Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"
Jessica Beck
"Director of IELTS Training"

Today you will learn 4 IELTS proverbs to use on your next Speaking and Writing Exams to increase your scores.

Recently, a student asked us about whether or not he should use proverbs on the IELTS Exam.

Proverbs are a type of idiom that carry moral lessons within them.

These can be used anywhere on the Speaking Exam, and are also really excellent ways to conclude an IELTS Task 2 essay.

When the goin’ gets tough, the tough get goin’

This is informal, so it is appropriate for speaking, but not writing.

Note the native speaker pronunciation here!

Meaning: When the situation is really difficult, you get even more motivated and succeed.

You could use this to talk about anything difficult that you pushed through to achieve something, such as your English studies!

This proverb carries a real American spirit vibe to me, as in the power of the individual to face big challenges and achieve.

The movie Rudy shows this proverb.


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Fortune favors the bold

This can be used in speaking and writing.

Meaning: Success is due to hard work, being bold, and not just luck.

This also feels inherently American to me, but other native speakers would use this as well.

No man is an island

This is also appropriate for speaking and writing.

This could easily fit into Speaking Part 3 answers about culture, traditions, society and family values.

Meaning: You need help from others in life to succeed. You can’t do it all by yourself.

This is an opposite view to the previous proverbs.

An example of this is in raising children, when we say it takes a village (another proverb/idiom!). To raise a well-rounded child, we need teachers, coaches and other adult role models that also teach and help in child-rearing.

Don’t burn your bridges

This also fits in speaking and writing answers.

Meaning: Don’t make someone angry at you because you might need them later.

For example, when you leave your job, you don’t want to totally cut off those people and that network. Down the road, you may find those people helpful.

A great image of this is in the movie Jerry McGuire.

What proverbs do you have in your language?

Translate them into English and share them in the comments section below!


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