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Improving your vocabulary score in IELTS Writing

In IELTS Writing Task 2, varied and correct vocabulary use is of extreme importance.

Season 1, episode 6
50 min / Published

Naturally, in IELTS Writing you want to showcase your range and make sure your word choices are varied, however these choices need to be contextually correct as well.

For this reason we will look at not only the preferred options to select, but in the process we will also dispel some common IELTS Writing misconceptions.

Show notes

Improving your vocabulary score in IELTS Writing

Anfred: Before I introduce my first EVER guest on my podcast – (Whoop-Whoop) I would like to take a moment to thank each and every one of the people who have (so far) listened and engaged with my content, especially the podcast. It does not go unnoticed and is appreciated SO much!

So, without further ado – let me get straight into the pedigree that is my guest today.
• He is Dutch, a proud graduate of the Erasmus University in Rotterdam, where he graduated with a degree in Business Administration.
• He holds both a CELTA and a Cambridge C2 Grade A- certification.
• His podcast (the link of which I will place in the podcast notes) https://cambridgeexamcoach.buzzsprout.com/ has received more than 25K downloads.
• His Facebook group (Cambridge English C1 / C2 Exam Daily Practice) https://bit.ly/ceccommunity (link in the same place) grows weekly by 30-40 people, organically (without paid advertising), I will have you know.

His Name is Kristian de Groot; a man I am proud to say has changed my perspective more than once in the last three months we have been speaking. Welcome my friend, thanks for agreeing to come on here and share with me (and our listeners) some of what you do, where you are headed and what your journey has been like!

Kristian: exchanging of pleasantries…

Anfred: We got to know each other through Paul Sallaway’s podcast, BabelTeq and hit it off straight away. Our collaboration has been an amazing revelation for me, I started understanding structured approaches, and diligently doing what is necessary every day to build an online coaching business.
Thank you for joining me on the podcast.
Can you give us your back-story and tell the listeners how you came to be where you are…

Kristian: Journey and other interesting bits and bobs

Anfred: Your journey sounds amazing and what even more exciting, is that I am learning new things about you by the second!
I have always wanted to ask this and now is as good a time as any, I guess… You are a non-native speaker (teacher) of English and I know that you have put a lot of work into your development.
Which hurdles did you face when improving your English and how did you overcome them?

Kristian: Answer and possibly engage with me as we go along

Anfred: Something that I’ve always found challenging is time management, how do you find time to prepare and in the same instance how do you recommend your students make time to practice?

Kristian: Answer

Anfred: Let’s move for a moment slightly past the initial prep and onto the pitfalls of the actual exam. In IELTS Writing Task 2, varied and correct vocabulary use is of extreme importance. Naturally, you want to showcase your range and make sure your word choices are varied, however these choices need to be contextually correct as well. For this reason we will look at not only the preferred options to select, but in the process we will also dispel some common misconceptions.

Firstly, we look at the use of “me” and “I” in your essay. I have heard on many occasions that candidates feel these words are too informal for a Task two essay. And while informality is to avoided at all cost, your Task two essay is not considered a piece of research writing, Most questions are phrased as statements that require your opinion and should therefore be answered directly. Consider using phrases like “I believe...”; “In my opinion...” and “I believe...”


Secondly, we focus on the use of “you” and “your”. While incorporating “I' and “me” in your task two essay is encouraged, the use of “you” and “your” is not.


The sentence, “People often say that you should not take a gap year after school”


This is too informal and it should rather read: ““People often say that one/young people should not take a gap year after school”


Lastly we look at one of the cornerstones of English native speak – idioms or expressions. When helping my students with their (speaking) fluency, idioms always for part of the lesson. The reason for this is that almost all native speakers use idioms when they speak. English provides us with an amazing range of expressions and English-speakers use these whenever they get an opportunity. In IELTS Speaking, these colourful expressions will ad amazing value yo your efforts, however where IELTS Writing is concerned, they are considered too informal.


So when the urge rolls around to use these expression, please consider their alternatives:

“to beat a round the bush” use instead “avoid addressing the main point”

“cost an arm and a leg” rather opt for “is really expensive” or “is rather costly”

Avoid writing “once in a blue moon” and use “rarely” in it's place.


Anfred: Now that I've mentioned the tips for the correct use of your word choices and how important a varied vocabulary is to IELTS Writing, let me ask you this one question, Kristian... Do you agree that reading is the fundamental cornerstone of vocabulary range expansion and vital to improving the quality of language learning?

Kristian: Answers

Anfred: Due to the lack of English speaking opportunities, I have had to think outside the box with some of my Asian students. I met with some reasonable success in terms of Chinese learners incorporating “watching tv, series and/or movies” with English subtitles into their “off line” ESL prep… what do you make of this?

Kristian: Answers



Anfred I have been making mention of the fact that there are tons of PDFs, videos and audio clips freely available online to help students prepare in terms of IELTS writing prep… Is it the same for Cambridge? And, more to the point, why would one even need a coach? (loaded question 😁)

Kristian: Brilliantly answers 🤣

Anfred : Well you heard it here first, folks! What a treat it has been sharing a stage with you today, my friend. Is there anything you would like to add, or had hoped I asked, but didn't?.

Kristian: Answers

Anfred: Thanks for taking the time to chat to us today Kristian, I wish you all the success in the world.

Thanks again for those who joined us and guys, just a reminder, all the links we mentioned today can be found in the show/podcast notes.

Don't forget to check out my Facebook group, IELTS Writing Coach.
Chat again REAL soon.


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