The IELTS test does test your vocabulary and in fact 25% of the total marks in the Speaking and Writing sections covers vocabulary. While this is a general observation, it is also true that the Listening and Reading sections also test vocabulary. It is important to note that vocabulary is not so much about the use of fancy/rare words but about the use of appropriate words that communicate the context effectively.
In the Reading section, the words and phrases mentioned in the text are paraphrased in the questions which will require you to understand their usage. Let us take a look at the examples:
|Words/phrases used in questions||Words/phrases used in text|
|Civil calendar||Municipal calendar|
|Months were in equal length||12 months of 30 days|
|Divided the day into two equal halves||Split the day into two 12-hour periods|
|A new cabinet shape||A new floor-standing case design|
|To organize public events||To co-ordinate community activities|
HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR VOCABULARY?
Improving vocabulary is not something that you can achieve overnight. The earlier you start practicing, the better it will get. Here are a few tips for your reference:
- Look for new words in your everyday activities – like when you read the newspaper, watch a movie, listen to someone speaking; watch out for those words you may have not heard before. And when you do, do not jump into the dictionary right away. Take time to infer the meaning of the word from the context in which it was used and then cross check with the dictionary if you got it right. If not, just add it to your list of new words along with its meaning.
- List out all the new words in a notebook with their meanings, synonyms, collocations, antonyms, and pronunciation.
- Mnemonics are a good way to practice and learn new words. Use the unfamiliar words frequently in your speech or writing for as long as they don’t register in your memory and ultimately you will find them becoming a part of your vocabulary.
The above mentioned tips might be time-taking but they are time-tested. It comes with the assurance of an improved vocabulary and an elevated confidence to take the IELTS. Besides, there are several books and online resources that help you build your vocabulary.
WHAT YOU SHOULD NOT DO
Making a long list of words and trying to memorize them would be a sure-shot recipe for disaster. Memorizing complicated words may help you use them but if they are contextually incorrect you may lose marks. Therefore, it is important that you learn to use the words appropriately in the right context.
It is said that the human mind can register 15 new words per day in a foreign language. Therefore, start building your vocabulary slowly but steadily, so that when the time comes for the actual test, you pass with flying colors!