Vocabulary for IELTS 2022: Topic-wise IELTS Vocabulary, Scoring Criteria, Importance, Tips & Sample


6 mins read
Aprant Agarwal
Study Abroad Expert
Updated on Apr 29, 2022 18:18 IST

Vocabulary is the building block of a language. Without vocabulary, it is impossible to communicate and convey your thoughts and ideas. A strong vocabulary will help you in all the sections of the IELTS examListening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking. However, vocabulary is not an end in itself. You will need the knowledge of grammar and the skill of accuracy to convey your ideas correctly.

Scoring Criteria of IELTS Vocabulary

Before we try to understand the scoring criteria of IELTS vocabulary with the help of band descriptors, let us understand what exactly “high-level” words are.


The CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages) establishes a relationship between certain levels and IELTS band scores. The following chart will help you understand the comparison:


Now that you have understood the comparison between CEFR levels and IELTS band scores, let us understand their relevance in terms of vocabulary.

Whenever you come across a word that you do not know, you should search the same on the online Cambridge dictionary. Once you search the word, you will get to know which word is A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, or C2. Then you can compare that level with the IELTS band scores using the chart given above.

We have taken two words here: Picturesque and Dump. Note that the word Picturesque is a B2 level word, while the word Dump is a C2 level word.
What does this reveal? C1 and C2 words (band 8-9) are not necessarily long and complicated. It is more important for you to focus on the meaning of the sentences. Having a strong vocabulary is extremely important, but do not just forcefully use too many complicated words.

Evaluation of IELTS Vocabulary

The table given below has been taken from IELTS band descriptors and provides information about the scoring criteria of the IELTS Writing section, with respect to vocabulary:


Lexical Resource


  • Wide range
  • Natural
  • Rare minor errors


  • Wide range
  • Conveys precise meaning
  • Skillful use of uncommon words
  • Occasional inaccuracies in the choice of words and collocation
  • Rare errors in spelling


  • Sufficient range
  • Some awareness of collocation
  • Occasional errors in the choice of words, spellings, and word formation


  • Adequate range
  • Use of uncommon words with some inaccuracy
  • Some errors in spelling and word formation but no difficulty in conveying the meaning


  • Limited range
  • Noticeable errors
  • Some difficulty for the reader


  • Repetitive basic vocabulary
  • Errors cause difficulty for the reader


  • Very limited range
  • Severely distorted meaning


  • Extremely limited range
  • No control over word formation


  • Only few isolated words

The table given below has been taken from IELTS band descriptors and provides information about the scoring criteria of the IELTS Speaking section, with respect to vocabulary:


Lexical Resource


  • Full flexibility and precision
  • Natural and accurate


  • Wide vocabulary
  • Precise meaning
  • Skillful use of uncommon words
  • Paraphrasing


  • Flexible use
  • Use of uncommon words with some inappropriate choice
  • Paraphrasing


  • Wide enough vocabulary
  • Clear meaning despite some inappropriacies
  • Generally paraphrases successfully


  • Limited flexibility
  • Mixed success in paraphrasing


  • Can convey only basic meaning
  • Frequent errors
  • Rare paraphrasing


  • Simple vocabulary to convey personal information
  • Insufficient vocabulary for less familiar subjects


  • Isolated or memorized words

Importance of Vocabulary on the IELTS

  • On the Writing and the Speaking sections of the IELTS, a good vocabulary contributes to the following:
    • It comprises 25% of total marks on these sections.
    • It helps you covey your ideas in a coherent and easy-to-understand manner. Besides, it helps you carry on the discussion with the examiner.
  • On the Listening and the Reading section of the IELTS, a strong vocabulary helps you in the following:
    • It helps you understand what has been asked, and answer the question accurately.
    • On the Reading section, a strong vocabulary will give you an added advantage of quickly locating the correct answer using the technique of skimming.

Also Read: Best Resources for IELTS

IELTS Vocabulary Preparation Tips

  • Memorization of an entire booklet of words will not help you unless you know how to use those words. Working on your grammar, collocations, pronunciation, and meaning of sentences will fetch you a higher band than just memorizing random words.
  • Do not be misled by information that gives you “top 5 words” or “top 10 words”. You do not know whether these words will even fit the context. Secondly, you will be scored on the basis of your performance on the entire section and not just 5 or 10 words.
  • You should be focused on using correct, accurate, and appropriate words that fit the context. If you use “5 high-level C1 and C2” words with a flawed grammar and incorrect meaning, the examiner will be easily able to identify that you have memorized those words.
  • Improving your vocabulary takes time and it is an organic process where you improve every single day by putting-in constant efforts.
  • Resources:
    • Cambridge Vocabulary for IELTS: It is a comprehensive book which covers the entire content in a structured manner along with practice exercise at the end of each chapter.
    • IELTS Vocabulary Masterclass 8.5: This book contains an exhaustive list of words along with practice exercises. It also has an IELTS Listening and Reading mini-dictionary.
    • Read newspapers and articles related to common topics such as Education, Science, Technology, Business, Tourism, etc. Note the words that you do not understand, and find their meaning, synonyms, antonyms, usage, collocation, and the related grammar. You can maintain these words in a notebook or in e-format. It is not sufficient to just make a note of these words; you must periodically revise them as well.
    • Listen to podcasts: There are good podcasts available on Spotify. These podcasts will help you build a strong vocabulary base and contribute to your listening and speaking sections.

Sample IELTS Vocabulary List

  • Collocations for IELTS

Simply put; collocation means two or more words that are used together so that it sounds correct. E.g., ‘Breaking Benjamin released many hit albums’, rather than, ‘Breaking Benjamin published many hit albums’. Proper use of collocations will allow you to express your ideas more convincingly and coherently so that the native speakers can understand them. There is no logic behind it, either you know them or you don’t.

Other examples are:

    • Make: Make a choice, make a wish, make a point, make friends, etc.
    • Have: Have fun, have lunch, have dinner, have a shower, etc.
    • Keep: Keep moving, keep in touch, keep walking, etc.

There are various types of collocations:

    • Noun + Noun: e.g. Ceasefire Agreement
    • Noun + Verb: e.g. Plane took off
    • Adjective + Noun: e.g. excruciating pain
    • Adverb + Adjective: e.g. fully satisfied
    • Verb + Adverb: e.g. whispered softly
  • Idioms

An idiom is an expression that is not understood if the words are considered separately. Rather, it is understood if the words are taken together. Some idioms are given in the chart below:



Under the weather

To feel ill

Spill the beans

To reveal a secret

Break a leg

To wish someone luck

Sat on the fence


Beat around the bush

To avoid talking about what is actually important

Pull someone’s leg

To play a practical joke

Once in a blue moon


Come rain or shine

No matter what

Back against the wall

Stuck in a difficult situation

Jump on the bandwagon

To follow a trend

  • Phrasal Verb

Phrasal verbs are phrases that indicate action, e.g., abide by. Some phrasal verbs are given in the chart below:

Phrasal Verb


Abide by

To obey

Add up

To make sense

Agree with

Have a same opinion

Back down

To withdraw

Blow up

To get angry / To explode

Break into

To enter forcefully

Ease off

To become less severe

Get away

To escape

Get rid off

To remove/eliminate

Let down

To disappoint

  • Topic-wise List: We are providing some important words, related to certain topics, which you should be aware about. These will help you answer the questions on the given topics:
    • Art: Culture, Aesthetic, Portray, Performance, Connoisseur, Playwright
    • Business: Economy, Small-business, Business houses, Investments, Deficit, Business cycle
    • Education: E-learning, Online education, Curriculum, Discipline, Subjects, Graduate
    • Food: Culinary, Nutrition, Diet, Carbohydrates, Protein, Meal
    • Health: Medicine, Medication, Healthcare, Overweight, Underweight
    • Technology: Innovation, Development, Device, E-commerce, Information Technology, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning

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About the Author
Aprant Agarwal
Study Abroad Expert

Aprant has been involved in the field of education and research for more than 5 years. He has done his B.Tech after which he has done research in Chemical Reactor Design. He scored 700 on the GMAT. He also co-author... Read Full Bio


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