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Reading task type six: table completion

Task description
You will be provided with an incomplete table which summarises or paraphrases information given in the reading text. The information in table form may be organised differently from the way in which it appears in the text, for example chronologically instead of in order of importance. The task is to complete the gaps in three words or fewer.

What is being tested is your ability to:

  • skim for specific information
  • understand gist and paraphrase

Sample task


Complete the table below using information from the reading passage. Write NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS for each answer. Write your answers in boxes 1-8 on your answer sheet.

Problem Cause of the problem Regulated after the Titanic disaster?
(Write Yes, No or Doesn't say)
Position of icebergs not plotted ......... scattered all over the ship Doesn’t say
Insufficient lifeboats ......... regulations .........
Lifeboats not full a) ignorance of the extent of the danger

b) fear that the lifeboats would .........
.........


.........
Californian didn’t listen to the distress calls No ......... wireless operation .........

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How to approach table completion tasks


Step 1: Read the instructions carefully. Note that in the sample task you may use your own words if you wish, based on the information in the reading text. In other cases you will be instructed to use the words from the reading text only. Note also that here you may write only three words or fewer.
Step 2: Look at the table and especially any headings. Decide which is the most useful way to read the table. In this case you need to read it horizontally to answer the questions. Glance at the other information given in the table to get an idea of what information you will be searching for when you read.
Step 3: Look at the first row under the headings. Decide what key ideas you will need to search for as you skim the reading text. Decide also what information you will need to complete the first gap. For example, in the sample task you will skim for a paragraph or section discussing icebergs not being plotted because something was scattered all over the ship. What was that something?
Step 4: Skim the text for the appropriate paragraph or section.
Step 5: Read that section more carefully and decide on the best word or words to fill the gap. Remember that you will need to use the appropriate form of any verbs.

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