IELTS Reading Matching Headings Tips

Important IELTS Reading Tips to Master the ‘Matching Headings’ Questions

February 03, 2022


Matching Headings is a question type in the IELTS Reading Task.  It can be tricky. IELTS Reading task comprises of nearly 8 different question types, out of which, most candidates find ‘Matching Heading’ one of the most difficult ones. This section is common for both, IELTS Reading General Training and Academic Test.

This blog will help you understand what to expect from ‘Matching Heading’, common problems, and important IELTS Reading tips to crack this question type.

What is ‘Matching Headings’ in IELTS Reading?

This question type requires you to match headings with their respective paragraphs or sections. There will always be a possibility, as it often happens, that there will be more heading than passages. You need to select the best possible heading. It tests your ability to understand the  context of each paragraph. Headings are short sentences that summarize the information of a paragraph. You will need to pick the best heading suiting a paragraph.

Most candidates follow these two strategies:
  1. Read the paragraph first and later find matching headings
  2. Read the Headings first and then find its relevant text

Which one are you?

Before we move on to the tips and strategies for this task, it is important first to understand the common problems faced by test-takers in the Matching Headings task.

Let's take a look:

IELTS Reading ‘Matching Headings’ Question Type: Common Problems

  • There is too much information in the paragraph and time is running out.
  • Trying to match the heading with the same words that are in the paragraph.
  • Some headings can have the same meaning to confuse you.
  • Headings will not be in the same order as the paragraph.
  • Spending too much time reading the paragraphs and headings.
  • The first sentence is not always enough to find a perfect heading.

As discussed previously, remember, there are always more headings than paragraphs. So, don’t worry, when you find excess headings which do not match any of the paragraphs. IELTS will test your reading and understanding ability at the same time.

IELTS Reading Tips & Strategies to Master ‘Matching Heading’

The essential part of this section is skimming. You must be quick enough to skim the paragraph at a glance and highlight unique keywords. Get a general idea of the meaning that the paragraph is trying to convey. Learn how to utilize your skimming skills in this section of the IELTS Reading exam.

Because Skimming is Essential: While skimming the paragraph, focus on the first two sentences and the last few sentences. You will be able to grasp the general meaning of the paragraph. So, focus more on them.

IELTS Reading Essential

Identify the Keywords: Then, try to identify some keywords that are important to find the best heading. Usually, the keywords can be found in the first two sentences. Highlight the keywords – they can be numbers, places, or important topics. This will help you identify the most suitable heading.

Every word is Not Your Keyword: The IELTS Reading Task is to ascertain your reading skills, thus, it is OKAY if you don’t read the entire text word-by-word. If you feel some part of the paragraph is not important, you can skip it. Once you get an idea of the meaning of the text, you can skip reading a few portions of the paragraph.

It is Good to be Confident: Match the relevant headings if you are confident about them. In case you are not confident; please move on to the next step and come back to this question later on.

Fewer options mean less confusion: Once you start matching the headings, there will be fewer options left for you. This will clarify your confusion too. Then, go back to the questions you didn’t attempt, and mark the most relevant heading.

Synonyms can Play a Lead: Pay attention to the synonyms in the paragraphs to the headings. The synonyms can often reveal your answer.

It’s Okay to Not Know: Don’t worry if you don’t understand the meaning of a few words. It is sometimes difficult for even native speakers to understand the meaning of every single word.

IELTS Reading: Quick & Helpful Tips for Matching Headings

  • Pay attention to the headings that are similar to one another.
  • Read the paragraph to get a general idea.
  • Keep the first and last sentence of the paragraph in your mind.
  • Devote some time to paraphrasing the keywords in the headings.
  • The main idea of the paragraph is your heading.
  • Don't go on matching words; this is not the aim.
  • There may be extra headings, so be careful.
  • There is one heading for every paragraph.
  • You should either use numerals (i.e., i or v) or letters (i.e., a, b, c) when listing the headings
  • Read all the headings before picking anyone.

If you follow these strategies and get enough practice with IELTS Reading Sample Questions, then it would only be a matter of time before you start feeling confident in this question type. Once you understand the general idea of the paragraph, you can answer the questions correctly. Aim to match each of the headings within a  minute. This way, you can save time for solving the more difficult questions, that follow.
The most important step to crack the IELTS Reading ‘Matching Heading’ questions is PRACTICE. You can get ample practice questions and sample answers to boost your confidence and polish your skills. You could also opt for IELTS Online Coaching for a detailed consultation and personalized attention.