Reading Question Type
Completing a Summary

Information

Complete a summary is a very common question type. The task requires you to complete a summary of a particular section or paragraph(s) from the test either by selecting options from a list or writing the answer in the gaps according to the word limit. 

 

The summary will be of a section(s) or paragraph(s) of the text and NOT the whole text. 

 

Answers usually appear in the same order as the text. 

Example: Selecting Options

IELTS Reading Summary Completion

Example: Written Answers

IELTS Reading Summary Completion

Strategies & Tips

  • Start by speed reading or skimming the text first. This will give you a good idea about what information is contained in each section or paragraph.

  • While reading, make brief notes of the question paper that summarize the information contained in each section or paragraph.

  • Even though the summary is only for a section(s) or paragraphs(s), reading the whole text first and summarizing each section will mean that you should already should know which section(s) have the answers. Additionally, this strategy will help you locate the answers for the other questions. 

  • If the sentences contain names, dates, place names, scan the text to match them. Then scan slowly in that section for the answer.

  • Careful of distractors as the names may be mentioned more than once.

Written Answers

  • For written answers, read the instructions carefully and do not exceed the word limit. 

IELTS Reading Written Answers
  • When you read the summary with numbered gaps, predict the type of missing word or words (noun, adjective, verb etc.) and the type of missing information.

  • When predicting the answer, pay attention to what comes before and after the gaps.

Example: 

Question 26 is most probably a noun as it is preceded by “a sense of

Text: ... the link between the sense of “self” and of “ownership” is a notable feature of childhood in Western societies.”

 

Answer: ownership
 

  • Read what comes before and after the gap to ensure your answer fits grammatically. If it doesn’t fit, then it’s not correct.

  • Copy the word or words exactly as they appear in the text. Don’t change the form of the word.

Choosing from Options

  • There will always be more options than questions. Careful of distractors.

  • Skim read the summary for general understanding. 

  • Predict the type of missing word or words (noun, adjective, verb etc.) and the type of missing information.

  • When predicting the answer, pay attention to what comes before and after the gaps.


Example: 

Questions 21 and 22 the missing information is most likely a type of weather since they are preceded and followed by examples of weather conditions. 

There are 2 weather conditions included in the list of choices - G heat waves and H storms - so, scan the relevant part of the text for where the information is located. Once you find it read carefully for the answer.

Text: “The seesaw brought cycles of intensely cold winters and easterly winds and then switched abruptly to years of heavy spring and early summer rains, mild winters, and frequent Atlantic storms, or to periods of drought, light northeasterly winds and summer heat waves.”

Answer: 21. H storms 22. G heat waves
 

  • When reading through the list of options, eliminate any answers for gaps that do not fit grammatically or do not match the information required. 

Example: 

Question 20. C tree rings - obviously does not fit in terms of the missing information.

Paraphrase and Synonyms

  • Highlight the key words and think of synonyms and paraphrase for them.

  • Completing a summary uses synonyms and paraphrase extensively so don’t expect to be able to match words from the questions.