You need good vocabulary for all parts of the IELTS Test. In language, there are words that you recognise but don’t use and there are words that you recognise and know how to use. The vocabulary you recognise is important for listening and speaking and the words you use are important for writing and speaking. In the Speaking and Writing sections of the IELTS Test, 25% of the test is vocabulary.

In language we know many more words than we use, so your English language can become stronger if you activate words you know. If you notice how words are used in language when you are reading and listening, you can understand how to produce the words correctly yourself in speaking and writing. Paying attention to vocabulary when you are listening and reading is very useful. To maximise this, you should actively make notes of new words that seems useful. You need to build your vocabulary.

Tip: Make Notes

Make notes of useful new vocabulary and phrases. This will help you improve your reading and writing skills. Use a notebook for this so your notes are organised and you can refer to them later to remind you and help you learn. When you make vocabulary notes, do not just write a translation in your language. You should write more information about words including an example of how to use the word or phrase in context. This is so you understand how the word works in sentences. Combinations of words are much more useful than individual words. There is a lot of information about vocabulary that you can record. Let’s take a look at how these notes can look:

Imagine you read a text about a business and you see the unfamiliar word ‘thus’ in this context:

The company bought a new machine to do the work, and thus cut costs.

‘Thus’ is a new word for you and you think it is a useful word for you to learn, so decide to investigate it, perhaps by using a web search or a dictionary. When you are confident you understand the new word you should make some notes. Your notes could include the original context:

The company bought a new machine to do the work, and thus cut costs.

It is also useful to make a note of another example in context. For example:

The biggest car factory closed down last year because of low sales. Thus, many people in the city lost their jobs and had to look for new kinds of work.

The other notes you make could be examples of words which have similar meanings. For example:

‘Thus’ means the same as therefore, consequently, or as a result of this.

You could also make a note of words with opposite meanings. For example:

There was a huge tree. ‘Huge’ is the opposite of very small or tiny.

It is useful to make note of what kind of word it is. For example:

Huge’ is an adjective.

Making good vocabulary notes like this is a very useful way of making you active in the learning process and will help you remember new words better. You remember things better if you write them down and work closely with the language. Looking back at your notes will help you memorise them, so you should frequently go back and look at your vocabulary notes.

The other important advantage of making good vocabulary notes is that it will help you to improve your reading skills. You will understand vocabulary in context. Good reading skills can lead to good writing skills, so if you do this you will increase your chances of getting the IELTS score you need. By using online dictionaries, you can easily find out how new vocabulary is pronounced, so this can help you with listening and speaking. Working hard on vocabulary will help you in all parts of the IELTS Test and help you get a better overall score.

Build Vocabulary around Common Topics

These are some of the common topics in the IELTS Test, so build your vocabulary in these topic areas:

  • Education
    Health Globalisation
    Public Transport
    Criminal Justice