In this article I want to give you 3 vocabulary strategies that you can use really easily to improve your vocabulary for IELTS.

Random Words

This first strategy will work better if you are living in an English-speaking country however with globalisation there will be chances even in your own country to take advantage of it.

  • Look at product packets, instructions leaflets etc. – in English – packaging in the kitchen and bathroom are perfect – read the instructions and see if there are any words that you don’t know or haven’t seen before. Check their meaning and then memorise any that may be useful to you. Health or education related words would be useful or any scientific words. Don’t just learn the word; look at how it is used as well.
  • When you have 5 minutes to spare look around you wherever you are and see how many words you do not know in English – look them up and try to learn them. Some of these may be useful in listening especially if you are in an office, school, hospital or shop. You may be able to use others in your speaking and writing and some more academic words may come up in reading. Finally all vocabulary will be useful at some time in your life in an English speaking country.

Word Lists

There are several word lists that can be helpful for IELTS, the academic word list, science words, topic-related lists of words and others. It can all be very overwhelming but if you break these lists down into manageable chunks then you will soon be remembering a lot of the words.

  • Set yourself a target of how many you can learn in a week – don’t be too ambitious – perhaps 10 will be a good number. You could split this between academic or science words and topic words – 5 of each.
  • Write them down somewhere where you can see them every day – on a chart, on your phone or in a book. Physically copying and writing (or typing) words helps you to remember them.
  • Try to look at them every day. Try to write them down alone (for spelling) and then in a sentence.
  • If you are writing a task try and use them in your task (choose a topic and learn vocabulary specifically for that topic) using words in writing helps to remember them and can also check that you are using them correctly. If you can get feedback from a teacher even better!

Vocabulary Exercises

IELTS course books will have these and there are online exercises too (you can also try Advanced level exercises on vocabulary) they will help a lot with usage and making sure you have them in your memory.  They are also quite fun to do.

There are vocabulary books specifically aimed at IELTS – you may be able to find these in the library or from friends who have already taken the exam.

Here are some examples of well-known ones – practice a little at a time

Try out word searches and crosswords too (here are some you can use) it’s a great way to relax and learn.


To be honest there are no real secrets or ‘tricks’ to IELTS reading just good skill and common sense. However under the pressure of the exam (and in practice too) common sense seems to go out of the window and panic takes over. People look for short cuts or quick fixes to get it done fast and what happens is that the quick fix method becomes so overwhelming that the text and questions often fade into the background as students grab the first word they see or search endlessly inside a paragraph which cannot possibly contain the information. The answer is to step back and focus on the text and questions rather than the tricks.

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IELTS study

I don’t know if these are really secrets or not. In fact most of them are really just common sense but I am often surprised how many students seem to make life more difficult for themselves in terms of IELTS than it needs to be. By taking this route it not only costs more (how many exams do you want to take before getting your score?) but it can also take more time to actually achieve your score.

I have been an IELTS teacher for over 20 years and in all that time I have mostly taught students who need band 7 and 8. In fact I specialise in teaching bands 7 and 8 and of the hundreds of students that I have taught and prepared for IELTS over the years I have seen most pass their exam and move on with their lives and I can see among these successful students the reasons why they were successful and also perhaps why others are not. So here are some of the most important things to consider when deciding to take the IELTS exam.

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So what is the problem with MCQ in the listening test? Well, the listening test itself is a real exercise in multi-tasking. Not only do you have to listen carefully but you also have to read the questions and write down the answers simultaneously. There is a lot to do. The main focus must be on listening as once this is gone then you cannot retrieve the information.

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IELTS Speaking isn’t just a ‘chat’. Just like all the other parts of the IELTS test, it is put together in such a way that you can demonstrate a variety of speaking skills to the examiner – such things as showing your vocabulary, being able to communicate at length about various topics and presenting a short ‘talk’ on a particular subject.  These are all things you will need to do as students and also in your future work. What this means is that you can and should prepare for your IELTS speaking just like you prepare for every other part of the exam.

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I meet students every day who need IELTS for various reasons; higher education, immigration to get jobs, to keep jobs or for promotions. One thing that strikes me often about some students is how they will just book a test without giving any thought to, firstly, whether they are ready to achieve the band they require and, secondly, to the amount of preparation that they may need in order to be ready for the exam.

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The Ultimate IELTS Study Plan for Band 7 and 8

It’s important to remember that a language is a skill (like driving a car or playing the piano). The more you practise the better you will become and if you don’t practise then you won’t be able to do these things well at all. There are some techniques and strategies for IELTS which you can learn but these are really exam techniques and unless your English language level is where you need it for your band, they will not help you a lot.

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