- The IELTS Reading gapped summary task usually focuses 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 IELTS gapped summary
The gapfill summary could be in the form of
- a flow-chart
- a table
- a diagram
- individual sentences
- open questions
and some summaries have a choice of answers.
The reading is a good example of a theory-evidence structure (discursive): like most academic texts, it seeks to find an answer to a question.
Learn more about IELTS Reading Question Types on the IELTS.org official page.
10 tips for a gapped summary
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. e.g. “build” = “construct” in Q22 below.
4) Decide what type of word you need. Do you need a verb, noun, adjective or number?
e.g. “a great deal of + NOUN“ (Q24 below)
The gaps are usually nouns or adjectives. They are NEVER grammar words (articles, auxiliary verbs, prepositions etc).
5) Use your general knowledge to make quick ‘educated’ guesses.
e.g. they build the (boats?) they need to go fishing. (Q22 below)
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) (Q22 below)
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 Q21 below, ‘clearing land for farm*‘ would be grammatically incorrect.
IELTS gapped summary practice
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.
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.
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May I ask if the gap filling allows “no more than 2 words” and the answer is “permits”, would I be wrong if i write the answer “pre-registered permits” which is mentioned in the related paragraph? Thanks a lot.
Hi Ken. Technically this would be fine, if you were allowed 2 words (as ‘pre-registered’ is considered to be one word). However, you would need to check that this also fits the gapfill summary grammatically e.g. if the gapfill summary is ‘_________ that have already been registered’, and you write ‘pre-registered permits’ it would sound strange to say ‘pre-registered permits that have already been registered’, in which case ‘permits’ would be the only correct answer.