Top Tips for IELTS

Matching information with paragraphs – reading tutorial and practice

This lesson focusses on the matching information with paragraphs type question where you need to find which paragraph in the text certain information is found in. You will find:

  • a complete reading text with 6 questions to download
  • 2 suggested strategies for approaching this type of question
  •  some of the more common problems.


How it works

You are given a series of 4/5 questions with information from the text and you are asked to say which paragraph the information appears in. The information you need to look for varies, it can be among other things:

  • a fact
  • an example
  • a reason
  • a summary
  • a definition
Typically, you will be looking for a sentence or long phrase rather than a word to give you the answer.

Points to note:

  1. there will be more paragraphs than questions so some paragraphs will have no answers
  2. some paragraphs may contain more than one answer
  3. it’s important to realise that this is a very different type of question to the paragraph/heading matching question. Here the main idea is that you need to find specific information in a paragraph and not the general meaning of a paragraph. This often makes it harder because you cannot concentrate on the openings and endings of paragraphs as the information may well be in the middle of the paragraph

Know the problems

This is one of the harder question types for 4 reasons:

  1. the questions can relate to the whole text and not just a part of it
  2. the questions do not follow the order of the text
  3. the information you are looking for may not be the main idea of a paragraph
  4. sometimes one paragraph may contain more than one answer

The skills you need

This type of question requires different reading skills.

Skimming/Understanding general meaning

This will help you identify which paragraphs you should start reading to find the answers. I explain this more below but the my suggested way to do this task is to understand the whole text before you start looking for the answers.

Looking for synonyms – intensive reading

One of the keys to understanding this task is that you are generally not looking for the same words in the text as you find in the questions. What you need to do is look for words or phrases in the text that are similar in meaning to words in the questions. So you need to understand that this information in a question

why bats hunt in the dark

is matched by this information in the text

natural selection has favoured bats that make a go of the night-hunting trade

How to approach it – start with the questions

There are different ways to approach this question type, but here is my best suggestion:

  1. Look at the questions first to understand the general meaning of the text.
  2. If you have not done so already read the whole text quickly to decide what each paragraph is about. If you do this, you are much more likely to predict which paragraph contains the right answer. This can save you lots of time.
  3. Look at each question in turn and try to predict which paragraph might contain the right answer.
  4. Generally do not just focus on key words in the question, think of the meaning of the question. Be aware that you are normally looking for synonyms rather words in the question.
  5. Read the paragraph you have predicted. Are there any sentences/phrases that relate to the question? If so, underline them and refer back to the question.
  6. If you cannot find the answer in that paragraph, move on to the next question and come back to it later. You may well find the answer later when you are looking at another question.

How to approach it – start with the text

An alternative approach, which can work, is to start with the text. Here:

  1. You read each paragraph one by one
  2. Then look at all the questions to see if you can find the information in the question in that paragraph
  3. If you cannot find anything, move on. There may be no answers in that paragraph
The benefit of this approach is that you need to read the text only once. I dislike it though because you are likely to spend more time this way as you will spend time reading paragraphs with no answers in them. Also, if you take this approach you should know that the first one or two paragraphs will take you much longer than the last paragraphs as you are looking for more information.

Practice reading online version

This is a full length text with 6 different questions. I wouldn’t worry about timing here, treat it as a practice exercise and concentrate on getting the answers correct. One word of warning – if you try and just word match, you are certain to go wrong.

Read the text and questions


1. Neon was not the only gas used as a means of illumination
2. The entertainment industry became involved in creating new uses for neon lighting E 3. The effect of a new morality on the neon lighting industry
4. Neon can be obtained through the liquefaction of air
5. Displays of neon lighting became a symbol of a city’s growth and success
6. Neon is a scarce element found in the air


We are celebrating this year the centenary of neon lighting, a hundred years of garish illumination of our cities. It is now almost impossible to travel anywhere of any size where you are not confronted with coloured signs lighting up the night sky with slogans for every product and service known to man. Many of these giant advertising hoardings are LED panels showing moving images, but they owe their existence to the more humble neon tube and its inventor Georges Claude.


The light emitting properties of neon were identified almost immediately after its discovery in 1898 by the British chemists Sir William Ramsay and Morris Travers in 1898. When they attached an electrode to a tube of the newly-discovered gas, there was what Travers described as a “blaze of crimson light”. This fascinated both the scientific and business communities equally as they sought to find a way to commercialise neon in a world where electricity was the coming technology. They were frustrated in their attempts by difficulties in isolating the element which, while it is part of the Earth’s atmosphere, is comparatively rare.


As is frequently the way with inventions, the breakthrough came by accident. A French entrepeneur, Georges Claude, had recently set up a business Air Liquide that specialised in the production of liquid nitrogen and oxygen. He discovered that he was also producing industrial quantities of neon as a by-product of this process and this put him into the position of being able to build on other people’s earlier experiments to produce neon lighting. Indeed, in the early years of neon, he had a near monopoly on the new technology, as his ready supply of neon allowed him to find a practical way to seal the gas in glass tubes.


Initially when he demonstrated his neon tubes at an exhibition in Paris in 1910, Claude proposed using his neon tubes as a form of indoor lighting to the extent he was nicknamed the French Edison. It did not take long to realise, however, that it’s true potential lay in signage and advertising and the first neon signs were seen in Paris as early as 1913.  The great leap forward for the business came, though, when the technology was exported to the United States of America and, in particular, New York which was on the point of becoming the commercial capital of the world.  A measure of the new technology’s success can be gauged from the fact that the neon sign industry was valued at $16.9 million by 1931 – a mere 8 years after the first signs for a Packard automobile dealership were set up in California at the cost of $24,000.


The great era of neon was without question the 1930s and its showcase was Times Square in New York. The simple neon tubes first created by Georges that produced a red light had long since been replaced by glass lettering bent into every conceivable shape. Neon too was supplemented with other gases such as argon, mercury and phosphor that enabled the production of every possible colour and shade.  Each year the Times Square display became ever more spectacular as the light display incorporated design elements from the stage and screen such as sound and animation. This only led to other cities in the United States and around the world producing their own neon spectaculars in an attempt to show off their modernity.


The Second World War brought an end to the great expansion on neon advertising in the United States and, with some exceptions, such as in Las Vegas, the great cities of the world were no longer illuminated by giant neon advertising signs to anything like the same extent. Part of the explanation for this is that the world had become a more austere and sober place in the 1940s, a time of harsh economic realities. Against this background neon signage, which had become associated with excess and entertainment , no longer seemed appropriate in the new world order. This did not mean neon disappeared from our lives altogether, it simply meant that it went slightly underground – advertising barber shops and kebab stalls as opposed to the latest car to roll off the Ford assembly line. It also became a medium for artists to work in.


While it is unlikely that the neon tube will ever capture the world again as it did in its heyday, this does not mean that it is a forgotten technology or one that had only a passing influence on advertising. In many ways, 100 years after its birth it remains as influential as ever. Can you imagine a world without fluorescent lights, plasma displays or even the television? Without the neon tube we would have seen none of these.

The answers

Get the answers

1.The entertainment industry became involved in creating new uses for neon lighting E

2. The effect of a new morality on the neon lighting industry F
3. Neon can be obtained through the liquefaction of air C
4. Displays of neon lighting became a symbol of a city’s growth and success E

5. Neon is a scarce element found in the air B
6. Neon lighting was not developed as a form of advertising D

Download the reading

I suggest that you download the exercise and do it on paper as that is more realistic practice.

the questions

Practice text for finding information - questions (8456)

the answers

Practice text for finding information - answers (4421)

How to like it, share it and save it


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25 Responses to Matching information with paragraphs – reading tutorial and practice

  1. Lasam Ola August 29, 2011 at 9:13 pm #

    Thanks greatly.

  2. Anonymous November 7, 2011 at 10:02 am #

    The test has some mistakes. The quotations are good, but the answers are wrong.

    • Dominic Cole December 4, 2011 at 7:53 am #

      I hope not. Let me know where you think the mistakes are and I will fix them.

  3. jiss November 24, 2011 at 2:42 am #

    i think,after reading each paragraph candidate can go through all the questions and find whether that para contains any information in the question, than reading all paragraph one by one then to consider questions.what is your opinion sir???????

    • Dominic Cole November 27, 2011 at 6:55 pm #

      Quite possible. The best technique strategy is the one that works!!! The best advice is to experiment and see what works for you.

  4. Farshid February 7, 2012 at 8:24 am #

    Hi there
    I think the answer of the last question should be “D” instead of “B”

  5. Ibrahim May 24, 2012 at 2:18 pm #

    Hi Dominic,why is it showing D the wrong answer in question 6 while the information is clearly given in Paragraph D??

    • Dominic Cole July 14, 2012 at 5:20 pm #

      Para B =the element which, while it is aprt of the Earth’s atmosphere is comparatively rare”

  6. Karen May 30, 2012 at 7:45 pm #

    Can I ask why there are 2 answers in both para B & E? I realise that some para’s may not contain any answers, but all the other reading questions (Assigning headings etc) only contain <1 answer per para. Is this type of question the odd one out, or do they all do it? It makes it so difficult, especially when you consider the fact you've probably only got a few minutes per question section.
    Could you please let me know which "assigning" questions use multiple answers?

    Many thanks

    • Karen May 30, 2012 at 8:53 pm #

      Its ok, I’ve just answered my question…I should have read your notes closer!! Lesson learnt!

    • Dominic Cole July 14, 2012 at 4:58 pm #

      You need to be a little careful about assuming too much. It is quite open to the examiners to make 5 questions 3 NG and 2 False for instance. It is a fair starting point to guess that the answers will be spread fairly evenly around the text, but some paras may well contain more answers than others.

  7. Helly July 13, 2012 at 10:34 am #

    I think that the tips given by you will be really helpful…but my problem is that i always end up sort of time in last section in actual exam but not while practicing at home. it is difficult for me to deal with last section. can i do last question fist in exam and then first and second? I am trying for general training. I really need help…

    • Dominic Cole July 13, 2012 at 10:52 am #

      If it works for you by all means. There are very few rules about how you should approach things. Everyone is different and you really need to find out what works for you as an individual.

      It can make sense tackling the last section first as it is normally more complex than the other sections and there is something to be said in trying the hardest bit first when you brain is freshest.

      Another comment is that – as you have discovered – the exam is different from home practice. One thing that may be different is that you get very little break between the different papers and you may at some point run out of mental energy. Another suggestion I commonly make is that eevryone should try and simulate an exam day before the real thing – just to know what to expect.

  8. Helly July 13, 2012 at 10:36 am #

    I mean last section ….

  9. naveed November 4, 2012 at 10:51 pm #

    i used to read one paragraph and then compare it with all headings, assign one heading to it and move forward. But it did not help much , I am going to try the new approach this time . “start with the questions”

    Thank you Dominic ,this site is the best free resource for IELTS . 🙂

  10. Meisam December 7, 2012 at 11:44 pm #

    Hi dear,
    I have used all your information about the Ielts, you are fantastic, i want to thank you, it was really helpful for me.
    Meisam from Iran

  11. Moutaz May 5, 2013 at 10:30 pm #

    Hi Mr.Dominic !!!

    Well done !!

    I followed one of your previous techniques which is writing a short conclusion on each paragraph. In fact, I managed to answer all of them correctly but my problem was it took me 18 minutes to finish. That was a long time I suppose.

    What should I do to minimize it with the same accuracy?

    Thank you

  12. shoukath January 13, 2014 at 3:48 am #

    please check your Questions for this above paragraph.

  13. Hamid November 24, 2014 at 6:52 pm #

    Excuse me but I think your strategies require a big amount of time what do you think mr.Dominic

    • Dominic Cole November 25, 2014 at 8:56 am #

      You need to find strategies that work for you. If it doesn’t work then it isn’t the strategy for you perhaps.But be careful of strategies that allow you to work quickly but get questions wrong – pointless.

  14. nicol April 1, 2015 at 3:52 pm #

    i think this type of question is one of the most difficult one on ielts reading?

  15. Santiago September 1, 2015 at 12:35 am #

    Hey!! It’s such a great site… I was wondering where the answer for this test are… i couldn’t find it… Sorry.

    Thank you!!!

  16. Mohammed Afsal Koya May 31, 2016 at 6:25 am #

    Great Site. Many Thanks Dominic.

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