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IELTS writing – lexical resource explained

What is “lexical resource”? In a word it is vocabulary and it matters for IELTS writing because it is one of the 4 grading criteria which affect your band score. Here is an explanation of what to do and not to do to improve your band score. There are 4 key areas to look at:

Range of vocabulary

This means that you need to use different words and that it is not enough to repeat the same vocabulary. The examiner will also look at how “common” the words you use are. To get a higher band score you need to use some less common vocabulary, but you do  need to use those words “precisely”. A long word is no good if it is not the correct word.

Common mistake: to repeat the same vocabulary throughout the essay.

Solution: it’s very simple really – leave time to check your writing. The one thing all candidates can check for is repeated words. See my editing checklist for other items to check for.

Solution: Another solution is to plan the vocabulary you want to use before you start writing. See the planning process for an explanation and example of this to download.

Common mistake: to use words that you do not know. Long words are no good if they are not used accurately. The place to start is with the most common words in English and to learn how to use them accurately. A good place to start with this is the Academic Word List.


This is where good spelling matters. To get band 7 you can make only “occasional” spelling mistakes. Again, the solution here is to make spelling part of your editing checklist if you have a problem.


Collocation is a very important concept for any language learner. Put simply it means you need to get your word combinations right. It is no good getting one word right if you get the word that follows it wrong.

Common mistake: candidates learn “IELTS vocabulary” without knowing how to use it. For example, “drawback” is a very useful word in IELTS to replace “disadvantage”. However, you also need to know that the correct preposition is either “to” or “of”.

Solution: when you are learning vocabulary, don’t learn one word at a time, but learn word combinations. An excellent site to practise doing this is Flo Joe one of my little but often sites.

Word families

Sometimes it is hard to tell the difference between grammar and vocabulary. One thing you need to do is not just use the right word, but the right form of the word. At a basic level this means writing “difference” when you need the noun and “different” when you need the adjective.

Once again Flo Joe is an excellent practice site here.

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2 Responses to IELTS writing – lexical resource explained

  1. SUSANA NGONG November 19, 2010 at 6:44 pm #

    Thank you for this free assistance. It is helping me a great deal


  1. Your Thoughts And Ideas Are More Important Than English | Get Bands In IELTS - August 31, 2011

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