IELTS Listening and Reading Vocabulary: Academic vs. Conversational

Headphones around notebook and world flags to show IELTS listening and reading vocabulary The IELTS Reading and Listening section contain a mixture of academic and conversational vocabulary. Keep reading to learn about both types of IELTS vocabulary and the context in which they appear on the exam.

Academic Vocabulary on IELTS Listening and Reading

You’ll find academic passages in IELTS Reading, and these passages are full of academic vocabulary. This is true both for IELTS Academic Reading and IELTS General Training Reading. On either version of the exam, you’ll read educational nonfiction articles that deal with specific academic topics. This means you’ll need to know IELTS Reading words related to science, history, economics, and so on.

Similarly, on both tests, the IELTS Listening sections also touch on academic vocabulary, with educational talks and university-style lectures.

Conversational Vocabulary on IELTS Listening and Reading

On both versions of the IELTS exam, IELTS Listening words contain a lot of conversational vocabulary. You’ll hear people having business-related conversations, such as an exchange between a customer and a clerk at a store or someone making a phone call to a travel agent.

On the IELTS General Training exam, you see some conversational words in the Reading section, such as in short flyers and bulletins about public events, services, store refund policies, products for sale, and so on. These short written pieces are full of IELTS conversational vocabulary.

These kinds of IELTS texts contain the same kinds of words you’d use if you were actually talking to someone about events, services, shopping, or goods. Here are some real IELTS General Training passages from the official IELTS website:

IELTS Listening and Reading Words PDF

Want to know which IELTS Listening and Reading words our experts recommend you study? Download our free Vocabulary PDF to get all our word lists in one handy resource! You’ll find both academic and conversational word lists to study for the IELTS.

Extra Vocabulary Resources for IELTS Listening and Reading

Our IELTS vocabulary podcast series is a great resource for practicing your listening skills as well as learning new words!

For IELTS Listening and Reading word lists, check out the blog posts below. They contain common IELTS words, definitions, and examples in context for a variety of topics!

A Final Word

IELTS Listening and Reading draws from a variety of sources that contain both academic and conversational vocabulary. Be sure to study both types in order to be well-prepared for the exam! To learn more about the vocabulary in other sections of the IELTS exam, plus some tips and tricks, check out:

By the way, improve your IELTS score with Magoosh!

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  • David Recine

    David is a Test Prep Expert for Magoosh TOEFL and IELTS. Additionally, he's helped students with TOEIC, PET, FCE, BULATS, Eiken, SAT, ACT, GRE, and GMAT. David has a BS from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and an MA from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. His work at Magoosh has been cited in many scholarly articles, his Master's Thesis is featured on the Reading with Pictures website, and he's presented at the WITESOL (link to PDF) and NAFSA conferences. David has taught K-12 ESL in South Korea as well as undergraduate English and MBA-level business English at American universities. He has also trained English teachers in America, Italy, and Peru. Come join David and the Magoosh team on Youtube, Facebook, and Instagram, or connect with him via LinkedIn!

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