Categorisation Practice & Tips for IELTS Reading

You can get categorisation questions in IELTS reading and below is a useful categorisation practice exercise to help you develop your skills.

IELTS Categorisation Questions

  1. Skim read the passage first before you tackle the questions.
  2. Check the categories available & prepare any possible paraphrases (paraphrases are not always possible)
  3. Read through the statements in each question
  4. Spend time paraphrasing vocabulary in the statements before you try and categorise the information
  5. After preparing the statements, try to locate the information in the passage by scanning the text
  6. Sometimes you must use a process of elimination to find your answer

The key to this type of question is being good at paraphrasing and scanning for specific information.

Beds in the Ancient World

categorisation reading

Bed styles in ancient Egypt remained very much the same for over 2000 years. They are among the most intriguing of furniture items because of their structure. Many were slanted down at an incline from the headboard. A foot board ensured that the sleeper would not slip off in the middle of the night. Furniture makers also constructed side rails on many beds. Writes Sibal, “almost all beds featured legs in the form of animal legs, ranging from heavy bulls legs to gazelle-like forms with hooves, and the feline type with paw and claw, frequently identified as lions legs.” The mattress was usually made of wooden slats, plaited string, or reeds, which then held woollen cushions or some other soft material. Sheets were made of linen.

Roman bed-frames were pretty much the same. It would have had a mattress on top of it, stuffed with feathers or straw, and wool blankets. But most Etruscan and Roman beds would have been made of wood and strung with wool or linen string. In the bedrooms, the ceilings were vaulted and lower above the bed, often making the room appear a cramped and stuffy place. Simple beds. to which shortly after the Homeric age a pillow for the head was added, continued to be used by the poorer classes among the Greeks at all times. Thus the bed of the orator Lycurgus is said to have consisted of one sheep-skin and a pillow.

In Ancient Greece, the beds of persons of high rank was covered with skins upon which the pillows were placed, and over these linen sheets or carpets were spread. Lastly, there was thick woollen cover or blanket for the sleeper. Poor persons slept on skins or beds of dry herbs spread upon the ground. These simple beds,  had a cover or ticking of a mattress which was made of linen or woollen cloth and the usual material with which it was filled with was either wool or dried weeds. At the head part of the bed lay a round pillow to support the head; and in some ancient pictures two other square pillows are seen, which were intended to support the back. The covers of such pillows are striped in several pictures on ancient vases and were therefore probably of various colours. They were undoubtedly filled with the same materials as the beds and mattresses.

Questions 1-4

Categorise the information below into the following categories. Please note that for this particular practice, answers will not come in order in the passage. Choose  the correct letter (A-C) for your answer. Letters may be used more than once.

  • A = Ancient Egyptian
  • B = Ancient Roman
  • C = Ancient Greek
  1. Bedrooms did not seem spacious.
  2. The beds were not flat and horizontal but rather angled downwards.
  3. Pillows could be decorative.
  4. Mattresses were stuffed with wool.


Click below to reveal the answers.

  1. B (making the room appear a cramped)
  2. A (Many were slanted down at an incline from the headboard)
  3. C (pillows are striped in several pictures on ancient vases)
  4. C (it was filled with was either wool …)

The passage is compiled of information from various sources, including touregypt and mlahanas

All reading exercises on have been written by myself to help you prepare for your IELTS test.   




Below is a list of useful vocabulary and paraphrases for words in the passage above. You should always use reading passages and listening transcripts to help you build your knowledge of vocabulary.

  • intriguing = fascinating, interesting
  • slanted = inclined, leaning, sloped
  • featured = included, presented
  • gazelle = a type of deer
  • hooves = the feet of a deer or horse
  • paw = foot of a lion, cat or dog
  • claw = the nail on the foot of a lion, cat, dog or bird
  • vaulted = curved, domed
  • cramped = over crowded, small, confined
  • stuffy = airless, unventilated
  • orator = speaker



  1. Thanks Liz,

    I got 4/4.

  2. Sharjeel says

    Hi Liz,
    I didn’t understand the meaning of all 4 statement but I guessed the scenario and I scored 4/4.

  3. Jide Johnson says

    Got 3/4, tried but didn’t put much effort. It was helpful by the way. Thanks Liz

  4. Thanks Liz.
    I got 4/4. It is helpful.

  5. Adahosa onyeka Gideon says

    I got 3/4, I really need some help to improve, all the same thanks Liz

  6. I got 4/4.
    Thanks liz

  7. khyati parmar says

    thank you mam i got 4/4 i so happy

  8. Hi Liz,
    Thank you for your practice
    Can you specify the time for the future reading practices so we can set a timer and know how fast we should finish this small passage

    • These are only lessons to raise awareness and develop skills. If you wish to train in speed reading, skimming, scanning etc, you need to use full tests. Get the IELTS Cambridge test books and use those reading tests. You should also practice doing full tests at home under exam conditions.

  9. Thank you LIZ !
    Your material for improving the reading is awesome . I got 4/4 in this test.

  10. Dear Liz thanks for being “the teacher”. In mi opinion your IELTS materials are the most complete and clear in understanding, of all the internet.
    Please i have a question. I got 4/4 on this exercise but related to question #4. I know the answer is C, why not Romans too? how you can decide wich one you use? Because at the beginning of the second paragraph it says that the mattress would be stuffed with wool blankets.
    Your answer would help me a lot to decide on the questions that are confusiong, please.

    • You definitely need to read the passage more carefully. Here is the part that confused you:
      “It would have had a mattress on top of it, stuffed with feathers or straw, and wool blankets.” The word “it” refers to “bed”.
      As you can see, the mattress was stuffed with either feathers or straw. The bed had two things on it – a mattress (made of either feathers or straw) and a wool blanket. So, this means the word “wool” refers to the blanket, not the content of the mattress. Although this lesson was written by me, it is a typical way IELTS will test your understanding and attention to detail.

  11. I got 4/4 really helpful ^_^

  12. Why not the answer of Q. 2: A, B? since Roman bed-frames were pretty much the same as Egyptian and Egyptian bed were inclined(slanted down).
    Would you like to clarify?

    • Did you read the question properly? Which bed is NOT horizontal because it is slanted down? Only the Egyptian bed fits that description.

  13. vaibhav solanki says

    I got 4/4, easy but learned new vocab.

  14. sourabh goyal says

    LIZ such paragraphs are too lengthy for me, how much time u have to solve such comprehension?

  15. 4/4
    4mins (too much time)

  16. Hi Liz,

    First of all, you are doing tremendous Job.
    Secondly i have a query relating to reading.If for one of the question my answer is “agricultural seeds” and the correct anser is ‘seeds”. would my answer be incorrect ?

  17. I believed that people are doing everything to earn money but Liz changed my mind, I think Liz is an angel and she’s got a spiritual soul.
    A lot of free materials for us to achieve our goals. I’m sure you will get something more valuable than money from universe.
    God bless you.

    • Thank you so much for your kind comment. The only thing I want from the universe is my health. I’ve been too sick for the last two years to make more video lessons – I’m hoping next year I might get better 🙂

      • hi are such a wonderful soul. may you be blessed with the best of health soon.ameen

      • I almost have tears in my eyes.
        There are no words of gratitude that would do justice to your selfless work that help achieve target so accurately. I pray almighty to reward you with safety in this life as well as in hereafter for your work will remain as a continous source of benefit to many.

      • U r healed in Jesus name. Liz. I am grateful to you.

    • I appreciate your selfless work. I have prayed for your health like many others here. I am sure you will bounce back.

  18. Memoona amin says

    Thanks for another reading practice passage …I got 4/4 correct…you r vry fabulous teacher..

  19. 4/4, quite easy passage
    Liz you are an awesome teacher!!
    Many thanks for help and producing excellent stuff.


  20. Hello Mam
    I got 3/4. But i want to get full marks. How I got it?

  21. Karamjeet kaur says

    Hi Liz, interestingly I got everything from the passage. Feel so good

  22. scored 4/4, feeling thankful Liz.

  23. hi liz, i only got 1/4 in all ur exercises…can u please help still struggling..

    • Check the answer key again. I’ve put the relevant key words to help you understand the answer. If you didn’t get the right answers due to your level of English, then think about getting extra English lessons before your test.

  24. Ivan Miguel says

    Hi Liz,

    I’m a little confused with the meaning of the word “cushion” (regarding question 4). Is not pillow a synonym for cushion?


    Ivan Miguel

  25. saeed aziz says

    Nice article by the way, i failed in paragraph C and paragraph G where “Taxonomy” is a strange synonym for me, i thought it was for comparsion between different species.

    for paragraph G , i was confused between pangolin trade and being in danger due to deterioration of places and haunted for food, also trade for they are demanded from china for their body parts.
    how to focus more and choose the best answer where it seems to one paragraph has more than one solution?

    Thanks in advance

  26. Finally, I got everything right!!!
    Feel so good!
    I usually got about 70% right in reading and listening practice.
    I will try harder!
    Thanks Liz:)

  27. scored 3/4.I made mistake for 1 because of my abysmal knowledge about the meaning of cramped and stuffy.Thank you liz.

  28. OMG! I got it perfect….but its quite easy though:)

  29. 4/4 Thank you

  30. 4/4 =D .. I´ve been looking for a website like this in ages. If I had known before about it, I would have scored a better ielts last year. Thx Liz . Regards from Colombia.

  31. Hi Liz,
    I completed the exercise above and scored 3/4, there is something I wanted to ask you relating the last question of this exercise. You posted A (Ancient Egyptian) as right for question 4 No skins or pillows were used.
    I chose B (Ancient Roman) referring to this sentences in the paragraph : Roman bed-frames were pretty much the same. It would have had a mattress on top of it, stuffed with feathers or straw and wool blankets.

    • The problem is that in the paragraph about Romans, it also mentions the use of pillows and skins – see the last two sentences. So, the answer must be A which never mentions the use of skins or pillows.
      All the best

  32. Dear Liz,
    I would like to thank you very much for your blog. I’ve found your it accidentally, which I’m very happy about. I aiming for score 7. Even though I’ve recently received 8,5 from listening and 7,5 speaking, I struggle with writing and sometimes obtain lower score from reading (before 8.0, now 6.5). I finally understood how to write an introduction! 😀 I hope that learning from your blog will help me achieve my goal very soon.
    One thing I would like to ask you is that I do not quite understand why for question 4 in the task above the answer is A. Ancient Egyptian. Can you please explain?
    I would appreciate it a lot.
    I found the information right after description of the bed in Ancient Roman that the pillows were introduced after the Homeric age, which is Greek.

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