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Match the heading questions on the IELTS test are known to be difficult. Some of the reasons are:

  • They are time-consuming.

  • They are often more headings than paragraphs.

  • Some headings are very similar to each other.

  • Headings can be misleading by giving specific details rather than main ideas.

Strategy 1: Question First- Read Later

  • Read all the headings first. Try to fully understand the meaning of each. Paraphrasing the headings can help you understand the main idea of them.

  • Circle the keywords in the headings. After reading all the headings carefully, underline or circle any keywords such as names, places, and dates. This will help you select the correct heading to the appropriate paragraph more easily.

  • Make sure to note any similarities or differences between the headings. Often, the headings in this question type are either very similar or completely opposite. Highlighting the keywords allows you to see similarities and differences between the headings, which help make the options more clearly when you choose your answer.

  • Read the first and last sentence of the paragraph first. Most of the time, the main idea of the paragraph is in the first or last sentence of the paragraph. Therefore, reading these sentences carefully is a good method to save time. It is also a good idea to skim the other sentences in the paragraph, as the main idea might not show up until the second or third sentence.

  • Choose the heading that best fits the paragraph. Read the headings again and choose the one that closely matches the paragraph. If you're not entirely sure about the differences between multiple headings, make a note of them and move on. The answers may become clearer after reading all the paragraphs. You can then cross out some of the headings in the list.

Remember, you're looking for the main idea of the paragraph, NOT a specific detail. To confuse you, some headings may contain some details that appear in the paragraph, so watch out!

Strategy 2: Reading First- Question Later

  • Read the paragraph. Reread the paragraph, paying more attention to the first and last sentences as you try to identify the main idea.

  • Create a heading. After reading the paragraph, create your own heading. Make sure your heading covers the main idea, not just specific details.

  • Read each heading. Read the headlines thoroughly to get the full meaning. Then try to choose a heading that may be related to the heading you created for the same paragraph, Again, if there is more than one option suitable for the paragraph, make a note and move one to the next question. You can eliminate options as you read more paragraphs.

You can also note similarities and differences by underlining keywords to eliminate headings with similar meanings.

General tips

Be productive! Use your time efficiently by using these strategies to help you select the correct heading. If you are unsure of the difference between two or more headings, note down all the answers and move on to the next paragraph. You may be able to eliminate the options as you read the rest of the text.

If you're sure you have the correct heading for a paragraph, cross this heading off the list That way, you won’t mistakenly read the same heading again. Finally, skimming is an important skill needed for ‘Match the Headings’ question types., Matching headings to paragraphs is a tricky and time-consuming task. If the strategy you choose does not reduce the time you spend on the question, it is not a suitable method for you. When you practice, use different strategies to see what works best for you.

To help you prepare, come and benefit from IELTS preparation materials on this topic.

We wish you success in your IELTS test preparation.