Jessica Beck
"Director of IELTS Training"

Today we’ll discuss formal idioms for IELTS Writing Task 2 to increase your vocabulary score!

This article was written by a former IELTS Examiner so you can be sure you are getting the right advice.

Usually, idioms are considered informal, and, thus, are not appropriate to use in our Academic Writing. To score high on Writing, you need to know what words are appropriate and what words are not.

However, we also know that in order to secure a 7 or higher for Vocabulary in IELTS Writing, you must utilize “less common phrases,” with an “awareness of style and collocation.

Formal idioms satisfy those requirements!

5 Formal Idioms for IELTS Essays

#1: A means to an end– a way of achieving a goal

  • Example: Raising taxes is just a means to an end. Although citizens may initially express dissatisfaction with allocating more of their income to the government, increased revenue would mean the nation could provide healthcare for all, which leads to a happier and more productive society.

#2: If you will– This phrase can be used when asking the reader to do something

#3: Ill-gotten gains– money/profits which were obtained unfairly, or, even, illegally

  • Example: I would posit that the profits made by institutions from international students are ill-gotten gains. Foreign pupils should not be asked to pay a higher sum than local individuals.

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#4: In droves– a large amount gathering very quickly, usually describing people

#5: Since time immemorial– something has been happening for an extremely long time

  • Example: Since time immemorial, children have wished they could be more like adults. However, this wish revolves around the freedom they perceive their elders as having, not the responsibilities. 


What can you do next to make sure you implement these tips on your IELTS test?

Choose two idioms you find interesting and want to use. Add them to your vocabulary notebook.

In the next 5 essays you practice for IELTS, try to find a way to include these high-scoring, impressive phrases!

Sign up now for 3 Keys IELTS to get a complete study plan and strategies created by a former IELTS Examiner. Go here to enroll.

Which idiom from today’s article is your favorite?

Share your choice, and an example sentence, in the comments section below!

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