Table Completion Questions | IELTS Reading Table Completion Questions
Table completion and flowchart completion questions come up frequently in the IELTS Reading test. They look harder than they are but as long as you understand what you have to do and have a good strategy for completing them, you’ll be able to score well.
This page contains all the information you need to be well prepared if one does appear in your exam. Here’s what it covers:
- Explanation of this question type
- Skills needed
- Key tips
- The strategy
- Examples from real test papers
Explanation of this question type
- You will be given a table of information with gaps in it.
- You are required to fill the gaps with appropriate words from the reading text.
You could also be given a flowchart. The main difference between the two is in the way the information is laid out. The process for completing flowcharts is exactly the same as with a table.
The instructions will tell you how many words you are allowed to use to fill each gap. Read them very carefully. They will most likely tell you to use ONE WORD ONLY or NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS.
If you use the wrong number of words, your answer will be marked incorrect even if the information you give is correct.
Here are examples of two sets of instructions taken from past test papers. The first is a table and the second, a flowchart.
Example 2 – Flowchart
This type of question tests your ability to:
- Scan for specific information
- Skim for general meaning
- Understand paraphrasing
- Identify synonyms
- Read in detail for meaning
1) Table completion and flowchart questions are not as hard as they look. If you apply the step-by-step strategy I explain below, you shouldn’t have too many problems answering them.
2) This type of question can be presented in several different forms, especially in the case of flowcharts, so may not look exactly like either of the examples I’ve given you.
Don’t panic if the layout is unfamiliar. What you need to do to complete the task will be the same however it might look.
3) The information in the table may appear in a different order to the matching information in the reading text.
4) Fill the gap with the exact words from the text. Don’t use synonyms or your answer will be marked incorrect.
5) When first studying the table, try to work out what type of word is missing, e.g. a noun, a verb, an adjective or an adverb. This will help you to find it more quickly.
6) Always be thinking about synonyms and paraphrasing. Look for matching meaning rather than exact word matches when comparing the information in the table and the text.
7) Scan to find the location of the answer, then read in detail to find the answer itself.
8) The completed sentences must be grammatically correct. If they aren’t, then you have the wrong answer.
9) Use any little clues that are present in the table to help you understand the type of information you need to find. For example,
- Column headings, such as Test and Findings in example 1 above.
- Words in bold, such as Theory 1 and Theory 2 in example 2 above.
10) You don’t need to understand everything. Even if some of the vocabulary is unfamiliar, you’ll probably be able to work out the answer from context and other clues.