15 Words to avoid in IELTS Writing

Right usage of words is very important when it comes to IELTS writing. One of the reasons is that, it is preferred to use only formal English throughout the writing session unless your task is to write an informal letter in general writing.

15 Words To Avoid In IELTS Writing

1. A couple of

This phrase is another instance of a daily usage that is rather informal.

For example, The incident happened a couple of days ago.

One could rather use, A few/several.

For example, The incident happened several days ago.

2. Very

This again is a word that is often used to show the intensity of a situation. It quite often can be replaced by another word. A few examples are:

1. Very tired – Exhausted

2. Very small – Tiny

3. Very cold – Freezing

4. Very weak – Feeble

5. Very interesting – Fascinating

6. Very scared- Petrified, Terrified

7. Very important : Crucial

8. Very clear : Obvious

3. Kind of/sort of

This phrase is often used to make statements that is rather not conclusive or even doubtful.

For example, It’s kind of a tricky situation.

It can be replaced with to some extent/to some degree/to an extent.

For example, The situation is tricky to an extent.

4. Lots of

This particular usage is not just informal, but an incorrect usage. For example, lots of puppies

Should be replaced with A lot of. For example, A lot of puppies

5. You/Your

Another word to avoid while attempting IELTS formal writing test is the second person pronoun ‘you/your’.

For example, You can clearly see that, It is to be replaced by
One can clearly see that/ It is evident.

6. In a nutshell

This is an everyday usage which is informal English and it is used when you are summarising or concluding.

For example, In a nutshell, the presentation was interesting.

Due to the importance is formal language in IELTS writing, using in conclusion/to conclude/to summarize would fetch you better score in IELTS.

For example, To summarize the discussion, it is evident that their policy had little effect on the economy.

7. Abbreviations

There are several abbreviations that we use in our day to day lives that must be avoided during a formal writing test.

A few examples are:

Phone – Telephone

Photo – Photograph

Fridge – Refrigerator

Info – Information

8. Out of the hand/to get out of hand

This is one of the many colloquial expressions that is commonly used. For example, The situation is out of the hand.

It can be replaced with no longer in control/uncontrollable/no longer under control.

For example, The situation is no longer under control.

9. Since the dawn of time

This is seen to be used quite often at the beginning of the text. Here, this is more of a creative approach than a formal one.

It can be replaced with ever since/since time immemorial/since the beginning.

10. To get

This is not an incorrect usage. However, if one is aiming for a higher band score, it is suggested to use synonyms so as to showcase one’s vocabulary.

For example, ‘to get a degree’ can be replaced with to ‘obtain/to receive’ . It will be an honour to receive a degree from this university.

Note : In such cases, it is advised to replace a phrasal verb with a verb such as the one shown above.

A few examples are:

Find out/found out : Discovered

Think about : Consider

Look at : Examine

Point out : Indicate

Get out : Escape

11. Show

Like the same as the above, synonyms can be used to fetch a better score.

For example, ‘the map shows’ can be replaced with illustrate/exhibit/demonstrate. The map illustrates the population in terms of percentages.

12. Quick

He quickly agreed to’ can be replaced with immediate/prompt.

For example, He immediately agreed to the proposition.

Note : It is often seen that people use the word ‘fastly’
This is an incorrect usage and should be replaced with any of the usages above.

13. As soon as possible

This commonly used phrase is an informal way of enforcing a statement or instruction.

For example, Send the data as soon as possible.

Formal writing will necessitate the replacement of the phrase with at the earliest/at the earliest convenience.

For example, Kindly send the data at the earliest convenience.

14. Bad

Again, this is not an incorrect usage, but we have better usages.

For example, ‘a bad result’ is recommended to be replaced with Poor/disappointing/negative result.

For example,

He produced a poor result despite all the hard work.

The match ended with a disappointing result.

15. Can’t/won’t/isn’t/shouldn’t/let’s (contractions)

Contractions are shortened version of with of words, syllable, or word groups, created by omission of letters and sounds. Ideally, these versions are not taken in as a formal way of communication especially when it comes to written form of communication.

The original (non shortened) version is strongly advised to be used.

Can’t – Cannot

Won’t – Will not

Isn’t – Is not

Shouldn’t – Should not

Let’s – Let us

The list can go longer, as most non – native speakers have acquired similar words or is used to applying these learned phrases. But as this is an English proficiency test it is highly recommended that the proper usage of words or phrases is ensured for a higher band score.

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  • firoz
    Posted at 05:57h, 05 April Reply

    really useful

  • Hassan
    Posted at 05:59h, 05 April Reply

    Thank you very much, its really interesting

  • shafi
    Posted at 06:00h, 05 April Reply

    Very helpful information.

  • Mustapha
    Posted at 06:03h, 05 April Reply

    Thanks a lot, we appreciate

  • Akash
    Posted at 06:05h, 05 April Reply

    Thank you so much. Very helpful tips.

  • mahajuba
    Posted at 06:06h, 05 April Reply

    Thank you! This is really helpful!

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