Archive Lessons Series

IELTS Lessons, written by Sam Morgan and Tom Speed

Today we will guide you through how to answer sentence completion activities for the IELTS General Training Reading test.

The question type looks like this:
​Complete the sentences below.
Choose NO MORE THAN 3 WORDS from the text for each answer.

1. In an emergency, a teacher will either phone the office or _________________.
Let's see what the best strategy to deal with this question is. After we go through the steps, you can try them yourself on a real question. 

Step 1

Skim read the passage. Try and get the general meaning of each point in the text (from 1-15). Don’t read every word, don’t worry about unfamiliar vocabulary. Some people like to make notes at the side of the text about the ‘gist’ (general meaning) of a paragraph, however, for this sort of text it is probably not necessary.

Skim reading the text first will allow you to come back and easily find the answers for questions in step 3.

Step 2

Carefully read the instructions for the question:
Complete the sentences below.
Choose NO MORE THAN 3 WORDS from the text for each answer.

1. Can you write 4 or more words for an answer?
2. Do you have to spell the words correctly?
3. Does the grammar of the sentence have to be accurate?

​It seems like a simple thing to do but many candidates don’t read the instructions or misunderstand the instructions and so answer questions incorrectly. Make sure you understand what you have to do before you write any answers.

Step 3

Read the questions.
Read the questions and underline any key words. Because you skim read the text in step 1, you should have an idea where in the text the answer for each question should be found. Locate the answer and write it. Remember to:
  • Think of synonyms (words with similar meanings) of words in the questions to help you to find answers in the text.
  • Make sure you don’t write too many words.
  • Make sure the words you write fit into the grammar of the sentence.
  • Check your spelling.
​Now follow the 3 steps to answer questions 1-8.

Question 1-8 

Complete the sentences below
Choose NO MORE THAN 3 WORDS from the text for each answer.

Type your answers below.
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, students gather in the quad in .

Answer Explanations

Open the boxes below to see why these are the answers.
Answer Explanation
​1. send a messenger
Not all answers will be found in the main part of the text. This one is found above the numbered points. Make sure you don’t forget to skim over the whole text before you read the questions as this helps you to speed up answering the questions
2. short bell rings
A number and several are synonyms. This helps you locate the answer. Often, pairs of synonyms in the text and question help you to find answers
3. nearest staircase
Vacate and leave are synonyms.
4. quadrangle
Brisk fashion and quickly are synonyms.
5. All support staff
Will do the same refers back to ‘ the paved quadrangle’. So we can infer the support staff will join everyone else there.
6. ​the roll
Check the roll and mark the roll are synonyms.
7. all clear
After is used to sequence the actions and provides a clue that we are looking for the event/thing that occurs before everyone may return to class.
8. their home-room groups
The clue to answering this question correctly is the preposition in. You must look for prepositional phrases (preposition+noun) that begin with in. Home-room is counted as one word because it is hyphenated (the two parts are joined with a line).

Remember our tips and practice as much as you can before the test. If you have questions, leave them in the comments section below. See you next time!