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Reading task type three: identifying the writers views

Task description
In this task type you will be given a number of statements. You will have to decide if these statements agree with the writer's views.

To complete this task well you will often need to be able to recognise the writer’s views not only from what is said directly, but also from what is implied. For example, we do not need the writer to state directly that he/she disapproves of zoos. We can infer this disapproval if the writer states his/her disapproval of the following: animals being taken from the wild, animals being caged, people paying money to see animals, animals not having any privacy. However, if the writer simply describes the problems with zoos this does not necessarily imply disapproval.

Also, we should not try to guess the writer’s views. In statement 5 of the sample task on the following page, we should not assume that because we think that the lifeboats should have rescued more people, or because ‘everybody’ thinks that the lifeboats should have returned to rescue more people, that this is the writer’s view. In this case the writer does not express any view on this issue; she simply states the fact that the lifeboats were not full and so the answer must be Not Given.

What is being tested is your ability to:

  • identify opinion and attitude
  • skim for detailed information
  • make inferences

Sample task

Do the following statements agree with the views of the writer in the reading passage?

In boxes 1-7 on your answer sheet write:

YES if the statement agrees with the writer
NO if the statement contradicts the writer
NOT GIVEN if it is impossible to say what the writer thinks about this

1) The enormous loss of life on the Titanic was primarily caused by inadequate equipment, training and procedures. 

2) Nobody had thought of installing enough lifeboats to accommodate all the passengers and crew in the event of an emergency. 

3) Captain Smith didn't inform his officers of the true situation because he didn't want to cause a panic. 

4) The lifeboats would have buckled if they had been fully loaded. 

5) After the Titanic sank the lifeboats which were not full should have returned to rescue as many people from the water as they could. 

6) The Captain of the Californian could have brought his ship to the rescue if he had realised that the Titanic was sinking. 

7) The sinking of the Titanic prompted an overhaul of standard operating procedures which made ocean travel much safer. 

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How to approach questions to identify the writer's views

Step 1: Read the instructions carefully. Note that you are asked to identify the writer’s opinion, which may not necessarily be the same as the facts. Note also the difference between the three categories you have to use, particularly:

No               The statement contradicts the writer.
Not Given   The writer does not give an opinion on this point.
Step 2: Skim through all of the statements to get an idea of the topics you will be searching for in your reading of the text.
Step 3: Read the first statement again more carefully. Note the main point or opinion given in the statement.
Step 4: Skim the text for the section which refers to that idea. If you come across information relating to other statements, put a mark beside the section so that you can find it quickly again later.
Step 5: Once you have found the appropriate section of the text, read more carefully. Decide if the statement agrees with the view of the author (mark Yes on your answer sheet) or disagrees with the author (mark No on your answer sheet). If the author doesn't give an opinion which agrees or disagrees with the statement then mark Not Given on your answer sheet.