When doing the listening section of the IELTS test, having a wide ranging vocabulary that you know how to spell is crucial to getting a higher IELTS score. Here is some common vocabulary broken down by section of the listening test.
Basic vocabulary that you would have studied when first learning English is included in section 1 of the listening test.
1. Days of the week: Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday
Quick Tip: Wednesday is commonly misspelled.
2. Months of the year: January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December
Quick Tip: The first ‘r’ in February is often forgotten.
3. Shapes: circle, square, rectangle, triangle, cylinder
4. Transportation: automobile, truck, tractor, subway, aircraft, train
5. Colours: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, white, black, brown
Quick Tip: Colour spelled with a ‘u’ is the Canadian/British spelling. In the US, it is spelled ‘color’ without a ‘u’. Both are correct and a matter of preference.
6. Verbs: suggest, develop, borrow, persuade, discuss, review, concentrate, believe, crash
Quick Tip: Sometimes verbs are conjugated for gender, tense, etc. The difference could give you an incorrect answer.
7. Adjectives: beautiful, necessary, fantastic, comfortable, convenient, wonderful, terrible, temporary, permanent, knowledgeable, various
Numbers, times, and currencies also commonly appear in section 1 of the listening test. Recording the corresponding number or symbol is suggested because this will help eliminate the possibility of spelling the word incorrectly.
For example, thirty dollars is the same as $30 on the listening test. Also, six o’clock and 6:00 are the same as well. Finally, ten thousand and 10,000 are also both correct. Writing the number or symbol allows you to feel confident in your answer.
In section 2 of the IELTS listening test, there are a variety of question types. For example, some questions involve maps so there is vocabulary that may be helpful to know.
1. Rooms in buildings: kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, living room, dining room, den, library, gymnasium, cafeteria, classroom, waiting room
2. Place markers: street, road, avenue, lane, drive, court
There is some vocabulary you should be listening for, but may not have to write down when doing a map question in section 2, which will allow you to follow the map more easily.
3. Directions: north, south, east, west, up, down, right, left, straight, across from, between, beside, diagonal, corner
Being familiar with academic related vocabulary may be helpful for section 3.
1. School terms: presentation, project, teamwork, pairs, organization, outline, proofreading, experiment, reference, lecture, assessment, tutor, attendance, specialist, knowledge, faculty, bachelor’s, schedule, management, leadership, questionnaire, statistic, percentage, laboratory
Quick Tip: North Americans pronounce ‘laboratory’ in three syllables: lab-bra-tory. British english speakers pronounce the same word using four syllables: lab-or-a-tory.
2. Subjects in school: Mathematics, Science, English, Physical Education, Art, Music
3. Subjects in university: Commerce, Biology, Psychology, Engineering, Marketing, Sociology, Physics, Chemistry, History, Geography, Architecture, Law, Philosophy, Economics
The vocabulary used is still words that are common knowledge even though section 4 is the most difficult section. There could be a range of topics as section 4 is also based on academics. Here is some vocabulary that is frequently used.
1. Health: vegetarian, leisure, disease, vitamin, protein, carbohydrates, exercise, treatment
2. Animals and their habitat: mammals, reptile, primates, predators, prey, mountain, jungle, forest, island, pond, river, stream
3. Continents and Countries: North America, South America, Asia, Africa, Europe, Antarctica, Australia, Oceania, England, Canada, China, United Kingdom, Germany, Mexico, Switzerland
4. Environment: global warming, disaster, earthquake, tornado, blizzard, hurricane, pollution, temperature, drought
5. Government: politics, senator, mayor, laws, regulations, senate, president, society
Quick Tip: The word ‘society’ is one of the most commonly misspelled words on the IELTS test.
6. General: appointment, cooperation, employment, government, exhibition, occupation, aluminum, century, decade, millennium, individual, creativity, guarantee, satellite, opportunity, license, frequently, calendar, different
Quick Tip:The words ‘government’ and ‘different’ are two of the most commonly misspelled words on the IELTS test. Also, ‘aluminum’ is pronounced with four syllables in North American english: a-lu-min-num. It is pronounced with five syllables in British english: al-u-min-i-um.
To help you feel confident in the listening section as well as the rest of the IELTS test, try to be knowledgeable on a variety of topics and have a good range of vocabulary to discuss those topics.
Related IELTS Resources
Take a practice test to find out what is your current weakness in terms of IELTS scale and allow more time to improve your weak spots. The following IELTS resources will help you to develop your skills faster: