Question Type Strategy: Notes, Tables, Diagrams and Flow-charts


Hey guys. This lesson covers strategy for 4 different question types that are very similar: note completion, table completion, diagram completion, and flow-chart completion. All of these question types have a similar strategy, and all of them are very common on the IELTS Reading Test!

First, I’ll tell you how to identify these questions, then we will look at some strategy to use. Finally, I’ll show you someone using this strategy to answer a diagram question.

Let’s go!


What are notes / tables / diagrams / flow-charts?

All four of these question types ask you to fill in specific details and information, based on the text’s description of some kind of process, a machine, a location, or something similar. All four of these question types are extremely common on Section 1 and 2, but they can show up in Section 3 as well.

Let’s take a look at all four question types so you can see what they look like.


Note completion:

note completion question


Table completion:

table completion question


Diagram completion:

diagram completion question

Flow-chart completion:

flow-chart completion question


What makes these questions difficult?

Actually, with these questions there is good news and bad news.



All four of these question types are not always in passage order. That means the order of the questions may not match the order that the answers come in the text! This is annoying, but it’s actually not so bad when you realize the good news.



All four of these question types always have all their answers together in a very small area of the text… often just 1-2 paragraphs! So, after you find this area of the text, then you have all of the answers very close together.

Note completion and Table completion are sometimes based on slightly longer areas of text; sometimes 3-4 paragraphs (but usually less).

Diagrams and flow-charts are always based on 2 paragraphs or less of text! (Yay!)

For example, all of the answers for the diagram completion question above (“Pilkington’s float process”), are all taken from this one little area of the text:

pilkington's float process



Since these questions ask you to identify very specific details and information, they are very, very scannable!

Take a moment to look back at the example questions above. Notice how many numbers, names, dates and technical words there are. A lot! Scannable words like “Rani Ki Vav”, “2001”, and “Pilkington” allow you to quickly find the location of the answers in the text. That means these questions are great for helping you go faster.

pilkington's float process question

But could it be this easy? Will the test simply say the name “Pilkington” and something about “float process”, and I will have the location of my answers?

Yes, it is this easy. Take a look at the text for this question:

pilkington's float process text

Notice also that the questions are not in order! Question #7 comes before #6 in the text. Still, these question types are not very difficult, as long as you realize you don’t have to search the entire article for the answers.


What is my Overall Strategy for notes / tables / diagrams / flow-charts?


The most important skill when answering these questions is scanning. That’s because the answers are all in one small section, so finding them is your first task.

Now, you should always begin with the 3-step Approach Strategy.

While you are reading the question (the table or diagram), do the following:

  1. Read the instructions and the question, and underline/circle important words (especially scannable words). You should notice at this point that you’re dealing with either notes, a table, a diagram or a flowchart.

  2. Scan the text quickly for the scannable words that you identified in Step 2, to quickly locate the area of the text where the answers are! This can help you save a lot of time. Remember: this area is only 1-2 paragraphs for diagrams and flowcharts, but might be as long as 3-4 paragraphs for note completion or tables.
  3. Read quickly and use scanning skills to locate the answers.

These questions are usually not very hard, so they are a good chance to go fast and earn some extra time on your IELTS reading test.