Useful IELTS Vocabulary and Phrases

If you’ve been studying for the IELTS, you already know that a major component of your score for both the IELTS Speaking and IELTS Writing exams will be around your range of vocabulary.  In both, your range and accuracy will account for 25% of your your overall result.  To help increase your lexical resource, you need learn some useful words and phrases that can be incorporated into each module. Below are some key IELTS vocabulary words that I would recommend:


Speaking IELTS Vocabulary and Phrases

It is particularly important in the speaking module to use a wide range of vocabulary and phrases.  One of the most common mistakes students make is repeating the examiners question in their answer. When the examiner asks you a question, listen for a word you can build your answer around and then paraphrase the word in your response. Below are some common phrases used in the exam questions with relevant synonyms that you can replace in your response:

  • What do you think the benefits of being able to speak more than one language are? Benefits: advantages, positive aspects, is beneficial (i.e. The main advantages…/One of the most positive aspects…/Being able to converse in more than one language is extremely beneficial.)
  • Can you give me some examples? Examples: for instance, a good example, the best example (i.e.  For instance…/A good example…./The best example I can give you…)
  • Can you describe a person or incident that made an an impression on you? Made an impression on me: influenced me, had an enormous impact on me, had a lasting effect on me, changed the way I looked at things. (i.e. Watching the twin towers collapse on 9/11 had a lasting effect on  me/ changed the way I looked at things/had an enormous impact on me.)
  • What type of activities do you like to do in your free time? Activities: hobby, leisure pursuit, pastime (i.e. My favorite hobby/leisure pursuit, pastime is riding my bicycle.)
  • Can you describe something that you own that is very important to you? Important: significant, indispensable, valuable (i.e. The most important /significant /indispensable /valuable item I possess is a silver bracelet from my late Aunt Sue.)

Writing IELTS Vocabulary and Phrases

Like the speaking module, in the writing module you need to paraphrase the task response, which often requires using a variety of synonyms for one word throughout an essay. Also, linking your sentences is very important. Below are some useful synonyms and linking phrases that you should practice incorporating into your writing before the exam.

  • The numbers rise over the course of the ten year period. Rise: climb, increase, surge, skyrocket, go up.
  • One can see that the numbers decrease over the ten year period. Decrease: Decline, drop, plunge, slide, slump, deteriorate, dip, take a nosedive.
  • Addition sentence linking phrases: Moreover, What is more, Furthermore, In Addition, Additionally, Likewise.
  • Result  sentence linking phrases: As a result, As a consequence, Consequently, Accordingly, Therefore, For that Reason.
  • In conclusion,…. Instead of always using this phrase, try starting with one of the following phrases: Generally; Generally speaking; All in all; Overall; It is obvious that; On the whole, By and large.

By learning, remembering, and using some of these and other essential English vocabulary and phrases, you can guarantee top marks in the lexical resource portion of your Speaking and Writing exams.

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  • Gwendolyn

    Gwendolyn is our expert blogger on IELTS. She has experience in preparing students for the IELTS exam and is currently in South Korea teaching English as a Second Language. When not blogging, you are most likely to find her on an airplane, striving to obtain membership in the Traveler’s Century Club, something she’s just about as passionate about as helping students achieve their life dreams.