Don’t let spelling mistakes hurt your vocabulary score!

Today we share some commonly misspelled words to watch out for.

We also give you tips that will help you avoid these mistakes on test day!

Unfortunately, spelling does affect your Vocabulary scores.

Any errors in spelling pull down that score and can keep you from getting 7+.

Today, we share strategies to help you avoid this pitfall!

For every strategy you need, sign up for 3 Keys IELTS today!

Don’t spell phonetically!

We see a lot of spelling mistakes as we correct essays and provide students with feedback.

Many errors are caused by student spelling a word phonetically.

In other words, they’re writing it the way it sounds.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t always work in English!

Many words are not spelled how they sound!

What is more, many words break spelling rules.

Instead, they are spelled in an irregular way.

The best way to improve spelling

Believe it or not, the best way to improve your spelling is by reading!

As you read, you see words spelled correctly.

This is the fastest way to improve your overall spelling.

You can’t be a passive reader, however.

Pay attention to the spelling of the words you are reading.

Keep your brain engaged so you retain this information!

A good tip is to read something you find very interesting!

This way, it is not difficult to stay engaged!

#1: Cease and seize

A Task 2 essay Aubrey corrected recently was on the following topic:

As online shopping becomes more popular, will retail stores still be necessary?

The student wrote a very high level sentence:

  • Incorrect: “…face-to-face shops will seize to exist.”

Did you catch the error?

The student intended to use the verb “cease.”

  • cease: to stop

However, they wrote a word that sounds very similar.

  • seize: to take, grab or capture

#2: Extent and extend

The spelling of these words is so similar!

Only one letter is different.

However, the meaning is very different.

The student’s sentence was as follows:

“… the boundaries of imagination, to a certain extend, and…

What the student meant to write was “to a certain extent,” which is a very high level phrase!

  • to a certain extent: somewhat, partially

This is an excellent phrase to use whenever sharing the idea that something isn’t complete.

It is only existing or happening partially, rather than fully.

However, be sure to avoid this spelling error!

Extend has a totally different meaning!

  • extend: to lengthen

#3: Judgements

This is a very tricky word, as you have likely seen it spelled multiple ways!

One reason for this is that it is accepted and correct to spell it both with and without the “e.”

  • Judgment
  • Judgement

However, we often see students omit the “d.”

  • Incorrect: Likewise, jugments about this issue…

This is not accepted or correct.

Rather, this error happens because a student is spelling the word phonetically.

The “d” sound is silent, and therefore you may leave it off if you spell it how it sounds.

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#4: Multi-faceted

This is a very high-scoring vocabulary word.

It can be useful for many different IELTS Writing topics.

Additionally, it can be used to answer a multitude of different Speaking questions.

Therefore, you should definitely add it to your notebook!

However, be careful not to spell it phonetically.

We see students misspell it with an “s” instead of a “c.”

  • Incorrect: Likewise, judgments about this issue are multi-faseted.

This word is useful because it means there are many sides to an issue.

This is an idea often expressed on IELTS.

This issue is multi-faceted, with individuals holding a plethora of varying opinions.

Commonly misspelled words

We often see the following words spelled incorrectly.

  • comfortable
  • specifically
  • February
  • Wednesday

IELTS will intentionally have words like these be answers on the Listening exam to try to trip you up!

The root of the problem is students are spelling the words phonetically.

They are spelling them how they sound.

Unfortunately, you can’t always “sound out” English words to spell them correctly.

What is the solution?

Be intentional about improving your spelling.


As you read, pay attention to spelling.

There are many other activities that can boost your spelling skills.

Turn on the subtitles on movies and TV shows.

Read them as you watch the show.

Notice the spelling.

Follow along on the transcripts for podcasts.

While listening to an audio book, follow along with the printed book.


There are a myriad of ways to improve your spelling.

The best way is to see words written as often as possible!

While reading and listening to English, pay attention to spelling.

Be aware that words in English can’t always be spelled phonetically.

Avoid this trap students often fall into by resisting the urge to spell words as they sound.

Instead, pay attention to the spelling of words.

Make sure you know how to spell any word you use on the IELTS exam!

For more strategies, sign up for our online IELTS course, 3 Keys IELTS!

What questions do you have from today’s episode?

Please leave a comment below.

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