IELTS Listening: Filling in the Missing Word

Filling in the missing word is a common task for IELTS listening. This is mainly known as sentence completion or summary completion. The lesson below gives you some practice with how to fill in the gaps.

Practice completing sentences for IELTS listening by filling in the sentences below with a missing word. Read through the sentences carefully before you listen. Predict what type of word you need to listen for and also plan any possible paraphrases for words in the sentences. These types of listening questions are called sentence completion. Your answ

IELTS Listening: Fireworks

Questions 1- 8

Complete the sentences using no more than two words and/or a number.

  1. Specialists in fireworks include ……….. to create special effects.
  2. Fireworks are made by putting all materials in a ………
  3. Fireworks were invented by the ……………
  4. The first firework created a loud ……….
  5. Fireworks appeared in Europe by the ………………
  6. The ………… firework launches high into the air and explodes at a certain height.
  7. The long tube fireworks are called ……………..
  8. …………… is used to create a bright white light.



The original fireworks were made from gunpowder, which is a mixture of ingredients including saltpetre, sulphur and charcoal. Today experts at handling explosives, called pyrotechnicians, add chemicals for special effects. There are many different kinds of fireworks but they are all made in a similar way. The ingredients are placed in a shell, it is then wrapped up and a fuse is added. In factories, where the fireworks are made, safety precautions are used to make sure a single static electric shock does not create an explosion.

Fireworks have been around for centuries and are believed to have been first made by the Chinese. A Chinese document, dated about 1040AD, showed how to wrap gunpowder in paper to make a “fire pill”. This small firecracker made a very loud bang which was thought to ward off evil spirits. By the 13th century, fireworks had made their way to Europe where their popularity grew. By the 1500’s, fireworks were used in celebrations and special events. The Italians were the masters of fireworks by the 17th century.

There are a number of different types of fireworks these days and each of them works in a particular way. The rocket firework has a substance which explodes and shoots the firework into the air. When the rocket reaches a particular height, another spark causes it to blow up, releasing fine metal powders into the air. Roman candles are long tubes which shoot balls of chemicals from one end creating a series of flaming stars. Fountains are cone shaped and a small hole allows gases to escape, shooting coloured sparks into the air. Adding magnesium gives off a bright white light. Other ingredients give off different types of light when they become hot which is how colours are created.

  1. chemicals
  2. shell
  3. Chinese (You do not need a capital letter at the beginning for this to be correct)
  4. bang
  5. 13th century
  6. rocket
  7. Roman candles (If your spelling is wrong, the answer is incorrect. The capital letter is not important.)
  8. Magnesium (if your spelling is wrong, your answer is incorrect – you don’t need a capital letter even if it is at the beginning of the word. See my tips for info about this: IELTS Listening Tips)

Information from cbbc news

  • add = include
  • put in = placed in
  • invented by = first made by
  • made = created
  • appeared in = made their way to
  • launches into the air = shoots into the air
  • particular = certain
  • used to create = gives off

You will see that the paraphrases are not difficult. The main difficulty is all the extra information that is given which can be confusing to hear. Keep your mind focused on listening for answers and try not to be distracted by extra information.



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  1. Jaspreet Bedi says

    Hi Liz,
    Thanks for these variety of Small tests.
    In this test, I got 8/8.
    Hope I’ll do better.
    Pls do let me know if you have a full listening test in your blog.

  2. Cherish says

    Thanks for the simplicity in your lectures. I will be taking IELTS soon but I need some clarifications in IELTS paper-base listening section.
    1. Does writing answers in uppercase letters affect one’s mark?
    2. Will one be penalized for choosing to write with pencil?
    3. In a question which answer can be presented in words or figures without compromising the word count, can a test taker be marked wrong if he/she did not follow an examiner’s order? For instance, writing a’2′ where an examiner takes a ‘two’

    • Sounds like you need to look more deeply into my website. Can you see the words “Test Info” on the RED MENU BAR, click on it and select “Test Info FAQ”. You will find your answers and much much more.

  3. maryam bajwa says

    My question is in the real IELTS test are the questions are in the same order as the information given in recording? For example in this video what if you ask ”… used to create bright white light” first then ask ”the first firework created a loud…..”

    • In listening, the answers follow the order of the questions. This means answer 1 comes first, then answer two comes, then answer three etc etc

  4. Tsung-Hsiang says

    Hi Liz,

    I have some doubt about question 3. Can I write “the Chinese”? cuz I heard “the Chinese” on the audio but your answer did not include an article.

    • You want to use the answer “the Chinese”. This means the finished sentence would be:

      Fireworks were invented by the the Chinese.

      As you can see, we do not have “the” twice in English in that way. The sentence must be grammatically correct when it is completed. Your task is to provide the missing words or numbers. The word “the” is not missing and therefore cannot be part of the answer.

  5. Abiodun Mohammed says

    1 Pyrotechnician
    2 shell
    3 Chinese
    4 bang
    5 13th century
    6 Rocket
    7 Roman Candles
    8 Magnesium

  6. Hi Liz,

    In the audio, it says ‘By the 13th Century’. So I wrote an answer ’13 Century’ because I have seen it in various Ielts books that they give instructions like ‘No more than two words and/or a number’ and in audio they say ’15th July’ ’25th of December’ but on given answers page they give an answer like ’25 December’, ’15 July’. They don’t write ‘th’. I have seen it on many occasions. Which one will be correct one?


  7. Nokutenda says

    This is just to say thank you very much Liz. I managed to get the overall band score I needed. Your website was very helpful throughout my preparation. For those still to take the exam, all the best , Liz has you covered.

  8. Salman Khan says

    Hi Liz,
    Is it possible for an answer to be a synonym of what you have actually heard? I was in a dilemma when three of my answers in a practice test ( from a reputed test center) were incorrect, as the real answers were given as synonyms of what the speakers had actually spoken . For instance, the speaker clearly said, “tiny loans”, whereas the answer key had put down”micro-credit” as the answer – although there was no mention of this word at all.

  9. Dear Liz,
    Thank you for the session.
    I have a doubt, for 13th Century, if we are writing in all capitals, can we write as 13TH CENTURY or 13th CENTURY, as one of your sessions had mentioned that if we choose to write in Capital letters/ Small letters, the same must be followed throughout.
    Hoping to hear from you.

    Thank You,

  10. Md Kamal Hossain says

    Dear Liz,
    Thank you very much for your reply. Earlier you had opined that my English was not that much good and the grammatical was not correct. Now I would like to request you, please leave me some themes for writing. I will write and send to you which will be judged by you.

    • Sorry I don’t offer that service. I suggest you find an English language teacher to help you tackle the major grammar issues.

  11. Hi liz
    Your lectures and tips are so useful. But I’m afraid to give my IELTS exam for second attempt .what if I would get below bands again ??

    • You will get the band score that equals your level of English. You should never take the test until your English is at a level you are happy with.

      • Thanks liz
        I’ve started watching movies and conversations in English to improve my listening. Does it help me to improve my listening for IELTS or should I focus on your blogs only ???

  12. Hi my name’s Salman, I have a suggestion for you dear Liz, your practice speaking audios are wonderful but it only lacks one thing which is the time for reading questions, it starts directly but if it the audio had time for reading, that would sound real IELTS listening exam

    • You are supposed to read the questions before you hit “play”. These are not full tests, they are lessons. I will not begin each lesson with a 30sec silence.

  13. SAHIL GOMBER says

    Thanks Liz
    Appreciate your tireless efforts.

  14. many many thanks respected Madam Liz for your endless efforts for IELTS. thanksssssss

  15. Very much Useful

  16. its very helpful.Cant we use Mg instead of Magnesium?

  17. Many many thanks Liz…

  18. Dear liz

    Why is there no need for a Capital C in chinese and why is required in Roman? Because both words are derived from the names of their respective countries, shouldn’t it be the same rule?

    • Capital letters are not counted in listening or reading. I’ve add the extra information to make it clearer – see the answer key above.

  19. Is this useful to learn all the specific words such as “sulphur”, “saltpetre”, etc?

    • Not really. It is unlikely these words will appear in your test. However, it’s always good to increase your vocabulary in a general way.

  20. Magali Bambadali says

    Thanks Liz for your effort! You are very awesome
    Please give us more listening practices!

    Best regards
    Magali Bambadali

  21. Hi liz,
    Does the answers come in a hierarchy

  22. Nourhan yousri says

    Is there a problem if i write Mg instead of magnesium??

    • This is an English language test which includes spelling – all words should be written exactly as they are said.

  23. Hi, Liz! Thanks a lot for the work you’ve been doing. I’ve got a question though about the listening section. How is an answer marked if it is not full enough? I mean there are supposed to be two words bur the candidate gives just one. For example, the right answer is “Student’s Union” but the candidate writes just “Union” – is this answer marked wrong?

  24. Thanks lizs for the great effort . I have just one clarification . In this listening section for the first question the answer given is only “chemicals” but I marked it as “high chemicals” as it was said in the audio .will this make my answer incorrect or should I mark ly chemicals as my answer ??

  25. Can I write listening answers in capital letters such as – ROMAN CANDLES, CHEMICALS …?

  26. Dear Liz,
    What dos it exactly mean? Two words and/or a number? It means we can use 3 words: 2 words + one number OR two word or 1 number? I confused in these sorts of question?
    Please help, Thank you.


  27. Hi,
    I have an question? When we are transfer answers to an answer sheets,do we need to write in capital letter or small. Because i practice on one website and they mark answers wrong?

  28. Hi, Liz!
    I really like your website. I wish I had found it earlier. I will take the test next week!
    I have a doubt concerning this exercise. The number 3 could be Chineses, in the plural? Chinese sounds to me very particular; it gives me an idea that a particular chinese invented the fireworks.
    Thank you so much for your beautiful work.


    • Glad you have found my website. Nationalities are never plural. We never say Englishes meals, only English meals. The same with Chinese. Never plural.
      All the best

  29. Dear Liz,

    First of all, thank you very much. Your site is very helpful.

    Second, I need your help please. Can I find in your website video for (listening – Filling in the missing word or sentences completions) like the video for (listening – Multiple chose tips).

    I have issue with this type of question (Listening – Filling in the missing word).

    I found in your site tips for all kinds of listening question, but what I need, special one for missing word or sentences completion.

    Best regards

  30. hello Liz
    i would like to thank you for your is helpfull
    my only problem is that I cant download your answers ,so i dont know if I am answering right or wrong..please help me
    thank you

    • Just click the arrow and the answers will appear. They are not downloaded. They are just hidden and then appear.

  31. Can you give tips of each question type in Listening like in Reading please ??

  32. mohammad hassan says

    I want to thank you as all of these lessons & tips are free
    can i ask about tips to develop listening test bcz these tecqniques improve the score but not alwayas helpful for that purposes to be good english listener

    • The tips on this blog are only for listening for the IELTS test. They are not aimed at improving normal listening ability in everyday life.

  33. Hey
    In the script, Roman rocket is written with a capital letter R because it is the first word of the sentence. My question is? Shouldn’t be written with capital letter all times because it is Roman .. I mean derived from Rome …. I guess! Thus, answer 7 should be Roman candle?

    Thank you

  34. adhikari alias says

    Hi Liz,
    The lessons that you are providing us are very useful. Would you please provide a range of sentence structures, which are helpful to improve our writing skills for writing task 2?

    • You should use conditionals, perfect tenses, sentences using linking devices, sentences starting with gerunds etc. It is basically a range of grammar tenses with linking devices. You can’t actually learn one sentence to put in your essay, you need to learn grammar.
      All the best

  35. Hi Liz

    I have a query in Cambridge IELTS 10,listening test 2.The speaker mentions that she is a vegan and that she doesn’t have meat.On the question paper,it’s asked to fill in the blank of the column, “The lady is Restricted to: ? ” I mentioned meat however the answer states “Vegetarian”.

    I’m confused since restricted to, means “meat”, how can restricted to, be vegetarian?

    Please advice as I’m totally confused.

    Thanks in advance!

    • There are no questions in any practice test of Cambridge book 10 with the answer “meat” or the answer “vegetarian”. However, in Cambridge book 9, test 2, there is a question about “special dietary requirements” and you need to fill in “no ….. (red)” – the answer is meat. You will need to check that you have a real copy of the Cambridge test books which are published by Cambridge ESOL.
      All the best

  36. Hi, Liz, good job! I am following your course to improve my skills on listening. Here is my notes about some paraphrasing words during my training:
    1.ingredients = materials
    2.placed in = put in
    3. first made = invented by
    4.make = creat
    5. made the way to = appeared in
    6. a certain height = a particular height
    7.shoot = launch
    8.give off = creat
    It is common knowledge that the word/words before or after the gap was or were paraphrased in section 4.

    • Fantastic! Yes, all good paraphrases. However, don’t forget that these paraphrases are suitable for this topic but possibly not for other topics. For example, the topic of cooking uses the word “ingredients” but in that topic the paraphrase “materials” is not suitable. But a great list none the less.

      • Thanks for your reply. I got your points, and it is true some paraphrases should be got the meaning with the context. However, if you more care about the skills of paraphrasing the better to understand the tricks in IELTS, because it is normal in all sections.

  37. how to listen no option s given

    • I don’t understand what you mean. You listen and fill in the gaps with words from the recording. The answers are given below.

  38. inderpal singh says

    thanks a lot liz yu ara perfect teacher but plz send me link of websites where i can practice free listening tests

  39. I learned so much from you and also i would like to learn again.
    You are wonderful teacher. I love your way fo teaching

  40. i’m very glad!!
    moreover, i give more of my time on your general instructions about IELTS.


  41. FABULOUS!!!!!!!

  42. Mam initially I would like to thank you so much for the excellent piece of work. It’s been a great help for beginners like me. I posted a comment earlier too but didn’t get any replay. Hope one for this. My question is if we write any caps, where they are not needed will I lose marks? Eg. “Rocket” & “bang” in the above section

  43. Dear Ms. Liz,

    I am planning for taking IELTS test within next 2 months. I am a very busy executive, as such I do not have enough time to go to any IELTS school. So I have chosen your website to learn all the techniques for IELTS. Your site is really helpful for me.

    May the almighty also help you.

    Best regards


  44. Dear Liz,
    Yours is the perfect and real platform to improve skills in all four modules. of IELTS . Thank you so much for creating such platform which is very helpful for the students . I hope I will increase my skills in by following your tips and suggestions with huge practice.
    It needed to be clear the difference between PRACTICE and PRACTISE. Wouil you plz? SHARING IS CARING I believe this words .

  45. Hello liz

    thank you for all those tips and lessons:)

  46. Hi Liz,
    Thanks for your help! It is really helpful to improve all the tasks in the IELTS test.Thank you so much Liz.May God bless you

  47. Masom miah says

    thanks for being with us

  48. Esmaeil Bahmyari says

    Thanks Liz.
    I think it sounds part 3 of listening test. My answers were all correct.
    Tests like these are helpful while we are preparing for the test.

    • I’m glad it was helpful. This was similar to section 4 (one speaker on an academic topic) but the level was slightly easier. The aim was to develop skills of following information and listening for answers.
      All the best

  49. thanks for useful listening. i got 6/8. Need study hard

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