IELTS Listening Practice: Sentence Completion

This IELTS listening lesson for section 4 sentence completion questions. These types of questions are gap fill questions. Section 4 of the IELTS test is an academic lecture with one speaker using academic language. All IELTS candidates take the same IELTS Listening Test (both GT and Academic candidates).

IELTS Listening Practice: Sentence Completion Question

Comet Landing

Questions 1-6: Complete the following sentences using no more than two words and/or a number.

  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.


Transcript and Answers:
To see the transcript and answers, click below. You only check them after you complete the listening lesson. Also see the vocab section below.

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 / consistency
  • an inaccuracy = mistake / error
  • to release = liberate / let go
  • to anchor = fasten / secure
  • to fire = to discharge / shoot
  • intended = planned


Recommended Lesson

For ALL IELTS listening practice lessons and tips, click here: IELTS Listening Main Page


FREE Subscribe to Get New Posts by Email


  1. saeed says

    Hi Liz.
    thanks for your free lectures and practice tests it helps us alot… this one was tough but trying to practice more and your lectures helping me alot.

  2. Hi Liz,thanks for the free material and support,i want to practice as a Dentist in Canada.Should i be taking a Ielts academic or General training?

    • That is something you should ask the visa and immigration department. There will be specific requirements. I would imagine it would be the Academic Test, but you must check directly.

  3. Andreea says

    I just start learning for Ielts and I would say it is difficult .Anyway,Liz you are doing an amazing job in here and thank you soo much.About the listening ,if we take the exercise above would be second time listen the text on the real exam or just once.L

  4. I got 6 out of 6!! Thank you Liz!!! You really are an amazing person, thank you for sharing your knowledge and being a good teacher.. Your way of teaching truly helps ..

    God bless always Liz!

  5. Thanks you so mum Liz
    Am a new beginner and your training has really helped me a lot. I will soon be writing the IELTS Test exam for the first time.
    God bless you and keep you safe and continue to guide us.

  6. Timmothee says

    Hi Liz,

    Write no more than two words.Do not write articles.

    what do they mean by – “Do not write articles”

  7. 6/6 in this one. You really have to listen carefully.

  8. Hi Liz,

    I am unable to find the audio for comets landing listening practice. Could you please help me with the link??


    • The audio is there. Can you try using a different device or a different internet connection?

  9. Hi Liz. Does each question of the listening test carry equal marks?

  10. Graciela says

    Hi, everybody! For Q3 I got confussed because the sentence uses the past ‘was’ and the audio uses the present ‘takes about 28 minutes each way’. I thought that the clue was only at ‘time delay’ but it was also at ‘between Rosetta and the controllers’.

  11. Hi Liz,

    Will the transcript be given with the recording as you gave with the recording? for listening section or there would be just audio recording with the summary to be completed?

    • My lessons contain the transcript so you can analyse your mistakes and improve. In the listening test, you will hear the recording only once and no transcript is given. I suggest you get a real IELTS past test which you can find for free on the BC website.

      • Thank you so much Liz for kind reply. It will be very helpful for me

        You are such a wonderful guide.

  12. I am unable to do these without the audio-scripts, here I’m questioning my own inability but just to take your opinion, can I get better doing these exercises repeatedly? I am asking this because I have been doing these exercises for a month now, and I am not improving. Hope you can answer with an advice, thank you for your efforts.

    • Practice will certainly make a difference. You need to build concentration and also awareness of techniques, question types etc. But further still, you need to focus on development. Each listening exercise you do, should be analysed after you finish. Make a list of why you got the questions right and why you got some wrong. Make a list of paraphrases. Make a list of key words. Start be responsible for your own training.

  13. Naser says

    Hi Liz,
    I got 4/6…i want to more practice on sentence completion and map listening.
    Please can you post more exercises.

  14. bronson says

    Answer 1 : first images
    Is this right.
    The recording says “to obtain the first images of the surface”

    • Sorry I had to check. This would actually be marked wrong. You can’t say in English “capture first images” but you can write “capture the first images”. Sentence completion requires that the sentence is grammatically correct on completion. You can’t use the word “the” because the limit is only 2 words.

  15. yaswanth says

    Dear Liz,
    Is this the level of difficutly of the final IELTS or the final exam is far more difficult than this. Is this level of practice is enough for a 8 to 9 band score or need to find some more data from other sources.
    wish u can help me out to find out

  16. Sebastian Cadavid says

    Dear Liz, if I split an infinitive then I should still have a correct answer, right? I’m talking about foot screws and footscrews

  17. 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.

  18. 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?

    • Sorry, it’s 26 multiple 2 equals 56

    • The question only asks for one way. It doesn’t ask “the time from Rosetta to Earth and back again”. You will not find you are asked to add up numbers in either listening or reading for IELTS.

  19. 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


  20. 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 ?


  21. mani bhinder says

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

  22. mani bhinder says

    very very difficult listening
    all synonyms

    • IELTS is an English language test. That means it is testing your English – including vocabulary (synonyms)

  23. 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.

  24. 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.

  25. 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.

  26. 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”.

  27. 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.

  28. Wykay says

    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

      • Dear Liz,

        Really appreciate sharing your expertise and knowledge in this site.

        I too have been in a quandary in mentioning one word or two for Q6. As long as the answer is spelt correctly and the answer is right should it really matter if it is written as one word or two?

        Thank you.

  29. 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.

Speak Your Mind


error: Content is protected !!