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.

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