IELTS Reading: Sentence Completion

IELTS sentence completion questions are very common in IELTS reading. This practice is to help you understand about the importance of paraphrasing. You need to learn which words can and cannot be paraphrased. Read the passage below and then answer the questions.

Penguin Facts

Penguins are one of about 40 species of flightless birds, a category that also includes the ostrich, emu and kiwi. Penguins are neither the smallest nor the largest of the lot, but some may think of them as the most interesting.
These waddling birds are known for their white bellies and dark-colored backs and wings, resembling a tuxedo. This distinct coloring is thought to hide penguins from predators in the sea. Besides its coloring, a penguin’s body is designed for swimming, and includes tapering at both ends of the body for hydrodynamics, paddle-like wings and web-shaped feet.

Questions 1-2
Complete the sentences. Choose no more than two words and / or a number from the passage for each answer.
1. The ostrich, emu, kiwi and penguin are from the same group of ……….… birds.
2. Penguins can conceal themselves from predators with their ……………………..


Click to reveal the answers.


1. flightless
‘flightless’ is the only adjective that can possibly fit into the sentence from the first paragraph
2. distinct colouring (both UK and US spellings accepted)

Passage take from – here.

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


  • resemble = look like, similar to
  • distinct = clear, well-defined
  • belly (bellies) = stomach
  • hide = conceal
  • predators = killers (in this reading passage it refers to sharks and seals etc
  • tapering = narrowing

Recommended Lessons


  1. Thanks Liz. Scored 2. I need to work on my time& concentration.

  2. Kanchan Rana says

    Hi Liz,
    Firstly, I would like to thank you for your wonderful blog.

    I want to ask you, if we are following British spelling throughout our reading test.
    And we got a question for sentence completion like the number 2 in this page.
    Then we have to stick to our choice of British spelling i.e. “colour”. Or we can write the same as given in the passage? i.e. “Color” On this kind of occassion only.


    • In the reading test, the answers you write down should come from the passage. Write them as they are written in the passage.

  3. 2/2 in 15 seconds

  4. Hello Liz
    I answered 2/2 but I have a question in the exam the passage will be the same as long as now !??

    • Have you done a real IELTS reading test? Why not? You should do at least 4 real IELTS tests at home before your actual test day. Get the IELTS Cambridge test books which contain 4 real tests in each book.

  5. 2/2
    However, I believe that I made a mistake because I wrote “coloring” as the American English and I intend to use Br.Eng. in the test.

  6. FatemehFatemeh says

    Thanks a lot Liz

  7. Maam in this birds passage flightless is no where mentioned in the passage den hw cn v write it and 2nd option too I didn’t understand.

  8. 2/2 in just 30 seconds..

    love you Liz mam.

  9. 2/2 in 1 minute!

  10. Hi Liz, amazing and very helpful, could you please provide me with the source of the above Reading, Thank you

  11. Hi Liz,

    Thanks for your very helpful website. Is it okay if I answered distinct coloring instead of distinct colouring?



  12. Hello Liz! 🙂

    In no.2 i answered ‘distinct coloring’ instead of ‘distinct colouring’ will it be considered correct?or the other way around? is spelling important on the exam even though they are synonyms?

    Thank you in Advance.
    p.s I find your tutorials very helpful specially for home study/home preparations for the IELTS exam. 🙂

  13. sravanthi says

    hai mam, i am from India. i just started preparing for IELTS. i found your website very useful for me. i have got a doubt. in the above question, no.2 what if we write only ‘colour’. pls let me know wheather my english is good, as iam lacking confidence more. hoping to get a replay. thanks madam. in advance.

    • You must take your words for the answers directly from the reading passage. You can’t alter the form of the words. So, “colour” would be wrong because that word is not used as the answers in the passage.

      • Himani Bansal says

        But it’s written in the question that this question will help us to understand the importance of paraphrasing. We will learn which words can and cannot be paraphrased. I think, changing the form of the word is considered as paraphrasing. Even I wrote COLOR. Please guide. Thanks.

        • I think you are getting confused. Your use the skills of paraphrasing when you analyse the question. The answer itself must be the exact word you see in the passage.

          • Hello mam,
            i have a similar question in mind if i write only color will it be grammatically wrong in the No. 2 sentence. hope you will reply to develop my idea.
            Thanks in advance.

            • It would be wrong. The answer is found in this sentence: This distinct coloring is thought to hide penguins from predators in the sea. As you can see, the word is “colouring” and the full answer “distinct coloring”.

  14. Hi Liz,

    My answers are: (1) flightless birds, (2) distinct coloring. Are those answers correct? Thanks

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