IELTS Reading – Flowcharts, Notes, Summaries and Tables

Today, we will focus on the IELTS Reading Section and explicitly looking at Flowcharts, Notes, Summaries, and Tables.

We will cover:

  • How to locate specific information
  • Recognizing paraphrasing
  • Highlight essential keywords in the instructions
  • Introduce Flowcharts, Notes, Summaries, Tables questions

How to find detailed information

When you need to find specific information in the text, you must:

  • Always pay attention to the spelling in the text and use the exact wording provided.
  • Do not change the words in the text.
  • Use the words from the passage, no guessing!

Let’s give it a go…

Looking at an excerpt from an article in The Conversation named ‘Why it’s time for MP’s to go back to school – knowing the numbers is part of their job’ by Hetan Shah, can you find the answers to the following questions in 60 seconds?

  1. What is the general gist of the excerpt?
  2. How many MPs got the answer wrong?
  3. What is another term we can use instead of ‘math whiz’?
  4. What does is the purpose of the writing?

The Excerpt

‘Back in 2012, MPs elected for the current parliamentary term were asked a simple question about the probability of flipping a coin and getting two heads in a row. The correct answer, as many of you will know, is 25%. Sadly, only 40% of the MPs got the right answer to that simple probability question.

Not everybody needs to be a maths whiz to be good at their job, and not everybody has an interest in statistics and probabilities. But when it comes to the people elected to run the country, who make decisions on billion-pound budgets and hold governments to account, it is surely reasonable to expect they have a basic grasp of the numbers.

MPs come across complex data sets on a daily basis – whether it’s about waiting lists in their constituency or investment in major national projects – a core part of the role must be asking good questions and assessing evidence before decisions are made.’


Of all the skills, paraphrasing is essential for the IELTS test.

You naturally will skim read every text, searching for essential information.

Remember that many of the questions paraphrase words from the text, which means the question uses different words to discuss the same meaning from within the text. They do not want you to guess the answer. They want to see if you can logically find the solution based on identifying language, synonyms and paraphrasing.

This is why we always advise you to READ THE QUESTION & INSTRUCTIONS FIRST. You can’t answer a question you haven’t correctly understood!

Please look at our paraphrasing the questions and finding synonyms vocabulary lesson to help you improve!


In the reading exam, specifically for the Academic Reading Part 1, it is expected that you will look at an article with a lot of information included. Your job is to understand the question and find the text’s information to complete the task.

A flowchart is a diagram that shows events in a process.

However, the text may not introduce the events correctly in the IELTS Reading paper, so be careful to check this.

Let’s look at an example below…

Complete the flow chart below using the text as a reference guide.

We will be using an Abstract from a PubMed Article – ‘Lifting Techniques: Why Are We Not Using Evidence To Optimize Movement?’

Lifting something off the ground is an essential task, and lifting is a documented risk factor for low back pain (LBP). The standard lifting techniques are stoop (lifting with your back), squat (lifting with your legs), and semi-squat (midway between stoop and squat). Most clinicians believe the squat technique is optimal; however, training on squat lifting does not prevent LBP and utilizing greater lumbar flexion (i.e. stoop) when lifting is not a risk factor for LBP. The disconnect between what occurs in clinical practice and what the evidence suggests has resulted in ongoing debate. Clinicians must ask the right questions in order to apply the evidence appropriately. A proposed clinical framework of calm tissue down, build tissue up, improve work capacity can be used to determine which lifting technique is optimal for a patient at any given time. When applying this clinical framework, clinicians should consider metabolic, biomechanical, physical stress tolerance, and pain factors in order to address the movement system. For example, stoop lifting is more metabolically efficient and less challenging to the cardiopulmonary system. There may be few biomechanical differences in spinal postures and gross loads on the lumbar spine between stoop, squat, and semi-squat lifting; however, each lift has distinct kinematic patterns that affects muscle activation patterns, and ultimately the movement system. Clinicians must find the optimal dosage of physical stress to address all aspects of the movement system to minimize the risk of injury. There is no universal consensus on the optimal lifting technique which will satisfy every situation; however, there may be a lifting technique that optimizes movement to achieve a specific outcome. The calm tissue down, build tissue up, improve work capacity framework offers an approach to determine the best lifting technique for an individual patient at any given time.’


Did you note down his technique?

Checkout the complete answer below. How does this compare to what you wrote down?


Remember that you are looking for the answers when reading the questions and the text. To locate the answers, it’s best to look for examples of paraphrasing in the text to highlight and discover the answer.

Give it a try now and see if you can provide alternative words, specifically verbs, to paraphrase the text in bold…

  1. In the 21st Century, everybody was surfing the internet through their electronic devices.
  2. The latest report confirms our suspicions that inflation is rapidly increasing.
  3. The explorers discovered a deserted Island off the Gulf of Mexico.

Now you have been able to paraphrase a text, see if you can find the answers by looking for similar meanings in the text to find the answer and complete the notes.

Achieving the 1.5 target will require anthropogenic CO₂ emissions to decline by 45% by 2030 (relative to 2010).

Complete the sentence, write no more than one word and number:

The environment needs C02 emissions to drop to accomplish the goal of …

The Importance Of Reading The

Remember that task achievement is one of the grading criteria for the IELTS Reading Paper. Therefore you have to answer the question and follow the instructions carefully. Otherwise, you may lose marks or not score any marks at all!

Here are a few standard instructions to remember…

  • Write no more than one word for each answer
  • Write no more than one word and/or a number for each answer
  • Write no more than two words for each answer
  • Write no more than three words for each answer

If you do not follow the instructions and provide a two-word answer for a one-word instruction, you will always be marked wrong, even if it is correct!


The information displayed in a table contains typically lots of data that needs to be sorted or understood by categories in rows and columns.

We use tables all the time, such as a bus timetable or to display data from work or your studies. You need to understand and answer questions about the table quickly 

What time is the IELTS Preparation class on Wednesday?

Can you explain the daily class schedule on Monday?


The last question we will look at today is the IELTS Reading Summaries.

A summary is a brief statement or account of the main points of a topic.

When you recommend your favourite film or restaurant to a friend, we often listen and describe summaries in daily life without knowing we’re doing it. Unlike notes, a resume is just a collection of the keywords and information we want to convey.

Let’s show you an example summary of today’s class:

In summary, we have looked at the format and introduction to the IELTS Reading Paper. We have discussed different question types such as Flowcharts, Notes, Tables and Summaries and provided examples. The best way to improve your IELTS Reading level is to practise your paraphrasing skills, which are crucial for the exam. Complete the exercises to
improve your level, and if you would like any more help, please do not hesitate
to get in touch.

If you would like more information on the IELTS Reading section, please check out our Intensive Courses or the British Council’s Website to be fully prepared for the test.

See you in the next class!

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