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

What is a topic you are likely to see on your IELTS exam?

New technology!

Today you’ll learn to use very high-scoring vocabulary words to describe technology.

Take notes and improve your Speaking and Writing scores with these interesting phrases.

Today’s question

One of our Instagram followers posted asking the difference between:

  • Cutting edge
  • Innovative
  • Groundbreaking

At first glance, these seem very similar.

However, they do each have specific meanings.

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#1 Cutting-edge

cutting-edge: something so new that many people don’t have access to it.

Her doctor recommended a cutting-edge cancer treatment.

  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Medical studies
  • Experimental technology
  • Device features

We also use cutting-edge to describe fashion.

It implies something surprising and unique.

#2 Innovative

This is used more commonly, so it’s a band 7 word.

  • innovative: anything new and creative.

It can be used to refer to many things.

  • Art
  • Fashion
  • Food
  • Literature

My son was very innovative with the story he wrote.

Anything creative can be innovative, but it’s not cutting-edge unless it’s experimental and surprising in its field.

#3 Groundbreaking

Groundbreaking can be a parallel for innovative.

  • groundbreaking: anything that has never been done before

Additionally, it implies paving the way for future innovation.

His theories about nanotechnology are groundbreaking.

It also has a second meaning to literally break ground when constructing a new building.

#4 Trailblazer

  • trailblazer: the first person to do something

Gloria Steinem was a trailblazer for the feminist movement.

This describes someone who did something new and inspired others to follow.

  • to blaze a trail: doing something new and inspiring others

This can be used on Writing Task 2 to describe companies that are doing something groundbreaking.

Walmart is blazing a trail with its aggressive recycling program.


There is a good chance you will be asked about new technology on the IELTS exam.

You need to be ready with high level vocabulary.

Be sure you are listening to podcasts and reading the news to gain ideas on this topic.

Practice using today’s adjectives to describe different types of innovation.

If you’d like to know what you’d get on IELTS if you took it today, take our free, 2-minute quiz!

You’ll get your estimated band score and free resources at your level.

What questions do you have from today’s episode?

Please leave a comment below.

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