IELTS Reading: Tips for Matching Headings Questions

As we all know there are a plethora of questions in the reading section and somehow all are tricky. And if we talk about the question in which most of the aspirants find a difficulty that is matching heading questions where knowing the correct answer is really hard among the similar options. In order to find the correct answer from multiple options, you need to know some IELTS reading tips and tricks for analyzing the correct option among all the given options. In the case of Matching Heading questions, a number of headings will be given. You just need to match these headings with the given paragraphs that are a little piece of summary. You just have to analyze which heading matches which paragraph summary in this question. To make this question more complex, there will be more headings than the number of paragraphs. Thus, you will get enough options to choose from. 

Example from an Actual Test Question:

Have a look at the example question above: 

You will be asked to select the correct heading for each paragraph. In the above example, there are six paragraphs and nine heading in the reading module to match those six paragraphs. When it comes to how to attempt those questions, you do not need to write the headings, you just need to write only the designated numbers in the specific boxes on your answer sheet.

Why do Aspirants find it Hard to Attempt Heading Matching Question?

This question type in the reading module can be tricky because for the following reasons: 

  • It is a time-consuming question 
  • It’s tricky as there are more headings than paragraphs.
  • Not all the paragraphs have their designated headings. 
  • Some headings are similar which somehow becomes confusing. 
  • Headings that only include specific details rather than the main idea may mislead you. 
  • Some headings have the same words as in the paragraph but don't match.

Basically, the main concept is to understand how you attempt this type of question, so you need to identify the strategy that suits you best. Here we have outlined some strategies to help you match headings more successfully. 

Also read: Tips And Tricks To Solve Fill Ups In IELTS Reading

Strategies to Help you Answer Matching Headings Questions in IELTS Reading!

Strategy 1: Read the Question First

Before attempting the heading matching question in IELTS reading, read the questions first just to understand what is the concept about. From the question, you will get to know about the idea behind paragraphs and it will help you to match the heading with paragraphs. To learn more read the strategies below:

1. Read Each & Every heading 

First of all, understand the meaning of each heading by reading all of them. Moreover, understand the main idea of the heading or you can also paraphrase it to make it easier. 

 2. Highlight keywords within the headings 

Once you fully read the paragraph, Mark or underline keywords in each heading like names, places, dates, and nouns. In addition, you need to link the correct heading to the appropriate paragraph which may become easier. 

3. Note Similarities or Differences 

In this type of question, either heading is very similar or completely different. But if you have found and marked the keywords in the paragraph then it will become easy to match the headings with the paragraph. Thus, This will make choosing an option clearer. 

Strategy 2: Read the Paragraph First

Some of the test-takers prefer and suggest reading each paragraph quickly to get the general idea of what the paragraph is about. But all you need to do is to manage the time because most aspirants waste a lot of time reading the paragraphs. However, be very careful with timing. You will only get 20 minutes per Reading part, so you don't want to spend the full 20 minutes on one question type. 

 1. Create your own heading

Once you read the paragraph and understand the idea of what the paragraph is about and summarizes what you have read you can think and create your own heading. Ultimately, the heading should encompass the main idea not just specific details. 

 2. Read One Paragraph at a Time

You don’t need to waste time reading the whole paragraph, just spend more time on the first and last sentence of a paragraph, then you will easily identify the main idea. 

 3. Read each Individual Heading

In order to get a complete understanding of the meaning, read the headings thoroughly. Also, try to choose a heading that is very much related to the heading that you created for the same paragraph. In addition, make note of multiple heading options that may fit the paragraph. So as soon as you read more paragraphs you will get clarity to eliminate options. Mark keywords with noted similarities and differences thus it will help you in eliminating headings with similar meanings.

General Tip!

Try to be more efficient with your time when choosing the correct heading with both strategies because this can be very time-consuming. For your ease, make rough notes of all the answers you found and switch to the next paragraph if you are not sure about the difference between the given headings. While you go through all the headings and paragraphs, eliminate all the possible options you wrote for the heading once you are sure you have the correct heading for the paragraph. Thus eliminating other incorrect options is good practice to get the correct heading. Therefore this strategy will help you to find the correct answers efficiently and save your time on repeatedly reading the same paragraph. 


To conclude, attempting to match heading questions in IELTS Reading with these strategies is an essential skill for this type of time-consuming question. If you attempt heading matching questions with the above-mentioned strategies that will help you to save more time to crack the rest of the questions of the reading section.

Dr. Roma
Content Writer