IELTS Vocabulary

Latest resources

Idioms for relationships: 30 idioms that are great for speaking about people in part 2

Idioms for speaking about time: 30 idioms to improve the way you talk about experiences in part 2

Different ways to talk about change: 6 exercises from the Academic Word List to improve your range of vocabulary

Introduction to IELTS vocabulary

This page contains resources for students looking to improve their IELTS vocabulary. This is an extremely important area in the exam because:

  • vocabulary is 25% of your score in both writing and speaking
  • a good grasp of vocabulary is essential for both reading and listening

Where is the best place to learn IELTS vocabulary? Easy. Read and listen lots and lots. This is where you will learn most new words and is the most efficient way to learn – much better than learning lists of words.

A place to start with IELTS vocabulary

It really does help to have a plan for your vocabulary learning. This is the place I suggest you start:

10 top tips on learning IELTS vocabulary - advice on how to improve your vocabulary for IELTS.

Learn and test your topic Vocabulary

Test your vocabulary

Test your employment vocabulary

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Lists of useful words and phrases for common IELTS topics and themes:

Employment vocabulary: useful vocabulary and exercises

Art vocabulary: the general words you need to be able to use to discuss art

Advertising vocabulary: useful vocabulary and exercises

Technology: a download of useful vocabulary and some exercises

Family vocabulary: lists of useful words with examples to describe families and family relationships

Globalization vocabulary: words and ideas to write and speak about globalization in IELTS

University education


The environment

Music – spoken

Your home town in part 1 speaking: download and quiz

Academic vocabulary 

Advice and vocabulary lists for structural and functional vocabulary

Connectors to express contrast - a range of different ways to join sentences without using “but” or “although” – excellent for improving your range of grammar

The language of problems - a post explaining the need to use varies vocabulary to describe problems with a download and an interactive exercise

Cause and effect 1 : basic variations of cause and effect vocabulary

Academic caution (1) - advice on how to extend your answer in part 3 speaking by being more cautious

Academic caution (2) -  how to improve your writing with specific and general language

Impersonal language for academic essays: a list of impersonal “it”. “there” and “one” phrases to make your writing more academic

Task 1 writing

Vocabulary to help with academic task 1 writing

Basic vocabulary to describe graphs: basic variations of trend vocabulary

More advanced vocabulary to describe charts and graphs: a list of words and phrases to boost your band score

How to use quantifiers correctly to describe numbers : a grammar/vocabulary lesson on how to avoid some basic mistakes and a gapfill exercise to complete a table

More advanced vocabulary to make comparisons: useful words that you can use to qualify your comparisons (eg considerably greater)

Download of vocabulary to help you describe process diagrams: Sequencing language for process diagrams (33082)


Advice on vocabulary for use in the speaking test

Idioms and phrases for speaking about time: some excellent natural phrases to help you improve your part 2 speaking score

IELTS speaking – opinion vocabulary – a video post with a download to help improve the range of your opinion vocabulary by not saying “I think” all the time

IELTS speaking – the language of comparison – how to use the language of comparison in speaking to extend your answers with an emphasis on using a range of different structures. Comes with a downloadable worksheet.

Vocabulary for giving more fluent answers –  a downloadable list of helpful phrases to allow you to pause intelligently and make your speaking more fluent

The Academic Word List

Exercises on the AWL to help with IELTS essay writing

Daily words – these are exercises based on the Academic Word List (the most commonly used words in academic writing)

8 exercises to improve your essay vocabulary

Tips on studying and improving vocabulary

General advice on learning vocabulary for IELTS

10 top tips on learning IELTS vocabulary – advice on how to improve your vocabulary for IELTS.

A 5 step procedure to avoid mistakes with vocabulary - advice on different ways not to make so many mistakes with vocabulary in essays