1. Introduction to matching sentence endings in IELTS reading


Matching Sentence Endings in IELTS Reading is designed with a list of incomplete sentences with no endings together with a list of possible endings. 

matching sentence endings

matching sentence endings

Your task is to match the appropriate endings with incomplete sentences based on the reading text.

Matching Sentence Endings will examine your:


  • skimming technique to understand the general meaning of the paragraph


  • scanning technique to search for keywords


  • ability to identify synonyms and paraphrases


  • ability to make predictions using given context


>>> Practice now: IELTS Reading Practice Test

2. Matching sentence endings strategies

matching sentence endings ielts

2.1. Read the incomplete sentences first


Instead of jumping right into the reading text, candidates should first read all the incomplete sentences and try to understand what they mean when tackling Matching Sentence Endings.

2.2. Identify and Highlight keywords


With Matching Sentence Endings, identifying keywords will help you with a more feasible process of locating information in the reading text. Therefore, focus on keywords, especially names, places, year, etc., and highlight them for next steps.

Besides, try to think of potential synonyms or paraphrases while skimming these incomplete sentences since those will not appear exactly the same in the reading text.


1   The ancient species of crocodile ate marine creatures that

2   The skeleton is kept in

3   Bones of the early type of crocodile

4   The geology of southern Germany

2.3. Predict the appropriate endings for each incomplete sentence


You can make predictions for each sentence immediately by means of noticing word type or part of speech (verbs, nouns, adjectives or adverbs), and/or grammatical rules.


1   The ancient species of crocodile ate marine creatures that + verb (past simple tense)

2   The skeleton is kept in + noun (a place)

3   Bones of the early type of crocodile + verb

4   The geology of southern Germany + verb

2.4. Read the sentence endings to get the general meaning


Don’t forget to look over the endings, but not in detail, to get the general meaning. Highlight keywords and note the obvious answer if any.

A   is believed to be 150 million years ago.

B   show some unique features.

 resembled dolphins.

D   was laid down when the area was under water.

E   a museum in the town near where it was found.

F   swam fast through the water.

G  the University of Edinburgh’s School of GeoSciences.

2.5. Think about possible matches and Eliminate the unsuitable choices


Depending on the grammatical structures, collocations, or meaning, candidates can look for the possible combinations in the list of endings for each incomplete question. Matching Sentence Endings may have more than one option for one question, so you should write down all these possibilities next to the sentence you are considering.


1   The ancient species of crocodile ate marine creatures that   C, F

2   The skeleton is kept in   E, G

3   Bones of the early type of crocodile   B

4   The geology of southern Germany   A, D

Moreover, some unbefitting endings (ungrammatical structure, incorrect verb tense, etc) can be removed right away. This can narrow down your searching later and save your time indeed.


>>> Read more: IELTS Reading Short Answer Questions


2.6. Locate the correct part of the reading text for each incomplete sentence


It’s now time for you to search for the appropriate part in the text of each sentence. Skimming and tracing the reading passage using identified keywords in order of incomplete sentences. 

Be careful with synonyms and paraphrases and note the number of sentences at the time you find out its information in the text for later double-check.

2.7. Search for the correct answer


Once the right part of each sentence in Matching Sentence Endings is found, candidates should read in detail to select the correct answer.

2.8. Double-check the answers


Maybe you have missed something that forces you to check the answers again after finding them.

You should check whether your matches are grammatically correct or possible options are sensibly chosen and eliminated.

3. Common mistakes and tips for matching sentence endings in IELTS reading


ielts reading matching sentence endings tips

Common Mistakes Tips
1. Reading  carefully the whole text before questions

Some test-takers try to read and understand the whole reading passage immediately, then they have to struggle a lot with the time limit.

Firstly, read the incomplete questions and the lists of possible endings, then move to locate the respective paragraphs.
2. Leaving blank answers

Don’t give a blank answer as you may lose a chance to get a point from your prediction

If you hesitate to give the final answer to a question, write it down onto the answer sheet and you may get a point
3. Looking for the exact same words or phrases in the reading text after reading the short answer questions

The IELTS Reading test want to check your wide range of vocabulary and ability to guess the meaning of certain words or phrases, so there is no point trying to find exact similar words or phrases in the text 

Think of synonyms and paraphrases of keywords and look for those in the passage
4. Apply background knowledge or logic to answer the questions

Test takers can sometimes find an issue or a article familiar with them, which leads them to choose the answers based on their background knowledge or personal experience instead of information in the reading passage. This, however, will be a mistake that can loose your point.

Use the actual words in the reading passage only
5. Being trapped by the examiner

You may be tricked by the examiners when there exist some endings that sound suitable for the incomplete sentence, but it is actually not the answer for the question. 

Note your predictions next to the sentence you are considering before reading the text, and read in detail and carefully after locating the part containing the information of that sentence.


Other tips for Matching Sentence Endings in IELTS Reading:


  • The answer to the next question will be below the previous one so don’t worry too much about the order of questions


  • Use your time wisely with the easier ones first and leave the hesitated questions behind for later recheck


  • Don’t try to use all the endings in the list as the number of those are always more than the number of incomplete sentences.


  • The grammatical structure, collocations, or meaning can help you with checking your answer, so take the most advantage of this.


  • The first question is often designed as the most difficult one with the most possibilities, so you should spend more time on this. In contrast, the last question seems to be less time-consuming because you have fewer options left to choose.


IELTS Reading Matching Sentence Endings can become one of the advantageous question types for you in an IELTS Reading test if you practice and apply these strategies as well as tips above mentioned.

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