One of the exam task types in IELTS Reading is Paragraph Information Matching. This particular set of questions will be in the form of statements, and the aim is to correctly match each statement with the corresponding paragraph from the text. To do this, you must identify information in the paragraph that fully matches the information in the statement.
This type of task is similar to another IELTS exam task, Matching Headings to Paragraphs; the difference here is that you are matching a statement about the paragraph rather than matching a heading.
The question task will look something like this:
You can see that there are more paragraphs in the text than there are statements which means you will have to take care when selecting the paragraphs.
A valuable piece of advice to remember if you get this task type in your exam is to attempt it last. You stand a better chance of getting each question correct when you are most familiar with the text, so answer all the other questions first, by which time you should have read the text, or parts of it, several times over.
My suggested procedure for tackling this kind of task type consists of 4 steps.
Step 1: Read the instructions carefully.
Yes, yes, I know that you know this already, but it is the duty of every IELTS tutor to repeat this mantra as often as possible! It really is the most important thing to do, for every set of questions, in each paper or test, in every exam.
ALWAYS READ THE INSTRUCTIONS FIRST AND WITH CARE.
They will tell you exactly what task type it is, as well as exactly what you have to do. The instructions will also give you any extra information that you might need, for example that there are more paragraphs than statements or that you can use a paragraph more than once. Once you recognise what type of question task it is, in this case a Paragraph Information Matching one, you should know exactly how to approach it and what your next step should be.
Step 2: Read the questions/statements carefully.
But don’t just read them; think about what information they contain and what they are asking you to look for in the paragraphs of the text. Highlight key words that indicate whether this is a name, a number, an example, a definition, a description and so on. Consider that the information in the passage might be paraphrased so consider what synonyms you know for the key words.
Step 3: Match the easiest statements and paragraphs first.
If you have left this set of questions until last, you should by now be very familiar and well-orientated with the text and will know what information is in which paragraph. Having read the statements carefully, there is a good chance you will already be able to match several statements with paragraphs straight off.
Step 4: Scan the text for to match information.
For the remaining unanswered questions, after highlighting the key words in the statements, you should scan the paragraphs for synonyms (words with the same meaning) or paraphrasing (sentences written in a different way but meaning the same). Remember, scanning means reading a text quickly in order to find specific information, which means you can ignore any distracting or irrelevant information. You can also pay attention to clues, such as a capital letter for a name or numerals for a quantity, size, facts and so on.
When you think you have located the information that makes this paragraph choice the correct one, you should slow down and carefully read the sentences that precede and follow, just to make sure that this is indeed the relevant paragraph. If any of the information in the paragraph doesn’t match, even if some does, be very careful. This means it is most probably the wrong choice.
So there you have my 4-step procedure for attempting Paragraph Information Matching tasks.
And do remember these two important things:
- the statements will not be in the same order as the paragraphs so you do not have to read the full text in chronological order
- if you leave this question set until last, you should be able to do it quickly and successfully with the minimal amount of reading.