Number one for English language teachers

IELTS reading: Academic reading viewpoint yes/no task

Some kind of viewpoint question will always come up in the exam. Here are some top tips and a lesson plan to help prepare your students for this.

Example Question:

Do the following statements reflect the views of the writer in the reading passage?


YES if the statement agrees with the writer

NO if the statement contradicts the writer

NOT GIVEN if there is no information about this in the passage

1. The international reputation the British have had for bad food is a thing of the past.

Tip 1: Some kind of viewpoint question will always come up in the exam. The two tasks you are likely to see are around ten questions of this type and/ or a single multiple-choice question summarizing the overall opinions of the writer of the text.

Tip 2: As with all task types in the reading, this task could come up with any of the texts. The only exception to this is that this text type can obviously not be used with a purely factual or entirely even-handed text. This task type could also, as always, be combined with any of the other task types within the same text. Try to avoid using a text in class with two unfamiliar task types.

Tip 3: Generally, gauging the viewpoint of the writer of a text is a very challenging task (including for native speakers!). How much time you want to spend on it may depend on how high a  mark your students need and what they are likely to need their English for after the exam.

Tip 4: The good news of doing viewpoint questions is that opinions are more interesting to talk about than facts, making it easy to add an oral dimension to a reading class. Also, for classes that are reluctant to speak, it provides a structure and some language to help them into speaking.

Tip 5: As they are never expected to give their own opinion in the reading paper, tasks that make them guess others’ opinions are more directly of use for the exam (although less likely to lead to heated discussion). One method is for the teacher to tape an interview where a locally or internationally famous person who the students will know well is giving their viewpoint on things. The teacher then prepares statements like the one in the example above on the topic(s) they talk about. Students predict what they think that person’s opinion will be (and which questions they will try and avoid) by marking the statements YES, NO and NOT GIVEN, and then watch/ listen to the interview to check.

Tip 6: Even without knowing who’s giving the opinion, it should be possible to make some kind of guess on what is going to be said with a couple of the statements, e.g. surely no-one thinks the statement about British food is true! Predicting people’s opinions can be a mixed blessing, however, as having a preconceived idea can make you read into something what you expect to see. You will need to decide whether to use this technique or not depending on whether you think your class would find it useful.

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Readers' comments (2)

  • Hi Rosanna,

    This article is just giving some tips on how you might help students answer a type of question that might come up in the exam. The exam question asks students to look at statements and decide whether the statements reflect the writer's viewpoint. The question at the top of this article is just an example with no text to go with it.

    I hope that helps you.

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  • I would be grateful for some more advice here! On the surface of it, this seems to me a statement of fact, as stated by the writer, therefore the answer is YES - yes? Maybe I have not found the text to which the statement is referring...

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