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

There is a good chance you will need to describe numbers on the IELTS exam.

Questions about numbers and amounts are common on the Speaking exam.

They are also a given on Academic Task 1 essays.

You need high level vocabulary to discuss them.

Today’s episode is packed with vocabulary and advice that will get you the score you need on IELTS.

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Today’s question

One of our 3 Keys students posted a question in our Facebook group asking:

Is the modifier “A LOT OF” considered to be informal? Should it be avoided in essays?

It is quite informal.

Avoid using “a lot,” as there are many superior parallels.

For essays, use, “a considerable amount of,” or “a large amount of.”

Additionally, avoid much and many for count and uncount nouns.

These are common and boring.

There are many higher level synonyms!

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Synonyms for much and many

The following can all be used instead of “a lot.”

  • substantial
  • considerable
  • tremendous
  • enormous
  • massive
  • immense
  • gargantuan

A few synonyms are similar, but indicate very large numbers.

These are numbers that are too large to be counted.

  • an infinite amount of
  • countless

These are all interchangeable in front of the word ‘amount’.

Academic Task 1 Essays

Static essays will almost always require you to describe numbers.

We often see students use the word “huge” in essays.

This is also very common and boring.

Instead, use one from the list above.

Using an adjective like massive or gargantuan instead will boost your vocabulary score.

Dramatically vs. drastically

Another Facebook student posted the following question:

Can dramatically and drastically be used interchangeably?

Drastically has a negative connotation, while dramatically does not.

A drastic change almost always means numbers are going down or getting worse.

These are excellent words to use in Change Over Time essays.

Reserve dramatic/dramatically for increases and drastic/drastically for decreases.


You will likely need to describe numbers and amounts on IELTS.

This can come up on Speaking and Writing, especially on Academic Task 1.

Your adjectives must be accurate and high level.

Learn a few of today’s words so you are ready to describe numbers.

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Our first launch is available only to a limited number of students, so sign up today!

What questions do you have from today’s episode?

Please leave a comment below.

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