A Guide for IELTS Vocabulary

IELTS exam is also a test of vocabulary. You will need vocabulary resource everywhere in this test. It will be easy for you to impress the examiner if you can use a wide range of vocabulary.


On the other hand, if you use the same word multiple times in different sentences in a row, it will convey a negative impression to the examiner about your lexical resources. In this page, we will give a detailed discussion on how you can build your vocabulary for IELTS exam.

How to Build Vocabulary 

If you want to sit for the exam with a fantastic confidence of lexical resource, you need to know three types of vocabulary:

  1. Everyday vocabulary

  2. Topic related vocabulary

  3. Special vocabulary​

1. Everyday Vocabulary

You don't notice that you are already using hundreds of thousands of words for your everyday life. You just need to focus on these vocabulary before exam so that you can feel your confidence from the power of your resource stock, because you already know thousands of words. All you need is just keep nurturing these words so that you don't lose this amazing asset. For the sake of continuous practice, there are some strategies that you can resort to:

  • Talk and listen to English speakers daily.

  • Listen to radio and podcasts. Watch TV, films and documentary videos.

  • Read books, magazine articles, and whatever you like to read, read in English.

You don't know what question you will face in the exam, but you know what are the common topics that the questions frequently come from. Analysing the questions that came over the last few years, we've made a list of 15 areas which will cover more than 90% of your possible IELTS vocabulary.

2. Topic Related Vocabulary

The most common topics are:

Common IELTS Topics
Health Related Vocabulary IELTS

If you want a comprehensive vocabulary list with rigorous practice, covering all the 15 topics, please join our Writing Correction Service. Once you join this special program, an IELTS examiner will guide you step by step in detail how to write a band 7, 8 or 9 essay.

You know there are different structures to answer different types of questions. For instance, if you respond to an opinion essay question, definitely it needs to be written in a different way than that of a problem-solution essay question. Likewise, response to a single pie chart question will be surely different from the answer of a multiple graph question. Also, a map description will be obviously different from a data table discussion. When it comes to a letter writing, you must apply the appropriate formats for different types of informal, semi formal and formal letters. 

In addition to the proper writing structures, your choice of words is also very important, because if you cannot use right vocabulary and expressions, you will fail to convey your intended message to the examiner, and eventually will lose marks for Task Achievement, one of the four marking criteria.


Meanwhile, just answering the specific question and using contextual words are not enough, your response needs to be presented in such an organised way that it can give a coherent message to the examiner. To do this, you have to use cohesive devices very carefully, otherwise it will be like, you have constructed a strong building with the finest ingredients (bricks, cement, ceramics etc.), but the building is not liveable, as the doors, windows etc. are not placed properly.

Moreover, just giving an organised clear response is not enough, your sentences have to be free from grammatical errors, otherwise all the hard work will be of no avail. Therefore, if you want to secure a 7+ band score in IELTS Writing, you must confirm that at least 70% of your sentences are free from grammatical errors.

However, do not panic. You can do everything very beautifully. Our IELTS Essay Correction platform is tailored to take you through all the steps required to confirm your desired band score. Once you join our IELTS Writing Assessment Service, an assigned IELTS examiner will look into every word of your essay. He / she will give you a detailed feedback, based on each marking criterion individually. Please remember, our IELTS Essay Feedback Service is not just to finish the quota of your number of essays, rather it is prepared to take you step by step towards your dream score. However, if you have any queries, you can always write in the live chat box below. We are 24/7 available online for your support.

3. Special Vocabulary

The vocabulary that shows your impressive and advanced level of language proficiency, the vocabulary that add beauty and modern look at your sentences, can be called special vocabulary. We normally use idiomatic expression and phrasal verbs to make our sentences more beautiful, these expressions or verbs are considered as special vocabulary. Look at a few examples of these expressions:

Catch up with= Talking about meeting someone you've not seen for a while.

I can't see you today, I will catch you up on the weekend.

Off the top of my head = Saying something without careful thought.

I don't know exactly how many members attended the meeting, but off the top of my head, around 50.

Drop in= visiting somebody at home without advanced plan or arrangement.

Call off= If you say call something off, that means something is cancelled due to unexpected circumstances.

Example: The game was called of because of the bad weather.

In fact, there are so many idiomatic expressions and phrasal verbs that can give your sentences an impressive look. Understandably, it is beyond the scope of this page to discuss all the relevant lexical resources.

Don't forget to review the following resources: