Classifying questions in IELTS reading
Classifying questions are similar to matching questions – the questions are in statement format, and you need to decide which of a limited number of options each statement relates to.
Here’s a very simple example:
Classify the following statement as relating to:
A. the UK
B. the USA
Write the correct letter A-C in the box provided.
Question: Attitudes to the elderly are more traditional
Text: In Britain it has now become common for children to place their elderly relative in care homes, much the same as it is in the USA. In Asia, on the other hand, children are more likely to take the older member into their home to be cared for, as has been done for many generations.
Useful pointers about classification questions:
- You will be given letters (e.g. A-C) that need to be entered as the answer. In the example above, writing ‘Asia’ would not be correct – you need to write the corresponding letter (‘C’)
- The answer often requires you to consider parallel expression or synonyms. In the example above, ‘traditional’ in the question has been phrased as ‘as has been done for many generations’ in the text
- The answers will NOT necessarily appear in the order of the text.
- You may need to classify peoples opinions, companies, products, countries or any number of options. However, there are very rarely more than five main classifications given .
- Not all of the classifications will definitely be used – some options may not apply to any question.
- You will need to carefully note the use of reference words, as the answer may be found by referring back to an earlier part of the text (e.g. ‘He states that..(the answer)’ – now you have to backtrack through the text to find which ‘he’ is being referred to.
Now practice with a full length example
Read the text then classify the statements that follow.
A national airline is not simply the means by which visitors can travel to a given country, it is often perceived as the flagship of that country. Visitors’ perceptions of an airline and the image it creates reflect upon the image and perceptions of the country itself, and it is in realisation of this that governments often subsidise the airline heavily to help ensure it is considered one of the world’s finest.
In Australia, Qantas has produced images attractive to both Australians and international travellers. A notable Qantas advertising campaign, ‘I still call Australia home’ was successful both domestically and internationally. No doubt Qantas officials and the Australian government were pleased with the image boost given to the airline when Dustin Hoffman, in the blockbuster movie Rain Man reminded the world of the enviable crash record of the company. It was indeed true that Qantas had never lost an aircraft until an incident in Bangkok in 1999, particularly impressive given that it had been operating for over three-quarters of a century without any such incident. The company began life as the ‘Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services Limited’ on 16th November, 1920. The initials soon became a well-known word as Qantas, pronounced ‘kwontus’, went from strength to strength. Following the collapse of Ansett airlines in September 2001, the airline operated what was essentially a monopoly on its domestic routes, until the arrival of Virgin Blue, a UK-based company that began offering cut-price alternatives. Offshore, Qantas continues to operate successfully. It is the second-largest airline operating out of Singapore Airport and has also expanded into the domestic New Zealand market. While Qantas shares have been bought by other airlines, primarily British Airways, the company remains 51% Australian owned.
The achievements of New Zealand’s main airline are no less impressive. Air New Zealand began life in April 1940 with the incorporation of Tasman Empire Airways Limited (TEAL), although it was not known by its modern name until 25 years later. At the time of its inception, TEAL was jointly owned by the governments of New Zealand and Australia, and it was not until April 1961 that full ownership was assumed by New Zealand. The company operated trans-Tasman services and routes to Asia, the USA, the UK and Europe. As TEAL became Air New Zealand, they continued to operate international flights while domestic routes were served by the New Zealand National Airways Corporation (NAC) until 1978, when the two companies merged. Privatisation occurred in April 1989, when the company was sold for NZ$660 million. Since March 1999, Air New Zealand has been a member of the Star Alliance Group, which includes Air Canada, Singapore Airlines and United Airlines. It is the largest global alliance in the world, and offers significant loyalty rewards to repeat clientele.
In many ways, British Airways could be considered a relatively new entrant to the field. The contemporary British Airways was established in April 1972 as a result of a government-orchestrated merger of BOAC and BEAC, both former state airlines. The beginnings of international commercial aviation in the UK were heavily focused on long-haul routes to former British Empire destinations including Australasia and the Far East. However, back in 1935 a small, independent airline, also known as British Airways (which would later become part of BOAC before re-emerging under its own name) specialised in flights to and from mainland Europe. The 1990s was a period of rapid global expansion for British Airways. Activities included the establishment of the German carrier Deutsche BA and purchase of shares both in Qantas and US Airways. The star of the British Airways fleet was the Concorde, built and operated in conjunction with Air France from 1975. The Air France Concorde crash in Paris in 2000 contributed to the downfall of the aircraft, which is no longer in operation.
Classify the following statements as referring to:
- QANTAS (QAS)
- Air New Zealand (ANZ)
- British Airways (BA)
Write the correct letter A-C in boxes 1-10 below.
1. This airline is one of the largest airlines operating out of Singapore.
Show answer A (QANTAS) – ‘Offshore, Qantas continues to operate successfully. It is the second-largest airline operating out of Singapore Airport’. The question referred to ‘one of the largest’, so ‘second-largest’ has the same meaning.
2. This airline owns shares in Australian and American airlines.
Show answer C (British Airways) – ‘The 1990s was a period of rapid global expansion for British Airways… purchase of shares both in Qantas and US Airways.’
3. This airline has the youngest origins of the three.
Show answer C (Air New Zealand) – This is a tricky question, as ‘youngest’ refers to the most recent or newest of the three companies – the text states that BA is ‘a relatively new entrant to the field’, but looking at the dates shows a slightly different answer. ‘Air New Zealand began life in April 1940′, QANTAS started on 16th November, 1920 and British Airways has its roots ‘back in 1935′. 1940 is the newest, hence the answer is ‘C’.
4. This airline had a joint venture with a French airline.
Show answer C (British Airways) ‘The star of the British Airways fleet was the Concorde, built and operated in conjunction with Air France from 1975.’
5. This airline is better known under its acronym.
Show answer A (QANTAS) – ‘The initials soon became a well-known word as Qantas, pronounced ‘kwontus’‘ (an acronym is a word made up from the initials of the complete title, such as NASA)
6. This airline is a member of an international group.
Show answer B (Air New Zealand) – ‘Since March 1999, Air New Zealand has been a member of the Star Alliance Group, which includes Air Canada, Singapore Airlines and United Airlines.’
7. This airline is the only one of the three that was not the result of a merger.
Show answer A (QANTAS) – ‘Air New Zealand…continued to operate international flights while domestic routes were served by the New Zealand National Airways Corporation (NAC) until 1978, when the two companies merged’ AND ‘The contemporary British Airways was established in April 1972 as a result of a government-orchestrated merger of BOAC and BEAC’
8. This airline was sold to investors by the government
Show answer B (Air New Zealand) – ‘Privatisation occurred in April 1989, when the company was sold for NZ$660 million.’
9. This airline was promoted by a Hollywood film.
Show answer A (QANTAS) – ‘Dustin Hoffman, in the blockbuster movie Rain Man reminded the world of the enviable crash record of the company.’
10. This airline has other interests in Europe.
Show answer C (British Airways) – ‘Activities included the establishment of the German carrier Deutsche BA’