The informal words below are best avoided in Academic IELTS. The neutral words are ‘fine’ for the Speaking module, but you really should learn the formal equivalents if you want to score highly in the Academic Writing module.
|Informal (Avoid)||Neutral (Spoken)||Formal (Written)|
|Kids (younger)||Babies, Children||Infants, Offspring|
|Kids (older)||Teenagers||Adolescents, Youths|
|Old people||Elderly people||Senior citizens, Retirees|
|-||Boss, Manager||Supervisor, Superior|
|OK, Alright||Fine||Acceptable, Satisfactory|
|Great, Awesome||Good||Preferable, Desirable|
|Rubbish, Useless||Bad, Poor||Unsatisfactory, Unacceptable|
|-||Nice, Polite||Considerate, Agreeable|
|-||Kind, Friendly||Sociable, Neighbourly|
|Nasty, Cheeky (person)||Rude, Impolite||Abusive, Disagreeable|
|Stupid, Crazy, Dumb (idea)||-||Misguided, Questionable|
|Stupid, Crazy, Dumb (person)||-||Misguided, Mistaken|
|-||Happy (person)||Satisfied, Delighted|
|-||Happy (situation)||Satisfying, Delightful|
|-||Sad (person)||Regretful, Distressed|
|-||Sad (situation)||Regrettable, Distressing|
|Sick of, Fed up with||Tired of||Dissatisfied with|
|-||Poor (country)||Developing, Poverty-stricken|
|-||Poor (person)||In poverty, Underprivileged|
|-||Rich (country)||Wealthy, Developed|
|-||Rich (person)||Wealthy, Privileged|
Contractions such as don’t are fine in IELTS Speaking but it is better to use do not in the Academic Writing module. Casual forms such as gonna and dunno should only ever be used in the Speaking test and NEVER in Writing.
Memorising set phrases for use in the IELTS test is a highly effective way of achieving a higher score. Try learning the following signposting language which will make you sound more confident and sophisticated when writing an opinion or argument essay in Task 2. As with our Task 1 useful language yesterday, for each function the language is graded approximately for level, from regular use (Bands 5-6) to higher-level use (Bands 7-9).
Introducing the topic
- Some people argue that…
- Have you ever considered… ?
- The question raises the issue of…
Stating an opinion (thesis statement)
- I believe that…
- It is my belief that…
- This essay will argue that…