Try to make use of these strategies and tips efficiently based on your learning style and you can crack these two question types.


1. Introduction to Sentence/Summary Completion Questions in IELTS Listening


In IELTS Listening Sentence/Summary Completion Questions, you will be given a list of sentences or a brief summary taken from the audio clip. Unfortunately, the vocabulary in the sentences or summary will be not the same as that in the clip. Instead, it will be shown in the form of synonyms and paraphrases as a trick to test your vocabulary range as well as listening comprehension. 


Ielts Listening Sentence/Summary Completion Questions

sentence completion ielts listening


Normally, you have to fill in words within a sentence or a summary while listening to the recording to complete.

Through IELTS Listening Sentence/Summary Completion Questions, the examiners want to test your:


  • listening comprehension


  • ability to identify and understand keywords, synonyms and paraphrases


Despite the difficulty of these two question types in which you are required to fully understand the meaning of sentences or the summary, then listen and fill out blanks at the same time, a good strategy will help you answer those successfully.


>>> Practice now: IELTS Listening Practice Test


2. IELTS Listening Sentence/Summary Completion Questions Strategies



ielts listening sentence completion strategies


2.1. Read the questions and requirements carefully


The instructions in all question types in IELTS Listening, especially Sentence/Summary Completion Questions play a pivotal role in deciding whether your answers are accepted or not. The word limit will be described as ONLY ONE WORD or NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS or NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS AND/OR A NUMBER, so make sure that your answers will not exceed this requirement. 


IELTS Listening Sentence Completion


2.2. Read the incomplete sentences/summary and Identify keywords 


The meaning of the incomplete sentences or the summary must be completely understood when you are given a few seconds to look at questions before jumping into the listening recording. Whilst reading those sentences or the summary,  identify and underline or highlight keywords that help you focus more during the listening process.


Sentence/Summary Completion Questions in Ielts Listening


2.3. Predict the answers


Take advantage of the given time for preparation also to identify the word type of each blank. Additionally, try to guess the answers based on your knowledge and you may find some of those are the answers you are looking for. Remember that you cannot completely stick to these predictions for the final answers since this is the Listening test and it is requisite to base on the script, not your background knowledge.


For example, in the picture below, the first gap should be a verb because it stands behind the phrase “in order to” indicating a purpose. Besides, you can immediately guess “protect” for the blank on the basis of the sentence’s meaning (the army’s responsibility is to protect the emperor). 


ielts listening summary completion


Moreover, the audio will not use the same words or phrases as in the incomplete sentences or summary, hence, think of the possible synonyms and paraphrases that may appear.


For instance, the statement “football is the most favorite game all around the world” can become “wherever you go on earth, you will find no other sports that can beat the popularity of football” in the audio.


2.4. Listen and fill in the blanks


Now, when running out of preparation time, you will start listening to the audio and fill in the blank. Try to focus on the keywords identified, and synonyms or paraphrases as well. 


2.5. Double-check answers


At the end of the Listening test, 10 minutes will be given for double-checking and transferring your answers to the answer sheet. The answers must be correctly written in terms of spelling, and grammatically make sense. 


3. Common problems and mistakes & Tips for Sentence/Summary Completion Questions in IELTS Listening


sentence summary completion ielts listening tips


Common Problems and Mistakes Tips
1. Ignore the instructions

Many candidates forget to take the instructions into consideration then lose a point because of going beyond the word limit. 

Read the instructions in the first place. Be careful with NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS AND/OR A NUMBER.

(Remember that numbers are written numerically, such as 40; and hyphenated words, such as garden-filled, count as one word.)

2. Leaving blank answers

A predictive answer may gain you a point so don’t leave any answers blank

Write down your predictive answers on the answer sheet even when you are unsure about those
3. Looking for the exact same words or phrases in the recording after reading the incomplete sentences or the summary

Changeable keywords are likely to be changed into different forms such as synonyms or paraphrases, hence, don’t try to find identical words or phrases when listening or you will miss the information

Think of and/or note down possible synonyms or paraphrases of keywords in the summary in the preparation step
4. Apply background knowledge or logic to answer the questions

The IELTS Listening test focus on neither your background knowledge nor personal experience but your listening skill

Use the words and phrases mentioned in the audio only
5. Being trapped by the examiner

Some linking words of contrast such as however, but, except, apart from, etc. can hinder your chance to get a point if you don’t listen carefully to the information 


(e.g. “The venue is most famous for its operatic performances but pop concerts are equally as popular today.”)

Listen carefully to the information mentioned and pay more attention to the contrast words since the answers are often located after these words


> > > Read more: IELTS listening map


Other tips for IELTS Listening Sentence/Summary Completion Questions:


  • The answer to the next question will be after the previous one so follow the sequence of the questions and you will find the answers


  • A stuck question can be solved after the audio since you have 10 minutes in the end to check all the answers. Therefore, don’t stay on one question for such a long time


  • Based on the grammatical structure, context, etc. to guess the answers beforehand and check the answers after the recording


  • Pay particular attention to the words that come before and after the gap to help you notice when the information you are waiting for is mentioned


Sentence/Summary Completion Questions can boost your overall IELTS Listening test if you have suitable strategies and some tips to avoid common mistakes.


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