Top Tips for IELTS

Opinion vocabulary for IELTS speaking

It is crucial to learn a range of opinion vocabulary for IELTS speaking. This post gives you some practical advice in a 3 step programme so that you can use it better. You will also find a simple – but very effective – practice resource to make yourself to help you do this.

Step 1 – know when you can use opinion vocabulary – think

Sometimes it’s not immediately obvious the examiner is asking you for your opinion. The question will not always contain the words “Do you think…?”. Look at these examples:

  • “Would you say it’s an easy job?”
  • “What’s the hardest part of your job?”
  • “Do you like your subject?”
  • “Is it easy to travel to and from your home?”

In each case you should be thinking about using the language of opinions. You need to see that the questions could be:

  • “Do you think it’s an easy job?”
  • “What do you think is the hardest part of your job?”
  • “Do you think your subject is interesting?”
  • “Do you think that it’s easy to travel to and from your home?”

Tip: this needs some practice to get right – not all the questions are opinion questions. I suggest you find some IELTS speaking questions or go to my speaking resource page and see which questions you can rewrite with “Do you think?”

Step 2 – learn to extend your answer – why

Of course it’s not enough just to use the opinion vocabulary: you also need to say a little bit more or, as teachers say, learn to extend your answer. The answer here is fairly simple. What you need to do is imagine the questions above are:

  • “Do you think it’s an easy job and why?”
  • “What do you think is the hardest part of your job and why?”
  • “Do you think your subject is interesting and why?”
  • “Do you think that it’s easy to travel to and from your home and why?”

If you hear this in your head, you will almost automatically start to say more by using the word “because” – even when the examiner doesn’t ask you to say “why”.

Step 3 – learn to use varied opinion vocabulary

If you do start to use opinion vocabulary, the trap is that you keep saying the words, normally: “I think” or “In my opinion”. While this is quite natural, you don’t want to do this in the exam as the examiner will be listening to how you vary your vocabulary.

Key words for opinions

Practice makes perfect

So here’s my practice activity and resource for you. It’s very simple, but often the best things are. The idea is to use this language several times so that it starts to become automatic. That’s important because you don’t want tot stop and think about this language in the exam itself.

Here’s what you do:

  • find some opinion topics/questions
  • speak about them
  • each time you use one of these phrases, you tick the box next to it
  • try and tick as many boxes as possible

opinion words for IELTS

You don’t need all the words of course. You should find though that with practice (and it works best with someone else) you start to use much more varied language for opinion:

Repeat the practice

This is the sort of practice that works best if you repeat it a few times. Once is good: 3 times is more than 3 times as good. Boring as it looks, it can be quite good fun – particularly if you have a study partner – because it gives you a different way to practise the same old, boring old topics.

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13 Responses to Opinion vocabulary for IELTS speaking

  1. Gayan April 17, 2011 at 6:19 pm #

    This site is really are doing a greatjob ! while some are earning a lot labeling IELTS.. keep it up

    Thank you again..,

  2. BAD PAINTER September 22, 2011 at 3:47 pm #

    thank you very much for your advices and they are really useful and effective!

    • Dominic Cole September 22, 2011 at 4:04 pm #

      Thank you for the comment. Can I be an annoying teacher for a second? Advice is uncountable in English (illogical I know, but there we go), so you can’t say “advices”. i only mention this because it is a super common mistake.

  3. alia December 19, 2011 at 9:40 pm #

    Dear Cole,
    Really, it is an incredable blog, it is more than helpful and we try to collect this knowledege as much as we can.
    Thanks Cole

  4. Gazet June 17, 2012 at 4:26 am #

    it’s really useful for me. Thanks for the post

  5. John October 10, 2012 at 4:31 am #

    Thank you!

  6. anzu November 2, 2012 at 8:56 am #

    What is your take on the formality of the speaking section? I’ve read that the formality shouldn’t be too formal-i.e. use “buy” instead of “purchase” because the purpose is evaluating someone’s skill at conversational language, but at the same time I feel like using wide and possibly more sophisticated vocab should be better. What is your opinion on this?

    • Dominic Cole September 6, 2016 at 12:19 pm #

      I apologise for the long delay in answering this. It is about good conversational English and that can mean using less sophisticated words -as is normal in conversation. The real key is to aim for variety and it’s also nice of course to fit some idioms in too. We use them a lot in spoken English – but they re hard to use correctly and to learn generally.

  7. Bernie November 10, 2012 at 4:14 pm #

    I am wondering that you majesty reveal soo many secrets and helpful tips and how you can make a living by teaching.
    If I were an IELTS tutor, I would not disclose any important information.
    You majesty is a person with altruism.

  8. JAKIR December 26, 2012 at 2:55 pm #


  9. Thuy Pham September 11, 2014 at 8:11 am #

    Dear Cole

    Thank you very much for information provided in your website. It helps a lot with my IELTS speaking test.
    I enjoy your correction for Bad Painter’s mistake.

    Best wishes,

  10. Anonymous April 27, 2016 at 9:59 am #

    It’s really a helpful website! But are there something wrong with the practice part? I can’t see any practice content in the part of “repeat practice”. Thank you so much!

  11. Krish August 8, 2016 at 1:36 pm #

    I am not finding any practise activity for this section, can you please share the resource.

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