason why people gamble at casinos. Many people know they are not going to win in the long run at a casino, but the short-term thrill makes up for the long-term losses.
C          The main argument against lotteries is that it acts as a tax on the poor, and such a tax is unfair. This is because statistics show that poor people are by far the most common purchasers of lottery tickets. There are two reasons why this could be the case. First, poor people have the most to gain by winning the lottery; second, poor people are arguably less likely to have a statistical understanding of the lottery – they are less likely to realize that it is a ‘bad bet’.
D         The main argument in favor of lotteries is that it is harmless fun which results in tax income that often goes straight to community programs such as sports or the arts. Many community programs rely solely on lottery finances to operate, so in this sense, the lottery is a positive good. However, there are many people, often poor people, who become obsessed with gambling and the lottery, and it starts to take over their lives. For these people, the lottery is detrimental.
E          One interesting way to look at the lottery, and why people participate in it, is to imagine it as a kind of ‘reverse insurance’. People buy insurance for their home or car so that if something bad happens to it, they do not have to pay the entire cost of the damage. In other words, they pay a little bit each month so that they don’t have to pay a large amount at one time. They pay these smaller amounts to insurance companies, and those insurance companies make money in the long run. So paying insurance is not a ‘good bet’ either, just like the lottery. With the lottery, we pay “little amounts” every once in a while so that maybe we will hit the jackpot. With insurance, we pay a little to save a lot, and with the lottery, we pay a little to win a lot. When looked at in this way, the popularity of the lottery is more easily understood.
F          When it comes down to it, lotteries are a choice. Yes, they amount to a ‘tax’, but so do the monthly fees we pay to insurance companies. If people want to pay a few dollars here and there for a little fun, excitement and a small chance to win a monstrous amount of money, then what’s the harm? Additionally, lottery monies fund many valuable community programs which otherwise would have trouble operating. Playing the lottery responsibly is fun, exciting and maybe, just maybe, extremely profitable.
Questions 6-9
Do the following statements agree with the information given in Reading Passage 1?
In boxes 6-9 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
6 Lotteries are outlawed almost everywhere.
7 In the long run, a person who plays the lottery should expect to lose money.
8 Lotteries are popular because they serve as a pleasurable diversion from everyday life.
9 Many people play the lottery without an understanding of its statistical background.
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