Vocabulary Plays an Essential Role in IELTS

Vocabulary Plays an Essential Role in IELTS

Knowing more words will help you understand the Listening and Reading sections of the IELTS. Knowing more words will also help you demonstrate your communication skills during the Speaking and Writing sections.

The Speaking and Writing sections of IELTS each have specific assessment criteria. Vocabulary knowledge (labelled ‘Lexical Resource’) is one of the four areas considered in each of these two skills. In order to answer our question, vocabulary plays a very important role in the IELTS test, making up 25% of your overall Speaking and Writing scores.

Improve Your Vocabulary With These Tips and Hints

Many of you already keep lists of new words and their meanings that you study, learn, and memorize. Using some of the ideas in the step-by-step guide to mastering vocabulary below can help you learn vocabulary even more easily and effectively. This is a good start, but you can do more to make learning vocabulary easier and more successful.

In order to learn a new word, you must ask yourself: What does it mean to know a new word?

Dictionary definition – What does the word mean?
Spelling – How is the word written?
Pronunciation – How is the word spoken?
Grammar – Is it a verb, noun, or adjective? Can it change and if so, does this affect spelling or pronunciation?
Collocation – What other word or words does it naturally go with? E.g. fast + food.
How is the word used? – It’s a good idea to write example sentences in your vocabulary records.
Synonyms & Antonyms – What words have a similar or the same meaning? If there are any words with the opposite meaning, please list them.

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A good vocabulary record-keeping system should consider all eight factors in order to truly understand a new word.


Another key vocabulary skill is paraphrasing or finding creative ways to express yourself. You should explore synonyms or words with similar meanings in order to succeed in all four IELTS skills tests. Paraphrasing is one of the skills you need to master in order to succeed. For example, both IELTS Academic Writing and IELTS General Training require you to rephrase the title of Tasks 1 and 2. In the IELTS Reading and Listening sections, it is imperative to recognize the same meaning using different words.

The Family of Words

Using opposites (antonyms) to store vocabulary is another way words live in groups of meanings in our minds.

When studying for your IELTS test, be sure to think about word families and relationships. There are several IELTS tasks that deal with core relationships, including cause-and-effect and problem-and-solution. IELTS vocabulary can be developed more effectively if your vocabulary records show different ways to group words or word families.

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Phrases and Words

Like most languages, English has a lot of special expressions or phrases. These are groups of words or chunks of language that have different meanings when you use them together compared to the meaning of each word alone. To learn, it is necessary to save these expressions as chunks of language. You can do this by following the steps below:

  1. Take note of the expression, such as only time will tell.
  2. Adding the meaning of the group of words: only time will tell – waiting and seeing what the future holds.
  3. This is an example of how the expression might be used: I think I did OK in my IELTS test, but I won’t know for sure until next week.

Generally, you will find these special expressions more useful in the Speaking section. If you are unsure of their meaning, do not use them.

Choosing the Right Vocabulary for IELTS

It may sound alarming to an IELTS test taker that native English speakers regularly use a vocabulary of 20,000 to 30,000 words. But don’t worry, there are ways to limit what vocabulary you need to learn so that it’s useful for the IELTS tests.

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Vocabulary-Related Topics

IELTS tests cover a variety of subjects regularly. Although we cannot predict which topics will appear in any given test, the following topics might be a good place to start. You could be asked to discuss or write about these topics in any part of the IELTS exam, or you may hear or read about them as part of the Reading or Listening section:

  • Health and fitness
  • Education
  • Technology
  • The environment
  • Pollution
  • Climate and weather
  • Shopping
  • Transportation

Keeping in mind, you do not need to memorize and record any technical terminology, such as those commonly used in scientific and medical texts. The meaning of such specialist vocabulary can be difficult to comprehend, so the test writers will make sure that it is provided as part of the reading text or listening script if any technical words are included in the test.

In order to prepare for your IELTS test, you should:

  • Make sure you have all the information you need to understand the new word;
  • Discover the relationships and links between the new words you encounter;
  • Regularly update your vocabulary records;
  • It is important to review and practice regularly.


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