Reading Question Type
Matching Headings

Watch the video on how to answer matching headings question type.












  • The task requires you to match headings to sections or paragraphs in the text.

  • The headings are a summary of the information in each section or paragraph.

IELTS Reading Matching Headings
  • Answers can be found in the order they appear in the text. You will not find the answer to question 3 before the answer to question 2.

  • Always follow the question numbers for the order you will find the answers in the text.


  • There are always more headings than sections. In the example above there are 10 headings and 6 paragraphs, minus the example.

  • The headings are never in the same order as the paragraphs in the text. In the example above heading x matches with paragraph B.

  • Some headings have very similar meanings.

  • Students try to match key words from the heading to words in the text.

  • Students focus too much on the topic sentence of the paragraph or section.

  • This reading task is more time consuming than the others.

Strategies & Tips

  • There are 2 approaches to this task. 

         1. First read all the paragraphs, then choose the most suitable heading from the list.

         2. First read the headings first then read the paragraphs. After you read each paragraph, go back to the

             list of headings and select the correct match.

  • The headings are not in the same order as the information in the text. Therefore, reading the headings first and trying to match the paragraphs is time consuming and involves a lot of re-reading. The first approach will take less time.

  • Students usually read the headings first and highlight the key words then try to match the words in the text. This is a useful strategy for locating specific information but the headings are a summary of the paragraph and tests your ability to understand the main idea of the paragraph. Not locate specific information. 

  • When you read the text first, make a note of the main idea on the question paper or screen. This will help you choose the correct heading.

  • The key words in the headings will be paraphrased in the text. Don’t expect to match words


Synonyms and Paraphrase

disaster            ------                accident

prompts           ------                resulted in

action              ------                establishment FAA

  • The main idea of a paragraph usually contained in topic sentence however, there are exceptions.

  • If you can’t match heading using only topic sentence, read the whole paragraph carefully. Even if you are sure that you can match a heading just by reading the topic sentence, skim the remainder of the paragraph for confirmation.

  • Some headings may appear to have the same meaning. 


  • When headings have similar meaning, the difference is the vocabulary used. In the example, “setting” and “defining” have similar meaning but iv describes the heights planes can fly in certain areas whereas vii describes different types of airspace.