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

Are there words that are inappropriate or offensive that should be avoided on the IELTS exam?

Oh my gosh, yes!

Today we tell you 4 words to avoid which might offend the Examiner.

We also share a few you CAN use to sound more native and natural on IETLS Speaking.

Can you say something is sacred?

A student in our 3 Keys Facebook group asked the following question:

Is it correct to describe something as sacred in Speaking Part 2?

For example, if the question is about sleeping is it appropriate to answer:

“Sleeping is sacred to me.”

What does it mean to call something sacred?

  • sacred: something important to you that you want to keep pure or clean

It is definitely appropriate to use this as hyperbole or exaggeration.

You don’t mean it is literally sacred, but you’re emphasizing its importance by calling it sacred.

Aubrey recently did a YouTube video on how to use hyperbole on IELTS, so check it out here!

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Can you talk about religion on IELTS?

A recent personal coach student was asked if a book makes a good present.

She wanted to talk about giving a religious book to a friend, but wasn’t sure she should talk about religion.

The Examiner doesn’t care what religion you are and won’t grade you on that.

You are graded on being authentic, so don’t be afraid to get personal.

If you stop yourself from saying the first thing you think of, you might pause or hesitate.

This will lower your score!

Don’t hide your religion or be afraid to bring it up.

What words should you not say on IELTS?

Curse words should be avoided, as they can offend the Examiner.

Some modified curse words should also be avoided.

A student posted in our 3 Keys Facebook group the following question:

Is it polite to say, “I don’t know what the heck is going on!”

Many people consider this crass, crude or impolite, so don’t say it on IELTS.

Another word to avoid is saying something “sucks,” as this also would be considered impolite by many.

Also, avoid using the words “frickin” or “freaking,” which are modified curse words that many find offensive or impolite.

What modified curse words are appropriate on IELTS?

  • Shoot

Natives use this all the time, and no one finds it offensive.

Oh, shoot! That’s a tough question!

  • Oh my gosh

Oh my gosh, I was afraid you were going to ask me that!

  • Dang / Dang it / Darn it

I realized I had missed the bus and I was like, “Dang it!”

These 3 are used often by natives.

They are very “vanilla,” meaning no one finds them offensive.


Natives use modified curse words all the time!

However, some of these the Examiner may find offensive or impolite.

Others are generally accepted and no one will find offensive or impolite.

Today’s episode will help you know which you can use on IELTS.

Practice using these slang phrases so you can use them like a native!

Don’t forget to find out what score you would get if you took IELTS today!

Take our free, 2-minute quiz today!

What questions do you have from today’s episode?

Please leave a comment below.

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