I have been taking IELTS mock exams recently on a website. (The tests are probably taken from Cambridge textbooks).

So I have a point I may disagree with in the Reading section.

I had to choose whether certain statements TRUE, FALSE or NOT GIVEN

Question 21 statement says Many people were very impressed by Swingle's discovery.


the text itself goes like this:

Swingle was just as impressed. Yet despite his reports, many Western biologists were sceptical. In the West, the idea of using one insect to destroy another was new and highly controversial.

The authors of the website (may be Cambridge teachers) say the correct answer should be FALSE. Here's how they explained it:

“sceptical” (other spelling: skeptical) means showing doubt about something.

While the statement in question 21 says that people were impressed of the discovery, the text says people doubted that. These ideas are contrasting, so the answer for question 21 is FALSE.

Note: In fact, it was Swingle who was impressed by the method used in China, not other people (Western biologists).

(This explanation could be right from the Cambridge IELTS books.)

My stand on this is:

Since when "Many people being impressed" and "Many Western biologists being skeptical" are antonyms???

These two statements don't refute each other. They can be true at the same time. That means, people can be impressed and many Western biologists be skeptical at the same time. These two statements are NOT mutually exclusive! This is not oxymoron-like.

The statement of Q21 is NOT GIVEN

What should the correct answer be?

  • 1
    I think you need to look at the passage just before the one you cite. From what you've posted, we know that Swingle was just as impressed - but just as impressed as who(m)? With what exactly? What is Swingle's discovery? The method itself, or the fact that it was used in China? Based on what you've posted I agree with you that the information is not given. We know that at least two people were very impressed with something, but two is not many. The fact that many other people were sceptical is irrelevant, as you say.
    – user339660
    Commented May 11, 2019 at 8:12
  • 1
    BTW from the minimal contact I've had with Cambridge English I don't think they could be responsible for the explanation you quote. We don't say impressed of and the reasoning is just embarrassing.
    – user339660
    Commented May 11, 2019 at 8:14
  • As you are learning English, then our sister site English Language Learners would probably be more suited to your questions.
    – TrevorD
    Commented May 11, 2019 at 19:00
  • @Minty please see my comments on the other question. I believe that the OP has been mislead to believe that this is original Cambridge material taken from past exam papers. I found nothing that actually confirms this impression. More often than not, IELTS exam prep websites are not the real deal, some are better than others (and I've seen really awful websites whose written English was an embarrassment) but very few are endorsed by Cambridge.org.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented May 13, 2019 at 8:25
  • I don't want to imply that this question is not good or off-topic, it is extremely well presented and the question is still very relevant, I just want to warn future visitors to see that free online Cambridge exam tests may not be taken from past exam papers. Invest in Cambridge exam books if you want to be 100% certain that the material is genuine.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented May 13, 2019 at 8:31

1 Answer 1


It seems you are being asked whether the statement expresses the same idea as the text. The text says that, although Swingle himself was impressed, many biologists were not, so the statement doesn't express the same meaning as the text.

  • 1
    The contrast that is relevant here is not between Swingle and the 'Western biologists' but between the 'Western biologists' and 'people'. Given that there are very many people who are not biologists, it is quite possible for the biologists to be sceptical (and thus unimpressed) while many other people are impressed. The OP is thus correct that the sentence about the biologists does nor convey any information about people in general.
    – jsw29
    Commented May 11, 2019 at 17:39
  • @jsw29 But the text doesn't mention 'other people'. My assumption was that the question is about interpreting what the text says, not making your own assumptions. Commented May 12, 2019 at 7:22
  • 3
    Indeed, the text does not say anything about other people (only about the biologists), and so provides no information about people in general (which is what the statement at issue is about). This information is, in the terminology of the test, 'not given', which makes that the correct answer, as the OP has argued. (I am not sure whether we are, perhaps, talking at cross purposes here; it might help if you make it clearer what that at the end of your answer stands for, and state explicitly whether you agree or disagree with the OP.)
    – jsw29
    Commented May 12, 2019 at 16:36

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