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

Does your English vocabulary affect your IELTS Reading score?

You have likely wondered how much uncommon vocabulary you need to understand on the Reading exam.

Today you’ll learn how to increase your Reading score and what vocabulary you need to understand to get the questions correct.

We’ll also share tips for the best way to memorize vocabulary.

Today’s question

We received a great question from a listener.

I don’t know how to improve my reading score. It’s a 6 and it’s really tough for me to memorize new words that I find from reading passages.


There are actually two separate questions here.

  • How to improve IELTS Reading scores
  • How to memorize new vocabulary

These questions are actually less related than you might think.

Today we’ll share why that is and answer both questions.

Question #1: How to improve reading scores

Increasing IELTS Reading scores is not just about learning vocabulary.

You do need a certain level of vocabulary.

However, IELTS will never demand specialized vocabulary knowledge to get the answers correct.

In fact, unfamiliar, rare vocabulary is often used as a distraction.

You won’t need to understand these words to get the answer correct.

Time-saving strategies

More important than highly specialized vocabulary is learning strategies that save time.

You only have an hour to answer 40 questions.

You need strategies like the ones that 3 keys IELTS students use.

They often score band 9 on the Reading exam!

Once you have these proven strategies, you will be able to find the answers in the passages.

Strategies Created By a Former Examiner

100% Score Increase Guarantee with our Insider Method

Are you ready to move past IELTS and move forward with your life vision?

Find out why our strategies are the most powerful in the IELTS world.

When you use our Insider Method you avoid the BIGGEST MISTAKES that most students make on IELTS.

Knowing question types

It’s also vital that you know the question types.

There are different strategies for different question types.

For some questions, the answers are found in order in the text.

For others, answers are not in order.

Sometimes you’re looking for main ideas so we teach you where to find those.

T/F/NG and Y/N/NG have very specific strategies.

Check out this recent episode for more details: IELTS Energy 1345: Everything You Need to Know for T/F/NG and Y/N/NG

You will need to be able to match parallel expressions.

This is where vocabulary is important, but if you are reading books and the news you are learning the vocabulary you’ll need.

Question #2: Memorizing new vocab

First, limit the number of words you’re adding to your vocabulary notebook.

If you are trying to learn long lists of vocabulary, you won’t grasp any of it.

Instead, add 3-4 words each time you read an article or a few pages of a novel.

Then, use the vocabulary you’re adding ASAP and often.

Write out sample answers using the vocabulary.

Use it in Task 1 and Task 2 essays.

Keep your vocabulary notebook updated

As you’re adding this vocabulary to your answers, make note of when you have learned it.

Remove words once they’re part of your active vocabulary.

This way, you always have a manageable list of vocabulary that you are learning.

It gives you room to continue adding new words.


You do need to be learning vocabulary for your score.

However, for IELTS Reading, time-saving strategies should be the focus.

You must practice these again and again.

When adding new vocabulary, you need to use these words again and again.

For all the strategies you need on test day, sign up for our online course 3 Keys IELTS!

What questions do you have from today’s episode?

Please leave a comment below.

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