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

You need idiomatic language to get a 7 or higher on the IELTS exam.

Today’s idioms can be used on both Writing and Speaking!

These are very useful when talking about work and effort.

We’ll also share a band 9 word for “money.”

Practice using this vocabulary to ensure your 7+ on the IELTS exam!

Where might you use this vocabulary on IELTS?

Questions come up often on IELTS about work.

  • Speaking Part 1
  • Speaking Part 2
  • Speaking Part 3
  • Writing Task 2

Describe a time you had to work really hard.

These could also be used for questions related to material possessions or status.

You might also see these words and phrases on the Reading and Listening exams!

When has Aubrey worked her fingers to the bone?

She shares an experience from her childhood working on her family’s tree farm.

Take note of the high level phrases she uses.

  • paid off: it was worth it; the consequence or outcome is very beneficial
  • reap the benefit: similar to paid off; you profited or used the benefit in some way
  • lucrative: something that is financially beneficial/brings you money
  • lucre: money

Lucre is a formal parallel for money.

There are many informal or slang phrases for money, but this is a more formal term.

What inspired today’s episode?

One of our students posted a list of idioms in the 3 Keys Facebook group.

She asked if they were formal enough for Writing Task 2 and Speaking Part 3.

I assured her that they were!

Today we will share these with you.

Idiom #1: Working fingers to the bone

This only applies to manual labor.

  • to work one’s fingers to the bone: work very hard doing physical labor

I worked my fingers to the bone trying to fix an appliance.

Aubrey shares another example of digging a trench in her backyard.

She worked her fingers to the bone digging up sun-baked Arizona desert ground.

Use this for questions asking about physical labor.

Strategies Created By a Former Examiner

100% Score Increase Guarantee with our Insider Method

Are you ready to move past IELTS and move forward with your life vision?

Find out why our strategies are the most powerful in the IELTS world.

When you use our Insider Method you avoid the BIGGEST MISTAKES that most students make on IELTS.

Click here to get a score increase on IELTS. It’s 100% guaranteed.

Idiom #2: Go the extra mile

This is applicable very widely.

  • go the extra mile: to put in more effort

When studying for IELTS, you have to go the extra mile or you won’t get higher than a 6.

I encourage my son to go the extra mile with online school, rather than doing the minimal effort.

Idiom #3: Learn the ropes

This refers to the beginning of a task, project or skill.

  • learn the ropes: train how to do a specific task or skill

You don’t know anything about a task or job and you need to learn the skills to get it done.

I started studying for IELTS and really had to learn the ropes so I could be prepared!


You are required to use idiomatic language to get a 7 or higher on IELTS Speaking.

Today’s idioms can be used to help you get the score you need!

Always learn idioms in context, and practice using them so it’s natural on exam day.

Don’t forget to get your estimated IELTS band score by taking our free 2-minute quiz!

And for all the strategies you need to pass IELTS, sign up for 3 Keys IELTS today!

What questions do you have from today’s episode?

Please leave a comment below.

  • Badges (1)
  • Badges-1 (1)
  • Badges-2 (1)
  • US_ListenOn_AmazonMusic_button_black_RGB_5X
  • App-Store-Button
  • google-play-badge
  • Badges (1)
  • Badges-1 (1)
  • Badges-2 (1)
  • US_ListenOn_AmazonMusic_button_black_RGB_5X