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  • Hi!

  • I’m Martin.

  • Welcome to Oxford Online English.

  • Are you taking the IELTS examination?

  • What do you know about the reading paper?

  • Are you having problems with any of the question types?

  • In this lesson, you're going to learn how to complete matching headings questions in

  • the IELTS reading exam.

  • Part 1: basic tips for the matching headings section.

  • Matching headings is often one of the most difficult question types for students.

  • Why?

  • The main reason is that the headings are usually very similar to each other.

  • Also, you have more headings than you need for the question.

  • So, how can we make this a little easier?

  • Firstly, if there’s an example - and there usually is - cross out that answer.

  • You don’t need it; don’t let it confuse you.

  • Also, the example isn’t always the first paragraph, so make sure you check carefully.

  • Secondly, check how many questions you need to answer.

  • How many extra answers are there?

  • If you are matching headings, do not use any answer more than once.

  • Finally, and most importantly, you do not need to read the whole text!

  • You don’t have time.

  • You get marks for answering the questions, not understanding the whole text.

  • Your only job is to choose the correct answers.

  • So, how can we find them?

  • Part 2: how to answer a matching headings question.

  • Take a look at these headings:

  • 1.

  • How wildlife benefits from big trees 2.

  • How large trees are being destroyed 3.

  • How to support a functioning ecosystem

  • Before you read any of the text, one technique is to read the headings first.

  • Read the headings and think about the topic of the text.

  • So, what were your ideas?

  • Something about trees?

  • The environment?

  • Now, let’s take a look at the first paragraph.

  • That is a lot of text.

  • We could read it all, but why would we?

  • We don’t need the details, we just need to work out what the main idea of the paragraph

  • is.

  • And, to do that, we only need the first, second and last sentences.

  • Much better.

  • Read the first sentence.

  • Most paragraphs will start with a mini-introduction that will often tell you what the paragraph

  • is about.

  • Large trees are an essential part of any successfully functioning ecosystem.

  • OK, so from our three headings, which one could it be?

  • Try looking for synonyms and phrases that have a similar meaning to the first sentence.

  • Can we rule out any answers yet?

  • Well, it could be number one.

  • We have a mention of trees, and the wordsessential partandsuccessfully

  • could connect to the idea ofbenefitsin heading number one.

  • What about number two?

  • We havetreesagain.

  • However, number two contains the worddestroyed’, and there is nothing which connects to this

  • in the first sentence.

  • In number three, we have the phrasefunctioning ecosystem’, which appears in the first sentence.

  • So, three is another possibility.

  • Even if you think you know, make sure you read the last sentence of the paragraph to

  • check your ideas.

  • Most paragraphs will end with a mini-conclusion.

  • If this mini-conclusion is on the same topic as the first sentence, that is often enough

  • to give you the answer.

  • Let’s look at the last sentence:

  • This allows the trees to support a substantial proportion of the life in the forest.

  • What is the meaning of the sentence?

  • Can you see any synonyms or other words which we can connect to words or phrases in the

  • headings?

  • At this point, we can say that it can’t be heading number two.

  • In both sentences we have nothing about the destruction of trees.

  • Number one is looking very likely.

  • We havesupport’ - a similar idea tobenefits’ - andlife’ - similar

  • towildlife’.

  • Number 3?

  • How to support a functioning ecosystemsuggests that the text should give people

  • advice.

  • Are these sentences giving us advice or not?

  • They aren’t, and so we can rule out heading number three.

  • So you could now choose heading number one and move onto the next question.

  • However, if you aren’t sure, don’t worry.

  • Read the second sentence in the paragraph.

  • This should help you to find the right answer with more certainty.

  • Without the trees, innumerable species would be left without habitats and would cease to

  • exist.

  • OK, even if you weren’t sure before, you can see that this is about trees and how they

  • help wildlife.

  • The answer must be heading number one: How wildlife benefits from large trees.

  • Let’s do one more example.

  • Well use the same technique.

  • Look at these headings:

  • 1.

  • Working conditions in the UK 2.

  • The benefits of being a member of a trade union

  • 3.

  • Declining membership of trade unions in the UK

  • Again, read the headings and think about the topic of the text.

  • So, what were your ideas?

  • Something about work in the UK?

  • Membership of trade unions?

  • Now, let’s take a look at our paragraph:

  • Remember, we don’t need the details yet, we just need the main idea of the paragraph.

  • Again, you just need the first, second and last sentences.

  • Let’s have a look at the first sentence.

  • How does that help us?

  • Trade unions provide an essential defence against exploitative working practices.

  • Okay, exactly the same as before: try looking for synonyms and phrases that have a similar

  • meaning to the rest of the sentence.

  • Can we rule any answers out yet?

  • It could be heading number one.

  • We have the wordworkingin both.

  • The sentence also saysexploitative’.

  • Exploitativedescribes a relationship where one side is more powerful, and uses

  • that power to treat the other side unfairly.

  • This could link toworking conditions’.

  • What about heading number two?

  • The phrasetrade unionis in both.

  • Also, we have the worddefence’.

  • Defencehere connects to the idea of helping people by protecting their rights.

  • Heading number two talks aboutbenefits’, so it could still be number two.

  • What about the third heading?

  • Trade unionis in both, but there’s nothing else to connect the heading to the

  • first sentence.

  • So, it looks less likely, but we don’t have enough information to rule any headings out

  • yet.

  • You can see that this example is a little more difficult.

  • With our first example, we had a good idea of which heading was right after reading one

  • sentence.

  • Here, the first sentence of the paragraph hasn’t helped us much yet.

  • What do you do?

  • No problem!

  • Remember: the next step is to look at the final sentence of the paragraph:

  • A large decrease in the number of members means that trade unions currently have far

  • less influence compared to the height of their power in the 1980s.

  • Does this make things any clearer?

  • The sentence says the number of members has decreased.

  • So, heading number three is looking more probable, because it talks aboutdeclining membership

  • of trade unions’.

  • But, what about headings one and two?

  • There’s nothing obvious in the last sentence which connects to one or two.

  • However, there’s also nothing which lets us rule them out.

  • So, I think we need to do some more work.

  • What should you do?

  • Read the second sentence.

  • Yet, due to a lack of awareness surrounding the benefits of joining a union and an increase

  • in temporary work, union membership in the UK continues to fall year-on-year.

  • Can we make a final decision now?

  • The second sentence mentionsbenefits’, which appears in heading number two, but this

  • sentence says that people don’t know the benefits of joining a trade union, which is

  • a different context from heading number two.

  • So, there’s nothing to connect this sentence to headings one or two.

  • What about heading number three?

  • The sentence tells us that trade union membership continues to fall.

  • Fallis a synonym fordecline’.

  • Therefore, we can match heading number three to this paragraph.

  • Is that any clearer?

  • If you aren’t sure why number three is the answer, remember that you can review this

  • section as many times as you need.

  • Follow each step and think about the logic you need to use to reach the right answer.

  • These questions can be challenging, but by practising the technique, you will feel more

  • confident when matching headings in your IELTS reading exam.

  • So, that is how you answer matching headings questions in the IELTS reading exam.

  • Make sure you practise this technique to improve your speed.

  • Some key points to remember for your IELTS reading exam:

  • 1.

  • Do not read the whole text.

  • You only need to read the first, last and maybe the second sentences.

  • 2.

  • Look for synonyms and similar ideas between the headings and sentences.

  • Is the paragraph saying the same thing, but in a different way?

  • 3.