Vocabulary and Grammar for IELTS.
A wide range of grammar and vocabulary is important in the IELTS exam especially the writing section. Vocabulary makes up 25% of your marks for the writing and speaking sections of the test, also grammar makes up 25% of your marks. The most important thing to remember in IELTS writing is to keep it simple and do not use complicated grammar if you are not familiar with it yet.
Some students make the mistake of using grammar that they are not used to, or just do not really understand how to use it correctly. This can lower your band score. I advise keeping it simple with the grammar and vocabulary that you know until you build it up to a stage where you feel confident using more advanced grammar. See below for some lessons.
Grammar and Vocabulary self-study
Two very good grammar books are Martin Hewings ‘Advanced grammar in use’ and Raymond Murphy ‘Grammar in Use’ which you can search for on Amazon. I also recommend Cambridge IELTS books for learning new words. This link below is for a very useful book called ‘Cambridge English Vocabulary for IELTS advanced’ click here to see it on Amazon.
Lessons on Grammar and Vocabulary.
Collocations and Phrasal verbs
English is full of two-part verbs, sometimes called phrasal verbs. They frequently have 3 words,which can be found everywhere in reading texts, speaking and listening. Collocations are 3 or 4 words that go together and there are various patterns. Here are some examples of Phrasal verbs and collocations.
Phrasal verbs examples:
Switch on the light
Pick up your books
He looks down on poor people
Let’s eat out tonight
I checked into the hotel
I have run out of money
I look forward to meeting you again
You can see that some of these are 3-word phrasal verbs. The structure is a verb+preposition
He is a heavy sleeper
We threw a party for his birthday
She is a high-level politician
We had heavy rain last night
I have deep admiration for him
It was a big decision
He complained bitterly
She gave me invaluable advice
Collocations are different from phrasal verbs and their structure is varied such as adjective+noun, verb+adverb, verb+noun.
These are very tricky so be careful using idioms unless you really know the meaning well. Remember also that in the IELTS exam idioms should not be used in the writing section. If you feel confident, you can use idioms in the speaking test, but don’t overuse them.
Football is not my cup of tea – I dislike it
I have a lot on my plate – I am busy
I go to the movies once in a blue moon – very rarely
I was on top of the world when I heard the good news – very happy
This is a very important skill that you need to learn to get a high band score in IELTS. Paraphrasing uses synonyms, collocations or reformulation of words where the original wording is changed but it reflects the same meaning, this is often used in the Writing sections and the reading section. Click here for advice on paraphrasing in the writing task 2 section.
Reading is a very good way of getting new words, but it is better to read something that interests you. If you just read IELTS texts then you are likely to get bored and it will feel like hard work. Read something that inspires you, it doesn’t have to be related to the IELTS test. Dreamreader is a free for reading practice online.
Go to the Reading section on this website to find out more information on IELTS reading and free practice tests.
Active Listening is also a good method for getting new vocabulary, listen to News stories, TED talk lectures, Youtube videos, podcasts etc and take notes of new words. Keep a notebook with new words and practice making your own sentences. Click here for links to online listening practice.
Use new vocabulary.
Just studying a word list is not enough. It is very important to learn collocations which are 2 or 3 words that go together and to practice that vocabulary, such as making your own sentences or using the new words in a conversation. Make a note of prefixes, suffixes, adjectives, adverbs, nouns, collocations and phrasal verbs and how those can change the meaning of a sentence. Understanding the way sentences are paraphrased is a key skill that you should really practice because this is crucial in IELTS.
Mind Maps / Visuals
This is a useful way to learn new words and it is more visual than a list of words. Take a central topic and connect in other words that are linked to that topic. Then see if you can make sentences with those new words.