IELTS Vocabulary

Do you feel that you need to expand your vocabulary before you take IELTS? You will find it hard to speak and write in English if your vocabulary is limited. In that case, you would want to acquire some vocabulary. There are so many words you know that you do not use; these form your passive vocabulary. Many of you would want to move your words from your passive vocabulary to an active one. Here are some tips you can use to enhance your vocabulary.


  1. Try to learn phrases instead of learning words for vocabulary. In English, these are called collocations. Learning new words for vocabulary is not enough. To score well in IELTS and to speak good English you know which particular word is used with which other words in which other ways. Therefore, memorizing a new word is not enough. You need to know the context in which the word can be used.
  • Use an English to English dictionary to find collocations, that show how words are used. Oxford Learner Dictionary is the most widely used and the most recommended dictionary that is available online also. This dictionary will help you speak more correctly and use different words as you speak. It also has a pronunciation section which helps you speak just like a native speaker.
  • Learn new meanings of the words you already know, that is synonyms. See how they are used in a new way.
  • Learn different forms of words. Let’s take the word perfect; it means without fault but imperfect will mean something different and perfection becomes a noun that is used in another way. The idea is to use the root word and see how many words you can form with it and use it to your advantage.
  • Construct a story around the word. We generally tend to forget new words because the brain is not good at memorizing words but it is very good at learning stories around a new word. Choose one new word and construct a story around it to see if you can remember that word using this technique.


IELTS doesn’t test vocabulary directly but preparing your vocabulary for IELTS is one integral part of it. When attempting the questions of IELTS you need to use proper words with the correct pronunciation. Here is when vocabulary comes in especially when it comes to speaking, 20-30 percent of your points are based on the vocabulary you use. Moreover, it helps you get a band above 7.5 in writing. Hence vocabulary has great significance in your IELTS score.

Read the official IELTS score scheme from the British Council to see what it says about vocabulary and how it measures it. There are many mistakes that students make as they learn new words for vocabulary.


There is a misconception that the words are before ideas. Many promising websites that say’ learn these vocabulary words to get a band score of 8 in your IELTS test’. But as you read these vocabulary lists you don’t find them very useful. That is because the problem is you don’t use the words in normal conversation like that. You can’t just learn a word and have its meaning clear and then apply it in conversation. This is a very artificial way. Communication is based on ideas and not words. Words express your ideas. So, learn the phrases and collocations instead of learning words and practice using them in your writing and speaking. So, remember it is ideas first and words second.

Stop worrying about repetition. You need to use vocabulary with flexibility and precision rather than worrying about repetition. This means you use the right word in the right place. Remember that there are very few close synonyms so don’t be too much worried about using the same word again. For example, if you are writing on air pollution don’t try to substitute it with smog, fumes or other words that do not exactly mean ‘air pollution’. You would have to use this word several times since there is no exact synonym for it.  Make sure that words need to fit the idea. So, it is best to read the scoring scheme.


There is nothing like advanced vocabulary or academic vocabulary. Use the words and phrases you already know accurately. Make sure that you don’t make errors in trying to use new words or collocation. Try not to form a word or spell a word incorrectly. Sort your errors into four categories: choice of words, collocations, spelling or word formation as you practice writing. To improve your vocabulary, read widely and read regularly. Read as much as you can. Read on different topics. Learn vocabulary in phrases, collocations, and sentences. Learning the word in context is much more effective than learning it in isolation. Finally, practice writing and identify your errors to correct them and build new vocabulary. Most important is that you need time. You need to do these things regularly for months and months to get better. With practice, you would get better. Best of Luck!

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