Use new words and phrases BEFORE the IELTS exam

How many times do you learn a new word or phrase and then think your work is done? How often do you look for the meaning of a word in the dictionary but never try to use the word yourself?

Most of my students agree that new vocabulary should be recorded in a notebook but none of them have a good strategy for what to do with the new vocabulary and phrases later.

Many of my students are under the impression that they will remember the different items of vocabulary or specific phrases when necessary – because they had made a note of them in their notebooks!!

Unfortunately, for most of us, learning a language is not as simple as this. We have to make a real effort to improve.

A strategy for learning vocabulary and phrases for the IELTS exam

This strategy is so obvious and simple that most students fail to do it. If an IELTS student starts to follow this strategy weeks or months before their IELTS exam, lots of “new” vocabulary will be ready for use on the day of the IELTS exam.

IELTS exam day is not the time to be trying to remember the useful vocabulary and phrases you learned six months earlier. You need this language “at your fingertips.”

  • record all useful vocabulary and phrases in a notebook or on your computer
  • select a word or phrase and make sure you know how to use it appropriately. Do you really know what it means?
  • try to use the word or phrase 10 times in different conversations or try to use it once a day for a week.
  • select a new word or phrase and do the same thing again

You can, of course, have three or four “active” words or phrases at any time. The secret is that you must really try to use them appropriately and regularly. This is the only way to learn them properly and make them instantly accessible to you in your IELTS exam.

Here’s a start:
At your fingertips

Did you notice that this is used above? It means to have something – in this case an item of the English language – available and accessible. This item is always ready to use.

It’s a good idea to have needed information at your fingertips if you are in a meeting.

Why don’t you try to use this phrase in conversation tomorrow? If you can use it a few times before your IELTS exam, it might come in useful in the interview. Imagine having lots of words and phrases at your fingertips.