IELTS Reading test format

IELTS reading section judges you on a plethora of skills. You can see there are eleven types of questions judging eleven types of comprehension skills. Before understanding the sentence completion part, let us get into the details of the entire reading section:

  1. Question Type 1 – Multiple Choice.

Skill Assessed- Your ability to understand particular points or the overall idea of the passage.

  1. Question Type 2 – Identifying Information [True/False/Not Given]

Skill Assessed- Ability to recognize the information conveyed in the passage.

  1. Question Type 3 – Identifying Writer’s Claims/Views

       Skill Assessed- Ability to identify the ideas and opinions of the writer

  1. Question Type 4 – Matching Information.

        Skill Assessed- Ability to scan a text to find specific information

  1. Question Type 5 – Matching Headings.

       Skill Assessed- Ability to recognize the main idea or theme of a particular paragraph

  1. Question Type 6 – Matching Features.

       Skill Assessed- Ability to determine relationships and connections between facts

  1. Question Type 7 – Match Sentence Endings.

        Skill Assessed- Ability to understand the main idea within the sentence

  1. Question Type 8 – Sentence Completion.

        Skill Assessed- Ability to locate specific information from the passage and the ability to paraphrase.

  1. Question Type 9 – Summary, Note, Table, Flowchart Completion

       Skill Assessed- Ability to identify the main idea of the passage and the type of words that fits into the gap

  1. Question Type 10 – Diagram Label Completion

Skill Assessed- Ability to relate the information in the text to the labels in the diagram

  1. Question Type 11 – Short-Answer Questions

Skill Assessed- Ability to understand and locate the information given in the passage.

As evident from the types of questions and the skills they assess, the IELTS reading component is created in a very strategic manner. In order to nail it, you need to prepare strategically for your Reading test.

Let us now move on to the sentence completion part.

Sentence completion strategies

In this kind of question, you will be given a number of sentences with gaps in them and will be asked to complete the sentences with words from the reading text. It may sound daunting, but if you have strategies then you will breeze through it.

First, let us see how the sentence completion questions look like:

Questions 12-14

Complete each sentence with the correct ending, A-E, below.

A requires both perceptual and social intelligence skills.

B focuses on how groups decide on an action.

C works in many fields, both artistic and scientific.

D leaves one open to criticism and rejection.

E involves understanding how organizations manage people.

12) Thinking like a successful iconoclast is demanding because it  

13) The concept of the social brain is useful to iconoclasts because it  

14) Iconoclasts are generally an asset because of their way of thinking

 Following are some strategies that will help you answer the above question successfully:

  1. Read the instructions carefully so that you don’t miss out on the crucial points.
  2. Keep in mind the number of words you have to write and whether you will have to keep the same words from the passage.
  3. Read the incomplete sentences first and try to predict the answer.
  4. See if the keywords can be replaced by synonyms or by paraphrasing.
  5. Locate the information after a quick scan. Do not spend too much time on it.
  6. Re-read the incomplete sentence and also the text carefully to confirm your answer.
  7. Once you’ve found the answer, check if it fits into the statement grammatically and doesn’t exceed the word limit.
  8. Keep an eye out for spelling mistakes.
  9. Repeat with other questions.

Tips on sentence completion

Once you have an established strategy it should not be too difficult to ace the reading test. However, in case you are still fumbling a bit, then let us offer you some tips on how to correctly answer the sentence completion questions:

  • Skimming and Scanning is a must-have skill to score well in IELTS Reading. Make sure to master it.
  • Keep a tab on the word count. You must stick to the number of words they asked for. Numbers like 57 is considered one word and so are hyphenated words like a mother-in-law.
  • If the questions instruct you to use “words from the text” you must comply and not use synonyms there.
  • Answer in the same order as the questions.
  • While scanning, keep paraphrasing in your head.
  • Make sure your answers fit grammatically in the sentences.


The sentence completion questions are clever little ways to assess your ability to paraphrase and to skim and scan a text. It is important to have these in mind while you prepare. Remember, these are skills that you need to polish, in order to score well. If you are armed with correct strategies and sound preparation, then acing the IELTS Reading section will be a cakewalk for you. 

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About the Author

Indulekha Prabha

My name is Indulekha Prabha. I am an English teacher and a content writer by profession. When I'm not working you can find me writing fiction, reading poetry and painting.

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