How to improve vocabulary for IELTS?

Applicants looking to study abroad usually appear for several exams (depending on the universityā€™s preference) that make them eligible for studying and applying to foreign universities. One such exam is the IELTS exam. The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) exam is an English proficiency exam for non-native speakers. This exam is globally accepted and renowned for its high quality and integrity of the English language. It is considered mandatory by many universities and plays an important role in the visa application process. To score a high band in the IELTS exam it is necessary to have a good grasp of the English language and vocabulary. Read on to know the tips to improve vocabulary for IELTS.

Before we get into the topic of vocabulary, letā€™s begin with a  deeper understanding of the IELTS exam. The IELTS exam can be taken in two ways, the paper-based IELTS exam and the computer-based IELTS exam. What sets these two tests apart is that the computer-based test will generate your results in 3 to 5 days, whereas the paper-based test will generate results only after 14 days.

The IELTS exam pattern is set in a way that tests the applicantā€™s English proficiency based on four main criteria:

  1. Reading
  2. Writing
  3. Listening 
  4. Speaking 

 The IELTS exam is scored on a scale of 1.0 to 9.0 and usually, a score of 6.0 and above is considered acceptable by foreign universities. 

Importance of vocabulary in IELTS:

Vocabulary is an integral part of IELTS. Consider it to be your buddy as it will help you score well. The reason for this is, vocabulary constitutes 25% of the speaking and writing sections. Having a good vocabulary will help you construct better sentences as well as get your ideas across easily while speaking and writing. 

Good vocabulary has its advantages in the listening and reading sections as well. Your ability to understand what is being said in the listening section can be made satisfactory with a better vocabulary. Reading and answering questions, using synonyms and connecting ideas are all the benefits you get from a good vocabulary. 

Also Read: Common Spelling Mistakes in IELTS

How much vocabulary is enough for the IELTS exam?

 Learning more words and their meaning will help you set up a good vocabulary base for the IELTS exam. People may not get a satisfactory IELTS score on their first attempt even after learning many new words. This is a common occurrence and happens because people tend to learn words without understanding how to properly use the words.

 Some reasons why people lose marks in the IELTS have been mentioned below:

  1. Using the wrong word or using words that are out of context
  2. Using adjectives instead of nouns
  3. Incorrect grammar
  4. Lack of synonyms
  5. Childish sentence construction

Related Topic: How to Improve English Pronunciation Skills for the IELTS Speaking Test

How to Improve Vocabulary for IELTS?

We all know the importance and advantage of having a good vocabulary. This section will delve deeper into how to improve vocabulary for IELTS.

  1. Learning new words you donā€™t know is a good way to start. But just learning the words is not enough. You must understand the meaning of the words and learn how to use them correctly in a sentence. To memorize a multitude of words is not an easy task. To maximize your memorizing capacity, you have to follow some basic steps:
  • Learn the word.
  • Learn the spelling of the word.
  • Understand the correct pronunciation of the word.
  • Understand the meaning of the word.
  • Learn to use the word in a sentence.
  1. Use a good dictionary – This will help your cause to truly understand the meaning of the words you are learning. Every time you hear a new word in conversation or while watching videos or movies, a dictionary in hand will always keep you in the learning loop.Ā 
  2. Get into the habit of talking to people in English – This will help you improve your speaking skills. If the people you are speaking to have a good understanding of the language, they are bound to correct you when you go wrong. This is a good way to learn and improve.
  3. Use a thesaurus – A thesaurus will help you learn synonyms and antonyms of the words you are learning. This exercise itself will help improve vocabulary for IELTS.
  4. Develop the habit of writing down the words and their meanings as you learn them. Writing down words has always been a better exercise than just learning the words. When you write words down you tend to remember them for a longer time.Ā 
  5. Get into the habit of reading the newspaper, magazines, and books. This will enhance your ability to read as well as construct sentences. You will come across many new words in this process. Put your dictionary to use at this point.
  6. Watching English videos or listening to audio files is a good way to improve your vocabulary as well as your listening skills. Every time you come across a new word, write it down, understand the context in which it is being used, thoroughly understand its pronunciation and meaning.
  7. Try vocabulary building apps – Everybody uses smartphones nowadays and these vocabulary building apps can be really helpful to expand your base. The apps will not only provide you with new words, but they will also prove the meaning, synonyms, antonyms, sentences using the word to understand context, and exercises to improve your skills. Some of these apps have been mentioned below:
  • PowerVocab
  • 7 Little Words
  • Words with Friends
  • Penny Dell Crosswords
  • Magoosh Vocabulary Builder
  1. Try vocabulary mock tests from time to time to test your ability and understand your improvement.

People Also Read:Ā 

IELTS Writing Task 1 Academic: Complete Guide

IELTS Writing Task 2-Ultimate Guide

Doā€™s and Don’ts while improving your vocabulary:



  • Try and learn words that can be used in multiple contexts. 

  • Find new words through active reading and listening.

  • Understand how to use the words contextually.

  • Keep writing down the words and practice them a couple of times.

  • Record new words and phrases so that it’s easy to revise.

  • Do not try and learn lists of words. It is of no use

  • Do not exaggerate sentences just to incorporate fancy words. Understand the context and use appropriate words.

  • Don’t get lost in the word and the meaning. Understand that pronunciation and spelling are equally important.


In conclusion, we can say that vocabulary plays an important part in achieving a good IELTS score. It is important to note that smart learning methods will give faster results. Just learning new words will get you nowhere or instead might generate an adverse impact on your final score. Be practical with your approach and project confidence. This will help with remembering what you have learned on the final day. Remember a better IELTS score will ensure admission into a better institution. A better institution will set your path towards your ambitions and a bright future.

Also Read:

IELTS Exam ā€“ A Complete Overview

IELTS Exam Eligibility

IELTS Band Score Chart

What is the IELTS Exam Fee?

IELTS Speaking test: What all you should know

IELTS Speaking Topics: Know, Practice & Prepare

IELTS Writing Task 1 ā€“ Understanding the Insights!

Tips to score band 7 in the IELTS speaking test

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