Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

Matching sentence halves can be a challenging question on the IELTS Reading exam.

The most important thing to remember is that Matching questions are not in order. That means that you have to scan the whole passage for each answer.

Thus, these can be time-consuming groups of questions. This is when strategies are the most vital.

There are a few forms of Matching questions on the IELTS Reading exam: matching headings to paragraphs, names to statements, and sentence halves.

Matching headings to paragraphs, actually, should save you time on the exam. These are actually very quick questions to answer.

Sentence halves, unfortunately, take a little bit more time.

Before looking at the questions, be sure to skim the passage for one minute to get the gist/main idea of the article.



Here is the step-by-step strategy:

  • Look at the possible answers. In Matching questions, there are always more answers than you need. Underline keywords in the answers.
    • This is a very important step. You have to know what you are looking for, before you start looking.
  • Look at the first question. Underline keywords.

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  • Scan the passage for the keywords. When you find them, stop scanning. Read the whole sentence containing the keywords carefully. Match the information to an answer. Read the whole sentence together (both sentence halves) to make sure it makes sense.
  • Then, repeat for each question.

This sounds like a slow process- and, for the first question, you will take more time.

However, you will find that as you scan for an answer, you will most likely recognize other keywords. Then, finding the following answers will be quicker.

As with all strategies, you must practice a lot. Practice this strategy slowly, then, when you feel confident, you can start timing yourself.

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