Many students struggle to get a good score for their IELTS vocabulary in the Speaking and Writing components.
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.
Read on to see how these tips helped her to exceed her target score.
How To Expand Your Vocabulary
The best way to expand your vocabulary – read, read, read! You shouldn’t read just anything – focus on quality magazines, articles and books.
Don’t just focus on reading, listen to high-quality podcasts as well.
You can find our recommended list of free reading materials and podcasts on this page.
We also have a special monthly series on IELTS vocabulary. In the series, we curate articles rich with vocabulary and ideas you can transfer to the IELTS test.
Keep your eye on our blog page for the next edition of Spotlight IELTS Vocabulary.
Here is one of our past issues…
English Vocabulary Learning
Reading and listening to quality publications will expose you to a lot of high-level IELTS vocabulary.
However, you need to capture the new words and make them a part of your active vocabulary.
At the end of the day, this boils down to repetition. Even if you have an IELTS teacher, you will need to find more opportunities to practise using what you learn.
Apps can help you get this practice. Visit our English vocabulary learning page to see which apps we recommend.
We also introduce you to other strategies you can use, such as keeping a diary.
How To Use Vocabulary for IELTS
Following the advice given above will help you to both build and own your vocabulary.
But how should you use your lexical resource?
That depends on the part of the test under consideration.
General or Academic Vocabulary?
The Speaking and Listening sections of the test are the same whether you take the General or Academic versions of the test.
This means in the Speaking test you can use informal or academic vocabulary and still achieve a high score. Take a look at the marking criteria for Speaking here.
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 is also different for the Academic and General versions. However, only Task 1 differs significantly.
General Task 1 asks you to write a letter which should either be formal, semi-formal, or informal in tone.
In the Academic version, you need to describe data presented to you in a table, graph, map or process diagram. This type of essay requires a more specialised vocabulary which enables you to illustrate trends and patterns in sufficient detail.
For more information on how the examiners assess vocabulary and the kind of vocabulary you will need for each component – click here.
What happened to Isabelle?
Oh, I almost forgot!
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!