name='viewport'/> THE IELTS: IELTS READING TEST - MATCHING HEADINGS WITH PARAGRAPHS QUESTIONS TIPS ANS STRATEGY expr:class='"loading" + data:blog.mobileClass'>


This article will help you match headings with paragraphs more effectively in the IELTS reading test. In the IELTS reading test you may be asked to match headings to sections of text (paragraphs). This type of question tests your ability to understand the main idea of each paragraph.

In this post we will look at:
- Common problems
- Tips
- Strategy
- Practice

1. Example question 

Headings are short sentences that summarise the information in a paragraph. You have to pick the one that best summarises the information in a paragraph.

You will be given between 7 and 10 headings and asked to match each paragraph in the reading text to one heading. There are always more headings than paragraphs.

2. Common Problems

1. There is too much information to get through and not enough time.

2. Trying to match a word or words from the headings to a word in the text.

3. Some of the headings may appear to have the same meaning.

4. Some students only read the first sentence of each paragraph and do not understand the main idea of the paragraph.

5. Spending too much time on one paragraph or heading.

6. Headings (Answers) are not in the same order as the text.

3. Tips and Solutions

1. Do this question first. By doing this you will be able to get the general meaning of the text as a whole and this will help you with the rest of the question that requires you to take a more detailed look at the text.

2. You are not expected to read every word of the text. This will take too long and you don’t have time for this. In this kind of question you are only expected to understand the main idea of each paragraph. A good way to do this is to read the first one or two sentences and the last sentence of the paragraphs. You can also briefly look at the rest of the paragraph but you don’t have to read every word.

3. If there are words you don’t understand, don’t worry about this. Again, you should only worry about the general meaning of the paragraph as a whole, not individual words. Even native speakers will fail to understand every word in the IELTS reading test.

4. Be aware of synonyms. Many students look for words that match exactly with words in the text and ignore synonyms. For example, a keyword in the heading might be ‘Beautiful’, however the word you’re looking for could be many different synonyms of ‘beautiful’ like ‘attractive’, ‘pretty’, ‘lovely’ or ‘stunning’.

5. If there are two or three headings that are similar, write them beside the paragraph and try to find out the difference between the two headings. What are the keywords? How does this change the meaning? Which one matches the paragraph best?

If you still can’t decide which one suits best, move on and come back to it later. The answer will normally be easier to find after you have matched some more headings.

6. Don’t read too quickly. Some teachers advise that students should just ‘skim’ the text because you don’t have much time. In my experience, this leads to students not understanding most of the text and making mistakes. It is better to do this a little slower and actually understand what is in front of you.

7. Don’t look at the headings first. This will automatically make you look for specific words in the text rather than the main idea. Remember it is your ability to find the main idea that is being tested, not your ability to find specific information. Instead of reading the headings first, ignore them and get the general meaning of each paragraph first by reading the first and last sentences.

4. Strategy

1. If this type of question is on the test, do it first.

2. Don’t look at the headingsRead the first one or two sentences and the last sentence of each paragraph to understand the general meaning of the paragraph. Don’t worry about highlighting keywords in the test. 

3. Try to sum up the general meaning of each paragraph in one or two words.

4. Look at the headings and identify keywords within each heading.

5. Match any headings that are very obvious and you are sure about.

6. For the others, write 2 or 3 headings beside the paragraph. Identify the difference between each of the headings. Establish if there are any synonyms in the paragraph to keywords in the headings.


Task type and format
Test takers are given a list of headings, usually identified with lower-case Roman numerals (i, ii, iii, etc,). A heading will refer to the main idea of the paragraph or section of the text. Test takers must match the heading to the correct paragraphs or sections, which are marked alphabetically.

Test takers write the appropriate Roman numerals in the boxes on their answer sheets. There will always be more headings than there are paragraphs or sections, so that some headings will not be used. It is also possible that some paragraphs or sections may not be included in the task. One or more paragraphs or sections may already be matched with a heading as an example for test takers. This task type is used with texts that contain paragraphs or sections with clearly defined themes.
Task focus
Matching headers tests the test takers’ ability to recognise the main idea or theme in the paragraphs or sections of a text, and to distinguish main ideas from supporting ones.
 No. of questions

I hope the tips and strategies in this post helps you. Try them with some past paper IELTS writing questions.

If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to comment below.

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