BULATS Business English: Strategies for Open Gap-Fill

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

If you are taking the BULATS Business English exam, it can be helpful to have strategies that will help you prepare for the various sections of the test. This lesson helps you think about the open gap-fill portion.

Getting Ready for the BULATS

Are you preparing to take the BULATS test of business English, or the English you will need to succeed in business and marketplace situations? This test looks at your language in the four domains of speaking, listening, reading, and writing.

One section on the reading portion of the test is called the open gap-fill section. This section provides you with a passage to read, which will have several words missing. Your job is to complete the blanks with appropriate grammar and vocabulary.

If you are worried about this section of the test, know that this is a normal way to feel before taking any standardized exam! At the same time, it is important to remember that there are some strategies you can use to help you feel confident and well-prepared as you move closer to testing day.

Read the Whole Passage

Choosing the right words for the open gap-fill passage relies on a combination of vocabulary knowledge and awareness of grammar. In order to choose the appropriate vocabulary, you will want to focus on the semantics, or meaning, of the passage.

Begin by reading the passage from start to finish, leaving the blanks empty. This will allow you to get the basic meaning of the passage and think about its tone and purpose. Reading the whole passage without filling in words one at a time will ensure that you keep the overall meaning in mind when you go back to think about specific wording.

Make Your Best Guess

The next part of your strategy for success will be to make a strong guess for a word whose meaning will make sense in each blank. Think about the overall meaning of the sentence and the passage as you choose your words. Keep tone in mind and ask yourself what you would actually say if you were writing a passage just like this one.

Try not to second-guess yourself as you complete the passage; you will have a better time maintaining coherence of meaning if you complete the whole passage and then go back over the choices you have made.

Reread With Your Words

Now that you have filled in all of the missing words, it is time to go back and reread. Start at the beginning of the passage and read it through very carefully, one sentence at a time, with your words filled in. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does the word I chose make sense in the context of this sentence?
  • Does the word I chose sound like one that a native speaker of English would use in this context?
  • Does the part of speech I used make sense grammatically in its placement in the sentence and passage?
  • Can I think of a different word that will be a better fit?

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