IELTS Reading Tips for Matching Heading Questions

In this lesson, we will provide some tips for Matching Heading questions. Matching heading questions mean each paragraph is labeled A-F and what we are supposed to do, is choose the correct heading based on the list of headings. Let's watch the video for an example.


In other words, each paragraph will match with one of these answer choices. Since our essay has six different paragraphs, we will need to find a heading for all six of them in this exercise. 


What you are supposed to do is match a heading with each paragraph. And the headings really represent the main idea of the paragraph. They are like a title for each paragraph. In order to find the right title, you just need to figure out what the main idea is for each one. The headings are going to come before you read the passage.


This is unique, this is the only type of IELTS reading question that you will find before the reading passage. All the other kinds, they present the reading passage first and you answer questions afterwards. This leads people to basically take two approaches to this type of question. Some people like to read the headings before they skim the passage.


You are going to skim every reading passage for about two to four minutes before you start answering questions every time. Some people like to begin with those headings in the box so that they know what to look for as they are skimming. Some people prefer to skim first and wait to read the headings until after they have done their first skimming.


I recommend option number 2. The reason is some of the headings are not correct, some of them are incorrect answers. And so in one way it is kind of a waste of time to really spend a lot of time reading over those before you get to the reading passage. But my other concern is that when you read those first, it could affect the way you skim through the passage.


If one of the headings or more than one is incorrect information, it might cause you to remember incorrect information as you skim the real passage. My preference would be to skim the whole passage first, get as much correct information out of that as you can. And then go make decisions as you read through each type of heading as you are trying to choose which one goes where.


What is the best way to approach this question?

The first thing to recommend is definitely to start by scanning the topic sentences. You have to be careful, the answer will not always be in the topic sentence, but that is a really, really good place to start most answers will be there. Remember, topic sentences are usually the first or second sentence in the paragraph that provides the main idea for that paragraph.


Since these are main idea questions, it is very common that the correct answer can be found in one of the topic sentences. You do wanna be careful though, you wanna make sure especially if an answer or choice you just cannot seem to find the correct answer for a question, you should go through, definitely, and scan the rest of the paragraph to make sure that what you are looking at in the topic sentences or what you believe are the topic sentences do in fact represent the main idea of the paragraph exactly.


Sometimes in some paragraphs, there are sort of transitional sentences and the main idea can be more difficult to find. But most of the time you wanna startup here, topic sentences and you will find your answer there. You have to be careful about incorrect headings. And some signs that you have an incorrect heading like this, so first of all, incorrect headings often focus too narrowly on small details that you find in paragraphs.


These are main idea questions, so if one of the choices really focuses on a small detail, it is probably wrong. And that is tricky because many times, the information in the heading can be found in the paragraph or in the essay somewhere. It is just not the main idea and that is really tough, you have to be able to decide is this the main idea, or is this just a small detail.


More details could be found in the video above.