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

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: