Matching heading type of questions can be a part of IELTS reading as well listening sections. The idea for both is the same, to match a heading or option to the piece of information that best explains it. It may be the one-to-one format or one-to-many format.

One to one being straightforward, you have as many options as questions and each option will be an answer for only one of the questions. The tricky part starts when its one to many, which means that option A can be the answer to many questions.

Let’s take a few minutes to go through the example below.


Questions 1- 5. Please write the correct alphabet in front of the question.

Who will you see:

A- Mr Lacombe

B- Mr. Luca

C- Mrs. Martina

D- Miss Emma

1. If Mr. Lacombe is unavailable for registration during office hours (D)

2. If you are going for the beginners swing batch on Thursdays (C)

3. If you are going for intermediate tango batch on Fridays (B)

4. If wish to dance swing at an intermediate level (A)

5. If you are a lady looking to improve your technical skills (C)

The above example is a one-to-many kinds as there are more questions than options. The reverse can also happen, there could be more options than questions which again raises the difficulty level of the task.

Here’s what you should keep in mind while attempting matching heading kind of questions in the listening section

1. Look at the number of options and questions

A difference in the number of options and questions should more or less tell you the type. Take a look at the task to identify if the question type is one to one or one to many. In the above task, for example, there are 5 questions but 4 options, which means that one option will be the answer to more than one question. Don’t hesitate or second guess in such scenarios as is common.The content of the audio will ultimately decide which option is applicable for which question.

2. Look at the instructions carefully 

In the above example it says – Please write the correct alphabet in front of the question. This means thatif in your excitement you were to write the names instead of the alphabets representing the names, you would score nothing on this task. Take a moment to understand instructions before you begin and you should be fine. Get used to paraphrasing – This means that what you hear in the audio and what you read in the question will mean the exact same thing but will be written differently. The idea is to gather the meaning without looking for the exact same words in the audio or the questions.

3. Distractors 

One can assume that there will be distractors. If there were two more options to choose from in the above example, say, F – John & G – Gary, they would serve as distractors. It is important to keep making note of changing information in the listening tasks. There could be corrections and changes to the answer as you progress.

4. There are no assumptions that can help

In the above example, it is impossible to assume any answer before you have heard the audio clip. In this kind of tasks, logical assumption or guesses won’t work. Make sure you tune into the audio from the beginning because sometimes the answer can be heard right at the start.

5. Underlining helps focus

When reading the questions underline words that you feel are key to finding the answer. Highlighting takes away your attention from unnecessary information in the question which may be paraphrased and could potentially lead to confusion. Let’s take an example from above – If you are a lady looking to improve your technical skills. The underlined words are what you need to stay tuned in for while listening to the audio.

6. Follow the sequence

In all listening tasks the answers are always sequential. You won’t hear the answer to question 4 before you’ve heard the answer to question 2.

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