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IELTS Reading Table Completion Practice, Tips, and Strategies

Table Completion Questions are a common occurrence in the IELTS Reading exam and mastering them is vital for success. However, these questions often pose challenges to candidates. In this comprehensive guide, we will unravel the mysteries behind Table Completion Questions practicing real test questions, discuss most effective strategies, challenges, and tips to excel. However, don't forget to check our comprehensive eBooks on IELTS Reading and our personalized essay feedback service to further elevate your preparation.

IELTS Reading Table Completion Tips and Strategies eBook - IELTS Luminary

Understand IELTS Reading Table Completions

Table Completion Questions are an integral part of the IELTS Reading test, often posing a unique set of challenges for the candidates. These questions are designed to evaluate a candidate's ability to interpret, summarize, and locate specific information within a passage.

A typical Table Completion Question includes a table with some missing information (gaps). This table organizes information into different categories, such as dates, events, names, or features. The corresponding passage contains the details necessary to complete the table.

Here's an example to help illustrate the concept:


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Text: "The Grand Museum is home to various artistic exhibitions. The main exhibition is open from 9 am to 7 pm on weekdays and 10 am to 6 pm on weekends. The photography exhibit is closed on Mondays and opens from 10 am to 5 pm on other days. A special exhibition for local artists is hosted on Thursdays and Fridays from 11 am to 3 pm."

Question Table

IELTS Reading Table Completion Example - IELTS Luminary

First, take a moment to try completing the table on your own; this hands-on approach will provide the best practice experience.

Now, before diving into the solutions, let's identify some potential challenges you might encounter with this type of question in the IELTS Reading exam, and discuss how to tackle them in the most effective way.

Key Challenges in Answering Table Completion Questions

1. Time-Consumption

  • Large Amount of Text: Candidates may have to read through paragraphs to find relevant details.

  • Multiple Gaps: Filling several gaps in the table means locating multiple pieces of information in the passage.

  • Example Challenge: Finding the opening times for different exhibitions (as in the previous example) might take time if candidates read the passage without a clear strategy.

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2. Misinterpretation

  • Complex Language: Some passages may use formal or technical language that's challenging to comprehend.

  • Paraphrasing: The information in the table might be expressed differently in the passage.

  • Example Challenge: If the passage states "Photography Exhibit is inaccessible on Mondays," it's synonymous with "closed on weekdays." Misinterpreting this could lead to an incorrect answer.

3. Lack of Strategy

  • Inefficient Search: Without strategies, candidates may read the entire passage several times, wasting valuable time.

  • Difficulty in Summarizing: Without understanding how to interpret and summarize, candidates may struggle to fill in the table accurately.

  • Example Challenge: Without knowing how to identify keywords or use them to find information, a candidate might find filling in the "Local Artists" row to be difficult and time-consuming.

Table Completion Questions in the IELTS Reading section present challenges related to time-consumption, misinterpretation, and lack of strategy. Understanding these challenges and learning how to overcome them is essential for success. Our comprehensive IELTS Reading eBook is an invaluable resource that offers detailed, step-by-step guidance to master this question type, complete with practice exercises and expert insights. Whether you're struggling with interpreting complex language or want to enhance your time-management skills, the eBook is tailored to help you achieve a high band score.

IELTS Vocabulary List with Meanings and Examples

How to Answer IELTS Reading Table Completion Questions 

1. Identify Keywords

  • Look for unique words or phrases: Words that stand out or are specific to the table can lead directly to the corresponding information in the passage.

  • Consider synonyms: Keep in mind that the text might use different words or phrases with similar meanings.

2. Locate Information in the Passage

  • Skim the passage: Quickly skim through the passage to get a general idea of where the information might be.

  • Scan for specific information: Look for sentences or phrases that contain or are related to the keywords you identified in the table.

  • Consider context: Sometimes, the information is not directly stated but can be inferred from the context or surrounding details.

3. Fill the Gaps

Let's fill the gaps in the example table that we have given above.​

Question 1. Main Exhibition: 10 am - 6 pm on weekends



  • Identifying Keywords: The keywords "Main Exhibition" and "weekends" help guide the search in the passage.

  • Locating Information: By scanning the passage for these keywords or related phrases, candidates can locate the specific information regarding the Main Exhibition's timings.

  • Filling the Gaps: The text specifies that the Main Exhibition is open from 10 am to 6 pm on weekends, so this information is filled into the table.


Question 2. Photography Exhibit: Closed on weekdays



  • Identifying Keywords: The keywords are "Photography Exhibit" and "weekdays."

  • Locating Information: In the passage, candidates would find information stating that the Photography Exhibit is closed on Mondays or a specific weekday.

  • Filling the Gaps: Since the information specifies that it's closed on a weekday, this is filled into the table for the Photography Exhibit's status on weekdays.


Question 3. Local Artists: 11 am - 3 pm on Thursdays and Fridays (Weekdays)



  • Identifying Keywords: Keywords include "Local Artists," "Thursdays," and "Fridays."

  • Locating Information: By using these keywords, candidates would search for specific details about the exhibition timings for local artists.

  • Filling the Gaps: The passage provides the timings for local artists as 11 am to 3 pm on Thursdays and Fridays, and this information is placed into the corresponding row in the table.

The process of filling in a Table Completion Question in the IELTS Reading section requires the methodical application of strategies like identifying keywords, locating the corresponding information in the passage, and using that information to fill the gaps.

For a more guided practice with real test examples and tailored strategies, consider checking our IELTS Reading eBook that provides step-by-step guidance to answer all the questions with 100% accuracy, spending minimum time, and aiming for a high band score.

So, the complete table is as below:

IELTS Reading Table Completion Example - IELTS Luminary

Let's delve into another round of Table Completion practice, this time sourced from Cambridge IELTS - 18, Academic Reading, Test 1, Passage 1.


To begin, carefully read the given specific section of the passage from which the table is derived.

"Perhaps most significantly, however, this is a real-life showcase for the work of Hardy’s flourishing urban agriculture consultancy, Agripolis, which is currently fielding enquiries from around the world to design, build and equip a new breed of soil-free inner-city farm. ‘The method’s advantages are many,’ he says. ‘First, I don’t much like the fact that most of the fruit and vegetables we eat have been treated with something like 17 different pesticides, or that the intensive farming techniques that produced them are such huge generators of greenhouse gases. I don’t much like the fact, either, that they’ve travelled an average of 2,000 refrigerated kilometres to my plate, that their quality is so poor, because the varieties are selected for their capacity to withstand such substantial journeys, or that 80% of the price I pay goes to wholesalers and transport companies, not the producers.’

Produce grown using this soil-free method, on the other hand- which relies solely on a small quantity of water, enriched with organic nutrients, pumped around a closed circuit of pipes, towers and trays- is ‘produced up here, and sold locally, just down there. It barely travels at all,’ Hardy says. ‘You can select crop varieties for their flavour, not their resistance to the transport and storage chain, and you can pick them when they’re really at their best, and not before.’ No soil is exhausted, and the water that gently showers the plants’ roots every 12 minutes is recycled, so the method uses 90% less water than a classic intensive farm for the same yield."


Complete the table below.

Choose ONE WORD ONLY from the passage for each answer.

Write your answers in boxes 4-7 on your answer sheet.

IELTS Reading Table Completion Example - IELTS Luminary

The correct answers for the table completion questions are as follows:

  1. Pesticides

  2. Journeys

  3. Producers

  4. Flavour/Flavor"


Here's the detailed explanation of the given answers :


1. Correct Answer: Pesticides

Explanation: The passage specifically talks about the drawbacks of traditional intensive farming. Pascal Hardy expresses his displeasure with the fact that most fruits and vegetables are treated with numerous pesticides. He states, "I don't much like the fact that most of the fruit and vegetables we eat have been treated with something like 17 different pesticides..." This aligns with the prompt's requirement to describe the growth aspect of intensive farming, which includes the wide usage of pesticides.

2. Correct Answer: Journeys

Explanation: Within the same paragraph, Hardy discusses his dissatisfaction with the quality of fruits and vegetables. The varieties chosen are selected because they can withstand long journeys. He mentions, "they've travelled an average of 2,000 refrigerated kilometres to my plate..." This refers to the selection of fruit and vegetables for their capacity to endure extended travel, fulfilling the requirement for "long journeys."

3. Correct Answer: Producers

Explanation: In the same section, Hardy laments the distribution of the price paid for fruits and vegetables, with 80% going to wholesalers and transport companies, not to the original producers. This underlines the inequity in earnings for the farmers, as they receive a minimal portion of the total income. Hence, the answer "Producers" corresponds to those who receive very little of the overall income in the intensive farming model.

4. Correct Answer: Flavour / Flavor

Explanation: Discussing aeroponic urban farming, the soil-free method enables the selection of crops for their flavor, rather than their resistance to transport and storage. Hardy emphasizes, "You can select crop varieties for their flavour, not their resistance to the transport and storage chain..." This illustrates the freedom of choosing produce based on its taste or flavor, a primary advantage of aeroponic urban farming.

These detailed explanations reveal the skills needed to discern specific information, detect paraphrasing, and avoid potential distractions. To further refine these skills, check out IELTS Luminary's Reading eBook and our personalized Essay Correction Service, carefully designed to provide step-by-step guidance for each question type and help you achieve a high band score.

How to Improve in IELTS Reading Table Completion Questions

1. Practice Regularly

  • Proficiency: The more you practice Table Completion Questions, the more proficient you become at identifying relevant information quickly.

  • Familiarity: Regular practice helps you become familiar with various passage styles and topics.

  • Timed Practice: Practicing under timed conditions simulates the real exam environment, helping you manage your time better.

2. Focus on Grammar

  • Understanding Paraphrases: Recognizing different ways of expressing the same information (paraphrasing) is crucial in Table Completion Questions.

  • Sentence Structure: Understanding sentence structure aids in recognizing the connections between table entries and passage information.

  • Grammar Practice: Working on grammar exercises can enhance this skill. 

Our extensive four-part eBook Grammar for IELTS equips you with all the grammatical issues in detail that you need to excel the IELTS exam and gain the confidence in using smart English.

3. Use a Systematic Approach

  • Consistent Pattern: Following a consistent pattern while answering ensures that you don’t miss out on any details.

  • Step-by-Step Strategy: This involves identifying keywords, locating information, and filling gaps methodically.

  • Efficiency: A systematic approach ensures that you complete the task in the least amount of time, without confusion.

  • Example: Start by reading the table headings, then scan the passage for information, and finally fill in the gaps systematically.

Table Completion Questions in the IELTS Reading section require a strategic approach, focus on grammar, and consistent practice.

Whether you're aiming to understand complex paraphrasing, improve your time management, or gain hands-on practice with real exam-style questions, we at IELTS Luminary are committed to supporting you in achieving a high band score. Explore our comprehensive eBooks and tailored services to unlock your full potential in the IELTS exam!

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