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IELTS Reading: Diagram Labelling Question

In this question, you might get a picture or a drawing, or a diagram of a production process, or a technical drawing of some machines etc. This is a frightening question type for many students. It is not because answering this question is difficult, rather it is because most of the students are unfamiliar with this type of question.


Many students think that if there is a technical diagram, they won't be able to answer it if they don't have the technical knowledge related to the diagram. This is a wrong concept. In fact, this question is pretty easy to answer. All you need is just some tips and strategies how to solve it. Look at the example below from an actual test question:

IELTS Reading Diagram Labelling Question

Source: Cambridge English IELTS Past Papers

In this example above, you are asked to fill the gaps. You can use maximum three words for each gap. That means you can answer a question using one word, two words, or three words. You need to write the answer in the specific boxes on your answer sheet. Don't panic about technical knowledge, because you are not going to need anything that is not there in the reading text.

Common Problems

  • Paying too much attention to the  picture/drawing is the major problem for many students. They tend to forget that they don't need to understand everything in the picture.

  • Students consider this question even more challenging when the topic of the drawing/picture is too unfamiliar to them.

  • Where there is a process discussion or a drawing discussion, most of the students tend to think that it is a kind of something technical knowledge-based discussion. But the reality is, it's a very easy task to do. You just need to remember, IELTS is a language test, it is not a knowledge test.

Solution Tips

  • Read the instruction sentence carefully. Check how many words you are allowed to use for each answer.

  • Read the question sentences multiple times and try to predict the answers. Then go for the reading text. It will give a boost to your accuracy rate.

  • Take a close look at the diagram, try to understand what is going on. But don't spend much time on this.

  • You can repeatedly scan the text to get the idea where the answers could be in the reading text.

  • All the questions of this type may not be equally difficult. Some questions might be much easier to answer. Do these easy ones first. Leave the relatively difficult ones for the time being. Move on to the next question type. Come back later when you get time, you will find them easier. Because by answering other questions, you will have much better understanding of the reading text.

  • Highlight the keywords in the question and identify the forms (noun, adjective, adverb, verb) of words that you need for answer. Because, if you use the wrong grammatical form, your answer is wrong.

Don't forget to check the detailed discussions of the other question types:

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