It’s important to note that in the IELTS exam, 25 percent of your score in both the writing and speaking components is based on your use of vocabulary. As stated in the official band descriptors published by the creators of the IELTS examination, candidates who achieve a higher score of 8 or 9 use a large range of vocabulary and employ lexical expressions, word choice and collocation.
This article presents five easy ways to get the vocabulary you need to pass the IELTS exam successfully.
1. Learn and write down six useful words every day
Firstly, it’s vital to grow your range of language. Rome wasn’t built in a day, so accumulate new language gradually. Aim to learn and write down six useful words every day. One of the best resources to gather new words is the official Academic Word List. Here is a link to guide you in collecting a larger scope of vocabulary: http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/alzsh3/acvocab/index.htm
2. Create word families
As you browse the site, learn how to break down words into smaller ones, or create new words. For example, the noun residence means a person’s home. We can formulate the verb to reside (to live) and the adjective residential from the noun form. Study how to create such word formations, and learn about suffixes and prefixes to grow your scope of language. Get into the habit of writing six sentences with six new words, formations or collocations every day.
3. Learn how to paraphrase
The ability to paraphrase is an essential skill in becoming an adept writer for the IELTS exam. Paraphrasing means rewriting to reiterating a sentence or phrase in another way.
For example, this sentence,
The huge block of flats will be demolished by the end of the school quarter.
can be paraphrased into this sentence:
The enormous apartment block will be torn down by the end of the school semester.
The key to successful paraphrasing is to identify the keywords in the sentence. Then, find synonyms and replace these words with them. Rewrite the sentence, making sure to maintain the same meaning. You may decide to change the structure of the sentence. For example:
Although traffic control can help reduce pollution in cities, this measure is not sufficient to deal with serious environmental problems in urban areas.
The plan to control traffic is not enough to handle issues with the environment in cities, despite the fact that traffic is a source of pollution.
In the second sentence, we have retained the same meaning as the first one. However, the keywords have been replaced with synonyms or matching expressions. Sufficient is replaced by enough and although is replaced by despite the fact. Practice paraphrasing sentences and then paragraphs to get into the habit of using a variety of words and expressions to say the same thing. Use a thesaurus () to help find synonyms and grow your range of language.
4. Make a list of linking words
When using vocabulary, remember that coherence is one of the four principle criteria that is used to score your level in both the speaking and writing components of IELTS. The use of discourse connectors is essential in creating a succinct and lucid argument. As you prepare for the exam, make a list of linking words or connectors based on how they are used in the development of opinion and debate.
For example, this table shows how and when we use connectors:
|Presenting a point||Adding information||Contrasting information||Concluding|
|Firstly,||Moreover,||In comparison,||To conclude,|
|Additionally,||On one hand, … on the other hand,…||In brief,|
Take a few minutes each day to write one sentence with a linking word from each category.
Once you understand how to use the linking words correctly, write or practice developing an argument with at least five connectors.
5. Read and listen
Last but not least, passive learning is important to prepare for the IELTS exam. This means reading and listening to topics most common to appear in the exam. These topics are education, the environment, technology, health, medicine, government, the economy, crime, business, food and society. You can find very relevant articles and podcasts on the Six Minute English link of the BBC Learning English website:
Highlight new words, connectors and expressions and create new sentences with them to practice your writing skills. You can also do some practice tests on the British Council website by downloading them on this URL:
6. Use this Chrome extension.
This extension is quite funny but also offers immense practical value. The extension will read to you any text you highlight in the browser. This is really useful as a method to learn new vocabulary, and especially learn the correct pronunciation of a word the first time you use it.
After installing it to your Chrome browser, go to a site that reports similar material to the topics you get in the IELTS exam. These sites may include BBC.com, TheGuardian.com, RT.com etc, find an article about a topic, highlight the text, then go to the top right of the browser and press he new blue “play” button and listen! Easy!
For more info on IELTS Vocabulary, click here.