Lesson 5:
IELTS Sentence Completion

Objectives: to practice how to answer IELTS sentence completion tasks and to examine paraphrase and synonyms.

Often in the reading the test requires the candidate to complete a sentence.

In this type of task, you are given a sentences from the reading with a gap in it. You have to fill it with words taken directly from the reading.

Check if the question tells you to use the exact words from the reading - some do not.

When doing this, various factors are important to keep in mind:

  • Make sure the answer does not exceed the stated word limit - articles and unneeded adjectives can sometimes be left out to achieve this.
  • Make sure the answer fits into the statement grammatically.
  • Be aware that the statement will not use the same words as the text.

As the statement you are given in IELTS sentence completion tasks will not be taken exactly from the reading, you need to be aware of paraphrasing and synonyms.

These will both be used in the questions. This is what they mean:

Paraphrase: to repeat something written or spoken using different words

Synonym: a word or phrase which has the same or nearly the same meaning as another word or phrase in the same language

So when you look at the question, you will need to find a paraphrase of that sentence and probably some synomyms in the reading in order to find the right one, and then work out the answer.


Let's have a short IELTS sentence completion practice before completing the task.

Firstly, before you click to show the answer, see if you can find the sentence in the reading below.

You will need to find paraphrases / synonyms of the words in bold in order to identify it:

Britain decided to send people to live and govern Australia due to a _________________ factors.

Show/Hide the Answer

Now, using this technique and the tips at the top, read the full passage and do the IELTS sentence completion exercise below (the reading is shorter than a real IELTS reading).

IELTS Sentence Completion Practice Exercise

European Settlement of Australia

European settlement of Australia began in 1788 when a British penal colony was established on the east coast. From this starting point Australia grew rapidly and continually, expanding across the entire continent.

A number of reasons contributed to Britain's decision to colonise Australia. The most important factor was Britain's need to relieve its overcrowded prisons. Several violent incidents at overcrowded prisons convinced the British government of the need to separate unruly elements from the rest of the prison populace.

Additionally, Australia was of strategic importance to Britain, and it provided a base for the Royal Navy in the eastern sea. Also, Australia could be used as an entry point to the economic opportunities of the surrounding region. All these points figured in the decision by Lord Sydney, secretary of state of home affairs, to authorise the colonisation.

To this affect, on May 13, 1787, Captain Arthur Phillip, commanding eleven ships full of convicts, left Britain for Australia. He successfully landed a full fleet at Botany Bay on January 18, 1788. However, they left the bay eight days later because of its openness and poor soil, and settled instead at Port Jackson, a few kilometres north. The ships landed 1,373 people, including 732 convicts, and the settlement became Sydney. Australia Day is now celebrated on 26 January each year, to commemorate this first fleet landing. 

224 words

Questions 1-5

Complete the following statements using NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS.

(put your choice into the gaps - use small letters and don't put any spaces after your last word)

1. Australia was originally founded as a .

2. The major consideration in colonizing Australia was Britain’s .

3. It was thought that could be gained in that part of the world due to the access provided via Australia.

4. Lord Sydney took every factor into account when he gave official permission for the of Australia.

5. Botany Bay was abandoned by the settlers due to the lack of cover and .

Score =
IELTS Sentence Completion - Correct answers:

Paraphrases and Synonyms

These are the paraphrases and synomyms that you would have needed to identify in order to successfully find the answers:

  Original word from the reading Synomym / paraphrase from the question
Question 1 began founded
Question 2 most important factor major consideration
Question 3 entry point access
region part of the world
Question 4 all these points figured took every factor into account
authorise official permission
Question 5 left abandoned
openess lack of cover

*Note that "penal colony" would be an acceptable answer for question 1 and "colonization" (with a 'z' i.e. American spelling) for question 4.


› Reading Lesson 5



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