Reading task type eight: sentence completion

Task description

You will be provided with a number of incomplete sentences which you need to complete using information from the reading text. Generally you must complete the statement in three words or fewer, but confirm this with the instructions.

What is being tested is your ability to:
  • skim for general information
  • read for details
  • understand paraphrase in the incomplete sentences

Sample task

Complete the sentences below using words taken from the reading passage.

Use NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS for each answer.

Write your answers in boxes 1-3 on your answer sheet.

1One positive outcome was that the inquiries into the Titanic disaster sought to improve safety procedures by initiating .

2The Titanic's safety feature, which convinced most people that she wouldn't sink, was her .

3Passenger ships across the North Atlantic Ocean had had an excellent safety record in the .


How to approach sentence completion questions

Step 1:
Read the instructions carefully. Note that in the sample task you must only use words from the reading passage, and that you may use no more than three words to complete each sentence.
Step 2:
Briefly read through all the incomplete sentences to get an idea of what information you will have to find in the text.
Step 3:
Read the first sentence more carefully. Decide what information you will need. In this case, you will look for a section discussing inquiries about improving safety procedures.
Step 4:
Once you have found the relevant section of the reading text, look back at the incomplete sentence and decide what specific information you need to complete it. In this case, you need to find what was initiated.
Step 5:
Read that part of the text more carefully to find the answer. Remember that the correct answer you find in the text should fit the incomplete sentence grammatically. If not, you may need to look for another answer.

In some IELTS tests the instructions will not say 'using words taken from the text', in which case you can use your own words or change the form of the words in the reading text.

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