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IELTS and academic English: 20 words you must know

This lesson is about improving your vocabulary. You will find a series of revision exercises on words from list 1 of the academic word list. If you work through this series of exercises that focus on nouns, you will not only learn those words much better, you should also learn a bit about how to learn vocabulary too – a useful skill.

What you can learn from these exercises

Don’t just learn one word. Learn 5 at the same time.
  1. you will of course of learn to use a few words better
  2. you should also see some of the different ways we make nouns in English: this can help learn more words
  3. you should see that you shouldn’t learn one word at a time, but try and learn complete word families – that way you learn 5 words at once. This is the most efficient form of vocabulary learning there is.
  4. unlike my word of the day exercises, this time around you need to spell the words too – a very necessary skill
  5. finally, I would like you to see that to learn a word you need to use it several times

Is this vocabulary important?

You need AWL words in EVERY essay you write

Oh yes. The 60 words from the AWL list 1 are easily the most important words for you to learn. Why? Well, you could spend 2 weeks learning all the vocabulary you could for the environment but they may never ask you to write or speak about that topic. But if you spend 2 weeks on the AWL, you can be guaranteed to learn vocabulary you will need for the exam. Why? The AWL is just a list of words that you can use no matter what the topic. You will need these words for any and every essay you write.

The exercises

You can work through the exercises one by one or pick and choose. The idea is that they get more difficult as you go along. If you have problems with a word you can always check back on it on the AWL page.

See how the words are made

How the nouns are made

You should find this exercise pretty easy. It is based on a simple idea: most nouns are made by adding suffixes like “-ment”, “ity”. “tion” and “ence”onto them. All you need to do is to decide which suffix fits which word.

see how the nouns are made exercise

Try to make sentences with the words

Can you make the nouns yourself?

This too should be a reasonably easy exercise. You will find a series of sentences missing one word. I show you what the word is. All you have to do is put that word into the correct form to complete a meaningful sentence.

simple  noun exercises

Now try some paragraphs

Challenge yourself a little

These exercises are slightly tougher. Here you have paragraphs and you need to decide from a number of choices both what the word is and what form of the word you need. Do this and you can be reasonably pleased with yourself.

more complex noun exercises 1

more complex noun exercises 2

more complex noun exercises 3

more complex noun exercises 4


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4 Responses to IELTS and academic English: 20 words you must know

  1. Hanouf July 30, 2011 at 5:02 pm #

    Thank you it’s really helped

    • Dominic Cole July 30, 2011 at 5:11 pm #

      Excellent. Adjective and verb exercises to follow next weekend. Learning words in groups/families is really so much more efficient.

  2. mary July 31, 2011 at 4:56 pm #

    Dear Dominic
    words are not enough to thank you, awesome.
    best regards

  3. Olya July 31, 2011 at 8:01 pm #

    Dear Dominic,
    I found “occurence” in the exercises.However my vocabulary gives me “occurRence”
    Could you clarify what is right?

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