This is the next in my series of practice exercises for IELTS reading. The focus on this lesson is on the skills you need to answer the paragraph/headings matching type of question. One of the best ways to develop these skills is to begin by focussing on shorter texts so that you can see how the questions work, then when you are confident of your skills more on to longer texts. Here you will find a one paragraph exercise to do online and a longer text to download.
Avoid the trap
The most common trap here is the examiners try and catch people who try and match key words in the question with words in the paragraphs. The way to avoid this is:
- read the whole paragraph
- don’t just focus on key words
Look for the main point of each paragraph
Look at the first few sentences of the paragraph to try and find a “topic sentence” that sums up the main idea of the para. You can only do this if you read the WHOLE paragraph.
Focus on the whole heading – do NOT use key words
You need to understand the meaning of the heading in the question as a sentence: it is unlikely that the words in the question exactly match the words in the paragraph. If you focus on key words you will make many mistakes by word matching and falling into the examiner traps.
Start with the paragraphs, not the headings
Remember that some of the headings are only there to confuse you. Do not try and match a heading to a paragraph, as there may be no matching paragraph. Rather start with the paragraphs and try to find the matching heading.
Understand how the text is organised
If you understand how the text is organised by skimming it first for general meaning, this will help you in predicting which paragraphs match which headings
Don’t guess, be specific
Even though you are looking for general meaning, there should always be something in the paragraph – normally a sentence – that gives you the answer.
Practice exercise – one paragraph
It remains to be established whether acupuncture is effective for anything other than the relief of some pains and the feeling of nausea. In the case of nausea, a number of studies have demonstrated that the technique of acupuncture – the stimulation of one particular point – is equally effective as more conventional treatments, such as antiemetic drugs. There is less agreement about its effectiveness for pain relief. Whatever evidence there is points only a very small and temporary effect for a restricted number of types of pain, and even this is disputed by a large body of physicians who maintain that this is simply due to a placebo effect where the patient’s belief in acupuncture leads them to believe that the treatment has worked. The general consensus can best be summed up by looking at a paper published in 2011 that reviewed all the latest literature and review articles on acupuncture. Its conclusion was that it was of value in the treatment of neck pain, but was of dubious effectiveness for other types of pain. More than that, it was noted that while acupuncture is safe when administered by trained professionals using sterile needles, it could be dangerous when performed by untrained practitioners and even lead to death.
Download the 3 paragraph reading skills exercise
- Acupuncture - 3 paragraph reading skills exercise - questions (3014)
- answers to 3 paragraph skills reading on headings and paragraphs (2003)