This IELTS Reading post will guide you to match headings/headlines/list of headings most effectively in the IELTS Reading exam. Matching headings/headlines/ list of headings is quite a common question in the IELTS exam and candidates often find it difficult to answer this question type within time. This post aims at guiding an IELTS candidate to answer this type of questions effectively. The post includes strategies, methods, tips, and example practice questions from Cambridge IELTS series books.
What is Matching healings/headlines/ List of headings? :
In this type of questions, candidates are asked to match different paragraphs with some headings/headlines given as a list. The questions look like the following:
Here, the questions are numbered 15-19 and the headings are numbered i-x. The task is to match six headings from the given list with the questions 15-19. Remember that there will be more headings than the questions; these extra headings are given to confuse the candidates as they will be quite close to the original answers.
Now, many IELTS candidates face a lot of problems to answer this type of questions. Here are some screenshots of some queries that I regularly get from students around the world.
As you can see, the queries are all related to this ‘Matching Headings/headlines/list of headings’ question.
Problems related to answering this type of questions:
When the candidates discuss their problems with me in Skype, Facebook messenger or Whatsapp, most of them state the following 4 problems:
- They cannot answer all the questions as they feel they do not get enough time.
- They spend way too much time in this question and cannot cover other questions.
- Some headings look similar to them and so they get quite confused.
- The KEYWORDS do not match.
- They do not find the answers in the first lines sometimes.
Facts about Matching headings/headlines/list of headings:
- IELTS candidates must learn or remember the following facts if they want to get most of the answers correct in Matching headings/headlines/list of headings:
- This type of question is given as a sequence; so you need to read Paragraph/sections A, B, C, D, etc. in an orderly manner.
- Answers to ‘Matching headings’ are easy to find in Reading passage 1. However, in Reading passages 2 and 3; they can be very confusing.
- Skimming skill is vital if you want to find all the answers for this type of question. However, it doesn’t mean that you should always read fast; sometimes slow reading and understanding can help you understand the questions and paragraphs and this may help you save time for other questions.
- As this type of question is given based on the whole paragraph, it may help you find answers to other questions also.
- In most cases you will find the answers by reading the first few lines (where the writer talks about the topic of the paragraph); in some cases, you may need to read the last lines. However, sometimes the most important information may be given in the middle. So, there is no guarantee that you will find all the answers by reading the first lines only.
- You cannot read every word of a paragraph for this question. There is no time for that!
- Important words of the headlines in the list will be always replaced by synonyms in the paragraph.
Tips to answer the questions easily and in time:
Here are some tips for candidates to answer Matching headings/headlines:
- Make sure you do this question first. Don’t do it after other questions. Remember that candidates need to read a large part of each paragraph for this question. This may help to answer other types of questions later.
- Don’t read the list of headings first. Often it makes the candidates confused as they read the list of headings and then go to the passage to match the answers.
- Read the first lines and last lines of each paragraph first and mark the most important words. 60-65% times the answer is found in the first and last lines. However, it is not true all the time. Sometimes, the answers can be found in the middle as well. So, be careful about any doubts you may have.
- Try to understand the gist/summary of the text. The question is mainly on the summary of the main topic.
- If you don’t find the answer to one question within a minute, just move on to the next question. Don’t waste time here. You can come back to the question after answering other questions of the same type.
- When you read the paragraphs, try to think about the general ideas and guess the meaning. Ask yourself questions and try to find the answers in the paragraphs. This needs a lot of practice.
- If you see an important word in the paragraph that looks exactly the same in the list of headings, be careful. It’s a trap and it will lead you into oblivion. Remember, the question is about the paragraph, not a word.
- Once you have gathered the meaning of a text, go to the list of headings and match them. Probably you will match 3 questions out of 5. Don’t worry. Come back to the questions later.
Let’s practice a question set together.
This partial practice text is taken from Cambridge IELTS Series 8 Test 1.
Here’s the complete passage:
Air traffic control in the USA
An accident that occurred in the skies over the Grand Canyon in 1956 resulted in the establishment of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to regulate and oversee the operation of aircraft in the skies over the United States, which were becoming quite congested. The resulting structure of air traffic control has greatly increased the safety of flight in the United States, and similar air traffic control procedures are also in place over much of the rest of the world.
Rudimentary air traffic control (ATC) existed well before the Grand Canyon disaster. As early as the 1920s, the earliest air traffic controllers manually guided aircraft in the vicinity of the airports, using lights and flags, while beacons and flashing lights were placed along cross-country routes to establish the earliest airways. However, this purely visual system was useless in bad weather, and, by the 1930s, radio communication was coming into use for ATC. The first region to have something approximating today’s ATC was New York City, with other major metropolitan areas following soon after.
In the 1940s, ATC centres could and did take advantage of the newly developed radar and improved radio communication brought about by the Second World War, but the system remained rudimentary. It was only after the creation of the FAA that full-scale regulation of America’s airspace took place, and this was fortuitous, for the advent of the jet engine suddenly resulted in a large number of very fast planes, reducing pilots’ margin of error and practically demanding some set of rules to keep everyone well separated and operating safely in the air.
Many people think that ATC consists of a row of controllers sitting in front of their radar screens at the nation’s airports, telling arriving and departing traffic what to do. This is a very incomplete part of the picture. The FAA realized that the airspace over the United States would at any time have many different kinds of planes, flying for many different purposes, in a variety of weather conditions, and the same kind of structure was needed to accommodate all of them.
To meet this challenge, the following elements were put into effect. First, ATC extends over virtually the entire United States. In general, from 365m above the ground and higher, the entire country is blanketed by controlled airspace. In certain areas, mainly near airports, controlled airspace extends down to 215m above the ground, and, in the immediate vicinity of an airport, all the way down to the surface. Controlled airspace is that airspace in which FAA regulations apply. Elsewhere, in uncontrolled airspace, pilots are bound by fewer regulations. In this way, the recreational pilot who simply wishes to go flying for a while without all the restrictions imposed by the FAA has only to stay in uncontrolled airspace, below 365m, while the pilot who does want the protection afforded by ATC can easily enter the controlled airspace.
The FAA then recognized two types of operating environments. In good meteorological conditions, flying would be permitted under Visual Flight Rules (VFR), which suggests a strong reliance on visual cues to maintain an acceptable level of safety. Poor visibility necessitated a set of Instrumental Flight Rules (IFR), under which the pilot relied on altitude and navigational information provided by the plane’s instrument panel to fly safely. On a clear day, a pilot in controlled airspace can choose a VFR or IFR flight plan, and the FAA regulations were devised in a way which accommodates both VFR and IFR operations in the same airspace. However, a pilot can only choose to fly IFR if they possess an instrument rating which is above and beyond the basic pilot’s license that must also be held.
Controlled airspace is divided into several different types, designated by letters of the alphabet. Uncontrolled airspace is designated Class F, while controlled airspace below 5,490m above sea level and not in the vicinity of an airport is Class E. All airspace above 5,490m is designated Class A. The reason for the division of Class E and Class A airspace stems from the type of planes operating in them. Generally, Class E airspace is where one finds general aviation aircraft (few of which can climb above 5,490m anyway), and commercial turboprop aircraft. Above 5,490m is the realm of the heavy jets, since jet engines operate more efficiently at higher altitudes. The difference between Class E and A airspace is that in Class A, all operations are IFR, and pilots must be instrument-rated, that is, skilled and licensed in aircraft instrumentation. This is because ATC control of the entire space is essential. Three other types of airspace, Classes D, C and B, govern the vicinity of airports. These correspond roughly to small municipal, medium-sized metropolitan and major metropolitan airports respectively, and encompass an increasingly rigorous set of regulations. For example, all a VFR pilot has to do to enter Class C airspace is establish two-way radio contact with ATC. No explicit permission from ATC to enter is needed, although the pilot must continue to obey all regulations governing VFR flight. To enter Class B airspace, such as on approach to a major metropolitan airport, an explicit ATC clearance is required. The private pilot who cruises without permission into this airspace risks losing their license.
Let’s read paragraph A first.
A. An accident that occurred in the skies over the Grand Canyon in 1956 resulted in the establishment of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to regulate and oversee the operation of aircraft in the skies over the United States, which were becoming quite congested. The resulting structure of air traffic control has greatly increased the safety of flight in the United States, and similar air traffic control procedures are also in place over much of the rest of the world.
Question 14: Paragraph A
In the first lines of paragraph A, the writer says, “An accident that occurred in the skies over the Grand Canyon in 1956 resulted in the establishment of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to regulate and oversee the operation of aircraft in the skies over the United States.”
Here, the lines suggest that the accident (disaster) in 1956 resulted (prompts) in the establishment of FAA (action).
No other answer option talks about aviation disaster. So, option ii is a confirmed answer.
So, the answer is: ii (Aviation disaster prompts action)
Remember to draw a solid line over the example answer and any answer that you’re sure about just like the following picture. You must do it for every answer you are sure about:
Now, paragraph B is given as an example here. So, as you can see in the picture above, we’ve erased the options x and ii from the choices of headings.
Let’s read paragraph C and answer it.
C. In the 1940s, ATC centres could and did take advantage of the newly developed radar and improved radio communication brought about by the Second World War, but the system remained rudimentary. It was only after the creation of the FAA that full-scale regulation of America’s airspace took place, and this was fortuitous, for the advent of the jet engine suddenly resulted in a large number of very fast planes, reducing pilots’ margin of error and practically demanding some set of rules to keep everyone well separated and operating safely in the air.
Question 15: Paragraph C
In paragraph C, take a look at lines 3-5 where the author says, “.. .. .. It was only after the creation of the FAA that full-scale regulation of America’s airspace took place, and this was fortuitous, for the advent of the jet engine suddenly resulted in a large number of very fast planes, … .”
Here, fortuitous means chance, accidental or coincidental.
So, the answer is: iii (Two coincidental developments)
This is how you should approach the questions. Let’s do one more question from the given question set.
D. Many people think that ATC consists of a row of controllers sitting in front of their radar screens at the nation’s airports, telling arriving and departing traffic what to do. This is a very incomplete part of the picture. The FAA realized that the airspace over the United States would at any time have many different kinds of planes, flying for many different purposes, in a variety of weather conditions, and the same kind of structure was needed to accommodate all of them.
Question 16: Paragraph D
Take a close look at lines no. 3 and read this sentence, “. . .This is a very incomplete part of the picture.”
The line suggests that the role of ATC, as in many people’s thoughts, is a very incomplete picture/ oversimplified view.
So, the answer is: v (An oversimplified view)
Now, you should try the rest of the questions on your own. The passage and questions are given above.
To find all the solutions for this question set, please visit the following link:
Here is another question set with the passage for your practice:
The fertile land of the Nile delta is being eroded along Egypt’s Mediterranean coast at an astounding rate, in some parts estimated at 100 metres per year. In the past, land scoured away from the coastline by the currents of the Mediterranean Sea used to be replaced by sediment brought down to the delta by the River Mile, but this is no longer happening.
Up to now, people have blamed this loss of delta land on the two large dams at Aswan in the south of Egypt, which hold back virtually all of the sediment that used to flow down the river. Before the dams were built, the Nile flowed freely, carrying huge quantities of sediment north from Africa’s interior to be deposited on the Nile delta. This continued for 7,000 years, eventually covering a region of over 22,000 square kilometres with layers of fertile silt. Annual flooding brought in new, nutrient-rich soil to the delta region, replacing what had been washed away by the sea, and dispensing with the need for fertilizers in Egypt’s richest food-growing area But when the Aswan dams were constructed in the 20th century to provide electricity and irrigation, and to protect the huge population centre of Cairo and its surrounding areas from annual flooding and drought, most of the sediment with its natural fertilizer accumulated up above the dam in the southern, upstream half of Lake Nasser, instead of passing down to the delta.
Now, however, there turns out to be more to the story It appears that the sediment-free water emerging from the Aswan dams picks up silt and land as it erodes the river bed and banks on the 800-kilometre trip to Cairo. Daniel Jean Stanley of the Smithsonian Institute noticed that water samples taken in Cairo, just before the river enters the delta, indicated that the river sometimes carries more than 850 grams of sediment per cubic metre of water – almost half of what it carried before the dams were built.
‘I’m ashamed to say that the significance of this didn’t strike me until after I had read 50 or 60 studies,’ says Stanley in Marine Geology. ‘There is still a lot of sediment coming into the delta, but virtually no sediment comes out into the Mediterranean to replenish the coastline.
So this sediment must be trapped on the delta itself.’
Once north of Cairo, most of the Nile water is diverted into more than 10,000 kilometres of irrigation canals and only o small proportion reaches the sea directly through the rivers in the delta. The water in the irrigation canals is still or very slow-moving and thus cannot carry sediment, Stanley explains. The sediment sinks to the bottom of the canals and then is added to fields by farmers or pumped with the water into the four large freshwater lagoons that are located near the outer edges of the delta. So very little of it actually reaches the coastline to replace what is being washed away by the Mediterranean currents.
The farms on the delta plains and fishing and aquaculture in the lagoons account for much of Egypt’s food supply. But by the time the sediment has come to rest in the fields and lagoons it is laden with municipal, industrial and agricultural waste from the Cairo region, which is home to more than 40 million people. ‘Pollutants are building up faster and faster,’ says Stanley.
Based on his investigations of sediment from the delta lagoons, Frederic Siegel of George Washington University concurs. ‘In Manzalah Lagoon, for example, the increase in mercury, lead, copper and zinc coincided with the building of the High Dam at Aswan, the availability of cheap electricity, and the development of major power-based industries/ he says. Since that time the concentration of mercury has increased significantly. Lead from engines that use leaded fuels and from other industrial sources has also increased dramatically. These poisons can easily enter the food chain, affecting the productivity of fishing and farming. Another problem is that agricultural wastes include fertilizers which stimulate increases in plant growth in the lagoons and upset the ecology of the area, with serious effects on the fishing industry.
According to Siegel, international environmental organisations are beginning to pay closer attention to the region, partly because of the problems of erosion and pollution of the Nile delta, but principally because they fear the impact this situation could have on the whole Mediterranean coastal ecosystem. But there are no easy solutions. In the immediate future, Stanley believes that one solution would be to make artificial floods to flush out the delta waterways, in the same way that natural floods did before the construction of the dams. He says, however, that in the long term an alternative process such as desalination may have to be used to increase the amount of water available. ‘In my view, Egypt must devise a way to have more water running through the river and the delta/ says Stanley. Easier said than done in a desert region with a rapidly growing population.
Please find the answers from the answer keys in Cambridge IELTS Series 5 original book.
If you still have further questions about this question type, don’t forget to ask anything as a comment below.