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IELTS Reading: Matching Paragraph Information

Updated: May 3

Explanation of this question type

  • You will be given a set of 3 to 6 statements.

  • You are required to match the information in each statement to matching information in a paragraph in the reading text.


The type of information included in the statements can vary widely. You could, for example, be asked to match:

  • facts

  • descriptions

  • opinions

  • predictions

  • definitions

  • explanations

  • reasons

  • challenges


Here’s an example of instructions and statements taken from a past test paper.


Skills needed

This type of question tests your ability to:

  • Skim read for general meaning

  • Scan for specific information

  • Read in detail to find answers

  • Identify synonyms & paraphrasing


Matching information questions are a real test of your paraphrasing skills as the information will be expressed in different ways in the statements and in the text. Many synonyms will be used and sentence structures often altered.

Key tips

1) The answers will not come in the same order in the text as the order of the list of statements.

2) Some paragraphs may not contain an answer.

3) A paragraph could contain more than one answer.

4) The answer will not necessarily be in the main idea of a paragraph as in ‘matching headings’ questions. In ‘matching information’ questions, you will be looking for specific information. Some students confuse these two types of question so be sure that you know which you are answering.

5) Do the other questions on this text first.

Each text will have several types of questions attached to it. If you do the matching information question last, you will have a good understanding of the passage by the time you get to it. This will make it easier and quicker to complete.

6) Expect lots of synonyms. Be particularly aware of information that can be represented in words and figures. For example,

½ – a half

15º – fifteen degrees

69% – sixty-nine per cent

7) Usually, you’ll find the matching information in a phrase or whole sentence, not in an individual word.

8) Search for the easiest information to match first. This will usually be in a statement that contains key words that are easy to find in the text such as names, numbers, places and dates.

This way, if time runs short and you’re forced to move on before completing the question, you’ll at least have picked up the easiest marks rather than wasting lots of time on a difficult question.

9) You can narrow down the match of statement and paragraph by a process of elimination. For any specific statement, there will be paragraphs that are clearly not a match.

The Strategy

# 1 Carefully read the instructions.

# 2 Read the statements before you read the text. Take note of the main idea of each statement and think about possible synonyms that might be used in the passage.

# 3 Skim read the text to get a general understanding of what it’s about.

It will help you if you quickly identify the main idea of each paragraph and note it in a couple of words beside the paragraph.

Although the main ideas may not be the information you need to match, doing this will make it quicker to find relevant paragraphs again.

# 4 Return to the statements. Read them again and decide which one you think will be the easiest to match. Since the answers won’t come in the same order as the order of the list of statements, it doesn’t matter which you do first.

These criteria may help determine which statements might be the easiest ones to match.

  • There are names, numbers, places and dates that will be easy to scan for.

  • There are other key words that should be easy to spot in the text.

  • Notes you made beside a paragraph of its main idea match information in one of the statements.

I give detailed explanations on this step of the strategy in the sample test below.

# 5 Once you’ve selected your statement, scan the text for key words. When you think you’ve identified the paragraph with matching information, read it in detail to check if you’re right.

Expect synonyms and paraphrasing to be used.


# 6 If you are right and can confirm the match, fill in the answer sheet and cross through the statement to eliminate it from further consideration.

If you’re wrong, continue scanning for the correct paragraph.

# 7 Repeat this process until you have matched all the statements to paragraphs.

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