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Types of questions in IELTS reading

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  • Revised on: 2024-06-02

In IELTS Reading, there are 14 different types of questions that you can be given. In IELTS reading, you will have only one hour to read 3 passages and answer 40 questions. These questions are always divided into different types of questions which you must complete. Each passage usually has about 3 or 4 different types of questions to answer.

Each section has a passage where one is examined with a variety of questions. The different types of questions tested here include;

Question Type 1 – Multiple-choice

This type of question may be a question with four possible answers or the first half of a sentence with four possible sentence endings. You have to choose one correct answer (A, B, C, or D), then write the correct answer on the answer sheet.

Sometimes you are given a longer list of possible answers and you have to choose more than one answer. You should read the question carefully to check how many answers you need to choose.

For the MCQs, try to eliminate the options that are clearly not possible answers. Note that some words/phrases may be lifted from the passage and used in the choices (sometimes just to confuse you, don't fall for this trap ). Be keen to know which choice matches perfectly. Use the elimination tactic. This will help you narrow down your options to more accurate answers. Note that answers to these questions come in order. So you won't be looking for your answers blindly
General advice: IELTS texts are often about very specific topics. It is likely that you won’t know anything about the topic before you read. It’s a good idea to read the title, any subtitles and the first line or two before you begin and predict what the text is about. Knowing this can help you understand the context of the questions better when you read.

When you have found the right area of the text, you need to read it closely to see which option is correct. Remember, you will see information from all the incorrect options in the text too, they are there to distract you. An incorrect option might give opposite information to the text, or it might show a relationship (cause and effect, reason, etc.) that is not in the text, or it might be referring to something different to the question. All of this is why it is important to read the text closely and make sure the question and option together are giving the same information as the text. 

In this type of question, you have to choose the correct answer from a list of options marked A, B, C, D. Sometimes, the question will be half a sentence, and the options can complete the sentence. Other times, it will be a direct question, with the options being short answers. In both cases, you must choose the correct option. These questions usually come in the same order as the text, and they also usually come from one section of the text (perhaps 1-4 paragraphs), not the whole text. Sometimes the questions are about small details in the text, other times they are about the general meaning of one area of the text. In some cases, more than one answer is correct. In these cases, there will be more than 4 options and the instruction will tell you how many options you need to choose.

You should read the questions first, and underline the keywords. You should also look for anything in the question that you scan the text for (‘scan’ means to look for specific words or information in the text). Good things to scan are names, places, numbers, dates, and so on - as these cannot be paraphrased. Very topic-specific vocabulary or technical words are also useful to scan, as these might be difficult to paraphrase. Names use capital letters, which are bigger than normal letters, so, like numbers, they are easier to find in a text. 

When you have found the right area of the text for a question, you need to read it carefully and decide which option is correct. You will find information about the incorrect options in the text because they are distractors. This is why it is important to read the text closely. 

The questions are in the same order as the information in the text: that is, the answer to the first question will be before the answer to the second question, and so on

This type of question tests many different reading skills including a detailed understanding of specific points or a general understanding of the main points of the text

Question Type 2 – Identifying information (True/False/Not given)

In this type of question, you are given a number of statements and are asked: ‘Do the following statements agree with the information in the text?’ You have to write ‘True’, ‘False’ or ‘Not given’ in the boxes on your answer sheet. It is important to understand the difference between ‘False’ and ‘Not given’. ‘False’ means that the statement contradicts the information in the text. ‘Not given’ means that the statement neither agrees with nor contradicts the information in the text.

You will be required to paraphrase the statements before trying to locate the answers in the passages. Answers to these types of questions come in order.

You must be careful not to use any information you already know about the topic of the text when choosing your answer. You will probably find a text that talks about a familiar topic. Assume you've never heard this, or else you will be tempted to use your own words. With these kinds of questions, they will trick you into using adjectives and adverbs. These words are called *QUALIFIERS*. That's what they use to gauge how well you can understand a statement.

Example:

We will come (question)...

We will *probably* come (passage)...

These two statements are different, but most of us will say they are exactly the same and put it as *(true)*.........No, they are just similar, so the answer is *False*

Don't expect that they will give you direct statements:

Example :

They will come...

They won't come...

For you to realize that it's false. Most often, they use QUALIFIERS

Sometimes they are direct like if they use contrasting words, for example :

He rarely picks up a call...

He picks up a call quite often...

For this it's direct and you'll just know that it's false.

Please underline every word in these kinds of questions. A single word changes the statement. Note that we are interested in the general meaning of the two statements, not a few words which match. Some will just see a few words and think a statement is true when a qualifier has made it false.

Also, for you to say they are true don't expect that all the words will match. Be Keen on the meaning of the two statements. Synonyms are also Important.

Examples:

    Occasionally, school workers strike...

    School employees sometimes strike...

(True..the two statements are exactly the same...... sometimes and occasionally are synonyms....school workers and employees are synonyms)

*Not given*

It is not given if it is neither true nor false

Occasionally, learners strike(passage)

Occasionally, teachers strike(questions)

Please be Keen don't just look at strike and occasionally and put TRUE......the first statement and the second one are different.....we've not been given a statement that says whether teachers strike or not. We are only given a place where students strike Don't put false. You only put false if you had been given that teachers don't strike. NG is the most challenging part for students. Write not given if there is no such a statement...

If it is false if  the two statements are directly opposite

It is true if the two statements are exactly the same(nothing like they are almost the same)

Not given if there is no statement that exactly fits what you are given(true). or no statement is exactly the opposite(false)....the statements could be there but are not talking about what you are asked.

If you can't find any statement that talks about this but not given. Don't waste time you could be looking for what is not there. However, be Keen as sometimes synonyms are used and you think that the statement is not given. As long as you've confirmed that the statement is not given and that no synonyms have been used. Place Not given.

Note that in these questions answers flow in the order in which questions do.

This type of question tests your ability to recognize specific information given in the text.

Question Type 3 – Identifying writer’s views/claims (Yes/No/Not given)

In this type of question, you are given a number of statements and asked: ‘Do the following statements agree with the views of the writer?’ or ‘Do the following statements agree with the claims of the writer?’ You have to write ‘Yes’, ‘No’ or ‘Not given’ in the boxes on your answer sheet. It is important to understand the difference between ‘no’ and ‘not given’. ‘No’ means that the statement contradicts the writer’s view or claim. ‘Not given’ means that the statement neither agrees with nor contradicts the writer’s view or claim.

You must be careful not to use any information you already know about the topic of the text when choosing your answer. You will probably find a text that talks about a familiar topic . Assume you've never heard this, or else you will be tempted to use your own words. With these kinds of questions, they will trick you into using adjectives and adverbs. These words are called *QUALIFIERS*. That's what they use to gauge how well you can understand a statement.

This type of question tests your ability to recognize opinions or ideas.

Question Type 4 – Matching information

In this type of question, you have to find specific information in the paragraphs (or sections) of a text. The paragraphs (or sections) are identified by letters (A, B, C, etc.). You will need to write the letters of the correct paragraphs (or sections) in the boxes on your answer sheet. Not every paragraph (or section) may be used and some paragraphs (or sections) may be used more than once. When the paragraphs (or sections) may be used more than once, the instructions will say: ‘You may use any letter more than once’.

General advice: IELTS texts are often about very specific topics. It is likely that you won’t know anything about the topic before you read. It’s a good idea to read the title, any subtitles and the first line or two before you begin and predict what the text is about. Knowing this can help you understand the context of the questions better when you read.

In this type of question, you have to find specific information in the whole text. The questions will ask for a detail; for example, a reason, an explanation, an example, a description, a summary, an experience, and so on. You have to find these in the text and write the paragraph letter (A,B,C,D, and so on) on your answer sheet. For this question, the questions are not in order. The answer to question 1 might be the final paragraph, for example, and the answer to question 4 might be the first paragraph. 

Sometimes, a paragraph might be the answer to more than one question. Paragraph B might, for example, contain the “example” from question 1 and the “explanation” from question 4. You can use a paragraph letter more than once. Also, sometimes a paragraph will not be the answer to any question. Paragraph A might, for example, have none of the information from the questions. It’s a good idea to look at the questions first and underline the keywords. The first word you should underline is the word near the beginning that tells you the detail you need to look for. For example, ‘reason’, ‘explanation’, ‘experience’, and so on. You should also underline any other keywords in the question. Then, it’s a good idea to skim-read each paragraph and see if you notice any ‘explanations’ or ‘reasons’, for example. 

If the questions have any information you can scan the text for, such as names, numbers, or very specific vocabulary, then scan the whole text quickly and try to find where these are mentioned. These questions test your ability to scan information in the whole text. They do not ask you to understand every word of the text, just to find the information in the questions. Make sure you don’t waste time trying to read the whole text in detail, or try to understand every word.

This type of question assesses your ability to scan a text in order to find specific information. Unlike Task Type 5 (Matching headings), it focuses on specific information rather than the main idea. You may have to find: specific details, an example, reason, description, comparison, summary or explanation

Question Type 5 – Matching headings

In this type of question, there is a list of headings that are identified by Roman numerals (i, ii, iii, etc.). A heading summarises the main idea of a paragraph or section of the text. You must match the heading to the correct paragraph or section. The paragraphs (or sections) are identified by letters (A, B, C, etc.).

You will need to write the correct Roman numerals in the boxes on your answer sheet. There will always be more headings than paragraphs or sections, so some headings will not be used. It is also possible that some paragraphs or sections may not be included in the task. One or more paragraphs or sections may already be matched with a heading as an example on the question paper. No heading may be used more than once.

For matching headings: Read the first two sentences and the last two sentences. Then go to your choices and try to find a good fit for your paragraph. Once you find it, strike through then move to the second paragraph. Read the first two sentences and the last sentence. Then move to the options and try to find its fit.

Do so till the last paragraph. Skip the hard ones then come back to them after the last paragraph when you'll have fewer choices to choose from.

Note that you'll be looking for the main idea of the paragraph and not extra information.

This type of question tests your ability to identify the general topic of a paragraph (or section) and to recognize the difference between the main idea and a supporting idea.

Question Type 6 – Matching features

In this type of question, you have to match a set of statements or pieces of information to a list of options. The options are a group of features from the text, and letters (A, B, C, etc.) are used to identify them. Write the correct letter on the answer sheet. You may, for example, have to match descriptions of inventions to the people who invented them. It is possible that some options will not be used, and that others may be used more than once. When it is possible to use any option more than once, the instructions will say: ‘You may use any option more than once’.

General advice: With this type of question, you are given some numbered statements and a list of things (A,B,C,D,E, etc.) to match them to. You might have to match the statements to people who said them, or to which paragraph they appear in, and so on. There are often more letters than numbers, and in some cases, you can use a letter more than once. This means that you will not need all of the letters. 

The statements could come from any paragraph in the whole text, and they are not always in order. 

It is a good idea to find something in the question you scan-read for (‘scan’ means looking for specific words in a text). For example, if you have to match statements to people, you can easily scan the text for their names, and then read that section to find out if the information matches any of the statements. 

You won’t find exactly the same words or phrasing in both the text and the statements. The information in the statements is paraphrased from the article - it uses synonyms to express the same thing. 

You should look at the sentences before reading the text. It is a good idea to underline the keywords in a sentences and endings to help you focus on what you need to do. You should look for information in the sentences that you can scan-read for, so that you can find the right section of the text quickly. Names, places, numbers, and dates are easy to scan because they cannot be paraphrased (written with other words) and because names use capital letters, which, like numbers, are bigger than standard letters and are easier to see.

When you find the right section of text, skim-read it (‘skim’ means to read a text quickly for the main idea) and compare it with the statements. For example, if the text is positive, but statement 1 is negative, you know it is probably not statement 1. Then read the section of the text in more detail. Look for paraphrases of things mentioned in the statements. Choose an initial match, then repeat these steps until you have an initial match for all the statements. If you have matched more than one statement to a letter, read the text again more closely to see if you missed anything.

This type of question tests your ability to recognize relationships and connections between facts in the text and your ability to recognize opinions and theories. You need to be able to skim and scan the text to find the information quickly so that you can then read that part more carefully for detail.

Question Type 7 – Matching sentence endings

In this type of question, you are given the first half of a sentence based on information in the text and you have to choose the best way to complete the sentence by choosing from a list of possible endings. The endings are identified by letters (A, B, C, etc.).

In matching sentence endings, you'll be looking for the main idea of the sentence. Start by reading the sentence as you pick the keywords. Then use these keywords to locate where the answers might be and once you have a location, read in detail to pick an answer from it. Remember that the sentence structure must be grammatically correct.

IELTS texts are often about very specific topics. It is likely that you won’t know anything about the topic before you read. It’s a good idea to read the title, any subtitles and the first line or two before you begin and predict what the text is about. Knowing this can help you understand the context of the questions better when you read.

With this type of question, you are given some incomplete sentences and different ways to end these sentences. There are always more endings than sentences, so some endings you won’t need. Grammatically, the sentences can match all of the endings, so you cannot understand the correct answer from the sentences and endings alone. To get the correct answer, you have to read the text. 

Remember that the answers are usually (but not always) found in the text in the same order as the questions (i.e. the answer to question 2 will come after the answer to question 1 in the text). The answers come from only one section of the text (between 1-4 paragraphs), not from the whole text. You can find information about all of the endings in the text - even the incorrect ones - so, you need to read closely to be sure that the text says the same thing as your matched sentence and ending. You won’t find exactly the same words or phrasing in both the text and the sentences. The information in the sentences is paraphrased from the article - it uses synonyms to express the same thing. 

You should look at the sentences before reading the text. Remember, for this type of question, you only need to read a section of the text, not the whole text. It is a good idea to underline the keywords in sentences and endings to help you focus on what you need to do. You should look for information in the sentences that you can scan-read for ('scan' means to find specific words or information in a text), so that you can find the right section of the text quickly. Names, places, numbers, and dates are easy to scan because they cannot be paraphrased (written with other words) and because names use capital letters, which, like numbers, are bigger than standard letters and are easier to see.

If you have a name or a number in the question, scan the text to find the right section. If you find the same name in more than one section of the text, skim-read both sections of the text to see which one is about the same idea as the questions. The keywords you have underlined in the questions will help with this. 

When you have found the section of text that contains the answers, you need to find the answer. Find the sentences in the text that relate to each question. The text must say exactly the same thing as a matched sentence - but remember that the sentences and endings won’t use the same words as the text - you need to identify the paraphrases. Incorrect endings may say the opposite of the text, or they may give information that is not mentioned in the text. Double-check check the ending you have matched says exactly the same thing as the text.

IELTS texts are often about very specific topics. It is likely that you won’t know anything about the topic before you read. It’s a good idea to read the title, any subtitles and the first line or two before you begin and predict what the text is about. Knowing this can help you understand the context of the questions better when you read.

There will be more sentence endings than beginnings, so you will not use all of them. You must write the letter you choose on the answer sheet. The sentence beginnings are in the same order as the information in the text.

This type of question tests your ability to understand the main ideas in the text.

Question Type 8 – Sentence completion

In this type of question, you have to fill in a gap in each sentence by choosing words from the text. You must write the words you choose on the answer sheet.

You should read the instructions very carefully as the number of words or numbers you may use to fill the gaps can change. A word limit is given, for example, ‘NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS AND/OR A NUMBER’. You will lose the mark for writing more than the word limit. Contracted words such as ‘they’re’ will not be tested. Hyphenated words such as ‘check-in’ count as single words.

Use keywords in your questions to locate where the answers might be. Then read carefully at this location with the aim of picking an answer from it. Note that answers to these questions come in order. So you'll be searching for your systematically.

 IELTS texts are often about very specific topics. It is likely that you won’t know anything about the topic before you read. It’s a good idea to read the title, any subtitles and the first line or two before you begin and predict what the text is about. Knowing this can help you understand the context of the questions better when you read.

With these types of questions, you are given some sentences which you have to complete with the correct missing word or words from the  text. Remember that the answers are usually (but not always) found in the text in the same order as the questions (i.e. the answer to question 2 will come after the answer to question 1 in the text). The answers come from only one section of the text (between 1-4 paragraphs), not from the whole text. You must copy the words from the text exactly - you cannot change the words and you will not get a mark if you make a spelling mistake. The questions will always tell you the maximum number of words you can use in each gap. For example, if the question says “NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS”, the answer may be one word, two words, or three words - but you will get a zero mark if you write four words.

You should look at the questions before reading the text. Remember, for this type of question, you only need to read a section of the text, not the whole text. You should also think about what type of word is needed in the gap, for example, a verb, adjective, noun and so on. This can help you find the answer in the text, as you know what kind of word you are looking for. In most of these types of questions, the missing word is a noun or noun phrase - but not always, so double-check.

It is a good idea to underline the keywords in a question to help you focus on what you need to do. You should look for information in the questions that you can scan-read for ('scan' means to look for a specific word or information in a text), so that you can find the right section of the text quickly. Names, places, numbers, and dates are easy to scan because they cannot be paraphrased (written with other words) and because names use capital letters, which, like numbers, are bigger than standard letters and are easier to see. If you have a name or a number in the question, scan the text to find the right section. If you find the same name in more than one section of the text, skim-read ('skim' means to read a text quickly for the main idea) both sections of the text to see which one is about the same idea as the questions. The keywords you have underlined in the questions will help with this.

When you have found the section of text that contains the answers, you need to find the answer. The information in the questions can help you to do this. Look at the text, and find the keywords you have underlined in the questions. The keywords are almost always paraphrased in the text, so you need to find the same idea, as you won’t find exactly the same words. When you find all of these, look at the information in the text which isn’t in the question - this could contain the answer. 

Check to see what words you can take from the text to fill the gap. Check that the words make sense in the gap. Check that the words are the right form (for example, if you need a verb, make sure you choose a verb for the space). Check which words are important, and which words are extra. Check you have the right number of words. Check the spelling. Then write the word in the space on your question paper - you have, hopefully, found the correct answer!

The questions and answers are in the same order as the information in the text.

This type of question tests your ability to find detail/specific information in a text

Question Type 9 – Summary/note/table/flow chart completion

In this type of question, you are given a summary of a part of the text and have to complete it using words taken from the text. Note that the summary is not normally of the whole text. The summary may be in the form of:

  • a continuous text (called ‘a summary’ in the instructions)
  • several notes (called ‘notes’ in the instructions)
  • a table with some parts of it left empty or partially empty (called ‘a table’ in the instructions)
  • a series of boxes or steps linked by arrows to show the order of events, with some of the boxes or steps empty or partially empty (called ‘a flow chart’ in the instructions).

The answers may not come in the same order as in the text. However, they will usually come from one part of the text rather than the whole text.

There are two variations of this task type. In the first variation, you need to select words from the text that fit into gaps on the question paper. You must write the words you choose on the answer sheet.

In table completion, you will be scanning for specific information. The information in the table may appear in a different order from the matching information in the reading text. Look at the layout of the table and work out the best way to read it,  particularly noting any headings that will give you clues to the content.

Read through the sentences with gaps to get a general idea of what information you will be looking for in the text. Fill the gaps with the exact words from the text and do not use synonyms not unless asked to.

You should read the instructions very carefully as the number of words or numbers you may use to fill the gaps can change. A word limit is given, for example, ‘NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS AND/OR A NUMBER’. You will lose the mark for writing more than the word limit. Contracted words such as ‘they’re’ will not be tested. Hyphenated words such as ‘check-in’ count as single words.

In the second variation, you have to choose from a list of words to fill the gaps. The words are identified by letters (A, B, C, etc.).

General advice: IELTS texts are often about very specific topics. It is likely that you won’t know anything about the topic before you read. It’s a good idea to read the title, any subtitles and the first line or two before you begin and predict what the text is about. Knowing this can help you understand the context of the questions better when you read.

With these types of questions, you are given some information which you have to complete with the correct missing word or words from the  text. The information might be presented as a table, a summary, notes, and so on; but what you have to do is the same. Remember that the answers are usually (but not always) found in the text in the same order as the questions (i.e. the answer to question 2 will come after the answer to question 1 in the text). The answers come from only one section of the text (between 1-4 paragraphs), not from the whole text. You must copy the words from the text exactly - you cannot change the words and you will not get a mark if you make a spelling mistake.

The questions will always tell you the maximum number of words you can use in each gap. For example, if the question says “NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS”, the answer may be one word, two words, or three words - but you will get a zero mark if you write four words.

You should look at the questions before reading the text. Remember, for this type of question, you only need to read a section of the text, not the whole text. You should also think about what type of word is needed in the gap, for example, a verb, adjective, noun and so on. This can help you find the answer in the text, as you know what kind of word you are looking for. In most of these types of questions, the missing word is a noun or noun phrase - but not always, so double-check.

It is a good idea to underline the keywords in a question to help you focus on what you need to do. You should look for information in the questions that you can scan-read for ('scan' means to look for specific words or information in a text), so that you can find the right section of the text quickly. Names, places, numbers, and dates are easy to scan because they cannot be paraphrased (written with other words) and because names use capital letters, which, like numbers, are bigger than standard letters and are easier to see. If you have a name or a number in the question, scan the text to find the right section. If you find the same name in more than one section of the text, skim-read ('skim' means to read a text quickly for the main idea) both sections of the text to see which one is about the same idea as the questions. The keywords you have underlined in the questions will help with this. 

When you have found the section of text that contains the answers, you need to find the answer. The information in the questions can help you to do this. Look at the text, and find the keywords you have underlined in the questions. The keywords are almost always paraphrased in the text, so you need to find the same idea, as you won’t find exactly the same words. When you find all of these, look at the information in the text which isn’t in the question - this could contain the answer. 

Check to see what words you can take from the text to fill the gap. Check that the words make sense in the gap. Check that the words are the right form (for example, if you need a verb, make sure you choose a verb for the space). Check which words are important, and which words are extra. Check you have the right number of words. Check the spelling. Then write the word in the space on your question paper - you have, hopefully, found the correct answer!

You must write the letter you choose on the answer sheet.

You are to understand the ideas and supporting points then select appropriate words.

This type of question tests your ability to understand details and/or the main ideas of a part of the text. When completing this type of question, you will need to think about the type of word(s) that will fit into a gap (for example, whether a noun is needed, or a verb, etc.).

Question Type 10 – Diagram label completion

In this type of question, you have to complete the labels on a diagram. The diagram is based on a description given in the text. The diagram may be a type of machine, part of a building, or other information in the text that can be shown through pictures. Write the words that fit into the gap on the answer sheet.

In diagram labeling, you'll be looking for descriptive information. Study the diagram as you get clues from the headings, the figures, and the labels already added. Then use keywords to locate where the answers might be. After you find a possible location, read in detail with the aim of picking an answer from it.

Note that answers to these questions may not come in order. So don't restrict yourself to a given order. However, the answers will usually come from one section rather than the entire text

You should read the instructions very carefully as the number of words or numbers you may use to fill the gaps can change. A word limit is given, for example, ‘NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS AND/OR A NUMBER’. You will lose the mark for writing more than the word limit. Contracted words such as ‘they’re’ will not be tested. Hyphenated words such as ‘check-in’ count as single words.

General advice: IELTS texts are often about very specific topics. It is likely that you won’t know anything about the topic before you read. It’s a good idea to read the title, any subtitles and the first line or two before you begin and predict what the text is about. Knowing this can help you understand the context of the questions better when you read.

With these types of questions, you are given a diagram which you have to complete with the correct missing word or words from the text. The diagram will show either a machine or a process. 

Remember that the answers are usually (but not always) found in the text in the same order as the questions (i.e. the answer to question 2 will come after the answer to question 1 in the text). The answers come from only one section of the text (between 1-4 paragraphs), not from the whole text. You must copy the words from the text exactly - you cannot change the words and you will not get a mark if you make a spelling mistake.

The questions will always tell you the maximum number of words you can use in each gap. For example, if the question says “NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS", the answer may be one word, two words, or three words - but you will get a zero mark if you write four words.

It’s a good idea to think about what kind of word you need in each space - a verb, an adjective, a noun, a number, and so on. The most common type of word needed in each space is a noun, but this is not always true - so pay close attention to the diagram. 

With these types of questions, you are given a diagram which you have to complete with the correct missing word or words from the  text. The diagram will show either a machine or a process. A diagram of a process will show a series of actions - for example, the stages involved in the production of coffee. With a diagram of a machine, you will have to label the different parts of the machine. Sometimes, the questions will focus on the parts of the machine and the actions that each part does. 

To find the answers to questions on a diagram, you won’t need to read the whole text. Usually, the answers come from just one section - which might be 1-4 paragraphs in length. To find the right section of text to look at for the answers, you can either scan-read or skim-read.
 

  • When you scan-read, you look for specific words in a text. You don’t try to understand the meaning of the text, you just try to find a specific word. Numbers are easy to scan for, because they are bigger than letters and stand out.
  • When you skim-read, you try to read quickly to understand the general meaning of a paragraph. You don’t read every sentence, you don’t try to understand everything - only the general meaning. 


If your diagram has something you can scan-read for (and many diagrams do, because they often give the name the machine), try to find it in the text. Alternatively, skim-read the text and try to find the part of the text that gives a description of your diagram. 

 Remember that the answers are usually (but not always) found in the text in the same order as the questions (i.e. the answer to question 2 will come after the answer to question 1 in the text). This means that you should pay attention to the numbers in the diagram. 

Diagrams are usually laid out in a logical way that is connected to how the information is given in the text. If the diagram has sections that are already labelled, this can help you. For example, if you find information in the text which relates to a labelled part of the diagram between questions 1 and 2, then you know to look earlier in the text for the answer to 1, and later in the text to find the answer to 2. 

Diagrams have fewer words than other IELTS question types. Make sure you look at the diagram itself in detail, not just the words. Try to understand the relationship between the different parts. Guess what different parts of the diagram are for or do. This can help you choose the right answer when you find the right area of text. Remember, you don’t have to do the questions in order. If question 2 seems easier than question 1, do it first.

When you have found the section of text that contains the answers, you need to find the answer. The information in the questions can help you to do this. Look at the text, and find the keywords you have underlined in the questions on the diagram. The keywords are often paraphrased in the text, so you need to find the same idea, as you won’t find exactly the same words. When you find all of these, look at the information in the text which isn’t in the question - this could contain the answer. 

Check to see what words you can take from the text to fill the gap. Check that the words make sense in the gap. Check that the words are the right form (for example, if you need a verb, make sure you choose a verb for the space). Check which words are important, and which words are extra. Check you have the right number of words. Check the spelling. Then write the word in the space on your question paper - you have, hopefully, found the correct answer!

This type of question tests your ability to understand a detailed description in the text, and then relate that description to information given in a diagram

Question Type 11 – Short-answer questions

In this type of question, you have to answer questions about factual details in the text. You must write your answers in words or numbers on the answer sheet.
Answers must be taken from words in the text. A word limit is given, for example, ‘NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS AND/OR A NUMBER’. You will lose the mark for writing more than the word limit. Numbers can be written using figures (1, 2, etc.) or words (one, two, etc.). Contracted words such as ‘they’re’ will not be tested. Hyphenated words such as ‘check-in’ count as single words. The answers come in the same order as the information in the text.

This type of question tests your ability to find and understand specific information in the text.