IELTS Reading – Matching Paragraph Information Questions

IELTS reading matching paragraph information questions are quite common in IELTS reading. They can appear in both GT and Academic reading tests. They are not the same as matching headings questions.

  • Matching headings = match the title to the aim of the paragraph – requires deeper understanding
  • Matching paragraph information = locate the information in the paragraph – requires only to find information

The passage below is Academic level which means it is harder that GT reading passages. However, GT candidates can still benefit from the practice as the techniques for these questions are the same for both tests. This topic of carnivorous plants and their trapping mechanisms did appear in the IELTS reading test.

This type of question is really testing your ability to scan. Scanning means to move your eyes over the passage to locate specific information. Always remember that the information you are looking for might be paraphrased. So, always prepare the possible paraphrases before you start scanning for the answer. The lesson below is not an IELTS test. It is just a free practice lesson to help you develop skills and awareness.

  1. skim read the passage for gist
  2. read & analyse the questions
  3. tackle the questions in any order
  4. prepare paraphrases for the statement questions
  5. scan the passage to locate the information
  6. write a letter as your answer

Passage: Carnivorous Plants

A) Sarracenia, or the North American Pitcher plant, is a Genus of carnivorous plants indigenous to the eastern seaboard, Texas, the great lakes and south eastern Canada, with most species being found only in the southeast states. It is a plant with a pitfall trap. The plant’s leaves have evolved into a funnel, with a hood like structure growing over the opening to prevent rain water from diluting the digestive juices. Insects are attracted by colour, smell and a nectar-like secretion on the lip of the pitcher. Slippery footings, aided in at least one species, by a narcotic drug lacing the nectar, causes insects to fall inside where they die and are digested.

B) Nepenthes, tropical pitcher plants or monkey cups, are another genus of carnivorous plants with pitfall traps. There are about 130 species that are wide spread, and can be found in China, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Madagascar, Seychelles, Australia, India, Borneo and Sumatra. The nickname “monkey cups” comes from the fact that monkeys have often been observed drinking rain water from them. The trap contains fluid, produced by the plant, which is used to drown and digest the insects. Most of these plants are small and tend to trap only insects, but some larger species, such as Nepenthes Rafflesiana and Nepenthes Rajah, have been documented to catch small mammals like rats.

C) Dionaea Muscipula, more commonly known as a Venus flytrap, is probably the most well-known carnivorous plant and it feeds mainly on insects and arachnids. The Venus flytrap is a small plant that has 4-7 leaves that grow from a short subterranean stem. The plant is so advanced that it can tell the difference between live stimulus and non-living stimulus. The lobes snap shut in about 0.1 seconds. They are fringed by stiff thorn-like protrusions or cilia, which mesh together and prevent large prey from escaping. Once prey is unable to escape and the inner surfaces of the lobes are continuously being stimulated, the edges of the lobes grow or fuse together, sealing the trap and creating an enclosed “stomach” in which digestion and absorption can take place.

D) Aldrovanda vesiculosa, also known as the waterwheel plant, is a fascinating rootless, carnivorous, aquatic plant. It generally feeds on small aquatic vertebrates, using a trap mechanism called a snap trap. This is a very fast growing plant and can reach 4-9mm per day, in some instances even producing a new whorl every day. The traps basically consists of two lobes which fold together to make the snap traps. The openings of the trap point outwards, and are covered in a fine coating of trigger hairs, which will cause the trap to snap shut around any prey that comes too close. The trap closes in only 10 milliseconds, making it one of the fastest examples of plant movement in the animal kingdom.

Source: this passage was sourced online. I can’t find the original source but if anyone knows please let me know so I can put a link to it.

Questions 1-7

Which paragraph contains the following information? Write the correct letter, A-D, as answers. Note, you may use any letter more than once.

  1. The plant preys on animals that live in water.
  2. The plant is able to tell the difference between prey and inedible items.
  3. Prey is known to die through submersion in liquid.
  4. Prey is drawn to the plant by its appearance.
  5. The plant is known for its speed in trapping prey.
  6. The soporific effect of the nectar can cause prey to tumble into the plant’s trap.
  7. The plant is capable of trapping creatures large than an average insect.

Answers for Reading Passage

You can find the answers by clicking below:

Click here: Answers to this Lesson

All the best


More IELTS Reading Lessons & Tips

For more free reading lessons and tips, please click here: IELTS Reading

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IELTS Reading Practice: The History of Pasta

IELTS Reading Practice Lesson: Matching Headings

Matching headings questions are common in the IELTS reading test. Many people find this type of question lengthy and difficult to answer. It is important that you do not try to match words. The headings are a title for the paragraph. This means you need to think about the aim of the paragraph and decide which heading summarises this best. You might feel that some paragraphs have two possible headings so always remember to think about the aim rather than just synonyms.

Skim read the headings. Pay attention to keywords in the headings. Note any headings that are similar and headings that might be unique. For your answers remember that each heading can be used only once.

Questions 1-4: Choose the best heading for each section.


i) A theory dismissed

ii) Marco Polo in China

iii) Is pasta really Italian?

iv) China is the origin of pasta

v) The real origins of pasta

vi) How Arabs cooked pasta

vii) The common belief of the origins of pasta

Download list of headings: List of Matching Headings

Reading Passage: The History of Pasta 

A) Worldwide, pasta has become synonymous with Italian cuisine. Italian immigrants themselves brought pasta everywhere they went. While it is true that the most famous varieties and recipes of cooking pasta really do come from Italy, surprisingly, the actual origin of pasta lies elsewhere!

B) One of the more popular theories of the arrival of pasta in Italy was published in the ‘Macaroni Journal’ by the Association of Food Industries. It states that pasta was brought to Italy by Marco Polo via China. Polo ventured to China in the time of the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) and the Chinese had been consuming noodles as early as 3000 B.C. in the Qinghai province. There is even some evidence there of 4,000-year-old noodles made from foxtail and broomcorn millet.

C) Unfortunately, there are problems with this theory, least of which is that the noodles they were making in China aren’t technically considered pasta. Polo also described Chinese noodles as being like “lagana”, which implies he was possibly already familiar with a pasta-like food before going to China. Further, in 1279, there was a Genoese soldier that listed in the inventory of his estate a basket of dried pasta. Polo did not come back from China until 1295. For those who don’t know, Genoa is a sea port in Italy. Further, the modern pasta like we know it was first described in 1154 by an Arab geographer, Idrisi, as being common in Sicily. So Marco Polo could not have brought pasta to Italy via China. It was already in Italy at that time.

D) Most food historians believe that Arabs (specifically from Libya) are to be credited for bringing pasta, along with spinach, eggplant and sugar cane, to the Mediterranean. In the Talmud, written in Aramaic in the 5th century AD, there is a reference to pasta being cooked by boiling. It is thought, then, that pasta was introduced to Italy during the Arab conquests of Sicily in the 9th century AD, which had the interesting side effect of drastically influencing the region’s cuisine. It also known that by the 12th century, the Italians had learned from the Arabs methods for drying pasta to preserve it while traveling. Further support for this theory can be found by the fact that, in many old Sicilian pasta recipes, there are Arab gastronomic introductions.

Source: Passage was adapted from:


Click below to open the answers:

CLICK HERE: Answers Explained

All the best and stay safe!!



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Reading Practice: 3D Printer in Space

This practice reading lesson focuses on Sentence Completion questions which means filling in a gap to complete a sentence. These are common questions in IELTS and also in English language exercise books.

The level is not high, so it is suitable for GT candidates and also a good easy practice for Academic candidates. Remember, the academic reading passages are usually a bit more difficult. Even so, this lesson will help you focus on skills.

Sentence completion questions in IELTS reading require you to choose one or more words from the passage to complete the sentence. This involves skim reading the passage, identifying the type of word missing from the sentences and then scanning the passage to locate the missing word. Always check how many words you can have for the answer.

Reading Passage: Space Technology


Astronauts on the International Space Station have used their 3-D printer to make a wrench from instructions sent up in an email. It is the first time hardware has been “emailed” to space. Nasa was responding to a request by ISS commander Barry Wilmore for a ratcheting socket wrench. Previously, if astronauts requested a specific item they could have waited months for it to be flown up on one of the regular supply flights. Nasa says the capability will help astronauts be more self-reliant on future long duration space missions. This will also have a positive impact on the sustainability of space travel. Furthermore, it makes ships lighter and reduces launching costs. Mike Chen added: “The socket wrench we just manufactured is the first object we designed on the ground and sent digitally to space, on the fly. It also marks the end of our first experiment—a sequence of 21 prints that together make up the first tools and objects ever manufactured off the surface of the Earth.” The other 21 objects were designed before the 3D printer was shipped to the space station in September on a SpaceX Dragon supply flight.

Questions 1-7

Complete the sentences below using no more than two words and/or a number.

  1.  A ……………….. was made using a 3-D printer on the International Space Station.
  2. The tool was essentially …………… to space.
  3. This new technology provides instant access to tools which would have taken …………… before.
  4. Consequently, astronauts will be ……………… to a much greater extent.
  5. Creating tools in space as needed means crafts will weigh less and therefore have lower ………………
  6. The tool was the ……………… that had been designed on Earth yet physically created in space.
  7. Vocabulary question to you all – can you paraphrase the term “on the fly”? 


Click here to see answers: Answers to 3D Printer Reading.

All the best and stay safe,




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Capital Letters in IELTS: Will it affect your score?

When to use capital letters in your IELTS Listening, Reading and Writing test. Will you get a lower score if you make a mistake with capital letters? Can you write your answers in all capital letters? What are the rules for capital letters in IELTS? What about using capital letters in the computer based IELTS test? Read below to learn about this.

Using Capital Letters for IELTS Answers: Rules & Advice

Below you will find advice for using capital letters for writing your answers in IELTS Listening, Reading and Writing.

Capital Letters in IELTS Listening and Reading

In IELTS listening and reading, you can write all your answers in capital letters if you want. You can do this for the paper based test and the computer based test. It is completely up to you. There is no rule stating whether you should use capital or lower case.

  • You can write your answers in small letters if you want.
  • You can write in all capital letters.

Examples of capital letters in listening and reading:

  • HOSPITAL = correct / hospital = correct / 9am = correct / 9AM = correct 

Which is best? Capital letters or lower case?

I recommend writing your listening and reading answers in capital letters for the paper based test. This avoids any problems of markers struggling to read your handwriting. For the computer based test, it doesn’t matter. Both lower case and upper case will be easy to read. 

Transferring Answers in Listening & Reading

In IELTS listening, you will be given 10 mins extra to transfer your answers to your answer sheet in the paper based test. Check your answers and check your spelling – then write your answers on the answer sheet.  If your handwriting is poor, write using all capital letters so it is easy to read. For the computer based test, you do not need to transfer answers. You only need to check what you have already put into the computer. For this reason, you will be given only 2 mins to check your answers after the recording ends.

In IELTS reading, you will not get 10 extra mins to transfer your answers. You must write your answers directly on your answer sheet. But it is completely your choice how to write your answers. The most important factor is clear writing for the paper based test. Use all capital letters if your handwriting isn’t clear.

Capital Letters in IELTS Writing

In IELTS Writing, you can choose to write your essay in capital letters. But I would not recommend it because:

  1. you WILL be marked on punctuation so the use of capital letters and lower case is important to show. You must have a capital letter at the start of a sentence, for example.
  2. you have a strict time limit and it takes too long to write in capital letters

So, write your essay in lower case and remember to use capital letters when grammatically appropriate. The examiner will mark you down if you use capital letters incorrectly. Here is a list of typical words that use capital letters:

When to use capital letters in English grammar

  • Days/ Months = Thursday / September
  • Names and Titles = Mrs J Blogs / Dr Author Jones
  • Countries / Cities = India / Vietnam / Paris / Hong Kong
  • Names of Places = University of London
  • Acronyms = BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation)
  • Start of a Sentence = “The majority of people use cars to go to work these days. However, it would be better if they used healthier means of transport such as the bicycle.”

Biggest Mistake with Capital Letters

  • but / because / and
    • These linking words should NEVER be used to start a sentence in formal writing. See my page of linking words for writing task 2 to learn tips and get a useful list: IELTS Writing Task 2 Linking Words

What about speaking part 2? Well, the notes you make for your talk are not marked and only you see them. The examiner will not check them or mark them. So, don’t write sentences or bother with punctuation, just write words, ideas and tips to help you present a good talk.

More IELTS Tips

What about using a pen or pencil? Click on this link: IELTS Pen or Pencil

How are words counted in IELTS Listening? Click on this link: How Words are Counted in IELTS

Can I use “I” or “my” in writing task 2? Click on this link: How to express your opinion in IELTS WT2

Tips & Practice for Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking:


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TFNG Reading Practice: Kiwis

Here is a chance for more TFNG question practice. I created this short reading practice lesson so you can test your understanding of these types of questions.

Tips: Skim read the passage. Then analyse the questions. Always make sure you are clear in your mind what the true and false answers might be before you start looking at the passage. Then scan the passage for keywords given in the questions, making sure you are prepared for paraphrases. Then decide your answer.

Passage: The kiwi is an endangered species that was once counted in the millions. They are rather curious, nocturnal birds that lives in New Zealand. They have distinctive characterises setting them aside from other types of birds found elsewhere. These remarkable birds are flightless which is mainly a result of the lack of ground predators that existed in New Zealand prior to human arrival. Given the fact that these birds cannot fly, it is unknown how they arrived on the islands of New Zealand. In terms of their physical appearance, their feathers look like hair and they have nostrils at the end of their beaks. Because of these traits, they are sometimes thought of as honorary mammals. They are omnivores and use their highly developed sense of smell as well as touch and hearing to forage for food at night.

 Questions 1-7: Decide if the following statements are True, False or Not Given

  1. The number of kiwi birds has dwindled.
  2. Many people are curious to learn about the kiwi.
  3. Kiwis are blind in the daytime.
  4. Without a terrestrial threat, the kiwi had no need of flight in the past.
  5. A kiwi has both hair and a nose.
  6. Kiwis behave like mammals.
  7. Kiwis eat a vegetable diet.


The answers are available on the link below:

Click here: Answers to Kiwi Reading Lesson

All the best


Reading Practice: History of Sugar

This reading practice lesson is based on IELTS Yes, No, NG Questions. The approach is the same as the TFNG questions. The only difference is that this is about the writer’s opinions. You need to think what the writer is implying and what the writer is trying to say.


  1. Skim reading the passage paying attention to keywords, and the opening and closing lines of each paragraph.
  2. Then read the questions.
  3. Do not look for the answers until you have thoroughly analysed the questions. You must know what a YES answer is, what a NO answer is and what a NG is before you look for the answer.
  4. Scan the passage looking for keywords to locate the information in the passage.
  5. Read around that location. Sometimes answers are based on more than one sentence.

Passage: The History of Sugar

It is thought that cane sugar was first used by man in Polynesia from where it spread to India. In 510 BC the Emperor Darius of what was then Persia invaded India where he found “the reed which gives honey without bees”.  The first sugar was recorded in England in 1099. The subsequent centuries saw a major expansion of western European trade with the East, including the importation of sugar. Sugar was expensive and only used as a luxury item by those who could afford it. Columbus sailed to the Americas, the “New World” and in in 1493 he took sugar cane plants to grow in the Caribbean. The climate there was so advantageous for the growth of the cane that an industry was quickly established.

This food, which nobody needed, but everyone craved, drove the formation of the modern of the world. There was a huge demand for labour to cultivate the massive sugar plantations in Brazil and the Caribbean. This need was met by a transatlantic slave trade, which resulted in around 12,570,000 human beings being shipped from Africa to the Americas between 1501 and 1867.

In many ways, the story of sugar and tobacco are closely aligned. Both products were initially produced through slave labour, and were originally seen to be beneficial to health. And although both sugar and tobacco have ancient origins, it was their sudden, mass consumption from the mid-17th century onwards that created the health risks we associate with them today. But in the 21st century, the grip of sugar is stronger than comparable scourges like tobacco, or even alcohol. Sugar is not only ubiquitous – it is potentially responsible for approximately 20% of the caloric content of modern diets – but also central to the world’s economy and cultural heritage.

The effect sugar has on our health is considerable. A high intake of sugar causes our blood sugar levels to shoot up, giving us that feel-good ‘high’ followed by a crashing slump that leaves us tired, irritable and craving more sugary foods. It’s a vicious cycle that may be contributing to our weight problems as well as health conditions like diabetes and heart disease.

Source: An adaptation of three sources: BBCGoodFood,, and

Questions 1-7: YES / NO/ NOT GIVEN

  1. The Emperor Darius invaded India to find sugar cane.
  2. Sugar was a common food item for people in western Europe after it was introduced in England in 1099.
  3. The weather in the Caribbean was conducive to the growth of sugar cane.
  4. The slave trade was fuelled by the sugar industry.
  5. In ancient times, both sugar and tobacco were considered a health risk.
  6. 20% of all people are addicted to sugar these days.
  7. The “high” people get from sugar can be compared to alcohol.


Click below to open the answers.


  1. NO
    1. The passages states “[he] invaded India where he found [sugarcane]”. From this we see that first he invaded India and when he was in India he discovered sugarcane. This means the invasion happened first and the discovery of sugarcane was result of the invasion. Consequently, finding sugarcane was not a motivation for the invasion. Sugarcane was discovered while he was in India after having invaded it. For this reason, the answer is NO. As you see, you need to understand the meaning rather than trying to match words. If you only look for synonyms, you would not find this answer. Always look at the meaning.
    2. Also note that if the sentence had been written “he invaded India to find sugarcane”, the preposition “to” indicates reason/intent and this would give the answer YES. So, you can see this question really tests your understanding of English. This was a very challenging question, so don’t worry it you didn’t get it correct. Hopefully you got all the others right.
  2. NO
    1. There are particular keywords in the question statement: common food, western Europe & 1099. You should use the year “1099” to locate the area of the passage with the information. You then look for “western Europe” which is found in the next sentence. Then you keep your eyes open for the concept of “common food”. This is found in the following sentence, but with an opposite meaning “luxury item”. For this reason, the answer is NO. As you can see, you needed to read at least three sentences to find this answer. This is a good tip for IELTS reading – locate the area and then read around it to understand the answer
  3. YES
    1. The keyword is “conducive”. You needed to understand this word to get the right answer. It means that the weather was good for growing sugarcane in the Caribbean. The answer is found in the last two sentences of the first paragraph.
  4. YES
    1. This is found in the second paragraph. The need for labour for the sugarcane industry resulted in slave labour.
  5. NO
    1. Third paragraph – they were thought to be beneficial to people’s health originally.
  6. NG
    1. The passage gives information what proportion of calorie content in our diet is sugar. However, it does not give information about how many people are addicted. We do not know if 20% of people are addicted. We do not know if addiction accounts for more or less than 20%. The passages does not say anything about percentages of addiction.
  7. NG
    1. The last paragraph does describe the “high” from sugar as “feel-good”, but it does not compare this high to anything else.


I hope you found this lesson useful 🙂

All the best


Reading Practice: Procrastination

This reading lesson is based on Sentence Completion questions that are very common in IELTS reading, both GT and Academic.

Reading Exercise: Procrastination

Procrastination refers to the voluntary postponement of an unpleasant task, often against one’s better judgement (Steel, 2007). There are a few reasons for procrastination. One reason is the lack of imposed direction that’s become common in the workplace. People tend to dawdle in completing a task when they are not given set deadlines and goals. The most significant predictor of procrastination is a task that’s considered unpleasant, boring, or uninteresting. The less people are interested in their task, the less effort they put into completing it. Furthermore, avoidance is a well-known form of coping with anxiety. Procrastinators may postpone getting started because of their doubts and a fear of failure. Finally, when difficulties arise, people with weak self-confidence easily develop doubts about their ability to accomplish the task at hand, while those with strong beliefs are more likely to continue their efforts. When low self-confidence causes people to avoid activities, they miss opportunities to acquire new knowledge and skills. All these reasons are typical of procrastination. However, there is one other reason not mentioned so far and that is passive aggressive behaviour. These people use avoidance tactics to express their anger in a non-confrontational way by purposely not completing their task which they know might cause problems for others.

Source: Adapted  from Parts of this passage have been altered from the original to suit the lesson.

Questions 1-5: Complete the sentences using no more than two words and/or a number.

  1. People may procrastinate if they are not given clear aims and …………………
  2. Without an interest in what they are doing, people might not put enough …………. into it.
  3. People may delay beginning their task because of a ………..of …………
  4. Some people avoid learning new skills due to  ………………
  5. Passive aggressive people procrastinate to convey ………..


Click below to reveal the answers:


    1. The answer cannot be “goals” because that is already paraphrased in the question as “aims”.
    1. This should be singular. This is not usual in IELTS and is specifically for this lesson only. The question I have written requires you to change the noun.
    1. It is not necessary to use punctuation in any listening answers. You can just write two words only. If you use a comma, it is fine – but not necessary.
    2. Your answer will be marked wrong if you wrote “of”. This word is given in the question and you do not repeat it. Your task is to write what it missing.
    3. Some people struggled with this one. They thought the answer was “doubt fear. For example, “People may delay beginning their task because of a doubt of fear.” = this is 100% wrong.
    4. The term “a fear of failure” is an expression which is well known. It cannot be written as “a doubt of fear”.
    5. In the passage, it said that people procrastinate because of doubt AND a fear of failure. As you see “doubt” and “fear of failure” are two different things. You can have “doubt and fear”, but you can’t have “doubt of fear” – the question had the word “of”, it did not have the word “and”.
    6. So this question really tests your understanding of language. I hope this explanation will help you understand if you got that question wrong.
    1. If you wrote only “self-confidence” it would be marked wrong. This is not about self-confidence, it is specifically about LOW self-confidence.
    2. You must decide when to add the extra word and when not to. This will always depend on meaning. To miss the word “low” changes the meaning.
  5. ANGER
    1. You should not use “their”. It is not necessary to include the pronoun, only the noun.

Useful Vocabulary
  • postponement
  • against one’s better judgement
  • procrastination / procrastinate
  • dawdle
  • deadlines
  • predictor
  • avoidance
  • a fear of failure
  • low self-confidence
  • acquire knowledge
  • passive aggressive behaviour
  • avoidance tactics
  • non-confrontational


I hope you enjoyed the topic. Procrastination is a common problem for many people – don’t let that happen with your IELTS preparation 🙂

All the best


IELTS General Training Reading: Information & Tips

Learn about the IELTS General Training Reading Test. The IELTS GT reading is different to the academic reading in a number of ways but mainly due to the language and difficulty level of the texts. Similar to the academic reading, the general training reading test is 60 minutes in length and has 40 questions.

General Training Reading Sections

There are three sections in the IELTS GT reading. However, sections one and two might have more than one text. The sections get increasingly difficult.

Section 1

: This section is based on one, two or three texts about English life and could be, for example, an advertisement for a hotel,  sports center facilities or educational courses. The texts are not long and are factual rather than descriptive.

Section 2

: This section may also consist of more than one text and often relates to work about pay schemes, work conditions or machinery instructions.

Section 3

: The final section is usually one text which is quite long and it is the hardest.

IELTS General Training Reading Band Scores

Below is a list of the scores from band 2 to 9 for the GT reading test. The scores are not the same as the academic reading test. Click on the table to enlarge.

general training reading scores

IELTS Reading Question Types for General Training

The types of questions you will be asked in the GT reading test are the same as the academic test. Here is a list:

  • matching headings
  • true false not given / yes no not given
  • matching paragraph information
  • summary completion
  • sentence completion
  • short answer questions
  • table / flow chart completion
  • diagram labeling
  • multiple choice / list selection
  • choosing a title
  • categorisation
  • matching sentence endings

You can click here for: Tips on the Different Types of Reading Questions. You can find free practice lessons for most of these types of questions in the reading section:  IELTS Reading Lessons. However, must practice exercises are on the level of section 3. Also learn: How to Improve your IELTS Reading. For one full GT IELTS practice reading tests, please visit the BC IELTS page of practice tests.

GT writing. For information about GT writing, see this page: GT Writing Information

IELTS True False Not Given Questions


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