How To Solve Completion Type Questions In IELTS Listening In 5 Easy Steps

One might wonder why this particular type of question requires so much attention. Well, in all honesty it probably doesn’t but knowing...

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One might wonder why this particular type of question requires so much attention. Well, in all honesty it probably doesn’t but knowing the trick to solving each question type in the IELTS listening section makes all the difference between a band 9 and a band 8 or 7. In this article we delve deeper into why the completion type questions are something that require immense attention and knowledge.
The last section, a monologue by a lecturer or professor on an academic topic, will generally have the completion type questions.
Let us look at these questions from a sample paper.

Complete the sentences with not more than 2 words

  • Common levels of fluorescent lighting in offices are sufficient to elevate …………………… (blood pressure)
  • Lengthy daily exposure to moderately ……………… (high lighting) leads to diminished sexual performance.
  • Several studies suggest a link between exposure to light at night and risk of ………………. (breast cancer)
  • The risk of breast cancer increases due to ………………. (suppression) of nocturnal production of melatonin.

This particular audio clip is about light pollution and the effects of it on human health. The instructions are short and crisp here but essential. We’ve included correct answers to help you understand paraphrasing which we will talk about below.

Tips to solve completion type questions:

1. Scan the questions

It is essential to get an idea of what to look out for in the audio clip once you begin. Before you begin, scan the questions for keywords, the words before and after the gap and make a note of it. This holds true for not just this section but for your overall IELTS examination.
For example: This particular question clearly suggests that the answer is going to be a human condition which isn’t favourable, most likely a disease. In this case the correct answer is breast cancer.
Several studies suggest a link between exposure to light at night and risk of ……………….

2. Paraphrasing is essential

When you are instructed to keep to a word limit there are no exceptions. If you exceed it, it will lead to deductions. For example, in the above question, the correct answer is ‘breast cancer’ even though the audio may say ‘breast cancer in women’. You have to make such decisions all the time in the sentence completion type of questions. Make sure that you are answering the question correctly and paraphrasingwhere needed.

3. Learn to focus for longer periods of time

The answers are sequential and will be heard in gaps of 40 seconds. This isn’t an absolute but more or less the case. So, when you start an audio make sure you click in whenever you start to faze out. It is very common to miss essential information when you aren’t completely focused. In case you are unable to answer a question do not panic as this will only lead to you missing out on more information. For practice listen to podcasts or BBC radio and try to memorize the essence of each piece by remembering keywords.

4. You don’t need to understand everything

It may happen that you come across a topic that you have no idea about or cannot understand. This happens more often than not and it is no reason to panic. You should only be able to answer the questions, this isn’t a vocabulary test where you need to understand each word. So, keep calm and keep hunting. There is no negative scoring luckily. For example, this sentence may not make complete sense to you but what you need to look out for is what increases the risk of breast cancer. So, the moment you hear the speaker talk about breast cancer perk up those ears and tune in immediately.
The risk of breast cancer increases due to ………………. (suppression) of nocturnal production of melatonin.

5. Make rough notes

Common mistake is to transfer the answers straight onto the answer sheet without taking time to cross check instructions and the spelling of your answers. BIG mistake! Always dedicate 5 minutes to revision for all the sections. Especially for the listening section it is essential as you cannot revisit the clip and make sure you got it. You get only one shot at it. Make sure you note down the answers against the correct question number so that you don’t forget in the random jumble of words in your rough copy.

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