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IELTS Reading – Types of Questions (Part 2)

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A summary completion is similar to sentence completion as well as gap fill answers. The difference with summary completions is the length. A summary might be a very long paragraph, a series of paragraphs, or in fact, it could be very short.

The problem with summary completions is that you never know where they start or end. Most students hear the word “summary,” and think it means conclusion; however, this is not the case. Summaries can be from almost anywhere in the passage, and it does not necessarily mean it will cover the whole reading either. Sometimes, the summary is only about a small paragraph, sometimes it is about the whole passage. Based on that, my advice is to never do a summary completion first.

You should do it last. If you had a series of True False Not Given questions, and you did them first; you would be more likely to know where information was located within the passage. This means that when you move on to the summary completion, you could know exactly where it begins or ends, or you might know where a specific piece of information is. As a result, the time spent scanning for the information could be reduced, which could lead to more time for other areas.

Summary completions are divided into 2 types: those with a word list, and those without. The strategies we use are somewhat similar, but there is certainly an extra step involved in a list of words is provided.

So, the first thing you do with a summary completion is read it. As you are doing that, you should be underlining keywords and thinking of their synonyms. Remember, you have already skimmed the passage, and done some other question types, so this should be very simple. Also, you should be making predictions about what type of word is needed to fill in the blank. This is where the grammar you have studied will help so much. Sometimes, a blank can have more than one-word type, this is OK at first, just try to look at the sentence overall to see if something can help you determine what can be chosen.

So, first, we look at the summary completion, underline keywords, try to paraphrase and make predictions. Then, we look at the word list and do the same. Remember to carefully read the instructions. The instructions clearly say to write the letters on your answer sheet – not the words. If you write the words, you will be marked as being incorrect.


Once we get to headings matching, we need to do the task carefully. With this type of question, you will be provided with a list of different “titles” and it will be your job to match them to a suitable section of a passage. You will always have more headings than you need, so you must look carefully at the keywords and scan effectively to find the answers.

The first thing you should do is underline the keywords in the headings provided. Make sure to circle the most important words. This tip is very helpful when trying to determine the overall meaning or gist of the heading. Remember, gist means: General Information for a Specific Topic. Once that is done, try to think of how things could be paraphrased. Heading will almost never use the same words as in the passage, and in fact, sometimes they do use the same words to confuse you.

Now, there are a few ways to do the next step, but what I like best is to look at the first section. To be more specific, you should look at the first sentence and the last sentence. These are called the topic sentence and the concluding sentence. Based on these sentences, you should be able to find out what the gist of the paragraph is. Please note that is the passage is in sections, you will need to read the first and last sentences in each paragraph within the section.

If you are careful, read the keywords and paraphrase well, they should be easy to match. Finally, remember that if you cannot find the answer right away, you should skip onto the next question and come back to find any skipped questions later.

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