Question type 9 of 9: Matching and classifying questions in IELTS reading

Question type 9 of 9: Matching and classifying questions in IELTS readingQuestion type 9 of 9: Short answer questions in IELTS reading. On this page, we will look at the last of the 9 types of question used in the IELTS reading test – matching and classifying questions.

What do I have to do for matching and classifying questions in IELTS reading?

For these question types, you need to either match two halves of something (matching) or arrange things into groups (classifying). Here’s an example of each type:


Look at the following statement. Match the statement with the correct person A-C.

  1. Melissa Hedges
  2. Lucy Clarke
  3. Scott Bradley

1.A gap year may not necessarily enhance employment opportunities.

Write the correct letter A-C on your answer sheet.


According to the information in Reading Passage 2, classify the following events as occurring

  1. before 43 A.D.
  2. between 43 A.D. and 343. A.D
  3. after 343 A.D.

1.Hadrian’s Wall was built

Write the correct letter A – C on your answer sheet.

What is this question type testing my ability to do?

Matching and classifying questions use the same skills, so we will present them together. Both of these questions types test your ability to recognise relationships between facts, theories or opinions.

What are the best steps for answering matching and classifying questions in IELTS reading?

There are 6 steps that we recommend following for this question type:

Step 1 – The statement: Read the statement you are matching or classifying

Step 2 – Keywords: Identify keywords

Step 3 – Locate: Locate the relevant area of the passage

Step 4 – Look back: Look at the list you are matching or classifying to  (e.g. people’s names, periods in time)

Step 5 – Detail: Read the section of the passage (step 3) in detail

Step 6 – Confirm: Confirm the correct answer

What useful tips are there for this question type?

  • TIP 1: the category you are matching or classifying (e.g. a person’s name) may appear multiple times in the passage.
  • TIP 2: You will need to consider reference words.
  • TIP 3: You may not use all of the categories and may use others more than once.
  • TIP 4: If time is running out and you don’t know, take a guess. You are not penalised with negative points for a wrong answer.

What are the common errors with this question type?

One error that seems to happen with classifying questions is that candidate’s think they can’t use the same letter more than once. This leads to some wrong answers, so make sure to read the instructions before you begin.

Now practice!

Click the links in the table below to test your skills with both matching and classifying questions in IELTS reading.