Sentence Completion Tips for IELTS Reading

In the IELTS Reading Exam, you will likely be required to do some sentence completion questions. They will look something like this:

Some governments feel that it is not wise to focus on a country’s ______________.

Pay attention to the question. It might say that you should use “no more than two words,” in which case you may only use one or two words to fill in the blank. Otherwise, it might say “no more than three words,” in which case you may only use one, two, or three words to fill in the blanks.


  1. Synonyms are going to be really important here. Read the incomplete question and then scan the text for synonyms of the words used.
  2. Pay attention to grammar. What can you predict about the answer? Do you need to write a noun, adjective, or adverb?
  3. You must use words from the text. Although the sentence will use synonyms to paraphrase the text, you will need exact words from the text.
  4. Questions will most likely appear in the same order as the text. That can help you locate the answer.
  5. When you find the answer, check it carefully so you are sure it is the right one. Again, grammar is important to making sure this is the correct answer.
  6. Pay attention to spelling. Don’t copy the answer too quickly.
  7. Move on quickly if you can’t find the answer. Don’t waste time with questions you really don’t know.

Author: David S. Wills

David S. Wills is the author of Scientologist! William S. Burroughs and the 'Weird Cult' and the founder/editor of Beatdom literary journal. He lives and works in rural China, and loves to travel. He has worked as an IELTS tutor since 2010, has completed both TEFL and CELTA courses, and has a certificate from Cambridge for Teaching Writing. In 2018, he wrote the popular IELTS handbook, Grammar for IELTS Writing. His other IELTS website is called IELTS Teaching.

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