ielts reading sentence completion

While the nature of the IELTS reading Sentence Completion question type may seem straight forward, it may cause issues to some, as it requires strong scanning skills to find specific information within the reading test. If you are unsure about how to answer IELTS Sentence Completion questions, do not worry, Benchmark IELTS has got some helpful tips and tricks for you, as well as example questions to help you!

1. Question Overview

The Sentence Completion question type is one of fourteen (14) question types on the Reading Section of the IELTS exam.

1.1. Objective: You must identify words in the text to complete sentences in the questions.

1.2. 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. Good news, answers tend to come in order!

If you feel the need help understanding how to complete this task, continue reading for tips and our practice test!

Check out our article with an overview of all the Reading question types on the IELTS exam!

2. IELTS Reading Sentence Completion Example


3. Steps to Follow

Wondering how to answer IELTS reading questions that require you to complete sentences? Follow our steps below!

3.1. 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.

3.2. 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.

IELTS writing correction

3.3 Paraphrase the Sentences

When you paraphrase a sentence, you say what it means using other words, looking in particular at key words or phrases:


‘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.

3.4 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.

IELTS Reading Question Types List

3.5 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.

3.6 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.

3.7 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.



You may use up to 2 words.


The world of cinema comprises many roles and contributions that deserve to be recognised. The event occurs each year and aims to reward a range of technical aspects of cinematography. Popular awards include Best Actor, Best Animated Feature and Best Director.


The Oscars are a celebration of cinema that takes place every





The key information in the text is underlined here:

The event occurs each year and aims to reward a range of technical aspects of cinematography.

We found the word ‘cinematography’, which refers to the field of film-making, as well as the synonyms ‘event’ and ‘occurs’, followed by the phrase ‘each year’, meaning every year. Of these two words, the noun is ‘year’.

4. Tips & Tricks

3.1 You must read the instructions carefully. They will tell you the maximum number of words to use in your answers.

3.2 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.

3.3 During the paraphrasing process, think of synonyms to key words and/or phrases in sentences:


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

IELTS writing correction

3.4 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.

3.5  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.

3.6  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.

5. Mock Test

The Health Benefits of Meditation

Meditation is scientifically known for having numerous benefits on a person’s mental and physical health. It has been practised for centuries by Hindu, Buddhist and Taoist communities, and it is now a popular way for many to help cope with stress. It is a fairly simple process which works best under certain conditions. Those who practise meditation should find a quiet place to sit. They are then encouraged to focus on one thing, like their breathing, for example. To help focus on breathing, it is a good idea to count as air is being inhaled, and again as it is being exhaled. Focusing on one thing only may greatly help individuals suffering from anxiety. For best results, it is recommended to meditate for five minutes every day, to help build discipline and skill. The more meditation is practised, the more natural it becomes to engage in meditation, and the focus of each session shifts from getting into meditation to enjoying the actual experience and the positive outcomes it offers.

Research shows a number of benefits resulting from meditation. One important benefit is a reduction in stress, whether it is solely mental or manifests itself physically. For instance, meditation has shown to promote a decrease in stress in individuals suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, social anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorders. Meditation also helps lower the occurrence of depression in some people.

Meditation seems to have a positive impact on memory and mental clarity, as meditating regularly can help fight age-related memory loss and dementia. It also seems to have a positive effect on people’s attention span, and it develops the necessary mental discipline to avoid bad habits. Additionally, meditation proves to be helpful in reducing the time it might take for some to fall asleep, as well as better the quality of sleep, which in turn affects a range of mental and physical aspects.

Speaking of physical aspects, meditation helps reduce stress which affects such conditions as irritable bowel syndrome and fibromyalgia. It can help reduce pain and amplify emotion regulation for those suffering from chronic pain, when combined with medical care. Moreover, as blood pressure decreases during meditation, in the long term and through continuous practice, meditation may help prevent heart disease through reducing the strain on the heart and blood vessels.

In addition to all those health benefits, meditation is a way for people to improve and gain a better understanding of themselves, to develop kindness towards themselves and increase positive feelings and actions towards other people.

Text edited, adapted and partially paraphrased from the following source

Questions 1 – 3

Complete the sentences below.

Choose NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS from the text for each answer.

IELTS Reading Sentence Completion Tips & Practice

  1. For people who experience anxiety, it is recommended they breathe in and out while they to help them focus on one activity only.
  2. Studies have demonstrated that meditation is useful in reducing the frequency of
  3. In terms of physical health benefits, meditation reduces which decreases the chances of developing cardiovascular diseases.
    blood pressure
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