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

Is your vocabulary diverse and deep enough to score a 7 or higher on your next IELTS Exam?

To get ready for your test, you need to practice parallel expressions.

Today Aubrey and Jessica will give you two simple and easy activities to improve your knowledge of parallel expressions so that you can score high on your next test.

Have you ever felt over it?

After several days of hiking near Zion National Park, Aubrey’s children were “over it” and ready to go home!

  • Over it: all motivation or desire for something has left and you do not want to do it anymore.

This phrase is used all the time by native speakers, and is a great one to add to your vocabulary notebook as you prepare for the IELTS exam.

Here are some ways it can be used in a sentence:

  • Last weekend my friend and I went for a hike, but after ten miles I was over it! I was ready to go back to the car and go get hot chocolate.
  • We were on a date and he kept checking his cell phone. I thought, “I’m over it!” and I stood up and left.

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Strategies to keep parallel expressions from throwing you off

On test day, if you come across a word you don’t know, don’t let it derail you!

  • Derail: when a train is removed or ejected from its rails. This idiom is used to refer to something that confuses or removes you from your expected path.

It can happen that you are looking for a word like “fair” and the test has the parallel expression “equitable.”

Even if you are watching for parallel expressions, you may not be familiar with the word equitable, and you might miss it.

If that happens, come back to the strategies!

  • Don’t panic!
  • Don’t let that one miss take you out of the whole exam!
  • Keep your mind open to parallel expressions.

You may not have learned the word “equitable”, but if you know the prefix “equi” means fair or equal, you could still recognize it as a synonym.

Look for prefixes and suffixes that will give you a clue about a word’s meaning.

Be aware of the upcoming words to look for so that if you see one of them, you know you missed something!

This can help keep you from getting lost during the Listening Exam.

A Facebook group member’s question

One of the members of our 3 Keys IELTS Success System Community recently shared a struggle he had with the Listening section of the IELTS exam.

He faced a problem where he couldn’t find parallel expressions and keywords.

As a result, he found himself spending too much time looking for key words and answers.

This is a common experience!

  • If you’re looking at a problem for more than a minute, skip it.
  • Don’t just stare at a word! That won’t help you understand it.

Use a thesaurus!

We have given you a lot of useful synonyms, but there are so many more out there!

  • Plug words into a thesaurus website and look at the synonyms
  • Choose the more common words that you have heard before
  • Add two synonyms to your vocabulary journal

Be aware that some of the synonyms provided by a thesaurus may have different connotations.

If you know a native speaker, ask them which synonyms make the most sense in different situations.

Paraphrase headlines and sentences

As you are reading in English, change all the nouns and verbs to another word with the same meaning.

If you see in an article a sentence like:

  • A spokesperson for the police told ABC in a statement that they had been investigating a burglary.

Reword it to say:

  • A representative for the authorities gave ABC information that they were looking into a robbery.

If you run into a word you don’t know, look it up in the thesaurus and write down two synonyms.

Bonus benefits from these activities

Not only will you start recognizing parallel expressions more easily, you will get some extra perks.

  • It’s exercise for your brain!
  • Stretch it out and give it some flexibility.
  • These activities will help you start thinking in English, so you can stop translating everything from your native language.
  • It’s a fun challenge!

Homework assignment for 3 Keys IELTS students!

We want to read your parallel expression headlines!

  • Paraphrase a few headlines.
  • Choose one to post to the 3 Keys IELTS Success System Community Facebook page. You need to be in our course to do this.

Get creative! We are excited to read what you come up with!

If you’re not a 3 Keys student yet, what are you waiting for?! Sign up for the 3 Keys IELTS Success System today!


It is easy to get thrown off by parallel expressions on IELTS if you are unprepared.

Use our 3 Keys strategies and these two activities to give yourself an arsenal of synonyms!

Let us know in the comments below.

What questions do you have from today’s episode?

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