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IELTS Reading Question Type
Labelling a Diagram


There are 3 possible types of diagrams: a plan/design, a machine/device and a diagram on the natural world.


You are required to label the diagram by completing the gaps with words and/or numbers from the text or choosing from a list of option. 

Example: Machine/Device

IELTS Reading Label Diagrams

Example: Nature

IELTS Reading Label Diagrams

Strategies & Tips

  • Speed-read or skim the text first in 4-5 minutes. This will give you an understanding of the text as a whole and knowledge of which information is contained in each paragraph.

  • The information needed to complete the diagram will usually be in 1 or 2 of the paragraphs.

  • For written answers, copy the words/numbers directly from the text. Do not change them.

  • If the notes in the diagram contain names, dates, place names, scan the text to match them. 

Example: Machine/Diagram

“How the 1670 lever-based device worked”

Scan the passage for the date as this will indicate the paragraph where the information is located.

Example: Nature

Scan the passage for the dung beetle types as this will indicate the paragraph where the information is located..


  • Don’t spend too much time analyzing the diagram, trying to understand how it works.

  • Your reading skills are being tested, not technical knowledge.

  • Any technical language will usually be explained in a glossary.

  • Answers do not always come in order.

  • Pay attention to the word limit for written answers.

IELTS Reading Written Answers

Predict the Answer

  • Read what comes before and after the question and predict the type of word (noun, verb etc.) and type of information missing. 

Example: Machine/Device

Question 12 will most likely be a thing (noun) as it is preceded by “a” and followed by “which”



(long) pendulum

Note: Answer keys for Cambridge English IELTS Past Papers often have brackets (). These are optional words you can include in your answer. If you do not include them, your answer will still be marked correct.

  • For written answers, read what comes before and after the gap to ensure your answer fits grammatically.

  • The notes in the diagram will use synonyms and paraphrase

  • For choosing the answer from a list of options, scan the text quickly to find the section where the word is, then read carefully to determine the answer.

  • Be careful of distractors. The options - names, place names, dates may be mentioned more than once.

  • There will usually be more options than questions. The Nature diagram has 3 questions and 6 options.

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