IELTS Reading Exam – Matching Feature Question Type


In your IELTS preparation, you’ll need to practice a total of 11 IELTS reading question types. In this article, we’ll look at the Match Feature IELTS reading question type in detail and provide you with IELTS reading exam tips on answering this question type successfully.

In this post, you will

  1. Identify what a match feature question is
  2. Identify common problems students have when answering match feature questions
  3. Learn IELTS reading exam tips & strategies for successfully answering a match feature question
  4. Do a match feature IELTS reading practice question.

Match Feature Question Type Introduction

In this test question type, you are required to match a list of options to a set of statements. Options are presented in a box and are often someone’s name, normally an expert, researcher or scientist. Statements could be theories, research findings, places, years, etc.  The statements will not be ordered in the same way as the given text. In addition, statements will paraphrase information from the text. You can find a sample of match feature questions at the bottom of this post.

Common Problems Answering IELTS Reading Match Feature Questions

Match feature questions are not difficult, but there are some traps you should avoid falling into.

The most common mistake is trying to search for words in the text that match exactly with words in the statement.Statements in matching feature questions usually paraphrase and use synonyms, so you won’t find the exact same words.

Another mistake made by students is to read the whole text and try to find the name. A better and much more efficient way is to find the name by quickly scanning the text. Once you find it, you can read closely to locate the answer.

The final mistake is getting stuck on one statement/name for too long. Out of all the names, there will be one or two that are harder to match corresponding statements. Some names will come up only once in the text and some will occur several times. The names that appear several times will be more difficult to match because you will need to look at several places in the text. If you find yourself stuck on one statement for too long, you’re better off moving on to the next statement.

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IELTS Reading Exam Tips & Strategies: How to Answer Match Feature Questions

Now that you’re aware of the common mistakes made answering a match feature question, it’s time to start your IELTS preparation for answering a match feature question type. We’ll begin by teaching you some IELTS reading tips & strategies for successfully answering a match feature question.

  1. Read the question slowly and carefully.
  2. Take a look at all the names, and then scan for the names in the reading text. If you can, underline them.
  3. Start with names that appear only once, because these are the easiest.
  4. Read the text around the name and then go back to the statements in the question and match. Be aware of synonyms.
  5. When you find a statement that matches a name, delete the statement. Each statement can only be used once.
  6. Repeat for the rest of the names.

Free IELTS Reading Samples

Let’s do some IELTS reading practice to hone the new skills, tips, and strategies you’ve learned. You are welcome to leave your answers in the comment section.

Reading Passage

A. A sense of ‘self’ develops in young children by degrees. The process can usefully be thought of in terms of the gradual emergence of two somewhat separate features: the self as a subject, and the self as an object. William James introduced the distinction in 1892, and contemporaries of his, such as Charles Cooley, added to the developing debate. Ever since then psychologists have continued building on the theory.

B According to James, a child’s first step on the road to self-understanding can be seen as the recognition that he or she exists. This is an aspect of the self that he labeled ‘self-as-subject’, and he gave it various elements. These included an awareness of one’s own agency (i.e. one’s power to act) and an awareness of one’s distinctiveness from other people. These features gradually emerge as infants explore their world and interact with caregivers. Cooley (1902) suggested that a lot of the self-as-subject was primarily concerned with being able to exercise power. He proposed that the earliest examples of this are an infant’s attempts to control physical objects, such as toys or his or her own limbs. This is followed by attempts to affect the behavior of other people. For example, infants learn that when they cry or smile someone responds to them.

C Another powerful source of information for infants about the effects they can have on the world around them is provided when others mimic them. Many parents spend a lot of time, particularly in the early months, copying their infant’s vocalizations and expressions in addition, young children enjoy looking in mirrors, where the movements they can see are dependent upon their own movements.This is not to say that infants recognize the reflection as their own image (a later development). However, Lewis and Brooks-Gunn (1979) suggest that infants’ developing understanding that the movements they see in the mirror are contingent ­on their own, leads to a growing awareness that they are distinct from other people. This is because they, and only they can change the reflection in the mirror.

D This understanding that children gain of themselves as active agents continue to develop in their attempts to co-operate with others in play. Drum (1988) points out that it is in such day-to-day relationships and interactions that the child’s understanding of his· or herself emerges. Empirical investigations of the self-as-subject in young children are, however, rather scarce because of difficulties of communication: even if young infants can reflect on their experience, they certainly cannot express this aspect of the self directly.

E Once Children have acquired a certain level of self-awareness, they begin to place themselves in a whole series of categories, which together play such an important part in defining them uniquely as ‘themselves’. This second step in the development of a full sense of self is what lames called the ‘self-as-object’. This has been seen by many to be the aspect of the self which is most influenced by social elements, since it is made up of social roles (such as student, brother; colleague) and characteristics which derive their meaning from comparison or interaction with other people (such as trustworthiness, shyness, sporting ability).

F Cooley and other researchers suggested a close connection between a person’s own understanding of their identity and other people’s understanding of it. Cooley believed that people build up their sense of identity from the reactions of others to them, and from the view, they believe others have of them He called the self- as-object the ’looking-glass self’, since people come to see themselves as they are reflected in others. Mead (1934) went even further, and saw the self and the social world as inextricably bound together. The self is essentially a social structure, and ­it arises in social experience.  It is impossible to conceive of a self-arising outside of social experience.’

G Lewis and Brooks-Gunn argued that an important developmental milestone is reached when children become able to recognize themselves visually without the support of seeing contingent movement. This recognition occurs around their second birthday. In one experiment, Lewis and Brooks-Gunn (1979) dabbed some red powder on the noses of children who were playing in front of a mirror, and then observed how often they touched their noses. The psychologists reasoned that if the children knew what they usually looked like, they would be surprised by the unusual red mark and would start touching it. On the other hand, they found that children of 15 to 18 months are generally not able to recognize themselves unless other cues such as movement are present.

H Finally perhaps the most graphic expressions of self-awareness, in general, can be seen in the displays of rage which are most common from 18 months to 3 years of age. In a longitudinal study of groups of three or four children, Bronson (1975) found that the intensity of the frustration and anger in their disagreements increased sharply between the ages of 1 and 2 years. Often, the children’s disagreements involved a struggle over a toy that none of them had played with before or after the tug-of-war: the children seemed to be disputing ownership rather than wanting to play with it. Although it may be less marked in other societies, the link between the sense of ’self’ and of ‘ownership’ is a notable feature of childhood in Western societies.

Questions 20-23

Look at the following findings (Questions 20-23) and the list of researchers below.

Match each finding with the correct researcher or researchers, A-E.

Write the correct letter A-E, in boxes 20-23 on your answer sheet.

20. A sense of identity can never be formed without relationships with other people.
21. A child’s awareness of self is related to a sense of mastery over things and people.
22. At a certain age, children’s sense of identity leads to aggressive behavior.
23. Observing their own reflection contributes to children‘s self-awareness.

List of Researchers

A James
B Cooley
C Lewis and Brooks-Gunn
D Mead
E Bronson


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