IELTS Reading: Sentence Completion Tips and Exercise

In this section,  we are going to look at the overview of sentence completion question type, common mistakes made by candidates, some important and useful tips and tricks to solve this type of questions and practice examples.


You have to complete the gap in a sentence with a word or words from the passage. You will have number of incomplete sentences which you are supposed to complete with the correct information from the reading passage. The answers and passages will not match word to word as they are paraphrased or synonyms can be used. So, these questions are as much your vocabulary tests as they are reading tests.


1. Trying to read the whole passage is found to be the biggest mistake sometimes. There is no need to read the whole passage to answer few questions.

2. Not reading the instructions carefully and then writing too many words.

3. Trying to match the exact same words given in the questions with the words mentioned in the passage. As the sentences are paraphrased, so candidates find it difficult to find the same words.

4. Writing the words without knowing context. The context of the question may differ from the passage by paraphrasing.

5. Spending too much time on one passage.


1. Read the instructions carefully before reading questions. If the instructions are ‘NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS’ then you are allowed to write one or two words. If the instructions are ‘NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS’ then you are allowed to write one, two or three words.

2. Try to find the sentences in passage based on synonyms or keywords to reduce the time consumption. Know the Importance of keywords.

3. Try to find what can be the type of your answer. Is it an adjective, a verb, an adverb or a noun? This can be beneficial to find the actual answer.

4. Read the question first. And scan for you probable answer in the passage. Think about the synonyms and paraphrase of your question.

5. The answers are in the same order as the questions.

6. Make sure your answer is suitable in sentence grammatically.

7. Scan through the passage and highlight the keywords. What is scanning?


Read the text below Find answer Questions 1- 8.

Emergency Procedures

In cases of emergency (e.g. fire), find the nearest teacher who will:

send a messenger at full speed to the Office or inform the Office via phone ext. 99.

Procedure For Evacuation

  1. Warning of an emergency evacuation will be marked by a number of short bell rings. (In the event of a power failure, this may be a hand-held bell or siren.)
  2. All class work will cease immediately.
  3. Students will leave their bags, books and other possessions where they are.
  4. Teachers will take the class rolls.
  5. Classes will vacate the premises using the nearest staircase. If these stairs are inaccessible, use the nearest alternative staircase. Do not use the lifts. Do not run.
  6. Each class, under the teacher’s supervision, will move in a brisk, orderly fashion to the paved quadrangle area adjacent to the car park.
  7. All support staff will do the same.
  8. The Marshalling Supervisor, Ms Randall, will be wearing a red cap and she will be waiting there with the master timetable and staff list in her possession.
  9. Students assemble in the quad with their teacher at the time of evacuation. The teacher will do a head count and check the roll.
  10. Each teacher sends a student to the Supervisor to report whether all students have been accounted for. After checking, students will sit down (in the event of rain or wet pavement they may remain standing).
  11. The Supervisor will inform the Office when all staff and students have been accounted for.
  12. All students, teaching staff and support personnel remain in the evacuation area until the All Clear signal is given.
  13. The All Clear will be a long bell ring or throe blasts on the siren.
  14. Students will return to class in an orderly manner under teacher guidance.
  15. In the event of an emergency occurring during lunch or breaks, students are to assemble in their home-room groups in the quad and await their home-room teacher.


Complete the sentence below.
Choose NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS from the text for each answer.

  1. In an emergency, a teacher will either phone the office or ………. .
  2. The signal for evacuation will normally be several ………. .
  3. If possible, students should leave the building by the ………. .
  4. They then walk quickly to the ………. .
  5. ………. will join the teachers and students in the quad.
  6. Each class teacher will count up his or her students and mark ………. .
  7. After the ………. , everyone may return to class.
  8. If there is an emergency at lunchtime, student gather in the quad in ………. and wait for their teacher.



(1) send a messenger

If you read the question first, you know that keyword is phone. Emergency and office are not keywords as the context of the text is about emergency evacuation so the words emergency and office can be used many times in the passage.(ref. strategy no. 7)

(2) short bell rings

In this question, the signal and several are the keywords. Most of the times, adjective becomes the keyword for the question. If you begin your scanning for signal and several, you must be thinking about their synonyms which are warning and a number of.(ref. strategy no. 4 & 7)

(3) nearest staircase/stairs

Many of the candidates fail to answer this question as there’s no matching word in the passage directly because the sentence is paraphrased. In this sentence try to match the context first. Scan for the synonyms of all the words in the sentence. students = classes, should leave = vacate, the building = the premises, by the = using the…… . (ref. strategy no. 4 & 3)

(4) (paved) quadrangle (area)

in a brisk = active so don’t get confused with this as an answer. quickly = in a brisk. orderly fashioned is an adjective and the answer is quadrangle. walk quickly is the keyword in this sentence.(ref. strategy no. 6 & 3)

(5) (all) support staff

     (who)      will join ? All support staff will do the same. (ref. strategy no. 3)

(6) the roll

count and mark are the keywords. mark = check. (ref. strategy no. 4 & 7)

(7) All Clear Signal

everyone is clearly mentioned so don’t get confused with sentence no. 15. After        (some activity)        . Until the        (some activity)       . (ref. strategy no. 6)

(8) (their) home-room groups

gather = assemble. students gather in the quad in their home-room groups . (ref. strategy no. 4)

From the above example, you can clearly see all the answers are in same order as the passage. (ref. strategy no. 5)


Practice these techniques and strategies. You can get the practice material from here.

I hope you find this section useful and if you have any queries or comments, please let me know below.

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