Text completion questions in IELTS are one of the most common question types. You need to be able to complete either a sentence or a short summary of the text, using either words from the text or words provided in a box.
There are two different types of instruction for text-completion questions.
- Use words from the text
- Use words from a box
Here’s a short example:
Text: The importance that used to be attached to ‘working in the city’ is slowly becoming less significant. Apart from a few remaining areas like Wall Street in New York, the actual place where most of the work is completed has little or no impact on whether the work is successful. On occasions when appearance is important, many business people often prefer to meet clients in a more neutral environment such as a restaurant or conference room.
Question 1 (use words from the text)
Complete the sentence below with words taken from the passage. Use NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS.
1. Having an office in the city is __________.
Answer: Less significant / Becoming less significant
Question 2. (use words from a box)
Complete the sentence below. Choose your answer from the box.
b _____________________ is one of the exceptions to this trend.
Answer: Wall Street
Here are some points that will help with this question type:
The text you are completing will not be in the same order as the reading text. For example, the reading text may start by talking about the history of a company, then move on to discuss their products, whereas the completion passage may ask first about products and then about the history.
The most useful skill with these questions is the ability to identify synonyms and parallel expressions – that is, the same information but presented using different words or constructions. For example, the text may say ‘This is now known as…’ but the text completion passage ‘This has more recently been referred to as’.
Looking for names of people or places, as well as dates and times, will often help you identify the approximate area for the answer. For example, the text may say ‘New Zealand is considered by many to be an ideal tourist destination’ – in that case, it is worth scanning the text for references to New Zealand.
Look closely at the instructions – they could range from USE NO MORE THAN ONE WORD FROM THE BOX to USE NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS AND/OR A NUMBER FROM THE TEXT. Writing too many words than the limit given will mean your answer is automatically wrong! A useful hint though – if the instructions state ‘WORDS AND/OR A NUMBER’, then at least one of the answers will be or contain a number.
Once you have found what you think is the answer, read the summary with your answer included and check the grammar – obviously the summary you are completing must be accurate or it isn’t the correct answer!