prepare for IETLS reading test

IETLS Reading Test Strategy #1 – Matching Headings

Posted on Posted in IETLS tips

It might seem difficult to study for the IETLS reading test.  After all, you only have to read and answer the questions, right? How can you prepare for that? My kids always told me, “Mom, you can’t study for a reading comprehension test!”

But ACTUALLY, for the IETLS exam, it’s very important to know what kind of questions you will find and how to answer them.  The reading passages are very long and complicated.  You do not have enough time to read the whole thing and answer all the questions. You need a test strategy.

There are many different types of reading questions in the IELTS exam. Let’s focus on just one of them – matching headings.  In this type of question you are given a number of headings or titles.  You need to match the title to a paragraph in the text. (see the example at the side)

Look at the Question

First of all, before you begin to read any reading passage, look at the type of question that you have to answer.  When you see that it’s a matching heading question, don’t read the list of headings, look at the question numbers.  Notice in these questions that there are only four paragraphs that are possible answers.  You only need to concentrate on paragraphs B, C, D and E.

Read the First and Last Sentences

Next, go to those paragraphs and read the first sentence and the last two sentences of each paragraph. This gives you the main idea of the paragraph.

Underline Main Words

As you do this with each paragraph, look back at the list of heading choices and see which ones fit with the main idea.  Underline the main words in the headings in order to help you focus on the most important words. (e.g seeking, radio signal, planets;   reasons, search, extra- terrestrial intelligence) Make a note of the 1-2 choices best answer choices.

Choose your Answer

Now that you have gone through the paragraphs once and narrowed down your answer choices, go back and read the paragraph more carefully to see which of these answers is a good title.  Remember, the answer will state the main idea of the paragraph.


This is just one strategy about how to do one question in the IETLS reading test.

If you’d like to learn more about the different types of questions, contact me for private IETLS lessons. I am also available for lessons by Skype.


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