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How to Answer IELTS Reading Matching Headings Questions

Madison Oster March 20th, 2020

In your IELTS preparation, you’ll need to practice a total of 11 IELTS reading question types. In this post, we’ll look at the Matching Headings IELTS reading question type in detail and provide you with many IELTS reading Matching Headings practice questions. Our IELTS Instructor Tina will also show you exactly how you should approach IELTS reading Matching Headings questions in a lesson video.

Table Of Contents

IELTS Reading Matching Headings Practice List

If you are already familiar with the IELTS Reading Matching Headings question type and are just looking for some extra practice, check out the following Matching Headings practice questions.

IELTS Academic Reading - Matching Headings Questions Practice List

matching headings Practice 1 - 16
Practice 1Practice 2Practice 3Practice 4Practice 5Practice 6Practice 7Practice 8Practice 9Practice 10Practice 11Practice 12Practice 13Practice 14Practice 15Practice 16
matching headings Practice 17 - 32
Practice 17Practice 18Practice 19Practice 20Practice 21Practice 22Practice 23Practice 24

IELTS General Reading - Matching Headings Questions Practice List

matching headings Practice 1 - 16
Practice 1Practice 2Practice 3Practice 4Practice 5Practice 6Practice 7Practice 8Practice 9Practice 10Practice 11Practice 12Practice 13Practice 14

IELTS Reading Matching Headings Question Introduction

In this question type, you will see between 5 and 7 headings. A heading is a short sentence that summarises the information in a paragraph. Your job is to match each paragraph to one heading. Below is a sample Matching Headings Question. Give it a try!

Matching Headings Question
Questions 1 – 5

Reading Passage 6 has six sections, A-E.

Choose the correct heading for sections A-D and E from the list of headings below.

Write the correct number i-vii in boxes 2-5 on your answer sheet.

List of Headings
  1. Commercial pressures on people in charge
  2. Mixed views on current changes to museums
  3. Interpreting the facts to meet visitor expectations
  4. The international dimension
  5. Collections of factual evidence
  6. Fewer differences between public attractions
  7. Current reviews and suggestions
1. Section Av
  1. Section B
  2. Section C
  3. Section D
  4. Section E

Answer sheet
  • spellcheck Answers
    2. ii
    3. vi
    4. i
    5. iii
Reading Passage 6

Section A The conviction that historical relics provide infallible testimony about the past is rooted in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, when science was regarded as objective and value free. As one writer observes: 'Although it is now evident that artefacts are as easily altered as chronicles, public faith in their veracity endures: a tangible relic seems ipso facto real/ Such conviction was, until recently, reflected in museum displays. Museums used to look - and some still do - much like storage rooms of objects packed together in showcases: good for scholars who wanted to study the subtle differences in design, but not for the ordinary visitor, to whom it all looked alike. Similarly, the information accompanying the objects often made little sense to the lay visitor. The content and format of explanations dated back to a time when the museum was the exclusive domain of the scientific researcher.

Section B Recently, however, attitudes towards history and the way it should be presented have altered. The key word in heritage display is now 'experience', the more exciting the better and, if possible, involving all the senses. Good examples of this approach in the UK are the Jorvik Centre in York; the National Museum of Photography, Film and Television in Bradford; and the Imperial War Museum in London. In the US the trend emerged much earlier: Williamsburg has been a prototype for many heritage developments in other parts of the world. No one can predict where the process will end. On so-called heritage sites the re-enactment of historical events is increasingly popular, and computers will soon provide virtual reality experiences, which will present visitors with a vivid image of the period of their choice, in which they themselves can act as if part of the historical environment. Such developments have been criticised as an intolerable vulgarisation, but the success of many historical theme parks and similar locations suggests that the majority of the public does not share this opinion.

Section C In a related development, the sharp distinction between museum and heritage sites on the one hand, and theme parks on the other, is gradually evaporating. They already borrow ideas and concepts from one another. For example, museums have adopted story lines for exhibitions, sites have accepted 'theming' as a relevant tool, and theme parks are moving towards more authenticity and research-based presentations. In zoos, animals are no longer kept in cages, but in great spaces, either in the open air or in enormous greenhouses, such as the jungle and desert environments in Burgers' Zoo in Holland. This particular trend is regarded as one of the major developments in the presentation of natural history in the twentieth century.

Section D Theme parks are undergoing other changes,too, as they try to present more serious social and cultural issues, and move away from fantasy. This development is a response to market forces and, although museums and heritage sites have a special, rather distinct role to fulfil, they are also operating in a very competitive environment, where visitors make choices on how and where to spend their free time. Heritage and museum experts do not have to invent stories and recreate historical environments to attract their visitors: their assets are already in place. However, exhibits must be both based on artefacts and facts as we know them, and attractively presented. Those who are professionally engaged in the art of interpreting history are thus in a difficult position, as they must steer a narrow course between the demands of 'evidence' and 'attractiveness' especially given the increasing need in the heritage industry for income-generating activities.

Section E It could be claimed that in order to make everything in heritage more 'real', historical accuracy must be increasingly altered. For example, Pithecanthropus erectus is depicted in an Indonesian museum with Malay facial features, because this corresponds to public perceptions. Similarly, in the Museum of Natural History in Washington, Neanderthal man is shown making a dominant gesture to his wife. Such presentations tell us more about contemporary perceptions of the world than about our ancestors. There is one compensation, however, for the professionals who make these interpretations: if they did not provide the interpretation, visitors would do it for themselves, based on their own ideas, misconceptions and prejudices. And no matter how exciting the result it would contain a lot more bias than the presentations provided by experts.

Section F Human bias is inevitable, but another source of bias in the representation of history has to do with the transitory nature of the materials themselves. The simple fact is that not everything from history survives the historical process. Castles, palaces and cathedrals have a longer lifespan than the dwellings of ordinary people. The same applies to the furnishings and other contents of the premises. In a town like Leyden in Holland, which in the seventeenth century was occupied by approximately the same number of inhabitants as today, people lived within the walled town, an area more than five times smaller than modern Leyden. In most of the houses several families lived together in circumstances beyond our imagination. Yet in museums, fine period rooms give only an image of the lifestyle of the upper class of that era. No wonder that people who stroll around exhibitions are filled with nostalgia; the evidence in museums indicates that life was so much better in the past. This notion is induced by the bias in its representation in museums and heritage centres.

Now, let' look at strategies for how to answer Matching Headings questions.

IELTS Reading Exam Tips & Strategies: How to Answer Matching Headings Questions


The most essential skill to answer Matching Headings questions is skimming, which is being able to read a text quickly to get a general idea of meaning. The following answer strategy explains how you can utilize skimming skills to tackle this question type.

  1. Step 1 and 2: Get a general idea of each heading and find keywords - Ask yourself: What would you pull out as a key word for each heading?
  2. Step 3: Note similarities/differences - Which of these headings are similar and could cause you to make a mistake? Mark a symbol next to similar headings, and look for opposites as well.
  3. Step 4: Read the first and last sentences - After you have read the headings for meaning, key words, and similarities, it is time to read the passage. However, you must optimize your time. Instead of reading every single sentence, reading the first and last sentences of each paragraph will allow you to gain a general idea of the paragraph.
  4. Step 4: Answer Questions

Using this strategy, you’re certain to find answers efficiently.

Also, if you have several question types for the same passage, we recommend you do the matching headings questions first, as the headings summarize the text and can help you scan the answers for other questions.

Common Problems Answering IELTS Reading Matching Headings Questions

When doing Matching Headings questions, inexperienced IELTS test-takers will read every paragraph slowly and go back to look at headings, and then attempt to match headings to paragraphs. This is totally inefficient and unnecessary. Let me tell you why.

The first, the second sentence, and the last sentences of each IELTS reading paragraph usually give a summary of what the rest of the paragraph will discuss, and often contain keywords that one of the headings has. This means, by just looking at the first, the second, and the last sentences of the paragraph, you will have a rough idea of what the paragraph is about, and sometimes you can find the associated heading right away.

Also, do not be misled by headings that include only specific details rather than a general idea. Remember, there will be more headings than paragraphs, and these detailed headings are most likely included in order to confuse test-takers.

Free IELTS Reading Matching Headings Exercise

Let’s do some IELTS reading practices to hone the new skills, tips, and strategies you’ve learned. You are welcome to leave your answers in the comment section.

Here is an example of Matching Headings IELTS reading sample question.

Matching Headings Question
Questions 1 – 5

Reading Passage 6 has six sections, A-F.

Choose the correct heading for sections A-D and F from the list of headings below.

Write the correct number i-ix in boxes 1-5 on your answer sheet.

List of Headings
  1. The probable effects of the new international trade agreement
  2. The environmental impact of modern farming
  3. Farming and soil erosion
  4. The effects of government policy in rich countries
  5. Governments and management of the environment
  6. The effects of government policy in poor countries
  7. Farming and food output
  8. The effects of government policy on food output
  9. The new prospects for world trade
  1. Section A
  2. Section B
  3. Section C
  4. Section D
  5. Section F

Answer sheet
  • spellcheck Answers
    1 v
    2 vii
    3 ii
    4 iv
    5 i
Reading Passage 6

Section A The role of governments in environmental management is difficult but inescapable. Sometimes, the state tries to manage the resources it owns, and does so badly. Often, however, governments act in an even more harmful way. They actually subsidise the exploitation and consumption of natural resources. A whole range of policies, from farm-price support to protection for coal-mining, do environmental damage and (often) make no economic sense. Scrapping them offers a two-fold bonus: a cleaner environment and a more efficient economy. Growth and environmentalism can actually go hand in hand, if politicians have the courage to confront the vested interest that subsidies create.

Section B No activity affects more of the earth's surface than farming. It shapes a third of the planet's land area, not counting Antarctica, and the proportion is rising. World food output per head has risen by 4 per cent between the 1970s and 1980s mainly as a result of increases in yields from land already in cultivation, but also because more land has been brought under the plough. Higher yields have been achieved by increased irrigation, better crop breeding, and a doubling in the use of pesticides and chemical fertilisers in the 1970s and 1980s.

Section C All these activities may have damaging environmental impacts. For example, land clearing for agriculture is the largest single cause of deforestation; chemical fertilisers and pesticides may contaminate water supplies; more intensive farming and the abandonment of fallow periods tend to exacerbate soil erosion; and the spread of monoculture and use of high-yielding varieties of crops have been accompanied by the disappearance of old varieties of food plants which might have provided some insurance against pests or diseases in future. Soil erosion threatens the productivity of land in both rich and poor countries. The United States, where the most careful measurements have been done, discovered in 1982 that about one-fifth of its farmland was losing topsoil at a rate likely to diminish the soil's productivity. The country subsequently embarked upon a program to convert 11 per cent of its cropped land to meadow or forest. Topsoil in India and China is vanishing much faster than in America.

Section D Government policies have frequently compounded the environmental damage that farming can cause. In the rich countries, subsidies for growing crops and price supports for farm output drive up the price of land. The annual value of these subsidies is immense: about $250 billion, or more than all World Bank lending in the 1980s. To increase the output of crops per acre, a farmer's easiest option is to use more of the most readily available inputs: fertilisers and pesticides. Fertiliser use doubled in Denmark in the period 1960-1985 and increased in The Netherlands by 150 per cent. The quantity of pesticides applied has risen too: by 69 per cent in 1975-1984 in Denmark, for example, with a rise of 115 per cent in the frequency of application in the three years from 1981.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s some efforts were made to reduce farm subsidies. The most dramatic example was that of New Zealand, which scrapped most farm support in 1984. A study of the environmental effects, conducted in 1993, found that the end of fertiliser subsidies had been followed by a fall in fertiliser use (a fall compounded by the decline in world commodity prices, which cut farm incomes). The removal of subsidies also stopped land- clearing and over-stocking, which in the past had been the principal causes of erosion. Farms began to diversify. The one kind of subsidy whose removal appeared to have been bad for the environment was the subsidy to manage soil erosion.

In less enlightened countries, and in the European Union, the trend has been to reduce rather than eliminate subsidies, and to introduce new payments to encourage farmers to treat their land in environmentally friendlier ways, or to leave it fallow. It may sound strange but such payments need to be higher than the existing incentives for farmers to grow food crops. Farmers, however, dislike being paid to do nothing. In several countries they have become interested in the possibility of using fuel produced from crop residues either as a replacement for petrol (as ethanol) or as fuel for power stations (as biomass). Such fuels produce far less carbon dioxide than coal or oil, and absorb carbon dioxide as they grow. They are therefore less likely to contribute to the greenhouse effect. But they are rarely competitive with fossil fuels unless subsidised - and growing them does no less environmental harm than other crops.

Section E In poor countries, governments aggravate other sorts of damage. Subsidies for pesticides and artificial fertilisers encourage farmers to use greater quantities than are needed to get the highest economic crop yield. A study by the International Rice Research Institute of pesticide use by farmers in South East Asia found that, with pest-resistant varieties of rice, even moderate applications of pesticide frequently cost farmers more than they saved. Such waste puts farmers on a chemical treadmill: bugs and weeds become resistant to poisons, so next year's poisons must be more lethal. One cost is to human health. Every year some 10,000 people die from pesticide poisoning, almost all of them in the developing countries, and another 400,000 become seriously ill. As for artificial fertilisers, their use world-wide increased by 40 per cent per unit of farmed land between the mid 1970s and late 1980s, mostly in the developing countries. Overuse of fertilisers may cause farmers to stop rotating crops or leaving their land fallow. That, in turn, may make soil erosion worse.

Section F A result of the Uruguay Round of world trade negotiations is likely to be a reduction of 36 per cent in the average levels of farm subsidies paid by the rich countries in 1986-1990. Some of the world's food production will move from Western Europe to regions where subsidies are lower or non-existent, such as the former communist countries and parts of the developing world. Some environmentalists worry about this outcome. It will undoubtedly mean more pressure to convert natural habitat into farmland. But it will also have many desirable environmental effects. The intensity of farming in the rich world should decline, and the use of chemical inputs will diminish. Crops are more likely to be grown in the environments to which they are naturally suited. And more farmers in poor countries will have the money and the incentive to manage their land in ways that are sustainable in the long run. That is important. To feed an increasingly hungry world, farmers need every incentive to use their soil and water effectively and efficiently.

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