Vocabulary for IELTS

13 minute read
Vocabulary for IELTS

IELTS is one of the most widely taken English proficiency tests for admissions to universities abroad. It is essential to understand the exam pattern and follow a well-structured study plan to get a high IELTS score. The exam evaluates the English Reading, Listening, Writing, and Speaking skills of the students. Refined vocabulary is a prominent part of the IELTS Syllabus as it helps students in each exam segment. This blog focuses on important words, exercises, and tips to improve vocabulary for IELTS.

How to Learn IELTS Vocabulary in 6 Steps?

If you are wondering about how to learn or get started to learn IELTS vocabulary, then here is a 6-step method to help you excel in your English vocabulary for IELTS. 

1. Find a Suitable Source of Learning 

Choose an interesting book, TV show, radio show, podcast, YouTube series, or magazine. People learn more efficiently when they are having fun, so don’t choose anything dull. 

2. Maintain a Journal or a Vocab Notebook 

Yes, if you truly want to improve your English vocabulary quickly, you must keep a diary or vocab copy. You will write the new words that you will learn each day in this copy. Make sentences with these terms and their definitions. The notebook does not have to be pricey; it simply has to be a place where you can keep track of your daily notes.

3. Consume your Source 

Read/watch/listen to whatever you choose in Step 1 and highlight or mark at least 10 words that you don’t understand or maybe don’t know the meaning of. Try to deduce what they imply from the context. This is an essential stage since it will help you remember the new words.

4. Start Using New Words 

Simply writing down and memorizing the word meanings of new words will not help you enhance your English vocabulary. You must begin utilizing these newly discovered words in your regular life and your daily interactions and communication. Only then will you be able to excel in English vocabulary

5. Look for Synonyms 

In an online dictionary, look for alternative synonyms for the new words. Make a note of the synonyms, collocations, antonyms, and pronunciation for each word. You may also use images to help you recall the term.

6. Review your New Words

Finally, keep reviewing the list of new words, their synonyms, and antonyms after every one week, two weeks, and then one month. 

List of Words for IELTS Vocabulary

 Here are a few words to build your vocabulary for IELTS:

  1. Range: distance from low to high
  2. Attribute: to give credit for
  3. Tradition: what people normally do
  4. Estimate: take a guess
  5. Melancholy: sadness/despair
  6. Expose: show something hidden
  7. Embellish: add details to something
  8. Lucid: something easy to understand
  9. Archaic: something very old
  10. Audacity: boldness
  11. Jovial: merry
  12. Diligent: careful and hardworking
  13. Mundane: routine
  14. Unprecedented: never done before
  15. Extrapolate: estimate or conclude
  16. Banish: get rid of
  17. Paragon: best of its kind
  18. Retract: take back
  19. Empathetic: relating to others’ feelings
  20. Variance: quality of being different

Here is a set of 50 Difficult words with meanings to master the IELTS Vocabulary!

Category-wise Vocabulary for IELTS

Here are some important words as per category for IELTS preparation-


  • Direct Mail: Letters and adverts are sent directly To cusTomers. This is a direct approach with a select audience.
  • Radio Advertising: This approach reaches a target audience and relies on them listening To a particular station. However, the message can easily be forgotten.
  • Text Messages: These promotions reach a target audience in real-time but they have a limited number of characters in the text.
  • Internet Pop-ups: They can impact a viewer and allow them easy access To the product. However, they can be annoying, and intrusive and some even crash the system.
  • Email Advertising: Direct advertising To the customer. It is cost-effective as long as the customer database is up-to-date.
  • Flyers: Small flyers with printed information handed out To cusTomers face To face. They can be attractive and informative but also costly.

Business Environment 

  • To balance the books: Do not spend more money than you are earning
  • To be self-employed: To work for yourself/ To not work for an employer
  • To cold call: To make a sales call To someone without asking them for permission first
  • cut-throat competition: When one company lowers its prices, forcing other companies To do the same, sometimes To a point where the business becomes unprofitable
  • To do market research: To do research inTo what potential customers would or wouldn’t buy
  • To draw up a business plan: To write a plan for a new business
  • To drum up business: To try To get customers
  • To earn a living: To earn money
  • To go bust: when a business is forced To close because it is unsuccessful

Fashion World

  • Fashion House: A company that sells (usually expensive) new styles of clothes
  • Fashion Icon: A person who is famous for their sense of fashion
  • Fashion Show: an event where models show off the latest in fashion designs
  • To get dressed up: To put on nice clothes, often To go out somewhere special
  • To go out of fashion: To not be in fashion any more
  • Hand-me-downs: Clothes that are passed down from older brothers or sisters To their younger siblings
  • To have an eye for (fashion): To be a good judge of
  • To have a sense of style: The ability To wear clothes that look stylish


  • Processed Food: Commercially prepared food bought for convenience
  • A Quick Snack: To eat a small amount of food between meals
  • A Ready Meal: See ‘processed food’
  • A Slap-Up Meal: A large meal
  • To Spoil Your Appetite: To eat something that will stop you from feeling hungry when it’s mealtime.
  • A Take Away: A cooked meal prepared in a restaurant and eaten at home
  • To Tuck Into: to eat something with pleasure
  • To Wine and Dine: to entertain someone by treating them to food and drink

Travel and Tourism 

  • Travel abroad: Travel to overseas destinations.
  • Travelling light: Travelling with little luggage.
  • Value for money: A good return on investment.
  • Visa regulations: Laws that relate to entry into a country.
  • Wildlife safari: A guided tour through a game park.
  • Affordable destinations: Places within a reasonable price range.
  • Affordable travel: Travel that is within your price range.
  • Around the world: In all corners of the globe.
  • Arts and culture: The art, music and other cultural aspects of an area.
  • Holiday brochures: Pamphlets advertising holiday destinations.
  • Holiday destination: The place to which you leave on holiday.
  • Long haul flights: Long-distance flights.
  • Lush rainforests: Luxuriant equatorial forests.
  • Magnificent landscapes: Impressive scenery.
  • Make reservations: Booking ahead of time.
  • Memorable experiences: Activities that you will remember for years.

Books, Films and Art

  • Genre: the type of film. E.g. horror or comedy.
  • Commercial blockbusters: films made for the mass market to generate a lot of income.
  • A sea change in something: a fundamental shift.
  • Online streaming: watching via the internet.
  • Cultural heritage: the background and history of a country.
  • Rom-com movie: a romantic comedy film.
  • Adapted from fiction: a film which was first a book.
  • Strong characterisation: the main people are well-rounded and believable.
  • Black humour: funny but rather dark or mysterious as well.

Social Media 

  • Vlogger: a person who regularly creates short videos to be posted online.
  • Emoji: a small digital image used in social media/ emails/ text to display an emotion, object or idea.
  • Meme: a humorous image or text that is easily sent to others over the internet.
  • DM: Direct message.
  • Photoshop: software that allows users to digitally alter their images.
  • Filters: preset photo enhancements that users can select to apply to their images or videos.
  • Block: stopping or banning someone from interacting with you on social media or viewing your posts/ profile.
  • Censor: to keep certain images, texts, etc from being displayed or published because it is offensive or immoral.
  • Follow: subscribe to the page of a person or business on social media.


  • Heritage: Something that is handed down/inherited from generation to generation.
  • Values: An individual’s ethics and beliefs
  • Stereotype: A generalised notion or idea about a specific race or group of people
  • Prejudice: A bad view about a person or group formed without first meeting them and generally based on stereotypes.
  • Cultural Diversity: The variations between several cultures
  • Culture Shock: A state of perplexity or disorientation caused by being exposed to a new culture or way of life.
  • Discrimination: Unfair treatment of a person or group based on bias


  • Habitat: A living organism’s natural surroundings.
  • Biodegradable: Matter that organisms can break down, hence preventing pollution.
  • Biodiversity: The number and variety of plants and animals found in a given location.
  • Ecosystem: Plants and animals inside an area that have an impact on the environment’s functioning
  • Pollution: The release of hazardous materials into the environment
  • Deforestation: Trees are being cut or uprooted as a result of natural or human activity
  • Global Warming: The warming of the Earth’s atmosphere as a result of greenhouse gases

Check out this video to get a hold of IELTS Band 9 Vocabulary-

Courtesy: E2 IELTS

Vocabulary for IELTS: Preparation Tips 

Here are a few tips to make your vocabulary more proficient:

  1. Read more articles, blogs, texts etc. of your choice to build your vocabulary. This habit will ensure that you come across new words and this will also give you a better understanding of the usage of the word.
  2. In case you don’t have time to read and build your vocabulary then you can go through various lists of important words for IELTS. You can start with 10 words and then do 15 words the next day and then 20 after that. This will help you focus on the words relevant to the exam.
  3. Listen to podcasts and TED talks and keep track of the words the speaker is using. This will help you to understand the effect of using different words.
  4. Sign up for ‘a word a day’ email blast.
  5. Use flashcards to memorize the words.
  6. Play Scrabble and other word-building games in your free time.

Vocabulary Exercises

Practising sample papers and taking regular mock tests in attaining a better IELTS score. It also helps in mastering difficult topics. Based on the IELTS paper, we have curated an IELTS vocabulary exercise for you:

  1. Before handing out a _____, the circumstances of the crime should be taken into consideration. (suspect/sentence/crime/decision)
  2. What is the meaning of acknowledge?
a. To become sick through contaminated food. b.To admit or recognize that something is true.
c. To show great knowledge d.To deny something’s existence.
  1. What is the meaning of acquiescing?
a. Agree to something without protesting b. To remember one’s past
c. To draw water out d. To flow like liquid
  1. My teacher encouraged us to take part in________ to develop skills beyond the classroom curriculum.
  2. I used to find complicated calculations difficult as well as algebra but when we got a new _____ teacher, it became easier.
  3. Categorize the following as formal or informal clothing/accessories.
    1. Bags
    2. Shorts
    3. Tie
    4. Shirt
    5. Jeans
    6. Trousers 
    7. Blazer
    8. T-shirt
    9. Bangles 
    10. Suit
    11. Flipflops
  4. I had no clue what she was talking about, then suddenly she asked a question which I couldn’t understand so I just______ my shoulders and left.
  5. During the meeting, I could feel myself getting impatient and my foot started ____ on the floor.
  6. One of my favourite subjects was _____ because you had the chance to go out and learn more about the environment.
  7. Name any four wind instruments.


  1. Sentence
  2. To admit or recognize that something is true.
  3. To agree to something without protesting
  4. Extra-curriculars
  5. Math
  6. Answers:
    1. Bags (formal/informal)
    2. Shorts (informal)
    3. Tie (formal)
    4. Shirt (formal)
    5. Jeans (informal)
    6. Trousers (formal)
    7. Blazer (formal)
    8. T-shirt (informal)
    9. Bangles (informal)
    10. Suit (formal)
    11. Flipflops (informal)
  7. Shrugged 
  8. Tapping
  9. Natural science
  10. Answer:
    1. Saxophone
    2. Trumpet
    3. Pipes
    4. Tuba
    5. Oboe
    6. Clarinet

What vocabulary do I need to know?

Check out some of the types of vocabulary that will help you in scoring high for the IELTS

Vocabulary for IELTS reading

Reading comprehension involves multi-tasking, these are the skills that can be improved by practice.

High-Frequency words

High-frequency words are the words that appear most often in written English. High-frequency words are also common exception words, such as ‘I’, ‘the’, and ‘you’.

Academic Words

Academic Words are those high-frequency words that appear regularly in written text but are not frequently used in conversational language.

Technical/Topic specific words

Technical words are one of those subject-specific that are added to the academic lists. These lists, however, are not specifically technical. Their purpose is to include academic words which occur frequently. The words provide better coverage for those disciplines.

Vocabulary for IELTS writing

IELTS writing vocabulary is for both versions Academic and General. It involves writing an essay, of about 250 words.


There are two important components to any word. They are synonyms and antonyms.

Synonym – a word that means exactly, the given word For example: Confused – baffled, perplexed, perplexed, mystified
Antonym – a word that means the opposite of a given word. For example: Confused – Lucid, precise, clear

Vocabulary for IELTS essays

The majority of essay topics are about burning issues in society. So it can easily be learnt by reading newspapers and magazines regularly.

IELTS Writing Task 1 Vocabulary

There is writing task 1 for the Academic part. It involves visual interpretation and vocabulary related to maps, pie charts, bar graphs, line graphs etc.  

IELTS Writing Task 2 Vocabulary

Writing task 2 is for both versions of Academic and General which involve writing an essay, in about 250 words. There are different types of essays.

Vocabulary for IELTS Speaking

Practising idioms and phrasal verbs will help to improve English. Many people insert them while speaking that looks quite unnatural. People who use them well have picked them up through experience.

Phrasal Verbs for IELTS Vocabulary

A phrasal verb is made up of two or three words from several grammatical groupings. When all of them are joined, a new meaning emerges, which must be applied according to the circumstances. Furthermore, phrasal verbs are included in the IELTS vocabulary list, and candidates can utilise them to demonstrate their mastery of the English language.

Phrasal Verb Meaning Example
cut down on  reduce I had to cut down on sugar and coffee to lose some weight.
bank on  to expect and hope something will happen I’d banked on getting a pay rise this year. I could always bank on my father’s support.
brush up on  to improve a skill you haven’t practised for some time I thought I’d brush up on my French before going to Paris.
bring down and make someone upset I am not fond of listening to heavy metal because it brings me down.
check-in  arrive at the hotel or airport and register We checked in online, so we didn’t need to waste time queuing. 
check out leave a hotel We checked out the next morning right after breakfast.

Idioms for IELTS Vocabulary

Idioms in this section help us explain ourselves more clearly and seem more natural. However, candidates must not use idioms without comprehending their meaning, as this will result in a grade reduction. As a result, it is recommended that applicants use it in tasks only when they are certain of its meaning and context.

We’ve collected a collection of frequent IELTS vocabulary idioms that can be used in the speaking section. Remember that when used correctly, they will result in a high band score.

Colourful Idioms Meaning Example
Out of the blue Something that happened unexpectedly One day, out of the blue, she announced that she was leaving.
In the red To owe money, to not have money Sorry, I can’t afford it, I’m in the red.
Give someone the green light To give permission I was given the green light to start this new book.
A white lie To tell a lie that is not very serious I don’t think you should get in trouble for telling a white lie.
Green with envy To be jealous/envious Chad is heading off to Spain for the week, and I’m green with envy.
Student Idioms Meaning Example
Day and night Continually working without stopping They toiled day and night to search for survivors and recover bodies.
Drop out To leave without finishing She dropped out of the course because it was too hard.
Learn by heart To memorise My father can still recite the poems he learned by heart at school.
Pass with flying colours To pass a test with a high grade He passed the test with flying colours.
Bookworm Someone who reads a lot She is such a bookworm! She seems to have a new book every day!
IELTS Idioms Meaning Example
Practice makes perfect To continuously improve by practising I train so hard for the marathons because I believe that practice makes perfect.
Break a leg To wish someone good luck Danny’s family told him to “break a leg” right before he went up on stage.
Driving me up the wall Something that annoys you My flatmate is driving me up the wall.
Better late than never It’s better to do something late than not to try it The dress arrived after the dance but better late than never—I’ll wear it to the next event.
Blind as a bat Can’t see, bad eyesight I’m as blind as a bat without my glasses.

Vocabulary for IELTS PDF

Here is a practice worksheet for you to ace the Vocabulary for IELTS-

Online Sources and Websites 

In these trying times of the pandemic, we’re scarcely venturing out to find new materials to assist us to enhance our English vocabulary. Having said that, there are several internet resources available to you. The nice thing about using internet resources is that you can pick and choose what you want and never get bored. The following is a collection of world-renowned websites for reading online English study resources and also practising and improving the English language:

  • BBC
  • TIME
  • Cosmopolitan 
  • History Today 
  • The Economist 
  • New Scientist 
  • National Geographic
  • Wired 
  • Duolingo 
  • ABCYa
  • BBC Learning English
  • ESL Bits
  • Oxford University Press
  • FluentU
  • British Council
  • Livemocha
  • English Central

Subscribe to Leverage IELTS for more such information.

IELTS Vocabulary Books

Here are a few highly recommended books that can boost your English vocabulary for IELTS.

Books  Links to Buy 
Collins Vocabulary for IELTS Buy here 
Barron`s Essential Words for the IELTS Buy here 
IELTS Band 9 Vocab Secrets Buy here 
4000 English Words Buy here
IELTS Band 9 Vocab Secrets Buy here
English Vocabulary in Use Buy here
Oxford Word Skills Buy here
IELTS Vocabulary Booster Buy here
Cambridge Vocabulary for IELTS Buy here
Check your English Vocabulary for IELTS Buy here


Q1. How can I improve my vocabulary for IELTS?

Ans. Read English Material
Watch Subtitled English Movies and TV Shows
Keep a Daily Journal and Practice English Writing
Speak in English while watching yourself in the mirror

Q2. Can I write 500 words in IELTS?

Ans. IELTS has assigned a task of writing more than 150 words for IELTS writing task 1 and 250 words for IELTS writing task 2. There is, however, no word limit.

Q3. Can I score 9 in IELTS?

Ans. Yes, an IELTS band score of 9 is completely possible in the actual exam.

We hope our blog helped you in improving your vocabulary for IELTS. Leverage Edu provides excellent online IELTS preparation. Ranging from personalized study plans to detailed doubts-clearing sessions, our expert faculty ensures that students get the best scores! Get in touch with us to start your IELTS preparation. 

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