Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

Today’s question comes from a personal coach writing class Aubrey recently taught with a 3 Keys student. 

The Task 2 topic was:

Some people think that spoken communication is more powerful than written communication. To what extent do you agree or disagree?

He had written an excellent opinion essay that verbal communication is superior.

His reasons were:

  • you can express emotion more clearly and powerfully
  • it is more efficient and saves time.

While correcting his essay, Aubrey found a vocabulary mistake that lowered his Task Response score.

Watch the video now!

What vocabulary mistakes can affect your Task score?

He wanted to write a supporting detail that anger is more effectively expressed verbally.

However, in an effort to use higher level vocabulary, he checked the thesaurus and found the word “madness” as a synonym for anger.

He wrote that madness can cause people to speak loudly and impolitely, which leaves listeners with a negative impression.

The problem is that natives don’t use the word “madness” as a parallel for anger!

We use it to mean insanity.

An Examiner would see this supporting detail as unrelated to the reason provided, which would lower the Task Response score.

How can you avoid making this mistake?

You may have heard us say this before, but don’t use words from the thesaurus without learning them in context.

When we teach vocabulary, we share the context and example sentences so you can make sure you’re using it correctly.

One of the most common mistakes students make is trying to use high level vocabulary to increase their score, but using it incorrectly so that their score actually goes down.

Yes, you need to avoid vocabulary repetition!

Yes, you need to use high level vocabulary!

But it is absolutely vital that you use them in the correct context.

Not only can your Vocabulary score go down, but it can also lower your Task Response score in certain cases like this student’s essay.

What word could this student have used instead?

He was correct that “anger” is a common Band 6 word.

He could instead use one of these parallels:

  • fury
  • outrage

These both mean anger and are interchangeable.

Fury and outrage can definitely cause people to speak loudly and impolitely.

Vitriol is an excellent, high level word for anger and bitterness that is expressed through speech or writing.

“She spoke with such vitriol that I wanted to leave the room.”

What idiomatic language can be used for anger?

A great idiom for being angry is to blow a gasket.

“He was so angry that he blew a gasket!”

This means he was noticeably angry, probably yelling or stomping around.

Where can you use this vocabulary on IELTS?

Today’s phrases would be perfect if you are asked in Part 2 to describe a time you were angry or you made someone angry.

Anger and frustration could also come up in Part 1 and Part 3 questions.

This vocabulary can also be useful for many different Task 2 topics.

A case in point is this students’ about written versus spoken communication!


You must avoid vocabulary mistakes that decrease your Task score.

When you use high level vocabulary, make sure you’re using it correctly.

If used in the wrong context, words can change the meaning of a sentence.

This can cause supporting details to no longer relate to your reasons.

For all the strategies you need to get past IELTS, sign up for 3 Keys!

And take our free, 2-minute quiz to 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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