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IELTS Reading Yes, No, Not Given Questions Tips and Strategies

Are you finding the Yes/No/Not Given question type in the IELTS Reading exam particularly challenging? You're not alone, and that's why we at IELTS Luminary have put together this in-depth guide. In it, we'll unravel the key differences between Yes/No/Not Given questions and True/False/Not Given question types, illustrate how to tackle them with real test examples, identify the common pitfalls candidates often fall into, and arm you with effective strategies and specialized tips.

Whether you're grappling with the nuances of these questions or aiming for perfection, our guide, along with our comprehensive eBooks on IELTS Reading and personalized essay feedback service, is here to elevate your band score. Let’s get started! Plus, you'll discover our eBooks tailored to elevate your band score. Let's dive in!

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IELTS Reading Yes No Not Given Questions - Tips and Strategies - IELTS Luminary

Understanding the Yes, No, Not Given Questions

The Yes/No/Not Given questions are designed to test a candidate’s ability to identify the writer's opinions, attitudes, and beliefs in the IELTS Reading section. Understanding these questions requires careful reading and critical thinking. Here's how you can approach them, using a real example:


Text:The Eiffel Tower was built for the 1889 Exposition Universelle and remains an iconic symbol of France.”

Statement:The Eiffel Tower was constructed in 1890.

Answer: No


Analysing the Example:

  1. Identifying the Key Information: First, locate the relevant information in the text. In this case, the information related to the construction year of the Eiffel Tower.

  2. Comparing the Statement with the Text: The statement claims that the Eiffel Tower was constructed in 1890. However, the text clearly mentions that it was built for the 1889 Exposition Universelle.

  3. Determining the Answer: Since the statement contradicts the information in the text, the answer is 'No.'

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Common Challenges You May Face

The Yes/No/Not Given questions in the IELTS Reading section present unique challenges to many test-takers. Here's a detailed breakdown of these challenges:

1. Understanding the 'Not Given' Option

  • Challenge: Differentiating between a statement being false and a statement not being mentioned at all in the text.

  • Why It's Difficult: Many candidates mistake the absence of information as a contradiction (No) rather than recognizing that the information is simply not provided (Not Given).


2. Misinterpreting the Text

  • Challenge: Incorrectly interpreting a statement as true or false based on a superficial reading of the text.

  • Why It's Difficult: Some candidates may skim the text too quickly, leading to misinterpretation. Understanding the nuances and context often requires a more careful reading.


3. Overthinking or Over-Analyzing

  • Challenge: Going beyond what is explicitly stated in the text and making assumptions or inferences.

  • Why It's Difficult: The answer must be based solely on the text provided, not on prior knowledge or assumptions. Overthinking can lead to incorrect conclusions.


4. Time Management

  • Challenge: Spending too much time on these questions, leading to time pressure for the rest of the test.

  • Why It's Difficult: Yes/No/Not Given questions require careful analysis, which can be time-consuming. Striking a balance between thoroughness and efficiency is tricky.


5. Recognizing the Author’s Viewpoint

  • Challenge: Understanding the writer’s opinions, attitudes, and beliefs, especially when subtly expressed.

  • Why It's Difficult: Some texts may contain hidden biases or implied viewpoints that are not overtly stated but are essential for answering the questions.


6. Confusion with Similar Information

  • Challenge: Confusing different parts of the text that might contain similar but distinct information.

  • Why It's Difficult: Especially in longer passages, candidates may mix up different sections or misattribute statements, leading to incorrect answers.


7. Lack of Focus on Keywords and Details

  • Challenge: Missing or overlooking essential details, like dates, names, or specific facts.

  • Why It's Difficult: Small details can be the decisive factors in determining whether a statement is true, false, or not given. Missing these details can lead to mistakes.


8. Misunderstanding Complex Sentence Structures

  • Challenge: Struggling to decipher complex sentences and the relationships between different clauses.

  • Why It's Difficult: Complex sentences might contain key information in subordinate clauses or employ intricate syntax, requiring higher-level reading skills.

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Strategies to Answer Yes, No, Not Given Questions 

Let's delve into more detail on these three key strategies:

1. Understand the Statement Thoroughly

  • Strategy: Break down the statement into smaller parts and understand what it precisely means.

  • How to Apply:

    • Read Slowly: Carefully read the statement several times to fully grasp its meaning.

    • Identify Main Components: Look for the subject, verb, and object, and note any qualifying details.

    • Ask Questions: Consider what exactly the question is asking, such as what, who, when, where, and how.

  • Why It's Effective: By dissecting the statement, you'll gain a crystal-clear understanding, reducing the risk of mistakes stemming from misinterpretation.

2. Locate Keywords

  • Strategy: Identify keywords in the statement that will guide your search in the text.

  • How to Apply:

    • Highlight Important Words: Focus on nouns, dates, names, and specific terms that are likely to be replicated in the text.

    • Use Synonyms: Consider possible paraphrases or synonyms that might be used in the text.

    • Search Strategically: Use the keywords to guide your scanning of the text, looking for matching or related terms.

  • Why It's Effective: Keywords act like a roadmap, guiding you directly to the part of the text where the relevant information is likely to be found, thereby saving time and improving accuracy.

3. Use Skimming and Scanning Techniques

  • Strategy: Skim to get a general understanding of the text, then scan for the specific information related to the statement.

  • How to Apply:

    • Skim for General Ideas: Quickly read the introduction, conclusion, and first sentences of paragraphs to grasp the overall theme.

    • Scan for Details: Focus on the specific sections or paragraphs that seem relevant to the statement, looking for keywords or related information.

    • Combine with Previous Strategies: Utilize understanding of the statement and identified keywords to guide your skimming and scanning.

  • Why It's Effective: Skimming gives you a broad picture of the text, helping to contextualize the information, while scanning allows you to pinpoint the exact location of the answer. This dual approach streamlines your search, allowing for a quicker and more accurate response.

4. Analyze the Context

  • Strategy: Read the sentences surrounding the relevant information to understand the context.

  • How to Apply:

    • Read Surrounding Text: Don't just focus on the exact matching words; explore the sentences before and after to grasp the overall message.

    • Consider Tone and Perspective: Notice if the text supports or contradicts the statement or if it's neutral.

    • Use Context Clues: Sometimes, understanding a specific word or phrase relies on the surrounding content.

  • Why It's Effective: Contextual reading reveals subtleties and nuances, helping to pinpoint the writer's actual viewpoint, which may not be immediately apparent.

5. Watch for Paraphrasing

  • Strategy: Look for synonyms or paraphrased sentences that might represent the statement in the text.

  • How to Apply:

    • Identify Possible Synonyms: Think of alternative ways the statement could be worded.

    • Look for Similar Meanings: Focus on the meaning rather than exact wording.

    • Compare Statement and Text: Evaluate how the text conveys the same idea as the statement but in different words.

  • Why It's Effective: Writers often use various expressions to convey the same thought. Recognizing paraphrasing prevents overlooking the correct information hidden behind different wording.

6. Evaluate Each Option Carefully

  • Strategy: Consider ‘Yes’, ‘No’, and ‘Not Given’ systematically for each statement.

  • How to Apply:

    • Consider 'Yes': Does the statement agree with the information in the text?

    • Consider 'No': Does the text contradict the statement?

    • Consider 'Not Given': Is the information simply not mentioned in the text at all?

    • Weigh Each Option: Compare the statement with the text for all three options before making a decision.

  • Why It's Effective: A systematic evaluation of each possibility helps avoid snap judgments, ensuring that you arrive at the most accurate and reasoned conclusion.

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7. Avoid Assumptions and Inferences

  • Strategy: Base your answer solely on the information found in the text, not on your previous knowledge or assumptions.

  • How to Apply:

    • Stick to the Text: Use only the information provided within the text, even if it contradicts common knowledge or personal beliefs.

    • Check Facts: If the statement doesn't align with the text, it must be deemed incorrect, regardless of what you may know or think.

  • Why It's Effective: This approach maintains objectivity, preventing errors due to personal biases, misinformation, or unwarranted conclusions that might lead you astray.

8. Practice Time Management

  • Strategy: Allocate a specific amount of time for these questions and stick to it.

  • How to Apply:

    • Plan Ahead: Determine a reasonable time frame for these questions based on your practice experiences and the total time available for the reading section.

    • Use a Timer: Monitor your progress to ensure you don't spend too long on a single question.

    • Move On If Stuck: If you can’t find an answer within the allocated time, make a best guess and move on to the next question.

  • Why It's Effective: Efficient time management ensures you don't consume too much time on these particular questions, allowing you to complete the entire reading section within the allotted time.

9. Utilize Elimination Technique

  • Strategy: If you're unsure, eliminate options systematically based on the information in the text.

  • How to Apply:

    • Assess Each Option: Evaluate 'Yes', 'No', and 'Not Given' against the text, ruling out those that clearly don't apply.

    • Look for Contradictions: Eliminate any options that are contradicted by the text.

    • Consider the Remaining Choices: Focus on the remaining option(s) to determine the most likely answer.

  • Why It's Effective: The elimination method can guide you to the correct answer when the exact solution is not immediately apparent. It's a structured approach that can be especially helpful when you find a question challenging.

By mastering these strategies and incorporating them into your practice, you can significantly improve your ability to handle Yes/No/Not Given questions. Remember, regular practice with real test examples and personalized feedback from our experts at IELTS Luminary can further refine your skills, leading to success in your IELTS Reading section. Our comprehensive eBooks on IELTS Reading are also a valuable resource, designed to guide you step by step with detailed insights tailored to achieve high accuracy in minimum time.

Real Test Example

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Living with artificial intelligence

As for the ‘destination’ problem, we might, by putting ourselves in the hands of these moral guides and gatekeepers, be sacrificing our own autonomy – an important part of what makes us human. Machines who are better than us at sticking to the moral high ground may be expected to discourage some of the lapses we presently take for granted. We might lose our freedom to discriminate in favour of our own communities, for example.

Loss of freedom to behave badly isn’t always a bad thing, of course: denying ourselves the freedom to put children to work in factories, or to smoke in restaurants are signs of progress. But are we ready for ethical silicon police limiting our options? They might be so good at doing it that we won’t notice them; but few of us are likely to welcome such a future.

These issues might seem far-fetched, but they are to some extent already here. AI already has some input into how resources are used in our National Health Service (NHS) here in the UK, for example. If it was given a greater role, it might do so much more efficiently than humans can manage, and act in the interests of taxpayers and those who use the health system. However, we’d be depriving some humans (e.g. senior doctors) of the control they presently enjoy. Since we’d want to ensure that people are treated equally and that policies are fair, the goals of AI would need to be specified correctly.

We have a new powerful technology to deal with- itself, literally, a new way of thinking. For our own safety, we need to point these new thinkers in the right direction, and get them to act well for us. It is not yet clear whether this is possible, but if it is, it will require a cooperative spirit, and a willingness to set aside self-interest.


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Answers with Explanations

Let's explore the correct answers along with the distractions for each of the questions in detail:


1. Machines with the ability to make moral decisions may prevent us from promoting the interests of our own communities.

  • Answer: Yes

  • Explanation: The concern here is that machines capable of high ethical standards might restrict human behaviors that are self-serving or favoring their own communities.

  • Relevant Paragraph: "We might lose our freedom to discriminate in favour of our own communities, for example."

  • Distractions:

    • Moral High Ground: The text discusses machines being capable of finding moral high grounds and steering humans in the right direction. This might distract from the specific notion of losing freedom to favor our own communities.

    • Physical Limitations of Human Intelligence: Discussions about the physical constraints of human intelligence, such as brain size and processing speed, could also be distracting as they do not directly relate to the ethical dilemma posed by the question.

2. Silicon police would need to exist in large numbers in order to be effective.

  • Answer: Not Given

  • Explanation: The term "silicon police" is used metaphorically in the text to discuss machines that might enforce ethical behavior. There is no mention of the quantity needed for them to be effective.

  • Distractions:

    • Ethical Limitations: The paragraph in which silicon police are mentioned discusses the limitations that these hypothetical machines might impose on human behavior, without mentioning their number. This is where the distraction may occur, as readers could assume the need for large numbers based on the scale of ethical enforcement described.

    • Human Readiness: The statement also includes a reflection on human readiness for such policing by machines, potentially leading readers to ponder the societal implications without focusing on the specific question about numbers.


3. Many people are comfortable with the prospect of their independence being restricted by machines.

  • Answer: No

  • Explanation: The text suggests a level of discomfort or even reluctance towards the idea of ethical machines (silicon police) restricting human behavior. It explicitly states that few people would welcome this.

  • Relevant Paragraph: "But are we ready for ethical silicon police limiting our options? They might be so good at doing it that we won’t notice them; but few of us are likely to welcome such a future."

  • Distractions:

    • Effectiveness of Silicon Police: The text's mention that ethical machines might be so effective that humans won't notice them could create confusion. This does not imply comfort or acceptance, but rather emphasizes the surreptitious nature of their influence.

    • General Discussions on AI Ethics: Broader discussions on AI, its potential roles, and the need for aligning AI with human values might distract from the specific sentiment expressed about people's comfort with their autonomy being restricted.


4. If we want to ensure that machines act in our best interests, we all need to work together.

Answer: Yes

Explanation: The text highlights the importance of collaboration and the need to put aside self-interest in order to guide machines in a direction that aligns with human values and interests.

Relevant Paragraph: "It is not yet clear whether this is possible, but if it is, it will require a cooperative spirit, and a willingness to set aside self-interest."


  • Complexities of Moral Reasoning: There are detailed discussions on how to imbue machines with moral reasoning and the challenges this poses. This might lead readers away from the simple, direct statement about cooperation.

  • Potential Consequences and Concerns: Concerns about loss of autonomy, ethical dilemmas, and societal implications of AI could divert attention from the clear requirement for collective action to ensure that machines act in our best interests.

These explanations highlight the importance of careful reading and comprehension. Recognizing distractions and focusing on specific details relevant to each question can help in accurately interpreting complex texts. It emphasizes that understanding the broader context, while also honing in on specific details, is key to deciphering the true meaning behind the words.


Therefore, the correct answers are:

  1. Yes

  2. Not Given

  3. No

  4. Yes

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Key Differences Between True, False, Not Given and Yes, No, Not Given Questions

1. Definitions:

"True/False/Not Given" Questions

Nature of Questions:

  • True: The statement agrees with the information in the text.

  • False: The statement contradicts the information in the text.

  • Not Given: There's no information about the statement in the text.



  • Text: “The Eiffel Tower was built for the 1889 Exposition Universelle.”

  • Statement: “The Eiffel Tower was constructed in 1889.”

  • Answer: True


Key Focus:

These questions test your ability to identify factual information. The answers must be verifiable based on the facts presented in the text.

"Yes/No/Not Given" Questions

Nature of Questions:

  • Yes: The statement agrees with the writer's opinions, attitudes, or beliefs.

  • No: The statement contradicts the writer's opinions, attitudes, or beliefs.

  • Not Given: The writer's opinions, attitudes, or beliefs on the statement aren't mentioned.



  • Text: “I believe the Eiffel Tower’s construction marked a turning point in architectural design.”

  • Statement: “The writer thinks that the Eiffel Tower's construction was significant in the field of architecture.”

  • Answer: Yes


Key Focus:

These questions test your ability to discern the writer’s views, not the factual information.

2. Basis for Answers:

True/False/Not Given: Focuses on Factual Information

  • Nature: These questions test the ability to recognize factual information in the text.

  • Challenge: Some facts may be expressed indirectly or paraphrased, so careful reading is essential.

  • Example: If the text states, "Bananas are rich in potassium," and the statement is "Bananas contain potassium," the answer would be True.

Yes/No/Not Given: Centers on the Writer’s Opinions, Attitudes, or Beliefs

  • Nature: These questions assess the ability to identify the writer's viewpoints, whether explicitly stated or inferred.

  • Challenge: Opinions might be subtly expressed, requiring critical reading skills to understand the underlying sentiments.

  • Example: If the text mentions, "It is evident that renewable energy is the future," and the statement is "The writer believes in the importance of renewable energy," the answer would be Yes.

3. Analyzing the Text:

True/False/Not Given: Requires Identifying Concrete Facts, Data, or Information

  • Strategy: Look for specific details that confirm or refute the statement. If there's no information, the answer is Not Given.

  • Complexity: Facts can be hidden within complex sentences or technical jargon.

  • Example: "The Earth orbits the sun" would match a True statement regarding Earth's orbit around the sun.

Yes/No/Not Given: Involves Interpreting the Writer's Viewpoints

  • Strategy: Seek clues that reveal the writer's stance, including tone, choice of words, and overall context.

  • Complexity: Determining opinions might involve understanding subtler aspects like sarcasm, irony, or rhetorical techniques.

  • Example: A statement like "The unchecked growth of cities has wreaked havoc on the environment" implies the writer's negative view towards urban expansion.


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4. Potential Confusion: Misinterpreting an Opinion as a Fact or Vice Versa

Understanding the Difference:

  • Facts: These are statements that can be proven true or false, such as dates, statistics, or observable phenomena.

  • Opinions: These are the writer's personal beliefs or viewpoints, which may not be universally accepted.



  • Subtlety: Opinions can be presented in a way that appears factual, and facts may be intertwined with opinions.

  • Example of Confusion: If the text says, "Many believe that climate change is the most pressing issue of our time," misinterpreting this as a fact rather than an opinion could lead to incorrect answers.



Critical Reading: Understand the context and identify clues that signal whether a statement is an objective fact or a subjective opinion.


5. Approach: Strategies for Identifying Facts or Opinions

Strategies for True/False/Not Given (Factual Information):

  • Look for Concrete Evidence: Seek out definitive information in the text that validates or contradicts the statement.

  • Avoid Personal Knowledge: Base your answers solely on what's in the text, not what you know to be true or false outside of it.


Strategies for Yes/No/Not Given (Writer’s Opinions):

  • Analyze Tone and Context: Consider the writer's choice of words, style, and overall argument to discern their opinion.

  • Watch for Implicit Opinions: Sometimes the writer's viewpoint is implied rather than stated, requiring a more nuanced interpretation.


Common Strategy for Both:

Use of Skimming and Scanning: Skimming helps you grasp the overall theme, while scanning helps you locate specific information, whether it's a fact or an opinion.


Wrapping up, the nuanced differences between facts and opinions in the IELTS Reading section can be a source of confusion, but with targeted strategies, this challenge can be overcome. Careful reading, awareness of context, and practice with real test examples will prepare you for success. At IELTS Luminary, we offer comprehensive resources, including high band eBooks and personalized essay feedback, to help candidates master these skills and achieve high band scores. The use of conversational language ensures that our readers easily grasp these complex topics, making their preparation journey smoother and more effective.

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