list selection ielts reading

1. What Is List Selection?

List selection refers to choosing options from a given list. In IELTS Reading, you will be provided with a list of ideas that are mentioned in a text, but only some of those ideas will make part of the answer to the question. The instructions will inform you of a topic in the text and of the number of ideas in the list that relate to that topic. It will be up to you to select the correct ideas from the list that match that topic.

This question type may seem a little confusing as it resembles other types of IELTS reading questions, such as Multiple Choice or Matching Headings. The difference here is that all the options in the list relate to the topic that is mentioned in the instructions, and are therefore all possible answers. Strong skimming and scanning skills are invaluable here as attention to detail will be of the essence in order to find the most suitable answer.

While this is not a common IELTS Reading question, it does occasionally appear in exams and is therefore definitely worth practising.

2. IELTS Reading List Selection Example?

IELTS Reading List Selection Sample

3. IELTS Reading Universal Top 5 Tips

  1. Always read and understand the instructions
  2. Skim the text – give it a quick read to understand its overall meaning
  3. Scan the text – give it a quick read to identify key information
  4. Always provide an answer. IELTS does not give negative marks. Always give it your best shot.
  5. You have 60 minutes to read 3 texts, answer 40 questions and write answers on your answer sheet. Spend only 20 minutes on each text.

4. Tips for Reading List Selection

4.1 Pay close attention to the instructions. For this question, the instructions will inform you of the following points:

  1. The topic to scan for in the text
  2. The number of options you must select as your answer (you must select the exact number of options – not more nor less)
  3. How to write your answer on the answer sheet (usually through letters A, B, C etc, but may be different in your exam – read the instructions carefully and follow them.)

4.2 Skim the text to get a general sense of what is it about. By familiarising yourself with it, you will have spotted some words or content that may be easier to relocate when scanning the text for answers. Once you know the topic to look for in the text, skimming should also facilitate your ability to decide which sections of the text are likely to have relevant information, and which are redundant. Some sections or paragraphs in the text will contain answers, but others will not.

4.3 Identify the topic in the instructions and paraphrase it.

4.4 Read through the list of options and identify the keywords. Paraphrase those so that you can look for them in the text and locate the section that may contain an answer.

4.5 Remember that all options in the list are possible answers relating to the topic of the text, and only some are relevant to the topic of the question. Ensure that you comprehend what each option means. Paraphrasing will help with that.

4.6 Some types of words can be paraphrased, such as verbs and adjectives (e.g.: ‘to sing’ is synonymous of ‘to chant’, and ‘handsome’ is synonymous of ‘good-looking’). The synonyms are more likely to be found in the text that the actual words in the list, so make sure your paraphrase key words and look for those paraphrases in the text.

Some language, however, you may not be able to paraphrase, such as dates and names, but this may work to your advantage when locating such information in the text.

4.7 Once you have located a paraphrased key word or idea in the text, ask yourself:

  1. Is it relevant to the topic of the question?
  2. If yes, does it match any of the options in the list?

4.8  As with all IELTS Reading questions, time-management is crucial. Text skimming should take no longer than 2 minutes, focusing on overall meaning, rather than understanding individual words. Only read in detail later, when you have located paraphrased language and ideas in the text.

Helpful skimming tips include reading the first and last sentences of the text, and the first sentence of each paragraph to get an idea of the topics being covered.

IELTS Reading Question Types List

5. Good to Know

5.1 Be mindful of time while taking your time. Because of the nature of this task, you may come across information in the passages that will match one of the options in the list, but will not match the focus of the question. Always ask yourself whether the information matches the focus of the question.

5.2 The length of the list may seem overwhelming, so as you paraphrase the options, think about which of those may or may not truly be relevant to the focus of the question.

5.3 Answers usually come in order. While this should help you identify answers more easily, remember that not all paragraphs or sections in the text will contain an answer. Some paragraphs will be irrelevant to the question.

6. Example

Text topic

Rock music


There are many famous Rock bands and musicians, such as Hall and Oates or the Beach Boys.

The history of Rock goes back to the late 1940’s with artists such as African-American musician Chuck Berry using classic Blues structures.

Rock developed through the decades with innovative takes on the genre by groups like Pink Floyd in the 1970’s and Depeche Mode in the 1980’s, which music was inspired by Punk.


The text describes a number of facts relating to the development of Rock music. Which two facts relate to the very creation of rock music?


A. The Beach Boys are a prominent rock band

B. Early Rock dates back to the 1940’s

C. Chuck Berry experimented with Blues music early on

D. Punk was used to invent a new wave of rock




B and C



Which two facts relate to the very creation of rock music?

very creation = the beginnings, the start, the origins


A. The Beach Boys1 are a prominent2 rock band

  1. Beach Boys = name (helpful for locating information here)
  2. prominent = important, famous

B.  Early1 Rock dates back2 to the 1940’s3

  1. early = first, original
  2. dates back = goes back
  3. 1940’s = date (helpful for locating information here)

C. Chuck Berry1 experimented2 with Blues music3 early on

  1. Chuck Berry = name (helpful for locating information
  1. experimented = used, tried
  2. Blue music = name (helpful for locating information here)

D. Punk was used to invent1 a new wave2 of rock

  1. invent = create, inspire
  2. wave = style (in this case)


Below is the part of the text where the answers are found:

' The history of Rock goes back to1 the late 1940’s2 with artists such as African-American musician Chuck Berry3 using classic Blues4 structures.’

  1. goes back to = dates back to
  2. 1940’s = key date
  3. Chuck Berry = key name
  4. using classic Blues = experimenting with classic Blues

While all the options related to the development of Rock music, options B and C covered the origins of Rock music.

Therefore, the answers here are B and C.

Text edited, adapted and paraphrased from the following source:

7. Mock Test

American Indian Artwork

Many American Indian art objects are basically intended to perform a service—for example, to act as a container or to provide a means of worship. The particular utilitarian form that Native American arts take often reflects the social organization of the cultures involved. Political and military societies seem to have found their major art forms in the world of weaponry, regalia, and panoply. This is most pronounced in the Plains, Aztec, and Inca civilizations, all of which reflect the dominant warrior culture in their arts. Those cultures in which life was heavily governed by religion tended toward a greater degree of ceremonial art than those in which life was less ritualized. All of the aesthetic expressions that have come down from the Maya, for example, obviously reflect the considerable weight of theocracy that existed in their world.Generally, but not necessarily, the best of American Indian artwork was applied to those objects intended to please a deity, soothe the angry gods, placate or frighten the evil spirits, and honour the newly born or recently deceased. Through such means, Native Americans sought to control the environment and the human or supernatural beings that surrounded or threatened them.

Some specific articles were reserved solely for religious uses, and some were for secular needs alone. Decoration does not always provide a clue as to these uses. Some peoples used plainware bowls for food preparation, while others used polychrome bowls for the same purpose. Many objects served a dual function: normally, they were used for everyday household purposes, yet under a different set of circumstances they could fulfill a religious function. Beneath the surface, there was a magic at work, and, in initiated hands, a mundane article might release its supernatural power, calling upon unseen forces to aid its owner. This power might be visually evident in the form, shape, or decoration of the object or might simply be believed in no matter what the physical state or appearance of the object might be. A Crow warrior’s rawhide shield, for example, might be embellished with a symbolic drawing, as well as with such materials as sacred eagle feathers and a crane’s head, in order to imbue him or her with such qualities as invulnerability and supernatural swiftness and strength.

The aim of the American Indian artist was not merely to set down realistic records but to create the semi-magical designs so common in the art of non-Western cultures. The artist quickly realized that he or she could not draw a tree as perfectly as it could be made by the Creator; so, with common sense, the artist did not try. Instead, he or she sought the spirit or essence of the tree and represented this in the design.

Not all American Indian art, however, was religious or political. There was also a considerable amount of mundane, humorous, and even profane art produced by most cultures. Sufficient examples of eroticism remain from prehistoric and recent times to indicate a wholly relaxed freedom of expression reflecting a healthy, naturalistic outlook.

Text extracted from the following source:

Questions 1 – 4

Choose FOUR letters A-I.

Write the correct letters in boxes 1 – 5 on your answer sheet.

The text discusses artwork in different life aspects of American Indian civilizations. Which are FOUR underlying reasons behind such artwork?

IELTS Reading List Selection Question

  1. Art for governmental and martial purposes.
  2. Portraying the military strength of a given society.
  3. American Indian art was used for religious reasons
  4. Ensuring safety in their surroundings.
  5. Different items served more than one purpose.
  6. The physical aspect of an object could occasionally suggest the powers it contains
  7. Additional details and materials may add meaning and qualities to objects
  8. Artwork to provide imperfect portrayal of objects or the natural world.
  9. Capturing the substance of plants, beings and objects.
  10. Art for comedic purposes.
Score - 0

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