A cloze exercise is a type of reading comprehension activity. It has a passage of text with missing words – children need to fill in the blank spaces using words from a list or word bank. The words are usually removed at intervals, such as every five words.

They’re similar but different from gap-fill exercises, where words are chosen and removed to practice a specific language point.

What is a cloze exercise useful for?

A cloze exercise tests a child’s vocabulary, spelling, and language skills simultaneously. It encourages children to think carefully about word choice so that they can pick out the word that best fits the blank space.

To choose the word best suited to the missing space, children have to read and understand the surrounding text; this is a test of reading comprehension – can they decipher the meaning well enough to understand which word needs to be added to complete the text? In addition, this teaches children to look at context clues and make use of them.

Cloze exercises also help children think critically and analytically about their reading. For example, when deciding which word to put in the blank space, children must determine what kind of word will fit into the sentence. Choosing the correct one shows an understanding of language. For these reasons, a cloze procedure is a great exercise for teachers to give to their pupils. Not only does it help with their reading and language development, but it’s also a fun way to learn about a topic. In addition, the text often provides useful information for a child to learn and makes them think about what they’re reading as they have to fill in the gaps.

Teaching grammar with cloze activities

If you want to combine teaching on grammar and cloze learning, this is ideal as the two topics are interlinked. For example, knowledge of grammar is necessary to find an appropriate word to complete a sentence. In addition, children need to know the correct order that terms might take in a sentence to choose the right word.

One way to practice this grammar skill when using a cloze procedure is to encourage children to read each sentence aloud. Often, it will be easier to hear when a sentence is correct than it is to be able to tell this when reading silently.

Using cloze worksheets also supports children in exploring a vital aspect of grammar – different types of words. As they look at the blank space in their sentence, you can encourage them to consider whether they need an adjective, a noun, or a verb. Children can then look at the words they have to choose from and think about which words they have of the right type.

You could also introduce learning punctuation into your grammar cloze activity. To do this, try removing all punctuation from the cloze passage before sharing it with your children. Then, challenge students to correctly find the spaces in the passage that need punctuation added and then add the right punctuation.

When might children take a cloze test?

Cloze exercises are sometimes used in the classroom to assess children’s understanding of the English language. They may be used to help develop vital reading comprehension skills.

They’re also a vital part of the 11 plus test – a test that year six children may take if they apply for a place at a grammar school. Cloze tests are set to replace the verbal reasoning 11 plus exam.

Tips for passing a cloze exercise

Please help your child or pupils pass their cloze test using these handy tips.

  • Read the whole text through before choosing any words from the word bank. While one word might seem like a good fit for a blank space at the start of the text, it might fit better elsewhere. It’s also essential to have a solid understanding of what the whole text is about.
  • Remember to think of grammar and syntax. Does this blank space need a noun, adjective, or verb? It will help children to narrow down which words can grammatically fit in the blank; then, they can choose the one that makes sense in context.
  • Use a pencil when writing. Then, if they change their mind about where a word should go, they can easily erase it and start again.
  • Start with the ones you’re most confident about first. Then, if there are some blanks they’re unsure about, encourage them to add the ones they are sure about first; this will help with the process of elimination.
  • Carefully read through the words in the word bank. Do they know what each of the words means? If not, encourage them to use their knowledge of spelling rules and the context to estimate their meanings.
  • Once the cloze exercise is filled in, read it back; this is a good way to check whether it makes sense. Again, reading aloud is the best way to check that all the words have been put in the right places.

Example of cloze procedures

There are two types of cloze exercises: cloze paragraphs and cloze words.

Cloze Paragraphs

This cloze exercise about giraffes has blank spaces in each sentence. There’s also a word bank at the top, filled with words that would fit these empty spaces.

Children should choose words from the word bank and put one into each blank space. Cloze paragraphs are objective exercises with only one correct answer for each space.

Cloze words

An exercise with cloze words removes letters from particular words in a passage of text. Children have to fill in the blanks and spell the words correctly. These kinds of cloze tests don’t have a word bank.

Here’s an example:

You should be a good ne—-our and help out your co—-ity.

The correct words would be ‘neighbor’ and ‘community.’

These cloze exercises are a good way of testing spelling, grammar, and vocabulary.

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