Introduction to IELTS vocabulary
If you are new to IELTS you should understand that:
vocabulary is 25% of your score in both writing and speaking
both reading and listening also test your vocabulary
What is the best way to learn IELTS vocabulary?
Easy. Read and listen lots and lots and then practise using the words you’ve read or heard. It’s important to see that there’s a big difference between understanding a word and being able to use it.
This lesson on reading skills shows you several different exercises that you can do to improve your vocabulary skills:
Tips on studying and improving vocabulary
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
Don’t forget your dictionary
Dictionaries may seem boring but they help in lots of ways. They are not just for finding the meanings of words. If you’re smart you’ll use a free online dictionary to help yourself learn the most important words better. I show you how to do this in this lesson:
The vocabulary you need for IELTS
You’ll find a huge amount of resources linked to from this page. Why? You need a huge amount of vocabulary in IELTS. These are some of the areas you need to work on:
topic specific words – e.g. words for the environment and technology
academic words for writing
functional words for speaking – e.g. how to give opinions and examples
functional words for writing – e.g. common linking words and phrases
idioms and colloquial phrases for speaking
words for academic task 1 e.g. words to describe trends
specialised letter writing words
IELTS essay vocabulary
This is where I keep my essay vocabulary – downloaded over 150,000 times so far! See if you like it too.
You will also find that all my model IELTS essays come with vocabulary exercises too. One of the best ways to learn vocabulary is to see how it is used in context:
The Academic Word List
You may also try my exercises on the Academic Word List to help with IELTS essay writing. They are the most commonly used words in academic writing and are among the most useful words for you to know how to use in IELTS.
Task 1 writing
For academic task 1 there are several areas of vocabulary you need to master.
Trends over time
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)
Processes and maps
Download of vocabulary to help you describe process diagrams: Sequencing language for process diagrams (42285)
Letter writing vocabulary
In IELTS letters you need to be able to use a range of different vocabulary.
some phrasal verbs
chatty vocabulary quite like speech
More formal letters
Standard letter writing phrases
There are certain phrases we commonly use in letters. These vary between more formal and less formal letters.
phrases to start and close informal letters
phrases to start and close more formal letters
Common functional vocabulary
You also need to be able to use words and phrases for the things we do in everyday life such as
apologise: Apology words and phrases:
More functional writing 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
IELTS topic Vocabulary
Your home town in part 1 speaking: download and quiz
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
Idioms for relationships: 30 idioms that are great for speaking about people in part 2