IELTS Writing: Lexical Resources

In today’s post, I’m writing about what you mean by high band vocabulary in IELTS. Many students misunderstand uncommon vocabulary and they start cramming those very difficult GRE word lists. However, IELTS is totally different from GRE test and the purpose of both tests are really different. So, those extremely difficult words are of no use here in IELTS examinations.

One of the four criteria that determine your final IELTS writing band score is Lexical Resources

What do you mean by Lexical Resources?

It is simply using a proper word or phrase in a proper position. This is simple and straight forward explanation of this criterion. However, still it is little vague for non-native speakers. In Writing, you’ve words to express what you feel and therefore you need strong words to state your position firmly. Therefore, your vocabulary should be formal enough so that the reader takes it seriously.

Use formal words:

What do you mean by formal words? In general, the shortest and usual common speaking words are informal kind of words. For example, think, get, lots of, kind of, sort of, etc.

These phrases are good for spoken English but they are terrible for English Writing.

Use synonyms:

When you’re asked to write a topic, you may need certain words more than once to stay on the topic. This clearly means that you’re likely to repeat some of those words. Your ability to not repeat certain words is known as Lexical Resources.

What can you do to not repeat words?

You can use synonyms or you can simply change the sentence structure so that you use noun instead of verb or adjective. Using different forms of a word is also a skill of higher band candidate. So, vary your language that way.

Use perfect collocation:

It is a normal error that sometimes students tend to misuse certain words, especially they use words in wrong context. In English, certain words go with certain words, and therefore it is very important that you learn most of the words in collocation. You can use some dictionaries which can explain you words in groups so that you learn them in proper phrases and not individually.

Here are two such excellent dictionary to use. I have searched for the word “mistake”.

You can see that this dictionary gives me certain words in bold letters.

“make a mistake”

“learn from your mistakes”

“great/serious/terrible mistake”

“common mistake”


Using “do a mistake” is incorrect here.

For example, I did a terrible mistake. is incorrect.

I made a terrible mistake is correct

Use words with such perfect collocation and you will be able to achieve your required band score. Big heavy words are not the best words but learning these simple collocation in a proper manner is very important.

Use words in proper connotation:

What do you mean by connotation? In English, although some words have similar meaning but they are usually used in a positive or negative sense. Hence, when you’re learning English words, make sure whether that particular word has any connotation?

Let’s take a simple word “slim” and “skinny”.

You probably know by now that these words are usually used to describe a girl with slim waist and slim body. However, the word “slim” has positive connotation whereas “skinny” has negative meaning associated with it.

So, when you’re criticising a girl for her thin body, you should be using “skinny” but as a complement, you might use “slim”

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