What are the best ways to answer the IELTS Matching Headings question? Read below for helpful tips and tricks, as well as example questions!

1. Question Overview

The Matching Headings question is one of fourteen (14) question types on the Reading Section of the IELTS exam.

1.1. Objective:
You must match the correct heading to the paragraphs in the text. You will need to understand the main idea of each paragraph.

1.2. Skills Used:
Understanding the main idea of each paragraph in the passage. You will need to read for the “gist” of each paragraph, so you will need to “skim read” (or read quickly to understand the key ideas).

These questions will usually have around nine headings to choose from. You will have more headings than paragraphs.

Check out our article with an overview of all the Reading question types on the IELTS exam!

2. Example of IELTS Reading Matching Heading


IELTS Reading Question Types List

3. Steps to Follow

How should you answer these questions? Follow our steps below!

3.1 Read the Headings First

Do not read the passage before you read the headings! You need to understand the headings first. So, read each heading quickly, and focus on the keywords.

What are Keywords?
IELTS writing correction

These are important terms. They are usually nouns (names, places, or dates).

3.2 Understand the Headings and Paraphrase

Each heading will be unique, but some headings may be very similar. Make sure that you focus on the keywords, so that you can understand the subtle differences in the headings. Then, paraphrase the headings!

What is Paraphrasing?

When you paraphrase something, it means that you are restating it in different words (or synonyms). The words in the passage will be different than the words in the headings, so it is important that you paraphrase the headings. Think about synonyms of the keywords in your headings. This will help you find the answer more easily in the passage!

3.3 Skim Read Each Paragraph

After you read and paraphrase the headings, start skim reading each paragraph.

What is Skim Reading?

IELTS writing correction

Skim Reading means that you are quickly reading the text to get the main idea. You should not read each and every word and spend more than a minute on each paragraph.

3.4 Match the Headings

After you skim read the paragraph, match up the main idea to the correct heading!

4. Tips & Tricks

  • Do not reuse any of the headings. Each heading can only be used once!
  • Sometimes, you might have headings that aren’t used. So, don’t try to use Process of Elimination with this question type.
  • Do not write the words of the title as your answer. The answer will be either a letter (A, B, C, etc.) or a roman numeral (ii, iii, ix, etc.) that represents the heading.
  • Do not read the entire passage, word for word. Doing so will waste time. Make sure to quickly skim read for the main idea of each paragraph.
  • Focus on paraphrasing the headings and recognizing synonyms.
  • Make sure that the heading you choose represents the main idea of the paragraph—not specific details.
  • Pay more attention to first two and the last sentence of the paragraph as many writers tend to present their main view either at the start or at the end of a paragraph.

5. Mock Test

Questions 1-4

Reading Passage 1 has four paragraphs, A-D..

Choose the correct heading for each paragraph from the list of headings below.

List of Headings

  1. The health effects of smoking
  2. The dangers of second-hand smoking
  3. Smoking and addiction
  4. Treatments for smoking addictions
  5. Research finding on causes for smoking
  6. The history of tobacco
  7. How to help someone with smoking addiction
  8. Banning of smoking in public places
  9. Global initiatives

Matching Headings Master Guide

  1. Paragraph A
  2. Paragraph B
  3. Paragraph C
  4. Paragraph D
Score - 0
  1. The combination of smoke from burning commercial tobacco products and the smoke breathed out by a person who is smoking, is deadly. In adults, exposing non-smokers to tobacco smoke causes stroke, lung cancer, and coronary heart disease, as well as adverse reproductive health effects in women, including low birth weight. Children who are exposed to it are at an increased risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), acute respiratory infections such as pneumonia and bronchitis, middle ear disease, more frequent and severe asthma, respiratory symptoms, and slowed lung growth.
  2. In 2006, the Surgeon General concluded that using designated smoking areas indoors to separate people who smoke from people who do not smoke, cleaning or filtering the air, or ventilating buildings does not remove the risk of secondhand smoke exposure. Completely eliminating smoking in indoor spaces is the only way to fully protect people who do not smoke from secondhand smoke exposure. In 2009, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer reiterated these findings, concluding that smokefree policies lead to substantial declines in secondhand smoke exposure, citing air quality improvements of up to 90% in high-risk settings, such as bars.
  3. It’s never too late to quit smoking. Quitting smoking now improves your health and reduces your risk of heart disease, cancer, lung disease, and other smoking-related illnesses. If you are ready to quit, call a quitline coach or talk to a healthcare professional. They can help you decide what treatment is best for you and can connect you to quit smoking programs and resources. For example, you can talk to a quit smoking counselor individually or in a group, use free online resources, or use Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT).
  4. Smoking leads to disease and disability and harms nearly every organ of the body. More than 16 million Americans are living with a disease caused by smoking. For every person who dies because of smoking, at least 30 people live with a serious smoking-related illness. Smoking causes cancer, heart disease, stroke, lung diseases, diabetes, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Smoking also increases risk for tuberculosis, certain eye diseases, and problems of the immune system, including rheumatoid arthritis. Cigarette smoking causes more than 480,000 deaths each year in the United States. This is nearly one in five deaths. More than 10 times as many U.S. citizens have died prematurely from cigarette smoking than have died in all the wars fought by the United States. Smoking causes about 90% (or 9 out of 10) of all lung cancer deaths. More women die from lung cancer each year than from breast cancer.

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