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Reading task type two: matching headings to paragraphs

Task description
In this type of question, you will be given a list of headings. The instructions will also indicate around 4 to 6 paragraphs from the reading text. The task is to find the most suitable heading for each of the paragraphs. There will be more headings than paragraphs, and you shouldn’t use any heading more than once unless the instructions tell you that you can.

To complete this task well, you will need to be able to identify each paragraph’s main focus. The correct heading will sum up the main idea of the paragraph.

What is being tested is your ability to:

  • Identify the main idea of a paragraph

Sample task


Choose the heading which best sums up the primary cause of the problem described in paragraphs D, E, G, H and I of the text. Write the appropriate numbers (i – x) in the boxes on your answer sheet.

List of Headings
i Ignorance of the impending disaster
ii Captain’s orders ignored
iii Captain’s over-confidence
iv Rough sea conditions
v Faulty design
vi Iceberg locations not plotted
vii Low priority placed on safety
viii Number of lifeboats adequate
ix Inadequate training
x Ice warnings ignored

1) Paragraph D 

2) Paragraph E 

3) Paragraph G 

4) Paragraph H 

5) Paragraph I 

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How to approach matching headings to paragraphs


Step 1: Read the instructions carefully. Note that the heading you choose should sum up the main idea of the paragraph. Also note which paragraphs you need to look at, as you are often not required to do them all.
Step 2: Familiarise yourself with the list of paragraph headings by skimming through them quickly.
Step 3: Read through the first paragraph for which you have to find a heading. Remember that you are reading to find out the main idea of the paragraph. Concentrate on the main idea or focus of the paragraph and try not to be distracted by details or by unfamiliar vocabulary.
Step 4: Choose the heading from the list which best sums up the main point of the paragraph you have just read. If you can’t choose between two headings, go on to the next paragraph – you can come back to that question later. But don’t forget to make a choice before the end of the test because if you leave a blank or you have marked two answers on your answer sheet, you will be graded as incorrect for that question.

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