IELTS Reading Practice: Sentence Completion

An exercise for IELTS Reading Sentence Completion. Read the passage below and then answer the questions.

The War on Smoking

Make no mistake, the move to introduce plain packaging is just the latest front in the war against smoking. Over the past decade, there has been a ban on smoking in public places and moves to restrict displays in shops. But one of the issues that has been concerning health experts and ministers is the number of people who continue to take up smoking, particularly young people.
More than 200,000 under-16’s start in the UK each year – helping ensure a viable market remains for manufacturers once the number of people quitting and dying is taken into account. In countries like the UK where there is a ban on advertising, the pack remains the last major vehicle for promotion. Hence the detail and care taken in the design of the packets with their laminated and special print effects, foil decorations and slide openings and bevelled edges. It should come as no surprise therefore to learn that they have become known as the “silent salesman” and “mobile billboard” within the industry. They are that important. (Passage from here)

Questions 1-4

Complete the sentences. Choose no more than two words and / or a number from the passage for each answer.

  1. …………………… is the most recent strategy to tackle the problem of smoking.
  2. The large number of new smokers, particularly under 16’s, makes certain that cigarette companies will always have a ……………………………….. .
  3. In some countries, packaging is the only method that cigarette companies have for ………………….
  4. Packets are seen as being the ………………………………….. in the cigarette industry.


Click below to reveal the answers.

1. plain packaging
2. viable market
3. promotion
4. silent salesman / mobile billboard (you should choose one answer. If you put both, it is an incorrect answer

All reading exercises on have been written by myself to help you prepare for your IELTS test.   


  • the latest front = the most recent development
  • to establish = to introduce
  • makes certain = helps ensure
  • only method of = the last vehicle for
  • edge = side
  • are seen as being = have become known as
  • come as no surprise = be expected



  1. Sanjit Jeevanand says

    Got 4/4 thank you Elizabeth

  2. You are really making ielts easy for one to study. Thank you Liz

    • The aim is to build confidence and awareness of techniques. Once you’ve mastered that, try applying them to real IELTS tests.

  3. Dear Liz,
    Thank you for the great material and for being so kind always in your videos.
    You are my guide in this dark IELTS trip…I just started. I appreciate your free example for students.

    All the best to you!!


  4. Hello mam,
    i don’t know how to express gratitude these work , you have done. I believe, you are living millions of heart all over the world and you will be.
    Mam i want to clarify myself with your help. In table completion ,

    In passage: By the mid-1860s london was connected with New York and ten years later messages could be exchanged between London and Bombay in minutes.

    My answer: Only “in minutes” for massages to arrive from Bombay.
    Correct answer: “minutes”.
    I wrote “in minutes” as i think it gives a full expression. Have a good day.

    • A table completion is not the same as a sentence completion question. One requires just brief notes and the other requires grammatically correct sentences to be completed. We don’t use articles or prepositions in most notes, but we do in sentences.

  5. Christopher Pereira Tapia says

    3/4 best luck next time :). very helpful material though. Thanks, Liz!!!

  6. Okobia Endurance Oseyi says


  7. Liz your are the best

  8. Got 4/4, thanks. Can I use all capital letters here

  9. Got 4/4 with the help of articles a,the and proposition such as for.

  10. I got 4/4😀
    Thanks it’s really helpfull

  11. 4/4

  12. i got 3/4

  13. Hi Liz
    You recommend using all caps for listening and reading. However I have heard from someone that in reading we should only write answers as they are given in question paragraph. e.g. for question 1, rather than writing ‘PLAIN PACKAGING’ one should write ‘plain packaging’ as this is how it is given in the reading-text. But then beginning a sentence like this seems a folly, it should be ‘Plain packaging’.

    Please help in clarifying as to what should one do in such cases. Also please do tell if it is okay to use all caps in listening as well?

    • Yes, it’s fine to use all capital letters for listening and reading. It’s easier for the person marking to read. You can confirm this at your test center or with IELTS Official. You should learn to start confirming information with original sources – this will help you learn whose advice you can and can’t trust. You also need to learn the difference between fixed rules for IELTS and recommendations for IELTS.

  14. 3/4
    Advertising instead of promotion

    thank you

  15. Vishal Soni says

    Hi, for answer 4, the sentence in the question is – “Packets are… ” – in which ‘Packets’ is plural. Hence shouldn’t the answer be ‘Silent Salesmen’?

    • If you look at the reading passage, the word isn’t used in that way “no surprise therefore to learn that they have become known as the “silent salesman”.

  16. Simarpreet says

    Hi Liz ,
    There was one question in which the answer was not supposed to be not more than 2 words .For example:What was the name used to refer to the first colour he invented ? According to me the answer was MAUVE . But in the answer key of the book it was written :mauve(was/is). Can you please tell me that what is the intent of these words written in brackets , do i need to use them while answering . Is it mandatory to answer in two words for not more than two words question.

  17. Saeed Aziz says

    Using slash / in answers for ONE-word questions is legal in IELTS reading test
    where / represents ” Or” and it’s already found in IELTS Cambridge books.

  18. Your such a wonderful person…May GOD continually bless you and perfect your health and all that concerns you. Thank you

  19. For Question1: _________ is the most recent strategy to tackle the problem of smoking..

    Can I write Plain packing?
    As it is at the start of sentence and as per grammar we need to use first letter Capital in a sentence.

  20. Will “MOBILE BILLBOARDS” be a wrong answer?
    I wrote the answer in the plural form because it seemed grammatically correct for the sentence..

  21. Salome Barraza says

    hello liz

    i got 4/4 thank you for your great help

  22. I got 4/4, thank you Liz.

  23. Zeshan Shahzad says

    Thanks it’s really great work

  24. Hi Liz,

    I have a doubt regarding the answer in reading exam, that can I write answer in upper case?
    As Instance,

    Q) Packets are seen as being the ………………………………………….. in the cigarette industry.
    A) silent salesman

    Can I submit answer like SILENT SALESMAN ?

  25. 4/4 The last question was challenging Mobile Billboard or Silent Salesman.

  26. Rachita Dutta says

    I got 4/4 yay!

  27. Fatemeh says

    Hi Liz,

    I got 4/4. Thank you for the lesson.

  28. Dear Liz i can easily solve this type of questions but i find really hard about those questions which British council has uploaded in it’s website in reading portion.

    Are this types of questions are different from the question pattern of british council website?
    Here i have mention the link.
    Dear Liz i humbly request you to check the link once and suggest me as how i can score good marks in that question?
    i will be patiently waiting for your suggestion.

    your faithful student

  29. Hi Ms. Liz,

    I got 4/4.
    Thank you Ms. Liz. This IELTS lesson is a great help for everyone aspiring to have a good band score. God bless you more!


  30. chaterine says

    Thank you for sharing, it’s so helpful. You’re so kind! GBU <3

  31. hi liz.
    i gave my ielts exam twice and both the exam i received R 5.5
    rest all was above 6.5
    and final time again m giving it and hoping for the best result. i could realy find the improvement in my reading through your blog.
    as soon as my result is annouced i’ll surely post in your blog

  32. Santosh acharya says

    tnx mam for helping us giving such questions.I also got 5/5

  33. i gave exam for 2 times then also i got 5.5band plz give guidance how to improve score.

  34. Liz, your videos are superb ! I watched your videos, and especially IELTS Writing Task 1 it was fabulous, the only thing is that i was looking for the same videos for IELTS Reading, but i couldn’t find them.
    Still thought, thank a lot for all this, it really helped.

  35. I really though “market remains” is the answer for question #2.
    i got 3/4.. not bad.

  36. Abum Mensah says

    Thank you for these essential lessons on IELTS. I am Mensah from Ghana

  37. thank u Ma’am for that much great effort u did for ur students .We are really blessed to have u.there is a request u must start making videos on basic grammar too..

  38. dear liz
    hi, my name is jabal. I am from Indonesia. I have never taken ielts before but now I’m practicing it by using your really helpfdul blog..thank u for that miss liz…are u a lecturer in UK University anyway?

  39. Hi Liz,
    Thank your very much for all your efforts and support!
    Got 3/4 because of a silly mistake as always not reading exactly what the q has asked for!!
    wrote “Silent salesmen” AND “mobile billboards” :/

    I must practice reading the instructions instead ; )

    I have always had some issues following the instructions, how to solve such a problem in your opinion?

  40. Thanx so much Liza ^_^

  41. Hi liz,

    it is the first time to address you and ask question , so can answer the reading question without understanding the passage?
    kind regards

    • You need to understand the sentences surrounding the answer for most questions, rather than the whole passage. However, for matching headings you need t understand the main aim of each paragraph.

  42. Sanone (from Saigon) says

    Hello to you,
    For the question 3, is “advertising” an acceptable answer?

  43. Dear Liz,
    Your site is excellent for IELTS test takers. One question on filling blank spaces. Can you change the word form to fill in the (a) space. For example, in one practice exam, the question went like this- The average high school graduate makes a little more than one million dollars in 5 …………. . The closest answer in the passage was “adult’s working life”, and the model answer in the answer key was give as “a lifetime.” So can you actually have completely different words to fill in but conveying the same meaning or do the words have to be the exact from the passage/paragraph? How about other categories of the questions also?
    Cheers !


    • Sorry, I meant your site is excellent for those who are preparing for IELTS. Thank you so very much. I have benefited a lot from it. The last question in the earlier posting was supposed to mean- Are there other circumstances in the 14 different types of questions that are asked in IELTS Academic Reading (those that have blank spaces to be filled) where you can change the form of the word than what is given in the paragraph? Cheers!


    • The word form should not be changed at all. Words should be copied from the passage exactly as they are written. You can’t aim for copying the meaning, you must have the exact words. Here’s a link to the official IELTS website that states this:
      All the best

      • Thank you very much for the reply. I appreciate it. I actually am very sorry to find some renowned practice books (authors) changing the form of the words and phrases, which as per your link, the IELTS tells the exam takers not to. Thanks again. Cheers!


        • Pankaj Karki says

          Dear Liz,
          Thanks for earlier answers to my questions. I went through your website extensively, and of course I practiced other materials feverishly also. I did not have much time to prepare for IELTS- only about 10 days. But your site helped me tremendously and I did EXTREMELY well in IELTS Academic, besides running a slight fever during exam day, which made me lose concentration-especially in the reading section. But thanks a billion. Your site is a wonder for those preparing for IELTS exams.


  44. Hi Liz!
    I am wondering if in the ielts test all the 14 types of questions will be in the reading test, or some of them? Which are the often to be in there? Thank you very much for you help.

  45. Hi: Liz
    Firstly ,thanks you for your great lessons, really since 2014 I have been doing the ielts
    several times actually, I did not receive writing band five recently I, find you block I,watched specially in writing then I did the exam I, got band five in writing and overall
    band I, feel I,am going to progress. anyway thanks LIZ

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