How to cope with this IELTS Reading question.

Recently I have had the chance to meet some of you and talk about your frustrations with preparing for IELTS. It has been REALLY interesting to chat to you and find out what you REALLY have problems with.

And one of the most common complaints that I heard was the Matching Headings question in the IELTS reading paper.

​I thought if just these few people find this question difficult, maybe others do too.

So, here are my tips.

1. Skim the whole text first

The very first thing you must do is read the whole text through - not just the first lines. Take no more than 2 minutes.

You do need to understand everything; you just want a general idea of what each paragraph is about. If you can, write one or two words to summarise reach paragraph as you are writing.

2. Look at the question

Now you look at the paragraph or section that you need to match. Read it a little more carefully and check your first summary if you wrote one.

Summarise the MAIN point of the paragraph. Now look at the headings and see if there is one which matches your summary. Quickly eliminate the wrong ones. PARAPHRASE the key words - think of other words that mean the same thing.

Now SCAN the text for these words or ideas. Can you see these words in the paragraph? E.g. if the heading has the word “effects”, can you find the words ‘results’ or ‘consequences’? Scanning means you search for a word - do not read everything; just look for particular words.

When you find them, read that part more carefully. Read before and after the key words.

3. Now move on

Do not spend too much time worrying about your decisions. Each question is only worth one point so keep moving. You will quickly run out of time if you think too much.

This technique can be used for the 'identifying information' questions too. This is where you have to match paragraphs to statements that highlight one aspect or piece of information. You do exactly the same thing - skim - summarise - paraphrase - scan.

What are your tips?

I'd love to hear your tips for this IELTS reading question.

Leave me a comment below!

3 thoughts on “IELTS Reading – Matching Headings

    1. Hi Gamu
      They are important but please do not ONLY read these sentences when doing your first skim reading. They often do not give you enough information about the paragraph.

    2. They are important but sometimes do not give you enough information about the whole paragraph. That’s why I always say to skim the whole text, not just the first lines.

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