Build Your Vocabulary – Using Notebooks

Knowledge of vocabulary is really important for all parts of the IELTS Test if you are going to succeed in getting the score you need. Without grammar, communication in language becomes very unclear and confused but without vocabulary there is virtually no communication at all! Using a notebook can be an excellent tool to build your vocabulary.

Therefore, buy a simple notebook just for recording vocabulary. Then, find useful reading texts and when you read make a note of new vocabulary items.

What texts are useful?

Find texts that you think will have useful vocabulary for IELTS. Remember there are some common topics that frequently appear in the IELTS Test, so build your vocabulary in these topic areas:


Health Globalisation

Public Transport

Criminal Justice











What kind of notes should you make about vocabulary? Well, the most obvious answer to this important question is that you should write down the main meaning of the word. Do this in English, using an English-English dictionary.

What dictionary should you use?

One of the best dictionaries you use is the Oxford Learner’s Dictionary which is available online:

This dictionary is for English language learners and has some excellent features. You can see what kind of word it is (verb, noun, adjective etc.). You can also check the pronunciation. The dictionary will then give you the main meaning indicated by a number system, with ‘1’ being the main meaning. The definition will then have an example of the word appearing naturally in a sentence. This always helps to make the meaning clear. It also helps memory of the word. Understanding the meaning is one step, but remembering the word is essential. If you make a note of the word in context in a sentence you will have more chance of remembering it. Furthermore, you will also learn how to use the word.

Let’s look at an example of a word and the notes you can make:




2nd syllable is stressed in pronunciation

= to state firmly and clearly that something is true   

‘assert that’ e.g. ‘He continued to assert that he was frightened’

‘assert something’ e.g. ‘He continued to assert his fear’  

Memorising vocabulary is essential. Therefore, seeing the word in context will help this. We remember words better when they are seen (or heard) in context. Finally, using a notebook to record vocabulary may seem old fashioned. You may be thinking, why note use a laptop or other electronic device? Well, it has been shown that when we write by hand, we remember information better.

So, get a notebook, find some useful texts to read, use the online dictionary and get started today! Tell us what you think, or of you have any questions.

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