How can I increase my vocabulary?


In the IELTS exam, 25 percent of your score in both the writing and speaking components is based on your use of vocabulary. As stated in the official band descriptors for Writing Task 2 published by Cambridge, candidates who achieve a higher score of 8 or 9use a widerange of vocabulary and skilfully use uncommon lexical items(bandscore 8). At band score 7, examinees have a sufficient range of vocabulary with some awareness of collocations.Therefore, it is clear than language development is crucial to gain a higher band score.This article presents five easy ways to gain more vocabulary to improve your score in IELTS writing.


Start Reading!

Make a habit of reading challenging or more complex texts. Use a dictionary or thesaurus to help you find the meaning of new words.

Use and


Learn 6 new words everyday

Create a journal of new language. Write down six useful words every day. One of the best resources to gather new words is the official Academic Word List:


Create word families

As you browse the Academic Word List site, learn how to break down words into smaller ones, or create bigger words. For example, the noun product means a created object. We can formulate the verb to produce (to make) and the adjective productive from the noun form. Study prefixes, suffixes and other word changing techniques. Write one sentence with each new word.


Learn synonyms and how to paraphrase

Paraphrasing is writing a sentence in a new way, and it’s an important skill in IETLS writing. For example, the sentence ‘several people believe that the government must help the homeless.’ can be paraphrased into this sentence: Many people think that the governing authority should offer assistance to homeless people.

The key to successful paraphrasing is to identify the keywords in the sentence. Then, find their synonyms and replace these words with them. Rewrite the sentence, making sure to maintain the same meaning. You may decide to change the structure of the sentence. For example, this sentence

‘In spite of the financial assistance offered to students, many young people still find it difficult to pay for their studies.’


‘Many young people continue to have difficulties in paying for their studies although financial help is offered to them.’

In the second sentence, we have retained the same meaning as the first one. However, the keywords have been replaced with synonyms or matching expressions.

Practice paraphrasing sentences. Then, try to rewrite entire paragraphs to get into the habit of using a variety of words and expressions to say the same thing. Use a thesaurus ( to help find synonyms and grow your range of language.


Create a list of cohesive devices (linking words)

Coherence is one of the four principle criteria that examiners use when marking the Writing and Speaking parts of IELTS. The use of cohesive devices is to create a logical and clear passage, or to express your ideas orally. Create a list of linking words or connectors for introducing, adding, contrasting ideas or concluding.

For example, this table shows how and when we use connectors:

Introducing Adding Contrasting Giving opinions Concluding
Firstly, Moreover In contrast, In my opinion, In conclusion
First, Additionally, In comparison, From my point of view, To conclude,

Write one sentence with one linking word every day. Practicing using a linking word during conversation in English.



Listening to podcasts, videos or short audios can help to improve your vocabulary. Play and stop the audio regularly to check your understanding and meaning of the word, with the help of the transcript. You can find very relevant article and podcasts on the Six Minute English link of the BBC Learning English website:

Highlight new words, connectors and expressions and create new sentences with them to practice your writing skills. You can also do some practice tests on the official IELTS website by downloading them on this URL: