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Vocabulary For IELTS – Improve Your Vocabulary For IELTS Writing & More

woman who passed the ielts

Many students struggle to get a good score for their IELTS vocabulary in the Speaking and Writing components. 

Vocabulary is a key driver of your performance in IELTS–and any other language test. However, it can be difficult to know where to start without feedback, evaluation, or expert help. In IELTS, vocabulary or lexical resource accounts for 25% of your final grade in both the speaking and writing sections. 

On this page, we’ve put together a variety of resources to help you improve your vocabulary. From topic-specific vocabulary lists to detailed explanations and practice exercises, you’ll find everything you need to expand your vocabulary and achieve a higher IELTS band score. 

What Is IELTS Vocabulary & Why Is It So Important For Both IELTS Speaking & IELTS Writing?

Even though the IELTS exam doesn’t have a specific module dedicated to testing vocabulary, it remains an essential aspect that examiners evaluate in both the Writing and Speaking parts of the exam. The vocabulary assessment in IELTS aims to gauge a candidate’s skill in using a diverse array of words both appropriately and accurately.

In the Writing portion of the IELTS exam, test takers are required to demonstrate their IELTS writing vocabulary by using a variety of words and phrases in a coherent and cohesive manner. They are also expected to use appropriate grammar and spelling.

In the Speaking part of the exam, candidates are judged on their ability to utilise a variety of vocabulary in a relevant context. This evaluation includes the use of collocations, idioms, and phrasal verbs. Candidates are also expected to have the skill to paraphrase and elucidate the meanings of the words and phrases they use.

Fundamentally, having a solid foundation in vocabulary is vital for proficiency in any aspect of learning a new language. The skill to utilise a broad spectrum of vocabulary and to correctly employ these words in various situations is a key factor in achieving a higher band score.

How To Improve Your Vocabulary For IELTS

Improving your vocabulary for the IELTS exam can seem daunting, but with the right approach, it can be manageable. The most effective way to expand your vocabulary is by reading. 

It is important to focus on quality materials such as magazines, articles, and books. These are the kinds of written materials which will use the most diverse ranges of vocabulary and will also help you understand the contexts in which words are being used.

Mock IELTS Writing General Task 1 Model Answer - Moving House (informal) by Andrew Turner @ EnglishWithAnExpert.com

Listening to spoken English is also one of the best ways to improve your IELTS Vocabulary. There’s a distinct difference between comprehending written and spoken English since they require separate skills and cognitive processes. Consequently, grasping the context and application of words in written form can vary significantly from their usage in everyday speech. 

Listening to high-quality podcasts can improve your vocabulary for IELTS by exposing you to a wide range of words and phrases that you may not have encountered in your daily life.  

Podcasts often cover a variety of topics and can include interviews, discussions, and monologues that use language specific to a particular subject matter. Through listening to podcasts, you will encounter new words and phrases in different contexts, which can help you understand their meanings and usage more easily.  

Additionally, by listening to native speakers, you can improve your comprehension of spoken English and learn how to use intonation, stress, and rhythm to convey meaning and/or emotion. 

Another way that listening to high-quality podcasts can improve your vocabulary is by exposing you to new and advanced words in a relaxed and enjoyable way. Podcasts are usually created with the intent of entertaining or informing the audience, which can make the learning experience more engaging and less intimidating than traditional classroom settings. 

Additionally, some podcasts offer transcripts or detailed outlines that list the vocabulary and expressions featured in each segment. This resource is beneficial for studying and reinforcing your understanding of new terms. 

To effectively integrate this new vocabulary for IELTS preparation, consider recording each newly learned word and phrase into an app or notebook. When you next engage in English conversation or composition, attempt to incorporate these terms appropriately. Practising them in context is an effective method to solidify their retention in your memory, preparing you for the IELTS test.  

You can view this page, which includes many of our recommended resources as well as other handy tips and tricks on how to expand your IELTS vocabulary. 

Common Spoken IELTS Vocabulary Topics

How To Use Vocabulary For IELTS

Following the advice given above will help you to both build and own your vocabulary for IELTS.

 But how should you use your lexical resource?

 That depends on the part of the IELTS test under consideration.

 The Speaking and Listening modules are exactly the same for both the General and Academic versions of the test. 

You can use both informal and academic vocabulary in the Speaking test and still achieve a high score. However, it’s important to be mindful of the tone you use and to make sure it aligns with the questions asked.

The Reading test will have vocabulary at a more informal level if you take the General test. If you take the Academic, it will have the kind of vocabulary you would see on an undergraduate course. 

The Writing test also differs between the General and Academic versions, but the main difference is in Task 1. For the General version, Task 1 asks you to write a letter that should be written in a formal, semi-formal, or informal tone. 

 However, in the Academic version, Task 1 requires you to describe data presented in a table, graph, map, or process diagram. 

 This type of essay requires more specialised writing vocabulary for IELTS in order to illustrate trends and patterns in enough detail. This is where your practice and knowledge of academic vocabulary will come in handy.

How We Helped Isabelle Improve Her Vocabulary For IELTS & Migrate With A Band 8.0

When we met Isabelle, she wanted to emigrate to Canada, but after multiple attempts, she had failed to get more than 6.5 for Writing.

She had time for 3 lessons before her test.

 Isabelle applied the tactics above and after three lessons went from a band 6.5 to a band 8.0!

 She made rapid progress, and most students will progress more slowly.

 However, her achievement does show that applying the advice above works!

image of Chinese student writing an essay