Increasing your IELTS vocabulary is the KEY to getting a high score in all 4 skills.
But what exactly is ‘IELTS vocabulary’? Is it different from any other kind of vocabulary?
Not really, but there are specific words that come up again and again.
If you think your vocabulary is holding you back from a higher IELTS score, this page gives you tried-and-tested free resources to help you build your IELTS vocabulary.
1. Word Lists
There are several official word lists that will help you decide which vocabulary is important to learn for IELTS.
The Academic Word List is a good place to start building your vocabulary for IELTS.
Try not to get too overwhelmed though – start by crossing off the ‘headwords’ that you already know and then go back to learn more about the ones you are less familiar with.
Check 3 main things:
- The meaning
- The form/use (how does it work in a sentence?)
- The pronunciation
Keep a notebook, and use some of the free websites below to review them regularly (I’ve created some free Word List activities for you on Quizlet, so you can easily practise them track progress and on your phone).
Learn more: The Best Vocabulary lists for IELTS
- General Service List (GSL)
- Academic Vocabulary List (AVL)
- Academic Collocation List (ACL)
2. Collocation Lists
The best way to learn collocations is in context (by reading and listening) but sometimes you need a helping hand.
Here are some useful lists to use as a reference guide (don’t try to learn them all; just start to familiarise yourself with the concept of words that go together)
- Academic Collocations for IELTS
- Pearson Academic Collocation List – 42 pages of academic collocations in a PDF
- A – Z of collocations (English Club website)
My absolute favourite place to check if collocations (plus grammar and lots of other things) are correct is Ludwig.guru.
SKELL – helps you find words that go together and synonyms
Inspirassion.com and Ozdic.com – easy-to-use online collocation dictionaries
3. Free websites
If you don’t have much time to study, it’s important that you’re reading and listening to the right kind of texts.
My free podcast takes you through different IELTS Listening and Reading texts every week.
See also my blog about where to find IELTS-related Reading Texts.
- Scientific American.com – A useful podcast with 1-minute IELTS-style articles
- TubeQuizard.com is a fabulous place to do exercises based on well-chosen YouTube videos.
- Sciencedaily.com has very typical IELTS-style articles in bite-sized daily chunks.
- Pauline Cullen has 2 IELTS vocabulary apps
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