Aubrey Carter
"3 Keys IELTS Certified Coach"
Jessica Beck
"Director of IELTS Training"

Use caution with today’s idioms.

They are insults that could hurt someone’s feelings!

However, they are perfect for IELTS Speaking.

They are guaranteed to make the Examiner laugh.

Idiomatic language like this is required for a 7+ on your Speaking Vocabulary score.

These idioms can push your Vocab score up to band 9!

This is because students don’t use them, so they are very high level.

What is an insult?

This is when you are mean to someone.

It is something said to intentionally offend or hurt feelings.

Insults criticize someone in a mean, cruel way.

Some comedians are ‘insult comics’ and specialize on insulting the audience.

Therefore, you’ll want to be careful to not use these in a way that will get you into trouble!

When will you describe people on IELTS?

On Speaking Part 1, you often need to describe people.

  • Yourself
  • Friends
  • Family members

Speaking Part 2 directly asks you to describe something, and it’s often a person.

Even on Speaking Part 3, you may need to describe individuals.

  • Politicians
  • Celebrities
  • World leaders

#1: A face only a mother could love

This means someone is not attractive.

You think they are not good-looking.

It is not a kind thing to say to someone.

We often use it jokingly or tongue-in-cheek.

I know I wasn’t born classically beautiful.

Some might say I have a face only a mother could love!

However, I make up for it with my stellar brain!

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#2: Drive me up the wall

This is an idiom for being bothered or annoyed.

My kids are driving me up the wall!

There are always questions in Speaking Part 1 about what you like and dislike.

  • Do you prefer spending time with one friend or a large group of friends?

I definitely prefer hanging out with one friend.

When people talk over each other, it drives me up the wall!

#3: Big-headed

Use this to describe someone egotistical.

They think they are talented or very good at something.

There are a few fun idioms for thinking you are amazing or the best at something.

  • Best thing since sliced bread
  • Cat’s pajamas
  • Bee’s knees

She was a bit big-headed and bragged she would win the contest.

Surprisingly, she came in second place!

#4 To have a short fuse

This means you get angry quickly.

You have a tendency to lose your temper.

My reservoir of patience is quite small, so sometimes I have a short fuse.

  • Blow up at someone: idiom for yelling at someone

This could be used whether or not it’s true.

If you’re asked abotu your work or family.

I love my boss, but there are times that he has a short fuse.

He can blow up pretty easily, especially at the end of the quarter!

Why do you need to know idioms?

Idiomatic language is required by the IELTS Speaking scoring system.

It is under the Vocabulary category.

Students must use idiomatic language to score 7+.

Idioms, native sayings and phrasal verbs are all idiomatic language.

These are expressions that natives say commonly, which are nonsensical when you consider the actual meaning of the words.

You must practice using these to score 7+ on Speaking!


Idiomatic language is necessary to score 7+ on the IELTS Speaking vocabulary score.

Today’s idioms are perfect for describing a person.

Choose one or two of today’s phrases.

Add them to your vocabulary notebook!

Practice using them out loud!

Just make sure not to use these to insult or offend someone!

For more IELTS strategies, sign up for 3 Keys IELTS!

What questions do you have from today’s episode?

Please leave a comment below.

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