IELTS Reading- Fill In The Blanks Tips and Strategy
When solving fill in the blanks, you will have to fill the missing word in a sentence. This task requires you to demonstrate the reading ability and finding a correct missing word for the given sentence.
These questions are as much vocabulary tests as they are reading tests because they require you to be aware of paraphrasing (using different words to repeat a sentence so that it has the same meaning) and synonyms (words with the same or very similar meanings).
IELTS has prepared this task to check your following abilities
1. Understanding the meaning of sentences.
When you read the sentence you must be able to understand the partial meaning of a sentence. Then only you will be able to find the correct answer in the given passage. The context if understood precisely, will take you closer to the answer. Once you understand it, you will be able to find the given related context in the given paragraph(s). Thus, it is important to understand that this task requires the user to understand the context and meaning of the sentences.
2. Grammatical understanding of sentences.
Every sentence has a set of grammar associated with it. If you understand these grammar rules, you will be able to find the correct answer. The words before and after the blank give you an idea of the probable type of word which can come in the blanks. For instance, If the fill in the blank is “John asked ___________ to understand the book in the library.”. In this example, we can easily understand that the missing word is a noun as John has asked someone(noun). Therefore, it is mandatory to understand grammar rules to answer the missing word. Fill in the blanks checks your ability to find differences between noun, pronoun, adjectives, and verbs.
3. Your ability to find the missing content in the paragraph.
Skimming and Scanning are important techniques to learn while solving reading questions. If you master these techniques, then you will be able to solve any type of fill in the blank questions. This technique tells you to seek to the correct answer by understanding the context and searching important keywords associated in the given fill in the blank sentence. If you adhere to it meticulously, you will be able to solve such questions at ease.
You will be using the above three mentioned abilities to solve fill in the blank questions. But before this, you must understand the below points which will allow you to get rid of the confusion and pressure during your IELTS reading exam. Let us understand why fill in the blanks are important and how you can find a correct answer with some little tweaks.
Why is this important?
We have to understand how Cambridge actually make the IELTS reading tests in order to be successful. The people who write the tests take a piece of writing and they then use paraphrasing and synonyms to make many of the questions. Therefore if you don’t understand this, it is like walking in the dark with no lights. Understand it and suddenly your world becomes brighter.
Paraphrasing and Synonyms
In order to do well on the IELTS test, you have to understand what paraphrasing and synonyms are because Cambridge uses them so much in the reading and listening tests and expect you to use them in the writing and speaking tests. Paraphrasing is simply rephrasing or saying the sentence again, so that it has the same meaning, but with different words.
As you have probably already guessed from the passage above, the main problem is students trying to match words in the question with exactly the same words in the reading text. Instead, you should be looking for words that mean the same thing i.e. paraphrases and synonyms.
Another common problem is not reading the instructions properly and then writing too many words or not writing the same words as in the reading text, as discussed above. Finally, students often start reading the text before the question. This is confusing for most people and wastes time.
Tips and Strategies to solve fill in the blank questions
1. Before answering any question, check the required word count. Check how many words it asks you to write. If it says ‘no more than two’, you can write one or two words. If it says ‘no more than three’, you can write one, two or three words. Remember that numbers are written numerically, such as 72, count as one word and hyphenated words, such as state-of-the-art, count as one word.
2. The answers use top to down approach, thus limit the search area for each answer. The answers appear in the same order as the questions. The answer to number 1 will be above number 2, and the answer to number 3 will be below the answer to number 2. Do not search in the area of answer1 for answer2 as answer2 will always be in the area of the paragraph where you found answer1. Find where the answer is located in the text before you try to answer the question.
3. Check if it fits in the blank or not. Remember that your answer should be grammatically correct. Check the type of word that fits in the space. Is it a verb, noun, adjective or adverb? This will help you answer the question correctly.
4. Read the question patiently before searching for an answer. Read the questions before reading the text as it will provide you with the context and search area in the paragraphs.
5. The answer may be paraphrased. When scanning for your answer, make sure you are thinking about paraphrasing and synonyms.
6. Check your spellings while writing your answer. Even if you find the correct answer and do not spell it correctly, it will not be considered as a correct answer.