IELTS Vocabulary

Vocabulary is the essence of any language. As is life to human beings, so is vocabulary to language. Vocabulary comprises 25% marks in IELTS Writing and Speaking and plays a vital role in Listening and Reading tests too. Poor vocabulary makes you repeat words within a passage and run short of words while conversing with your examiner. As IELTS is an English Language Proficiency Test, good homework on vocabulary will help in improving the overall score.

Vocabulary for IELTS may be centred around the following areas:

  • Shopping
  • Sports
  • Literature
  • Music
  • Innovation
  • Knowledge
  • Heritage
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Creativity 

Another common misconception is that getting to know new words (especially difficult ones) is vocabulary. Many are unaware that vocabulary doesn’t end there. You should also know to use those words contextually.

Eg: He had a quick lunch —- Correct usage

        He had a fast lunch —— Wrong usage

The word ‘fast’ doesn’t pair with lunch, as ‘quick’ does.

What you need to know is the right vocabulary to answer questions on a particular topic and know how to make use of it. You need not know every word related to the subject. 

Vocabulary for Listening

Ears can do wonders. They have a unique capacity of retaining information that they are often made to listen to. So listen to podcasts, speeches, audios of native English speakers via authentic sources. You would see a dramatic improvement in your vocabulary after a period of time. Familiarize yourself with the words that native speakers often use. 

How to use an English movie to learn English?

  • Select a movie
  • Watch the movie in your native language, if available.
  • Watch the movie again with English subtitles or dual subtitles (English and native language)
  • Select an interesting scene and use the pause button in places you find it to be too fast. Understand the scene thoroughly.
  • Watch the movie many times, but each time with a difference. Try watching the movie by removing the subtitles ( both English and your native language)
  • Your ears will do the magic of connecting to your memory and will make you say, what you heard often in the movie.
  • You can refer your dictionary and get to know the meanings of words you don’t know.

You can improve your listening skills in this way. 

Vocabulary for writing

Writing task 2 for both versions (Academic and General) involves writing an essay, in about 250 words. There are specific structures for different types of essays. But in every essay, an introduction has to be paraphrased.


There are two important components to any word. They are synonyms and antonyms.

Synonym – a word that means exactly, the given word

For example:

  • Confused – baffled, perplexed, perplexed, mystified
Antonym – a word that means the opposite of a given word.

For example:

  • Confused – Lucid, precise, clear

Learning synonyms and antonyms are important because they aid in developing a skill called paraphrasing. Paraphrasing is the ability to convey the same thing using different words.


Nearly all the students who went to the roadside shop fell ill.

Majority of students who visited the roadside shop became sick.

Apart from this, there is writing task 1 of the Academic version, which involves visual interpretation and vocabulary related to maps, pie-charts, bar graphs, line graphs etc. Each of them has a dedicated vocabulary. They are given below:

Maps: Related vocabulary 

Pie-charts, Bar-graph, Line-graph: Related Vocabulary

Process diagram: Related Vocabulary

Writing task 1 of General version involves writing a letter and vocabulary related to it.

Vocabulary for speaking

Learning to use idioms and phrasal verbs will fine-tune your English. 

Idioms are phrases that do not have the same meaning as the words actually spoken. Many people try to insert them while speaking and it will look quite unnatural. Those people who use them well have actually picked them up through experience.

Eg: raining cats and dogs – raining heavily.

– It’s been raining cats and dogs all day.

Eg: Blow your own trumpet – Boast 

  • The doctor is always blowing his trumpet

Phrasal verbs:

Phrasal verbs are phrases that indicate actions. They usually consist of a verb with a preposition or an adverb.

Look forward to  :

Verb  adverb preposition
Look  forward To

Meaning – search/seek

Example: She is always looking forward to the holidays.

Vocabulary for reading

Reading comprehension involves multi-tasking, and thus it can be easy for some aspects of a text to get lost. But it is just like any other skill and can be improved by practice.

  • Learn the art of skimming and scanning.
  • Learn how to derive the central idea of a given passage quickly.
  • Also, follow this rule of thumb “Never learn words in isolation”. Always learn them in a context. 
Example: Word – Tantalizing

                 Meaning – arousing desire or expectation for something unattainable or out of reach

Word in the right context – He always gave tantalizing glimpses at the diamond section of the Jewelry shop.

Read English newspapers regularly. Make reading English books as your hobby. When you read for pleasure you automatically understand things, once you felt difficult. When you strain yourself to do something which you don’t like, you tend to ignore the nuances of it and hence cannot reap full benefits. 


Using Collocation to Boost Your IELTS Score – Key Word: Chance/Opportunity

Key word: Chance 1          Verb + chance (opportunity) Use the correct form of these verbs: give                  have                improve           take miss                 jump at            need               …