IELTS Vocabulary: IELTS Academic Vocabulary Word List, Preparation Tips


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Rahul Singha
Study Abroad Expert
Updated on Mar 19, 2024 12:37 IST

Learning vocabulary words for IELTS is extremely important for candidates looking to take the IELTS exam. Vocabulary for IELTS makes up 25% of your total marks in the IELTS Speaking and Writing sections and without a strong vocabulary, it is difficult to score well in the exam. The article discusses vocabulary for the IELTS examination, scoring criteria, preparation tips, and some sample words.

vocabulary for IELTS

Vocabulary words for IELTS are the building block of your IELTS preparation. Without learning vocabulary for IELTS preparation, it is impossible to communicate and convey your thoughts and ideas on the IELTS test day. A strong vocabulary will help you in all the sections of the IELTS exam – Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking. However, vocabulary is not an end in itself. You will need the knowledge of grammar and the skill of accuracy to convey your ideas correctly.

IELTS Speaking Vocabulary Words

In this section, we are going to be discussing the different kinds of words in the IELTS exam.

Vocabulary Words for IELTS: Collocation Words

Simply put, collocation means two or more words that are used together so that it sounds correct. E.g., ‘Breaking Benjamin released many hit albums’, rather than, ‘Breaking Benjamin published many hit albums’. Proper use of collocations will allow you to express your ideas more convincingly and coherently so that native speakers can understand them. There is no logic behind it, either you know them or you don’t.

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There are various types of collocations:

  • Noun + Noun: e.g. Ceasefire Agreement
  • Noun + Verb: e.g. Plane took off
  • Adjective + Noun: e.g. excruciating pain
  • Adverb + Adjective: e.g. fully satisfied
  • Verb + Adverb: e.g. whispered softly

Collocation word examples:

  • Make: Make a choice, make a wish, make a point, make friends, etc.
  • Have: Have fun, have lunch, have dinner, have a shower, etc.
  • Keep: Keep moving, keep in touch, keep walking, etc.

Vocabulary Words for IELTS: Idioms for IELTS

An idiom is an expression that is not understood if the words are considered separately. Rather, it is understood if the words are taken together. Some idioms are given in the chart below:



Under the weather

To feel ill

Spill the beans

To reveal a secret

Break a leg

To wish someone luck

Sat on the fence


Beat around the bush

To avoid talking about what is actually important

Pull someone’s leg

To play a practical joke

Once in a blue moon


Come rain or shine

No matter what

Out of the blue

An event that happened unexpectedly

Back against the wall

Stuck in a difficult situation

Blind as bat

Cannot see

Green with envy

To be jealous

Jump on the bandwagon

To follow a trend

Vocabulary for IELTS: Phrasal Verbs

Phrasal verbs are phrases that indicate action, e.g., abide by. Some phrasal verbs are given in the chart below:

Phrasal Verb


Abide by

To obey

Add up

To make sense

Agree with

Have the same opinion

Back down

To withdraw

Blow up

To get angry / To explode

Break into

To enter forcefully

Ease off

To become less severe


To escape

Get rid off

To remove/eliminate

Let down

To disappoint

IELTS Speaking Vocabulary Words

We are providing some important words, related to certain topics, which you should be aware of. These will help you answer the questions on the given topics:

  • Art: Culture, Aesthetic, Portray, Performance, Connoisseur, Playwright
  • Business: Economy, small business, Business houses, Investments, Deficit, Business cycle
  • Education: E-learning, Online education, Curriculum, Discipline, Subjects, Graduate
  • Food: Culinary, Nutrition, Diet, Carbohydrates, Protein, Meal
  • Health: Medicine, Medication, Healthcare, Overweight, Underweight
  • Technology: Innovation, Development, Device, E-commerce, Information Technology, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning

IELTS Writing Vocabulary Words

In this section, we are going to be providing examples of IELTS writing vocabulary words. These are words that can be used in the IELTS writing section of the exam. The IELTS Writing Task 1 of the IELTS exam requires candidates to describe, summarize or explain a graph, table, chart or diagram in their own words. IELTS vocabulary words that will help you with this task type are as follows:

IELTS Writing Vocabulary for Task 1

  • The table/graph/chart provides information about…
  • Looking at the table/chart/graph, it can be seen that…
  • The table/graph/chart illustrates…
  • The table/graph/chart shows…
  • According to the table/ graph/chart…
Signify Increase
  • a significant increase
  • a considerable growth
  • to increase dramatically
  • to rise sharply
  • to show an upward trend 
Signify Decrease
  • a sharp fall
  • a significant drop
  • to decline sharply
  • to show a downward trend
  • to hit the lowest point 
Signify Variation
  • a considerable variation
  • a slight fluctuation
  • to vary considerably
  • to show some fluctuation
Signify Stability
  • a period of stability
  • to remain stable
  • to remain constant
Signify Plateau
  • to reach a plateau
  • to level off
  • to flatten out

IELTS Writing Vocabulary for Task 1: Percentages and Comparisons

Percentages Comparisons 
  • a large/small percentage
  • an estimated percentage
  • a significant percentage
  • an average percentage
  • the highest/lowest percentage
  • just under/over __% (per cent)
  • a __% (per cent) increase/decrease
  • there are considerable differences
  • to be slightly higher/lower than…
  • to be significantly higher/lower than…
  • two/three/four times higher/lower than…
  • to be closely followed by…
  • to remain the highest/lowest

source: IDP

Vocabulary Words for IELTS Preparation

In this section, we are going to be talking about IELTS speaking vocabulary preparation tips for candidates looking to appear for the test.  

  • Memorization of an entire booklet of words will not help you unless you know how to use those words. Working on your grammar, collocations, pronunciation, and meaning of sentences will fetch you a higher band than just memorizing random words.
  • Do not be misled by information that gives you “top 5 IELTS words” or “top 10 IELTS words”. You do not know whether these words will even fit the context. Secondly, you will be scored on the basis of your performance on the entire section and not just 5 or 10 words.
  • You should be focused on using correct, accurate, and appropriate words that fit the context. If you use “5 high-level C1 and C2” words with flawed grammar and incorrect meaning, the examiner will be easily able to identify that you have memorized those words.
  • Improving your vocabulary takes time and it is an organic process where you improve every single day by putting in constant effort.

Vocabulary for IELTS: Best Resources

In this section, we are going to be discussing the best prep resources available for improving your IELTS speaking vocabulary in your IELTS exam. 

  1. Cambridge Vocabulary for IELTS: It is a comprehensive book which covers the entire content in a structured manner along with practice exercises at the end of each chapter.
  2. IELTS Vocabulary Masterclass 8.5: This book contains an exhaustive list of words along with practice exercises. It also has an IELTS Listening and Reading mini-dictionary.
  3. Read newspapers and articles related to common topics such as Education, Science, Technology, Business, Tourism, etc. Note the words that you do not understand, and find their meaning, synonyms, antonyms, usage, collocation, and related grammar. You can maintain these words in a notebook or in an e-format. It is not sufficient to just make a note of these words; you must periodically revise them as well.
  4. Listen to podcasts: There are good podcasts available on Spotify. These podcasts will help you build a strong vocabulary base and contribute to your listening and speaking sections.

Importance of Vocabulary for IELTS Exam 

In this section, we are going to be talking about the importance of vocabulary for the IELTS exam for candidates looking to take the test. 

  • In the Writing and the Speaking sections of the IELTS, a good vocabulary contributes to the following:
    • It comprises 25% of the total marks on these sections.
    • It helps you convey your ideas in a coherent and easy-to-understand manner. Besides, it helps you carry on the discussion with the examiner.
  • On the Listening and the Reading section of the IELTS, a strong vocabulary helps you in the following:
    • It helps you understand what has been asked, and answer the question accurately.
    • In the Reading section, a strong vocabulary will give you the added advantage of quickly locating the correct answer using the technique of skimming.

Vocabulary for IELTS: Scoring Criteria

Before we try to understand the scoring criteria of vocabulary for IELTS, with the help of band descriptors, let us understand what are 'high-level' words.


The CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages) establishes a relationship between certain levels and IELTS band scores. The following chart will help you understand the comparison:


Now that you have understood the comparison between CEFR levels and IELTS band scores, let us understand their relevance in terms of vocabulary.

Whenever you come across a word that you do not know, you should search for the same in the online Cambridge dictionary. Once you search the word, you will get to know which word is A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, or C2. Then you can compare that level with the IELTS band scores using the chart given above.

We have taken two words here: Dump and Picturesque. Note that the word Dump is a C2-level word while the word Picturesque is a B2-level word.

What does this reveal? C1 and C2 words (bands 8-9) are not necessarily long and complicated. It is more important for you to focus on the meaning of the sentences. Having a strong vocabulary is extremely important, but do not forcefully use too many complicated words.

Vocabulary Words for IELTS: Band Scores

The table given below has been taken from IELTS band descriptors and provides information about the scoring criteria of the IELTS Writing section, with respect to vocabulary:

Band Scores

Lexical Resource


  • Wide range
  • Natural
  • Rare minor errors


  • Wide range
  • Conveys precise meaning
  • Skilful use of uncommon words
  • Occasional inaccuracies in the choice of words and collocation
  • Rare errors in spelling


  • Sufficient range
  • Some awareness of collocation
  • Occasional errors in the choice of words, spelling, and word formation


  • Adequate range
  • Use of uncommon words with some inaccuracy
  • Some errors in spelling and word formation but no difficulty in conveying the meaning


  • Limited range
  • Noticeable errors
  • Some difficulty for the reader


  • Repetitive basic vocabulary
  • Errors cause difficulty for the reader


  • Very limited range
  • Severely distorted meaning


  • Extremely limited range
  • No control over word formation


  • Only a few isolated words

The table given below has been taken from IELTS band descriptors and provides information about the scoring criteria of the IELTS Speaking section, with respect to vocabulary:

Band Scores

Lexical Resource


  • Full flexibility and precision
  • Natural and accurate


  • Wide vocabulary
  • Precise meaning
  • Skilful use of uncommon words
  • Paraphrasing


  • Flexible use
  • Use of uncommon words with some inappropriate choice
  • Paraphrasing


  • Wide enough vocabulary
  • Clear meaning despite some inappropriacies
  • Generally paraphrases successfully


  • Limited flexibility
  • Mixed success in paraphrasing


  • Can convey only basic meaning
  • Frequent errors
  • Rare paraphrasing


  • Simple vocabulary to convey personal information
  • Insufficient vocabulary for less familiar subjects


  • Isolated or memorized words

Vocabulary for IELTS FAQs

Q. Is it difficult to prepare for IELTS Vocabulary?

A. Building a sound vocabulary takes time. You need to read from a wide range of sources to improve your vocabulary. Even though it takes time, it is certainly not difficult.

Q. Can I memorize top 10 or top 100 words and score well on the IELTS?

A. Definitely not. You cannot memorize top 10 or top 100 words and score well on the IELTS. There is no guarantee that these words will fit the context or not. Besides, an examiner can easily identify whether a particular word has been used forcefully or not. It is much better to improve your vocabulary organically with the help of good resources.

Q. Is it important for me to improve my vocabulary for IELTS?

A. Yes. Vocabulary is the base of your language. Without a strong vocabulary, it is difficult to have a decent conversation or write a good piece of work. Since you plan to move out to an English-speaking country, it is advisable that you should build a strong vocabulary.

Q. Is it necessary to use very difficult words in IELTS Vocabulary?

A. Not at all. There is no guarantee that using difficult words will help you score well. Though it is not bad to learn difficult words, it is advisable that you should focus on coherence and meaning. Using difficult words is just an add-on.

Q. Can I read anything else besides books for IELTS Vocabulary preparation?

A. Definitely. You can go through magazines, newspapers, self-help books, etc. In addition, you can watch British television news and listen to podcasts, etc.

About the Author
Written by
Rahul Singha
Study Abroad Expert

Rahul Singha is a seasoned editor with Shiksha Study Abroad, specializing in overseas education. With over 8 years of domain experience, he has made a significant impact in contributing to the study abroad industry ... Read Full Bio

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