You must have heard that in order to crack the IELTS, your vocabulary must be spot on! This, however, is not entirely true. Knowing a lot of words won’t take you far when it comes to IELTS. Let us take a look at what IELTS wants you to know and what it doesn’t:

IELTS doesn’t expect you to:

  • Know complicated words.
  • Learn words from the dictionary.
  • Show your word power.
  • On the other hand, it wants to check your vocabulary range.

What is Vocabulary Range?

In simple terms, the phrase vocabulary range means how well you know the contextual vocabulary. For Example:

It was shown recently that in my locality, much less crime is done these days.

Recently it was shown that the crime rate has come down in our locality


It was shown recently that much less crime is being committed in our locality.

Among the three sentences above, the first one has a vocabulary error; you do not “do” a crime. You “commit” it. Sentence two shows the correct way to convey the idea.

Another Example
  • The Government of India is working hard to remove poverty.
  • The Government of India is working hard to reduce the poverty rate.

As you can see, not every synonym of a word can express the same thought. In your IELTS exam, you are expected to have a complete understanding of contextual vocabulary.

You need to know a wide range of IELTS vocabulary words that are relevant to a particular context.

Where will You be Judged for Vocabulary?

While vocabulary for IELTS writing is important in all the components of the exam, it is categorically judged in the Speaking and Writing sections. These two sections are topic- centric and judge other aspects of your language skills along with vocabulary range.

The speaking and writing task 1/ 2 sections basically check how well- equipped you are in terms of contextual vocabulary. Remember, the examiners do not need to know how many complex words you know. They want to see how well you know the words that are used to express ideas on a particular topic.

How to Prepare IELTS vocabulary words List?

In order to practice vocabulary for IELTS writing and speaking, it is important that you prepare a vocabulary list. If you think the dictionary can do it for you, then think again. Following are the steps you need to follow when you are preparing a vocabulary list:

  • Work out topics/ genres that appear frequently on IELTS Speaking and Writing. You can do this by looking at past papers.
  • Read books that are based on those genres.
  • Keep a notebook where you can note down new words that you come across in your reading and the ones that are particular to the specific genre.
  • Consult a dictionary to find out the meanings. Make sure to write them down.
  • Try to use those words/ phrases/ expressions in your speaking and writing.
  • Take a look at our vocabulary list below, to know how yours should look like.

Also Read : How to Write Advantages & Disadvantages Essay Questions in IELTS Writing Task 2?

IELTS Vocabulary Words List


  • Commercial breaks
  • Show adverts
  • Celebrity endorsements
  • Prime Time
  • Classified ads
  • Brand royalty
  • Advertising agency
  • Product placement


  • Appetisers
  • Take-away
  • Home-cooked
  • Fussy eater
  • Grab a bite
  • Three-course meal
  • Sweet tooth
  • Quick snack
  • Tuck into
  • Processed food


  • Classical music
  • Blues
  • Rockband
  • Music composition
  • Sound engineering
  • Slow number
  • Live performance
  • Playthings by ear

Clothes and Fashion

  • Casual clothes
  • Must-haves
  • Fashion icon
  • Getting dressed up
  • Vintage fashion
  • Designer labels
  • Off the peg
  • Dressed to kill

Books and Films

  • Bestseller
  • Box-office hits
  • Sci-fi books/films
  • Low budget films
  • Special effects
  • Plot
  • Couldn’t put it down
  • Real page-turner


  • Meeting deadlines
  • Private schools
  • Play truant
  • Graduate school
  • Master’s degree
  • Distance learning
  • Exchange programme
  • Higher education


  • Get into shape
  • Personal trainer
  • Play tennis
  • Take up exercise
  • Hit the gym
  • Set records
  • A brisk walk
  • An athletics meeting


  • Get on really well
  • Have a lot in common
  • Go back years
  • Love at first sight
  • Tying the knot
  • Fall head-over-heels in love
  • Healthy relationship
  • Drift apart

Cities and Towns

  • Residential area
  • Rundown
  • Public transport
  • Inner-city
  • Boarded up
  • Chain stores
  • In the suburbs
  • On the outskirts


  • Wildlife safari
  • Holiday resorts
  • Package holidays
  • Hordes of tourists
  • Travel agents
  • Check-in desks
  • Charter flights
  • Picturesque villages

Remember, when you are writing or speaking about any of the above topics, you must include the contextual words listed above.


IELTS Vocabulary words are all about using the right words in the right context. Writing fancy words that are not related to the topic will not increase your band score. In the speaking test also you are expected to use appropriate and genre-specific vocabulary. Once you get the hang of what to write when then you will not have any difficulty.

Also Read : Simple Ways to Improve Your IELTS Writing Vocabulary: Guide to Your Desired Score

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Indulekha Prabha

My name is Indulekha Prabha. I am an English teacher and a content writer by profession. When I'm not working you can find me writing fiction, reading poetry and painting.

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