What is a gap-fill (gapped) summary?
- Gap-fill summaries usually focus on just one or two paragraphs, so you don’t need to look through the whole text.
- The summary usually has a HEADING – this helps you quickly find the paragraph(s) with the answers.
- The gaps are words taken from the text – so even if you don’t know what all the words mean, you can find them!
- The gaps are usually in the same order as they appear in the original text.
- The sentences surrounding the gaps use SYNONYMS to summarise the paragraph, and these synonyms will lead you to the right answer.
Different types of gap-fill summary
The gap-fill summary could be in the form of a
and some gap-fill summaries have a choice of answers.
9 tips for gap-fill summaries
1) Use the text TITLE to work out the structure of the whole Reading.
e.g. What destroyed the civilisation of Easter Island?
This title of the text tells us to expect an answer.
In this text we have different theories from different specialists.
2) Use the SUMMARY HEADING to find the right paragraph
The heading of the Gapped Summary gives us ONE answer to the title’s question: it tells us Jared Diamond’s View.
Use CAPITAL LETTERS e.g. in this example, the name ‘Jared Diamond’ helps us quickly find the paragraph which has Diamond’s view.
3) Use synonyms
Look around the gap for synonyms to help you find the sentences which contain the answer.
4) Decide what type of word you need. Do you need a verb, noun, adjective or number?
5) Use your general knowledge to make quick ‘educated’ guesses.
6) Make sure you always keep the ‘s’ on plural forms.
7) Copy the words exactly as they appear in the text (don’t lose points for spelling)
8) The words usually come in the same order as they appear in the text, so don’t waste time looking for answers in different places.
9) Always check how many words you are allowed.
10) Make sure that the word or words you choose fit grammatically e.g. in 21 below, ‘clearing land for farm*‘ would be grammatically incorrect.
How to do gap-fill summaries
Read the Gapped Text below and compare it with the original text beneath.
Choose ONE WORD only for the gap.
21. Diamond believes that the Polynesian settlers on Rapa Nui destroyed its forests, cutting down its trees for fuel and clearing land for __________
The islanders cleared the forests for firewood and farming.
22. When the islanders were no longer able to build the ____________ they needed to go fishing…
As trees became scarce and they could no longer construct wooden canoes for fishing…
23.…they began using the island’s ____________ as a food source.
…they ate birds.
24.…the methods of transporting the statues needed not only a great number of people, but also a great deal of _____________.
…they laid the moai on wooden sledges, hauled over log rails, but that required both a lot of wood and a lot of people.
- Gapped Text in black.
- Original Text in blue.
21. Diamond believes that the Polynesian settlers on Rapa Nui destroyed its forests, cutting down its trees for fuel and clearing land for (FARMING).
The islanders cleared the forests for firewood and FARMING.
22. When the islanders were no longer able to build the (CANOES) they needed to go fishing…
…they could no longer construct wooden CANOES for fishing…
23.…they began using the island’s (BIRDS) as a food source.
…they ate birds.
24.…the methods of transporting the statues needed not only a great number of people, but also a great deal of (WOOD).
…they laid the moai on wooden sledges, hauled over log rails, but that required both a lot of WOOD and a lot of people.
- wrecked = destroyed
- firewood = fuel
- construct = build
- ate = (used) as a food source
- required = needed
- a lot of = a great number of (countable), a great deal of (uncountable)
IELTS Key vocabulary
- ancient civilisation
- cutting down trees (=deforestation)
- trees became scarce
- fertilised by volcanic ash
- decreased crop yields
- soil erosion
- accelerate = speed up
Get the full Reading (Matching Headings) plus a list of essential vocabulary here.
This topic is part of the Ancient Civilisations topic in the Members Academy 28 Days of IELTS Vocabulary Course.
- Get more Reading tips here.
- How to manage your time in the IELTS Reading Test.
- How to answer True/False/Not Given questions
- How to match headings to paragraphs
- How to match statements to people
- How to do gapped summaries
- How to use text structures – a ‘discursive’ structure
- How to use text structures – a ‘chronological’ structure
- How to manage your time better in the IELTS Reading Test