IELTS Reading Tips | Sentence Completion Question

How to master the Sentence Completion Question
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    How to master the Sentence Completion Question

  • While the nature of the IELTS reading completion question type may seem straight forward, it can cause problems for some, as it requires strong scanning skills to find specific information in the reading test. If you're not sure how to answer the IELTS sentence completion question, here are some helpful tips for you, as well as example questions to help you out.
  • IELTS Reading Tips - Sentence Completion
  • Objective: You must identify words in the text to complete sentences in the questions.
  • Skills Used: You will need to skim and scan the text for specific information. You will need to make sure you understand the text so you can select the words that would complete the sentences in the questions.
  • In IELTS Sentence Completion Question type, each question will be a sentence with a gap to fill in. It is important to understand the sentences in order to predict the types of words to look for in the text. Fortunately, answers tend to come in order!

You can follow the steps below:

  • Read the Instructions Carefully
  • The instructions in this task will tell you how many words you may choose from the text to use as your answer. You may use from 1 word up to the maximum number of words indicated in the instructions. For instance, if the instructions say up to 3 words, you may use 1, 2 or 3 words, but no more than 3.
  • Read and Understand the Questions
  • The questions will be sentences with gaps you will need to fill in, using words from the text. Make sure you read those sentences first, so that you understand the kind of information to look for, as well as the type of words you might need (noun, adjective, verb, etc).
  • Since you are required to find specific information in the text, it is essential that you read the sentences carefully and understand what they mean. Ask yourself what is the key information you are expected to find in the text? For example, if the sentence says ‘the Oscars are a celebration of cinema that takes place every .... .’, you will then need to look for information about movies in the text, but also about time as the phrase ‘takes place’ and the word ‘every’ suggest a reference to time frequency.
  • Paraphrase the Sentences
  • When you paraphrase a sentence, you say what it means using other words, looking in particular at key words or phrases. For example:
  • 'The Oscars are a celebration of cinema that takes place every ................ .'
    In other words: 'The Oscars is an event that honours films and happens every ................ .'
  • By explaining the sentences in different words, you increase your own comprehension of them, and you can find the meaning more easily within the text.
  • Attempt to Predict the Missing Words and Their Type
  • The gaps in the sentences will be words from the text, and the language preceding or succeeding them in the sentences will indicate the theme and the nature of the words you need to find. Ask yourself, what is the topic of this sentence? Am I looking for a verb, a noun, an adjective? This will make it easier to locate the words in the text.
  • Skim the Text
  • When you skim the text you read it quickly to understand the general idea. It is an effective way to familiarise yourself with the text, especially when you later need to find specific information and words in the text. Since the answers usually come in order, reading the text quickly should help you observe some words that might be come in handy when looking for answers in the text. Skimming can also provide you with a broad sense of the topic covered in each paragraph, which should help locate the information more easily.
  • Scan the Text for Information
  • Scanning the text means to reading it quickly while searching for specific information. This does not require you to read or understand every single word, so long as you are able to spot specific information that helps you answer the question, such as synonyms to key words you have paraphrased in the sentences.
  • Choose the Correct Answer
  • Once you are confident that you understand the sentences, you have come up with possible predictions for the gaps, and you have skimmed and scanned the text for specific information, you can choose the word(s) that would fill in the gap. You must choose the exact word or phrase from the passage. If the final sentence is grammatically incorrect, this means your answer is wrong.

Useful Tips:

  • You must read the instructions carefully. They will tell you the maximum number of words to use in your answers.
  • Read all the sentences before reading the text. The answers will usually come in order, so it is useful to know the theme of each sentence, so you can locate that theme within the text and find the missing words to fill in the gap in the sentences. Reading the sentences first will help you maximise the use of your time.
  • During the paraphrasing process, think of synonyms to key words and/or phrases in sentences; for example:
  • 'Casual clothes days are trending in businesses in the western world.'
  • casual clothes = casual wear, informal clothes/wear
    trending = rising in/gaining popularity, becoming more famous/common
    businesses = companies, firms
    western world = in the West
  • One great advantage of text skimming that scanning for specific information becomes easier, since you are more familiar with the content. Answers will be likely to come in order, so knowing the general idea of the text will be useful when trying to locate the topics in the sentences that need completing.
  • Remember to try and predict the language and the type of word you need to fill in the gap. If the sentence says ' – go to .......... ’ you will likely need a location, and therefore a word or combination of words that include a noun. If the sentence says ' – this is very ..........' you will need to choose an adjective.
  • Make sure you write the exact word or phrase as given in the passage. If you need to change the word from singular to plural or its tense for example, then you have chosen a wrong answer.
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