IELTS exam | Improving your vocabulary is essential for a high score
April 30, 2019 – Posted in: IELTS

Vocabulary for IELTS

IELT The International English Language Testing System, that is IELTS, is the English language proficiency test for those who want to study or work in a country where english is the language of communication. Established in 1989, this test is jointly managed by the British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia and Cambridge Assessment English. This is one of the major English language test, others being TOEFL,TOEIC, and many more. This test is divided in two modules , i.e., IELTS academic and IELTS general training. Choosing between these two module depends on the purpose of the candidate’s application for the test. If the candidate is applying for further studies in any academic field, he or she should opt for IELTS academic version otherwise if the purpose of test is concerning with the profession,  job or to migrate, IELTS general training is the option to go with. Both these versions  incorporates the judgement of candidate’s ability to read, write, listen and speak in the english language. For all these sections, one thing is clear, you need to have a standard vocabulary to be able to deal with the test. Every single minute, you have to deal with words especially in writing and speaking section because there isn’t any “sorting hat” like in the Harry Potter series, who can read your brain without your using a word. And when it comes to listening and speaking section, only if you are aware of the words the question comprises of,

then only you can complete the sections in the alloted time length.

What role vocabulary palys in different sections

Vocabulary in Reading Section:-. In the reading part, you will be given some passages to read and answer certain questions regarding the content.You are not only asked to be able to understand the passages but also to rephrase the content in your own words. If you can’t decipher the words that are in the question, then it’s not possible to form an answer accordingly.

Vocabulary in Writing Section

Writing section examines your ability to frame your understanding and ideas in words using an effective and rich vocabulary and grammar. In one question there will be a visual representation that you have to explain in your words. Another question will ask you to argue and put forth your opinions about the topic given. For the former task, you need to be aware of the words that form the exact expression of the visual image  through your words. And for an effective argument over the given topic in the latter task, use of  good and perfect words that define your opinions will reduce ambiguity and also represents your answer with clarity.

Vocabulary in Listening Section

The listening section consists of four recordings of native English speakers and this test will examine your ability to understand the opinions and attitudes of the speaker and develop your ideas regarding that speech. The recordings will be in different foreign accents that you have to be familiar with. If the accent would be unfamiliar to you then it will consume a lot of time for you to figure out the words that have been said in the recordings. Sometimes, even if you know the word, the different pronunciation of the known word might divert you from the right track.

Vocabulary in speaking section

The speaking test targets to judge your fluency in English language and how quickly you form ideas and comprehend them to a meaningful understanding. To form meaningful sentences, vocabulary plays a significant role. Of course your unfamiliarity with the words would be a hurdle because 20 to 30% points are based on vocabulary. So you have to start preparing a rich vocabulary that can help you improve your band score.


Till now, you must have realised that even though vocabulary isn’t any particular section in IELTS but this is the element that is common in every single section. Without a standard vocabulary, you will not be able to pursue high band scores in any case.

One would say, Why? What’s the issue with not having a rich vocabulary? Why do I need to learn complex words? Can’t I express my views in common terms?

There we lose the actual meaning of vocabulary and its importance particularly for IELTS.


Vocabulary is not just about learning new and complex words. Let’s pick a word : ‘ Awful ’, naturally we will imagine the negative aspect of the emotions like disgusting. But did you know that the word was actually a synonym of ‘Awesome’. But by the 19th century, awful is used to mean frightful or exceeding bad. If the passage is about, let’s say, the awful landscapes of Scotland, you might misinterpret it and form an image of hate and detestation and then your answers will carry a different meaning.

The point here is that it does not matter if you have rich vocabulary or not. What matters the most is that you should know the meaning as well as synonyms of the words that in the question and that you use in your answers. We know ‘Awful’ is not a complex word. It’s as general as ‘general’.

Often candidates are in the delusion that cramming up a long list of words would impress the examiner. But vocabulary isn’t about mugging up your head with words. It is better to keep the habit of looking at the words, understanding it’s meaning in context to the text so that you can utilise them at appropriate place.

It’s not enough just to know the word and spellings. Especially in listening and speaking section you might get confused with the change of accents even though you know the word. So while learning any word, also focus on how it is being pronounced in different accents. That way it will be easy for you to decipher words in local accent of different countries. A good way of learning pronunciation is phonetics. Phonetics is a systematic classification of the sounds made in spoken utterance ( in this case, of English words) . This study teaches you the way of pronouncing a word.

How to enhance and improve vocabulary in simple ways for IELTS

  1. The most interesting way to learn new words and their pronunciation is to watch movies or a TV show and listen to the songs. Of course you are not going to learn words alphabetically through dictionary so most of the vocabulary is learnt from context. Reading any novel of your interest is in no way boring and would benefit you in learning words of particular locales. Novels also introduce you to distant places that you are unfamiliar with.  Adding to it, newspaper is great help. There are crossword games in the newspaper which are fun as well as advantageous.
  2. We often think that we have memorized the word that we have only read. But that memory is transient. Writing down what you have read will make you remember the word and is meaning. So whenever you come across to a new word or phrase or information, write it in a separate notebook. And try to use those words and phrases in your daily conversations.
  3. To make it easier and playful, you can create flashcards. Although it is recommended for children to help them learn but this technique is effective and creative for learning fast and easy. You will find many websites to instruct you ways of making interesting flashcards.
  4. I would refer you a specific book ‘Word Power Made Easy’ by Norman Lewis. This book is amazing for understanding a word from its origin. This way it shows how if you know the origin or the root meaning of a word then  you can judge any other word which is derived from that root meaning. For instance,  ‘credence’ is the root word of ‘credible’ i.e. the belief that something is true. If you are aware of it, then you will quickly make out the meaning of the word ‘incredible’. Read that book and you will understand how incredible the power of a word  is.
  5. You have plenty of online resources available to practice vocabulary and enhance it in your desirable way. If  You seek for online tutorials, you can have access to them either on YouTube or through the official website of IELTS. There is also practice material available on the internet by which you can have awareness regarding the level of vocabulary you are expected to know to crack IELTS with good scores.
  6. Even if you apply all these ideas to enrich your vocabulary, if you don’t keep it in your habit or make it your daily ritual to learn new words and phrases, you are just ruining your precious time and creating a facade of your knowledge. Keep it in practice and with practice you also develop a sense of confidence and belief in yourself and that is the key to qualify the IELTS test.

Vocabulary skills is a significant contribution to your IELTS band score that you know now. To rise and shine in the test make sure that you learn the English language by heart and get yourself familiarise with new words and their use in the  context.