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Reading
Time-saver strategy for IELTS Reading: matching headings

It's true that time pressure is one of the main issues when dealing with the reading part of the IELTS test and in this blog series we will consider different techniques to manage your time more effectively to improve your performance. It's important to remember that we all think in different ways and that some techniques will really work for you while others may be less useful. For example, some people find it really useful to skim texts to get a general idea of the text while others find that this simply wastes time.   In this blog I’ll be looking at the matching headings task and how you can complete this task more efficiently. Step-by-step guide to matching headings: Step 1: Find a practice reading passage that includes matching headings.   Step 2: Do not read the matching headings questions at this stage.    Step 3: Read the first paragraph, paying particular attention to the first and last sentences.   Step 4: Answer any of the other questions related to this part of the reading passage.   Step 5: Now read the available headings one by one and decide if the heading is definitely right (✔), maybe right (?), or definitely not right. If it’s definitely not right, ignore that heading and move on to the next one. If it may be right, write the heading number and mark it with a question mark. If you’re sure it’s right, mark it with a tick and quickly check the remaining headings to make absolutely sure. Repeat Step 5 for the remaining sections. Here’s an example of a completed grid. As you can see, it’s perfectly normal to consider more than one possible answer. Section A iv? vii? Section B vii Section C v? Section D i? iii? vi? Section E iii? iv? Step 6: Look at your answers and see if you can eliminate any options by using logic. For example, in Section B, the candidate is completely sure of the answer. This means that vii cannot be the answer for Section A. Once we remove the ‘impossible’ answer, we only have one option left and we can be pretty sure that iv is the correct answer. In Section C the candidate is not completely sure, but they have only found one ‘maybe’ answer, so there is a good chance that this is the right one. In Section E the candidate has found two ‘maybes’, but one of them is the answer to Section 1 and can be eliminated. We can also eliminate one of the options from Section D, as it’s the answer to Section E. So, the new grid looks like this: Section A iv? vii? Section B vii Section C v? Section D i? iii? vi? Section E iii? iv? Step 7: Check your timing. In IELTS it’s important to focus on the ‘easy’ points and not to waste time on very difficult questions. If you still have a lot of other questions to answer, consider moving on for now and returning to the difficult questions at the end of the test if there’s time. Step 8: Look more closely at the headings in sections where you have more than one option left. In this step, every word is important, as all key ideas need to be present in the section for the heading to be relevant. For example, take a look at Reading passage 3 from Page 10 of Official IELTS Practice Materials.  (Click on image to enlarge) These are the possible headings for Section D: i     An experiment using people who are receiving medical treatment vi   Inducing pain through the use of hypnotism In this case, all of the key ideas in the two headings are present except the word ‘inducing’ which means ‘causing’. In fact, the paragraph talks about reducing pain and not about causing it, so vi can be eliminated, leaving only the correct answer. Remember, you may struggle to answer some questions because you don’t know one of the key words. Unless you need a Band 9, that’s OK. Once you understand what the technique is all about and how to do it most efficiently, why not try it under test conditions using our practice tests? There are some really useful techniques outlined in IELTS Trainer Academic, Top Tips for IELTS Academic, or the Official Cambridge Guide to IELTS. Sophie

Sophie Hodgson

2 March, 2020

Time-saver strategy for IELTS Reading: matching headings

time-saver-asset

It's true that time pressure is one of the main issues when dealing with the reading part of the IELTS test and in this blog series we will consider different techniques to manage your time more effectively to improve your performance.

It's important to remember that we all think in different ways and that some techniques will really work for you while others may be less useful. For example, some people find it really useful to skim texts to get a general idea of the text while others find that this simply wastes time.

 

In this blog I’ll be looking at the matching headings task and how you can complete this task more efficiently.

Step-by-step guide to matching headings:

  • Step 1: Find a practice reading passage that includes matching headings.
     
  • Step 2: Do not read the matching headings questions at this stage. 
     
  • Step 3: Read the first paragraph, paying particular attention to the first and last sentences.
     
  • Step 4: Answer any of the other questions related to this part of the reading passage.
     
  • Step 5: Now read the available headings one by one and decide if the heading is definitely right (), maybe right (?), or definitely not right.
    • If it’s definitely not right, ignore that heading and move on to the next one.
    • If it may be right, write the heading number and mark it with a question mark.
    • If you’re sure it’s right, mark it with a tick and quickly check the remaining headings to make absolutely sure. Repeat Step 5 for the remaining sections.

Here’s an example of a completed grid. As you can see, it’s perfectly normal to consider more than one possible answer.

Section A iv? vii?
Section B vii
Section C v?
Section D i? iii? vi?
Section E iii? iv?
  • Step 6: Look at your answers and see if you can eliminate any options by using logic. For example, in Section B, the candidate is completely sure of the answer. This means that vii cannot be the answer for Section A. Once we remove the ‘impossible’ answer, we only have one option left and we can be pretty sure that iv is the correct answer. In Section C the candidate is not completely sure, but they have only found one ‘maybe’ answer, so there is a good chance that this is the right one. In Section E the candidate has found two ‘maybes’, but one of them is the answer to Section 1 and can be eliminated. We can also eliminate one of the options from Section D, as it’s the answer to Section E.

So, the new grid looks like this:

Section A iv? vii?
Section B vii
Section C v?
Section D i? iii? vi?
Section E iii? iv?
  • Step 7: Check your timing. In IELTS it’s important to focus on the ‘easy’ points and not to waste time on very difficult questions. If you still have a lot of other questions to answer, consider moving on for now and returning to the difficult questions at the end of the test if there’s time.
  • Step 8: Look more closely at the headings in sections where you have more than one option left. In this step, every word is important, as all key ideas need to be present in the section for the heading to be relevant.

For example, take a look at Reading passage 3 from Page 10 of Official IELTS Practice Materials. 

Reading passage 3 from Page 10 of official IELTS Practice Materials

(Click on image to enlarge)

These are the possible headings for Section D:

  • i     An experiment using people who are receiving medical treatment
  • vi   Inducing pain through the use of hypnotism

In this case, all of the key ideas in the two headings are present except the word ‘inducing’ which means ‘causing’. In fact, the paragraph talks about reducing pain and not about causing it, so vi can be eliminated, leaving only the correct answer.

Remember, you may struggle to answer some questions because you don’t know one of the key words. Unless you need a Band 9, that’s OK.

Once you understand what the technique is all about and how to do it most efficiently, why not try it under test conditions using our practice tests? There are some really useful techniques outlined in IELTS Trainer AcademicTop Tips for IELTS Academic, or the Official Cambridge Guide to IELTS.

Sophie

top-tip

Top tip: When you come across advice for reading under exam conditions, try it out in your next practice test and make a note of techniques that work for you.

Sophie Hodgson

Sophie has been supporting students on their IELTS journey since 2003 and feels privileged to have watched them succeed. While most people probably do not like taking tests, Sophie believes that preparing for the IELTS exam can be both interesting and fun. She loves language and structure and enjoys exploring both with her students to help them achieve their aims.

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