There may be many concerns arising when you are on the preparation period for the IELTS exam. Don’t spend your precious time worrying about unnecessary aspects that wouldn’t do any help. When I was about to take the exam, I used to spend most of my time focusing on practicing the reading section. This is the part I found too challenging to complete. In this article, I’ll give you the most detailed introductions such as tips, skills and common mistakes for the Matching Features Questions type in the hope that you can successfully answer this question type.

What is Matching Features questions?

Now, before getting familiar to anything, we’d better know what that “anything” is, right?

In the reading module, there are some questions that require you to match features. That’s the Matching Features Questions, 1 out of 11 IELTS reading question types. It’s as simple as it sounds. In most contexts, features are a list of options (a job, a name, a location, a city, etc.) or a collection of statements (facts, opinions or even theories). No matter what they are, you’re always about to match two lists of different but interconnected things. For example: fruits and their skin colors, preys and their predators, countries and its traditional practices, causes and effects. Sometimes, you’ll be given people’s names or jobs to match with their suitable statements or opinions.   

Here is an example for Matching Features Questions in the IELTS test from Cambridge English:

 Matching Features Questions
(Source: IELTS Academic Reading Task Type 6 (Matching Features) – Sample Task )

Steps process to follow to deal with Matching Features questions

Successfully answering Matching Features questions is nothing out of your reach. You can follow the steps I recommend right below.

1First, read the instructions.

This is not a time-consuming but rather a necessary step you definitely don’t want to miss. You have to know what type of matching features you’re facing is. Are they facts, opinions or theories? This is the way to quickly understand what you’re looking for in the text surrounding the keywords. Reading the instructions also helps to figure out how you have to answer the questions.

2Carefully read all the given features and highlight keywords.

You should really pay attention to this single step. If you’re not confident with what keywords the features hold, you may easily get confused. Don’t forget to highlight (again) the keywords in those features. It seems like a not so important part at all, but doing highlight really does you a favor, especially when you have just a few minutes left to complete this Matching Features questions part. This step also helps you match the highlighted words or phrases to some piece of suitable information while reading the text.

3 Scan the passage and look for keywords

When you finally have the idea of your purpose, which is the keyword in “your hands”, scan through the whole passage to look for those keywords. Highlight or underline anything that catches your eyes with a right match.

 Matching Features Questions
Highlight or underline what catches your eyes. (Image by Free-Photos via Pixabay)

4 Read the part of the passage that contains keywords

When I say “contain”, I mean sentences with the keywords. However, you may sometimes find it also necessary to go through the previous and the next sentence. That’s alright as long as you remember to wisely use your limited time.  

Doing Matching Features questions part is a journey to a treasure island. You’d better understand that the precious treasure box usually comes in disguise. The words or phrases you’re searching will not always stay the same as they are in the passage. Therefore, you should highlight some synonyms and even antonyms of them to track. Being flexible is the golden key to open the box.     

5 You’re ready to match the features with suitable questions

You’ve just found the relevant information in the passage for the keywords. Reread all the questions to see if there’s anything matching. Now it’s time to match the features with the relevant questions.

Matching Features Questions
Start Matching! (Image by Alexas_Fotos via Pixabay)

You can learn about how to actually deal with the test at the end of this article.  

Read more

Tips on dealing with Matching Features Questions

Successfully answering all the Matching Features Questions depends on many factors: knowledge, vocabulary, flexibility or even having a good fortune. Nevertheless, knowing these tips below will give you nothing but benefits.

Tip 1: 

Don’t waste your time on respectively answering all the questions. Just concentrate on the easy ones first. If finding the answer to any question is so difficult, just move to the next. You can always come back later.

Tip 2:

Names can sometimes be used several times. You need to read and understand the questions. Don’t miss out a possible option. If there are particular names in the questions, underlining them when you scan will help in later relocating. One more thing to remember is that names can show up in shortened forms with only first or last name.

Tip 3:

Keep in mind the synonyms or same meaning expressions for any word you’re looking for. For instance, “sentence” can sometimes be “group of words”, “teacher” can also be “educator”, “instructor”… Although you can’t precisely tell how they’ll be replaced, you can totally make a guess. Anyway, having a large vocabulary will help you a lot with these questions. To expand your vocabulary, you can use eJOY Extension – an English learning tool that allows you to learn new words while reading and watching videos.

Matching Features Questions
Do these words have same meaning expressions? (Image by aitoff via Pixabay)

Tip 4:

Remember not to panic when encountering a difficult question. You need to keep your mind under control to distribute a reasonable amount of time for each statement. I don’t want to discourage you but getting all questions correct seems to be impossible for most of the IELTS examinees. So why don’t you just take it easy and answer every question at a time?

Tip 5:

Leave no statement unmatched. Yes, you may hear about this advice all the time, but believe me,  in the moment of rushing, you may not be able to recall what is done and what is left unanswered.    

Necessary skills to deal with Matching Features Questions

Some people get a high score in the IELTS test without totally understanding the whole passage. Mastering certain skills below are the best way to have a satisfying IELTS result.

Skill 1: Skimming

Skimming is a technique for faster reading. It requires you to look through the text and quickly get the general ideas. You can better understand skimming in another article right here. We can all agree that reading every single word is not a good idea. So how can you get the message or the main idea of the passage without wasting your time reading the whole passage? Well, simply, you can speed up by using the skimming technique. A quick look at the first or the last sentence can be a real help. To do this, you must know which part of the passage you need to focus on. Make sure you skip all the examples and unimportant parts. Don’t try to understand the meaning of an unknown word. Just let your eyes move along the text.

Matching Features Questions
Choose important parts to focus on. (Image by Ramdlon vi Pixabay)

Skill 2: Scanning

Scanning will help when you need to read a text quickly to take out some specific information. How can scanning help here? I’ve also mentioned scanning more than once in this article. You can read more about scanning right here. Scanning is of the most important when doing the Matching Features Questions part. First, you find the information you need by carefully scanning the questions. Then, you pick out essential keywords and scan to find them or their replacement. This is not only a necessary skill but a vital one.  

Skill 3: Time management

Spending too much time on difficult questions is never a good choice. A better option is to answer all the easy questions first and come back to the harder ones later. Not being able to give a suitable match for every statement but the majority of them is just enough. This is the way to guarantee a high score in the IELTS test.

Matching Features Questions
Don’t waste your time. (Image by nile via Pixabay)

Skill 4: Finding paraphrase

You know that the word “theory” can stand for “explanation”, but forget the simple replacement like this. What you need to remember is that conceptual words are most likely to be paraphrased in the IELTS. To improve your paraphrasing skills, you should expand your vocabulary. Learning new words using eJOY Extension has been bringing lots of benefits to many students. Double-click on an unknown word and you’ll be provided with its pronunciation, Vietnamese translation (or a translation for your preferred language) and English definition. With eJOY Extension, you can easily add any new words to your Wordbook for further learning. What is special about eJOY is that it will remind you to review what you’ve learned every day. Download eJOY eXtension for free and enrich your vocabulary now!

Matching Features Questions
Searching for words meaning with eJOY eXtension


Download eJOY eXtension now. It’s free!

Skill 5: Guessing unfamiliar words

If you’re so confident that you are a “living dictionary” in daily life, I can assure that there must be at least one word you have no idea what it means. Unfamiliar or unknown words are put into the passage on purpose. The examiners want you to understand them through the context. Getting a high score in IELTS requires you more than just a good vocabulary base. You have to be able to consider an unknown word for what meaning it may present in the sentence. You can use immediate context, wider context or prefix, suffix, root of the words to guess their approximate meaning. For example, take a look at the sentence taken from the passage in section 7 this article and suppose you want to guess the word “disobedience” by using its immediate context.

They feel compelled to speak out on issues they view as morally wrong, and in their rejection of authority they are willing to use civil disobedience and face possible arrest to attain their goals.”

Here are possible guesses:

  • It should be a noun because it comes after an adjective “civil”.
  • It should have a negative meaning because it relates to “compelled”, “rejection of authority” and leads to “possible arrest”.

So a good guess for this word might be “not doing something someone tells you to do”

Skill 6: Figuring out the organization

Understanding of how the passage is organized is good to quickly find details. You know that each paragraph has its function. Write a few words as a short description for better tracking. Underlining keywords and phrases can help. Don’t forget to pay attention to linking words. They may be signals for a change, an appearance of the opposite opinions or more detailed information.  

The only way to be better at these skills is by practicing them on a regular basis.

Common mistakes while dealing with Matching Features questions and solutions

1 Trying to do the hardest part

There’re always difficult questions in the IELTS test. The vast majority of candidates can get all of them correct. Always spend your minutes on taking care of the accessible ones. It’s quite understandable, isn’t it? Will you take out the reachable can of coke from a refrigerator or the can behind it? Moreover, a tough question and an easy question score the same. Therefore, instead of struggling with the tough ones, why don’t you start with the easiest ones first?

2 Forgetting to mark keywords

You usually have to search for and highlight keywords in different parts of the passage at the same time, which makes things even harder. And you know what? You’re more than likely to forget the marking job as you totally concentrate on scanning. Always have a pencil in your hand and note down anything that needs a re-check.

3 Reading everything

Some people spend their time reading the whole text. You know it’s unnecessary, right? That’s why scanning technique is extremely important in the reading test. An effective scanning will assure you enough information to complete the test and save lots of your time.

4 Being in a hurry when matching

It’d be quite careless of you to quickly read a part of the text after finding the keyword. You may start matching immediately and this is so wrong. Speed-reading does not include leaving out useful details. There’s some “twisting” information that you may miss out. Therefore, don’t be in a hurry.

5 Focusing on finding the exact words

Don’t only concentrate on finding the exact same words or phrases in the statements as in the passage. Never ignore their synonyms or words with similar meanings.  

Matching Features Questions
Keywords may not stay the same. (Image by wilhei via Pixabay)

Important notes

Here are some very short notes you should take into consideration when preparing for the IELTS reading test:

  • Always follow the instructions without exception.
  • Make sure that you totally understand the question before answering it.
  • Deducing the answer is never recommended. Correct answers can be found right in the text.
  • Don’t leave any statement or option unmatched. Because you don’t lose your score when giving wrong answers, feel free to make a guess.
  • Use your time intentionally. Time managing skill is of the most important in all parts of the IELTS.
  • Always answer the easy questions first.
  • Always allow some time for review.

Examples of Matching Features questions and answers

Here is a sample task of Matching Features Questions from Cambridge English and my suggested steps to answer them:  

Read the text on pages 1 and 2 and answer Questions 1-8.

This is an extract from a book written in the United States of America in 1971. It is about attempts to classify the behaviour of young people living in the United States of America at that time.

In their search for a sense of identity and a set of values consistent with this identity, some older adolescents find themselves questioning not only the standards of their parents but also the goals and values of society itself.

We cannot touch upon the many factors that have contributed to this state of dissension, but it is informative to look at several lifestyles adopted by young people in an attempt to develop their own identity. It should be kept in mind, however, that even in this age of dissent, only a small group seriously questions or protests against the values of society. Most young people strive to fit into society and to achieve the adult role.

Type A

These are the young people who have rejected many of society’s values and are determined to protest, and in some cases even to advocate revolution, in order to change or abolish those institutions that conflict with their ideas. They feel compelled to speak out on issues they view as morally wrong, and in their rejection of authority they are willing to use civil disobedience and face possible arrest to attain their goals. According to the research of Smith (1968), when university students active in protest movements were asked to check a list of adjectives that described their characteristics, the items that differentiated them from a representative cross-section of students were imaginative, ‘free and not hung up’. The adjectives that distinguished the cross-section group were ‘ambitious’, ‘foresightful’, ‘orderly’ and conventional. When asked to provide solutions to a series of stories that posed a moral dilemma, the activists were more likely to respond on the basis of moral principles they had worked out for themselves, while the cross-section group tended to respond according to conventional morality. Block (1968) completed research which indicated that students active in protest movements come from families of greater economic, educational and social status than the average student. Since their parents tend to be politically liberal, the behaviour of these students cannot be viewed as rebellion against parental authority. Student activists describe their relations with their parents as close and affectionate; the parents were rational and permissive in their approach to childrearing, placing less emphasis on prohibitions and punishments.

Type B

These young people also reject the traditional values of society but differ from the activists in their pessimism that protesting will produce any change. They have no use for long-term goals or commitment; instead they escape from society by ‘dropping out’. They tend to be estranged from their parents as well as from society; their ideological views are not extensions of their parents’ views but instead are formed in rebellion against parental attitudes. Fathers of alienated male college students, according to Keniston (1966), are described by their sons as cold, withdrawn men who are concerned with success and status and have little involvement with their offspring. These young people reject, at the same time, the values of their parents and those of society.

Type C

These are young people who are active in extreme conservative movements. They accept the traditional American values and authority structure: many have been influenced by the individualistic philosophy of Ayn Rand. Studies of the background of these students suggest that their parents were authoritarian and apt to place a high value on achievements and ‘goodness’. Schiff (1966) distinguishes between those youngsters whose conservative commitment came from their parents at an early age, and those who converted to conservatism in later adolescence, perhaps after being influenced by other students.

The three types of lifestyles described above are, of course, not the only ones adopted by adolescents in contemporary American society. Many young people try to promote change not by rebelling against society’s values but by working within the existing institutions – contributing their efforts to agencies such as the Peace Corps, for example, which provides volunteer workers for humanitarian projects all over the world. Because there is as yet little data on the background and attitudes of these young people, they were not included in our discussions.

And as in all attempts to classify individuals according to types, there are probably as many young people who do not fit neatly into these categories as those who do.

Questions 1 – 8

The behaviour of young people is described in three ways, Types A, B and C.

Classify the following behaviours, attitudes and characteristics as typical of

A Type A

B Type B

C Type C

Write the correct letter, A, B or C, in boxes 1-8 on your answer sheet.

  1. someone who rejects the traditions of society and revolts against the ideological views of their parents
  2. someone who prefers to live according to the values associated with the security of the past
  3. someone who, to some extent, would like to be seen as a creative thinker
  4. someone who does not like society’s values but has doubts about the usefulness of protest
  5. someone who is characterised by a lack of conventional ambition
  6. someone who might be described as an optimistic rebel
  7. someone who is likely to have got on very well with their parents
  8. someone whose parents would have made it very clear that they wanted their child to succeed, but also to have high moral standards

Suggested step process:

First, read the instructions: Words to notice: behaviors of young people, 3 types A, B, and C; classify; boxes 1-8.

Carefully read all the features and pick out keywords: Let’s take feature A as an example. Our keyword here is simply type A.

Scan the passage and look for keywords: We can almost immediately see that the passage is giving 3 main parts for 3 types A, B, C. Now, get right into reading type A paragraph.

Read the part of the passage that contains keywords: It seems like we should go through all the information here, but there are some other keywords that need to be underlined: rejected many of society’s values, determined to protest, advocate revolution, change or abolish those institutions, compelled to speak out, imaginative, free, not hung up, close, affectionate, rational, permissive.

Matching Features Questions
Make sure you underline keywords. (Image by MasterTux via Pixabay)

You’re ready to match the features with the questions: Although there are 8 questions to start with, they’ll reduce right after finding out questions to match with feature A.

1 – someone who rejects the traditions of society and revolts against the ideological views of their parents => people in type A reject many of society’s values, but they have a close and affectionate relationship with their parents => not match

2 – someone who prefers to live according to the values associated with the security of the past => for keyword reject many of society’s values, this is not type A => not match

3 – someone who, to some extent, would like to be seen as a creative thinker => creative can go perfectly with imaginative, free and not hung up => match

4- someone who does not like society’s values but has doubts about the usefulness of protest => for keyword determined to protest, we can say people in type A believe in protest => not match

5 – someone who is characterised by a lack of conventional ambition => although we have the word conventional in type A paragraph, it’s used to describe a cross-section group. The adjective conventional is also quite contradict with creative in matched question 3 => not match

6- someone who might be described as an optimistic rebel=> for keywords determined to protest, advocate revolution, change or abolish those institutions, this is true => match

7 – someone who is likely to have got on very well with their parents => as we’ve discussed in question 1, this is true => match

8- someone whose parents would have made it very clear that they wanted their child to succeed, but also to have high moral standards => with keywords rational, permissive, this is not true => not match

Now it’s your turn to complete questions 2 to 8. Don’t look at the answers below before giving your own ones:

1 (Type) B
2 (Type) C
3 (Type) A
4 (Type) B
5 (Type) B
6 (Type) A
7 (Type) A
8 (Type) C

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