IELTS Speaking: Lexical Resource

magnetic poetry to represent ielts lexical resource

Lexical Resource is one of the four scoring categories on the official IELTS Speaking rubric. In this post, we’re going to explore the Lexical Resource category in depth. And I’ll provide links to the Magoosh guides to the other four Speaking rubric categories at the end of this tutorial.

Introduction to Lexical Resource for IELTS Speaking

When it comes to the IELTS Speaking band descriptors, the Lexical Resource scoring category measures vocabulary. You will be assessed on your ability to use words appropriately (in the right context) and accurately (with the correct meaning). IELTS Speaking rewards test-takers with large vocabularies. If this is a concern for you, Magoosh offers free IELTS flashcards to help you learn words you should know for the IELTS! We also have a handy vocabulary lesson video below.

The examiner will be listening carefully to assess whether or not you can use a wide variety of words and phrases (which is good), or whether you use the same language over and over again (which is bad). Related to this, you will also be assessed on whether or not you can accurately paraphrase the examiner’s questions fluently.

The Finer Points of IELTS Speaking Lexical Resource

When you look at the official IELTS Speaking rubric, you’ll see that each level has a few bullet points to describe what Lexical Resource skills look like at that particular band score. These bullet points can be summarized into three main points regarding the important skills you need to demonstrate to score well. Let’s explore those three points!

Ease in Responding

Can you easily respond to questions that cover a wide range of topics?

Low-scoring responses for lexical resource often have strong enough answers on Part 1 questions, but not on parts 2 and 3. Remember, to answer Part 1 questions, you can rely on vocabulary that is both used frequently in everyday life, and factual (for example, describing your hometown).

Part 2 and 3 questions require vocabulary that’s rarer in common daily interactions. Topics are more abstract, requiring a wider range of vocabulary to answer fully.

High-scoring responses for lexical resource are produced by students who do not struggle to find appropriate words when discussing Part 2 and 3 questions (this also relates to Fluency & Coherence).


How well can you paraphrase the questions you’re asked in the interview?

Low-scoring responses for lexical resource use language found in the questions frequently.

High-scoring responses for lexical resource alter the language from the questions by using synonyms and changing sentence structures.

Here’s what the difference between these responses looks like in practice:
Q: What is your normal weekday routine?

  • A: My normal weekday routine is to get up around 7:00am.
  • A: During the work week I typically wake up around 7:00am.

Idioms and Collocations

Do you use idioms and collocations (with accuracy) in your speech?

Low-scoring responses in lexical resource rarely use idioms or collocations. If they do have idioms, they are used with frequent errors.

High-scoring responses in lexical resource use idioms and collocations accurately and easily across a wide range of topics.

The Other Three Categories on the IELTS Speaking Rubric

Now that we’ve explored Lexical Resource in depth, let’s consider the big picture. Here are the Magoosh guides to the other three categories, so that you can learn to satisfy every aspect of the official IELTS Speaking score guide!

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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