IELTS Reading Practice: Sentence Completion

Read the passage below and then answer the questions.

The War on Smoking

Make no mistake, the move to introduce plain packaging is just the latest front in the war against smoking. Over the past decade, there has been a ban on smoking in public places and moves to restrict displays in shops. But one of the issues that has been concerning health experts and ministers is the number of people who continue to take up smoking, particularly young people.
More than 200,000 under-16s start in the UK each year – helping ensure a viable market remains for manufacturers once the number of people quitting and dying is taken into account. In countries like the UK where there is a ban on advertising, the pack remains the last major vehicle for promotion. Hence the detail and care taken in the design of the packets with their laminated and special print effects, foil decorations and slide openings and bevelled edges. It should come as no surprise therefore to learn that they have become known as the “silent salesman” and “mobile billboard” within the industry. They are that important. (Passage from here)

Questions 1-4

Complete the sentences. Choose no more than two words and / or a number from the passage for each answer.

1. The most recent development in the war against smoking is to establish …………………………………. .
2. The large number of new smokers, particularly under 16’s, makes certain that cigarette companies will always have a ……………………………….. .
3. In some countries, packaging is the only method that cigarette companies have for ………………….
4. Packets are seen as being the ………………………………….. in the cigarette industry.

1. plain packaging
2. viable market
3. promotion
4. silent salesman / mobile billboard (you should choose one answer. If you put both, it is an incorrect answer
  • the latest front = the most recent development
  • to establish = to introduce
  • makes certain = helps ensure
  • only method of = the last vehicle for
  • edge = side
  • are seen as being = have become known as
  • come as no surprise = be expected


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  1. Dear Liz i can easily solve this type of questions but i find really hard about those questions which British council has uploaded in it’s website in reading portion.

    Are this types of questions are different from the question pattern of british council website?
    Here i have mention the link.
    Dear Liz i humbly request you to check the link once and suggest me as how i can score good marks in that question?
    i will be patiently waiting for your suggestion.

    your faithful student

  2. May Basco says:

    Hi Ms. Liz,

    I got 4/4.
    Thank you Ms. Liz. This IELTS lesson is a great help for everyone aspiring to have a good band score. God bless you more!


  3. chaterine says:

    Thank you for sharing, it’s so helpful. You’re so kind! GBU <3

  4. hi liz.
    i gave my ielts exam twice and both the exam i received R 5.5
    rest all was above 6.5
    and final time again m giving it and hoping for the best result. i could realy find the improvement in my reading through your blog.
    as soon as my result is annouced i’ll surely post in your blog

  5. i gave exam for 2 times then also i got 5.5band plz give guidance how to improve score.

  6. Liz, your videos are superb ! I watched your videos, and especially IELTS Writing Task 1 it was fabulous, the only thing is that i was looking for the same videos for IELTS Reading, but i couldn’t find them.
    Still thought, thank a lot for all this, it really helped.

    • There is one video for reading about the TFNG questions – see the main page for reading or my youtube channel.

  7. I really though “market remains” is the answer for question #2.
    i got 3/4.. not bad.

  8. Abum Mensah says:

    Thank you for these essential lessons on IELTS. I am Mensah from Ghana

  9. thank u Ma’am for that much great effort u did for ur students .We are really blessed to have u.there is a request u must start making videos on basic grammar too..

  10. jabal nur says:

    dear liz
    hi, my name is jabal. I am from Indonesia. I have never taken ielts before but now I’m practicing it by using your really helpfdul blog..thank u for that miss liz…are u a lecturer in UK University anyway?

  11. Hi Liz,
    Thank your very much for all your efforts and support!
    Got 3/4 because of a silly mistake as always not reading exactly what the q has asked for!!
    wrote “Silent salesmen” AND “mobile billboards” :/

    I must practice reading the instructions instead ; )

    I have always had some issues following the instructions, how to solve such a problem in your opinion?

  12. Thanx so much Liza ^_^

  13. Hi liz,

    it is the first time to address you and ask question , so can answer the reading question without understanding the passage?
    kind regards

    • You need to understand the sentences surrounding the answer for most questions, rather than the whole passage. However, for matching headings you need t understand the main aim of each paragraph.

  14. Sanone (from Saigon) says:

    Hello to you,
    For the question 3, is “advertising” an acceptable answer?

  15. Dear Liz,
    Your site is excellent for IELTS test takers. One question on filling blank spaces. Can you change the word form to fill in the (a) space. For example, in one practice exam, the question went like this- The average high school graduate makes a little more than one million dollars in 5 …………. . The closest answer in the passage was “adult’s working life”, and the model answer in the answer key was give as “a lifetime.” So can you actually have completely different words to fill in but conveying the same meaning or do the words have to be the exact from the passage/paragraph? How about other categories of the questions also?
    Cheers !


    • Sorry, I meant your site is excellent for those who are preparing for IELTS. Thank you so very much. I have benefited a lot from it. The last question in the earlier posting was supposed to mean- Are there other circumstances in the 14 different types of questions that are asked in IELTS Academic Reading (those that have blank spaces to be filled) where you can change the form of the word than what is given in the paragraph? Cheers!


    • The word form should not be changed at all. Words should be copied from the passage exactly as they are written. You can’t aim for copying the meaning, you must have the exact words. Here’s a link to the official IELTS website that states this:
      All the best

      • Thank you very much for the reply. I appreciate it. I actually am very sorry to find some renowned practice books (authors) changing the form of the words and phrases, which as per your link, the IELTS tells the exam takers not to. Thanks again. Cheers!


        • Pankaj Karki says:

          Dear Liz,
          Thanks for earlier answers to my questions. I went through your website extensively, and of course I practiced other materials feverishly also. I did not have much time to prepare for IELTS- only about 10 days. But your site helped me tremendously and I did EXTREMELY well in IELTS Academic, besides running a slight fever during exam day, which made me lose concentration-especially in the reading section. But thanks a billion. Your site is a wonder for those preparing for IELTS exams.


  16. Hi Liz!
    I am wondering if in the ielts test all the 14 types of questions will be in the reading test, or some of them? Which are the often to be in there? Thank you very much for you help.

  17. Hi: Liz
    Firstly ,thanks you for your great lessons, really since 2014 I have been doing the ielts
    several times actually, I did not receive writing band five recently I, find you block I,watched specially in writing then I did the exam I, got band five in writing and overall
    band I, feel I,am going to progress. anyway thanks LIZ

  18. Dear Liz,

    This is really helpful, thank you so much.
    I have an IELTS test at the end of this week and I do not have time to take preparation course. Moreover, this is my first time to do this test and I need to get at least 7. I am using your website to help me with this, it is a great and I will share it with some friends to get some lessons and tips of IELTS exam.

    Praying for you that “May God give you everything you dream in life”


    • Hi,

      Thanks. I wish you good luck in your test. Let me know how you get on. Also try to remember not only your essay question but also how you wrote your essay so that if you don’t get the score you want, we can find out why.
      All the best

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