Aubrey Carter
"3 Keys IELTS Certified Coach"
Jessica Beck
"Director of IELTS Training"

IELTS Reading strategies are different for each question type.

Today we answer a student question about these strategies.

We share strategies from 3 Keys IELTS for Matching Headings to Paragraphs.

With these tips, you’ll be ready for this question type on test day!

Different strategies for different question types

For some question types, the answers will be in order in the text.

For others, they won’t be.

Steps to take are different for each question type.

For some, you need to make predictions and identify keywords.

For the strategies for each question type, sign up for 3 Keys IELTS!

Today’s question

Hi there, this is Nasra Abdullah from Oman. I would like to thank you for this incredibly incredible podcast, it has extremely contributed to my English skills, and I appreciate it. I have a question regarding IELTS reading, could you share with us strategies that will help us perform well. Thanks in advance.

We love that this student recognizes the need for strategies on IELTS Reading!

Too many students approach it like a comprehension exam.

They try to read entire passages and understand every word.

You don’t have time for this!

Instead, you must learn strategies for each question type.

Matching headings

Today we’ll share strategies for one of the most difficult questions.

Matching Headings to Paragraphs is the most challenging for many students.

It’s vital to realize that headings are main ideas.

Main ideas usually come at the beginning and end of the paragraph.

Step 1: Skim the passage

Spend one minute doing skimming the entire passage.

Read the beginning and end of every paragraph.

Practice this skill so you can do it quickly, regardless of the passage length.

Skimming works for newspapers, magazines, and pages of books.

Step 2: Identify key words

After skimming the passage, go back to the headings.

Underline key words in the headings.

These are names, numbers, and nouns that are important.

Don’t overthink this.

There is not one right answer for key words.

This is to help you focus.

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Step 3: Read in detail

After identifying key words in the headings, go to the first paragraph of the passage.

Read the beginning in detail.

Go back to the headings and try to match key words.

Don’t think too much about meaning.

You are matching vocabulary and parallel expressions.

Do you see words in the paragraph that mean the same thing as the headings?

If you can’t match from the beginning of the paragraph, then read the last two lines of the paragraph.

Try not to spend more than one minute on each heading.

What if you can’t find a match?

If you can’t match keywords in the beginning and end of paragraphs, move on.

Don’t read the entire paragraph.

Mark the question so you can come back to it easily if you have time.

Move to the next question and repeat the 3 steps.

If you have time remaining after completing all questions, come back to that question.

You can then match key words in the entire paragraph.

Time management

Many exams are more about time management than comprehension.

This is also the case for the IELTS Reading exam.

Even native speakers struggle and often miss many questions.

This is due to poor time management and not using strategies.

Many of our 3 Keys IELTS students have scored 9 on IELTS Reading.

This is because they know the strategies they need.

The importance of practice

Remember that it’s not enough to know strategies.

You must practice them!

These strategies can be practiced on any text passage!

Additionally, of course, you must be completing practice exams.

Using these strategies will not always come naturally.

In order to do them quickly, you must have practiced a lot!


If you’re studying for the IELTS exam, you need strategies!

If not, you can waste a lot of time and money taking the exam over and over!

Today’s strategies can help you find answers for Matching Headings to Paragraphs.

Each question requires different strategies.

Sign up for 3 Keys IELTS for every strategy for each question type!

What questions do you have from today’s episode?

Please leave a comment below.

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