IELTS tips & tricks – Improve your Vocabulary

Building your vocabulary is a combination of the following steps: FindRecordExtend and Use.


Once you get into the habit of looking for new words, you will find them everywhere! 

English lessons

This one may seem obvious but there are a lot of new words introduced in your class – not only from your textbook, but things your teacher or classmates say.   When you hear a word – ask yourself whether you can USE it. Often students understand the gist of what is being said being said but don’t notice how much new vocabulary they encounter.

Daily life

Conversations with friends; business meetings; a trip to the doctor – don’t be afraid to ask when you encounter an unfamiliar word. Most people are very happy to help.


Try watching Netflix with English subtitles on.  Of course it is not always perfect but it will make you much more aware of the actual words spoken.


These are numerous textbooks that will help you improve your vocabulary.  They usually follow the format of introducing a set of new words and then providing plenty of self-study practice exercises using that new set.

Two series’ that are good for IELTs are the “Vocabulary for IELTS” (pictured above) and the “Vocabulary in Use” (pictured below).  Both come in different levels to suit your needs.

TIP: If you don’t want to spend money on new books come into school and study.  We have plenty of IELTS vocabulary books available for you to use, and there are always teachers around to answer your questions too!


There are lots of ways to keep track of and memorise your new words.  Most students use either a traditional notebook or an app. 


Students all have different ways of organising vocabulary.  It depends on your learning style and goals. If your main focus is the IELTS Exam, they you could organise by the IELTS topic areas that often come up on the test: 

  • Business & Finance
  • Education
  • Family & Children
  • Food & Diet
  • Government
  • Heath
  • Media & Advertising
  • Society
  • Sport & Exercise
  • Technology
  • The Arts
  • The Environment
  • Tourism
  • Transport
  • Work & Employment
  • Your Home


We suggest trying a Flashcard app such as  Quizlet, Anki or Cram.

At Ty-Jia English we use Quizlet.  It has flashcards and games to help you memorise the words. Here is our irregular verb set on Quizlet:



A thesaurus can be a great way to expand your vocabulary for the IELTS test or even just in general.  It is not considered good style to repeat the same word over and over – so build up a bank of alternatives.  Here is a list of alternatives to “go” from our Oxford Students’ Thesaurus.


Not many people use dictionaries these days as they tend to just go straight to Google translate.  Remember that a dictionary is more accurate and more likely to give you the correct usage. When you come across a new work, check it out in the dictionary, learn the different ways in can be used and how it combines with other words.  


Now you have all these new words – its time to use them!  Try commenting on social media or blog posts

Comment challenge

Leave a comment below that includes a new word that you have learnt in the last week.

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