name='viewport'/> THE IELTS: IELTS READING TEST - LABELING A DIAGRAM QUESTIONS TIPS AND STRATEGY expr:class='"loading" + data:blog.mobileClass'>


On the IELTS reading test you might get a question that asks you to label a diagram. This post will:
- show you examples
- look at common problems
- give you tips
- provide you with a strategy for answering these questions.

1. Example questions

There are three kinds of diagrams you might get: 
1. a technical drawing of a machine or invention, 
2. something from the natural world or 
3. a design or plan. 

Below is an example of a natural process taken from a sample test at

IELTS reading diagram completion

Below is an example of a technical drawing:

IELTS reading beehive

2. Common Problems

1. The main problem with these questions is students focus too much on the diagram and try to understand everything about it. Unfamiliar diagrams can cause panic and lose you time. This is not a test of your technical knowledge but a test of your reading skills. You should try to understand generally what is happening in the diagram, but the relationship between the text and the diagram is more important.

2. Another big problem is failing to locate the paragraphs that contain the answers quickly and losing time reading the whole text.

3. Students also lose marks in this section by writing the wrong number of words or spelling words incorrectly.

3. Tips 

1. Check how many words you are supposed to write, it will tell you in the question. In the example above you can only write ‘one or two words’, any more than this and you will lose marks. Remember that numbers count as one word and hyphenated words like ‘state-of-the-art’ count as one word.

2. Identify the type of word (noun, verb, adjective) you need. This will help you find the correct answer.

3. The answers do not always come in the same order that the paragraphs are in.

4. Do the easiest questions first. You are more likely to get these correct. If you cannot find the answer to a difficult question, move on and come back later.

5. Try to predict the answer before you read the text. This will help you find the correct answer.

4. Strategy

1. Check how many words you can write.

2. Study the diagram and try to understand generally what is happening. Don’t spend too much time doing this.

3. Highlight keywords or labels.

4. Identify the types of words required and try to predict the answer.

5. Scan the text and identify where the information is located.

6. Read in more detail to find the answer.

7. Check spelling.


Task type and format
Test takers are required to complete labels on a diagram, which relates to a description contained in the text. The instructions will make it clear how many words/numbers test takers should use in their answers, e.g. ‘NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS AND/OR A NUMBER from the passage’, ‘ONE WORD ONLY’ or ‘NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS’. If test takers write more than the number of words asked for, they will lose the mark. Numbers can be written using figures or words. Contracted words will not be tested. Hyphenated words count as single words. The answers do not necessarily occur in order in the passage. However, they will usually come from one section rather than the entire text.
The diagram may be of some type of machine, or of parts of a building or of any other element that can be represented pictorially. This task type is often used with texts describing processes or with descriptive texts.
Task focus
Diagram label completion assesses the test takers’ ability to understand a detailed description, and to relate it to information presented in the form of a diagram.
 No. of questions

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