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IELTS Vocabulary Words: Life Science and the Environment

As I mentioned in my last post, vocabulary words from the life sciences are very common on the IELTS. Many IELTS life science readings focus on the environment. In this post, we’re going to look at life science IELTS Vocabulary Words that are found in environmental texts on the IELTS exam.


You probably already have a general idea of what “environment” means. If you don’t, the title of this post may be a little confusing. To be clear, “environment” refers to all the physical parts of the natural world. By this, I mean the world that is not deliberately created by humans. The environment is the air we breathe, the water found in nature, and the land where wild animals and plants grow. In the life sciences, the man-made parts of the world are studied carefully to see how they affect the environment.


“Pollution” describes things from the human world that enter the environment and harm it. Pollution includes smoke form cars and factories, garbage that is dumped into the forests or oceans, oil spills, that sort of thing. Many different IELTS Reading passages will mention pollution, even if the articles don’t focus on life sciences.


Sometimes dirt or sand get removed from the surface of the earth by wind or water. This removal of dirt and sand is called “erosion.” Erosion can change the environment. If dirt washes or blows away, plants will die off, and the environment will change. Human activities can often cause erosion. Humans can also work to prevent erosion.


IETLS Vocabulary Words -magoosh

A habitat can be seen as a small part of the environment. Habitats are specific places where certain plants, animals, or other living things are found. A fish’s habitat is water. Some kinds of fish have a seawater habitat, while others have a fresh water habitat. Cacti (pictured above) live in dry desert habitats. Each living thing has its own special habitat. Life science texts on the IELTS look at the way that pollution can change or threaten habitats.


Agriculture is a formal academic word for “farming.” Agriculture describes the production of anything that can come from a farm: fruit, vegetables, meat, milk, and the like. On the IELTS, agriculture is nearly always discussed in terms of how it affects the environment.


IELTS passages will talk about whether or not a human activity is “sustainable.” A sustainable activity is one that will not damage the environment, and will not use up all of a resource. The use of oil as fuel is criticized as unsustainable; eventually we will use up all the oil stored in the earth. Moreover, drilling for oil and burning oil for energy both hurt the environment.


“Emissions” refers to any kind of gas, smoke, or air that is released into the environment. IELTS passages sometimes look at emissions created by human activity, such as smoke emissions from cars and trucks, or the emission of carbon dioxide (a gas that causes climate change).

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