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paragraph selection ielts reading test

For this question type you have to match a statement with a particular paragraph. There are more paragraphs than questions and you can use a paragraph more than once. The best technique is to read the first paragraph and then look through the information points to see if one of them can be found in the first paragraph. This is because you are looking for specific information, so it is easier to read a paragraph and then look through the information points of the questions to see if the paragraph contained any of them. In addition, it is possible that one paragraph may be used for more than one answer so you should read through all of the questions when you look at a paragraph. Some paragraphs do not contain answers to any of the questions, so if you read a paragraph and can’t find a matching answer it is best to move on and not waste time looking for something that is not there.

Key Points:
1. Questions usually DO NOT follow the order of the text. You may have to scan backwards and forwards as you solve questions. Therefore, scanning skills are particularly important with this type of question.
2. Keywords in the question will sometimes only appear once in the text, but sometimes they will appear several times. Keywords that occur several times will be harder to match as you may have to look at several different parts of the text to ensure you have matched to the right answer.
3. The biggest problem is the fact that you need to look at the whole text. The answers could be anywhere in the text and they do not come in order, so it takes time.
4. Note that this is not the same type of question as matching headings to paragraphs
Approach:
1. Spend a couple of minutes looking at the questions and try to get a sense of information you are being asked to match to paragraphs.
2. Skim the text within 3 to 5 minutes. Pay a lot of attention to where information related to questions is located and even make marks on your page to help you later. Avoid, going to the questions to solve an answer while you are skimming as this will break your flow and lead to a poor skim which will cost you time in the long run.
3. Read the first question and establish a keyword to search for in the text.
4. Locate the keyword/synonym in the text.
5. Look for the correct answer. It should be somewhere close to the keyword in the same sentence and note that the keyword could occur in other parts of the text. If you are uncertain about an answer you may need to check all instances of the name/keyword in the text.
6. Repeat this strategy with other questions.

PRACTICE TASK

The Unexplained Powers of Animals
A
Most research on animal navigation has been carried out with homing pigeons, and this research over many decades has served only to deepen the problem of understanding their direction-finding ability. Navigation is goal-directed, and implies that the animals know where their home is even when they are in an unfamiliar place, and have to cross unfamiliar terrain.
B
Homing pigeons can find their way back to their loft over hundreds of miles of unfamiliar terrain. Migrating European swallows travel thousands of miles to their feeding grounds in Africa, and in the spring return to their native place. Some dogs, cats, horses and other domesticated animals also have a good sense of direction and can make their way home from unfamiliar places many miles away.
C
Pigeons do not know their way home by remembering the twists and turns of the outward journey, because birds taken in closed vans by devious routes find their way home perfectly well, as do birds that have been anaesthetized on the outward journey, or transported in rotating drums. They do not navigate by the sun, because pigeons can fly home on cloudy days and can even be trained to navigate at night. However, they may use the sun as a simple compass to keep their bearings. Although they use landmarks in familiar terrain, they can fly home from unfamiliar places hundreds of kilometres from their home, with no familiar landmarks. They cannot smell their home from hundreds of miles away, especially when it is downwind, although smell may play a part in their homing ability when they are close to familiar territory.
D
Some biologists hope that the homing of pigeons might turn out to be explicable in terms of a magnetic sense. But even if pigeons have a compass-sense (which is not proven), this could not explain their ability to navigate. If you were taken blindfold to an unknown destination and given a compass, you would know where north was, but not the direction of your home.
Questions 1 – 4
Which paragraph contains the following information?
1 navigational ability of pigeons is not easily confused
2 hoped for explanation still poses problems
3 importance of homing pigeons in navigational research
4 an explanation of why pigeons are not unique in their ability to navigate

ANSWERS

1. C 2. D 3. A 4. B

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