IELTS Listening Practice: Sentence Completion

This IELTS listening practice exercise is a gap fill (sentence completion) question and the level of this lesson is similar to section 4 of the real IELTS listening test – it is an academic lecture with one speaker using academic language.

Sentence Completion Question

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

Comet Landing

1.1. Philae’s goal is to collect information about the makeup of the comet’s surface and also to capture ………….. of the surface.
2. Philae could have missed the landing because of an ………………. in Rosetta’s orbit.
3. The time delay between Rosetta and the controllers on Earth was ……………….
4. The lander found its own way down to the comet after release as there was no ………… on the lander.
5. There is an element of ………. in landing in a good location on the comet.
6. The lander can drill ……………… into the exterior of the comet for stability.


Rosetta spacecraft released Philae lander which landed successfully on a comet on 12 November 2014 at 08:35 GMT. The Philae lander achieved the first-ever controlled touchdown on a comet nucleus. The aim of Philae is to obtain the first images of the surface of the comet as well as make the first in situ analysis to determine the composition of the comet.
An inaccuracy of a few millimetres per second in Rosetta’s orbit could have resulted in Philae completely missing the comet. The descent, monitored from Esa’s mission control in Darmstadt, Germany, lasted about seven hours. Because the comet is about 510 million km from Earth, communication between Rosetta and controllers takes about 28 minutes each way. As a consequence, confirmation of the landing came through just after 16:04 GMT.
There was no steering of the lander down to the comet’s surface. Once released, it was on a path of its own. A certain amount of luck was needed for Philae to land in a nice spot. When the lander hit the surface, harpoons were fired to be used as anchors, although they do not appear to have anchored the craft as intended. The lander also has footscrews to drill into the surface of the comet to keep it secure. Now it’s on the surface of the comet, Philae can get to work. Drills, ovens, cameras and sensors onboard Philae will analyse everything from the surface composition and temperature to the presence of amino acids – essential building blocks in the chemistry of life. (from BBC news)
  1. images
  2. inaccuracy
  3. about 28 minutes / about 28 min
  4. steering
  5. luck
  6. footscrews
  • nucleus = center / core
  • in situ = in position
  • to determine = establish / conclude / decide
  • composition = makeup / consistancy
  • an inaccuracy = mistake / error
  • to release = liberate / let go
  • to anchor = fasten / secure
  • to fire = to discharge / shoot
  • intended = planned


Recommended Lesson

IELTS Listening Practice: Table Completion
IELTS Listening Practice: Picture Multiple Choice
IELTS Video Lesson for Listening: Names

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  1. mohammad nasser says:

    Dear Liz,
    Thanks for your efforts that we all see so help full and appreciated.
    I confused with # 6:
    the lander can drill using the footscrews
    or the lander can drill the footscrews

    thanks in advace
    Mohammad N.

  2. Dear Ms.Liz,

    Thank you verry much for these useful practice lessons.
    Could you explain for me the answer of question 3?
    I think it would be about 28 plus 2 by 56 mins. Because in the article it said about 28 mins each way so for Rosetta to send information and receive orders (delay time) from controllers should be 56 mins right?

  3. Hi Liz,

    Thanks for your effort and teaching technique, I really appreciate.

    Sentence completion, Note completion and summary completion. I do not really find a tangible difference among them. Any advice do you have about the difference? for example, the expected section, degree of difficulty, tricks…..etc


  4. Hi Liz,

    I wrote my 6th Questions answer to be Anchor’s would that be correct as well or we have to be very specific about it ?


  5. mani bhinder says:

    mam how luck is an eliment
    i cant understand answer still of q no 5

  6. mani bhinder says:

    very very difficult listening
    all synonyms

  7. Dear Liz,
    Thank you very much for your job. Your tips are so useful. I’m going to take an IELTS test in November. Hopefully, I’ll pass it successfully. Your website is my first source in the preparation to it.

  8. Dear Liz,

    In Q-1, is it alright to write “first images” as the answer mentioned is only “images” but as per the instructions, we can write use two words.

    Thanks in advance!

    • It would be wrong. To use “first images” you would need to add “the”. So, it would be ……. to capture the first images…”. That would be three words and not possible. Always remember that the sentence must be grammatically correct.

  9. Brathap says:

    Hi dear Liz,

    I got 3/6….pretty tough, you are good teacher…. I’m a beginner now..really its very useful for me … hats off mam.

  10. Dear Liz,

    For Q3 I’ve written the answer as 28 mins and didn’t mention about.
    Will I still lose a mark?

    Thank you

    • When you can have two words and a number, you should include the word “about”.
      All the best

      • Sanone (Saigon) says:

        But “no more than two words” means that it is ok to have only one word. Will examiner mark it as wrong for the answer “28 minutes” instead of “about 28 minutes”? Thank you,

        • Please watch the 25 tips video on the listening page for your answer to the first question. Second question: if the answer is not exact then you need to add “about”.

  11. Hi Liz, Its a bit difficult. I got 3/6.should wrk very hard for this type of sections .

    • Yes, this is a really difficult one. The language is challenging and there are common traps in the questions too.

  12. Hi, Liz!
    In fact, I spelt “footscrews” in a wrong way. However, when I google the word, I find it seems that there is a blank space between “foot” and “screw”. So if we just listen without the transcript, which one should we choose, “footscrews” or “foot screws”? Blank space and Hyphen have confused me for a long time.
    Thanks a lot!

    • For this one, there was no hyphen. You would need to decide whether or not to use a hyphen and also check the rules if you can use one word or two words for your answer.
      All the best

  13. Brunilda says:

    These questions were pretty tough,some of them,it seems to me that the hardest questions are between section two and three on the real test.This is a torture for me.Thank you for your effort.

    • The level is similar to section 4. It is challenging and don’t expect to get them all correct unless you are aiming for band 9.

  14. Dear Liz,
    This exercise is so hard. I couldn’t get anything correct. Poor me!!!!!

    • This is typical of section 4 – luckily the other sections are easier. Make sure you spend time reviewing the transcript and seeing why you didn’t find the answers. There were many complicated words, but the answers were still possible to find. Make a list of paraphrases used etc.
      All the best

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