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IELTS paragraph heading matching problems

This is a quick lesson on IELTS paragraph heading matching problems. In it you’ll find a quick exercise to practise your skills on. The main aim though is to show you what some of the problems are in this type of exercise and give you ideas to solve those problems. You may want to first have a look at my tutorial on IELTS paragraph heading matching problems.

Try a quick test first

As you do this exercise think about how you found the correct answers. In particular, think about which parts of the paragraph you get the main ideas from. Decide which heading best matches each paragraph

1. The contribution of increased demand for cement on global warming

2.The negative impact of new technologies on pollution

3. Ideas to make  cement manufacure more environmentally friendly

 A

The cement manufacturing industry is thought to have the greatest single effect on the rising levels of carbon dioxide in China today. The massive amount of building projects in the last few decades have required an equally massive amount of cement to be produced in order to meet demand. This demand does not just come from the housing industry because the more general construction industry needs cement for a range of infrastructure projects including road building. This is serious news because higher levels of carbon dioxide lead in turn to greater global warming.

B

This problem of pollution caused by cement production has in fact been made worse by recent green technology. Many Western companies have been investing in emerging markets such as China and have refitted old cement factories with technology that reduces emissions of carbon dioxide by up to 20% per ton of concrete. The problem is that these newly-equipped factories have also become more efficient and are now able to produce far more cement then previously. This increased efficiency means that the total volume of their production of concrete increases the overall level of pollution.

C

A proposed solution to the environmental problem of cement pollution is the Cement Sustainability Initiative. One idea behind this programme is to alter the amount of concrete that is used in the construction of roads and buildings and so to reduce emissions. The problem with this is that the concrete manufacturing industry has little interest in making this change. This has led to another proposal that cement should now be manufactured in re-usable blocks so that when buildings are demolished the cement can be recycled and not simply discarded as it is now.These suggestions if they are implemented would almost certainly make the manufacture of cement into a much greener process.

 

See the answers and the skills

General points to note

Very often the main ideas of the paragraphs are found in the first sentences – look at the colour coding below .

Some paragraphs are trickier than others. Main ideas of paragraphs are sometimes found by looking at the whole paragraph and not just the first sentence. Here you need to improve your skimming skills – i.e. you need to read the whole paragraph for meaning. See A below.

You want to identify the main ideas of the headings by looking at important words. Very often these words are not exactly the same in the text. They want you to look at meanings of words and not just words themselves

Some words you just ignore – here cement is common to the whole text so it makes no sense to look for that word

Paragraph A

 A – The contribution of increased demand for cement on global warming

The cement manufacturing industry is thought to have the greatest single effect on the rising levels of carbon dioxide in China today. The massive amount of building projects in the last few decades have required an equally massive amount of cement to be produced in order to meet demand. This demand does not just come from the housing industry because the more general construction industry needs cement for a range of infrastructure projects including road building. This is serious news because higher levels of carbon dioxide lead in turn to greater global warming.

Notes

To get this right you really need to skim the whole paragraph. The matching words/meanings are found throughout the paragraph and not just in one topic sentence. This type of question does appear in IELTS.

contribution = effect (meaning match)

demand = demand (word match)

global warming = global warming (word match)

Paragraph B

B – The negative impact of new technologies on pollution

This problem of pollution caused by cement production has in fact been made worse by recent green technology. Many Western companies have been investing in emerging markets such as China and have refitted old cement factories with technology that reduces emissions of carbon dioxide by up to 20% per ton of concrete. The problem is that these newly-equipped factories have also become more efficient and are now able to produce far more cement then previously. This increased efficiency means that the total volume of their production of concrete increases the overall level of pollution.

Notes

This looks simpler. All the matching words/meanings are in the first sentence. Note though that you need to think about meanings and not just words:

pollution = pollution (word match)

made worse = negative impact (meaning match)

new technologies = recent green technology (word and meaning match)

Paragraph C

C-  Suggestions to make cement manufacure more environmentally friendly

A proposed solution to the  problem of cement pollution is the Cement Sustainability Initiative. One idea behind this programme is to alter the amount of concrete that is used in the construction of roads and buildings and so to reduce emissions. The problem with this is that the concrete manufacturing industry has little interest in making this change. This has led to another proposal that cement should now be manufactured in re-usable blocks so that when buildings are demolished the cement can be recycled and not simply discarded as it is now. These suggestions if they are implemented would almost certainly make the manufacture of cement into a much greener process.

Notes

Here the main answer is found in the final sentence which is a summary of the whole paragraph. This is a frequent IELTS type of question. If you only concentrate on topic sentences and ignore summary sentences, then you will make more mistakes not fewer.

suggestions = suggestions (word match)

manufacture of cement = cement manufacture (word match)

environmentally friendly = greener process (meaning match)

Quick summary

You want to work efficiently. That means in IELTS paragraph heading matching:

focus on reading skills (in the plural), don’t just scan for key words

don’t try and read all the paragraph in detail – it’s not a close reading exercise

think about matching meanings of words and not just words

look for general meanings

general meaning often comes in the first sentence – topic sentence

general meaning can come in the last sentence – summary

general meaning is sometimes found by skimming the whole paragraph

Confused? There are patterns, but the idea is to show you how it is not always a case of there being one simple pattern. The harder questions are ones where you do not simply match words from the heading to words in the first sentence.

More reading advice

   

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2 Responses to IELTS paragraph heading matching problems

  1. sohail September 22, 2014 at 11:23 am #

    Thank you for your wonderful explanation.
    Kind regard.

  2. Maila Bozaka August 31, 2015 at 9:49 am #

    Thanks please add more these type of practice exercise. It really helps students to be well prepared for the ielts exam.

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