Top Tips for IELTS

Matching sentence endings in IELTS reading

In this lesson I discuss the matching sentence endings question type in IELTS reading and suggest an approach to deal with this task.

An example of the question

You get a series of incomplete sentences and you need to match them their correct ending using information from the text. There are normally 5 or 6 sentences and 8 to 10 different endings. For example:

Sentence beginnings

1. The tourism industry in the UK suffered financially
2. There was a ban on burials of animals in quicklime
3. The first animal became infected
4.The policy of transporting dead animals was challenged in the courts
5. A policy of vaccination was not introduced

Sentence endings

A. because a farmer used untreated waste as feed.
B. because the number of cases fell between May and September.
C.  because footpaths were closed due to the foot and mouth outbreak.
D.  because it also affected animals that were not affected by the disease
E. because it might reduce the profits of farmers.
F. because a similar programme had worked well in The Netherlands.
G. because of the adoption of European legislation in the UK.
H. because many abattoirs were closed

Understanding how it works

This question is designed to test your understanding of the main ideas in a text. You will be NOT be looking for exactly the same words in the text as in the question, but words/phrases that have a similar meaning. In addition, you need to understand before you approach this type of question that:

  1. the questions follow order of the text
  2. the questions may test part of the whole text, not all of it
  3. the sentence endings look grammatically similar
  4. you will not use all of the endings

A suggested approach

Concentrate on the sentence beginnings

The general idea is that you focus on the sentence beginnings and not the sentence endings. The simple reason for this is that  not all the sentence endings appear in the text and you will waste time if you concentrate on them.

Find the correct section of text

Find the part of the text that the questions relate to. One way to do this is scan the text for key words in the question. Once you have found the paragraph for question 1, then you know that the answer to question 2 comes later in the text and so on.

As you do this, it is sensible to ignore words that occur in more than question and words that occur frequently in the text. Focussing on proper names and dates is often a good approach.

Look for synonyms in the text

The answer will normally be found by looking for words in the text that have the same meaning as one of the sentence endings, rather than using exactly the same words.

Check back with sentence beginning

Once you have found the “correct” ending, check your answer by making the complete sentence.

Think about meaning

Don’t be tempted to word match. If you find a word in the text that matches the sentence ending, read carefully. This may be an examiner trap. It is not always that easy. Go back to sentence beginning and match it with the ending. Does the whole sentence make sense? Does the whole sentence match what you find in the text?

Think about grammar

This is a similar piece of advice. Make certain that the sentence you make is grammatically accurate. It is a mistake simply to match words.

Be methodical – check every ending with every beginning

It is very easy here to write down the first option you think is possible. Don’t. The examiners set traps. Be careful and look at every ending for each question. This will take a little more time, but you will certainly avoid mistakes.

The first question is the hardest – give it more time

In this type of question, it makes absolutely no sense to give one and half minutes to every question. The first question you look at will be hardest as you still have all the 8/9 options available to you. Likewise the last question will be the simplest and quickest to do as you will only have around 4 options left.

If you can’t find the answer to the first question immediately, don’t panic. Spend some time on it, note 2/3 different answers it could be and move on. You can always come back to it later, when you have got some other answers right.



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21 Responses to Matching sentence endings in IELTS reading

  1. rosaline September 5, 2011 at 5:17 pm #

    thank you sir, it was useful to me , suddenly i confused how to start beginning and ending,
    please send another reading topics

  2. kama September 14, 2012 at 11:06 am #

    Than you for the useful skills prvided!

    but i just wondering where are the questions and answer of the practice task?

  3. justin January 19, 2013 at 2:04 am #

    Your website is absolutely valuable to me.
    Thank you so much, sir 😀

  4. Anonymous March 28, 2013 at 3:09 pm #

    Solutions ?? 😀

    • Dominic Cole March 28, 2013 at 4:55 pm #

      I’ll look into it for you. There are parts of the site that are broken – apologies. I’m going back and trying to fix things as I update

      • Sreelekha November 18, 2014 at 6:54 am #

        Hi Dominic,

        This tutorial is very useful sir.Could you please post the answers too.

        Thank you

        • Dominic Cole November 18, 2014 at 9:40 am #

          Hi I’m working on these right now. Sorry for the inconvenience. It’s quite a long process but they should be up again in the next day or so.

  5. Aliya March 30, 2013 at 11:14 pm #

    HI! thank you very much! sorry, may be i am mistaken, but how can i get keys for this task? may be they are already given somewhere, but i cannot find that=(
    thank you in advance!

    • Dominic Cole April 1, 2013 at 3:16 pm #

      Hi. Sorry about this. I need to get various bits of my site sorted – it crashed badly a few months ago and the old exercises I had were “swallowed”. Sad to say, this may take a little time as I only have internet access for a couple of hours a day for the time being. I apologise and will try and get it put right as soon as I can.

      • saad September 3, 2013 at 10:42 pm #

        hey dominic,
        the material provided here is really helpful as it leads the right way to go. Hatts off to ur efforts in educating students on a right track. can u plz give the answers of the exercise related to Match sentense endings?

  6. Zinah April 22, 2013 at 11:39 am #

    Hi, thanks for the valuable information. just i am trying to find the answers for the question above in your page but with no luck. Thanks again

  7. Gulek April 28, 2013 at 6:07 pm #

    Dear Mr. Cole,
    This is my first comment and I would like to thank you for this website. I appreciate that you spare your valuable time to teach us and give an excellent advices. I find them really useful.
    Meanwhile, could you please check my answers: 1C 2G 3D 4F 5A

  8. Moutaz May 5, 2013 at 9:03 pm #

    Hi Mr.Dominic Cole

    I have learnt a lot from you about reading skills and techniques. However, I am not very good in this new skill yet because my level is low.

    Anyway I just gave it a try, so my results are:


    Please could you show us the right answers?
    Thank you for help and support.

  9. temirlan September 14, 2013 at 8:02 pm #

    thank you for your great help, i ve begun to consider the reading tasks from other side because of your tips and advices
    coud you check my answer on the task above (i cant find the answers on this page to check on my own)
    1C, 2G, 3D, 4F, 5A

  10. shoukath January 13, 2014 at 2:31 am #

    please post the answers

  11. nwankwo ifeoma March 11, 2014 at 7:01 pm #

    excellent resources

  12. FionaV September 1, 2014 at 5:05 am #

    My Answer is 1C 2E 3G 4D 5A
    Wish to have solutions..

  13. Ronnie September 2, 2014 at 5:55 pm #

    Hey Dominic, gr8 efforts!! Credit goes 2 U 🙂

    But m too expecting answers for this sections which I didn’t find anywhere. 🙁


  14. Vivi November 13, 2014 at 1:51 am #

    what are the answers?

  15. Ruchi October 13, 2016 at 9:15 am #

    Hi, please share the exercise as I cannot locate it. Thanks

    • Dominic Cole October 13, 2016 at 11:58 am #


      I’ll get it back up as soon as possible. sorry.

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