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

You need band 9 vocabulary on the IELTS exam.

Unfortunately, IELTS vocabulary mistakes are extremely common and will pull down your score.

Today we’ll teach you how to avoid an error students often make.

Mistake to avoid

Jessica often see students make errors with the use of “practically.”

This can happen on IELTS Speaking or Writing.

Example of this mistake:

Children are practically vulnerable when they have large animals in their homes which might hurt them when their parents aren’t around. 

The student intended to say that children are potentially vulnerable.

“Practically” is not a direct synonym for this word.

Today we’ll share similar vocabulary with examples to help you avoid this mistake.

#1: Potentially and possibly 

These adjectives mean that something may be true.

They describe the potential of something being the case.

These words are extremely useful on IELTS!

When I arrived, I thought it was potentially the best party I had ever attended, but then it turned out to be super boring.

I can’t wait to tell you about possibly the best gift I have ever received!

#2: Ostensibly

We use this to describe how something seems, whether or not it is accurate.

This is band 9 as students rarely use it.

It could be extremely useful on the IELTS Speaking exam.

Ostensibly, my town seems quite boring because it is so small. Actually, though, it’s incredibly vibrant.

It could also be added to IELTS Task 2 essays.

I see how libraries ostensibly do not seem modern, as people don’t read physical books anymore. However, the other services they offer are invaluable. 

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#3: Practically

This adjective means virtually or almost.

The room was practically empty.

It could be very useful on Speaking Part 1.

My friends and I went to a museum last weekend and it was practically empty. We had the place to ourselves!

#4: Virtually

This means the same as “practically.”

It will be useful on both IELTS Writing Task 1 and Task 2.

Increased education is virtually the only reasonable solution.

Additionally, it can boost your vocabulary score on IELTS Speaking, especially part 3.

Virtually every teenager I know is addicted to their smartphone.

#5: Basically

This is the most informal of all of today’s vocabulary.

Because of this, reserve it for IELTS Speaking.

I’m basically a department leader, I just don’t have the position title yet.


Vocabulary mistakes are common on IELTS.

These can pull down scores on both IELTS Speaking and Writing.

Today’s tips can help you avoid these errors on test day.

Practice using this high-scoring vocabulary on sample answers.

For all the strategies you need on IELTS, sign up for our online course.

What questions do you have from today’s episode?

Please leave a comment below.

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