“Why should I work on my vocabulary if my basics are in place?” This question may cross your mind if you have been studying the English language for IELTS speaking. A lot of us may believe that we don’t need to go beyond the basics to score well but that is precisely is the difference between a band 6 and a band 8.

When you are aiming to clear the IELTS speaking test, you must aim for the highest possible score, even if you are not keen on it. The famous quote – ‘Aim for the stars and you may hit the moon’ stands true here. In such a case developing a good vocabulary is not optional when preparing, treat it as an integral part of your training.

The speaking section in IELTS requires you to answer 3 questions –

  1. One where you will be asked to speak on a topic related to your life
  2. The second where you will be given a cue card to answer particular questions
  3. And the third part will be a continuation of the second question where you will have to share an opinion on an abstract idea.

So now how do you develop a strong vocabulary to ace the speaking test? You can follow these 8 tips

1. No matter what, read

Reading is one of the fastest and easiest ways to be introduced to new words and a better quality of language. Since you will be appearing for a test that requires you to be well versed in British English we suggest you stick to magazines or blogs that are written in British English.
We suggest reading BBC news or the Guardian for developing a vocabulary relevant to the IELTS speaking skill alone.

2. Look at the origin of words

English is a language derived from Greek or Latin words. Although this activity may seem irrelevant or futile in the beginning, you will start to realize that certain words have similar meaning because of their origin.
For example – if ‘oct’ is the root Latin word which means eight, here is a list of words it gives meaning to- octal, octangular, octavalent, octennial, October, octofid, octopartite, octuple, octuplet, octuplicate etc.

3. Once you learn a word, use it

When you are developing a practical vocabulary, one of the fastest ways to register a new word is to start using it as often as you can, even if your friends and family find it funny.
Frame sentences to fit the word. For example – if you learn the word stellar – you could use it to compliment your brother on his career achievements or your friend on his recent performance. Use the word to describe something about yourself or your life to have a personal association with the word.

4. Heard of Thesaurus?

No, it isn’t an extinct dinosaur recently excavated. It is a dictionary of synonyms and antonyms along with sample sentences of how to use it in context.
When focusing on developing a vocabulary you may refer to the thesaurus to find groups of words that have a similar meaning. It will help you to use better-suited words in a sentence which is all the difference between a band 9 and band 8.

5. Try being compact

When you start speaking in the IELTS test you will have 2 to 3 minutes to speak. How well and how much you can communicate within that time depends on how compact you can keep your speech. While practicing speaking or writing always ask yourself if you could communicate the same answer in lesser words or sentences.
For example – ‘I wanted to try out for the new school football team but I couldn’t reach the place on time as I missed the bus for the destination’ can be – ‘I missed the bus to my school football tryouts which brought an end to my football aspirations.
You decide who would be rated higher by an examiner.

6. Ask for professional help

The speaking test is a particularly tough section in the IELTS. It requires not just a good vocabulary but also confidence with fluency while speaking.
Even if you have managed to develop a good vocabulary, putting it into a sentence in the right context with the right pronunciation while dealing with the pressure of an interview like a scenario can be a daunting task.
Get help if you feel like you cannot find people well versed in the language or IELTS around you. There are a host of trainers available online who should be available to you at your convenience.

7. Gamify your experience

Games are an excellent way to accept a challenge and learn new things. Pick up any from the numerous word games, preferably ones that ask you to guess the right meaning or find synonyms of words.
Online is not the only way to do it, try playing traditional board games like crossword or scrabble with your family. Make it a ritual to play at least once a day.
You could also make a game out of spotting mistakes or optimizing sentences, whether your own or someone else’s. Changing the way your brain listens to the language can help you gain an edge in the learning process.

8. Make associations to remember

When you are learning a new word, you may find yourself enthusiastic at first but when you learn the second or the third word, where does the first one go? Certain memories naturally start to fade once we make new ones. To be able to remember a word, make a mental association of that word with an object or a person.
For example – if you have just learned the word ‘stellar’ and your favorite actor is Tom Cruise then you can use the word stellar to describe his latest performance.

Stellar means of star quality and your favorite actor possess it. Hence, every time you see him on a screen the word stellar should remain associated with him. You can also make funny associations to have a laugh every time you try to learn.

For more a detailed article, read our guide on speaking tips to get band 8

9. IELTS Vocabulary List [Updated for 2018]

So through this article we have already learnt 8 different tips which can help us maximize our potential to speak properly and fluently to get better results at IELTS vocabulary. But at the same time it would really helpful you if you can practice vocabulary and in order to do so we have shared below IELTS speaking vocabulary list that you can download for free.

IELTS Vocabulary List PDF

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