I’ve been teaching IELTS since 2010 and have run this website since 2016 and in all that time the most common thing people want to know is how to learn IELTS vocabulary.

To be honest, I don’t believe there is such as thing as IELTS vocabulary and that’s what I always tell people. IELTS is an English test and so you just need to learn English! However, people don’t like to hear that.

My best advice about learning IELTS vocabulary is to look at common IELTS topics (like education, technology, the environment, health, etc) and then read lots of articles on those subjects. By doing that, you will naturally encounter new words, which you can look up and learn. I have a great guide to effective vocabulary learning here.

I also try to produce sample answers for both speaking and listening questions and whenever I do that, I highlight useful words and phrases. That’s another good way to learn IELTS vocabulary.

Still, since people are quite insistent upon learning vocabulary for IELTS and they seem to believe that there is a big list of necessary words, then I will try to make one below! Keep in mind, though, that none of those is really required. These are just some words that might be useful in certain contexts. I will group them by topic, which I think is the best way to learn.

IELTS Vocabulary

Education Vocabulary

  • Certification
  • Course
  • Curriculum (plural: curricula)
  • Distance learning
  • Extracurricular
  • Freshmen
  • Lecturer
  • Module
  • Qualification
  • Semester
  • Technical college
  • Tertiary education
  • Tutorial

You can learn more in this extensive guide to the IELTS topic of education.


  • Carbon dioxide
  • Climate change
  • Emissions
  • Fossil fuels
  • Global warming
  • Greenhouse gases
  • Hydropower
  • International cooperation
  • Nuclear power
  • Pollution / pollutants
  • Sea level rise
  • Solar power
  • Smog
  • Sustainability

You can learn more about the environment in this article.


  • Calories
  • Carbohydrates (informal: carbs)
  • Cuisine
  • Ethically sourced
  • Fair-trade
  • Fast food
  • Gluten
  • Health food
  • Protein
  • Raw
  • Saturated fats
  • Vegan
  • Vegetarian

I have a lesson on food here. You can find out how to talk about restaurants here.


  • Alternative treatments
  • Cardiovascular
  • Diabetes
  • Emergency room
  • Healthcare
  • Healthcare provider
  • Health service
  • Mental health
  • Obesity  
  • Patient
  • Preventative treatment
  • Unhealthy
  • Vaccinations
  • Well-being

There is much more about the topic of health here.


  • Blockchain
  • Cloud computing
  • Cryptocurrency
  • Device
  • Digitisation
  • Download
  • Hacking
  • Livestream
  • Social media
  • Streaming
  • Tablet
  • Upload
  • VPN

There’s much more about technology in this article. You can also watch this video lesson for more IELTS vocabulary related to technology.


  • 9-to-5 job
  • Career advisor
  • Commute
  • Customer service
  • Industrial action
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Management
  • Negotiation
  • Office job
  • Payroll
  • Résumé
  • Salary
  • Training session
  • Working from home
  • Zoom call

Words to Avoid in IELTS

So far, I’ve listed lots of potentially useful IELTS vocabulary (although remember that there’s no such thing – these are just words you might find helpful!) but now I want to share a few words that you really ought to avoid or at least use with extreme caution.

People who follow this blog and also my social media channels will know that I loathe the word “plethora.” It can be used correctly, but a really awful IELTS teacher from India has promised her millions of followers that using it will magically get them a band 8! As a result, this has become a bit of an IELTS cliché. I’ve written about this and other words here.

I also have a video about IELTS phrases that should be avoided:

Here’s a short list of some that you need to avoid or be careful with:

  • Citizen
  • Demerit
  • Illustrate
  • Individual
  • It cannot be denied…
  • Myriad
  • Plethora
  • Recapitulate

Just as there is no such thing as “IELTS vocabulary,” but rather a whole language you should try to master, even these words can be used correctly. In my experience, however, having marked over 20,000 IELTS essays, I find them to be used incorrectly in most cases.

Remember this advice as we finish this article on IELTS vocabulary:

Don’t try to impress the examiner with advanced words. Instead, aim for accuracy.

That’s the best advice I can give you and, if you follow it and study hard, you should get a great score for Lexical Resource.