« IELTS Listening: synonyms | Main | IELTS Writing Task 1: students' questions »

Wednesday, August 15, 2018


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

HI Simon

I Found your site a month ago.It's really helpful.Thank you for you work!

I have a question:It's too difficult for me to read the IELTS Reading passages because of too many new words.Should I memorise some lists of words such as AWL? If not how could I improve?


Hi simon
How could we practice writing manners correctly to prepare ourselves better for IELTS ?
For instance , writing small paragraphs about different topics and using related vocab in a day is what I consider as a good way . What's ur suggestions ?

Hi Everyone here,

Anyway, the obsession with particular things is an inherent habit in human beings..

Simon :)
Your advice always reminds me what to do. thank you again!

@ hanna

It is curious: you are struggling to read IELTS texts, yet your posting sounds very natural and the grammar is good, so yes, maybe it is just a vocabulary issue.

There are no short-cuts or quick results with vocabulary. So it pays to find reading material that interests you and sustains your motivation. That might be novels, or something relating to your work or study area, or sport or hobby.

The Longman dictionary clearly shows which words to learn. For example: "handsome" is marked "W3", and so is among the top 3000 words in written English. There is also the comment: "In everyday English, people usually say good-looking rather than handsome". "Good-looking" itself is marked "S2" among the top few thousand spoken words. https://www.ldoceonline.com/dictionary/handsome
Just knowing the meaning is not enough. For these top words, you need to be able to use them naturally and accurately.

I would not advocate learning words from a list. I would suggest that you read a variety of short newspaper articles and other material which provide a range of vocabulary, and gradually build up your knowledge, and include lots of listening, as this recycles many words quickly.

If you manage to retain fifty words a week, you are doing exceptionally well: so there is a long way to go.

@ hanna

If you can find yourself a study partner, here is one way to work at vocabulary. First, you both read the same article or material, about a page. Then each pick out a few useful words, and without mentioning the word explain just the meaning and usage. Your partner should be able to guess the word.


"First, you both read the same article or..."

that is a great vocabulary exercise actually. i like that.

"Instead of always learning new words, try to become BETTER AT USING the words you already know" - easily the best piece of advice of the year!

"Do more reading"

i completely agree with you.
but it is extremely difficult to find clear, valuable, understandable reading materials on internet.

your website is easy to understand and good guide for preparation. but i could not find neither a website nor document like your writing style.

most of ielts websites/documents on internet have been written by non-natives and contain crucial errors even can be noticed by language learner like me.

@ rüknettin

One approach is to use material that has been professionally edited, such as books and newspapers. The material on wikipedia is usually sound too. For example (on the recent topic of parenting skills):



Simon's is virtually the only website that I have found to provide consistently well-written, focused and accurate model answers for IELTS. The only corollary would be that of course Simon's approach is but one of a number of possible ways to respond to any given question. But for exam purposes, it pays to stick to whatever sound method that you have practiced.

Everything you need to know is on Wikipedia!

Hi Gabi

Your advice and the website you gave are useful. Thank you.

I worry that reading newspapers etc to learn new words is slow. I only have 4 months to prepare.

what else can I do to progress quicker?


@ hanna

In your shoes, I would work my way back through everything on this site, using the 'Categories' and "Archives" in the left-hand sidebar menu.

At the same time I would fill my head with English 24/7 by listening on to English an iPod/to English radio/films or by singing along to English songs in the car, and also get whatever speaking practice is available.

Hi Simon

I followed your website and it's really awesome. I got my result yesterday and got the perfect score needed.R-9, L-8.5, W-7 & S -7.
Just wanted to say thank you for the amazing work you are doing.
I am really glad I found your website. I couldn't find the place where I could post my result and say thanks to you, so commenting here :)
Thank you Thank you Thank you so much


i personally think you should (if u have 4 months left before the exam and want to get a good score in reading) focus on reading only official IELTS materials (since they are the most reliable english texts where you can find the most useful ielts reading vocabualary) and write down and learn every single phrase that contains the word/s unfamiliar to you.




Wow! congratualtions!

Gabi and shokhrukh

Thank you! your suggestions are helpful.

"try to become better at using the words you already know" - i think this advice is also the most relevant

i personally believe that ielts candidates universally get much higher scores in reading and listening ( which are relatively passive skills) than they do in speaking and writing mainly because of their disproportionately larger passive vocabulary., which essentially means that an average english-learning student can't use most of the words he/she knows

Exactly right shokhrukh!


Congratulations Preet. Great scores!

I bet, many people did not learn their mother language with a bunch of "word list" given to them by their parents or from their guardians.

You learn it through constant conversation and practice.

Exactly right Yves!

Exactly! I have 8k learned words in memrise app, but I still have difficulties in writing. That explains everything. Learn collocations, not words. Also take time to watch Stephen Krashen's videos about comprehensible input.


Good advice. Maybe you can see the influence of Stephen Krashen's ideas in the way I teach!

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)