IELTS academic reading sentence completion

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Table of contents

  1. IELTS academic reading sentence completion
  2. IELTS academic reading sentence completion- Strategies & tips to solve
  3. Skills required to solve sentence completion question
  4. Common challenges faced while answering sentence completion question
  5. Sentence completion skill-building exercise 1
  6. Sentence completion skill-building exercise 2
  7. Sentence completion skill-building exercise 3
  8. Answers for skill-building exercises
  9. Conclusion

In IELTS academic reading sentence completion question type, you will come across some tricky questions and crack these questions easily. We have shared with you a few tips and instructions given. In sentence completion question type, you are asked to fill in the blanks with correct words/numbers by understanding the given passage. You need to skim and scan the passage to identify the correct word/number from the given passage.

Sentence completion question type is the general test to check your vocabulary and logical thinking. In this question type, incomplete sentences with blanks will be given, and ask you to complete the sentences with the appropriate words/numbers. You need to understand the given passage and fill the gaps with the missing information to complete the sentence. 

The sentence completion question type is one of the most important IELTS academic reading question types in the IELTS academic reading module. To help you out, we include everything about IELTS academic reading sentence completion questions in this article. We hope that this article helps you to attain a good score in the IELTS academic reading task.

IELTS academic reading sentence completion- Strategies & tips to solve

These are 15 expert tips & strategies to crack the IELTS academic reading sentence completion test perfectly. Our primary goal with these IELTS academic reading sentence completion tips & strategies is to give you more confidence to solve the task with ease. 

1. Read the given instructions carefully before answering the questions. Skipping instructions is not advisable.

2. In the sentence completion question, you need to fill in the blanks with the correct answers to complete the sentence.

3. Read the question sentence twice, take the keyword, compare it with the passage to get the matched word/number.

5. Remember you must change the word form. The answer should be similar to the word in the passage.

6. Read the given passage clearly and then go for the questions 

7. Read the question twice or thrice and try to fill the gap on your own by recollecting the passage. 

8. Then you match your own word with the passage and get the correct word from the passage.

9. Remember that your chosen word should not exceed the word limit.

10. Check what kind of words you are looking for like verbs, nouns(singular/plural) or adjectives, etc.

11. Do not repeat any word which is already in the question before or after the blank.

12. The questions will be in order. So, start to look for the next answer right below where you discovered the previous answer. 

13. A good vocabulary helps you to answer sentence completion question types with ease.

14. Some new words may scare you, but remembering the given tips and strategies will help you respond with confidence.

15. Don't waste your time looking for a single answer for a long time. If you don't get an answer, move on to the next question. You can try to find it again once you've finished answering all of the questions.

Hope these IELTS academic reading sentence completion tips & strategies will help you achieve a high band score. 

Also, read IELTS academic reading tips

Skills required to solve sentence completion question

By using sentence completion questions, your capability and patience will be tested in IELTS academic reading exams. To solve this task without any discomfort, there are some skills needed. They are as follows,

  • Complete focus and attentiveness
  • Patience to read it twice or thrice if you don't get it the first time.
  • Grasping the right keywords
  • Identifying the appropriate words and synonyms
  • Paraphrase understanding
  • Answering questions based on tips and instructions
  • Time-management

Common challenges faced while answering sentence completion question 

When you avoid the mistakes described below, you will be able to answer the sentence completion question better and also you can increase your overall band score in the IELTS academic readings exams.

  • Nervousness when answering - Relax and start answering with confidence.
  • Not paying attention to the tips and instructions.
  • Instead of looking for synonyms or related meanings, search for the specific keyword.
  • Not understanding the paraphrasing sentences.
  • Finally, wasting time trying to locate the word prior to the blank.

Sentence completion skill-building exercise 1 

Answer questions 1-5 which are based on the reading passage below.

The Halifax Explosion

Before the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima in 1945, the largest-ever non-natural explosion had taken place in 1917 in the eastern Canadian port city of Halifax. With the outbreak of World War I, Halifax was effectively transformed into a boomtown. Convoys gathered weekly in Bedford Basin (the north-western end of Halifax Harbour) in order to traverse the Atlantic, and Halifax Harbour became heavy with vessels of one variety or another. This spike in boat traffic was not dealt with efficiently, and collisions became almost normal.

On December 1st, 1917, the French vessel Mont Blanc left New York in order to join a convoy in Halifax after being loaded with 226,797 kilograms of TNT (an explosive), 223,188 kilograms of benzol (a type of gasoline), 1,602,519 kilograms of wet picric acid (an explosive), and 544,311 kilograms of dry picric acid (another explosive). On December 6th, the Mont Blanc was ushered into Halifax’s harbour after the U-boat nets had been raised.

At the same time, the cargoless Norwegian ship, Imo, left Bedford Basin en route to New York in order to pick up relief items for transport to war-torn Belgium. Imo was behind schedule and attempting to remedy that. She passed a boat on the wrong side before sending a tugboat retreating to port. By the time she reached the Narrows, she was in the wrong channel and going too fast. The Mont Blanc sounded her whistle, but the Imo sounded back twice, refusing to alter course. At the last moment, the Mont Blanc veered, and the Imo reversed, but it was too late. From the gash formed in the French boat’s hull seeped a noxious spiral of oily, orange-dappled smoke. Mont Blanc’s crew rowed to shore on the Dartmouth side, but no one could decipher their warnings. Their fiery vessel then casually drifted toward the Halifax side where it came to rest against one of the piers.

This spectacle drew thousands of onlookers. People crowded docks and windows filled with curious faces. As many as 1,600 died instantly when the boat exploded. Around 9,000 were injured, 6,000 seriously so. Approximately 12,000 buildings were severely damaged; virtually every building in town was damaged to some extent; 1,630 were rendered nonexistent. Around 6,000 people were made homeless, and 25,000 people (half the population) were left without suitable housing.

The Halifax Explosion, as it became known, was the largest manmade detonation to date, approximately one-fifth the ferocity of the bomb later dropped on Hiroshima. It sent up a column of smoke reckoned to be 7,000 metres in height. It was felt more than 480 kilometres away. It flung a ship gun barrel some 5.5 kilometres, and part of an anchor, which weighed 517 kilograms, around 3 kilometres. The blast absolutely flattened a district known as Richmond. It also caused a tsunami that saw a wave 18 metres above the high-water mark depositing the Imo onto the shore of the Dartmouth side. The pressure wave of air that was produced snapped trees, bent iron rails, and grounded ships. That evening, a blizzard commenced, and it would continue until the next day, leaving 40 centimetres of snow in its wake. Consequently, many of those trapped within collapsed structures died of exposure. Historians put the death toll of the Halifax Explosion at approximately 2,000.

Adapted from a passage in ‘A Sort of Homecoming – In Search of Canada’ by Troy Parfitt

Questions 1-5

Complete the sentences using NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS from the passage for each answer

1. During World War One, Halifax Harbour was unable to handle the increased shipping traffic properly, and there were numerous __________.
2. The Imo was not in the correct _________and travelling too fast.
3. ___________of people were watching the burning ship when it exploded.
4. The Halifax Explosion had about ____________of the power of the Hiroshima bomb.
5. Freezing weather brought by a blizzard caused the death of some survivors who were __________under collapsed buildings.

Check answer for this exercise

Check more IELTS academic reading sentence completion exercises with answers

Sentence completion skill-building exercise 2 

Answer Questions 1-7 which are based on the reading passage below.

Alaskans’ vitamin D production slows to a halt

Interested people are needed to participate in a one-year study to assess the effects of long dark winters on the vitamin D and calcium levels of Fairbanks residents.

So began a recruitment poster Meredith Tallas created 25 years ago. Now living in Oakland, California, Tallas was a University of Alaska Fairbanks student in 1983 who wanted to study how levels of a vitamin related to sun exposure fluctuated in people living so far from the equator. “The most obvious vitamin to study in Alaska is vitamin D, because of the low light in winter,” Tallas said recently over the phone from her office in Berkeley.

Forty-seven people responded to Tallas’ 1983 request, and her master’s project was underway. By looking at the blood work of those Fairbanks residents every month and analyzing their diets, she charted their levels of vitamin D, which our skin magically produces after exposure to a certain amount of sunshine. We also get vitamin D from foods, such as vitamin-D enriched milk and margarine, and fish (salmon are a good source). Vitamin D is important for the prevention of bone diseases, diabetes, and other maladies.

If you live at a latitude farther north than about 42 degrees (Boston, Detroit, or Eugene, Oregon), the sun is too low on the horizon from November through February for your skin to produce vitamin D, according to the National Institutes of Health. Tallas also saw another potential Alaska limitation on the natural pathway to vitamin D production.

“Most outdoor activity requires covering all but the face and hands approximately seven months of the year,” she wrote in her thesis. “During the summer months residents keep much of their bodies clothed because of the persistent and annoying mosquitoes and biting flies and because of this, an Alaskan summer suntan becomes one of the face and hands.”

But even over bundled people like Alaskans show signs of enhanced vitamin D production from the sun. Tallas found the highest levels of vitamin D in the Fairbanks volunteers’ blood in July, and the lowest levels in March. Tallas attributed the July high occurring about a month after summer solstice to the time needed for the body’s processing of sunlight and the conversion to vitamin D.

In Tallas’ study, volunteers showed low levels of vitamin D in the winter months, but most got sufficient doses of vitamin D from sources other than the sun. Tallas also found that males had an average of 16 percent more vitamin D in their blood throughout the study, which she attributed in part to men being outside more.

In charting an average for people’s time outside (you can’t convert sunlight to vitamin D through windows), she found December was the low point of sunlight exposure when the sun struck the skin of her volunteers for less than 20 minutes per day. People spent an average of more than two hours exposed to Alaska sunlight in June and July. They seemed to hunker down in October when time outside in the sun dropped to about half an hour after almost two hours of daily sun exposure in September.

Vitamin D levels in the volunteers’ blood dropped in August, September, October, November, December, January, February, and March, but Tallas saw an occasional leap in midwinter. “When someone had gone to Hawaii, we could see, very exactly, a significant spike in their vitamin D levels,” Tallas said. “The only surprise was how it came a month or two after.”

In her thesis, Tallas wrote that a midwinter trip to somewhere close to the equator would be a good thing for boosting Alaskans’ vitamin D levels. “Presuming that an individual’s lowest circulating vitamin D level is found in March or April, such trips could potentially have a very significant effect in improving late winter vitamin D status,” she wrote in her thesis. “Unfortunately a majority of Alaskan residents do not take such trips often.” An easy alternative for Alaskans not travelling southward during the winter is eating foods rich in vitamin D or taking vitamin D supplements, Tallas said.

Questions 1 - 7

Complete the sentences below

Write ONE WORD ONLY from the passage for each answer.

1  Tallas invited Fairbank residents to her _____ through an advertisement.
2 Tallas examined the food intake as well as ______ samples of the subjects to record their vitamin D levels.
3 As you move up _________, there is insufficient availability of sunlight.
4 To avoid insect bites, Alaskans remain almost entirely ______.
5 Spending more time _____ led to higher vitamin D levels in male volunteers.
6 At its lowest, Alaskans are exposed to the sun for only a few _________ every day.
7 A _____ to sunny regions during winters can surge the vitamin D levels of Alaskans.

Check answer for this exercise

Attempt this free IELTS academic reading sentence completion mock test

Sentence completion skill-building exercise 3 

Answer questions 1-8 which are based on the reading passage below.

HOW GEESE MIGRATE

Weighing over twenty pounds, the Canada Goose is the largest in the world. Generally, most geese weigh around 5 to 14 pounds. Females are smaller in size than their male counterparts. A full-grown Canada goose has a wingspan of 50 to 75 inches. 

The Canada goose is the most widely distributed in North America. The breeding grounds of the geese cover the stretch from eastern Labrador to Western Alaska, and it is the only goose in North America to breed south of 49°N. The geese are known to occupy a wide range of habitats in temperate to low arctic areas including The Tundra which is not so rich in geographical features, The Boreal forest, The Parklands, The Prairies, meadows, and the higher mountains. 

For most goose populations, nesting areas in the Arctic are secure; however, the development of gas and oil industries poses a danger to these groups. During migration, the geese head for warmer places where food is readily available. Canada geese migrate in the V- formation and are always in large groups. Scientists believe that geese travel in V-formation because of what is called the ‘drafting effect.’ It aids the birds to preserve their energy as they cover long distances. The same paths are followed by the migrating birds each year. The name given to these paths is ‘flyways’ or ‘routes’. The four flyways that the Canada Geese use are: the Atlantic Flyway which is along the eastern coast of North America, the Mississippi Flyway, the Central Flyway which spans the Rocky Mountains, and the Pacific Flyway which is the route along the west of the Rocky Mountains.

Canada geese follow seasonal patterns of migration. The autumn migration is seen from September to the starting of November. The early migrant geese are likely to migrate faster as they spend less time at the designated rest stops. Some geese are known to return year after year to the same nesting grounds and lay their eggs with their partners. The chicks are raised in the same way every year. We know this from the records of many geese that have been tagged by scientists on the East Coast. However, It has been noticed that a few migratory populations of the Canada Goose are not flying as far south in the winter months as they used to. This Northward range shift is probably because of the availability of waste grain in the fall and winter months. Agricultural fields offer food that is available in abundance and is also of superior quality for the geese compared to natural crops. Changing weather patterns and hunting pressure are the other reasons. 

Every autumn, the snow geese move from their chief breeding area in central Canada to Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge where they make a stopover before moving to their destination in the Gulf of Mexico. They breed during the Arctic summers and then migrate to Mexico to spend the winter. During the summer, the young geese grow rapidly and become ready to fly. By the end of August, the birds make their journey to Mexico with the young ones on their first migration. They travel back to Canada in late spring along with their young ones. Some birds make the entire journey without stopping for rest, making it a journey of 70 straight hours of flying. Most of the geese are not inclined to make a stop on their return journey north as they are eagerly waiting to mate.

The Squaw Creek National Park is an essential stopover for the geese on the Central Flyway migratory route. The area was a private hunting area, but now the wildlife here is protected by law.

Questions 1 - 8 

Complete the sentences below.

Write NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS from the passage for each answer.

1 The geese live in various types of ________.
2 Extraction of ______ and ______ in the Arctic can be a threat to goose population.
3 Migrating geese can save energy due to the _______ created by flying in V-formation.
4 Some groups of Canada goose do not migrate to the far south anymore because they can get plentiful _______ on farmlands.
5 After _______ in central Canada, Snow geese migrate to Mexico for the winters.
6 The return journey to Canada takes place by the end of ________.
7 Some geese do not take _______ as they fly back to the north.
8 _________ is not allowed in the Squaw Creek National Park.

Check answer for this exercise

Check more IELTS academic reading sentence completion practice questions

Answers for skill-building exercises

  • Answers for skill-building exercise 1

(Note: The text in italics is from the reading passage and shows the location from where the answer is taken or inferred. The text in the regular font explains the answer in detail.)

1. Collisions 

Explanation: Paragraph 1 – This spike in boat traffic was not dealt with efficiently and collisions became almost normal. During World War One, Halifax Harbour was unable to properly handle the increased shipping traffic, and there were numerous collisions.

2. channel

Explanation: Paragraph 3 – By the time she reached the Narrows, she was in the wrong channel and going too fast. The Imo was not in the correct channel and travelling too fast.

3.  Thousands 

Explanation: Paragraph 4 – This spectacle drew thousands of onlookers. Thousands of people were watching the burning ship when it exploded.

4. one-fifth 

Explanation: Paragraph 5 – The Halifax Explosion, as it became known, was the largest manmade detonation to date, approximately one-fifth the ferocity of the bomb later dropped on Hiroshima. The Halifax Explosion had about one-fifth of the power of the Hiroshima bomb.

5. trapped 

Explanation: Paragraph 5 – Consequently, many of those trapped within collapsed structures died of exposure. Freezing weather brought by a blizzard caused the death of some survivors who were trapped under collapsed buildings.

  • Answers for skill-building exercise 2

(Note: The text in italics is from the reading passage and shows the location from where the answer is taken or inferred. The text in the regular font explains the answer in detail.)

1. study/ project

Explanation: The subtitle of the passage and the first sentence of the first paragraph are answered. Interested people are needed to participate in a one-year study to assess the effects of long dark winters on the vitamin D and calcium levels of Fairbanks residents. So began a recruitment poster Meredith Tallas created 25 years ago.


Paragraph 2 - Forty-seven people responded to Tallas’ 1983 request, and her master’s project was underway.

2. blood

Explanation: Paragraph 2 - By looking at the blood work of those Fairbanks residents every month and analyzing their diets, she charted their levels of vitamin D,...

3. north 

Explanation: Paragraph 3 - If you live at a latitude farther north than about 42 degrees (Boston, Detroit, or Eugene, Oregon), the sun is too low on the horizon from November through February for your skin to produce vitamin D,...

4. clothed

Explanation: Paragraph 4 - “During the summer months residents keep much of their bodies clothed because of the persistent and annoying mosquitoes and biting flies…

5. outside

Explanation: Paragraph 6 - Tallas also found that males had an average of 16 percent more vitamin D in their blood throughout the study, which she attributed in part to men being outside more.

6. minutes

Explanation: Paragraph 7- … she found December was the low point of sunlight exposure when the sun struck the skin of her volunteers for less than 20 minutes per day.

7. trip 

Explanation: Paragraph 9 - In her thesis, Tallas wrote that a midwinter trip to somewhere close to the equator would be a good thing for boosting Alaskans’ vitamin D levels.

  • Answers for skill-building exercise 3

(Note: The text in italics is from the reading passage and shows the location from where the answer is taken or inferred. The text in the regular font explains the answer in detail.)

1. habitats

Explanation: Paragraph 2 - The geese are known to occupy a wide range of habitats in temperate to low arctic areas including the tundra …

2. oil, gas/ gas, oil 

Explanation: Paragraph 3 - For most goose populations, nesting areas in the Arctic are secure; however, the development of gas and oil industries poses a danger to these groups.

3. drafting effect

Explanation: Paragraph 3 - Scientists believe that geese travel in V-formation because of what is called the ‘drafting effect.’ It aids the birds to preserve their energy as they cover long distances.

4. food/ waste grain

Explanation: Paragraph 4 - However, it has been noticed that a few migratory populations of the Canada Goose are not flying as far south in the winter months as they used to. This Northward range shift is probably because of the availability of waste grain in the fall and winter months. Agricultural fields offer food that is available in abundance ...

5. breeding 

Explanation: Paragraph 5 - Every autumn, the snow geese move from their chief breeding area in central Canada to … before moving to their destination in the Gulf of Mexico. They breed during the Arctic summers and then migrate to Mexico to spend the winter.

6. spring

Explanation: Paragraph 5 - They travel back to Canada in late spring along with their young ones.

7. rest

Explanation: Paragraph 5 - Some birds make the entire journey without stopping for rest; …

8. Hunting

Explanation: Paragraph 6 - The Squaw Creek National Park is an essential stopover for the geese on the Central Flyway migratory route. The area was a private hunting area, but now the wildlife here is protected by law. 

Also, check IELTS academic reading short answer question

The below mentioned reading passages let you know the significance of the sentence completion question type. Check them for more practice.

Conclusion 

The tips, strategies, and exercises explained in this article will help to boost your skills and confidence in attempting the IELTS academic reading sentence completion question. We believe that this article will be more useful for you to achieve an 8+ band score in the IELTS academic reading task.

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Global Headquarters

Kanan Intl EdTech Inc

229, Yonge Street Suite 450 Toronto Ontario, Canada M5B 1N9

India Headquarters

Kanan International Pvt. Ltd.

D-wing, 2nd Floor, Trident Complex, Ellora Park Vadiwadi Road, Vadodara, Gujarat 390007

IT/ Digital Campus

Chennai Office

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Copyright © 2022 KANAN INT EDTECH INC. All rights reserved.